Aug 8, 2013

Fit Tip: Plank for a Flat Stomach

When I teach at Core et' Barre, we end every one of our formé classes holding a plank for one minute. It's often the hardest part of class because we are so close to being done. However, as the saying goes... last but certainly not least. The plank is one of the most important exercises you can do for your core. The plank exercise not only strengthens the abdominals, back and supports posture, but it will help to give you a flat stomach without causing the rippled abdominal look. Lets be honest, I want to be strong and fit, but I could do without a six pack. I'll leave that to the boys :) 

The plank works the inner abs, the deepest layer known as the Traverse Abdominis (TA). Think of it like a belt around your midsection. A strong TA works like a corset, sucking your waistline into one tight, slender package from the inside (aka the core). Yup -- Buh bye spanx! If you're someone who doesn't like the "six-pack" look, and simply want a flat, defined tummy, it's time to work on that plank!

Plank Positioning:
  • Start on all fours with palms stacked directly underneath your shoulders. 
  • Engage your abdominals, press your palms into the mat, and extend both legs out behind you.
  • Keep both your core (your tummy!) engaged as you draw your belly button all the way up to the spine. Hold for as long as you can. 
Plank With Advancement

Modifications: Drop to the forearms or the tops of the thighs.

Advancements: There are so many plank variations you can do to keep yourself from getting bored and/or make it more difficult. Some of them include knee taps (alternating dropping your right and left or both knees to the ground), mountain climbers (as pictured above), tap the legs out to the side, arm or leg raises, and many more. Just make sure your booty doesn't bounce and that you're keeping your core engaged and the back flat the entire time. 

I challenge you to hold a plank for at least one minute every night before you climb into bed. If you can't do one minute, start with 30 seconds or however long you can do it. Do it for that waistline!

Oh, and PS. If you want that six pack -- you still gotta work on your plank because no one likes a jiggly six pack :)

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