Vigor Improvement Practices (VIPs) – FlexSkill #9

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

Want to feel better than you’ve ever felt? 

Here’s another excerpt from my 10th book, The Secret of VigorHow to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance and Reclaim Your Natural Energy


Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year are:

*Lose Weight

*Get in Shape

*Reduce Stress

*Get Healthier

*Win the Lottery


The Secret of Vigor can help you with 4 out of 5 of the most popular resolution goals, so I’ll be posting excerpts from the book for the next several weeks – so please stay tuned for each installment. 

If you simply can’t wait, then you can certainly get a copy at or at your favorite library or bookstore.


VIP: FlexSkills

In addition to the twenty-eight-minute walking program outlined above, you should consider also adding the flexibility exercises described below to further improve your circulation, balance, and strength. I call each of these ten exercises “FlexSkills,” and I’ve used them to help elite athletes in virtually every type of sport improve their stress resilience, flexibility, and resistance to injury. 

For each FlexSkill, you want to “hold” the position for thirty to sixty seconds. Each “cycle” of ten exercises, then, takes only five to ten minutes and can be performed either as a warm-up/cool-down on the days that you also do your Interval Walking or as an exercise circuit on its own. For example, you could go through all ten FlexSkills two or three times as your workout instead of walking. You may also want to use a floor mat or large towel when performing these skills.

9. Plank (Targets: spine, upper/lower back muscles, hips, abdominal muscles ankles, shoulders, arms)

This movement is a classic yoga position that helps integrate upper and lower body alignment. You can think of the Plank as a static “push-up” in high and low positions. Start this FlexSkill with the “high” position and progress to the “low” position. In doing so, you encourage muscle activity in all parts of the body and stimulate circulation and delivery of nutrients to a range of connective tissues. Breathing is an important consideration in this FlexSkill, because, with so many muscles being activated, you’ll have to concentrate on taking full, deep breaths for the entire movement.



Start from the same relaxed face-down position as the Superman movement (#8 above). Place your hands, palms down, directly under your shoulders. Take a deep, cleansing breath, and fully extend your arms, pushing upward to the “high” Plank position. Try to stay up on your toes while you maintain a straight spine and neck, and focus your eyes on the floor directly in front of your fingertips. Concentrate on maintaining slow, deep, even breaths, and hold this position for fifteen to thirty seconds. This can be a very challenging movement, especially if you lack a lot of upper-body strength, so only maintain this “high” position for as long as you feel comfortable. You will then move directly into the “low” Plank position by simply allowing your arms to slowly bend and bringing your elbows to the side of your body. Continuing to breathe slowly and deeply, hold this position for fifteen to thirty seconds before slowly returning to your face-down starting position with your stomach flat on your mat. Take another deep, cleansing breath.

About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

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