Fitness Friday 9/11: Strengthen Your Abs with Planks

Happy Friday to you all!  Let's jump right into the fitness today.  Abdominal strength is one of the keys to better posture.  Having a strong middle will help in supporting your body, especially when you are seated, which is particularly important if you work a desk job and are seated for the majority of your day.  A lot of people who sit 8+ hours a day at work (or otherwise) lose muscle in that area over time, which usually leads to increased slouching, rounding of the spine, and poor posture overall.

Planks are a great exercises to strengthen your abs, as well as put your whole body to work.  A tip for doing a plank properly is to think about keeping your spine in a straight line from head to tailbone.  Your butt should be down (not piked in the air) and your shoulders should remain engaged and strong (think of keeping your shoulder blades apart).  Keep your head up and gaze forward to keep the airway open so you can breathe better.  There are endless variations of the move, too, so you can switch them up whenever you're bored with your plank routine.  Here are 3 variations for you to try today... even better if you grab a coworker and try them together!  Let's get started, shall we?

Fitness Friday 9/11: Strengthen Your Abs with Planks

Fitness Friday 9/11

2 x 2 (2 time through, twice today)
The goal time for each plank variation should be 1 minute, with a 15-second break in between.  Feel free to adjust your times up or down based on your own fitness level. :)

Up Down Planks (1 minute) - start in a plank on your elbows, and one arm at a time, raise yourself up to a high plank position (on your hands).  Reverse that to bring yourself back down to a low plank on your elbows again.  Continue for 1 minute.  Trainer Tip: you can also do these from your knees.

Knees to Chest in Plank (1 minute) - start in a high plank on your hands, and alternate slowly bringing your knees into your chest, focusing on engaging your abs.  Trainer Tip: if you want to make it harder, hold a plank on your opposite arm/opposite leg, and bring the other elbow to meet your knee.  If you try that version, I'd recommend staying on one side for 30 seconds, then switching.

Hip Touch Planks (1 minute) - start in a low plank position (on your elbows), and rotate your hips to one side while lowering them to the floor.  Keep your abs engaged and legs as straight as you can throughout.  Return to start and immediately rotate to the opposite side.  Keep alternating sides/dips for 1 minute.

Remember to go through each plank exercise 1 more time for the full workout and then once more today to really target your abs. 

Not to end on a depressing note, but I also want to take a minute to recognize the significance of today and to have a moment of silence, if you will, here on the blog for those we lost 14 years ago... 

Readers: chat with me!  What's your favorite plank exercise?  Do you do planks often in your classes or workout routines?  What's up for the weekend?

12-Minute No Rest Bodyweight Ab Workout

Hey guys!  How's your week going so far?  I realized I haven't posted a true workout in quite some time, so let's change that!  I taught an abs & core strengthening class last night and I think it went pretty well - we were all sweating, working, and having fun.  So today I thought I'd give you a glimpse into a few exercises we did, and make it easy for you to do this anywhere you find yourself today since it doesn't involve any equipment.  (Hint: it's perfect to save for a beach day when you want a little extra 'pop' to the core muscles!)

12-Minute No Rest Bodyweight Ab Workout

12-Minute No Rest Bodyweight Ab Workout

Set your timer for 12 minutes, and do each exercise for 1 minute.  Try not to rest between exercises or between circuits.  Let's get those abs fired up!

Circuit 1:

Plank to Pike - start in a high plank, keeping your shoulders in line with your wrists, abs engaged and spine aligned.  Hold this position for 15 seconds, then go into a pike position, arms & legs straight, like an inverted V.  Hold this for 15 seconds.  Keep alternating holds every 15 seconds for 1 minute total.

Supine Knee Press & Hold - lie on your back, knees bent at 90˚ and feet up, hands placed on knees.  Press your hands and knees together maintaining their position, engaging your abs the entire time (hands and knees shouldn't move).  Hold this press for 1 minute.

Boat Pose - like a V-up, except your hands reach straight out in front of you.  Your body should form a V by keeping your legs straight and spine aligned - don't round out your back!  (You should essentially be balancing on your butt/tailbone.)  Hold this position for 1 minute.

Supine Outer Knee Presses - get in the same position as the knee press & hold.  This time put your hands together (fingers unclasped), arms straight.  Reach to the side of your left knee and press the back of your right hand against your outer knee (and knee against hand).  Hold that press for 15 seconds, then repeat on the other side.  Alternate presses every 15 seconds for 1 minute total.

Circuit 2:

Plank Hip Touches to Floor - Get into a low plank position (on your elbows), and twist your hips to one side while lowering them to the floor.  Keep your abs engaged and legs as straight as you can throughout.  Return to start and immediately twist to the opposite side.  Keep alternating sides for 1 minute.

Alternating Diagonal Plank Jumps - start in a regular high plank and jump your feet to your hands diagonally - so, jumping to the left side first, then back out into a plank, and then over to the right side.  Make sure to bring your feet as close to your hands as possible.  Alternate quickly for 1 minute.

Oblique Crunches (Right & Left) - lay on one side, keeping your bottom arm extended out and top arm bent with your hand behind your head.  From there, crunch up to the side so your elbow meets your knees.  Extend back down to start.  That's one rep.  If you want to make it easier, only crunch up using one leg instead of both.  Harder = keep legs straight and "V" up.

Circuit 3:

5 In & Outs + 5 V-ups - sit down on the floor, legs extended with hands by your sides, elbows on the ground, chest up.  Bring your knees to your chest, keeping your hands planted.  Do 5 reps, then immediately go into 5 V-ups, trying to get your hands to your feet.  Keep alternating 5 & 5 for 1 minute. Trainer Tip: If you want to increase the intensity, take your hands off the floor and extend them overhead for the in & outs, and keep them off the floor for the V-ups.

Side Plank Hip Dips (Right & Left) - start out in a side plank, either on your elbow (easier) or up on your hand (harder).  From this position, dip your hips down, keeping your feet stacked and shoulder over your wrist/elbow.  Now raise your hips up to slightly higher than starting position. Continue the dips on the right side for 1 minute, then immediately switch to the left side for 1 minute.

Supine Heel Touches - lie on your back, legs bent and feet flat on the floor, arms at your sides. Lift your upper body slightly off the floor to engage the abs, and "sweep" to one side so your hand touches your heel.  That's 1 rep.  Go back to center, and "sweep" to the other side for rep 2.  Go back to center.  Repeat that "sweeping" motion for 1 minute and remember to keep your abs engaged the whole time. 

Good luck with this one and let me know how it goes!  And, a quick teaser for any of you following along lately, there are going to be some awesome giveaways and raffle prizes coming in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for those here!  Aaaand just because this is hilarious:

Hump Day Quotes

Readers: chat with me!  Do you love ab exercises?  What are some of your favorites?  How are you spending your Wednesday staying active?  I'd love to hear from you!

Fitness Friday 4/17: Plank Edition

Special edition alert!  Fitness Friday is joining the ever-popular plank challenges!  While this isn't a true 'challenge' in the sense of a long-term goal, it IS a challenging mini workout nonetheless.  Ready to get your plank on today?  Grab your timer, some good tunes, and let's work your core!

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right-click on the image to save it to your mobile device, or click the "Pin" button to pin it.


2x through, 3x today

Low Plank -  regular plank on your elbows, keeping your shoulders in line with your elbows. Hold for 20 seconds.

Up-down Plank (Arms) - start in a low plank (on your elbows).  Walk yourself up to a high plank on your hands by moving one hand underneath your shoulder and pushing yourself up.  Push the other arm up so your arms are now straight and hands are flat on the floor, spine aligned.  Walk yourself back down onto your elbows, one arm at a time.  Start with one arm in the lead for 10 seconds, then switch which arm starts the movement for the last 10 seconds.

Up-down Plank (Knees) - same starting position as the first 2.  Without moving any other part of your body, bring your knees down to touch the floor, then bring them right back up again to starting position.  Repeat that motion. Remember to keep your spine in alignment the whole time. 

-- Rest (if you need it) --

Walking Plank - start in high plank with hands in close and feet out wide, legs in a V.  Slowly walk your hands outward and feet inward simultaneously.  Then reverse.  Keep this pattern going for the full 20 seconds, with your spine aligned the whole time.

Birddog Plank - start in high plank, lifting your right arm and left leg simultaneously.  Hold for 5s.  Switch.  Alternate in this pattern every 5s.  Trainer Tip: if the high plank is too much, drop down on one knee/hand here.

Toe-touch plank - start in high plank.  Bring your right foot up toward your rear and left hand back to meet it so they touch (or as close to touching as possible).  Grab your foot if you can.  Hold that position for 5s.  Then switch sides.  Alternate that pattern every 5 seconds.  Trainer Tip: like the birddog plank, if you need to, drop down to one knee/hand here. 

Happy (almost) weekend everyone!  I'm heading to Boston tomorrow for an all-day workshop on the ACE Integrated Fitness Training (IFT) Model (a comprehensive approach to exercise programming for trainers).  I'm excited!  I'll be posting updates on all my social media channels, and I'll be writing up a full blog post on the workshop later.  Keep your eyes peeled and make sure you subscribe!

What are you up to this weekend?  How are you staying active?