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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Abs of Steel

I couldn't resist using Abs of Steel as the title of this post.  Do you remember that series of videos?  Or rather tapes, as that's what they were called at the time.

This post is really just about a couple of abs exercises that I try to work in to my abs routine.

Doing the same abdominal exercises time and time again is BORING!

And the winner is....PLANKS!

I used to take a few bootcamp classes and while I thought I was in decent shape I could never hold the plank for as long as the instructor wanted.  Obviously this was something I needed to work on.

I highly recommend working on the plank as well as the side plank.  For this post I'm going to focus on the standard plank.

What I like about the standard plank is that my increased strength is measurable.  Time yourself and work towards increasing that time every week. (this is the same aspect that I like about push-ups)
Form is key when doing planks so make sure that your abs are up and in, your belly button is being pulled towards your spine and your back is not arching.

Here are some basic instructions, courtesy of

Your Position

Start by lying face down on the ground or use an exercise mat. Place your elbows and forearms underneath your chest.
Prop yourself up to form a bridge using your toes and forearms
Maintain a flat back and do not allow your hips to sag towards the ground.

Target Muscles
The Core - Abdominals, Hips, Back

Step By Step Instructions
Hold this position *focusing on tightening your abs* until you can no longer maintain a flat bridge. For beginners, start with 10 seconds
Return to start position

Remember to not let your hips and back sag. This exercise will only be effective if you work to maintain a flat line from your shoulders to your feet. You might want to start in front of a mirror to learn the technique.

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