The Best Side Plank Exercises for the Obliques

If you're looking for a core-strengthening exercise that targets your obliques, include side planks in your workout. Try several variations of this exercise, starting with side planks for beginners.

Side planks are a great core exercise.
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Read more: 11 Plank Variations for Rock-Solid Abs

Side Planks: Muscles Worked

Side planks primarily target your internal and external oblique muscles on each side of your torso, according to ExRx.net. However, your back extensors and many hip muscles act as stabilizers during this exercise, including your glutes, hip flexors and adductors along your inner thighs.

Side plank benefits also include arm strengthening. To maintain proper side plank form, your chest and shoulder muscles are also activated.

Side Plank Exercises to Try

Side planks for beginners can be performed by balancing on your forearm and knees, as recommended by the American Council on Exercise.

As strength improves, progress to the side plank with your elbow and leg straight. Hold your plank for longer amounts of time and add additional movements to further challenge your obliques once you've mastered this exercise, as recommended by Princeton University Athletic Medicine.

Move 1: Side Plank on Knees

  1. Lie on your side.
  2. Prop yourself up on your forearm with your elbow in line with your shoulder.
  3. Bend your knees and keep them stacked on top of each other.
  4. Tighten your abs and glutes to stiffen your torso.
  5. Lift your hips off the ground, supporting your body weight on your knee.
  6. Hold for a few seconds; then slowly lower back down.
  7. Perform three to four times and repeat on the opposite side.
  8. Increase your hold time as strength improves.

Move 2: Side Plank With Straight Legs

  1. Lie on your side with your legs stacked on top of each other.
  2. Prop yourself up on your forearm.
  3. Keeping your knees straight, stiffen your torso and lift your hips off the ground, balancing on your forearm and outer foot
  4. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds; then lower back down.
  5. Perform three to four times on each side.

Move 3: Raised Plank With Straight Leg

  1. Lie on your side.
  2. Press up onto your hand and extend your arm. Align your shoulder over your wrist.
  3. Stagger your feet on the ground, but keep them in line with each other.
  4. Pushing down through your hand and feet, lift your hips off the ground.
  5. Keep your abs, glutes and thigh muscles tight as you hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds.
  6. Slowly lower back down.
  7. Repeat three to four times on each side.

Read more: Your Core Is More Than Just Your Abs — Here's How to Keep It Strong

Move 4: Raised Side Plank With Raised Leg

  1. Perform a raised side plank.
  2. While holding this position, lift your top leg up toward the ceiling as high as you can without losing your balance.
  3. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds; then lower your leg back down.
  4. Rest your hips on the ground.
  5. Perform three to four times on each side, alternating each repetition to allow your shoulder muscles to rest.

Move 5: Raised Side Plank With Leg Lifts

  1. Perform a raised side plank.
  2. Lift your top leg up toward the ceiling.
  3. Immediately lower your top leg while maintaining the side plank position.
  4. Perform four to six leg lifts before lowering your hips back down to the ground.
  5. Repeat this series two times on each side.
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