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The Best Exercise for a Tight Waist and Strong Back

mat trunk + spine Aug 19, 2020

Favorite exercise alert! Okay, I admit it, I have a lot of favorite exercises. But for good reason! They feel gooooood, they energize me, and they make me stop hurting (yes, I have tight muscles, too).

Today's favorite exercise is called: Twisted Plank. I made that up. Since I'm not very creative in naming exercises you get what you expect: a twist and a plank.

Benefits of Planks

  • They strengthen your arms and shoulders
  • They strengthen your core, including your transversus abdominal (TA) muscle
  • They're a full-body exercise, which means your arms, shoulders, back, abdominals, legs, and feet muscles are involved
  • They stabilize your lumbar spine
  • They make a skinny waist

Benefits of Twists

  • They strengthen your oblique abdominals
  • They stretch your back muscles
  • They improve digestion by toning your abdominal muscles
  • They move your spine in rotation
  • They make a skinny waist

This makes Twisted Planks the best of two worlds. Yay! Let's do it!

Tips For The Perfect Plank

>> To See the Wrist-Saving Version Scroll To The Bottom

  • Position your wrists directly underneath your shoulders
  • Straighten your elbows fully but don't lock them
  • Press the first and second toe firmly into the floor
  • Lift your thighs
  • Lift your waist
  • Slide your shoulder blades down your back
  • Keep your hips no lower than a diagonal between your heels and shoulders, or even a little bit higher. Choose the point where you feel your core working the most. (The weaker your core, the higher your hips should be.)

So far so good. Let's move on...

Step #1: Position Your Right Foot

Turn your right foot so your toes are pointing to the left and the outer edge of the foot is on the floor. Like this:

Keep your foot very flexed to protect your ankle. Half of your body weight will be supported on that foot, and pulling your toes strongly up to your shins (dorsiflexion of the ankle) will engage the muscles around the ankle, all the way up to the knees. Do you see that my outer ankle bone is not touching the mat? 

Step #2: Position Your Left Foot

Then, turn your left foot as well, so your toes are pointing to the left and keep it strongly flexed, as well. Like this:

Now you look like this:

Tips To Self-Correct

Let's find those sneaky ways in which the body uses the path of least resistance to make the exercise useless and correct them.

  • First a reminder: Flex your feet like you mean it. Please!
  • Straighten both arms. Is your right arm slightly bent? Is your right shoulder lower than the left? Keeping your arms really straight and your shoulders level increases the rotation of your spine. Feel it now? Wicked twisted! (Learned that in New England!)
  • Are your hips in the diagonal between feet and shoulders? At first, they will probably be higher. Try to lower your hips so that they are in a diagonal between your heels and head, as this makes the twist more effective. BUT this might not be possible for you right now. Your back might be too tight and if you feel your low back tweaking, don't do it. Keep your hips higher at first and over time you can work up to lowering your hips a bit to make the twist more intense. Never lower the hips below the diagonal. (This is also called sagging, yikes!)

Common Mistakes

Check that your hips are not pushed out to one side, as seen here:

Instead, keep your hips aligned between your ankles and shoulders. Like this:

Ready For a Challenge?

Try stacking your feet...

Wrist-Saving Version

Luckily, you can do this Twisted Plank on your elbows as well.

 

Related: How To Avoid Wrist Pain in Pilates (Part 1) 

 

 

Did you try it? How do you like it? Let me know in the comments. 

  

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