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  1. #1
    Registered User SycoJester's Avatar
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    Help/tips needed!

    I was wondering if anyone could possibly give me any tips on working my abs? Problem I am having is I have a jacked up neck. My C1-3 tend to shift, causing terrible pain. I've really noticed when I attempt crunches or even the ab machine at my gym, it tends put a good bit of strain on my neck. I go to the gym in the morning prior to work, and working with my neck hurting all day does not make for a good day at work. I've managed to lose around 60-70 pounds in the past 1 and a 1/2. My major peeve are my abs, I know a 6-pack is probably not going to ever happen for me, but I would love to be able to get rid of my over hanging gut, without further aggravating my neck. Any help would be **greatly** appreciated. Thank you.
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    Originally Posted by SycoJester View Post
    I was wondering if anyone could possibly give me any tips on working my abs? Problem I am having is I have a jacked up neck. My C1-3 tend to shift, causing terrible pain. I've really noticed when I attempt crunches or even the ab machine at my gym, it tends put a good bit of strain on my neck. I go to the gym in the morning prior to work, and working with my neck hurting all day does not make for a good day at work. I've managed to lose around 60-70 pounds in the past 1 and a 1/2. My major peeve are my abs, I know a 6-pack is probably not going to ever happen for me, but I would love to be able to get rid of my over hanging gut, without further aggravating my neck. Any help would be **greatly** appreciated. Thank you.
    Dynamic planks and other core exercises will help. Not with fat burning so much as with working all the layers of the core and flattening/tightening the stomach. Just have a look on YouTube there's some pretty cool stuff there?

    I did a little piece on my blog about dynamic planks a while ago which has some YouTube clips in it. http://castlepersonaltraining.com/20...ing-your-core/
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  3. #3
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    Originally Posted by PeteratCastle View Post
    Dynamic planks and other core exercises will help. Not with fat burning so much as with working all the layers of the core and flattening/tightening the stomach. Just have a look on YouTube there's some pretty cool stuff there?

    I did a little piece on my blog about dynamic planks a while ago which has some YouTube clips in it. http://castlepersonaltraining.com/20...ing-your-core/
    This. If you want to lose fat off your stomach, then you need to get your diet in check and lose body fat. If you want to strengthen your abs, see if you can do planks without getting neck pain. If you have access to an ab roller, try that out as well.
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  4. #4
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    Originally Posted by PeteratCastle View Post
    Dynamic planks and other core exercises will help. Not with fat burning so much as with working all the layers of the core and flattening/tightening the stomach. Just have a look on YouTube there's some pretty cool stuff there?

    I did a little piece on my blog about dynamic planks a while ago which has some YouTube clips in it. http://castlepersonaltraining.com/20...ing-your-core/
    Do you have any sources for that article? I use static planks quite a bit with clients - especially new clients. If a client cannot hold a static plank for 60 seconds, I don't see them having any business doing any dynamic variations. Even in the example video, you could see the potential for excessive lumber lordosis if you are not careful. I see this all the time with new clients, particularly during push-ups.

    Also, any sources regarding static planks and the different layers of muscles?
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    I hear liposuction is effective.
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  6. #6
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    Originally Posted by SFT View Post
    Do you have any sources for that article? I use static planks quite a bit with clients - especially new clients. If a client cannot hold a static plank for 60 seconds, I don't see them having any business doing any dynamic variations. Even in the example video, you could see the potential for excessive lumber lordosis if you are not careful. I see this all the time with new clients, particularly during push-ups.

    Also, any sources regarding static planks and the different layers of muscles?
    If you're worried about hyper extending your clients lower back, do them from the quadruped position. Static planks are as useful for core stability as BOSU balls are for proprioception.
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  7. #7
    Registered User SFT's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jonmd123 View Post
    If you're worried about hyper extending your clients lower back, do them from the quadruped position. Static planks are as useful for core stability as BOSU balls are for proprioception.
    I'm just not understanding when the static plank fell off and became useless? I'm also curious as to why dynamic planks variations are necessarily better, or any proof that muscle recruitment is different? Is this a new trend that someone started and everyone is following, or is there actually some science behind it?

    If there is some merit to these statements, then I would like to learn more.
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  8. #8
    Registered User jonmd123's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SFT View Post
    I'm just not understanding when the static plank fell off and became useless? I'm also curious as to why dynamic planks variations are necessarily better, or any proof that muscle recruitment is different? Is this a new trend that someone started and everyone is following, or is there actually some science behind it?

    If there is some merit to these statements, then I would like to learn more.
    Yes, dynamic plank variations are completely different than static planks. Stability is not the body's ability to contract the TA, erectors, ect, but it's ability to fire them in proper order. Yes, there needs to be a small level of strength first, but there is better exercises than static planks to build this strength.

    The reason exercises like dynamic planks, chops, and lifts are far superior to planks and sit-ups is because it forces the LPHC to remain rigid while limbs move around it.

    As far as the merits to this; you can do a quick Google search and find tons of info on the topic. Gray Cook, Mike Boyle, and Eric Cressey are just a few name you could look up.
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  9. #9
    Registered User SFT's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jonmd123 View Post
    Yes, dynamic plank variations are completely different than static planks. Stability is not the body's ability to contract the TA, erectors, ect, but it's ability to fire them in proper order. Yes, there needs to be a small level of strength first, but there is better exercises than static planks to build this strength.

    The reason exercises like dynamic planks, chops, and lifts are far superior to planks and sit-ups is because it forces the LPHC to remain rigid while limbs move around it.

    As far as the merits to this; you can do a quick Google search and find tons of info on the topic. Gray Cook, Mike Boyle, and Eric Cressey are just a few name you could look up.
    I agree that the "core" musculature needs to stay rigid to control the LPHC while the limbs are moving at times. Does that mean that we should only train for those demands? In the same respect, should we only train for sprinting by sprinting? Even though squatting requires very different demands, it still has carryover to sprinting to some degree. Could this not exist in the case of static to dynamic exercise? I include both types of exercises in my programs. I think planks are an easy exercise to execute and teach people about proper alignment of the pelvis during common exercises such as push-ups.

    I respect the success of many of those coaches, but I want to know how the decision was originally made. For example, if one of those coaches makes a statement, I would hope that it is backed up by a body of research, or sound biomechanics. Though I don't know any of those coaches personally, I know plenty of other coaches that perpetuate hypotheses and pass them off as facts. They are hypotheses because they are not proven and in most cases are merely theory. The last thing I would say is that most coaches have been wrong at least a few times in their lives. I have been wrong about things and will continue to be. There are few things in this field that you can speak about in absolute terms.

    That is why I asked about the planks. I understand the basic reasoning behind the theory, but I was curious if there was really anything to back it up. If so, I would love to hear about it and become a better coach/trainer.
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  10. #10
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    Cook has some really good information on the topic. Again, it's not a matter of which stimulates the muscles greater, it is an issue of what carries over into everyday activities. The static plank became popular when people realized the function of the core wasn't to move the body (sit-ups) it was to stop the body from moving (maintain proper joint position). These days, people are beginning to understand the core doesn't need to be stronger, or have more endurance, it needs to coordinate properly with the rest of the body. I believe Gray Cook is one of the first to realize stability is pattern specific (at least that is what he is popular for). He is a PT, and he had patients that had plenty of ROM in their ankles, knees, and hip, and plenty of strength in their legs and core, yet they couldn't perform a squat. Another example might be a client that can do sit-ups all day but cannot perform a simple sup to pro rolling exerciser without using momentum.

    Basically core training should be teaching the body to fire the core first, not harder. Static planks don't do much other than improve your ability hold a static plank position.

    A year or two ago I thought planks were one the best exercise; after learning from Cook I don't use them at all.
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  11. #11
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    Personally, I have found that static planks do have a place in a training program. Even in Yoga you are moving from a static plank into downward facing dog, or back again. I do think it helps to build overall core strength and that will carry over to every day work. Even Gray Cook believes in Core Progression.
    In several of his books, he doesnt even talk about planks for core function training, I have a few here that i have read. I like what he has to say, but i dont think dynamic planks are the end all and be all you make it sound like we should think it.
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  12. #12
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    Originally Posted by jonmd123 View Post
    Cook has some really good information on the topic. Again, it's not a matter of which stimulates the muscles greater, it is an issue of what carries over into everyday activities. The static plank became popular when people realized the function of the core wasn't to move the body (sit-ups) it was to stop the body from moving (maintain proper joint position). These days, people are beginning to understand the core doesn't need to be stronger, or have more endurance, it needs to coordinate properly with the rest of the body. I believe Gray Cook is one of the first to realize stability is pattern specific (at least that is what he is popular for). He is a PT, and he had patients that had plenty of ROM in their ankles, knees, and hip, and plenty of strength in their legs and core, yet they couldn't perform a squat. Another example might be a client that can do sit-ups all day but cannot perform a simple sup to pro rolling exerciser without using momentum.

    Basically core training should be teaching the body to fire the core first, not harder. Static planks don't do much other than improve your ability hold a static plank position.

    A year or two ago I thought planks were one the best exercise; after learning from Cook I don't use them at all.
    I think it is great to learn from these guys, but again, I'd like to know if there is any science to substantiate his statements, or if it is based on what he has seen in his PT practice. These guys have a profit interest in changing the game. Every time they denounce an exercises or training method, they get tens or hundreds of thousands of hits to their website, sell books, and gain a near religious following.

    I think everything is pattern specific. You can be great at squats, but suck at deadlifts. You can have a lot of strength in the core, but not be able to perform many of these dynamic exercises. However, couldn't we likewise say that this supine dynamic exercises only make you better at supine dynamic exercises? Why does a plank only make me better at a plank, but these dynamic supine exercises will carryover perfectly to standing movement?

    In any case, maybe I will take a look at some of his information. However, I'm not so quick to change my opinions these days because many "experts" change their opinions conveniently every few years - on schedule with their new books and learning materials.
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    Originally Posted by rockangel View Post
    Personally, I have found that static planks do have a place in a training program. Even in Yoga you are moving from a static plank into downward facing dog, or back again. I do think it helps to build overall core strength and that will carry over to every day work. Even Gray Cook believes in Core Progression.
    In several of his books, he doesnt even talk about planks for core function training, I have a few here that i have read. I like what he has to say, but i dont think dynamic planks are the end all and be all you make it sound like we should think it.
    Cook's only point is that if you can't do a plank you can't do a push-up. He might use a side plank to check for muscular imbalances. I've never read or heard of him using a static plank for core stability.
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    Originally Posted by SFT View Post
    I think it is great to learn from these guys, but again, I'd like to know if there is any science to substantiate his statements, or if it is based on what he has seen in his PT practice. These guys have a profit interest in changing the game. Every time they denounce an exercises or training method, they get tens or hundreds of thousands of hits to their website, sell books, and gain a near religious following.

    I think everything is pattern specific. You can be great at squats, but suck at deadlifts. You can have a lot of strength in the core, but not be able to perform many of these dynamic exercises. However, couldn't we likewise say that this supine dynamic exercises only make you better at supine dynamic exercises? Why does a plank only make me better at a plank, but these dynamic supine exercises will carryover perfectly to standing movement?

    In any case, maybe I will take a look at some of his information. However, I'm not so quick to change my opinions these days because many "experts" change their opinions conveniently every few years - on schedule with their new books and learning materials.
    I agree completely with the first statement. I was a little hesitant to buy into some of the stuff he was saying, but the more I researched the more it made sense. Everyone is using the FMS these days, whether it works the best, or people just want to be 'functional' trainer; i guess you'll have to try it out for yourself.

    It would be hard to give any scientific backing to which is better for you, because, like I said, stability isn't the ability to contract the core harder, it is about firing it properly. The only test you could do is a visual test and those are messy and hard to measure.

    Dynamic planks are definitely not the one and only exercise for stability. I don't use them unless the client is already fairly strong, but if we're having a dynamic vs. static argument, I would choose dynamic every time.

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    Here is a couple good videos to watch on the topic.

    Cook isn't some functional nut. He works with all kinds of pro athletes.
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    Sorry missed this entire discussion as I've been crazy busy.

    TBH, I don't have a major issue with people doing static planks IF they know why they are doing them. And most PTs I see, and definitely 99% of all normal people I see, have no idea why they are doing a static plank rather than a dynamic plank.
    The main reason for doing planks dynamic only is so that you train all layers of the core muscle groups.

    McGill in 2002, Richardson in 1999 both did studies on this.

    When doing dynamic planks properly you will hit all the layers of the core and not ignore any of them. This is, essentially, the main point I try to make in my blog. When people only do static plank exercises odds are that they will ignore one of the layers or at least under develop them.

    A dynamic plank is, essentially, a compound muscle layer exercise where as a static plank isolates a layer..why should most people train one layer only?

    It's about injury prevention with me. Back injuries are very common, slipped disks happen all the time, so you have to work all layers of the core properly. The standard static plank does nothing for this, as all textbooks basically show. So my clients do dynamic planks.
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    Originally Posted by PeteratCastle View Post
    Sorry missed this entire discussion as I've been crazy busy.

    TBH, I don't have a major issue with people doing static planks IF they know why they are doing them. And most PTs I see, and definitely 99% of all normal people I see, have no idea why they are doing a static plank rather than a dynamic plank.
    The main reason for doing planks dynamic only is so that you train all layers of the core muscle groups.

    McGill in 2002, Richardson in 1999 both did studies on this.

    When doing dynamic planks properly you will hit all the layers of the core and not ignore any of them. This is, essentially, the main point I try to make in my blog. When people only do static plank exercises odds are that they will ignore one of the layers or at least under develop them.

    A dynamic plank is, essentially, a compound muscle layer exercise where as a static plank isolates a layer..why should most people train one layer only?

    It's about injury prevention with me. Back injuries are very common, slipped disks happen all the time, so you have to work all layers of the core properly. The standard static plank does nothing for this, as all textbooks basically show. So my clients do dynamic planks.

    Good post.

    Another way to look at things could be high threshold vs low threshold activation. That is why I say the goal isn't necessarily to activate the core, but to control it. People work their high threshold core everyday they come into the gym (squat, deadlift, plank), but they seldom do things for their low threshold core (dynamic plank, quadruped diagonals, chops). Exercises that require mobility while maintaining posture are much more functional because they mimic actual movement (picking up a bag of groceries, walking up stairs, making a cut in football, ect.). Daily movement does not allow us to set our feet shoulder width apart, arc our back, and inhale deeply.
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    Originally Posted by PeteratCastle View Post
    Sorry missed this entire discussion as I've been crazy busy.

    TBH, I don't have a major issue with people doing static planks IF they know why they are doing them. And most PTs I see, and definitely 99% of all normal people I see, have no idea why they are doing a static plank rather than a dynamic plank.
    The main reason for doing planks dynamic only is so that you train all layers of the core muscle groups.

    McGill in 2002, Richardson in 1999 both did studies on this.

    When doing dynamic planks properly you will hit all the layers of the core and not ignore any of them. This is, essentially, the main point I try to make in my blog. When people only do static plank exercises odds are that they will ignore one of the layers or at least under develop them.

    A dynamic plank is, essentially, a compound muscle layer exercise where as a static plank isolates a layer..why should most people train one layer only?

    It's about injury prevention with me. Back injuries are very common, slipped disks happen all the time, so you have to work all layers of the core properly. The standard static plank does nothing for this, as all textbooks basically show. So my clients do dynamic planks.
    Do you have links to the studies, or could you PM me? I'm interested in the topic.

    In any case, I would say that exercises that challenge the abdominal muscles with the limbs (or body as a whole) moving in a dynamic fashion make up a greater portion of the training of my clients than traditional static plank exercises. That being said, I'm trying to grasp how add a small amplitude of movement can result in such a different recruitment of muscles.

    In a plank exercise, the abdominal muscles are preventing extension, or essentially opposing an opposite force (gravity). In a dynamic plank exercise, the abdominal muscles are still preventing extension, and subsequently opposing gravity. A difference that I could see is that in the push-up --> plank variation of the dynamic plank, there may be additional forces in different planes that have to be overcome. Is this the reason for differences in muscle recruitment?

    Another exercise that I like for beginners are stability ball rollouts. While this might technically be a "dynamic" exercise, it is truly a plank with a pivot at the knees, and motion at the shoulder (flexion). What makes this exercise more difficult is that the abdominal muscles need to overcome not only gravity, but also momentum from the descent. The levers involved likely have an influence as well. For the purposes of this discussion, would a stability ball rollout be classified as a static planking exercise? If not, what creates the recruitment of additional muscles? From my understanding, going from static plank --> stability ball rollouts, we haven't significantly changed forces in other planes. Sure, you could roll off the ball to the side, but I haven't really seen this even with weak people.
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    Originally Posted by SFT View Post
    Do you have links to the studies, or could you PM me? I'm interested in the topic.

    In any case, I would say that exercises that challenge the abdominal muscles with the limbs (or body as a whole) moving in a dynamic fashion make up a greater portion of the training of my clients than traditional static plank exercises. That being said, I'm trying to grasp how add a small amplitude of movement can result in such a different recruitment of muscles.

    In a plank exercise, the abdominal muscles are preventing extension, or essentially opposing an opposite force (gravity). In a dynamic plank exercise, the abdominal muscles are still preventing extension, and subsequently opposing gravity. A difference that I could see is that in the push-up --> plank variation of the dynamic plank, there may be additional forces in different planes that have to be overcome. Is this the reason for differences in muscle recruitment?

    Another exercise that I like for beginners are stability ball rollouts. While this might technically be a "dynamic" exercise, it is truly a plank with a pivot at the knees, and motion at the shoulder (flexion). What makes this exercise more difficult is that the abdominal muscles need to overcome not only gravity, but also momentum from the descent. The levers involved likely have an influence as well. For the purposes of this discussion, would a stability ball rollout be classified as a static planking exercise? If not, what creates the recruitment of additional muscles? From my understanding, going from static plank --> stability ball rollouts, we haven't significantly changed forces in other planes. Sure, you could roll off the ball to the side, but I haven't really seen this even with weak people.
    I think you need to stop thinking stability as how tight you can contract your abs (lumbar flexion). Instead think of stability as preventing mobility in one joint as another joint remains mobile. This could be balancing on one leg on as you raise the other for a step, reducing rotary motion in your hips at you do a dynamic plank, or preventing an anterior shift in your pelvis as you raise your leg.

    There is actually tons of stuff going on as you perform a dynamic plank. As you go from your hands to elbows, you must release the muscles of your upper body. Once you get into a tripod position, your body will want to fall right onto that shoulder. To prevent this, one side of your core is needed to contract as the other side remains long. As you shift to the other side the opposite happens.

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