Do try this at home - The Plank

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The Independent Online

This exercise improves abdominal strength without putting strain on the lower back. It also provides a good alternative to traditional stomach crunches and sit-ups.



Why do it?

This exercise improves abdominal strength without putting strain on the lower back. It also provides a good alternative to traditional stomach crunches and sit-ups.

Method

Lie face down on the floor with your arms bent so that they are underneath you and you are supported on your elbows. Now tighten up your stomach muscles and raise your hips off the floor far enough to create a straight line from your shoulders to your knees, which should be kept in contact with the ground. Be careful not to let your hips sag so that your back arches. Similarly, do not raise your hips too high, making the exercise easy. Hold this position for 8-10 seconds, then relax. Make sure that you keep breathing as you hold the position – holding your breath will lead to a rise in blood pressure. Repeat this eight times, holding the position steady on each effort.

Progressions

To make the exercise more difficult you can start in the same position but raise both your hips and your knees at the same time so you are balancing on your elbows and the toes/balls of your feet, with your body in a straight line from shoulders to ankles. If you need more of a challenge, raise one foot off the ground while you hold the position. Alternate legs and gradually increase the duration of the hold.

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