Strengthen and Stabilize Your Core With Halle Berry's Plank Leg Lift Exercise
Since she first connected Instagram in 2016, Halle Berry has got fans to her inside look at her workouts. She posts a #FitnessFriday update each week, with her personal tips on things like how to turn a water bottle into a piece of gym equipment or challenge yourself with a headstand. Most recently, she shared a simple, equipment-free-core structural move that had us ready to follow her lead and drop down into a plank.
Check out the screenshot from her Instagram Story, via @ halleberry, here:
Berry combines a plank with a leg lift for a move that touches on the core strength and stability, and also works the glutes.
"Plank holds are great not only for core work but to build that static strength in other areas of your body," Christi Marraccini, certified personal trainer and instructor at NEO U in New York City, tells SELF. Planks work your muscles isometrically, meaning the work is done as you hold tension in the muscle for a period of time, with little to no joint movement. Simply contracting your core-and many other body parts, including your shoulders and quads-challenges, these muscles and improves both strength and stability.
Lifting one foot off the floor challenges your stability even more, Marraccini says. Your body has to engage more muscles to help keep you in place as your leg moves up and down. "Just from [doing] this version of a high plank you are targeting obliques, upper body (shoulders and triceps), and lower body."
Before you add the leg lift, start by setting up a proper plank.
Lisa Wheeler, VP of fitness at Daily Burn, says to position your hands directly underneath your shoulders, extend your legs out behind you, and "brace your core as if you are wearing a corset." To keep your lower back flat, tuck your tailbone under (toward the floor) a bit. Squeezing your butt and quads will also help you keep from dropping your hips and arching your lower back. Use your hands to push away from the floor and engage your chest, back, and arms.
Once you have a plank position, mastered, slowly lift and lower your legs, one at a time, alternating sides.
This is where you'll add the bonus glutes work (beyond just engaging them muscles as you hold a regular plank position). Lift one leg up at a time, keeping the leg straight, says Wheeler. Only lift the leg as high as you can while keeping your hips stable and back straight. If you're arching your back, you're lifting too high. At the top of the lift, squeeze your butt and hold for a beat before lowering your leg back down to the floor. Lift and lower in a slow and controlled manner; you shouldn't be swinging your leg up and down. "Less is more," says Wheeler. "Keep the core strong as you lift the leg."
Do one lift with your right leg, and one lift with your left leg, for one rep. Wheeler recommends starting with 15 reps if you can—but try not to worry about quantity or speed, she says. "It's about slow and controlled, quality movement." If 15 reps is too difficult, start with just as many as you can do while still maintaining proper form, and work your way up to more reps when you feel stronger. (As always, it's a good idea to speak with your doctor before starting a new workout regimen to make sure the moves you'll be doing are safe for you.)
If you want an extra challenge, Marraccini suggests adding 10 to 12 push-ups in between each set. It'll keep working those core muscles while putting an extra focus on your upper body.