Side Plank Exercise – How To, Target Muscles, and Benefits


The side plank is a core exercise you can do to work the oblique muscles.

It’s also effective in engaging all adjacent muscles. 

 What muscles does a side plank work?

Primary Muscles: 

  • Transversus abdominis muscles
  • External and internal obliques (side abs)
  • Gluteus medius
  • Gluteus minimus muscles (abductors)
  • Adductor muscles of the hip

Secondary Muscles: 

  • Gluteus maximus (glutes)
  • Quadriceps (quads) 
  • Hamstrings.

Is Side Plank Effective?

Out of all planks, side plank is one of the most effective core exercises.

It intensely targets and strengthens the core, all while it engages obliques and glutes. 

This is where the side plank exercise trumps the standard plank. Standard plank focuses mostly on the center of your abs while engaging the core as a whole. Side plank targets your side abs as part of primary muscles while also involving the core. 

Moreover, side plank exercise fiercely targets both external and internal oblique. This is extremely effective in toning and shaping of your waist. 

This also helps improve your everyday functions.

Oblique muscles are used to rotate the trunk and pull the chest forward and back. All these moves compress the abdominal cavity and use the obliques to support. 

Though more relatively minor in scope, side abs also aid the rotation of the spine. 

So working them will not only help with muscle definitions but also help you function better. It also leads to a wider range of motion and better flexibility.

Benefits of the Side Plank Exercise

Side Plank Exercise
Side Plank Exercise

The side plank is a bodyweight exercise for developing the oblique muscles and core strength. 

This is essential as obliques are one muscle group that tends to get neglected in many ab exercises. Nor the standard plank or crunch works this group of muscles. 

Side plank not only hits those often missed muscles but does it ever so intensely. By simply holding a position, it also effectively targets your hips, shoulders, glutes, and lower back. It’s an all-around exercise that involves almost your full body. 

This plank variation also helps improve your balance, stability, and endurance. It’ll keep you strong and healthy all while upping your functions. 

Practice this exercise to help you stay strong especially if your daily activities involve the hips and back.

To Perform the Side Plank

1. Lie on your right side, in a straight line from head to feet and rest your weight on your forearm. Your elbow should be directly under your shoulder.

Side plank position 2

2. Brace your core and prop your hips off the floor, maintaining a straight line. Keep your hips squared and your neck in line with your spine. Hold the side plank position as long as you can without breaking the form. Lower yourself and switch sides.

Side plank position 1

If you find this side plank to be challenging, start with your knees bent. Here are the instructions on how to do it on your knees. 

Make it harder:

While holding the basic position, lift and hold your top leg for as long as you can without breaking your form. 

Another option: Instead of resting on your forearm, support your body with your palm on the floor and under the shoulder with a straight elbow.

Final Word

There you have it! The side plank is a simple, but effective core exercise that you only need your body weight to perform.

Add this exercise into your weekly ab workout to build your core strength.

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