Exercise of the Week: Side Plank

Last week we talked about the Suitcase Carry, which is a wonderful locomotive exercise that works your obliques and makes you tired. The obliques are a muscle group that very often get overlooked. Many of you can probably plank until the cows come home (I never understood that saying. But, if I asked you to side plank, you would struggle to hold it for even 20 seconds (at least hold it correctly.


So we want to continue to attack the obliques now that we’ve developed a base with our suitcase carry. And a great way to do with is with…you guessed it…side planks.


Using Side Plank Progressions to Get The Form Right


We’ve talked before about the important of form. Without correct form, you may not be utilizing the correct muscles groups or, worse, may end up hurting yourself. And even though it would be tough to hurt yourself doing a side plank, you want to be able to get that most out of the exercise that you can.


When it comes to doing a regular side plank, you should be able to hold yourself straight from your head to your feet. Visualize yourself shooting out of a cannon, but sideways. If you struggle to hold this line, which we see more often than not at TF, you best thing to do is shorten the lever that you’re working with.


By shortening the lever, I mean instead of planking from your feet, plank from your knees. Now you don’t have to hold as much of your weight in the air and you can utilize the muscles you’re supposed to. At TF, we call these side planks from the knees (technical, I know).



How to Make Side Planks Harder


On the other end of the spectrum, or as you work yourself up, is the people who actually can side plank for at least 30 seconds in a nice straight line. Like I’ve mentioned before, these people are few and far between, so if it’s not you, don’t feel bad.


For those people who need a little more difficulty, or you’ve worked your way to the point of mastering the side plank, you need to add an external force that will force you to maintain your stability. A great way to do this is by doing side plan rows (another fancy name).



With side plank rows, you’re adding external weight that you have to counter-balance as you row it towards you. Remember, don’t try this unless you’ve mastered the side plank, holding your line for at least 30 seconds on each side.


Utilize these progressions and regressions to help build up your oblique strength. This muscle group is important for overall core stability and also for back health. Progress correctly and, remember, visualize yourself shooting out of a cannon.

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Jerry Scarlato
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Jerry Scarlato

Owner, Fitness Coach at Thrive Fitness
Jerry Scarlato is a Personal Trainer and Entrepreneur who lives in Northern Kentucky. He runs 2 businesses related to health and wellness: Thrive Fitness and Thrive Online. Jerry has been involved in the fitness for his entire adult life, including playing sports through college. Along with being an Entrepreneur, Jerry is a content creator,
Jerry Scarlato
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