Whether you are a regular gym-goer or not, chances are high that you have heard of the plank. It is one of the most popular and effective whole-body workouts done by beginners as well as experts. Now, the plank also has different variations to make it more challenging and even more effective. One such variation is a side plank.
As the name suggests, a side plank is done while placing your body weight on either left or right side of your body. A side plank workout is done to focus on your obliques, two layers of muscle along the sides of your core. A side plank exercise is also famous as the side plank yoga or Vasisthasana.
If you have never done a side plank exercise before, here is a complete guide. From telling you how to perfect the side plank pose to its benefits and variations, we have gathered everything you need to know about this workout. Let’s start:
How To Do A Side Plank: Step-By-Step Guide And Notes
- Place a yoga mat on the floor and lie down.
- Relax and then turn to your ride side. Keep your feet stacked on the top of each other and the legs should be straight.
- Place your right elbow under your right shoulder so that your forearm is pointing away from your body and the hand is balled into a fist. The little finger should be in contact with the mat,
- Breathe out and engage your core as you lift your hips off the mat. Your head should be in a neutral position but the body should be in a straight line from head to the ankles. In this side plank pose, your body weight should be supported by your right elbow and the side of your right foot. As for the left hand, you can bend it and grab your left waist with your hands.
- Hold this position for at least 15 seconds if you are a beginner.
- Release slowly and repeat the plank on your left side.
Time limit For Side Plank
To help you choose the right duration, here is a standard duration you can target for a side plank based on your fitness level.
- Beginner: 15 Sec
- Average: 30 Sec
- Good: 1 Min
- Very Good: 2 Min
- Excellent: 3 Min
- Side-Plank Master: 4 Min
- If you have any wrist, or hand injury, avoid performing side plank exercise.
- If you notice any pain or discomfort, stop the workout.
- Don’t let your hips sag as you try to hold the pose. If you cannot hold the pose for a longer time, reduce the duration. Don’t push yourself too hard.
- Avoid eating heavy meals before a side plank workout.
- Always make sure that your body is on the foot and not the sole.
- Engaging your core muscles is the most essential part to perfect the side plank exercise; so don’t forget that.
To know more about the tips and techniques, it is always recommended to learn the pose from a health expert. You can also watch online videos and guides for workout at home.
Side Plank Variations
Doing the same side plank, again and again, can get boring. In such a case, try the below-listed side plank variations and challenge your muscles a bit more:
- Kneeling Side Planks: If you want a variation of side planks for beginners, this is the best choice. For a kneeling side plank, you don’t have to put the bodyweight on the feet but support the body with the knees. This will also help you in maintaining the pose for a longer duration. Just make sure you engage your core and don’t let the hips sag.
- Raised Side Plank: It’s good for advanced-level fitness enthusiasts. In a raised side plank, you have to lift the left arm and leg while supporting the body on the right arm and leg. This makes your core work even harder.
- Side Plank Dips: Get the best of both side plank and dips in one workout. Side plank dips require you to move your body up and down while holding the side plank position. It works on your shoulder muscles, lat muscles, and glutes too.
Some other side plank variations you can look for are:
- Side Plank Rotations
- Bosu Ball Side Plank
- Side Plank Crunch
- Side Plank Pulse
- Side Plank with Lateral Raise
- Side Plank Yoga
Side Plank Benefits
Knowing the benefits is always a motivation push for any workout. The same goes for a side plank. The exercise does not just engage your obliques but also works on your entire body. Here are some of the best side plank benefits you should be aware of:
- Strengthens Your Upper Body Muscles: Side planks work on your shoulder muscles, chest muscles, and back muscles; thereby giving you a strong and stable upper body.
- Improves Your Spinal Strength and Flexibility: The exercise also works on your spinal stabilizing muscle and this improves and protects your spine.
- Improves Body Balance: Even if you perform side planks for beginners for a few seconds, the exercise can improve your body stability and balance.
- Reduces Risk of Back Injury: A study stated that with increased body balance and a strong spine, you can reduce your risk of getting any back injury. Side plank helps in both.
- Boosts Core Strength: Engaging your core muscles is very important in a side plank and that’s how it also leads to higher strength and stability of the core.
- Helps In Weight Loss: Many people also try side plank as a weight loss exercise as it can help in burning a lot of calories and fat from the belly area.
The Bottom Line
No doubt that there are plenty of core exercises such as crunches or even the plank but the effect that side planks have on your obliques is matchless. Strong obliques are quite important in helping you rotate your body easily. It can also reduce spinal injury and improve your body posture.
So, if you want a strong and stable body, start a side plank workout as soon as possible. Just make sure you follow all the right steps and safety tips.