Side planking for hip, core and shoulder strength

One of my all-time favorite exercises is the plank. It is simple, requires no space, no equipment, no gym, and no investment in time. Standard planks are great for core strength. But when you need to go to another level, and want to work the hips and core together, then side planks are the way to go. They are a super great for hip and core strength in addition to the shoulders which support your body weight.

I previously presented videos on a three-part standard plank routine here and on a mobile plank exercise here. And today, with the help of Tema Esberg of Potentia Personal Training, I’d like to share another version of this amazing isometric exercises, known as the Side Plank.

The basics

You are going to be doing the side plank with your body weight on your forearm. Do it first on your right side and then again on your left side. So while the regular plank is done once with both arms holding you up, the side plank is done twice, once on each side.

It’s a great exercise and very challenging. We will do three iterations for this: beginner, intermediate and advanced. For all levels and continued progressing.

Getting into position

Follow Tema as she assumes the side plank first on her right side. Sit on the floor and then lie down onto your right forearm. Be sure to keep your elbow in line with your shoulder; if not too much weight or strain may be placed on your rotator cuff. Make sure your hips are aligned and your body is not bent.

The remainder of the starting position from here will depend on which iteration you are doing: beginner, intermediate, advanced, as described below.

Beginner version

For the simplest method, bend your top leg (in this case it is the left leg) at the knee and place your left foot on the floor in front of your right thigh.

From here, you want to push your weight into the floor through your left foot. You can also use your left hand for support. Your foot will help lift your body up off the ground to assume the side plank position.

Once your hips are raised up off the ground, raise your left arm up as if trying to touch the ceiling with the fingers of your left hand. Do your best to hold this position from 10-to-30 seconds, and slowly return to the ground.

Intermediate version

For the intermediate version, keep your left leg on top of your right and flex both feet, stacked one on the other.

From this position, push your feet into the ground (still stacked) and raise your left hand up (as before). This is a more difficult side plank than the beginner version, as you do not have the support of your other foot and it is more difficult to remain balanced.

Advanced version

Begin the advanced version in the same manner as the intermediate version, but the left hand will be held up at the start. From here, you will do what is called “scooping under the bridge.”

You want to look up at your left hand and watch it as you bring it down and scoop it under your body and then raise it back up.

Try to do 10 scoops and then return to the starting position. If you can do more, great!

All three versions of the side plank shown here are a great method of progressively advancing your strength training and core development exercise routine. And they follow great from the standard plank shown previously. And don’t forget to do both sides!

Dr. Mark Wiley

By Dr. Mark Wiley

Dr. Mark Wiley is an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner, author, motivational speaker and teacher. He holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine, has done research in eight countries and has developed a model of health and wellness grounded in a self-directed, self-cure approach. Dr. Wiley has written 14 books and more than 500 articles. He serves on the Health Advisory Boards of several wellness centers and associations while focusing his attention on helping people achieve healthy and balanced lives through his work with Easy Health Options® and his company, Tambuli Media.