Tag Archives: abs

Perfect Flexible Poise

My Healthy Journey: Flexible Living

As I told you last week, I’ve been making some radical changes, trying to be more flexible in many areas of my life.

I’ve eliminated soda, coffee, alcohol, and pretty much all processed foods. (I don’t think the coffee is going to be a permanent change after this month. I’m warning you now.)

I’ve also changed my diet in pretty big ways.

But that’s not all! I’m not participating in any challenges from work, but I’m still working out every day. That’s right everyone! I haven’t been this active for 10 years! So the truth is, even if it’s been a decade, there are ways to start getting active.

That’s not to say I started running 5 miles every morning. I’ve actually started doing yoga in the comfort of my own home. The gradual build is important to me.

I know I’m not the only one in the world who doesn’t want to put her struggle on display, but there are ways to start without witnesses.

Choosing Flexible Workouts

Rally, our wellness tool, has missions that can help you ease into fitness for when you’re not ready for a gym full of people quite yet. And increasing your flexibility and endurance is a great way to do that.

Whether it’s meditating for 20 minutes every day, stretching every day, dancing anytime, or going to yoga class every week, there is a mission to help you build to your goals. I’ve been wanting to do yoga for years, so this build has been a no-brainer for me.

Now, I have to admit, I’m not ready to go to yoga class once a week. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a yoga class (even just in movies), but the teacher tends to walk around and correct everyone’s form.

And while I would love to have perfect form eventually, there was just NO WAY I could’ve done some of the things I’m already doing on that first day. Let alone hold them for 5 breaths.

So what I’ve done is pick out a simple 10-minute routine (although it takes me more than 20 to work both sides) designed for something that’s a priority for me, building muscle tone.

And I know there are some poses in it that I simply couldn’t do on the first day, like this craziness:

Garland Pose

Or this killer:

Four-Limbed Staff Pose
Images from Shape

 

But 2 weeks later, I’m doing them. (Although I’m sure my version of that top one still isn’t quite perfect yet.) And each day, they get a little bit easier, and I hold them for a little bit longer. And as soon as I lose the burn from this routine, I can upgrade to something new and different.

I’m still working on mixing more things into my daily routine (mostly ab workouts at this point and hope to move on to cardio soon), but I can already feel the difference in my arms, legs, and most noticeably, my flexibility.

Here are some resources to help you follow my lead and start your own build to yoga class.

Stretch to Become Flexible Every Day

Office Stretches
Image via WalkingSpree

 

  • The 10-Minute De-stress and Stretch Workout:
The 10-Minute De-Stress and Stretch Workout
Image via Women’s Health Magazine

 

Dance Anytime

Yoga

30-Day Plank Challenge

My Healthy Journey: 30-Day Plank Challenge

This time, for the 30-Day Plank Challenge, I’m going to give you all the exercises and the schedule up front so you can follow along every day, and then I can just check in.

The plank strengthens your core, a complex series of muscles that includes your entire body, minus your legs, head, and arms. It doesn’t take equipment, machines, or special apparel. All you need is a little motivation.

Injury Prevention Tips

  • It’s recommended to start at level one and progress daily to ensure proper strength and form.
  • It’s essential that your spine stays level and that you activate your lower abs to protect your low back. If your back starts to arch, or your butt starts to dip, it’s time to call it a day.
  • Always make sure your wrists or elbows are directly under your shoulders to relieve any shoulder pressure.
  • You should not feel any joint, back, or shoulder pain during your planks. If you are, it’s probably related to your form. Have someone take a picture of you, or ask a friend to review your form. Make sure everything is in a straight line.
  • Remember to breath. Holding your breath makes the exercise harder and can cause an increase in your blood pressure. Focusing on your breath can actually improve your concentration and duration.

There are two different kinds of planks, in different levels, that you will use for this challenge: the front plank and the side plank.

Static Knee Forearm Plank

Beginner – Static Knee Forearm Plank – Start with your knees together and on the ground. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders and rest your weight on your forearms. Flatten your spine, and press through your elbows to keep your chest from falling forward. Suck your navel into your spine and tighten your abdominals. Look straight down, allowing your neck to stay aligned with your spine.

Static Forearm Plank

Intermediate – Static Forearm Plank – Start with your toes together and on the ground. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders and rest your weight on your forearms. Flatten your spine, and press through your elbows to keep your chest from falling forward. Suck your navel into your spine and tighten your abdominals. Look straight down, allowing your neck to stay aligned with your spine.

Static 1 Leg Forearm Plank

Advanced – One Leg Forearm Plank – Start with your toes together and on the ground. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders and rest your weight on your forearms. Flatten your spine, and press through your elbows to keep your chest from falling forward. Suck your navel into your spine and tighten your abdominals. Look straight down, allowing your neck to stay aligned with your spine. Lift one leg off the ground to challenge your stability. Be sure to alternate legs.

Static Knee Forearm Plank

Beginner – Static Knee Forearm Side Plank – Start with your knees together and on the ground. Place your right elbow on the ground directly under your shoulder. Straighten your spine, tighten your abdominals, and look straight ahead. Hold. Repeat on the left side. Once you reach one minute on each side with little struggle, then progress to the next level.

Static Low Side Forearm Plank

Intermediate/Advanced – Static Side Forearm Plank – Start with your feet together and on the ground, keep your knees lifted and the body in one straight line. Place your right elbow on the ground directly under your shoulder. Straighten your spine, tighten your abdominals, and look straight ahead. Hold. Repeat on the left side. Once you reach one minute on each side with little struggle, then progress to the next level.

Once you’ve chosen a level to follow, use this tracker for how long to hold your planks each day:

30-Day Plank Challenge Tracker

Use this month to build your core with other Health Alliance employees and me today!