There are a few more points of disagreement that I wanted to make in regards to some other comments made by Dr.Yessis in his article.
Dr. Yessis claims that
“Many people do not have the strength to hold themselves in a plank position. Some lack the arm strength, especially when doing the side plank while others lack the abdominal strength to hold a straight line position through the midsection.”
First off, I have never worked with anyone from senior citizen to junior athlete who lacked the upper body strength to perform a plank.
This is because if you line up your elbow directly underneath your shoulder joint, there is little to no muscle involvement from the upper body at all. You are simply placing the force on your humerus (bicep bone) and using it to support you.
That said, there is some scapular stabilizer (serratus anterior) involvement, but even folks with severe serratus weakness can usually mange without trouble. These folks just need some extra coaching when it comes to positioning their scapulas when performing the Abs plank.
Secondly, Dr.Yessis mentions that many folks lack the abdominal strength to hold themselves up during the plank.
If that’s the case then wouldn’t this weakness be a perfect reason to use the plank?
Additionally, I agree that not everyone has the same level of strength. But, this is why is so important to develop exercise progressions and regressions to every exercise. The Plank is no exception and I’ve provided an in depth description of these progressions here.
The final statement that I would like to comment on is that Dr. Yessis claims that
“It does not affect the lower back muscles and only partially the hip flexors.”
I don’t totally disagree with this statement but I don’t agree either.
Saying that the Abs plank doesn’t affect the lower back is like saying training your glutes doesn’t have any affect on your knees.
The low back is not targeted during the Abs plank but it is influenced by pelvic position and how well the abs are working.
Many people with weaker abdominals will feel tightness in their lower back when performing a plank variation that is too advanced for them.
As far as the hip flexors go, I would say that they are working hard to prevent gravity from forcing your hips and belly toward the floor.
If you were to allow your belly and hips to drop toward the floor, your hips would be in extension. This in tern means that your hips flexors are turning on to oppose the forces of gravity.
Just because you’re not in hip flexion doesn’t mean that there is not a flexion force happening within your body.
In my next post I will reveal a killer hamstring training protocol that every serious athlete and fitness professional must know.