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Shorts and sundresses, weekends at the lake, nights by the fire…summer brings with it a number of wonderful things. The thing you’re never ready for, though, is the first time you need to slip into a bathing suit. But this year, feel comfortable pulling on a two-piece or leaving your T-shirt on a chair with this five-minute plank series you can do in your living room. You’ll cinch, flatten and tone your middle in time for that first beach day!

 

Why do a plank instead of a crunch? Crunches only utilize the rectus abdominis, the large muscles that run down the front of the abdomen. And they also tend to ignore the hard-to-reach area below the belly button. Planks, meanwhile, engage not only the rectus abdominis, but also the transverse abdominis and the obliques, which all work together to flatten and tone the middle.

 

To do a plank, the only thing you need is enough room to be in a push-up position. Place your hands on the ground shoulder-width apart, then extend your legs back so your body makes a straight line and your hips aren’t dropping down. This will be the starting point for every exercise, but you can also lower down to your forearms at any time.

 

Don’t feel comfortable getting down on the ground? You can complete all the exercises by placing your hands on the edge of the counter and taking a big step back, so that your arms are straight and your body is in a straight line. Then if this starts to feel easy, you can move your hands to the edge of the sofa and assume the same position.

 

Your 5-Minute Flat Belly Plank Series

 

1) Straight Arm Hold – Come into a straight arm plank and hold for 30 seconds. Lower down and rest.

 

2) Single Knee Drops – Come into a straight arm plank. Drop your right knee towards the ground as far as you can without letting your hips drop, then straighten it back out. Repeat with the left. That’s one rep; do 10. Lower down and rest.

 

3) Double Knee Drops – Come into a straight arm plank. Drop both knees together towards the ground as far as you can without letting your hips drop, then straighten them back out. This movement will likely be smaller than the single knee drops. Do 10 reps. Lower down and rest.

 

4) Spidermans – Come into a straight arm plank. Lift your right foot up and bring your knee as close as you can to the outside of your elbow, then straighten it back out. Repeat with the left. That’s one rep; do 10. Lower down and rest.

 

5) Knees to Chest – Come into a straight arm plank. Lift up your right foot and pull your knee in as close to your chest as you can while keeping your back straight, then straighten it back out. Repeat with the left. That’s one rep; do 10. Lower down and rest.

 

6) Forearm Hold – Come into a plank on your forearms and hold for 30 seconds. Lower down and rest.

 

To start, try completing this routine once through at least 4 times a week. If it starts to get easier, you can add more days or do it twice through.

 

How are you getting ready for swimsuit season? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, tagging Power for Life Fitness and your apartment building.

 

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