Reading is fascinating. But it can also be frustrating if you just cross off your book list without going into depth. Do you often forget what you have just read? Or have you ever spent a lot of time on finishing a book but in the end you couldn’t tell the main ideas of the book clearly?
It is not about your inability to memorize things. But you’re just not active enough in reading.
Reading ineffectively might be frustrating
Reading quickly just for the sake of completing a book is a mistake we easily make. We skim through paragraphs in the hope of absorbing as much information as possible within a short period of time. But then we only focus on the parts we understand and miss out the full picture presented in the book. It is unlikely that we will be able the recall the content after a day or so.
A common question that we usually ask ourselves after reading is whether we like the book or not. While this is also important as reading is supposed to be fun, simply asking this kind of yes-no question cannot make reading meaningful and reflective. Worse still, if we only stick with the books we like, we will limit our exposure to different knowledge.
To practice active reading, generating a list of questions before digging into the content is a good approach.  But you might wonder what kinds of questions you should ask and here are some questions that you might want to take a look for reference:
1. If I can get only 3 things from the book, what are they? How will I apply them in daily life?
Some books consists of piles of information that we might feel overwhelmed. Sometimes it is better not to overestimate our abilities to memorise things because we can rarely get more than 3 messages from a book. Keep identifying what information is more useful to you when you read. After all, there’s no point of remembering or jotting down information that you can’t apply in daily life as it is very likely that you will forget it the next day.
2. What are the arguments or suggestions made by the writer?
No one writes without any purposes. Even the book is a novel instead of the practical type, the authors have some purposes in their minds, either to convey messages or to persuade readers. Spending some time to figure out their key points makes us easier to digest the whole piece without missing any important insights.
3. What problems does the writer attempt to solve?
Nearly every book is about problem-solving. Even in a book about literature, there is always a climax in the plot and that’s what the writer attempt to solve. The problem indicated might not be explicit but if we can find it out, we can always learn from it to improve our problem-solving skills.
4. What strategies does the writer use to convey the key ideas in the book?
Reading is one of the good ways to improve our writing skills. We can pay extra attention to the writing style of the writers and how their ideas are presented, such as the diction, rhetorical devices and organisation used, to make our writings more appealing to readers.
5. What do I know about the topic of the book covers? How what the book says is different from what I originally know?
We usually give up reading a book because we find no connection between what we know and what the book talks about. Before reading, it is better for us to do some brainstorming and to recall your previous knowledge related to the topic so that you are ready to explore more.
6. Are there any particular things I do not understand in the book?
It is quite impossible to be know-it-all so it is quite certain that we will encounter with something which seems unfamiliar, or something that we don’t agree on. Skipping those parts is not the best solution for it because this would limit our horizons. Instead, delving into the unfamiliar parts or opposite ideas is the best way to take ourselves to another level.
7. Which part of the book I like or dislike? And why?
Reading a book is not about reading the text only but also reading ourselves. Asking ourselves this question enables us to be reflective learners. Discovering more about our tastes allows us to choose a better reader that fits our preferences.
It might take a longer time for us to read a book if we practice active reading using the above questions. But we can definitely gain a lot more because we wouldn’t rush just to finish a book without digesting the ideas.
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.
One Exercise, multiple benefits
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.
What will 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.
Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?
You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:
After prolapse surgery
Pelvic pain conditions
Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.