My top five exercises for increasing fitness...No. 4

My top five exercises for increasing fitness...

Do you want to get fit with the least effort possible!? Well I’ll let you into a little secret, you do have to get pretty hot and sweaty if you are serious about getting fit, however there are some exercises that Personal Trainers know get results and these are the ones we pretty much use with every client. They come with variations so they can be harder or easier depending in your fitness level but basically these are the key exercises you should be doing to get fit and stay fit.

So far I have revealed my top three exercises, the squat, the press up and the posture corrector. Today I focus on another often overlooked aspect of fitness – core strength. Core strength is important for just about any other exercise you may do and this exercise is my favourite of all core exercises, it’s the Plank.

Number Four – The Plank

How to do it

  • Plant the hands directly under the shoulders.

  • Ground the toes into the floor and squeeze the glutes (your bottom!) to stabilize the bottom half of the body. The legs should be working in the move too, careful not to lock the knees.

  • Neutralise the neck and spine by looking at the floor about a foot in front of the hands. The head should be in line with the back.

  • Think of your body as one straight line – from the top of your head down through your heels (sometimes it helps to think of pulling your hips up at the same time as bringing your bottom down).

  • Bring your knees down to make this exercise easier; make sure you still keep that straight line through the body.

  • You can come down onto your forearms to make this a stronger move or to take the stain off the wrists. Ensure that your elbows are directly under the shoulders.

What muscles does it work?

Lots! Specifically, supporting yourself with only your forearms and toes forces the rectus and transversus abdominis of your abs, the erector spinae along your spine, your trapezius and rhomboids in your upper back, the rotator cuff and deltoids in your shoulders, the pectorals and serratus anterior of your chest, the quadriceps and gastrocnemius in your legs and, finally, the gluteus maximus, your bottom, to contract and exert force. And, like all strength moves, the more you perform the plank, the stronger these muscles will become – enabling you to hold the pose for even longer periods of time.

How does it help increase fitness?

Core strength is important for so many reasons, when you perform any exercise you will use your core. With good core strength your posture will improve and you will be able to hold yourself in good position for all other strength building exercises. Your press ups will improve because you will be able to hold yourself in position longer, your squats will improve because you will hold your back straighter and therefore the force of your squatting will go directly through your thighs (where you want it). Runners should also practice the plank regularly because running form can be greatly improved by holding the body in a good strong position.

When should I do it?

You should be doing core strengthening exercises every time you work out, building up to doing them every day for the perfect core strength. Initially start by holding the plank for as long as you can, rest and repeat twice more. Build up to doing at least a 30 second plank three times at each workout. As this becomes easier you can add plank variations to make the move harder.

Our aim at Fit In Minutes is to provide you with daily exercise and nutrition solutions, to coach you towards individual success whatever that looks like to you so that you can feel fitter, healthier and know you have a way of fitting exercise into your life.

We look forward to helping you be the healthiest woman you can be, one step at a time.

Kirsty x

Fit in mind

Fit in body

Fit in your life


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