Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Workin' the Core

I just finished reading an entire chapter about core training while studying to become a personal trainer. I'm sure many of you know by now just how important core training is to your overall health and can greatly improve your fitness abilities as well. A strong core will also make you less apt to experience back pain and will improve your posture and athletic performance. Let's hear it for the core!!

One of the best exercises that you can do to strengthen your core is the plank. Before you begin the plank exercise, practice a "drawing-in maneuver" which is where you pull in your navel toward your spine. It should almost feel like someone has just punched you in the gut. This is the feeling you should try to maintain throughout the entire time that you hold the plank position. Here's what the standard plank position looks like...

(Image found here)

Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders and your forearms should be holding the majority of your weight along with your toes. The rest of your body (head, neck, back, legs) should form a straight line. Draw in your abs as described in the "drawing-in maneuver" and hold this pose for as long as you can maintain good form. As you tire, your bum will start to move up and/or your back will start to arch. Do your best to maintain good form throughout the entire movement.

You can also do a slight variation of the move by resting on one side and doing a side plank...

(Image found here)

Again, your weight will rest on one forearm and the outside edge of one foot while maintaining a straight line with the rest of your body. Hold this position as long as possible.

I heard of a plank contest done at a gym where the winner lasted for over 8 minutes in the plank position!! This got me thinking that maybe we should do a "plank contest" among the readers of this blog. If you're interested in playing along, set a stopwatch and see how long you can hold both the plank and the side plank using good form. Then post your results in the comment section below. Let's see who has the "Core of Steel" shall we?!?!?

Talking Point: What other exercises do you like to do to strengthen your core?


  1. Oh, the plank is so hard for me! Must have a really weak core. :) But seriously, my arms are weak that makes it doubly hard.

  2. So my stats are pretty pathetic, but here they are: full plank - 3 minutes, right side plank - 1 minute, left side plank - 45 seconds. I don't think my form was very good on the side planks. I had the sensation that my shoulder was coming out of the socket, which is why I couldn't hold it for very long. My core is not very strong and my arms are even weaker. Hopefully the yoga classes will help with this.