Welcome to Modify This Move, a series that will provide you with all the information you need to modify a common exercise to suit your needs, your body, and your mood. Each tale explains a fundamental fitness action in detail before offering a variety of variations based on your current level of fitness or energy, any current or past ailments, or the muscles you wish to focus on the most. So leave your ego at the door and make sure every workout is appropriate for where you are right now.
The side plank is most well-known for one important quality: the exercise stresses your obliques, the core muscles in charge of turning your trunk.
Although it shouldn’t be discounted, there are other advantages to using the bodyweight motion as well, according to Sal Nakhlawi , a certified functional strength coach and weightlifting instructor in New York City. According to her, the side plank tests your equilibrium and also makes use of your hip and shoulder muscles to keep you steady. The side plank may also aid in redressing any muscular imbalances because it is a unilateral exercise, which means it only engages one side of your body at once, according to Nakhlawi. The right side plank can help increase strength in the right side, she explains, if you feel that your left side is stronger than your right.
The basic side plank can be a really difficult move. And fortunately, if it doesn’t feel right for you, there are lots of adjustment choices. You can utilize a modified side plank variant to correct bad habits or fine-tune your technique whether you’re trying the exercise for the first time or the 50th time. Looking to advance the transfer? Try specialized side plank variations that can assist you in achieving particular fitness objectives, such enhanced core stability, balance, or strength in your legs or lower back. Whatever your motivation, you should feel comfortable modifying the move to suit your current level of fitness, requirements, and goals.
Are you prepared to try the core exercise without any equipment? Once you’ve mastered the standard side plank, refer to the instructions below to see how to switch up the workout with seven other side plank variations that are suitable for people of all fitness levels.
What is a Side? A. PLANK Lay on your right side with both legs extended out to the left side and your feet stacked. Your right elbow should be resting on the floor immediately beneath your right shoulder. the left hip with the left hand.
B. Lift your hips and knees off the ground by engaging your core and gaining stability through your right elbow and right foot’s side. Keep your head and feet in a straight line while you forward-gaze.
You have options if you try the classic side plank and decide it’s not a good fit for your body, skills, or level of fitness. Consider utilizing a side plank variant that fits where you are right now to make sure you receive exactly what you want and need out of your training session and make your core workout fun.
Here you’ll find side plank variations that challenge your core stability, balance, and strength in your obliques and hip abductors, as well as alternatives that scale the exercise up or down. According to Nakhlawi, when you perform the exercises, keep your hips and knees elevated to keep your body in a straight line from head to heel. You should also constantly tuning into your body and mind. Never be hesitant to try a different side plank variant if it doesn’t feel right.
SIDE PLANK FROM KNEE AS A SCALE-DOWN VERSION OF SIDE PLANK Try this shortened motion if you don’t quite have the core stability to perform a full-fledged side plank or you simply want to dial back your workout. According to Nakhlawi, keeping your knee on the ground adds stability, allowing you to gain some strength (without running the risk of falling over) before progressing to more intricate variations.
A. Lie on your right side with your right elbow just beneath your right shoulder, both legs extended out to the left, and your knees stacked. Right foot rests on floor behind body after right knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your left leg straight and place your left foot’s inside on the ground. the left hip with the left hand.
B. Lift the hips off the ground by engaging the core and gaining stability through the right elbow, right knee, and inside of the left foot. Keep your head and feet in a straight line while you forward-gaze.
ALTERNATING SIDE PLANKS AS A LEVEL UP SIDE PLANK VARIATION You will alternate between executing planks on your right and left side during this dynamic workout, never allowing your hips or knees to touch the ground. The side plank version, in turn, tests your stability, core strength, and obliques, according to Nakhlawi. Nakhlawi advises delaying this step until you can hold traditional side planks for 45 to 60 seconds due to its difficulty.
A. Lie on your right side with your right elbow precisely beneath your right shoulder, both legs extended to the left, and your feet stacked. the left hip with the left hand.
C. Remove the left hand from the hip, untie the feet, and twist the body to the left and toward the floor at the same time. Then, place the left forearm and the left toes on the ground to form a forearm plank. Forearms ought to be resting in the shape of an equal symbol on the mat.
D. Stack your feet once more and press through your left forearm and left foot as you twist your torso to the right, putting your right palm on your right hip. This will put you in a side plank position. Keep your head and feet in a straight line while you forward-gaze.
CHANGE IN THE SIDE PLANK TO ATTACK THE OBLIQUES: BOTTOM PLANK DIPS Try this variant of the side plank, where you slowly lower your hips to the floor and then raise them back up, if the traditional side plank isn’t providing enough of an oblique challenge for you. Trust that even though the movement is minimal, it will nonetheless work those side abs, advises Nakhlawi.
A. Lie on your left side with your right leg extended out to the right side and your feet stacked, your left elbow resting on the floor just below your left shoulder. the right hip with the right hand.
B. Lift your hips and knees off the ground by engaging your core and gaining support from your left elbow and left foot’s side. Keep your head and feet in a straight line while you forward-gaze.
C. Drive through the left elbow and side of the left foot to elevate the hips and bring them back to their starting position after slowly lowering them to the floor.
PLANK WITH HIP DIPS AS A SIDE PLANK VARIATION TO STRENGTHEN THE LOWER BACK This version is essentially a fusion of the forearm plank and the side plank dips exercise. The exercise will afterwards activate your obliques and the lumbar erector spinae muscles in your lower back, which extend your trunk and assist you in standing up straight while hunched over, respectively. Talk about getting the most for your money.
A. Place yourself in a tabletop posture on the floor with your feet hip-width apart, your knees bent and stacked under your hips, and your hands directly under your shoulders. Keeping your elbows in line with your shoulders, lower one forearm at a time to the ground. Put your palms firmly on the ground or make soft fists.
B. Squeeze your glutes together and engage your core as you lift both knees off the ground and straighten your legs into a forearm plank position. Actively push off the ground, keeping your body in a straight line from your head to your heels.
C. Rotate the trunk to the right and sink the right hip a few inches toward the floor while maintaining stacked shoulders and elbows. Repeat on the other side after lifting the right hip and coming back to the center.
SIDE PLANK CRUNCH: SIDE PLANK VARIATION TO IMPROVE CORE STABILITY According to Nakhlawi, this side plank-crunch combination will put a strain on your core stability because your hips, shoulders, and abs will have to work extra hard to keep you upright as you pull your elbows and hips in toward your chest.
A. Lie on your left side with your right leg extended out to the right side and your feet stacked, your left elbow resting on the floor just below your left shoulder. Right biceps should be adjacent to right ear when you raise your right arm upward.
C. While still in the side plank posture, elevate the right foot off the left foot and press the right knee and right elbow toward the chest.
D. Extend the right leg and right arm to return to the beginning position after briefly touching the right knee to the right elbow.
CHANGE IN SIDE PLANK FOR DIFFICULT BALANCE: PLANK, THREAD-THE-NEEDLE SIDE This side plank variation has a very minor literal twist. Nakhlawi explains that while holding the plank, you’ll sweep your free arm under your ribcage, adding a rotation that tests your balance because you’ll have to work to keep your body stable while moving.
A. Lie on your right side with your right elbow precisely beneath your right shoulder, both legs extended to the left, and your feet stacked. Lengthen your left arm up to the ceiling.
B. Lift your hips and knees off the ground by engaging your core and gaining stability through your right elbow and right foot’s side. Keep your head and feet in a straight line as you look toward your left hand.
C. Hovering the left hand a few inches away from the body while maintaining a fixed focus on the left hand and stacked shoulders. Then, lift your left hand out from under your ribcage and reach it up to the ceiling.
SIDE PLANK WITH LEG LIFT HOLD: A VARIATION TO TARGET HIP ABDUCTORS Try this side plank version, in which you lift your top leg into the air and hold it there, advises Nakhlawi, for a one-two punch of lower-body and core conditioning. This version works your hip abductors, a muscle group on the outside of your hips that supports pelvic stability. It also works other lower-body muscles.
C. Extend the right leg toward the ceiling while lifting the right foot off of the left foot until the feet are about shoulder-width apart. Maintain this posture with your right foot extended.
Artist and photographer Jenna Brillhart
Sal Nakhlawi is a fitness guru and model.
Clothing: SET Active