The Side Plank is a mainstay in core training.
Whether you use it as an intended activation drill or as a core strength training progression, you likely have some experience with the movement.
The exercise is certainly one of the best moves for enhancing both stability and strength in the quadratus lumborum (a paired muscle on the left and right posterior abdominal wall) and obliques. These muscles and others in the lateral core network need to be able to limit pelvic tilt and lateral flexion of the spine as we operate from a normal standing position.
The Side Plank is a simple way to provide a significant challenge to these muscles. Utilizing a Side Plank on the floor concentrates gravity and the line of resistance directly through our core, and there is pretty much no way you can do it wrong after you master a few basic checkpoints.
The Side Plank position also places some solid stress at the shoulder and can improve stability at a joint where you might need it.
What could make this wonderful move even more challenging and potentially beneficial?
Deep hip flexion training.
The variation you are about to witness really emphasizes the “deep” psoas muscle group. If you are having trouble preventing “butt wink” when you squat and/or you want to enhance your top speed, you should plug this exercise into your routine immediately.
This first variation involves the application of resistance with a shorter lever since the band is placed close to the hip joint, directly at the knee. It’s a great way to introduce the progression and still make it manageable for the commonly weak psoas group. If you’re new to this type of movement, start here:
Once the first variation becomes easy to perform, you can take the move up a level by simply re-locating the band around the ankle joint. This will lengthen that lever and add more resistance, while also subtly emphasizing the dorsiflexors in the process. If you like to sprint, this will really help groove your frontside mechanics of triple flexion at the ankle, knee and hip.
Use fatigue as a guide for your sets/reps and don’t allow yourself to devolve into improper form. We’re looking for clean, crisp execution. If you’re ready to take your Side Planks up a notch, give these variations a try.