But do it incorrectly and you could do yourself damage.
Older women can rock a great body that gets better with every decade!
Check out the video I created on the step by step method to get yourself into a safe high plank. It’s repeated on the bottom of this post. It’s only a couple of minutes, so try watching it first – then have a go doing it with me.
But be careful – if you’ve never done this before, only do what your body is willing and able to do right now until you’ve slowly built up your strength and endurance. When you do this, keep breathing, don’t hold your breath. Hold it for a few seconds, then come back down. Breath, try again. When your confidence has improved, try to hold it for longer. And watch your body transform!!!
As we age the number one thing that most women complain of is their loss of core strength and an expanding waistline. That was me!!!
I’ve discovered ONE exercise that I hated at first. I just couldn’t do it. NOW – I love it and I’ve seen the results.
As young women we may have felt that we were unstoppable.
We could eat what we want, we could do a little exercise and our body would always bounce back. Our 20’s are done in a blink, our 30’s go by so fast, the 40’s come up sooner than we expected and before we know it, the 50’s have hit and we’re actually starting to think about what state we’re going to be in when we celebrate our 60th birthday. So do something now for your body, it’s the only one you have.
If we allow our core strength to slowly dissipate over those years, there are 10 concerns that you need to be aware of!! But be assured, this does NOT have to happen.
- Lower back pain sets in and our posture is effected
- Sore knees become inevitable and we walk with difficulty
- Weight creeps on every year and gets harder to lose
- We start to move into ‘comfortable’ clothing and shoes for necessity rather than choice
- We forget about swimwear shopping as that’s simply beyond painful.
- Simple tasks like gardening, housework, bending and reaching become a real problem
- Playing with the kids or grandkids and doing enjoyable activities become harder
- Fatigue sets in and that ‘stoop’ in our walk appears along with the dowagers hump
- Balance is thrown off and worsens over time
- An all over body weakness becomes debilitating.
Besides walking, dancing, tai chi, yoga and any kind of exercise you find enjoyable, I’ve found one move, that when done correctly, works on every part of the body.
What is that exercise and how will it eliminate any of the problems above?
It’s the simple plank!!! And all of its varieties.
But I’m hearing you!!!
‘I can’t do that!!! Why would I want to?’
Here’s just a few benefits of this one exercise:
- Strengthens core
- Strengthens your back and helps to eliminate back pain
- Tones your butt
- Helps to define your waistline and the muscles all the way around the back as well
- Gives you a beautifully defined set of shoulders
- Gets rid of bingo wings and reshapes your gorgeous arms
- Gives you confidence to wear a sleeveless dress again
- Allows you to show off your waist again
- Realigns your posture so no more stoop
- Reshapes and strengthens the legs which helps the strength of the back
- Strengthens and revitalises the entire body
- Helps keep weight in balance and reduces body fat
Like all exercises – do not attempt any of these if you have pain, injury, joint problems, are recovering from illness or injury.
If you feel strong enough and have enough of a desire to try these, then do only what you can.
Allow the body the time it needs to get used to these moves gradually.
Don’t force, strain, pull or overdo anything.
*One more tip* – be careful of strain on your wrists. Take it easy until you find them strengthening up.
Tanya, my fellow yoga instructor, and I had some fun taking a few pics of various planks with as correct an alignment as humanly possible. So we hope we can excite you to try doing them correctly with all their variations. Simply follow the instructions and the photos. You can start at a total beginner point even if you’ve never ‘planked’ before. Start with one a day and hold for a few seconds. You’ll be amazed at how easy they become and how much longer you can hold the poses.
Scroll on down to the bottom of the post to check out my little ‘how to’ video on ‘high plank’.
Start off with easy standing plank against the wall.
Here Tanya demonstrates a standing push up or plank against a wall. Start with feet about arm distance from the wall. Flat hands at about bust height and lean in. Then return to starting position. Hold your stomach muscles in, tuck the tail bone under, keep a nice straight back then arms in close to the body, bent at the elbow and lean in. Keeping your feet and hands where they are, push in and out from the wall. Try this about 8 times.
When you’re ready, move to the easiest plank – Straight Arm Plank – start with one bent knee.
Tanya’s ‘Elegant Plank’
Start on all fours, straighten one leg out behind you to start. As you do this, bring up your lower abs and then those higher muscles just under the bust. You should feel as if you’re entire ab region is pulled up or held in to your best ability. Then, as you’re holding the body nice and taut – bring up your other leg. It should be a seamless movement. Keep the shoulders released away from the neck (no hunching). They should have a ‘stacked’ appearance i.e. nicely spread across the back. Tanya’s term for it is ‘Elegant Plank’ because it can be a nice, slow, elegant movement. Hold until you feel a few wobbles setting in then release the knees to the ground and push back onto your heels and stretch out the arms.
Similar to the straight arm plank but in this move, your elbows are at a 90 degree angle directly under your shoulders. You have your hands clasped in front so in effect you create a little ‘tripod’ for the upper body. Look straight down. We don’t want you to strain your neck by looking up or out or off to the side. Try this after you feel you’ve mastered straight arm plank and then let’s move on. Great arms, shoulders and upper body strength is the result with elbow plank.
Starting to build up your confidence? Then let’s make it a little harder!!
As with straight arm plank, begin with one knee down and one straight out. Turn the body on the grounded knee, lifting the opposite hand straight up and out, keeping your head and neck in line with the body. This is a knee assisted side plank. When you’re feeling adventurous try bringing the bottom knee off the floor in line with the straight leg and you have Side Plank.
Note: Keep the body straight. No hanging at the hip and no raising of the hip – the body needs to be totally aligned.
This really works on arms and shoulders. The side plank also defines the waist.
Word of warning – if you have any kind of shoulder pain or shoulder issues, check with your doctor or exercise physiologist before you attempt some of these. This creates more weight on the shoulders and shouldn’t be attempted if you have pain there.
Now that you’re getting confident and only if you feel strong – here’s the next few advanced planks to try.
This is a great exercise HOWEVER you need to know it’s quite tough on the shoulders. Saying that – it’s an amazing shoulder strengthener and shaper.
Start seated, bring your hands directly behind you with palms facing toward the feet. Lift from the hips keeping the arms and legs strong and straight. Keep the head and neck aligned and hold for only as long as your arms, shoulders and middle can manage. Come back down to seated and make sure you roll and stretch each shoulder when you’re done. This is a real ab and leg strengthener.
One legged Plank.
As above in ‘Elegant Plank’ – if you feel you can lift one leg at a time straight out in line with the body, you’ll experience a deeper level of core stabilising. Because only one leg is taking the body’s weight, you’ll feel more strength needed in the arms and shoulders. Try it ONLY when you’re confident.
Bent arm plank! Sometimes known as ‘hovering’.
One of the toughest. Start once again in ‘elegant plank’ keeping the arms in close to body, start to bend at the elbows and lower the body until it’s reasonably level with the mat hovering a few inches above the floor. Keep the head looking toward the floor. Hold only for as long as you can manage when you first try it. This is a very strong plank but you can feel every part of the body that it works. Waist, triceps, biceps, shoulders, abs and legs. Then lower to the floor and take a few deep breaths. Come back into childs pose to relax and stretch out the arms.
There’s no need to try these ALL in one day. Do what your body can manage and slowly work UP to being proud of yourself that you can achieve them. They’re fun to do and when you see the changes and strengthening in your body it’s truly rewarding.
Here’s a little how to video. Hope it helps.
Try some of these then send me an email and tell me how you went. If you like, send me some pics of yourself ‘planking’ in your favourite style and I’ll blog about the results that come in.
If you’d like to talk to me about private coaching or yoga classes, simply send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or head along to my ‘classes and workshops’ page for more details.