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How to plank it

Things I am plankful for: 1) The air in my lungs 2) Snuggies 3) The 1996 drama action flick "Twister" (featuring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton) that I am not totally watching right now.

Trainer tip: planks really are a wonderful total body exercise that can be incorporated into a number of different workouts in various ways! In terms of technique, start from the feet and work your way up

1) Drive the heels back slightly like you are gently trying to stretch your calves.

2) From there, flex your quads and squeeze your inner thighs inward.

One Legged Plank  - Jolly Bodies Fitness

3) Next, and this is MY FAVORITE, SQUEEZE THAT BOOTY. And no, I don't mean lightly contract the glutes. Squeeze like your reputation depended on it. This ain't a game. Your rear is your BFF in terms of providing stability to your lower back, particularly if you struggle with abdominal strength. Your butt muscles are huge, use them. It will make all the difference for your lower back, whether you're standing or in plank position.

4) Got all that down? Okay there's more. Next, shift your attention to your belly button. Your goal is to draw the navel in toward your spine, but sometimes that's hard for us to figure out how to do. SO, here's what I like to envision: imagine that someone is about to punch you right in the gut. What is your instinct.....take a second and imagine it. Most of us (hopefully) anticipating the force of a punch, would tighten up our midsection and draw it in slightly. That's the feeling you're going for.

5) Shoulders should be tracking directly over your wrists. Wrist issues? Just lower down onto your forearms and align the shoulders with the elbows.

6) And finally, keep the head/neck aligned with the spine by looking down at the floor just slightly above your fingertips (don't look straight ahead, and don't look at your feet). I don't care if Ryan Reynolds is trying to get your attention, keep your gaze down.

If you go through this mental checklist as you settle into plank, you'll realize that planks can be something or they can be nothing depending on how much you are engaging your whole body. You'll also appreciate that exercises like planks are NOT trivial. There's a whole bunch that goes into learning proper form and technique, but know that it IS tangible. It's okay to miss the mark, what matters is that you learn to correct it and try again. It's just like learning to walk. You may tip over, you may be wobbly, but with enough practice it'll click, and usually faster than you think. Trust the process. Sweet dreams!

Plank away.

-Lee Ann

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