Side Plank Exercise: What It Is & Why You Should Be Doing It
Planks are important for core strength, but side planks are even better. Why? Because they act as an internal stabilizer for your entire body. If you want to improve your posture, balance, and overall core strength, then this exercise is a must-do in your routine!
How To Do a Side Plank
- Start in a plank position, with your hands directly under your shoulders and feet just wider than hip-width apart.
- Lift your left arm and leg into the air as you rotate on one foot so that you’re balanced on one hand and two feet.
- Keep your hips pressed down toward the ground to maintain a straight line from shoulders to ankles, keeping all four limbs off the floor (aka: no sagging). If this feels too difficult, try starting with knees bent or stepping out of the exercise altogether until it feels more manageable—that’s totally fine!
- Don’t push yourself too hard if you don't want to risk injury or burnout; instead, focus on good form over quantity.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds before switching sides; repeat 5 times total per side (so 2 sets total)
Benefits of The Side Plank
Adding side plank to your workout routine can help you achieve the following goals:
1) It works on your shoulders, hips, and sides of your core at the same time.
2) Can strengthen the deep spinal stabilizing muscle quadratus lumborum, which can help reduce your risk of a back injury.
3) This exercise puts gentle pressure on the side of your torso, which helps to build strength in your core.
4) Helps you develop your sense of balance and coordination as a balancing exercise.
5) Planks and side planks can help you avoid back injuries. A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy found that poor core endurance was linked to an increased risk of injury.
Side Plank Variation
Variation A: One of the most common variations of the side plank is to lift one leg and arm, or both legs. This can be done with the bottom leg extended straight out and the top knee bent or it can be done with both knees bent at 90 degrees.
Variation B: Another variation is to lift one arm while holding your body in position; this helps to strengthen those all-important core muscles even more than regular side planks do. You can also try lifting both arms for an even more challenging version of this exercise!
Side planks are an excellent way to strengthen the oblique abdominal muscles, which tend to get neglected when you're doing crunches. It also strengthens your lower back and shoulders, so if you have any problems with these areas (such as herniated disks) this exercise may be especially beneficial for you.