I love all the plank-a-day Tweets filling up my Twitter stream.
I’m amazed to see how long people are able to hold their planks and am excited to see their plans for progressively increasing those times.
Planks are a fabulous exercise for strengthening the muscles of the core, in particular the rectus abdominus (the ‘six pack’ muscles) and transverse abdominus (the ‘lower abs’). In fact, many fitness professionals now prefer them over standard crunches or sit ups for increasing abdominal strength.
‘Spinal stabilization’ is the new sexy!
But bodies work best when opposing muscle groups are balanced in strength. Front body (anterior) muscles need to precisely balance back body (posterior) muscles for optimal function and long term lack of pain.
Show me a body builder with well-developed pecs and forward sloping shoulders and I’ll show you someone with an under-developed back! (Hint: you should be able to pull as much as you can push)
Want to get more from your plank-a-day? Add a bridge-a-day to your routine!
Bridges are essentially reverse planks.
Rather than contracting your anterior core muscles to hold your body in a straight line, bridging requires you to activate the deep muscles of your mid and lower back; your quadratus lumborum, multifidus and erector spinae. Bridging also requires the use of your glutes and hamstrings; both important muscle groups for stabilization of the lower back and pelvis.
To perform a bridge, begin by laying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, approximately hip distance apart.
Beginners will extend their arms out to their sides, in ‘T’ formation. Intermediate exercisers may lay arms alongside their torsos.
- Taking a deep breath in, pull your belly button towards your spine
- Squeeze glute cheeks together
- Push through the heels of your feet
- Exhale as you raise your hips off the ground until
- Your body forms a straight line from chest to knees
- Hold for up to 30 s (please continue to breathe!)
- Gently lower to starting position, rest and repeat
Ideally, you should be able to hold your bridge (or reverse plank) as long as you can hold a regular plank!
plank-a-day + bridge-a-day = unsurpassed core strength and spinal stability
Need more challenge? Try one of the following;
- Extend arms straight up over your chest (less contact with the floor)
- Place feet on a stability ball (unstable surface)
- Lift one foot off the floor, extending leg straight up (reduced base of support)
- Place a weight plate or sand bell across your hips (increased resistance)
- Perform a hamstring curl on the ball (dynamic instability)
I’d love to see you Tweet your #BridgeADay #PROOF as well! Let’s see if we can get the #BridgeADay hashtag trending!
Watch for mine tomorrow!