February Challenge

2013 is off to a great start! Near the beginning of January, I had printed off a workout challenge to do in addition to my regular workouts. My eldest son saw it (he’s 11 years old for another month) saw the calendar of activities and decided it was something he wanted to do too! So for the past 4 weeks or so, him and I have been doing short workouts together in our basement. He has wanted to increase core strength for a while now, ever since I told him it would help him with swimming. We’ve worked up to doing 80 burpees. Broken up into 4 sets of 20. πŸ™‚

I am a firm believer in building core strength. First of all, you use your core Every Single Day, all day long! There are so many activities we do that promote bad posture. Bad posture can lead to a variety of health problem since we may be cutting off some critical flow of something or other as we slouch and lean in our chairs. Reading, although so good for us, can also contribute to poor posture! Let’s fight back! Sit up straight, right now! Shoulders back, tummy in, feet on the floor. Tuck your chin down a little. Yes, I can see you. πŸ™‚

The challenge for February is to plank.

Plank. It sounds so simple but this simple exercise will work your whole body. Start with a 10-15 second plank. Work AT your fitness level, not against it. Maybe you can only plank for 5 seconds. Maybe you can hold a plank for 30 seconds. Do what you can.

Today, start with two sets. That is, one 15 second plank, a 30 second rest, and a final 15 second plank. Find someone to help you out and have them time you. But before you get down on the ground, keep in mind that proper form is essential. If you can plank for 5 minutes and you have bad posture, no one will be impressed. It won’t improve your core strength nearly as quickly as having good posture. It’s like if you can do 100 pushups with your butt in the air, you just look ridiculous. Keep it low. πŸ™‚

Here are the basics:

Start by lying on your belly on the floor preferably with a soft surface under your upper body and sturdy shoes on your feet.

Pull your toes down onto the ground, keep your heels CLOSE but not touching. Put your head up and your elbows underneath your shoulders. Hands are in front of you, not touching.

After you push yourself off the ground, try to keep your body in a straight line from head (ears), through your shoulders, through your hips, your knees, down to your heels.

Now, pull your belly button in. If your belly starts trembling, you’re doing it right. Remember, your head is “neutral”. You’re not looking up or forward, you’re not looking back and down towards your toes. Here’s a picture to help you out.Β 

Proper form:


My 5 year old daughter showing us a fine plank. You can almost draw a straight line from her head to her heels.

Improper form:Β 



To see how you’re doing, one day a week, try to plank as long as you can. Record your time on a calendar. Your goal is to hold a plank for 2 minutes!! I’ll let you know if any of my kids get there by the end of February. πŸ™‚ Β Each week, increase the time you hold your plank by 10 seconds. If you are planking 15 seconds this week, aim for 2 sets of 25 second planks next week. If that’s too hard, just add in a third round of your 15 second plank. Make sense?

I’ll be back next with a short workout you can do at home with your whole family. πŸ™‚