What Are Side Planks?
Side planks are a unilateral variation of the plank that involves holding the body up one arm and one foot. with the torso and legs rotated to face the side.
Side planks strengthen the core, with a particular focus on the obliques compared to other plank variations. The shoulders and hips also work to keep the body stable. As each side is worked individually, side planks can help to minimise imbalances between the two sides.
Side planks are more challenging than conventional planks as greater stability is needed to keep the body upright, prevent the hips from sinking, and stop the torso from rotating.
Most Commonly Asked Questions About Side Planks
How long you should hold a side plank will depend on your core strength. For beginners, a good goal to aim for is 15 seconds, working up through to 30 seconds. As you get stronger, this can increase to 1-2 minutes.
There is no correct number of sets to do side planks for. 2-3 sets is a good place to start, however even adding just 1 set to your workouts will help with core strength.
Side planks work the core, shoulders, and hips, with the obliques in particular working hard to keep the torso from rotating.
While side planks are generally considered safe during pregnancy, it’s best to consult your doctor regarding exercise for the best advice for you.
Tips for Side Planks
It is important to brace the core during a side plank to prevent the spine from arching and protect the back. Think about pulling your bellybutton into your spine and pushing your hips forward.
Once you have mastered the forearm side plank, you can progress to a straight arm side plank. Ensure the hand and elbow are stacked directly under the shoulder to avoid strain on the joint. You can also add in hip dips (bringing the hips in contact with the ground and then back to a straight line) to make this more challenging.
How To Do Side Planks
Lay on the floor on one side with your legs balanced with one on top of the other and bend your elbow to rest on your forearm. Ensure your elbow is stacked under your shoulder.
Squeeze your core and think about pulling your belly button towards your sternum to engage the abs.
Hold the position for as long as possible or the intended time.
Repeat on the other side.
If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.