Monday, July 18, 2016

Next Up, Side Plank

Let's add some variation to our planking, because there is more to planking than the basic plank!
The pics above are a side plank. These place more emphasis on the obliques, the muscles on your sides. You have external and internal oblique muscles, planks will target both, always a good thing. These muscles help keep your core stable, protecting your spine. They also help with the twisting, flexing and bending of the torso.

The top one, is the hardest version. Legs straight, squeeze your glutes, shoulder and chest and most importantly, your abs, especially your obliques. The second picture is with the knees on the ground, still difficult and will work your abs and obliques, this is a good place to begin. Remember, no excuses for not participating in this challenge! Pick one and give it a go.

You can do just these side planks or combine them with the basics plank, as we did last week.
Hold on each side for equal times, keep symmetry.
You can perform them on your elbow, as I am doing, or on your hand.
You can also put your other hand on your hip, straight up or whatever you like.
You can even put your top leg up in the air, not resting it on your other leg, this will make it even harder.

Saving the world one stick of butter at a time.
God bless,

Monday, July 11, 2016

Planking Basics

Always more fun to plank with friends! 

Today begins our plank challenge! Are you ready to work on those abs? Let's begin.

Basics for planks:
For the basic plank: there are several different options to fit your needs. You can do them on your elbows or your hands, which tends to be easier, unless you have a bad wrist. You can do them on your toes or knees. This option will be the best for beginners, no excuses for not planking during this challenge. 
Keep everything in line from your head to your toes. No need to be looking around. 
Engage your core, abs, by pushing down on your abs, like you are pooping, which will push your abs slightly out. Think about trying to pull your lower ribs to your hips No need to fret though, this is how to properly engage your core to truly work those muscles, which in the end will give you the strong, flat abs you are seeking. 
Tighten your glutes and legs.
Engage your lats, muscles along the outside of your back, by trying to pull your elbows, or wrists if on your hands, to your hips. Do not actually move your arms though. Think about someone trying to pull on your arms forward, toward your head, and you need to resist by pulling back on their hands. This will include more muscles and help to engage your core better. 
Breath normally. Do not hold your breath, you will not be able to do that for long. 

To begin the challenge, pick which basic plank you are going to do, then hold your plank for as long as possible. What is most important is your form, holding the proper form to engage the muscles and build those muscles, is what is most important, not how long you can hold the plank. If you break your form, you are potentially risking injury. Not maybe while planking, potentially, but in the future while living. Remember, your core is what protects your lumbar, lower back, and keeps you healthy for the long term. Your form is more important than time. While holding the proper form, and given time building the muscles, you will increase your time and strength. Both of these are part of what this challenge is about, building the muscle to keep you healthy for life and having the stamina to properly hold those muscles.

See how long you can properly hold a plank.

Saving the world one stick of butter at a time.
God bless,

Thursday, July 7, 2016

30 Day Summer Plank Challenge

I hope you had a great time squating for our squat challenge! Did you notice any strength gains during those 30 days or any health benefits?

Everyone today is looking for those "six pack abs". To get those, just like glutes, you have to work and eat for them. To help achieve those abs, enter the plank challenge. Planks are a fantastic core exercise, meaning you work all the muscles in and around the your abs. Planks also work the muscles for some of their main purposes of the core muscles, stopping movement, stabilizing the body, protecting the back. Planks also include work on the arms, shoulders, hamstrings and those glutes.

Planks are much safer than traditional sit ups and even crunches. Sit up cause great strain on the back, spine and neck. Even the military is beginning to see the err in their way and is taking out sit ups from basic training, due to the risk of injury to the lower back. Good time to take them out of your work out regime. Sit ups mainly work the the hip flexors, the part of your hip that creases when you lift your knee up, more than the core. This has an added risk of injury. The stronger and/or tighter your hip flexors, the greater the risk of back injury. because these muscles go from the thigh to the lumbar spine, lower back. This is due to how the muscles attach and pull on the spine, not a good thing. Attached below are two articles that further explain the risks of sit ups, if you want further information.
Daily Mail
ISSA article

To help you get going on your planking and build those core muscles, let's plank for 30 days!
30 days of planking
July 11th through August 9th
Begin by doing a plank for as long as possible
Each week add an extra 30 seconds
Try different types of planks, there are so many different variations.

Each week look for tips, tricks and variations on how to better perform planks to get the most of them.
See you on Monday!

Saving the world one stick of butter at a time.
God bless,