Be Well: Planks Rows

DSC_0674I'm back with workout photos! I may have had to dodge a couple of gym employees and a few yoga aficionados to get them, but I got them. Sharing workouts with you guys is one of my absolute favorite parts about this blog, so I'm happy to be back in the workout picture groove!

Today I'm demonstrating plank rows, one of my favorite total-body exercises. This exercise uses the row fundamentals I discussed in this post and combines them with a plank in order to give your abs and your back a fantastic workout.

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Per the usual, in this workout you need to be sure to challenge yourself with the weight you choose. You can do this workout with 10 lbs., easily. I used 12.5 lb. free weights for this demonstration, but I use 15 lbs. when I'm in the gym.

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Also per the usual, you want to focus on keeping a flat back in this exercise. No hunching or rounding because 1) that's cheating and 2) you don't want to risk hurting yourself.

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Start in a plank position, hands grasping your weights and arms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your back should be flat, your neck and head should be in alignment with your back, and your feet should be slightly wider than they typically are when you are in a pushup position in order to enhance stability.

Pick up your left-side weight and send your elbow towards the ceiling. While you do this try to pinch your shoulder blades together and try to not shift your hips to one side. Also, try your hardest not to hinge at the waist and send your hips towards the ceiling. You want to maintain as close to the perfect plank position as possible when you are doing the row in order to give your abs a good dynamic workout.

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Return your left-side weight to the ground.

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Pick up the right-side weight, and try to maintain all the good fundamentals we talked about for the left side.

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Return to your plank position and repeat 10 times on each side for one set. If 10 reps is to easy, try for more sets! Also, if you want to up the difficulty, add a pushup between every row. That will have you sweating in no time.

DSC_0660And finally, be proud that you're lifting weights and making yourself a healthier person!

Sometimes I worry that the exercises I profile on this blog are too basic, too obvious, too well-known by everyone to warrant a step-by-step pictorial explanation here. But then I pick up Shape magazine and read that The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that only 6.3% of women lift weights. SIX POINT THREE. Now, this was only a blurb in a magazine, and I can't comment on the statistical rigor of the study (although I wish I could, that stuff is very interesting to me), but if I sit down and think about my friends and their workout routines, I know that 6.3% can't be too far off. And that is terrifying. I think this country is doing its women a huge disservice by letting them think that strength training (with heavy weights!) isn't important - not only are 93.7% of women missing out on a great way to burn more calories and control their weight, but they are standing by while their skeletons become brittle, which can lead to a world of problems in older age. If you are reading this and you currently do not strength train, I really hope this can serve in some small way as a wake-up call: your body deserves better. And you are not off the hook if you are lifting 5 lbs. or less when you go to the gym: I am sure I will say this in the future, but 5 lbs. is basically within the margin of error from zero lbs. Next time you're at the gym, pick up a heavy weight - 10 lbs., 20 lbs., 50 lbs. You can do it, you WILL NOT bulk up, and your body will be so much better for it.

That's my soapbox, and I probably won't be coming off of it for a long while - I hope you still like me! Have a great Wednesday.