I'm not a big fan of static hold exercises. Wall sits and planks just don't do it for me - I've never understood how holding yourself in a completely still position could possibly build a range of muscles. I want to get the maximum bang for my buck from every minute I spend in the gym, so I just don't have time to waste on static holds that strengthen only one part of my body (at best). I've discovered that exercises like plank walks, which I am demonstrating today, take the good parts of static holds, and then add a dynamic element to them by incorporating multiple other parts of your body. See below for exercise instructions:
1) Start in a push up position with your back flat and hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
2) Put your first elbow down on the ground, like you were getting down to do a plank.
3) Put your second elbow on the ground. Make sure your back stays flat, abs are clenched, and head is in line with your body.
4) Push yourself back up onto your hands, one hand at a time.
5) End where you started. Repeat 20 times, trying to alternate which arm you put down first. So, if I start by lowering my left elbow to the ground, on the next rep lower your right elbow first. The more you keep your body guessing, the better the workout you're getting! This exercise should strengthen not only your abs, but your arms, back, shoulders, and obliques (sides of your body).
I had an unsettling experience yesterday, an experience which got me thinking about one of the many reasons why I am passionate about convincing women to incorporate weights into their workouts. I've never understood why so many people in our country think that the only way to be attractive as a woman is to appear weak and helpless. What's sexy about a girl who can't lift boxes of her own stuff? Will your "attractiveness" seem worth it if you are ever in an emergency situation where you need to lift something heavy off yourself, or, even worse, your child? And if someone decides to attack you, will you still be glad that you spent all that time avoiding the weight rack? I had a guy run across an intersection in the dark, and jump in front of me yesterday evening. I think he thought he was making a bold, romantic gesture by dashing over and asking me to stop and talk to him, but when three sentences later he was asking me where I lived, I knew it was time to get away from him as quickly as possible. Luckily for me, I think he was just an awkward guy trying to find a date before Valentine's Day (might want to check the ring hand first, buddy), but what if he had been a creeper? What if he had grabbed me? Let me tell you, that would be the moment in which I would be so thankful that I lift weights. There are way too many creepy guys out there, and way too many instances of women being abused. You owe it to yourself to put yourself in as advantageous a position as you can in this world, and part of that equation requires maintaining at least a baseline level of strength. So pick up some weights next time you're at the gym! And make sure they're heavy ones!