Like the front plank, the side plank is a full-body strengthening exercise that requires no fitness equipment — it’s just you and your bodyweight. You can do a plank anytime, anywhere. It is an isometric exercise that requires steady breathing, focus, and determination.
I recommend planks to all my clients and friends because they are one of the best ways to balance and strengthen many of those deep muscles that support your spine, hip-complex, and shoulders.
- Lie face down on your mat, in a prone position, with your stomach resting on the ground.
- Roll to one of your sides. Place your elbow directly below your shoulder with your forearm resting on the floor perpendicular to your body, your elbow at a 90-degree angle. Keep your hips and feet stacked on top of each other so that you are balancing along the side of your body. Your spine and legs should be in a straight line.
- Squeeze your glutes and tighten your abdominal muscles to lift your body off of the ground so the only parts touching the floor are the outside of your bottom foot, your elbow, and your forearm/hand.
- Make sure your elbow is still directly below your shoulder and that you remain in a straight line with your hips and feet stacked. Your gaze should be straight ahead and slightly down to help keep your neck relaxed.
- If you cannot keep your balance in this position, you can use your free hand to help keep yourself steady.
- Hold for the duration of the exercise and then switch sides.
Main Muscles Targeted:
- Internal and External Obliques
- Erector Spinae
- Rectus Abdominis
- Transverse Abdominis
- Quadratus Lumborum
- If you need to decrease the difficultly level, drop your bottom knee to the floor bending that leg to a 90-degree angle. Keep your elbow lined up with your shoulder. Your weight will now be placed on your elbow, your forearm/hand, your knee, and the inside of your top foot.
- If you want to increase the difficultly level, you can raise your free arm up toward the ceiling. You will shift your gaze toward your raised hand which will help keep you aligned.
- You can also add this variation to the modification above if you find the modification is too easy, but the regular side plank is too difficult.
- Do this exercise in front of a mirror or with a partner so you can watch your form. It’s easy to “cheat” when you get tired without even realizing it.
- Breathe in for a count of five and out for a count of five. Even breaths will help make your mind calm and allow muscles that should not be clenched to relax.
- Keep your glutes clenched and your belly button pulled in tight toward your spine. This will help you keep your form and stay in the plank longer.
- Keep breathing!!
*Remember, it’s always advised to consult with your doctor or health care expert before adding a new exercise to your routine to make sure you don’t have any contraindications.