One of my favorite core moves is the plank. The plank is touted as one of the most effective core moves out there – yes it is much better than the beloved, but outdated, crunch. The plank works by strengthening your transverse abdominis muscles which act as a corset around your midsection. When these muscles are strengthened, they tighten and firm your midsection, while giving you better posture. Side plank variations are also effective at working your obliques. I do the following “plank series” whenever I want to really work my core. If you want to do this as part of a full body workout, I would suggest doing the plank series before you work your arms otherwise they might be too tired to hold the proper form!!
Do the following 10 moves, holding or repeating move for 30-60 seconds each. Start with what you can manage and make it your goal to increase your time until you are holding each move for at least 60 seconds. Complete the series a few times a week and enjoy the results of a firmer midsection!
Side Plank (left & right sides):
Plank with alternating knee cross:
Side Plank with reach under (left and right sides):
Plank to forearms:
Side Plank Raises (left and right sides):
Regular Plank on forearms:
Now that you are done with your workout, how about a protein smoothie?? One of my favorite winter combinations is chocolate and mint. I used to enjoy these flavors as a hot chocolate spiked with peppermint schnapps, but I don’t drink anymore so I’ve discovered other ways to get my fix. This is a cold version but the flavors come through wonderfully. I copied the technique Mama Pea used in her Sugar Cookie Smoothie recipe…what a brilliant idea to flavor a smoothie with tea!
Mint-Chocolate Protein Smoothie
- 1.5 cups almond milk, divided
- 2 bags of peppermint tea
- 1 scoop chocolate protein powder** (I used Sunwarrior)
- 3 tbsp oats
- 1 packet Stevia
- 1/2 frozen banana
Heat 1 cup of milk either on stove or in microwave. Steep the tea in the milk until cooled (I did it overnight in the fridge). Mix all ingredients into blender and blend well. **You could always use plain protein powder and add a tbsp of cocoa or raw cacao powder. This smoothie was the perfect combination of mint and chocolate.