The Perfect Side Plank Guide for Beginners to the Advanced
The Side Plank
The side plank is one of the most underrated core exercises in the fitness kingdom. You can see them be done in different training scenarios including in home workouts, pilates, bootcamps and in physical therapy clinics to name a few.
They are relatively safe to do and can be modified to a person’s goal and fitness level. When we think of working on our core, we usually think of crunch like movements. However, in the side plank we remain still. We are making our targeted muscles work isometrically. Isometric contractions is when the muscle contracts but does not shorten.
Go to the Side Plank Workouts
Why do Side Planks?
We can agree that most people need more core strength and endurance. Having a stronger core can help protect our spine and hips, this in turn can helps us move better, in and out of the gym. With a more resilient core you can lift heavier weights while you train, you can run harder and longer and you can even fight the effects of prolonged sitting.
Side planks primarily target your obliques but they also target a myriad of other muscles as well, not to mention that you will also improve shoulder and hip stability.
The other muscles of the side plank.
In this short video we will take a look at two important muscles that are also targeted in the side plank; the quadratus lumborum and glute medius.
Practice Good Form
In the following section I will break down different side plank variations, step by step. But before I do that, let me go over some common cues that will help you get the most of this exercise:
- Squeeze your butt and abs when performing the exercise.
- Don’t allow your hips to sag.
- Avoid bringing your head too forward.
- Think of pushing yourself away from the ground.
- Avoid holding your breath throughout the exercise.
Side Plank #1
- This is the most basic version of a side plank.
- This version is suitable for people that are relatively new to core training or for elderly people.
Side Plank #2
- Like the previous version but now you use your hand to increase the instability.
Side Plank #3
- In this version you no longer place your knees on the ground.
- You place one foot back to increase the stability of the exercise.
Side Plank #4
- You stack your feet together to increase the instability of the exercise.
Side Plank #5
- This is the “standard” side plank.
- A person with moderate strength should be able to hold this position for 20-30 seconds.
Side Plank #6
- In this version we go back to placing our forearm back on the ground but we lift one leg up in the air.
- This will make your obliques and hips work harder.
- This particular version is good for runners since strengthening the hips can also provide better knee stability.
Side Plank #7
- In this version you place your hand on the ground and thus increase the instability throughout your body.
Side Plank #8
- In this version you place your forearm back on the ground, but now you add some rotation with the arm that is free.
- Make a circular reach towards the ground.
Side Plank #9
- In this version you place your hand on the ground but now you add some rotation with the arm that is free, make a circular reach towards the ground.
- This version will greatly challenge your stability.
Side Plank #10
- In this version you place your forearm back on the ground.
- This version will require one hip to help stabilize the position while the other performs hip abductions to strengthen the hip.
Side Plank #11
- In this version you place your hand on the ground. Like in the previous example, it will require one hip to help stabilize the position while the other performs hip abductions to strengthen the hip.
Side Plank #12
- In this version you place your forearm back on the ground.
- We take an exercise that is traditionally static and we add some movement to it.
- Perform a crunch and connect the elbow and knee as seen above, this will involve more of the “six pack” muscles.
Side Plank #13
- In this version you place your hand on the ground. Just like the previous example, perform a crunch and connect the the elbow and knee as seen above.
- This is my favorite side plank variation.
Side Plank #14
- In this version you stack your legs together on top of a bench or another stable platform. This will increase the intensity of the exercise.
Side Plank #15
- In this version you raise one leg, further challenging hip stability. Your obliques will work harder in this position as well.
Side Plank #16
- This is a unique version where you challenge the inner thigh of the leg that is on the bench, along with the usual benefits of a standard side plank.
Side Plank #17
- This is one of the most challenging side planks to perform.
- You will challenge the stability of the inner thigh of the leg that is on the bench.
- You will also simultaneously challenge your rectus abdominis (six pack muscles) by performing a crunch, by connecting the elbow to the opposite knee.
How to Incorporate Side Planks Into Your Routine.
There’s tons of ways to integrate your side planks into your existing workout routines. Here are a few:
- Perform side planks while you are resting in between other exercises.
- I generally prescribe side planks for 20-40 second holds. Your goal shouldn’t necessarily be to hold them for a long time. Once you’ve mastered a side plank variation with great form, challenge yourself with a more demanding version.
- Practice your core routine at the end of your workout when you have completed your other main lifts.
- If you have time to workout twice in one day do the following; do your main workout in the morning where you perform total body exercises. Then later in the evening, focus on a core routine that will take you less than 20 minutes to complete.
Download your Side Plank Workout
I hope I’ve convinced you in the value in doing side planks. If you need more ideas to implement in your core routine, download this accompanying PDF if you want more insight in how to put these movements together. There’s 3 different workouts, a beginner, intermediate and an advanced one.
SIDE PLANK WORKOUT PDF
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