Small waistline, trim abs, bikini body ready. With spring in the air most people are already thinking about summer and the bikinis that come with it. This April plank challenge is just for you then! Planks are an awesome core workout. You don’t have to do hundreds of crunches that put strain on your back in order to get a smaller waist. Planks work your core muscles in a way that they initiate and strengthen the transverse abdominis, or the TA. The TA is your “corset” muscle. I want you to think about what a corset does for women. Now imagine not having to wear one of those things that make it impossible to breath and have that nice trim waistline without it. That is what strengthening your TA will do for you.
Now that isn’t the only benefit of doing a plank. Planks are the building block for so many different exercises and there are hundreds of variations to keep things interesting. The best part about a plank? No equipment needed. Just you, a flat surface and gravity.
Wait there’s more! I know cheesy. The last huge benefit of doing a plank that I want to bring up is how much it protects your back. As a Physical Therapist I see a ton of patients with back injury and low back pain. Most of the time the culprit is due to one of two things and usually a combination. Decreased flexibility and a weak core. That weak core is contributed solely to the TA. So my mission is to put myself out of business with back injuries by helping everyone get the strong core and small waist they want that will protect their back!
Now how do you do a plank correctly to keep from getting hurt? Glad you asked.
1. Plant the hands directly under the shoulders (slightly wider than shoulder-width apart) like you’re about to do a push-up.
2. Ground the toes into the floor and squeeze the glutes to stabilize the body. Your legs should be working in the move too; careful not to lock or hyperextend your knees.
3. Neutralize the neck and spine by looking at a spot on the floor about a foot beyond the hands. Your head should be in line with your back.
4. Hold the position for 20 seconds. As you get more comfortable with the move, hold your plank for as long as possible without compromising form or breath.
DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH. I don’t want to go into the explanation for this just don’t do it. I will know.
Okay so now that you know how to do a plank, lets get going with the challenge!