Forearm Plank
is an excellent exercise that integrates the whole body through core stabilization. Everyone has time for at least one plank sequence per day.....

Set up for Success:  Begin on forearms and knees - make sure that the elbows are stacked beneath the shoulders and the forearms are pressing into the ground. Lift the heart into the back just between the scapulae (shoulder blades).  Keep the clavicles (collarbones) wide and shoulders down away from the ears. Engage the abdominal wall up and in on the exhale to come into plank position with the legs straight, toes tucked under and forward as pictured. Hold for 5 slow breaths or as long as you can support the position. 

Try this variation for an added challenge:  Start in plank position - inhale to prepare, exhale to point the toes of the right foot and extend the leg off the ground - leg stays parallel. Flex the ankle and place toes back down on the ground.  You are back at your starting plank position. Inhale, then exhale to repeat the same variation with the other leg. Perform 3 more sets each side, then rest.

Tips for Success:  Maintain length through the entire body from toes to the top of the head. Keep eyes on the ground and the back of the neck long.  Let the upper traps melt down the back and unclench the jaw. Reach the tailbone towards the heels as you lift the abdominal wall up and in.  Most importantly: Breathe!!!
Side Plank is another way to integrate the whole body through the core. 

Set up for Success:  the hips should be stacked - when you lift your hips, your elbow should be stacked beneath your shoulder with the scapula stabilized on the ribcage.  Perhaps image one is enough challenge for you today - if you want more of a challenge, try the Side Plank Variations below

Side Plank Variations:  Straighten the top leg and lift the hips off the ground.  Maintain the length of your side waist as you lift the top leg.  Maintain the length of the side waist as you lift the top hand to the sky.  Maintain your body position as you lower and lift the top leg 4-6 times  -  move slowly and breathe.

Side Stretch:  Lower the hips and tuck the legs beneath you.  Keep the sitzbone grounded and side stretch laterally while lifting the arm overhead and breathing into the ribcage. You will be stretching the side waist that was closest to the ground during the exercise. Hold and breathe for 60 seconds.

Tips for Success:  press the bottom knee or ankle strongly into the ground while lifting the hips to engage the bottom hip.  Engage the abdominals like a corset to balance the strength of the torso.  Keep the scapula on the ribcage and humerus (upper arm bone) in the socket without sinking - press the bottom forearm into the ground.  Keep the head, ribcage, pelvis and leg in one line.  Use the hand on the top hip as a reference to maintain the length of the side waist while lifting the leg.  Place the top hand on the ground if you need extra assistance during this challenging exercise.  

Repeat the sequence on the other side

Repeat the Side Stretch on the new side

Finish with a Glute Stretch:   Lay on your back with both feet on the ground, knees bent. Maintain length in both side waists from the armpits to the pelivis. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee without changing the pelvis and externally rotate the thigh.  If you need more of a stretch, reach your hands around the other thigh to pull the legs towards you while maintaining a neutral pelvis with tailbone heavy into the ground.  Breathe and hold position for 60 seconds. Repeat  glute stretch to the other side.
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