Planks: Are you using abs or glutes?

I was asked this question by a personal trainer after a presentation I gave on injury prevention. And here was my answer…

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

With planks I wrote on the thing using abs or glutes–I see a lot of people using planks, 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 — are they counteracting the hip flexor pull and keeping a neutral spine because their glutes are doing that or because their abs are doing that?  If you want the glutes involved of course it doesn’t matter but if you want to really be a solid ab exercise and 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 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.

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