The Plank

The Plank

This immensely popular exercise builds on the belly hold. It is often misunderstood to be “tough,” but this is only so until your belly firms up a little. Here, you begin by lying on your stomach, as if preparing to perform push-ups. But don’t worry. Push-ups are the last item we are thinking of! Instead, bring your forearms forward so they can support you, and gently raise yourself from the top.

Here, most of your weight is balanced by your forearms, and your toes face the ground. Hold this posture for as long as you can (even 3 seconds will do wonders for your body). Then lower yourself, relax for 10 seconds and repeat. You can begin with as little as 3 repetitions, and move up to 20 repetitions for a strong core.

As you feel more confident, you can even execute the “high plank” which is an extension of the above. Here, you raise yourself even further up and balance on your palms (not forearms). This works well to strengthen and heal your back muscles. One tip for newcomers is to consciously exhale when you hold position, and inhale when you relax. This will align the exercise to your natural body movement and breath.

Fitness experts even suggest combining the high plank with weights for a more intensive abdomen workout. They also point us towards the region of our pelvis, as this is the first region to slack during the exercise. By keeping our pelvis area in check during the high plank, you are executing one heck of a gut strengthening workout!

The McGill Curl Up 

exercise mat

Despite its fancy title, this is a relatively simple core-building exercise. And it can be performed with no stress on your back! So if you have been prone to back injuries in the past, you are better off choosing the curl up over the plank. The belly hold does not adversely affect your back and can be done by everyone.

Here, you lie flat on your back, with your knees bent. Then lower one knee forward, so your heel touches the ground, and place your arms below your hip bone to support yourself. This is the root posture. From here, gently raise yourself up from above the chest in a straight slant.

Keep your focus on the chin, as it is likely to jut forward, throwing your neck out of alignment with the rest of your back. When you are doing this right, it should seem like you have back support which is raising you up in a straight line from above the chest.

Fitness gurus recommend this as an excellent beginner’s exercise that can be easily done despite any lower back problems. It also works great to strengthen weak stomach muscles. You can begin with 5 repetitions, and work up to 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions for a gentle yet mighty effective workout to your core.

The Good News

woman belly

If you are looking to build a firm belly and a strong core, you can gratefully skip the sit-ups and crunches! Gone are the days when these were believed to be the only good exercises to tone up the belly.

Well, thank God that myth has been broken by fitness experts several times over. An increasing number of fitness instructors now recommend against crunches, as it only targets the outward muscles, with a potential strain on the back. And if you’re recovering from pregnancy, your belly is likely to turn even worse!

Related: Quick and Natural Ways to Burn Your Belly Fat

Thankfully, knowledge on women’s fitness has improved by leaps and bounds, so we can still exercise our abdominal area, without compromising other parts of our body. Now you can get ready to build that strong core you always wanted, which in turn will pave the way for superior health and quality of life!

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