Defending The Abs Plank

After my article Plank Progressions for Killer Abs got Published, I was made aware of another plank article written by Dr. Michael Yessis.

The title of his article is “Are Plank Exercises for You?”.


In his article, Dr.Yessis states, “In reality, however, the plank position is a very poor exercise for strengthening the core for several reasons”.

Although I respect Dr. Yessis and his work, I have to heavily disagree with the statements made in his article.


In this post I’m going to provide you with a solid rationale as to why I disagree.


Isometric Strength?

Dr. Yessis States “The strength that you gain is isometric (static) strength, which isn’t transferable to dynamic strength. Understand that dynamic strength is more functional because it can be used in your daily movements.”

He then goes on to say 
“This is why the plank exercise is effective only for developing static strength to hold the body in a straight line posture. It is not effective for enhancing any movements that use the core muscles, especially dynamic movements with the axis of rotation in the waist or hips.”

I do appreciate where Dr.Yessis is coming from here but what he is failing to mention is that the primary role of the abdominals (aside from respiratory action) is isometric.


This is clearly stated by world-renowned physical therapist Shirley Sarhmann, who in the book Diagnosis and Treatment of movement Impairment Syndromes states

“During most activities, the primary role of the abdominal muscles is to provide isometric support and limit the degree of rotation of the trunk which, as discussed, is limited in the lumbar spine.” (Sahrmann, p. 70)

“The overall range of lumbar rotation is … approximately 13 degrees. The rotation between each segment from T10 — L5 is 2 degrees.”
(Sahramnn pg. 61-62)

The simple fact that the total Range of motion (ROM) at the Lumbar spine is only 13 degrees shows that there is little dynamic motion that goes on at that part of the body.


In truth, the abdominals can be thought of as Anti-Rotators during most functional activities.


In that, they function to prevent excessive rotation of the lumbar spine which as stated above is very limited.


Secondly, what do you think happens to your abdominals when you perform just about any standing lift like a Squat, Over Head Press or simply carrying your groceries?

The answer is that your abdominals are functioning isometrically to hold you in the optimal position.

So, if the primary role of the abdominals is isometric control and just about every functional activity we perform as humans requires some sort of postural (isometric) holding.

How can the Abs Plank exercise be a poorly designed exercise as claimed by Dr. Yessis?


Based on the evidence I just provided, I think that the answer is clear.


Stay Tuned


In my next post, I will continue to discuss the Abs Plank and refute a few more of Dr.Yessis claims.

Please keep in mind that I’m not bashing Dr.Yessis in any way. I’m simply providing a different view so that we all may benefit from both sides and continue to grow and learn.

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