6 Side Plank Variations That Will Clobber Your Core

If your current bodyweight-exercise menu stops after pushupspull-upssquats, and lunges, it’s time to shake things up a little. Enter: the oft-forgotten side plank exercise — in which you hold your body rigid, supporting your weight on your feet and one forearm while your opposite shoulder and hip point toward the sky.

The side plank is usually considered a core exercise, focused on stabilizing the spine. But it also hammers all of the stabilizers in your hips and shoulders, and relies heavily on your quads and glutes as well. With a little imagination, you can make the plank do almost anything.

Fortunately, creativity is what Openfit is all about. Below are six side plank variations pulled from our files. Plug in 2-4 variations at the end of your workout — or any time you need core moves that will also blast other parts of your body.

 

6 Side Plank Variations for Strength and Stability

Bodyweight moves like the side plank exercise aren’t just convenient and time efficient. They’re also the best way to build relative strengththat is, how strong you are in relation to your bodyweight. If you’re an athlete — or just hope to look like one — moves like these are indispensable.

Side plank reach

Muscles targeted: Obliques, abdominals, back, shoulders.

  • Assume a low plank position: forearms and balls of your feet on the floor, shoulders directly above your elbows, head neutral, and your entire body straight from head to heels.
  • Keeping your body straight and your core engaged, roll into a left side plank. Keep both feet on the floor (right foot forward), and extend your arm toward the ceiling.
  • Maintaining the elevation of your hips and position of your feet, then reach your right arm underneath your torso without allowing your hips to rotate.
  • Repeat for reps, then switch sides, performing equal reps on each.

 

Plank to single-arm plank to side bridge

Muscles targeted: Obliques, abdominals, transverse abdominis, and gluteus medius.

  • Assume a low plank position: forearms and balls of your feet on the floor, shoulders directly above your elbows, head neutral, and your entire body straight from head to heels. Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Lift your left arm off the floor, and place it behind your back, holding a single-arm plank for 15 seconds.
  • Keeping your body straight and your core engaged, roll into a right side plank position: right forearm on the floor, shoulders and feet stacked, and your left arm extended toward the ceiling. Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position, and repeat the entire sequence for reps.
  • Switch sides, performing equal reps on both.

Make it easier: Perform the entire series with your knees on the floor.

 

Side plank leg raise

Muscles targeted: Obliques, abdominals, and gluteus medius.

  • Assume a left side plank position: left forearm on the floor, shoulders and feet stacked, and your body straight from head to heels. Extend your right arm toward the ceiling.
  • Lift your right leg as high as you can, then slowly return it to the starting position.
  • Repeat the movement for reps, then switch sides, performing equal reps on each.

Make it easier: Keep your left knee on the floor throughout the move.

 

Side plank hip lift

Muscles targeted: Obliques, abdominals, hips and gluteus medius.

  • Assume a right side plank position: right forearm on the floor, shoulders and feet stacked, left hand on your left hip, and your body straight from head to heels.
  • Keeping your core engaged, raise your left hip toward the ceiling.
  • Lower your hips to the starting position without letting them drop, and repeat for reps.
  • Switch sides, performing equal reps on both.

 

Weighted side plank hip drop

Muscles targeted: Obliques, abdominals, and gluteus medius.

  • Lie on your left side propped up on your left elbow and forearm, shoulders stacked over your elbow, feet stacked on top of each other.
  • Grab a lightweight dumbbell with your right hand and hold it on your right hip, then raise your hips so that your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels.
  • Slowly lower your left hip, and gently tap it on the floor.
  • Reverse the move, returning to starting position.
  • Continue for reps, and switch sides, performing equal reps on each.

Make it easier: Perform the move without a dumbbell, and/or keep your left knee on the floor throughout the move.

 

Side plank hip drop with crunch

Muscles targeted: Obliques, abdominals, and glutes

  • Assume a right side plank position: right forearm on the floor, shoulders and feet stacked, and your body straight from head to heels. Place the fingertips of your left hand lightly behind your left ear.
  • Lower your right hip to the floor, and then return to the starting position.
  • Bring your left knee to your left elbow as you contract your abs.
  • Return to the starting position, and repeat for reps.
  • Switch sides, performing equal reps on each.