- Main muscles worked: Core, including obliques (side abs)
- Other muscles: Shoulders, glutes, hips
- Exercise type: Isometric, unilateral
- Equipment: None
Benefits of Side Planks
Side planks are a variation of regular forearm planks, an isometric exercise that primarily targets the core muscles, as well as working the shoulders, glutes, and hips.
The side plank is also a core strengthening exercise, but works the oblique muscles more than traditional planks.1 The obliques are the muscles that run along the sides of your core and are sometimes called “side abs”. The oblique muscles help to rotate and flex the trunk, and play a role in stabilizing the body and protecting the lower back. Side planks also strengthen a muscle called the quadratus lumborum, which plays an important role in stabilizing the spine.23
Side planks are a unilateral exercise, working one side of the body at a time, which means it can address strength imbalances between the right and left side of the body. It is performed balancing only on one arm, and helps to improve balance and coordination.
Speak to your doctor or physical therapist if you have problems with your shoulders, arms, back, or elbows, or another issue that prevents you from doing side planks safely and with good form. They might advise you to modify or avoid this exercise.
Variation: To make this exercise easier you can bend your knees, so that you are supported on your forearm and knees, and form a straight line from your knees to your head.4