Sunday, 31 October 2010

Variations on Plank

One lovely evening I strolled in a beautiful centuries-old cemetery. When I reached the exit gate, the guard had already locked it and pulled a big chain around the bars. The iron railings protecting the cemetery were taller than I and had sharp peaks on the top. After a fruitless search for a hole in the railings I had no other option but to climb over it. Why such a big fuss trying to keep living people out and dead ones in was beyond me, but as it was getting dark I did not spend too much time thinking about it. 
With my little toe on a tree stump I managed to push myself on top of the railings. I then balanced my body on my hands, feeling the sharp iron peaks against my stomach. Somehow I managed to throw one leg and then the other over the railings while wearing skinny jeans. Still balanced on my hands high above the gravestones, while trying not to let an iron peak slide accidentally into my stomach, I lowered my body slowly back onto the ground. When safely on the other side I took a moment to thank my biceps, triceps and deltoids for letting me sleep in my own bed that night instead of a bed of soft moss covering someone else's final resting place.
And what is the moral of the story? Always do your press-ups (if you are in Britain), push-ups (if you are in the United States) or Plank (if you are on a yoga mat). Plank strengthens and tones the leg, back, stomach, shoulder and arm muscles. It is an all-rounder exercise.

A few Plank variations:
* get into a press-up position, but don't lower yourself onto the floor. Make sure your body is in one straight line and don't let the buttocks dip. If you cannot hold the body in one straight line, it means you have weak stomach muscles. Take 5 very deep breaths, rest and then repeat the exercise 3-5 times
* if you feel strong, lift one leg a few cm/inches off the ground. Take 5 deep breaths and then lift the other leg off the floor. Don't collapse or rest between the leg lifts
* imagine there is a string tied to your navel which has a pencil attached to it. Start making tiny circles with your body and count 20 to one side and 20 to the other. Rest and repeat the exercise 3-5 times
*  try also  Side Arm Plank
* if your body starts to shake during Plank, let it shake - it will become stronger in the process. You never know when you will need the strength to escape from a rather odd situation in life!

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