Side Plank: Benefits, Variations, Muscles used, Tips

The Side plank is a brilliant bodyweight exercise that helps you to develop the strength and stability of your core. Your muscles are exercised isometrically. The side plank is more of a strength-building exercise, engaging a range of muscles, and can also help to boost your calorie burn.

The benefits of incorporating side planks into your training routine include building strength in the obliques, stabilizing the shoulders, and improving overall core control. It also strengthen the wrists, butt, and thighs.

What is Side Planks

The Side Plank is one of the best abs exercises for strengthening the oblique abdominal muscles, which don’t get worked as much during abs exercises such as crunches. It also targets the back, hips, and leg muscles. For the side plank, you will hold your body on your side in a straight position, supported only by one arm and the side of one foot. Strong obliques can be quite useful as core stabilization muscles.

Obliques are an important part of your entire core that comes in handy during rotational exercises and balancing your way through everyday life. These oblique exercises engage far more than just your so-called “side abs” and make you a stronger human overall.

Muscles Worked on Side Plank Exercises

The Side plank position makes an effective component for your workout, as it engages a wide range of major muscle groups. The primary muscles worked during side plank are the obliques and back, including the erector spinae and the rectus abdominus, and the transverse abdominus.

In addition, the position uses the Serratus Anterior, lateral deltoids, and Trapezius of the upper body, as well as the gluteus maximus and Hip Flexors of the lower body.

Muscles Worked on Side Plank Exercises

The external oblique is the outer visible layer that passes run diagonally on each side of the rectus abdominis. These muscles help with side-to-side bending, flexion of the spinal column, torso rotation, and compression of the abdomen.

Internal oblique muscles lie under the external obliques and run into the lower back or erector spinae. The fibers of the two muscles pass at right angles to one another, and therefore they are often referred to as opposite-side rotators.

Transversus abdominis is the deepest part of the abdominals, which lies horizontally across the abdominal wall.

Serratus anterior muscle arises from the scapula behind and passes forward around the chest wall to attach to the upper eight ribs.

Erector Spinae is a group of three muscles, the iliocostalis, the longissimus, and the spinalis.

Hip Flexors group of muscles is located along the front side of the body, from the abdomen through the top of the thigh. The hip flexors are responsible for bringing the legs into flexion and toward the trunk.

The Gluteus Maximus muscle is located in the buttocks and is the strongest muscle in the human body.

Benefits of Side Plank Exercises

1. Strengthen the Core and work upper and lower body muscles

When you do side plank exercises, you work all the muscles in your core and get all of the benefits of a strong core. As if that weren’t enough, planks also work the following muscles:

Upper body: Trapezius, Rhomboid major and minor, Rotator cuff, Anterior, medial, and delts, Triceps, Biceps.

Lower body: Quadriceps, Gastrocnemius (calf muscle).

2. Prevent muscle imbalances

The side plank exercise conditions the core of the body. When muscles are comparably developed on both sides of the body, the result is better posture, more spinal support, and less lower-back pain.

3. Improve functional movement

Functional movement is the kind of movement that is needed to live life, and side planks are important to improve that. Things such as squatting, bending, running, lifting, jumping, and throwing are all functional movements initiated in the core.

4. Provide a safe and effective alternative to Crunches and sit-ups

While sit-ups are an important functional movement for daily life, they are not always the best core conditioning choice for everyone. Crunches and sit-ups only work the muscles on the front side of the core, so it’s necessary to do side and back strengthening exercises as well. However, planks work the entire core, as well as many other muscles in the body.

5. Burn calories and fat

Side Plank variation is the combination of strength and cardiovascular exercise. The plank variations exercises can help you burn calories and regulate your weight. They may also help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk for heart disease.

6. Offer versatile exercise

The greatest advantage of side planks is the variety of exercises that are possible. You can do traditional planks, side plank rotations, planks with added weight, or planks on an unstable surface. There is a plank for everybody and every fitness level.

7. Improves your balance. 

As a balancing exercise, a side plank can help improve your sense of balance and coordination.

15 Best Side Plank Exercises

Here are the Best Side Plank Exercise and its Variation to build strong core. Once you’ve mastered the basic side plank, there are many variations you can try to make the exercise more challenging.

If you are new to performing sides, you may want to apply a few modifications to make the exercise easier. One way to do knee side plank and another way to reduce the time of plank.

If you are looking for a more advanced variation to stimulate different muscle fibers in the core, then try elevated Side Plank, Side Plank With Row, Stability Ball Forearm and Medicine Ball Side Plank.

1. Side Plank on knee

Knee side plank is the beginner variation of the side plank exercise. If you’re new to planking, you should master this modified knee side plank before moving on to the plank variation.

Side planks strengthen your obliques and entire core. Side planks not only build strength in your shoulder and arm but deep contraction in your oblique muscle and hip.

Side Plank on knee Exercise

How To Do Knee Side Plank

  1. Get in a side plank position by lying on your right side on the floor with your left knee rested on your right knee and your left arm rested on top of your left side.
  2. Raise your body by placing your right forearm flat on the floor so that it’s perpendicular to your torso.
  3. Lift your torso until your right upper arm is straight underneath you, with your elbow bent 90 degrees and your forearm flat on the floor.
  4. In this position, only your right forearm and the right knee are contacting the floor and your body forms a diagonal line that is at about a 20-degree angle to the floor.
  5. Keep your abs pulled in tight and hold this position for as long as you can, and then repeat on the left side.

Tips

  • Keep your legs and body straight.
  • Avoid letting your hips sag during the exercise.
  • Squeeze your abs and glutes throughout the movement for stability.

2. High Side Plank

A High side plank strengthens your obliques and entire core and helps you work your way to a flatter tummy and stronger back. Side planks also strengthen your shoulders, arms, and upper back muscles.

A side plank exercise is a way to shape and tone your waistline, but it also targets your hips, core, and all stabilizer muscles. It challenges your balance by requiring these stabilizers to activate and work as you hold your plank and pull your muscles in.

High Side Plank exercise

How To Do High Side Plank

  1. Get in a side plank position by lying on your right side on the floor with your left foot rested on top the right foot and your left arm rested on top of your left side.
  2. Raise your body by placing your right palm flat on the floor so that it’s perpendicular to your torso. Lift your torso until your right arm is straight underneath you.
  3. In this position, only your right arm and the right foot are making contact with the floor and your body forms a diagonal line that is at about a 20-degree angle to the floor.
  4. Keep your abs pulled in tight and hold this position for as long as you can, and then repeat on the left side.

Tips

  • Keep your legs and body straight.
  • Avoid letting your hips sag during the exercise.
  • Squeeze your abs and glutes throughout the movement for stability.

3. Forearm Side Plank

The forearm side plank is one of the best abs exercises for strengthening the oblique abdominal muscles, which don’t get worked as much during abs exercises such as crunches.

You will hold your body on your side in a straight position, supported only by one arm and the side of one foot. Strong obliques can be quite useful as core stabilization muscles.

If you’re new to planking, you should master the basic forearm plank before moving on to side plank variation. If you find it hard to hold a side plank, that’s OK. You can try performing the exercise from your knees instead of your feet while you’re building your strength.

Forearm Side Plank exercise

How To Do Forearm Side Plank

  1. Get in a side plank position by lying on your right side on the floor with your left foot rested on top of the inner side of your right foot and your left arm rested on top of your left side.
  2. Raise your body by placing your right forearm flat on the floor so that it’s perpendicular to your torso.
  3. Lift your torso until your right upper arm is straight underneath you, with your elbow bent 90 degrees and your forearm flat on the floor.
  4. In this position, only your right forearm and the outer side of your right foot are making contact with the floor and your body forms a diagonal line that is at about a 20-degree angle to the floor.
  5. Keep your abs pulled in tight and hold this position for as long as you can, and then repeat on the left side.

Tips

  • Keep your legs and body straight.
  • Avoid letting your hips sag during this oblique exercises.
  • Squeeze your abs and glutes throughout the movement for stability.

4. Side Plank Dips

The side plank dip is also known as the side plank hip raise exercise that you can do to target the obliques and outer thighs.

Make the lying side hip raise exercise easier by bending your knees and supporting your lower body on the side of your knee instead of the side of your foot. Make the exercise more difficult by holding a weight on your hip.

Side Plank Dips

How To Do Side Plank Dips

  1. Lie on the floor on your left side with your elbow directly beneath your shoulder and legs stacked. Place your free hand on your hip.
  2. Straighten your body and legs. Your feet should be together, and your hip should be resting on the floor.
  3. Brace your abs and lift your hips off the floor until you’re balancing on your forearm and feet and your body forms a diagonal line.
  4. Slowly bring your hips back to the floor. Repeat on your right side.

Tips

  • Do not let your hips or shoulder sag, do not let your body rotate.
  • Keep your core tight, so that your upper body remains stable, maintain your top leg straight.
  • Breathe out as you lift your top leg and squeeze the outer thigh.

5. Side plank lateral raise

The side plank lateral raise is an exercise that combines an isometric side plank hold with a dumbbell raise to target both the core and the shoulders.

You probably won’t be able to use much weight without disrupting your balance, but even at lightweight, this is a movement that can help address multiple muscle groups in a time-efficient workout.

Side plank lateral raise

How To Do Side plank lateral raise

  1. Get in a side plank position by lying on your right side on the floor with your left foot rested on top your right foot.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in your top hand, with your arm resting along the side of your body.
  3. Slowly raise the weight, making sure not to extend beyond your shoulder. Hold for 1-3 seconds when at the top of the rep.
  4. Slowly lower your arm back down. Complete desired no. of repetition. Repeat on your right side.

Tips

  • Keep your legs and body straight.
  • Avoid letting your hips sag during this oblique exercises.
  • Squeeze your abs and glutes throughout the movement for stability.

6. Elevated side plank

The side plank with feet on the bench is a progression from a normal side plank that targets the core, with an emphasis on the obliques. Performing with feet elevated also increases the resistance on the shoulders and triceps.

Elevated side plank

How To Do Elevated side plank

  1. Get in a side plank position with forearm on the floor and feet on an elevated surface (a bench, box, step, or chair).
  2. Contract your abs, pulling the belly button in toward the spine.
  3. Raise the hips, so your body forms one straight line from top of head to feet. Hold for 30 seconds
  4. Slowly raise the weight, making sure not to extend beyond your shoulder. Hold for 1-3 seconds when at the top of the rep.
  5. Slowly lower back to the starting position. Repeat on your other side.

Tips

  • Don’t let your shoulders roll forward. Keep your chest up and shoulders back.
  • Squeeze your glutes and your abs to keep your body stable.

7. Side Plank with Hip Abduction

The side plank hip abduction is an advanced variation of side plank exercise that you can do to target the obliques and outer thighs.

The hip abductors move the legs away from the body and rotate them at the hip joint so this plays an important role in keeping your knee and hip joints stable.

Side Plank with Hip Abduction

How To Do Side Plank with Hip Abduction

  1. Lie on the floor, on your left side, side with your elbow directly beneath your shoulder and legs stacked. Place your free hand on your hip.
  2. Straighten your body and legs. Your feet should be together, and your hip should be resting on the floor.
  3. Brace your abs and lift your hips off the floor until you’re balancing on your forearm and feet and your body forms a diagonal line.
  4. Lift your right leg at least 6 inches. Slowly bring your feet back together and lower your hip to the floor. Repeat on your right side.

Tips

  • Do not let your hips or shoulder sag, do not let your body rotate.
  • keep your core tight, so that your upper body remains stable, maintain your top leg straight.
  • Breathe out as you lift your top leg and squeeze the outer thigh.

8. Tree Side Plank

Side plank poses with tree legs are a more advanced variation of the balancing pose, side plank pose. It combines the benefits of both side plank and tree pose.

In this posture, the body forms one straight line, side-on to the ground. It is supported by one hand and the outer edge of one foot. The other leg forms a tree leg shape, with the sole pressed into the inner thigh or calf.

Tree Side Plank

How To Do Tree Side Plank

  1. Get in a High side plank position with elbow under your shoulders and legs out straight and stacked.
  2. Lift up into the side plank position and bend your top leg and place your foot flat on the inside of your upper thigh.
  3. Open your top knee up toward the ceiling and squeeze your butt as you drive your foot into your leg and keep your bottom hip up.
  4. Keep your abs pulled in tight and hold this position for as long as you can and then repeat on the left side.

Tips

  • Keep your legs and body straight.
  • Avoid letting your hips sag during the exercise
  • Squeeze your abs and glutes throughout the movement for stability.

9. Side Plank with Knee Tuck

The side plank with knee tuck strengthens the core with an emphasis on the obliques. The movement also demands hip control, balance, and coordination.

Side Plank with Knee Tuck

How To Do Side Plank with Knee Tuck

  1. Get in a side plank position by lying on your right side on the floor with your left foot rested on top of your right foot and your left arm rested on top of your left side.
  2. Raise your body by placing your right forearm flat on the floor so that it’s perpendicular to your torso.
  3. Lift your torso until your right upper arm is straight underneath you with your elbow bent 90 degrees and your forearm flat on the floor.
  4. Lift your left leg and bend that knee, bring your top knee toward your chest. Pause and then return to starting position.

Tips

  • Do not let the hips sag during the side plank.
  • Do not place your grounded elbow too high above your shoulder.
  • Squeeze your abs and glutes throughout the movement for stability.

10. Side Plank and Rotate

The side plank with rotation exercise develops lateral core strength & stability, shoulder strength & stability, and may even help improve spinal mobility. To optimize these benefits, make sure that you’re doing this exercise in perfect form.

Side Plank and Rotate Exercise

How To Do Side Plank and Rotate

  1. Get in a side plank position by lying on your right side on the floor with your left foot rested on your right foot and your left arm raised straight above you so that it’s perpendicular to the floor.
  2. Raise your body by placing your right forearm flat on the floor so that it’s perpendicular to your torso.
  3. Lift your torso until your right upper arm is straight underneath you, with your elbow bent 90 degrees and your forearm flat on the floor.
  4. In this position, only your right forearm and the outer side of your right foot are making contact with the floor.
  5. Reach under and behind your torso with your right hand, keeping your abs braced. aAndnd then repeat on the left side.

Tips

  • Try to twist as far as you can. The goal is to twist until your chest is parallel to the ground.
  • Avoid letting your hips sag during the exercise
  • Squeeze your abs and glutes throughout the movement for stability.

11. Forearm Side Plank Crunch

Combine your standard crunches with side plank exercise into one move that will challenge your balance, tone up your waist, and strengthen your core.

Side plank crunches work your whole body by combining all the core actions you get from a traditional plank with some extra love for your shoulders and hips.

Your obliques get hit doubly hard in this exercise: The side closest to the ground has to stay engaged the whole time to keep the body stable, while the side you’re crunching contracts and relaxes over and over again.

Forearm Side Plank Crunch exercise

How To Do Forearm Side Plank Crunch

  1. Get in a side plank position by lying on your right side on the floor with your left foot rested on top of the inner side of your right foot and your left arm rested on top of your left side.
  2. Raise your body by placing your right forearm flat on the floor so that it’s perpendicular to your torso.
  3. Lift your torso until your right upper arm is straight underneath you with your elbow bent 90 degrees and your forearm flat on the floor. Extend your left arm over your head.
  4. Lift your left leg and drive your knee toward your torso. At the same time, bring your left arm in toward your knee in a crunch movement.
  5. Continue for a set amount of time, and then repeat on the other side.

Tips

  • Don’t let your hips drop or rotate—the movement should come just from your core.
  • Avoid letting your hips sag during the exercise
  • Squeeze your abs and glutes throughout the movement for stability.

12. Rolling Side Plank

The rolling side plank is a core stability exercise that improves strength and endurance throughout the core, with an emphasis on the obliques. The exercise also increases strength in the lower back and shoulders.

The rolling—or side-to-side—plank involves switching between left and right plank, with a brief forearm plank in between (whew). Combining the three poses into one fluid movement works all of the muscles in your core and challenges your stability.

Rolling Side Plank

How To Do Rolling Side Plank

  1. Lie face down on an exercise mat with hands should be shoulder-width apart; your knees should be about hip-width apart, your head facing forward, and palms flat on the floor.
  2. Start to get in a pushup position, bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms instead of on your hands.
  3. Keep your core, butt, and quads tight, and avoid arching your back. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.
  4. Now roll to your left forearm into a side plank with your right arm raised above you. Then roll back to the original plank position.
  5. Roll to your right forearm into a side plank with your left arm raised above you, and then return to the original plank.

Tips

  • Squeeze your abs and glutes throughout the movement to provide more stability.
  • Avoid letting your hips sag during the exercise
  • Do not let your hips sag during any part of the movement.

13. Side Plank with Row

The side plank row is an advanced variation of the standard side plank performed by pulling the handle attached to a low pulley cable machine. You can include this in your regular ab workout routine to improve the core-rotational resistive ability.

Side Plank with Row

How To Do Side Plank with Row

  1. Attach a handle to the low pulley of a cable machine and grab it with your right hand.
  2. Brace your core and raise your body into a side plank on your left side.
  3. Bend your right elbow and pull the handle to your rib cage, keeping your hips pushed up and forward.
  4. Slowly straighten your arm back in front of you. Complete all reps on your left side, then switch to your right side, grab the handle with your left hand, and repeat.

Tips

  • Do not let your hips sag. Brace your core as if you were about to be punched in the gut.Do not let your hips sag. Brace your core as if you were about to be punched in the gut.
  • Avoid letting your hips sag during this oblique exercises.
  • Keep elbows tucked in while performing row. Focus on squeezing your shoulder blade back.

14. Stability Ball forearm Side Plank

Stability ball forearm Side Plank exercises have become popular due to their multitude of benefits. They work the entire core, including the obliques, abdomen, lower back, gluteus, and thighs, and they also increase spinal stability, balance, and coordination.
These plank variations are more challenging than their stable counterparts, so introduce them only after you have a solid full plank. When you sit on the ball, the hips should be level or slightly higher than the knees.

Stability Ball forearm Side Plank

How To Do Stability Ball forearm Side Plank

  1. Place your elbow in the center of the stability ball and align your shoulder directly over your elbow.
  2. Press your forearm into the stability ball to support the shoulder joint.
  3. Stack your hips and feet on top of one another to create a straight line from your head to your heels, actively.
  4. Hold this position for a set amount of time.

Tips

  • Focus on engaging your core, and avoid dropping your hips toward the floor. Do not let your lower back sag or your butt rise.
  • Your neck should be in line with your body, not tilted up, which could strain the neck.

15. Medicine ball Side plank

Using a medicine ball for your press-ups challenges your body and adds a degree of instability to recruit more muscles.

Put both hands on the medicine ball and get into a solid plank position with the ball underneath your chest. Perform a press-up, but send your elbows back and close to your sides.

Medicine ball Side plank exercise

How To Do Medicine ball Side plank

  1. Place your palm in the center of the medicine ball and align your shoulder directly over your palm.
  2. Press your palm firmly into the medicine ball to support your shoulder joint.
  3. Stack your hips and feet on top of one another to create a straight line from your head to your heels, and actively lift the side of your body up as high as possible.
  4. Hold this position for a set amount of time.

Tips

  • Do not let your lower back sag or your butt rise.
  • Keep your glutes and core muscles contracted.

Conclusion

These Side Plank workouts are highly recommended for anyone who is interested in building core muscles and gaining strength. It not only allows for targeted muscle development, but also provides overall core development.

It is straightforward and does not require any further scientific details. If done consistently, the results will speak by themselves.

Thanks for reading, enjoy your workout!

STAY FIT, LIVE A HAPPY AND HEALTHY LIFE

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