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This is a quick and effective way to get into a daily workout routine and get fit! – you know, the one you’ve been telling yourself that you’re going to start tomorrow 😉

Well, this is it team! Today is the day you put yourself first and make it happen!

There are a few reasons why I love this challenge/work out:

  1. It may look easy, but it’s extremely effective and if you commit and put in the work, you will feel amazing almost immediately – you’re doing it! yeah! Better yet, you’ll start seeing results in a matter of days, especially when you’re eating wholesome and nutritional foods, but one step at a time :).
  2. You don’t need hours at the gym or fancy equipment to get into shape or a daily routine, you just need a little love, a little help from your friends, and a whole lot of self-discipline… ok, and meditation – what? don’t believe me? I dare you to start meditating and see what happens!
  3. Challenges are like S.M.A.R.T. goals? What’s a S.M.A.R.T. goal? It’s Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely – key elements of any successful goal. Plus it’s fun! You get to do this anywhere, with anyone, and it keeps you accountable – no excuses, no tomorrows.

If you’re still not convinced, let me share some benefits of the plank!

  1. It strengthens your CORE – you know the part of your body that keeps you upright. This means that it’s not just working your abs, but it’s also working both the anterior (front side of your body) and the posterior (back side) muscles. Coles Notes: it strengthens your tummy, lower back and helps reduce back pain and avoid injury.
  2. It increases flexibility right down to your feet, meaning you are going to improve your posture AND balance.
  3. It works your whole body – your core, your back and shoulders, your quads and glutes – BUT you have to do this correctly, as with any exercise – FORM IS EVERYTHING!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to do a plank:

  • On a mat or floor, stretch out, belly facing the floor
  • Plant your forearms firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart
  • Stabilize yourself with the balls of your feet, and get ready to lift your body using your core
  • As you lift yourself off the floor, make sure your body is in a straight line, head to toe – If I were Goldilocks, this is the position that I would want because…
    • If your hips sink down to the floor, you are putting lots of strain on your lower back, which could result in a low back injury
    • If your hips are too high, it’s basically cheating because it makes it easier AND could also lead to lower back injury, so remember the Goldilocks story – straight body line is juuuuust right 🙂
  • ENGAGE!
    • Engage your ABS THE WHOLE TIME! If it helps, you can think about bringing your belly button to the ceiling – Think: I AM STRONG! (keep that affirmation in your mind)
    • Engage your legs by squeezing your glutes together and engaging your quads – think about flexing these areas as you hold the plank
  • BREATHE! This is a tough exercise, and the longer you hold it, the more challenging it is, so just breathe – you’re doing great!

What not to do:

First and foremost, with any exercise or activity you’re doing, make sure you’re doing it right! #safetyfirst

  • Remember keep your body in a straight line – alignment and core are everything.
    • I can’t stress the importance of this enough – go back and read the ‘how to’ or ask a fitness professional, at your local gym for example, to watch your form. I’ll even hop on a video call if you like. #begoodtoyourbody #goodformavoidsinjury
  • Do not put your hands too close together or your shoulder joint will internally rotate and cause you to be unstable – Think: Proud chest
  • Be good to your body – do not try to be a hero and hold for too long – start slowly and get your form down. Soon enough, you’ll be holding this for over 1 minute and doing all sorts of variations, like the side plank, with ease.
  • Imagine that you’re head is reaching for the wall, your hips are reaching for the ceiling, and the balls of your feet are so firmly planted.
  • Head up, hips up, shoulders up – no dropping of head, hip or shoulders allowed because a straight body line for proper alignment is key. (oh, did I say that already?)

For Beginners..

If this is you’re very first attempt, first off – AWESOME! Secondly, there are some great variations that you can do that make it a bit easier without sacrificing your posture or the results.

The straight-arm plank:

  • Instead of your forearms being on the ground, place your hands on the ground, shoulder-width apart, and straighten your arms
  • Have a little bend in your arms (i.e don’t lock them in straight) so you don’t put any unnecessary, and potentially dangerous strain on your elbow joint.
  • Stretch out your legs with your weight on the balls on your feet and get ready to lift yourself into position
  • As you lift, ENGAGE – stiffen your spine, engage your ab muscles, your glutes and quads and keep your head in a neutral position so it’s in alignment (i.e. straight body line)
    • Remember Goldilocks didn’t like the hips too high or too low, she like it juuuuuust straight, I mean right 🙂
  • Keep your body strong and flexed the whole time.

Here’s a great visual I got off Pinterest of what muscles you are using in this posture – there’s lots ;):

Getting fancy with the side plank…

So, once you master the plank, get ready for even greater magic: the side plank.

This exercise takes strengthening your core to a whole new level because it focuses on one of the muscles that tends to be weak called the quadratus lumborum (aka a back muscle). This muscle, if strong, can help mitigate back pain – yeah!

Here’s how we do a side plank:

  • From the plank position, turn slowly onto your right side.
  • Keep your legs extended, and for now just rest your hips and feet on the floor, feet are stacked (i.e. on top of one another). If stacking your feet is uncomfortable, keep your leg extended and put your foot whereever you feel most stable (scissor position is popular)
  • Place your right elbow directly beneath your shoulder and lift your hips (left side hip is reaching for the ceiling) until your head and spine are aligned.
  • You can drop your left arm down for support or reach for the sky if you want a little extra.

The 10/21/30 day challenge

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit and 30 days to make it stick.

They also say that the hardest part is STARTING!

That’s why I wanted to give you a 10-day challenge – to get you started, and then you can continue on your own or with your friends, families or colleagues. I’m here too if you want to continue with me 🙂

Grab a mat, throw on some tunes, invite your friends, and let’s make it happen!

Click to join our ‘Fitness Challenge’ Group on Facebook today and sign up for as many Fitness Challenges as you want!

This one starts April 15th – see you there!

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Natalia Edelmann

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