The Benefits of a Side Plank and How to Do It Safely

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In the realm of fitness, certain exercises stand out for their ability to deliver a multitude of benefits with just one movement.

The side plank is one such exercise that has gained recognition for its effectiveness in building core strength, stability, and balance.


In this article, we’ll delve into the various benefits of the side plank and provide a comprehensive guide on how to perform it safely and effectively.

Understanding the Side Plank

Before delving into its benefits, let’s understand what a side plank entails.


A side plank is a static exercise that primarily targets the muscles of the core, particularly the obliques (the muscles on the sides of your abdomen), but it also engages several other muscle groups, including the shoulders, hips, and legs.

The side plank is a variation of the traditional plank exercise, which involves maintaining a position similar to the top of a push-up, but with the body weight supported on the forearms and toes.


To perform a side plank:

Start by lying on your side with your legs extended.

Prop yourself up on your bottom elbow, ensuring it is directly beneath your shoulder.


Stack your feet on top of each other or stagger them for added stability.

Lift your hips off the ground, creating a straight line from your head to your heels.


Engage your core muscles and hold the position for the desired duration.

Benefits of the Side Plank

Core Strength:

The side plank is renowned for its ability to strengthen the core muscles, including the obliques, rectus abdominis, and transverse abdominis.


These muscles play a crucial role in stabilizing the spine and pelvis, improving overall posture and reducing the risk of injury.

Improved Balance and Stability:

Performing the side plank requires you to stabilize your body in a side-lying position, thereby enhancing balance and stability.


This translates to better coordination in daily activities and sports, as well as reduced risk of falls, particularly among older adults.

Muscle Endurance:

Holding the side plank position challenges your muscles to sustain an isometric contraction over time, thus improving muscular endurance.


This endurance can benefit athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike by enhancing performance and delaying the onset of fatigue during prolonged activities.

Reduced Risk of Lower Back Pain:

Strengthening the core muscles through exercises like the side plank can alleviate lower back pain by providing greater support to the spine and reducing undue stress on the lumbar region.


This makes it an invaluable exercise for individuals with sedentary lifestyles or those prone to back problems.

Engagement of Multiple Muscle Groups:

While the side plank primarily targets the core muscles, it also engages other muscle groups such as the shoulders, hips, and legs to maintain stability and alignment.


This makes it a highly efficient exercise for strengthening and toning multiple areas of the body simultaneously.

Variety and Progression:

The side plank offers numerous variations and progressions to accommodate different fitness levels and goals.


Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced athlete, you can adjust the intensity of the exercise by modifying factors such as duration, arm positioning, or incorporating additional movements.

How to Perform the Side Plank Safely

While the side plank is a highly beneficial exercise, performing it with improper form or technique can lead to discomfort or injury.


Follow these tips to ensure you execute the side plank safely and effectively:

Maintain Proper Alignment:

Ensure that your body forms a straight line from head to heels throughout the exercise.


Avoid sagging or arching your back, as this can place undue stress on the spine.

Engage the Core Muscles:

Focus on contracting your core muscles, particularly the obliques, to stabilize your body.


Imagine drawing your navel towards your spine to activate the deep abdominal muscles.

Support Your Neck:

To prevent strain on your neck, keep it in a neutral position aligned with your spine.


Avoid craning your neck upward or letting it droop towards the ground.

Distribute Weight Evenly:

Whether you choose to stack your feet or stagger them, ensure that your weight is evenly distributed between your supporting elbow and feet.


This will help maintain balance and stability.

Breathe Consciously:

Remember to breathe steadily and rhythmically throughout the exercise.


Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth to promote relaxation and prevent breath-holding.

Start Gradually:

If you’re new to the side plank or haven’t performed it in a while, start with shorter holds and gradually increase the duration as your strength improves.


Quality of form is more important than quantity of time spent in the position.

Listen to Your Body:

Pay attention to any discomfort or strain during the exercise.


If you experience pain, particularly in the shoulders, wrists, or lower back, stop immediately and reassess your form.

Consult a fitness professional if necessary.



The side plank is a versatile and effective exercise that offers a plethora of benefits for individuals of all fitness levels.

By incorporating this simple yet challenging movement into your routine, you can strengthen your core, improve balance and stability, and enhance overall physical performance.


Remember to prioritize proper form and technique to ensure safety and maximize the effectiveness of the exercise.

With dedication and consistency, the side plank can become a cornerstone of your fitness regimen, helping you achieve your health and wellness goals.


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