Functional Strength

I’m a mum, a wife, a triathlete and a personal trainer at the YMCA. I don’t usually talk about being a personal trainer. I work on a very part time basis at the YMCA, especially during race season. To be honest, I’m extremely lucky to have such a compassionate and enthusiastic employer. The YMCA has completely supported my dream of going to England to compete while balancing my family life. It is an organization that stands behind their mission statement 100% and I find it so rewarding to give back by training people, showing each person their true potential. Plus, I just started teaching a core class on a weekly basis and a bootcamp class when a sub is needed. I love it! I get to put my triathlon spin on these classes. Giving people a chance to rethink their existing workout routines and try something new by doing more body weight activities.

The exercises I love to teach and use in my own strength training programs are full body exercises that use your own body weight as resistance. My absolute favourite is plank because it strengthens your core from the inside out, starting with the transverse muscles and ending with your rectus abdominis (your 6 pack).

Once you can hold plank for 30 seconds at a time you can start adding in any number of variations that target every part of your body.  When you hold plank your body should look like a flat board. To do this you want to relax your shoulders, pull your pelvic floor up by doing a kegel, pull your belly button in towards your spine and engage your glutes (your bum). You should be evenly distributing your weight so as the time ticks by try to push your heels to the ground. It lengthens your body and helps distribute the weight.

Once you have plank down the next version you need to learn is side plank. You start in plank position and rotate yourself to the side. Your feet can either be stacked on top of each other or resting side by side making a straight line. Again, your body is as straight as a board not allowing your hips to dip towards the floor. Your arms will form a straight line, keeping your shoulder blades squeezed together so that you don’t slump forward. This targets your internal and external obliques.

Now you are ready for my video demonstrating a plank to side plank variation. This combo helps build on your rotation in your swim stroke. The more you can cut through the water the faster you will swim. A strong rotation enables you to extend your reach, lengthening your body and improve your ability to slice through the water. This has been my achilles heel for several years but working with a series of plank variations starting with this one I have been able to steadily improve my rotation and pull in my stroke. My focus on functional strength training has been the key to improving my swim times in the pool. Over the next few weeks I will post a new video demonstrating some of my favourite plank variations. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Plank/ Side Plank Variation