So exercise #1 for today is the dreaded plank! You know it and love it! And if you don’t, here it is:
I can feel more eyes rolling. But wait: The plank is an isometric (that means the muscles contract without changing length) exercise for your rectus abdominis (your “six pack” muscle) and transversus abdominis (your lower abdominals which play a major role in stabilizing your spine, and also look awesome in a bikini when toned), and also for your erector spinae in your back. It also works your scapular muscles, your glutes, quads, and calves. This is why we P.T. types love it.
To perform the plank: Assume the position. Pull in your belly button, squeeze your butt, squeeze your quads, press your elbows into the floor, breathe! Try to keep your head in line with your spine. If you rest your head on your hands to help you endure the horror of it all, your behind will go up in the air. Yes, it’s awful but you can do it. Start with a 20-second hold and work up to one minute. For the rock stars who get to a minute without collapsing to the floor, challenge yourself: Try to lift one leg and hold for a few seconds. Switch sides. Then try extending one arm in front of you without losing your good form. Switch sides. Then lift your right arm and left leg. Hold, return to starting position, and switch sides.
–Kathleen Doehla, M.S. P.T.