Exercise of the Month (Part II) / Advanced Side Planks

by James Camastra / CSCS

In Part I of my EOM article I explained how basic side planks are an excellent core exercise that strengthens the internal and external obliques, quadratus lumborum and lateral spinal flexors.  Adding them to your exercise routine will improve muscular balance, decreasing your chances of injury as well as improving sport performance.  Part II focuses on more advanced side planks.

Here are a few advanced side plank variations we do at PPT:

One Arm Plank to Side Plank:  start in a side plank position with your feet stacked and non-active arm extended toward ceiling.  Slowly lower yourself to a one arm plank position and bring non-active arm across your chest.  Return and repeat.  It is very difficult to get your body parallel to the floor (hips, shoulders and spine) without failing/collapsing to the floor or falling short.  Great body weight exercise that works the rear delts, horizontal abduction.

Side Plank w/ Hip Abduction:  While maintaining a side plank position with feet stacked lift the top leg a few inches, lower slowly, tap the other leg and repeat.  Be sure to keep your mid-line centered, the distance your hip is from the floor should not change. Raising the leg high should not be the goal, the higher it is raised the more likely you will raise your hip from the floor. The bottom leg's abductors, glute medius, glute minimus and tensor fascia latae really get fired here!

Side Plank w/ Hip and Knee Flexion:  Similar to above, stay in a side plank position then lift the top leg and draw the knee in towards your chest.   Return and repeat for up to 12 reps. Maintain a slow and steady pace.  This will manipulate your center of gravity more than the Leg Abduction variation and is a bit more difficult.

Side Plank w/ Shoulder Abduction:  Maintain a side plank position while holding a dumbbell at your hip.  Lift the dumbbell until the arm is perpendicular to floor.  Keep the arm straight throughout the movement.  Return then repeat for up to 12 reps.  Adding shoulder abduction to a side plank manipulates center of gravity, applying varied resistance to your obliques, quadratus lumborum and lateral spinal flexors. When abducting the shoulder from the plank position the deltoid gets fired at angles different from what it's used to.

SP w/ Shoulder Horizontal Abduction: is a tough one and will not require much weight.  While maintaining a side plank position hold a dumbbell with your arm extended upward, perpendicular to the floor.  Slowly lower the dumbbell in front of you until your arm is parallel to the floor or mid-chest height.  Return then repeat for up to 12 reps. This will work the rear delts and stress the core through center of gravity manipulation.

Make sure you are comfortable with basic side planks before trying these advanced versions.  This goes for any exercise.  If you have questions please do not hesitate to contact us at Workout@PPTchelsea.com.