Some days (or weeks), you just don’t want any part of the gym. You are either too tired, stressed, busy, or lazy—all of which happen to the best of us. But, just because you don’t want to go to the gym doesn’t mean your health will have to take a sabbatical. You still have a body to maintain, keep strong, and improve over time.
When it comes to transforming your body, you may only think of the gym as the place that can make this goal happen. But, transforming your body isn’t just a physical thing. Optimal health includes 4 pillars of fitness—mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical.
With these in mind, here are 5 ways to transform your body and health when you don’t feel like going to the gym.
Every four years, the Olympics rolls around and during that time the increase in interest for swimming seems to double if not triple. Yes, it’s a physically impressive feat to swim that fast, but a lot of times, many people are enamored with the lean and toned shape of the swimmers.
Swimming (not leisurely doggy-paddling) can burn up to 750 calories per hour. Calories are important, but to transform your body and health entails more than just burning those calories.Swimming has been linked to increasing longevity. For those with injury issues, swimming provides an activity where you can push yourself without the added risk of further injuring yourself.
Swimming improves your lung function and thus provides tremendous benefits to your respiratory system.
The majority of people may think of dancing as a weekend-only activity (often accompanied by loud music and a few drinks). But, dancing is an activity that provides many benefits to your health.
From pole dancing to salsa dancing, this form of physical activity helps transform your body by helping you take control of your internal world, and perhaps most importantly, can help you improve your confidence.
Dancing can increase our level of happiness as it aids in the fight against mental illnesses. Another benefit of dancing is its ability to help keep your brain sharp and prevent dementia.
It can be boring and often times overlooked as a way to improve your health, but walking is a powerful tool to use in your exercise regimen. In fact, a daily walk of up to 25 minutes can add up to seven extra years to your life.
For those heavily involved with weight lifting, walking provides a great supplementary activity because it is not taxing exercise and thus you’re allowing your body to relax and repair. And for those who have trouble sitting and meditating, walking can be used as a form of meditation especially if you’re doing this activity while out in nature.
Walking has been shown to help those with Alzheimer’s and many other diseases.
If you require a sharp brain for your career, walking also helps with mild cognitive impairments and improves your thinking.
What better way to transform your body and have some fun in the process than to have sex (safety first though)?
Individuals who engage in sexual activities a couple times a week have higher levels of immunoglobulin A in their saliva. This is an antibody designed to help us fight infections and the nagging common cold that gets many people.
Often times we resort to chocolate or other foods that could hamper our fitness goals when we’re stressed. But did you know that sex (specifically semen) can act as an antidepressant for women? And with men, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), those who have more intercourse have better control over their blood pressure compared to men who have less intercourse.
Engaging in frequent sex also helps you maintain the fountain of youth (i.e. maintaining great skin).
Sex is so powerful that getting busy in the morning can lead to you having a glow to yourself all day long.
If you scoff at yoga and the benefits that it is supposed to provide, think again. Yoga deserves a seat at everyone’s table when it comes to transforming your health and body.
Yoga has been suggested as benefiting those who suffer from depression, schizophrenia, and other mental conditions as well as sleep problems.
Those who suffer from frequent migraines can also benefit from adopting a yoga practice.
To reiterate point number four about more sex helping with your health, yoga will help with a myriad of your sexual functions and this applies to both men and women.
Yoga also helps those with insomnia.
Lastly, yoga can aid in your nutrition and daily decision-making because its regular practice can help you to be more mindful with your food choices, as it helps you to avoid mindless eating.
Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion.
Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.
Why is it important to train up our core strength?
There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.
This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.
Also, they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However, for them to be most effective, you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.
In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.
There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.
By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.
When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.
Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.
In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.
What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.
7 Things that happen when you start doing planks every day
1. You’ll improve core definition and performance
Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:
Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.
2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column
Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.
Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.
3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism
Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).
4. You’ll significantly improve your posture
Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .
A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.
A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.
On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.
5. You’ll improve overall balance
Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!- but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.
6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before
Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shoulders, shoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.
7. You’ll witness mental benefits
Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.
How to hold a plank position
Get into pushup position on the floor.
Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
Hold the position for as long as you can.
Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.
Watch the video if you have any doubt!
Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:
How to improve your plank time gradually
Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.
Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.