If you could only do one exercise, what would it be?
I'd recommend the plank.Everyone that I train, knows that the plank has endless variations, from easy to challenging. Add equipment, and woah!, you just raised the bar. But, that's a plan for another day.
This workout is about core endurance.Muscles have endurance strength - the ability to hold or do something repetitively for a longer period of time, and they have strength and power - the ability to push, move, explode with force. This workout is about muscular endurance of the core - the supporting muscles of your body, that aid in posture and overall spinal health.
Athletes and Non-AthletesThis workout is about endurance strength for your core and it's important for athletes in particular to develop this kind of strength. If you're cycling or running, a strong core can absorb up to 20% of your fatigue. Make sense? Well, if your core is weak, the fatigue generated by your activity is "absorbed" by your entire body, and specifically, the core. A weak core will absorb less of the fatigue. Improve your core, and it will absorb more fatigue and thus, will enable you to cycle or run further and faster.
This is a benefit to the non-athlete as well. A strong core will absorb the "fatigue" of your every day activities, enabling you to complete them with more energy. Whether you're walking, lifting heavy objects, or doing jobs around the house, a strong core will make it easier for you.
AdaptationsIndividuals may need additional modifications in order to do a plank. Some people have arthritis in their thumb joints or carpal tunnel, making a plank on the hands impossible. Try holding onto a set of hand weights - this will keep a straight wrist and may alleviate pressure. Also - if needed, simply do the plank on your forearms and eliminate the wrist position.
Individuals just starting out, may need to do a plank on their knees and that's an excellent starting point for many. Just make sure that you keep your butt down sufficiently, but don't let it sag - you'll feel that in your low back and that's not good.
Good luck and have fun!
Kathy is an accomplished Ironman triathlete, marathoner and age group champion in cycling road race, and is available for coaching you for your goal or next event. Check out Kathy's Healthy Active Living Coaching options for health, fitness and sports performance at 365fitt.com.