Planks and Side Planks

June 28, 2010 // Al Kavadlo

A one arm/one leg side plank

Having a strong core is an essential component of fitness; the plank is the most simple and fundamental core building exercise you can do.

The term “core” generally refers to your abs, lower back and obliques. When holding a plank, you engage all of these muscles.

Whether your focus is bodyweight training, weight training, yoga or anything else really, the plank is likely to come up in one form or another.

The Basic Front Plank
The standard push-up position is the most simple type of plank. Make sure to keep a straight line from the top of your head to the heels of your feet; don’t let your hips drop or your butt go up in the air.

The basic plank (Front plank)

Elbow Plank
A slightly harder variation involves supporting your upper body on your elbows instead of your hands. For the beginner, a nice core challenge is to try alternating between the basic plank and the elbow plank. Make sure to keep your hips steady and stay on your toes.

One Arm/One Leg Plank
Once you’re comfortable with the elbow plank, you can add a new challenge by taking one arm or one leg out of the equation. Eventually you can try a plank on one arm and one leg; the fewer limbs you have on the ground the more you’ll need to use your core.

Side Planks
Side planks put more emphasis on your obliques (the muscles on your sides) than on your abs (though they still get worked!). Just like a front plank, you can perform a side plank on your palm or your elbow, and with one or two legs. Transitioning from a front plank to a side plank and back is another fun challenge.

Planks are often held isometrically (in a fixed position) for a given length of time. Try to build up to a minute with the simpler variations before progressing. One you’ve mastered the plank, you should consider training to do a planche.

Watch the video below for more: