Turn your head to the side. Don’t be shy! Pull that ear towards your shoulder. Now, imagine seeing the world from that same angle, except also getting an amazing workout for your whole core. That’s what a Side Plank does.
The Side Plank originates in yoga, where it’s called Vasisthasana. Vasistha actually means “the best ever” and is traced back to the lords of creation in Hindu beliefs. The name is well deserved for this exercise, which has spread out from the yogic tradition to now be a part of the strength and balance training for athletes and novice fitness enthusiasts everywhere. This exotic exercise isn’t exotic anymore.
Rise up right now
The Side Plank is one of those exercises that is all about balance. There are many variations of this exercise to accommodate beginners who aren’t ready to balance on their own yet. Balance comes with progress and consistency. Starting out with the basic, beginner version of the exercise is only a starting place. Eventually, it’ll be easy to move to the full Side Plank.
To do a Side Plank, you’re going to rise up off the floor, being supported by one arm and one leg, with the opposite arm and opposite leg being in the air. No equipment is needed for the Side Plank.
Here are the step-by-step instructions for doing a Side Plank.
- Lie down on one side with knees straight. Feet are stacked on top of each other, sideways.
- Pull the core in, tightening the muscles to brace for the movement.
- Prop your body up on the lower hand, pushing up with the body braced on the outside of the lower foot and the palm. Hips should come up off the floor.
- Raise the other arm high until it’s perpendicular to your body from the shoulder joint. The body should form a T.
- Hold this position for fifteen to thirty seconds, breathing deeply.
A variation on this position, for those struggling with balance, is to push the feet into a wall for added stability. Beginners can also prop up on the lower elbow rather than pushing all the way up onto the hand, keeping the higher arm on the hip.
Be sure to repeat the exercise on the other side for balanced growth.
Top Ranked Plank
Of all the variations on the simple plank, the Side Plank is the best for overall core strength, though it’s often overlooked.
In particular, the Side Plank is good for preventing back pain. That’s because this exercise forces you to engage part of the posterior abdominal wall that’s integral to back support. These muscles are difficult to target with other core exercises, but they get the main focus with the Side Plank.
For even more of an intense workout, there are variations on the Side Plank including the Ball Side Plank, the Side Plank Crunch, the Raised Side Plank, and even the Side Plank with Lateral Raise. The last one adds free weights to the Side Plank, lifting them with the upper arm.
All variations of the Side Plank have one thing in common – they engage all of the lateral abdominal muscles and require the use of muscle groups all over the body. This is truly a whole body exercise! No wonder its name means literally “the best ever!”