Want a stronger core? Skip the sit-ups
The headline was music to my ears! I subscribe to the Harvard Health Beat Newsletter, and happily read this article yesterday.
“Sit-ups once ruled as the way to tighter abs and a slimmer waistline, while “planks” were merely flooring. Now planks — exercises in which you assume a position and hold it — are the gold standard for working out your core, while classic sit-ups and crunches have fallen out of favor. Why the shift?
One reason is that sit-ups are hard on your back — by pushing your curved spine against the floor and by working your hip flexors, the muscles that run from the thighs to the lumbar spine of the lower back. When hip flexors are too strong or too tight, they tug on the lower spine, which can be a source of lower back discomfort.
Second, planks recruit a better balance of muscles on the front, sides, and back of the body during exercise than sit-ups, which target just a few muscles. Remember, your core goes far beyond your abdominal muscles.
Finally, activities of daily living, as well as sports and recreational activities, call on your muscles to work together, not in isolation. Sit-ups or crunches strengthen just a few muscle groups. Through dynamic patterns of movement, a good core workout helps strengthen the entire set of core muscles — the muscles you rely on for daily activities as well as sports and recreational activities.”
Source: Harvard Health Beat
Awesome – this is great information to support my goal of doing a plank every day! (By the way, I’ve decided that my “new year’ will begin on January 7, when the three little Flynns return to school, and my schedule returns to normal.)
Now – exactly how do I do planks?
With anything, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do planks. In a separate article, Harvard is also kind enough to detail this.
• Abdominal muscles are tight.
• Shoulders are aligned directly over the elbows.
• Body is properly aligned so that neck and spine are neutral. Model is looking down at the floor.
• Shoulders are down and back.
• Only toes, forearms, and hands are touching the floor.
The photo above demonstrates the wrong way to do a plank. Don’t be that guy! Note these key points for the faults in his form.
• Head is lifted and neck is craned
• Torso sags toward the floor. Only toes, forearms, and hands should be touching the floor.
• Neck and spine are not in a straight line.
Source: Harvard Health
Want a stronger core?
Join The One Tough Mother Runner January Planks-A-Lot Challenge!
One of my new year’s goals is to do a plank a day. I’m going to start on January 7, and I want YOU to join me! This is a very simple challenge starting at the very lowest level of plank ability. Those who have been planking already will not find this challenging.
The Fashion Queen designed a calendar for us on a PowerPoint document. Each day lists the number of seconds or minutes/seconds you should try to hold your plank.
To participate in the One Tough Mother Runner Planks-A-Lot Challenge, send me your name, email address, Twitter handle, and blog URL. I don’t have any fabulous prizes to award, but I will include shout-outs to the participants on OneToughMotherRunner.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter (@TufMotherRunner).
I hope you’ll join us and we’ll form a virtual group of Planks-A-Lot Champions!
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