Fitness - that's possibly the most taboo F-word in my dictionary. The mere thought of it tires me out, instantly. I hate running, swimming bores me and being outdoors these days is a painful prospect. But I love my McSpicy burger and chocolate cake too much, so exercise is a necessary evil.
For those of you who subscribe to the same school of thought, I bring good news. Getting toned and trim is not as difficult as you may think - as long as you're doing it smartly. And by that, I mean doing what I call "one exercise move to rule them all": Planking.
Fitness trainers call it the best core exercise there is. It's deceptively simple, but it works the body hard. Not to be confused with a now-old YOLO fad of lying face down in unusual places to resemble a wooden plank, planking is a lot more strenuous. To me, it's the mother of all exercise moves because it works muscles I never even knew I had.
To plank,lie on a level surface belly down, and prop yourself up on your elbows held close to the sides of your body. Your legs should be straight and your toes should touch the floor (like when you do a push-up). Place your forearms flat on the floor and gradually tense your whole body so your feel taut like a guitar string.
Your full body weight should be borne by your elbows and your toes, and you should keep your body as straight as possible (making sure your belly doesn't sag). Breathing steadily, hold that position for a long as at least five seconds, then lower yourself down to rest position. Resume again, and see if you can gradually hold the position for up to one minute. As a bonus, contract your abs by 'pulling in' your belly button.
Done right, planking will cause your whole body to feel like it's run a marathon. You know you're doing it right when you feel that burn in your thighs, calves, belly, butt and arms - that means your muscles are screaming for mercy. and over time, your posture and balance should improve, your core should be stronger and you'll be less prone to back pain.
The beauty of planking is it's crazy-easy to do, yet so effective. Most of all, it's something you can attempt - no matter what your fitness level. Need some #fitspo? Let Gisele Bunchen do the honours.
Photos: velocitysp.com, fitwirr.com