While the weather at the moment might not inspire visions of pool parties, tank tops and shorts, we can't help but think of the old adage: summer bodies are made in the winter. 

 

So, with bikinis and board shorts on the mind, we spoke to In-Shape Antioch's Fitness Manager and IFBB Pro, Tobias Young to get the lowdown on conditioning our core with two related, but different (and equally important) moves: plank and side plank.

 

What is the difference?

While both are complete core exercises, Tobias explains the main difference between the two moves is the muscles in the core that they work. A traditional, or regular plank, will have a greater emphasis on the transverse abdominis muscle, which is like an internal weight belt that keeps the core stabilized.

 

Plank

 

The side plank will have a stronger emphasis on the quadratus lumborum - the part of the back side of the abdominal wall that plays a major role in preventing back pain.

 

Side Plank 

 

Tobias urges you to incorporate both into your core conditioning routine since it will train the entire core and they complement one another perfectly. In other words, where one exercise may lack slightly, the other one will make up for it.

 

Tobias' Top five tips to the perfect plank (these apply to both traditional and side plank!):

  1. Ensure that your abdominals and transverse abdominus are engaged the entire time to keep the body rigid. Try drawing your belly button in toward your spine.
  2. Keep your head and neck straight in a neutral position.
  3. Squeeze your glutes and quads (and of course that core).
  4. Breathe with continued steady breaths. Do not hold your breath.
  5. Make sure that you keep the scapula and shoulder girdle in a tight and neutral position.
  6. Keep the pelvis is a neutral position. This will help prevent the lower back from arching and causing pain.
  7. Most of all, have fun and work on getting better at it. Work up to holding the plank for 60 seconds, then 90, and beyond. Challenge yourself! J

 

Both of these options are fantastic to do after a group fitness class, cycling 15 miles in our studio, or a beasty weight sesh. You can even do both of these at home during a commercial break from your fav TV show! Happy planking J