Apr 03, 2009 / by corematters / No Comments

This is it.  One of the few specific exercises I recommend.  It’s called Plank.  And if you only have time to do one exercise, this is the one.

You lie on you stomach on a hard surface.  Slide your hands under your shoulders, fingers spread.  Make sure that your arms and wrists are in line with your shoulder joints.  Then raise/push your torso off the floor, abs engaged, legs extended (but not knee-locked) until your entire body is off the floor except for your toes.  You’ll look like you are about to do a push-up.

Now stay there.  You should have a straight line connecting your shoulders, hips, and ankles.

Here’s the stuff that can go wrong:  Be certain your lower back isn’t sinking, or your butt isn’t flying up toward the ceiling, and your shoulder blades aren’t separated, creating a hump at the top (in your thoracic spine).  If your back is sinking or flying, engage your ab to pull your navel toward the ceiling or the floor until you create that straight line.  If your shoulder blades have rolled apart (and most people’s do from sitting all day in a hunched over position), pull them together in the back by rolling them and then slide the tops of your shoulders down away from your ears, as if you are putting your blades into your back pockets.  You should feel your spine sinking between them.

Practice staying in this position for as long as possible.  Can you stay for 30 seconds?  Two minutes?

It’s a complete core workout.  You will use all the muscles and all at once.  And it’s a great isometric exercise, very safe, no joints involved.  Simple (though not easy) and effective.  Exactly what our fitness needs are these days.

We can make this more challenging, but for now, a goal of staying in Plank for 2 minutes is a great start.  Begin with whatever you have.  And then tomorrow, try to stay another few seconds.  And the next day.  Until you slowly, gradually work your way up to 2 minutes.

And while you’re doing this, make sure you remember to breathe.