Fitness · Health

Fitness Saturday: Doing the High Plank Knee Cross

This is the third post in our series of Fitness Saturday exercises—workouts appropriate to women in the second half of life. Personal trainer Brooke Marrone, president and founder of Brooke Marrone Fitness, in New York City, is our fitness guru.

 Plank 1

Plank 2Yoga instructor Caroline Maher demonstrating the High Plank and the High Plank Knee Cross.

 

The High Plank Knee Cross

Building a strong foundation doesn’t happen overnight, and it certainly doesn’t happen in only two weeks! So we continue our core work with the High Plank Knee Cross. If you have been practicing the first two core-strengthening moves I’ve suggested, the Elbow Plank  and the Bird Dog, you are more than ready to give this week’s exercise a try. As with every exercise, there is always a modification to start with until you are ready to advance.

  • Start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Extend one leg out straight and then the other, bringing your body into a “high plank,” with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Beginners: Start by holding the plank position for 15 seconds and work your way up until you can hold your plank with proper form for 45 seconds. If you have issues with your wrists, you can always hold onto a set of weights; that will help to take the pressure off.

  • Make sure your abs are engaged (pull your belly button into your spine) and your body is in a strong, straight line from your head to your toes, keeping your weight shifted back into your heels and your head, as always, a natural extension of your spine.
  • To advance, bring your right knee up to your left elbow and back to your plank position and repeat with the opposite leg. Alternate for 30 seconds to one minute.
  • If you can’t touch your elbow to your knee, try to get as close as you can. As you move from one side to the next, keep your body strong and stable, and be careful not to shift your weight into your shoulders.
  • Don’t forget to breathe! Exhale as your bring each knee in and inhale as you come out.

The muscles used in this exercise are not only the abdominals but also the obliques and the hip flexors. The abdominals provide movement and support to your core and your back and the obliques are responsible for side bending and waist twisting, which helps to provide stability to the hips and low back. The hip flexors are known as the iliopsoas, or inner hip muscles. Most people have very tight and short hip flexors, so this exercise is a great way to increase your flexibility in that area.

 

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