The Resolution Solution: 7 Goals You Can Meet This Year
I resolve to...spend a minute a day doing the plank.
Your core muscles -- those in the neighborhood of your back, belly, hips, and pelvis -- provide stability and balance for your entire body. Having a strong core makes it easier and safer to do just about everything, from lifting a toddler to skiing moguls. Ignore your core and you're setting yourself up for back pain, neck pain, and poor posture as well as accidental trips and slips. Fortunately, one simple move once a day is all you need. "During a plank, the core muscles all work in harmony to protect your spine," says FITNESS advisory board member Michele Olson, PhD, professor of exercise science at the Human Performance Laboratory at Auburn University Montgomery in Alabama.
The best time to rock the plank is at the end of your workout. "It forces your abdominal muscles to kick in when you're getting tired, which is the time you need core stability the most," Olson says. Even if you think you're a pro, follow these steps to fine-tune your form: (1) Start by lying facedown with your elbows directly under your shoulders and your forearms and palms flat on the floor. (2) Tighten your abs, press your forearms into the floor and squeeze your glutes as you pop up onto your toes, forming a straight line from your head to your feet. (3) Don't let your glutes stick up or sag -- and don't forget to breathe -- as you hold this position for up to a minute.Make your plank a little harder:
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