Side plank – advantages, tips for execution and typical mistakes

One of the less popular but most effective exercises without equipment is the plank. You only train with your own weight, but you use several muscle groups. This exercise is an important part of a full body workout, and the best part is that it can be done practically anywhere. The plank has many variants, but the most popular one is the side plank. How exactly is a side plank done, what is the exercise good for, and what mistakes should you avoid while doing it? You will find out all of this in the article.

What is the Side Plank good for??

Side plank correct position of the arms

A side plank, also known as a side plank, is the ideal exercise for a tight waist. It mainly trains the lateral abdominal muscles and ideally shapes the outer contour of the body. The side plank exercise is performed without any equipment or equipment, just a fitness mat for more comfort.

With the side support, the body is supported on the ground and kept stretched for as long as possible. This always trains the lateral abdominal muscles that point down to the floor. The classic side plank is suitable for both beginners and advanced users, but there are also several variations of the exercise that increase the level of difficulty.

Side plank finish

Starting position lateral plank exercise abdominal muscles

Just like the classic plank, the side variant is also quite difficult at the beginning. However, if you stick with it and plan regularly, you will quickly see success. Because from time to time the exercise becomes easier and the results become more visible.

This is how the classic side planks are carried out:

1. Lie on your side and prop yourself on your forearm. The elbow should be directly below the shoulder so as not to put too much strain on the joint. Your legs should be straight, feet stacked on top of each other. The upper arm should be loosely above the hips.

2. Lift your hips off the floor. Make sure that they are pushed forward so that the bottom doesn’t stick out backwards. The goal is to be as straight as possible from heels to hips to head (a mirror can help you determine if your position is correct).

3. Hold this position for as long as you can with good form (i.e. without losing the correct position).

How to properly execute side planks

The ideal position for the side support summarized:

  • The upper arm is supported vertically on the elbow
  • Feet and elbows press into the ground
  • The bottom is tense and the hips stretched
  • The spine is neutral, no sagging
  • The view is directed forward

Side plank for beginners

Side planks for beginners put down knees

The classic side plank is too difficult for you? Then you can try a simpler variation on the beginner’s exercise. The difference still comes in the starting position, namely in the legs. These are no longer stacked on top of each other, but the lower leg is angled to almost 90 °, while the upper leg remains stretched. This will hold the position using the lower knees and upper foot instead of both feet. So when you put the lower knee down, the lever is decreased and the intensity decreased.

In order for a beginner’s side plank to be done correctly, assume this starting position, contract your abdominal and back muscles, and lift your thigh off the floor. The body should form a straight line from the head to the foot of the upper (extended) leg. Hold this position, facing forward and breathing calmly in and out. Then repeat the exercise on the other side.

How long to hold the position?

Side planks how long to hold the position

There is no exact answer to how long to plank. Since the exercise is often difficult for many at the beginning, it is recommended to start with 10-15 seconds per repetition and hold a few more seconds each time. How to beat yourself. Holding the stable position a few seconds longer each time will make the exercise really effective.

Which muscles are trained in the side plank?

Lateral plank which muscles and muscle groups

With the side plank, the abdominal and back muscles are mainly used. While classic ab exercises like crunches and regular forearm supports target the muscles in the front of your torso, a side plank works your obliques – the muscles that run along the side of your torso. Keeping the oblique muscles strong will make it easier for you to twist and flex your core. Strong lateral abs can also protect your spine, improve your posture, and reduce the risk of back injuries.

Which muscle groups are used in side planks?

The muscles that are most used and strengthened in the side plank exercise are the external oblique muscles (obliquus externus abdominis) and the transverse abdominal muscle (transversus abdominis). The back muscles mainly work on the erector of the spine (erector spinae), the many feathered muscles (musculi multifudi) and the longest muscle of the chest (longissimus thoracis). These muscles stretch the lower back, stabilize the spine, and keep it from bending sideways.

Although the side plank uses the back muscles to help you stay in position, the exercise uses other muscles more. The hip muscles are a good example. The middle gluteus muscle (gluteus medius) is 100 percent activated and built up during the lateral plank exercise.

Typical mistakes in side support and how to avoid them

Side Planking Benefits of Exercise

A side plank isn’t usually high on your list of favorite exercises. But if you’ve already invested the time, effort, and willpower adding practice to your workout routine, make sure you get it right, too.

Unfortunately, there are some common mistakes that make the exercise less effective and ultimately a waste of time. So, if you’re trying a plank challenge or want to incorporate side forearm support into your regular workout routine, get the exercise right by avoiding these five mistakes:

1. Allow the hips to drop

Typical failure side plank position sagging

As with a regular plank, avoid letting your hips sag toward the floor while holding a side plank. The main use of planks is to strengthen your core, but you are missing out on the exercise’s full potential if you don’t keep your hips up.

And especially with a side plank, you want to exercise your oblique muscles. If you focus on those muscles on the sides of your torso and remember to actively raise your hips, you will make the movement much more effective.

How to correct the mistake?

Always remember to keep your lower hips off the floor. Sometimes using a foam roller or yoga block under the lower hip can provide an external cue. So your goal is to keep your lower leg at least high enough to lift it off the roll / block.

2. The head and neck are not in line

Side Plank Exercise Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

If you tire of holding a side forearm prop, you may find yourself tilting your head forward, dropping it toward the floor, or rotating it to look up at the ceiling. Unfortunately, these small deviations in shape can cause major problems. Failure to align your head and neck with the rest of your body can cause neck strain or irritation to surrounding muscles, including the trapezius. Over time, this can cause pain in that area – or even injury.

How to correct the mistake?

When holding the side plank, imagine your spine like a long rope that goes from your tailbone to the base of your skull. The goal is to keep this rope taut, which means bringing your head and neck up, or even pulling your chin in, to restore proper alignment.

3. Put too much pressure on the lower foot

Side plank typical failure barefoot pressure on feet

If you’re doing the side plank correctly, your feet should be stacked and balanced on the outer part of your lower foot. While a large portion of your weight is balanced on the outside edge of your lower foot, don’t apply too much pressure as this can lead to foot and ankle pain.

But what exactly is too much pressure? If you feel like your outside foot is digging into the ground or if you have trouble keeping your lower leg upright, you have probably put too much weight on the outside foot.

How to correct the mistake?

Wear shoes when doing side planks. Remember to press the sole of your lower foot towards the ground so that the corner of your shoe digs into the ground, not your foot.

4. Arch your lower back

Execution of side plank bodies in a straight line

As mentioned earlier, when performing the Side Plank, your body should be in a straight line. However, when you get tired or unsteady, it is common to arch your lower back. This can put strain on your back muscles, which ultimately leads to pain.

In addition, the over-curvature or curvature of the back reduces the exercise’s potential to strengthen the core by shifting the work from the abdominal muscles to the lower back.

How to correct the mistake?

Keep your rib cage stacked over your pelvis. Remember to pull your belly button towards your spine. Keeping these ideas in your head will keep the alignment.

5. The elbow is placed too far from the body

Lateral plank correct execution forearm support

Another common mistake is improper elbow placement. Often the elbow is positioned too far from the body to get more balance in the position. This puts unnecessary strain on the elbows and shoulders. The result is that you are relying on your arm to balance and hold your body rather than your muscles.

How to correct the mistake?

Before lifting yourself into the side forearm support, take the time to make sure your elbow is directly below your shoulder. Remember to push the floor away to take advantage of some of the bigger, stronger shoulder muscles. Also try to alternately bring your elbow and hand in the side support so as not to put too much strain on the joint.

The Benefits of Side Plank Exercise – An Overview

Lateral Plank Exercise Body Weight Home Workout

Train three muscle groups at once

To keep you stable in a side forearm brace, the muscles in your shoulders, hips, and sides of your core must all work together.

Protects the spine

Side planks train the square lumbar muscle, which is one of the deep abdominal muscles. Keeping this muscle strong can help reduce your risk of a back injury.

Strengthens the middle without putting any strain on the back

Unlike crunches and sit-ups, side planks don’t put any pressure on the lower back. Still, this exercise is great for building your core strength.

Improves balance

As a balance exercise, the side plank can help improve your sense of balance and coordination.

Reduces the risk of back injuries

A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy found that poor core endurance was linked to an increased risk of injury. Adding planks and side planks to your exercise regimen can reduce your risk of back injuries.

Lateral plank and pregnancy?

Lateral plank forearm support during pregnancy

Many exercises that stress the abdominal muscles are excluded during pregnancy. Since the side brace does not use the straight abdominal muscles, but only the oblique abdominal muscles, it is considered safe in every trimester of pregnancy. Side planks are a great way to strengthen your core and do not increase your risk of diastasis recti.