Illustrated by Marina Esmeraldo.
Even if you're a stickler with your fitness routine (you'd never be caught hitting the snooze button or missing a post-work run) you might still be making a workout mistake that could cause a fundamental imbalance in your health. Personal trainer Elsbeth Vaino tells Women’s Health, “Sometimes, we get so accustomed to the same workouts, that we don’t realize we’re getting really strong in one area but neglecting the others.”
In order to know which areas to improve upon, you need to pinpoint your fitness strengths and weaknesses. One way to determine this is with Vaino's “full-body strength assessment.” Each exercise comes with a goal (for either how long to hold a pose, or how many reps to do), that will allow you to see how you stack up — and help you identify what needs improvement. Then, you can plan your training routine accordingly, addressing the muscles that need a little extra TLC.
One exercise that helps identify potential weaknesses is the side plank. To do it, start by laying on your right side and placing your right forearm on the floor with your elbow directly under your shoulder. Stack your hips and feet, and then lift your hips towards the ceiling, creating a long, stable diagonal line with your body. The goal, says Vaino, is to hold this position for 70 seconds on each side. If you find yourself struggling, then you could benefit from incorporating more oblique work into your exercise routine. And, even if you hit every recommended benchmark, continue to test yourself every two months or so to make sure your fitness regime remains as balanced as your (excellent, we're sure) tree pose.