For week seven of my 52 Tips for Health and Fitness Success #7 where each week I write a post sharing health or fitness tip or tips that I find useful in my daily life and today I want to introduce you to the 30 Day Plank Challenge.
Why do the plank? The plank strengthens the abdominal, back, quads and shoulders. If you are looking to strengthen and tighten you core (belly) muscles, I highly recommend doing the plank challenge and continue putting it in your weekly workout routine.
Many believe the plank is more efficient and safer than crunches and sit-ups if done properly. Crunches and sit-ups put pressure on you spine and can exasperate the problem of tight hips (i.e. runners and bikers).
The plank is an isometric (muscle tension is created without contraction) core strength exercise that involves maintaining a difficult position for extended periods of time. The most common plank is the front plank which is held in a push-up position with the body’s weight borne on forearms, elbows, and toes.
Having a strong core, is beneficial in all other exercises and in our day-to-day activity, especially as we age.
HOW TO DO A PLANK:
Get in the push up position, only put your forearms on the ground instead of your hands. Your elbows should line up directly underneath your shoulders. Toes on the ground. Do NOT cross your hands.
Squeeze your glutes and tighten your abdominal. Keep your butt down, in line with the rest of your body.
Keep a neutral neck and spine.
Create a straight, strong line from head to toes. Check yourself in a mirror if you can or ask someone to watch you for the first few days to confirm you have the right form.
Hold that position for the allotted time.
TIPS ON HOW TO DO PLANK PROPERLY:
Don’t let your hips (butt) sag down to the ground. Sagging hips makes the exercise initially easier, but it’s not a plank and it defeats the purpose of the exercise. You want to strengthen your core and if you do this properly you definitely will tell a difference in your core strength.
Look down at the ground. This is a good prompt for maintaining a neutral neck position. I listen to music on my phone and I put it under my head and watch the time on the i-tunes clock. This will ensure that your head does not drop.
When your form begins to suffer, stop. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank properly. Some days you may just need to cut the time short and that is okay, just look forward to the next day.
As with any exercise listen to your body and adjust accordingly.
If you like this challenge, check out the 30 Day Squat Challenge (here)