Do these. Love these. Your body will love you right back.
Doing side planks (correctly) will result in better activation and better strength in the muscles that provide stability for your spine and pelvis. This makes everything else work better, since with poor spinal and pelvic alignment we open ourselves up for a whole host of problems ranging from discomfort to major spinal disc issues.
To really maximize the benefit of this exercise, it’s important to maintain the straight lines that you start with. That means that shoulders need to stay stacked (one directly above the other), as do hips. The hips also need to stay straight, so keep squeezing your glutes! Keeping your pelvic floor activated will also make a huge difference in the strength and activation. (Not sure what that means? Think about the last time you had to pee and were not close to the bathroom. That’s the same squeeze you want.)
Level 1 is the easiest version of the side plank, though still challenging, both for the muscles of the hips and torso, and the shoulder on the “down” arm. It’s not uncommon to feel it there the most: Your arms aren’t used to holding up your body weight and will likely complain about it.
Side (Lateral) Plank, Level 1
- Start by laying on your side with your shoulders and hips stacked (one of top of the other) and elbow under shoulder
- Legs are aligned straight down from torso – if you look straight down your body, everything should be in line
- Tuck the bottom foot behind the body so the knee is at a 90 degree angle (bottom knee should not move forward)
- Brace through tummy and gently squeeze pelvic floor and glutes
- Lift hips off the ground by pushing through your bottom knee and elbow
- Keep top hand on hip, or reaching straight up in the air (this will help keep you aligned)
- When at the “top” keep squeezing glutes to maintain straight line
- Keep head and neck in line with spine
- Hold for 10-12 seconds, then relax back to ground
- You should feel: work/bracing through the core and glutes, and through the bottom shoulder