I am so excited that so many of you decided to join me on the April (Squat) and May (Plank) Exercise Challenges, it is VERY challenging month, and since the end goal is a long period of planks per day, it would not only be beneficial to your body, in strengthening different muscles, but it will also break up the monotony of the exercise! I have encouraged you all to do leg and arm lifts, along with alternating leg/arm lifts at the same time, which is great addition to the exercise and makes it a little more challenging, but adding the side planks will add a whole new level of strengthening and benefits!
Why Side Planks?
Side planks help to strengthen your core muscles, as we have been working on, but it adds a different dimension, and we can do beginner to more advanced side planks. Side planks target your gluteal (butt) muscles, quads, hamstrings, and thigh (inner and outer muscles), along with those core abdominal and back muscles. This will really help to tone and strengthen those muscles that assist your abs and back, so you will have a much stronger body, which will lead to less back pain (unless you have a medical reason for it), improved posture, and you will feel better and stronger, which will improve your self-esteem!
How do I perform a Side Plank?
You can start either from a plank position, and turn to the side so that the side of your foot is on the floor, the other foot is directly stacked on top ankle to ankle, knee to knee, and your hips are directly in line with the floor. For the beginner, you can do this pose on your elbow (arm flat on the floor perpendicular to the shoulder). More advanced, you can have your arm straight, with your hand placed flat on the floor, directly under your shoulder. From this position, you can get more advanced, keeping your core muscles engaged and tight, lift the top arm directly above your shoulder into the air, and also lift that top foot 6-9″ into the air.
I do suggest starting at a more beginners level and then advancing as you feel stronger, and as you can get hurt if you push yourself too hard and you do not have the proper body positioning. You don’t want to fall or topple over or overstrain muscles. Make sure to engage your core muscles, breathe through the exercises (holding your breath is never good, but especially when exercising!), and if it gets to the point that you do not feel like you can breathe, take a break! Yes we are all challenging and we have goals as a group BUT you need to listen to your body and do what feels right. If you have pain (not just “this is new muscle I am working” type of pain but real pain), stop and take the day off, and if the pain comes back you may need to see your healthcare practitioner (HCP), if the pain goes away, maybe you pushed yourself too hard, and go to a more beginner position.
Keep planking your way to that beach body, we are almost halfway through a very difficult challenge: just focus on how strong we will be and how good we will look at the end!
Yours in Good Health