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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:29 am 
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Deific Wizard of Sagacity
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In terms of planks, personally I like to progress people to the point they can "stir the pot" no problem. At that point, I feel more confident when progressing other parts of the program i.e. DL's or squats.

I mention this to my training partners (who largely don't listen to me) all the time but, I have a 58 year old women with quite a long history of lower back and knee pain who can stir the pot with her legs together for big circles of 6 each direction and with ease. In other words, I don't think it's a particularly HIGH standard. I think it just demonstrates good and necessary stability. When you get to that point, I think time can be spent on other things as i've also found that you always maintain this even if you don't train it (as long as the rest of your program is good).

Also, don't take planks to failure. I break them up i.e. "bouts" of divided time. So, instead of holding for 60 seconds, we hold for 6 "bouts" of 10. Rest between a bout is a few breaths.

Drake Van Steed wrote:
KPj--I tend to agree with your comments on yoga. I really got into it for a time and quit going to classes when instructors were having people doing extreme spinal twists and head stands etc... Yoga can be very dangerous to the spine, knees, well everything actually. I will do it sometimes for a light workout to basically heat up my body a little. I pretty much stick to the basic vinyasas and sun salutations for that purpose. I"ve largely eliminated it though.


Yeh, I'm on the same boat as Tony Gentilcore, the author of the blog post linked above - I actually already do movements and holds that are taken from Yoga. Some of them are amazing. However, my point is really that Yoga isn't about flexibility, rehab or fat loss (toning) so of this is the main or only reason you're doing it, then it may not be the best.

KPj

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:33 pm 
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Drake Van Steed wrote:
Do you guys think that push up variations (spidermans, suspension push ups, etc..--the advanced push up stuff) would be enough front planking without having to actually do dedicated sets of planks?

I sure hope so.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:50 am 
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Hey, I wanted to report some good news. I experimented with the McGill curl up some more this morning and found that it is a challenging exercise that I will use. My first experience with it was that it was too easy. I simply wasn't coming up far enough. The range of motion is small, but I was just barely moving which didn't afford enough contraction in the abs. This is excellent news for me because it allows me to work my abs with a dynamic contraction while minimizing flexion. I think I am content with the isometric hold I get in the core during my push ups as far as front planking is concerned. I'll probably never know why stability ball planks aggravate my sciatic nerve and back--my hunch is that my discs are degenerated and as fatigue set in from long holds the iliopsoas pulled on the spine causing compression around the nerve and jamming of the bones which led to inflamation of the nerve and tissues surrounding it. The hard buttock contraction may have triggered an already tight piriformis too for even more cozy snuggling with my poor old sciatic nerve--maybe. I predict that as plank exercises become more popular others will complain like I have. I'm not the only person with degenerated discs and lower back issues--probably 7 or 8 out of 10 people exercising have some level of this problem. The plank is in some ways an isometric version of a straight leg sit up or straight leg raises. It's funny that if you read articles about ab work before the plank craze got so popular, the advice of pretty much all noted authorities and trainers was to try to minimize the pull and subsequent compression of the spine caused by the psoas muscle--in other words not working the abs with extended legs and limiting range of motion to avoid this tug on the spine. It just so happens that crunching was the golden child at that time. Before that it was bent leg situps--again, which grew out of years of observation of straight leg sit ups causing compression of the spine due to the tug of the psoas. Now, planks are all the rage and now popular culture and articles pile on supporting it--just like the gazillion articles I read in the 90s did about how great crunches were, which written by the authorities at that time--nobody cared or concerned themselves with flexion causing a breakdown of the disc--it was all about avoiding compression. And, back in the day we thought ab rollers were basically worthless because they hardly worked your abs (we considered ab work to equate to dynamic contraction--nobody except yogis cared about isometrics--and they didn't have 18 inch arms, 46 inch chests, and 30 inch waists--so who cares), and we all thought they killed your lower back. Now they are popular again since they are really just another version of the plank or iso-ab work. That's just my observation. I guess I'm saying to watch out and think critically. Whatever is in vogue causes bias, whether its Nautilus in the 70s-80s, super high volume in the 80s following the bodybuilding revolution of the 70s (Arnold!), super heavy lifting on squats, deadlifts, and bench presses and knee wraps with big weight belts (and bike shorts on dudes) in the 90s, or "functional" training, kettlebells, planks, interval training etc.. of today. Ok, that's my rant of encouragement to think critically and listen to your body--you should feel awesome from your workouts, not in pain. Much better. Have a good one.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:18 am 
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Since we're in a rant mood.

The trouble I have with people like Stuart McGill, is that everything they say is treated like gospel by most internet bloggers. That's because most internet bloggers don't have the depth of knowlege in that specialised area to dispute what he says. Those that are able to dispute him, don't do it in public and it may be months or years before any valid criticism reaches the public, by then, it's in common practice. I just picked on McGill since he's the one that's come up with the curl-up but it could be anyone. I've been trying to find a critique of his bottom up kettlebell carry but I can't find anything except for the inevitable parrots.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:34 pm 
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How's your external/internal rotation range of motion at the hip? That could be a huge contributor if your hip flexors are hypertonic, which it sounds like they are.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:09 am 
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stuward wrote:
Since we're in a rant mood.

The trouble I have with people like Stuart McGill, is that everything they say is treated like gospel by most internet bloggers. That's because most internet bloggers don't have the depth of knowlege in that specialised area to dispute what he says. Those that are able to dispute him, don't do it in public and it may be months or years before any valid criticism reaches the public, by then, it's in common practice. I just picked on McGill since he's the one that's come up with the curl-up but it could be anyone. I've been trying to find a critique of his bottom up kettlebell carry but I can't find anything except for the inevitable parrots.


Not that I want to nit pick - now proceeding to nitpick - but surely this would be trouble with internet bloggers and not McGill. He's largely just done his things and flew under the radar for a few decades. His internet presence is mostly due to other people talking about him. Also, his depth of knowledge on the spine is one reason I could never (or would need some very good reasoning) take an internet blogger or trainers opinion over his, particularly when having to deal with real spines/people. You can find opposing views from equally respected people, although they're getting less and less as people get a better understanding of what he's actually saying (Mark Comerford comes to mind for opposing the flexion argument).

Anyway, Drake, nice rant :salute:

I do disagree with planks being a fad, though. I think it's the same "ab" fad that's been doing on for decades, still based on the spot reduction myth. Just a new spin on an old fad.

Also, people will and do complain about planks causing back discomfort but, that's not because of the exercise, it's due to how it's performed. This is like saying squats will cause knee pain, DL's will cause back pain, Benching will cause shoulder pain, etc.

To me, planks are like touching your toes. You should just be able to do it. If you can't, you need to work on it. If you can, you only need to maintain the ability.

KPj

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