People talk about “planks” all the time. Heck, there was even a brief “planking” movement where people laid flat on objects and took a picture. What we are talking about when we mention “plank” in fitness has to do with working the core of the body. To work the core effectively certain planking exercises like the side plank should be included.
The side plank is one of the best exercises you can use because it works the quadratus lumborum among other muscles, which is often very weak. This exercise can help with muscle tone, strength, stability, reducing back pain, and help with athletic performance.
Heck, why aren’t you doing a side plank right now?
Proper planking involves keeping the body in a firm, straight line from feet to head. The spine should be completely straight and that requires using core muscle to support and hold the position in whatever angle you are in.
For the side plank, you start by lying on your side. Your feet should be together. Then you raise your upper body off the ground and support your weight on your forearm closest to the ground. Your upper arm should point straight down. The other support point is the bottom foot. Brace your core by contracting all of the abdominal muscles and keeping them tensed.
Raise your hips of the ground to create that straight line from foot to head. Breathe in and out slowly while holding that pose and watch the clock. You should like like a “T” on its side. Then when you are done on one side, switch to the other side to work the core muscles evenly.
There are also a few variations. One is to lift the top leg up as high as you can which causes more muscles to engage in balance and support. Another option is to hold a light dumbbell in the non-supportive arm and extend it overhead as well.
Side Plank Benefits
Lower back pain often comes from lack of endurance in the core muscles. Out of all the plank options, the side plank is most often used to check endurance. Ideally you can hold the side plank position for at least 60 seconds. If not then it is time to work harder at it.
Along with the obliques, this exercise works the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and both adductors and abductors. By keeping all of these muscles strengthened and toned the spine is supported and better protected from injury.
Side planks will not only help keep your midsection looking nice and trim but they can also help prevent or treat back pain. Those reasons alone are why you should be doing this exercise at least twice a week which will result in a healthier and happier life.