Is Planking Worth It?

Quick Tips

Some headlines from a recent Los Angeles Times article caught my eye…


As I read through the article, some decent points were made.  I have to say that I have learned a lot from Stuart McGill.  He really is a back expert.  It’s an area that a lot of health professionals didn’t understand until rather recently.

Check out the full article here.

In my opinion, hell yes planking is worth the time.

Will I have the same opinion 5 years down the road?  Who knows.  Our industry is constantly reshaping itself.  But right now, planks are a must do exercise.

I believe in progression with exercise.  Planking is a part of my progression to more challenging movements.  Therefore, I can justify it.  Will I be able to justify planking in 10 years?  I don’t know.  But right now, planking is an impactful exercise that gives benefit to the trainee while giving me information about how they handle (or cannot handle) that stress.

For a certain population.  If you can’t hold a technically perfect plank for say… 30-60 sec, we might have some work to do.  I have personally worked with some people who could not hold a rigid plank for 5-10 seconds without collapsing or moving into a body position that made the drill easier.  The body commonly resorts to the path of least resistance.

cartoon plank

Not a bad plank here… I would straighten the legs out a bit.

I love planks for beginners who are learning how to stabilize their body progressively, and also for intermediate and advanced trainees to reinforce body stabilization.  Sitting kills the normal function of the torso musculature.  Core muscles lay dormant all day long.  It is important that we make a conscious effort to wake them up and get them firing appropriately during training sessions.

Doing so will aid in preventing unnecessary injury not just in the gym, but in life.  When the muscles of the core shut down or begin firing out of sequence, other muscles get involved to help get the physical labor done.  This mis-firing can lead to serious injury.  Think lower back injuries here.

We all know someone who has fought or is currently fighting a lower back injury.

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 2.17.27 PM

I don’t think that many movements are over-rated.  From my eyes, I see safe and unsafe exercises

Movement selection is dependent on your goals.  

One of the reasons that I am so fond of the functional movement screen is that it allows us to perform routine maintenance checks on our body’s ability to move.  The human body is vulnerable to malfunctions.  Our wiring gets mixed up, muscles fire when they shouldn’t, joints get sticky ,etc.

Nobody is going to move perfectly and pain-free for their entire life.  We must perform these check ups to verify that we are functioning appropriately.

—>  No hail mary please…

Don’t throw a hail mary for any exercise.  Planking does engage the core, yes.  However, how you incorporate planking (if you need it at all) in your program is going to be different than the next person.  It’s all based on your needs you see.

The thought that holding long duration planks to “burn out” the core and get those wash board abdominals is ludicrous.

Abdominals are made in the kitchen.

Vegetables dominate planks in race to the almighty six-pack.

Never forget that.

Cheers to planks and keeping it simple…


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