The move I love to hate: Acrobat Sydney Brown's twist on the standard plank hold

Courtesy of Sydney Brown

As a former elite gymnast and full-time acrobat who performs all over the world, Sydney Brown needs to keep herself in peak condition.

The 25-year-old, who recently finished an 11-month run on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas, typically performed in two shows a day and is preparing for her next stint at sea. So how does she prepare her body to pull off such intense routines every day?

Aside from all of her gymnastics training and standard cardio, Brown swears by one move to help her strengthen her forearms and fingers. While it may look simple, it is deceivingly difficult, and it ensures she can hold handstands and other positions for extended periods of time.

Warning: If you're trying this, be prepared to feel the serious burn.

The move: Plank with hand raises

How to do it: Get into a traditional straight-arm plank, with hands planted firmly on the ground, about shoulder-width apart and toes pointed into the floor. While keeping everything else stationary, lift the palms of your hands up and down. Do five sets of 10 of these, with 30 seconds of rest in between each set. For a simpler variation, place your knees on the ground.

When I do it: Daily when training, and less frequently during the run of a show.

Why I do it: It's great to help strengthen my forearms and fingers -- which I rely on to hold handstands and other poses.

Why it's so killer: You want to feel controlled and balanced the entire time when doing this exercise. As a result, I really feel the burn after a couple of sets of these!

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