Plank Progressions

I LOOOOVE me some planks! And I love all the different ways they can challenge you and all the different ways you can modify them.

Now that we are a couple of weeks into All About Abs April, we can start to progress our ab exercises. If you find the first tutorials on the easier side, perhaps it’s time to push yourself a little harder. Now with all progressions, keep your form correct! Nothing makes me crazier than seeing someone at the gym doing a crazy move they learned on instagram or pinterest and doing it in correctly, or before they’ve mastered the easier version.

This plank progression is in 2 stages. Stick to the first progression if your form is compromised at all. Fitness is a lifelong journey, not one you have to finish tomorrow. And you certainly don’t want to be injured while trying to get there.

Step 1:

Get yourself into a solid plank – spine in a neutral position, hands directly under your shoulders. It’s important to note that in a plank on your hands, you should be engaging your shoulder blades by pulling them back and down while you pull your belly button in towards your spine.

Step 2:

While keeping your weight evenly distribute between your upper body, lift one leg, while trying to keep your hips flat. If your hips become uneven, regress and go back to your standard plank. If your form is great and this is a solid challenge, hold for about 30-45 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Step 3:

If the previous step was a cakewalk, try to lift the opposite arm off the ground without compromising your form or balance. To maintain your balance try to visualize squeezing your opposite shoulders and hips together. It’s a true challenge and can be a bit rough on the shoulders. Be sure to train both sides. Aim for 30 seconds, but if you can make it to 15 you’re a rock star!

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Up & Down….

Up & Down…Such is life, especially as a mom & and actress. The month of March through well, today, almost killed me. Tons of clients, auditions, callbacks, getting THIS close on several great roles, and then…not getting them. And of course spring break with the kiddos – life seems to be going at a breakneck pace. All good stuff, honestly – I’m not complaining, but weeks without a day off can take a toll on the mind AND body. So, I’m taking it a bit easy this week and even heading out for a massage later today (YAY!!!). Although massage is a bit of a misnomer for what my massage therapist does to me. It’s more like exquisite torture. But my body holds on to all I put it through, even with foam rolling and stretching, I get some series knots and adhesions. Self care is essential when you work out regularly.

Even though today is an off day for me –  lucky for you I recorded a plank variation last week just for today. Thinking ahead, that’s what we moms are good at. So today you’re getting what I call the Up & Down plank. I’m sure there is a more technical term, but Up and Down is so straight forward, and my clients understand exactly what I want from them when I say it.

This is a great full body exercise, where you’ll feel the burn quickly. To do this move, start in a plank, drawing in your core and neutral spine. Engage the shoulder blades by pulling them back & down – think about placing them in your back pockets. Then lower to you forearms on both sides. Make sure your abs are still engaged and then lift back up to your starting position. Alternate sides so you don’t get Popeye arms on one side and Olive oil on the other. Muscle imbalances are not good. At all. One rep equals up and down on both sides. Aim for 10-12 reps 3 sets. You’ll really feel your heart rate jump up, as well as a burn in your shoulders and triceps, along with your core.

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April is All About Abs!

I love working on my abs – but I didn’t always. It took many years for me to realize that if my abs and core were not strong and stable, then nothing else in my body was either. So, I’m taking a whole month to teach you how to train your abs correctly. There will be videos, tutorials, articles and even a pole focus each week for my poler bears.

To start us out:  a deceptively easy lower ab exercise that forces you to engage your lower and upper abs and your pelvic floor muscles. Lay flat on your back, legs in a 90 degree angle off the floor and draw your belly to the floor. This is what we call “engagement.” Some people also like to think of it as “zipping up”, or “pulling in” if that helps with the visualization. Start with single leg taps, and move on to both legs once this is no longer difficult.

 

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What’s the best workout?

What’s the Best Workout?
I get this question all the time. How can I loose my belly? I want to tone up my thighs, what should I do? Back fat – how do I get rid of it? Everyone has an area that bugs them, a desire to get in shape, feel strong, gain energy and maybe fit back into those before baby jeans again. But the reality is many people, especially busy moms, have no idea where to start. And unfortunately, pinning pics of washboard abs to your fitness board on Pinterest isn’t the best way to get started on your goals.

I say, start small. If you don’t work out at all, aim for 2 workouts a week. Make it simple. Maybe a walk around the block followed by some walking lunges or a workout DVD. Once you’ve done that for a month, set another goal. Add a third workout or try jogging for half of the walk. After a month of 3 workouts a week, maybe try adding a yoga or Zumba class. Making small, measurable and attainable goals is the best way to get started on a fitness program. It will keep you from injury and burnout and allow you the time to make fitness a lifestyle change rather than a short term fix.

So, what’s the answer? What IS the best workout? Well, it’s the one that you do. There is no magic pill. There is no secret that fit, healthy individuals have acquired and haven’t shared. It is quite simple actually:

1. Eat healthy – Avoid processed foods, refined sugar and fatty foods, sugary drinks, etc. Eat veggies and fruit. ALOT of Veggies and Fruit.

2. Keep Moving – Whatever your choice of workout, don’t stop. Keep moving. Lift weights or your own body weight, and get your heart pumping with cardio.

3. Consistency – This is the key. If you eat well and exercise most of the time, the bad days will be outnumbered and you will ultimately get fit, lose weight, and gain muscle. So don’t let one bad meal (or dessert) or a few days off from workouts get you down. Make healthy eating and workouts the norm, and desserts and couch time the exception.

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Posted by Stacey at 4/22/2013 8:59 PM | Add Comment

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