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Planks: Are You Using Abs Or Glutes?

We are often helping patients understand how to do their exercises properly so they don’t get hurt during workouts. And we sometimes provide exercise instruction for other professionals. In this video segment taken from a presentation I gave on injury prevention, I am answering a question from a personal trainer about how to do planks with proper form in order to target abdominals.

How To Do Planks: Are You Using Abs Or Glutes?


(Please excuse grammatical errors, as this is simply a transcription of conversational speaking)

With planks, I the big question is if they’re using abs or glutes. I see a lot of people using planks, and a lot of good trainers making sure that the spine stays neutral and all that. But what I don’t see is a lot of them checking to see if they are counteracting the hip flexor pull and keeping a neutral spine because their glutes are doing the work or because their abs are doing it?  

If you want the glutes involved, of course it doesn’t matter. But if you want it to really be a solid ab exercise that’s specifically for the abs, what I do is… I’m right down on the ground with them and I’ll palpate on the glutes themselves, right? And I’ll say, “You know, I really want you to relax these and use your abs to keep your back flat. And I kind of draw in like this.” I’ll say, as I’m drawing in on the abs here.

I kind of give that. So go ahead and flatten out the back. Lift up a little bit, and keep these as relaxed as you can.

And she does pretty well with that. It’s a little bit more of an arch than I’d like. But I really wanted to show that if you really want the plank to be as solidly about the abs as possible, make sure they’re not getting too involved with the glutes.

If you’re in the Austin area and you’d like to learn how to prevent injuries from occuring during your workouts, you can request a free consultation with an expert physical therapist by clicking here.