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March 2019 Issue
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Strengthen your core without the sit-ups

Core forerarm plank. Photo: Tony Gazley
Better core strength helps with balance and the ability to carry a heavy pack

The core refers to the sheath of muscles that surround your abdomen. This includes muscles at your stomach, your back and the sides of your torso. Better core strength helps with balance and the ability to wear and comfortably move with a heavy pack.

The many variations of sit-ups are just one way to strengthen the core. But there are other movements that help strengthen the core, particularly targeting the side and back muscles.
The plank is the position at the top of a press-up, before you lower down. The forearm version puts the weight in your elbows and forearms. It’s easier on your wrists and requires more core strength than holding a normal plank position.

Forearm plank

  1. Start on elbows and knees
  2. Place elbows under your shoulders or wider
  3. Keep your hands in front of your elbows. Either make fists or press palms flat
  4. Press the space between your shoulder blades up towards the sky
  5. Step one foot at a time into a plank position
  6. Without moving your arms, try to squeeze your elbows towards each other – imagine hugging someone with your elbows.
  7. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, then repeat
  8. To work harder, alternate lifting one foot at a time off the ground

Core forearm side plank. Photo: Tony Gazley

Forearm side plank

  1. Start by lying down on your right side
  2. Bring your right elbow under your shoulder
  3. Keep your right hand directly out from your elbow. Either make a fist or press palm flat
  4. Step left foot in front of you
  5. Flex your right toes towards you
  6. Press into your right elbow, left foot and the outside edge of your bottom right foot, then lift your hips off the ground
  7. Don’t shrug your shoulders – lift your ribs and right armpit higher
  8. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes
  9. Switch sides and then repeat on each side
  10. To work harder, try stacking your feet.