How to Build Great Abs and An Injury-Proof Core with the Side Plank

Build a better, fitter body.

This guide to the Side Plank will help you learn how and why to include this valuable exercise into your training.

What is the Side Plank?

The movement is an isometric hold exercise where the body is turned sideways and is supported by the feet and elbow. The shoulders, hips, knees and feet are all positioned in a single line.

Core strength and balance is necessary to keep the body in the proper position.

What Muscles Does the Side Plank Work?

The movement primarily targets and strengthens the obliques, two layers of muscles that run along the sides of the core.

The purpose of these muscles is to enable the body to rotate and twist the trunk. The obliques also protect the spine as well.

The exercise works the hips, back, glutes and legs as well.

  • Obliques
  • Transversus abdominis,
  • Rectus abdominis
  • Quadratus lumborum
  • Hamstrings
  • Gluteus medius
  • Gluteus minimus in the hips
  • Adductor muscles located in the inner thigh
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What are the Benefits of the Side Plank?

There are many benefits to this effective exercise.

Build the Core without Extra Spinal Pressure

Sit Ups, Crunches and Knees to Elbow all put pressure on the lower back.

The exercise works your core just as hard, without this additional stress. If you are recovering from an injury or simply trying to train as carefully as possible then this is as excellent option.

Improve Three Different Muscle Groups at Once

To successfully perform the exercise, you must work the hips, shoulders and sides of your body all at the same time.

Guard the Spine

The movement will help you create a much stronger core. In turn this will mean that your spine is better supported and protected.

The exercise improves the deep spinal muscles known as the quadratus lumborum.

Build Better Balance

The movement requires a great deal of coordination. This will improve your general balance.

How to do the Side Plank

Most people find the exercise more comfortable to perform on a mat, carpet or the grass. This places less pressure on the elbow that rests on the ground.

  • Lie down on your right side. Stack the feet on top of each other and keep the legs straight
  • Place the right elbow under the body with the forearm pointing outwards at a 90-degree angle from the body
  • Clench the hand into a fist and maintain a neutral head position, facing forwards
  • Inhale and brace the core, glutes and legs
  • Lift your hips up from the ground until your body in supported in a completely straight line
  • Hold this position for the desired amount of time
  • Lower and exhale
  • Switch to the other side and repeat

Training Tips

If you are still building up to the full Side position then perform the exercise from your knees instead to make it a little easier.

Don’t let the hips sag downwards. Keep your core tight to avoid this happening.

Side Plank Mistakes

Make sure you aren’t slowing down your progress by making any of these mistakes.

Rolling the Body Roll Forwards

If the core is not properly tensed, then there is a tendency for the body to roll forwards. This also makes it harder to keep the hips and legs in a straight line as well.

Makes sure to stay tight at all times, especially when you feel fatigued.

Holding for Too Much Time without Enough Intensity

This Plank variation takes time to build the required strength.

It is better to perform the Plank for shorter bursts with maximum intensity rather than longer, half hearted holds without proper bracing.

Side Plank Variations

Add these variations into your training.

  • Side plank dips
  • Elevated side plank
  • Side plank rotations

Side Plank Alternatives

These alternatives will keep your body guessing and your gains progressing.

  • Asymmetrical Carry
  • TRX Hip Drop
  • TRX S Plank
  • Sandbag Half-kneeling Arc Press
  • Sandbag Leg Threading

Learn More

Add these Nordic Curls and Reverse Hyper Extensions into your training.

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