Step 1 Starting Position: (photo 1) Lie facing down on an exercise mat with your elbows close to your sides, directly under your shoulders, forearms parallel to each other with palms down and fingers facing forward. Engage your abdominal/core muscles. It should feel like you are tightening a corset around your ribs, waist and lower torso. Tuck your toes under, flex your ankles and press your heels back while contracting your thigh muscles to strongly straighten your legs. Your knees should start lifting away from the floor. Inhale now.
Step 2 Upward Phase: Exhale while you lift your torso and thighs off the mat in one unit. Your aim is to form a straight line from your shoulders to hips to knees to ankles. (photo 2) Stay active in The Plank by pressing your heels back and keep your torso and legs strong and long. Do not sag in your ribcage or low back or low back. Avoid hiking hips into the air, collapsing the knees or shrugging your shoulders. Your shoulders should remain directly over your elbows with your palms facing down for the entire exercise. Continue to breath in/out while keeping your abdominals braced and holding The Plank for 10 seconds.
Step 3 Downward Phase: Exhale while keeping your torso and legs stiff as you slowly lower your body in one unit back to the mat. As soon as you finish The Plank, immediately build back up to your next Plank for another 10 second hold.
Repetitions: 6 times, holding 10 seconds each.
Modification: (photo 3) If the Downward Phase is too difficult, first bend both knees to the floor while keeping your abdominals braced, then lower your upper body.
Frequency: 3 to 5 days/week (this really only takes about a minute!!!)
Purpose: Firmer abdominals with improved core strength, endurance and stability.
Reminder: Consistent practice makes this exercise effective. Start now to enjoy those results in no time!