So I have really tight hip flexors and weak glutes, abductors and abs.

I've been trying to fix this problem by working my glutes, hamstrings and abductors but I want to slowly start doing ab exercises again.

I know if I do leg raises, situps and other ab exercises, that it's going to make my hip flexors tighter which is what I don't want.

But even though there isn't much hip flexion when doing planks, will doing planks tighten my hip flexors even more?? Is it a good idea to do planks with tight hip flexors? or should I wait until I have strong glutes, abductors and hamstrings?

  • 1
    Quick question that might help write a better answer: Do you sit for most of your day? Tight hip flexors CAN be caused by misused ab exercises, but a more common cause is an adaptive shortening of the hip flexor due to a sedentary lifestyle.
    – Alec
    Mar 11, 2017 at 23:38
  • When I used to exercise regularly (roughly 3/4 years ago) I used to do a lot of ab exercises because I saw results in that area. But over time, I slowly started to plateau and I began to get back pain whenever I did ab exercises. The back pain and lack of results made me quit exercising. During this time, I didn't sit down much, I was living an active lifestyle compared to my peers. Now, I sit down for most of the day due to work. It's sad, I really want to have an active lifestyle again, but this time, I need to do it properly and not neglect key muscle groups like the glutes and hamstrings.
    – 48502104
    Mar 12, 2017 at 2:15
  • I'm slowly getting back into it again, but I want to know if planks would tighten up the hip flexors even more??? @Alec
    – 48502104
    Mar 12, 2017 at 2:17

2 Answers 2


Just to clarify one concept, there is no hip extension while doing planks however don’t mistake joint movement with muscle tension (or a muscle contraction).

Yes, planks require an isometric contraction of your hips to stabilize yourself. You're generating muscle tension with no movement. This is FINE - every time you walk, sit, stand etc you're contracting your hip flexors - it's unavoidable.

Do planks now -- in conjunction with your exercises. Do not wait until you have strong glutes, abductors and hamstrings. Planks are a great exercise for stabilizing your deep core musculature.

You have the right idea with the muscles you're targeting however. (See the Diagram Below)

Janda’s Crossed Syndromes

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What Would Benefit you the Most

Reverse Lunges

Reverse Lunges make the most sense in your case (add a unilateral dumbbell carry if you’re able to maintain your balance).

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  • Lunges add instability in the Frontal Plane – exactly what you need as you’ll be forced to use your hip abductors to stabilize yourself.
  • Doing them backwards, holding one dumbbell will simultaneously strengthen your hamstrings, glutes (Min / Med / Max), core, quads.

Active-Assisted Stretches

Active stretches require muscle force to attain and hold a position, whereas active-assisted stretching employs additional leverage to provide greater relative ROM during the stretch.

The force is produced internally via use of a stretching device (such as stretching strap or towel). The protocol for employment is similar to active stretching.

  • Holds may last 30-45 seconds depending on tolerance of discomfort.

Lunge Position Rectus Femoris & Iliopsoas Self-Stretch

The rectus femoris acts as a knee extensor and hip flexor as it crosses both joints. Tightness in this muscle group can contribute to low back pain and is usually involved in any type of knee pain or instability.

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How to Do the Rectus Femoris Self-Stretch:

  • First attain a pronounced lunge position with the front hip and knee bent a 90° and back hip opened broader than 90°.
  • A towel or stretching strap is wrapped around the dorsal aspect (near your shoelaces) of the trailing foot which is held by the opposite hand.

  • The rear foot should be drawn toward the glutes by light pulling on the towel or strap as well as active knee flexion.

  • Once maximal knee flexion has been attained, the hip should then be extended forward to maximize the stretch of the tissues.


It is possible that you have overdeveloped your anterior muscles relative to the antagonistic muscles, meaning your glutes, hammies, etc.

I would consider some barbell training by performing squats and deadlifts at a relatively moderate weight. Both of these exercises are full body events, but they do put a significant amount of stress on your core (abs, obliques, erectors) and every muscle waist down.

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