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4

The Most Effective Plank Exercises

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

Often, people are reluctant to attempt a plank because they’ve heard that you have to hold a long-lever plank for 5 minutes in order to be “cool.” Not true. Planks are accessible to nearly everyone, as many versions exist.K planking in Thailand

Want to perform a #fitness plank? This video shows 4 different modifications, & instructions… Click To Tweet

Proper Technique:

  • Planks are more effective if you rest on your elbows, not your hands
  • Elbows directly below the shoulders
  • Hands loose and relaxed; a correlation exists between clenched fists and breath-holding
  • It’s better for your lower back to have your hips slightly piked rather than dropped, though a straight line is your goal
  • Pretend you are wearing a belt, and tighten all places where it would touch

One caveat: We mention holding for 30 seconds in the video, but research also indicates you can hold for as little as 20, take a short break, then get back into plank position. Whether you choose 20 or 30 second intervals, stick with the plank position that gives you the best form.

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Best Exercises for Over 50 Year Olds: Part 5

What are the Best Exercises for Over 50 Year Olds?

You can create workout routines that are perfect for your baby boomer body armed with any of 6 exercise design principles. This post is the last in a 5 part series on creating the best workouts possible for the over 50 exerciser. (You will find links to Parts 1-4 at the end of this post).

Best exercises for over 50

No snide comments about side planks.

Apply insider strategies professional fitness leaders use to give yourself the gift of life-enhancing fitness programs that are low risk, yet high reward. Let’s maintain function and expand, not shrink our world as we exercise.

We boomers — born between 1946-1964 — want to enjoy the second half of life actively, comfortably, and energetically. Yet we have five to seven decades of accumulated aches and pains. Do joint issues limit your ability to do certain activities? I know knee arthritis has forced me to make numerous activity changes, especially this past decade.  Years of sitting, driving — of living life in front of our bodies — may have produced forward head misalignment, rounded shoulders, hunched posture, overly stretched or weak backs. While not elderly, frail, nor sedentary, we boomers are probably feeling the effects of the passing years.

Which brings us to the final program design principle in this series. In some ways you could argue that I saved the best for last.  Yup, All About Abs!

Principle 6: Avoid Ab Exercises that Bend at the Neck

Best exercises for over 50

You can do lots of fun things with a strong core

Another, more technical way to word that is:

Minimize Core Work and Ab Exercises that Require Spinal Flexion

Challenge yourself to select abs exercises that involve no crunches. While the traditional crunch has its place and value, the last thing we 50-70 year olds need is more forward rounding. Nor is a 6-pack a primary goal for us. Instead, perform moves that keep your head on the mat or that have very little opportunity to forward flex the neck.

Challenge yourself to select abs exercises that involve no crunches Click To Tweet

Work with, not against the anatomical reality of the abs: the Rectus Abdominis, Transversus, and Obliques are endurance, compression, and posture muscles. They are not designed for power (in contrast with the glutes and quads, which are power muscles, for example). Therefore emphasize postural, endurance and compression aspects of the abs. You may especially appreciate improving posture as you strengthen your core.

How many of us baby boomers already have forward head thrust, tight necks, rounded shoulders? Probably most, if you are typical older adults. When selecting abs exercises, simply ask yourself whether a given move exacerbates the above problems, is neutral, or counteracts them. The last option is ideal.

No Crunch Examples

A few primary examples of suitable compression abs moves for boomers are planks and the reverse curl or reverse curl with an oblique rotation (bringing the right hip towards the left ribcage, for instance).

Best Exercises for over 50 Bug series

Work core and coordination with the Bug Series

Another great option is the “Marching Abs” move where the upper body stays on the mat throughout.  Legs are bent at 90 degrees at the knees; hips are fairly open with the feet close to the ground. You march the feet, holding the knee angle constant, alternating right and left foot marches. Depending on core strength and back issues, you may decide to march the feet from the ground to about a foot from the ground — the most challenging version. If you have trouble maintaining great form or have difficulty maintaining alignment, march in space. Draw your knees closer to your chest, close down some of the hip angle, and march with your feet anywhere from one to two feet from the ground.

Want Tons More Examples that are No Crunch, Best Exercises for Over 50 Year Olds?

Truth bomb — Ab exercises alone won’t work to whittle any waistline fat. You probably already know that spot reducing is a myth. However, having a stronger core, better posture, and less back pain are all yours when you add abs to your workout program. Especially the kinds of core and abs exercises we’ve been talking about that minimize neck flexion and maximize the way your body performs and feels (versus simply how it looks).  Do check out what our Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50  offers. For one, you’ll get a LOT of great examples of moves that suit older adults and don’t depend on zillions of crunches.  For you visual and kinesthetic learners, the program offers 23 videos of ab exercises as well.

Ultimate Abs No-Crunch Abs

Ultimate Abs Sales Page

To get to the whole kit and kaboodle of the “Create the Best Workouts” blog post series, click on the links below that take you to Parts 1-4, Principles 1-5. You can go in any order really.

Create the Best Workout Programs for Your Over 50 Body

Create the Best Possible Over 50 Workouts: Part 2

Over 50? Create the Best Workouts Possible: Part 3

Create Great Baby Boomer Workouts: Part 4

ACTION: DON’T subscribe if you are not interested to receive weekly news on how you can make your second half of life an active one. Who needs one more email to delete from the inbox? However, if you DO want professional, insider strategies that will help you achieve your workout goals, this is your moment. Enter your email in any of the subscription boxes. See you weekly thereafter!

Kymberly Willliams-Evans, MA

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