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January 07, 2022 9 min read
The side plank might not look like much but it is one of the most effective low-impact core-strengthening bodyweight exercises. A variation of the conventional plank, the side plank is a versatile exercise that targets the muscles of your arms, shoulders, abs, and most importantly, obliques.
There are various ways to amp up your basic side plank for a little extra muscle strength. We have compiled, in order of difficulty, the best side planks to sculpt and strengthen your body for a jacked physique.
Often overstepped for exercises with more range of motion like sit-ups, the plank is now considered the best option for exercising your core.
The side plank is an isometric tension exercise that improves core strength and muscle endurance. It also works efficiently to shrink the fat in your belly, providing you with a tight waistline and toned abs. With just limited movement, the side plank primarily targets the core, lower back, abdominal, and chest muscles.
This workout is also particularly effective in the engagement of the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, quadratus lumborum, gluteus muscles, obliques, hams, quads, and inner thigh adductors. These muscles are important for mobility, stability, endurance, and flexibility.The side plank is also a great exercise for improving your resting metabolism. This acts as a means of blasting fat and retaining a healthy and bulky muscle to fat ratio.
The side plank is a scalable, gym noob-friendly ab workout. It is convenient and can be done in and outside the gym. This calisthenics exercise is done by simply laying on either of your sides, keeping your spine, neck, and body in a neutral straight line. You are entirely airborne and only supported by a forearm that is angled underneath your shoulder and the side of your feet.
Although the conventional side plank is a great exercise, tweaking your technique even the tiniest bit can generate a whole different result from a completely different muscle vantage point.Below are the 10 side plank variations that deserve to be a part of your bro-splits:
The bent knee side plank is one of the easiest side plank variations, even simpler than the conventional side plank.The bent knee side plank takes a lot of pressure off your upper body, letting you focus more on engaging your core throughout your workout. Because your knees are bearing some of your body weight, you have more muscle stability and put less stress on your elbow and shoulders. Since your joints are not bearing much weight, this side plank variation is perfect for athletes who suffer from minor joint mobility problems and back pain.
To do the bent knee side plank:
The bent knee side plank primarily works the abdominals, obliques, gluteus maximus, and also chips in on the hip adductors and quads.
The side plank with pulses is a powerful low-impact full-body exercise that works the abdominal muscles and each side of your body alternately. This variation works the core, back muscles, thigh muscles, and glutes. It also primarily works the obliques and hip flexors.The side plank with pulses helps with muscle endurance, stability, better hip mobility for a better posture, and a stronger back.
To do this variation:
The side plank dip works similar to the plank with pulses. This variation works to engage and activate the muscles of the shoulder, inner thighs, lats, glutes, and obliques.The side plank dip is a great core and muscle-strengthening exercise. It is also a functional exercise that helps to correct or improve your posture, thereby reducing the risk of back pain and injuries.
To do this variation:
The Side Plank Leg Raise is one step more beneficial than its conventional counterpart. Like the conventional side plank, the side plank leg raise emphasizes the core muscles and obliques. The wider range of motion and added leg movements also help to strengthen the hip flexors and shoulder girdles.The side plank leg raise is an intermediate side plank variation. Although it trains the body for added flexibility, stamina, and muscle strength, it also requires a degree of mobility, balance, and coordination.
To do the side plank leg raise:
The side plank with march is one of those variations that light your posterior chain on fire.This side plank variation is favored by bodybuilders and athletes for its ability to work the lower extremities while also isolating the muscles of the abdomen, especially the obliques. It also helps target the gluteus medius, a muscle often bypassed in weightless exercises. This variation provides better trunk stability, overall muscle strength, and correction of any lateral muscle imbalance.
To do the side plank with march:
This is an intermediate-advanced variation that is great for all the muscle groups targeted by the conventional side plank. It, however, focuses more on the abs, hip flexors, left and right obliques, traps, shoulder muscles, and glutes.The side plank crunch packs a powerful punch to your waistline and is an excellent choice for blasting stubborn belly-fat cells. It strengthens your upper and lower muscles and is a great exercise to improve muscle power. Overall, the side plank crunch is a breath of fresh air.
To perform the side plank crunch:
Just as the name implies, the alternating side plank involves shifting your side plank from one side to the next. It features a side plank on one side, a roll into a standard plank, and a side plank on the other side.The alternating side plank is an advanced-option side plank variation that is not meant for everyone. It engages all the major muscle groups in your upper and lower extremities. It strengthens your upper body, resulting in greater arm strength, better stability, improved muscle endurance, and better functionality.
To do the alternating side plank:
The side plank with a twist is a waist-shrinking core exercise that isolates the internal and external obliques thanks to the trunk twisting motion. The oblique muscle group is a strong connecting muscle that holds your upper and lower extremities. It is an extremely functional muscle that comes to play in your walking and running motion. This makes the side plank with twists an extremely important exercise to have in your arsenal as an athlete.
To do the side plank with a twist:
Because the core primarily comes into play to prevent your body from collapsing under its weight and effect of gravity, the foot's elevated side plank engages all the core muscles. Coupling this with the activation of major full-body muscles groups, the feet elevated side plank variation is a killer routine that deserves a spot at the top of your bro-split.
To do the feet elevated side plank:
The foot's elevated side plank can be inverted so your upper body rests on an elevated surface.
This variation is simply a conventional side plank done with a dumbbell for increased muscle resistance. This muscle-cruising advanced side plank variation is a foolproof way to tone and bulk-up your upper body while working the whole body at once.
To do the side plank with lateral raise:
A common mistake that gym-goers make while doing the side plank with lateral raise is sagging their hips. This would not engage the right muscle groups and might even lead to a muscle injury. When doing this variation, make sure to start with lightweight dumbbells. This would help you focus more on keeping the proper form.
The side plank with lateral is a great way for inducing muscle hypertrophy on the bicep and tricep muscles.
The side plank is a major contributor to upper and lower body strength. These muscles come to play in our daily activities and are also a major part of how well you engage in weighted exercises in the gym. Now that you have been introduced to various side planks variations, pair your favorite variations with our tested and trusted pre-workouts to assist you on your fitness journey.