Lord knows I'm not doing much core these days—one and a half weeks 'till the due date, folks! I'm ready, so totally ready for this baby to come out. Just in the last day or two, I've really been feeling the effects of hitting that any-day-now mark. I walk slower (but I'm not doing the waddle), and my energy is dropping (but I'm still trying to get in some activity...like light strength training). My plan from here on out is to simply move in whatever way I can without going overboard, all in an effort to keep the muscles alive, to keep the ticker pumping and, well...to keep from going insane! We'll worry about next year's fitness goals after Baby comes. I'm already looking forward to getting back to my pre-preggo state. I miss all the fun exercises I used to do!
And as you think about your fitness plans for the upcoming new year, let me suggest you check in with your core. Your core, after all, is pretty much the epicenter of all that you do. Not only does it create a solid base from which you move, it supports your balancing act and keeps your posture in check. The problem? A thousand crunches don't necessarily signify a strong core, so it's important to check in with the one exercise that tells the story: The plank.
How to test your core with a plank?
It's simple. Get into the position above, placing a stopwatch of sorts in between your arms. Engage your core, focus on that breathing and see how long you can hold it for. (Last time I tested myself,
I hit three minutes and two seconds. These days, I'm good for about 30
seconds before I fail. You know, 'cuz of the whole baby thing I've got
Can you hit at least two minutes? You've got good core, friend. Anything less might mean you need to up the ante a bit. Best way to do that? More planks, of course! (And when you need a break from planks, be sure to browse my posts pertaining to core exercises, you might find some new ideas.)
Remember this—It's always best to test your core while it's fresh. And the planks only count if you're holding the position above without movement. Can't add pushups, can't shift to straight arms...you certainly can't let your hips sink toward the ground, or move up toward the ceiling. Both of these actions break the efforts of your core abdominal muscles. One might call it, ahem, cheating.
Once you figure out how long you can hold a plank for, stick with that number until the plank gets easy. After that point, add another 10 seconds. And another, and another until you reach the point of greater challenge.
Pick a time, set a goal...make that goal part of your new fitness plan for 2012.
Let's talk about Baby again for just a second, only because it got the cutest Christmas present from Grandpa Chris (my dad): Two sets of LIVESTRONG gym shoes...
Question: Did you do the plank test? How long can you hold one for?