At-Home Exercise: Side Planks, Level 2

Ready for the next step? The Level 1 Side Plank is a great intro to this exercise, and though the positioning isn’t all that different, the effect sure can be!

It’s important to note that if you aim for this version before you’re ready, you can do more harm than good. The stabilizer muscles that work to support the spine and pelvis can fatigue easily and be overloaded if you try for too much work, too soon.  If this is happening, you’ll usually feel this as an aching or burning in areas like your lower back rather than through the “core” muscles that should be working. (It’s also helpful to note that many, many, many people will feel this exercise in the bottom shoulder more than anything. Our arms and shoulders are not used to supporting our body weight and they’ll be working triple overtime and complaining about it. No need to panic, this is normal and those muscles will be fine.) Pick the right level to start with. You’ll get strong and progress soon!

Remember from the post about Level 1 Side Planks that doing these correctly will result in better activation and strength in the muscles that provide support for your spine and pelvis. This is good: Stable equals pain-free and decreases risk of injuries, as well as allowing more efficient movement.

 

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 had to hold it. That’s the same squeeze you want.)

Side (Lateral) Plank, Level 2
  • 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
  • Brace through tummy and gently squeeze pelvic floor and glutes
  • Lift hips off the ground, pushing through your bottom foot 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

side plank core exercise


At-Home Exercise: Side Planks, Level 1

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

side-plank-level-1