Side Plank Hold: Your Quick Guide To This Great Core Exercise

Are you struggling to hold a side plank for more than a few seconds? You’re not alone. So many people struggle with this exercise, but it’s actually a very beneficial move for building core strength and stability. The reason why it’s so challenging is that it targets the obliques which are oftentimes a weaker muscle group compared to the rectus abdominis (the 6-pack muscle). But don’t fret! There are ways to improve your side plank hold and build up the strength you need to hold it longer. In this blog post, we’ll cover the common mistakes people make when doing side planks, and give you a step by step guide on how to properly perform a side plank that will improve your endurance and form.

Side Plank Hold Summary

  • Primary Muscles: Obliques
  • Secondary Muscles: Adductors, Hip, Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus, Gracilis, Iliocastalis lumborum, Iliocastalis thoracis, Latissimus dorsi, Levator Scapulae, Pectineus, Pectoralis major, Pectoralis minor, Psoas major, Quadratus lumborum, and Tensor Fasciae Latae
  • Equipment: Body Weight
  • Mechanics Type: Isolated
  • Force: Push
  • Utility: Auxiliary
Graphic image of a fit man performing alternate cable triceps extensions.

Side Plank Hold Instructions

  • Lie on your side, preferably on a mat, but also straight on the floor.
  • Place your forearm on the ground under your shoulder perpendicular to your upper body.
  • Position your upper leg on top of your lower leg with your knees straight.
  • Raise your body upward by straightening your waist, so your body is as ridged as a board.
  • Hold this static position for twenty seconds to a minute per side.

Video Tutorial

How to do the perfect Side Plank and most common mistakes

Side Plank Hold Muscles

Target (Agonist)


  • Adductors
  • Hip
  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Gluteus Medius
  • Gluteus Minimus
  • Gracilis
  • Iliocastalis lumborum
  • Iliocastalis thoracis
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Levator Scapulae
  • Pectineus
  • Pectoralis major
  • Pectoralis minor
  • Psoas major
  • Quadratus lumborum
  • Tensor Fasciae Latae

Dynamic Stabilizers

  • None


  • Iliocastalis lumborum
  • Iliocastalis thoracis

Antagonist Stabilizers

  • None
Image of the skeletal muscular system with the muscles used in the side plank hold exercise highlighted in red and the rest in blue.

Benefits of Side Plank Hold

The Side Plank Hold is a great exercise to include in any strength training or fitness routine as it targets the obliques. This exercise requires the participant to hold their body in a straight line while resting on one forearm, feet stacked on top of each other, and the side of their body facing the ground. This exercise is great for strengthening the obliques and providing stability to the spine and core muscles. Performing this exercise regularly helps build strength in the obliques, which can help improve posture and reduce lower back pain. Additionally, this exercise can help with balance and coordination as it challenges the body to stay in one position for an extended period of time.

Tips for Performing Side Plank Hold

You’ve landed at the right place if you desire to advance your capability to perform side plank hold. These tips can get you more out of this effective workout, and help you reap all the benefits it has to give. You can develop your obliques muscles, and even reduce your chances of experiencing an injury. It is time to get started and explore how these tips will benefit you.

  • 1. Maintain Proper Form – When performing a side plank hold, make sure your body is in a straight line and your core is engaged. This will help you get the most benefit from the exercise and prevent any potential injury.
  • 2. Start Slow – Don’t try to do an overly long side plank hold right away. Start with a shorter duration and work your way up to longer holds as you build your strength and endurance.
  • 3. Add Variations – To make the exercise more challenging, try lifting one arm or leg while in the side plank position. This will help keep your muscles engaged and give you an extra burn.

Benefits and Tips Video

How To Do A Side Plank | The Right Way | Well+Good

Frequent Mistakes To Avoid

When it comes to executing side plank hold, avoiding common mistakes can be the difference between an effective workout and a painful injury. Moreover, achieving optimal results from this exercise requires appropriate form, and avoiding perform typical mistakes can allow you to perform the exercise correctly and obtain optimal results. However, take it easy, it’s not as challenging as it might seem. By knowing the errors to avoid and taking the appropriate actions, you can execute the exercise securely and successfully. Thus, it is now your turn to maximize your results from this exercise and experience the benefits of a successful workout.

  • 1. Holding the position for too short a time: Holding the side plank position for too short a time is a mistake because it doesn’t allow the muscles to be engaged and strengthened over a long enough period of time to actually have an effect.
  • 2. Not engaging the core muscles: Not engaging the core muscles when doing a side plank hold is a mistake because it means that the exercise isn’t as effective and that the body isn’t being correctly supported, which can lead to injury.
  • 3. Placing the elbow too far from the body: Placing the elbow too far from the body when doing a side plank hold is a mistake because it means that the exercise isn’t as effective and that the body isn’t being correctly supported, which can lead to injury or instability.

Find More Bodyweight Exercises Here

Variations and Complementary Exercises

If you’re looking to challenge yourself further, or just want to mix up your routine, try out these variations, complementary, or alternative exercises for the Side Plank Hold. Each exercise is designed to work similar muscles as the Side Plank Hold, and can help you build strength and stability.

Side Plank

Graphic image of Side Plank.

Side Plank is a great exercise that can be used as a complementary or an alternative to Side Plank Hold. This exercise strengthens the core, arms, and legs while also targeting the obliques and deep abdominal muscles. It can be done on one side or both sides, and is a great way to improve balance and stability. Side Plank helps to improve posture, coordination, and mobility, making it a great way to supplement the Side Plank Hold.

Side Crunches

Graphic image of Side Crunches.

Side crunches are a great complementary or alternative exercise to the side plank hold. This exercise targets the obliques and the hip flexors and is an effective way to strengthen the core muscles. To perform side crunches, lie on your side with one arm supporting your upper body and the other hand placed behind your head. Lift your upper body up towards the ceiling, crunching your obliques, then lower back down. This exercise can be done for a set amount of time or for repetitions and can be modified by adding weights to make it more challenging. Side crunches provide an excellent way to supplement or replace the side plank hold and help strengthen the core muscles for improved stability and balance.

Side Bridge Hip Dip

Graphic image of Side Bridge Hip Dip.

Side Bridge Hip Dip is an excellent complementary or alternative exercise to the Side Plank Hold. It works the same muscles, but with a greater range of motion that allows for a deeper engagement of the core, glutes, and hip abductors. This exercise is especially beneficial for those with limited shoulder mobility, as it allows them to engage the entire core without having to support their bodyweight on their arms. The Side Bridge Hip Dip also helps build stability and strength in the hips, which can be beneficial for athletes participating in sports that require lateral movement.

Check Out These Top Bodyweight Exercises

Side Bridge Hip Abductor

Graphic image of Side Bridge Hip Abductor.

The Side Bridge Hip Abductor is an excellent complementary exercise for the Side Plank Hold. This exercise works the gluteus medius and other core muscles in the lower body, which are essential for stability when performing the Side Plank Hold. It also helps to improve balance and posture, and can be used as an alternative exercise when the Side Plank Hold becomes too difficult or challenging. The Side Bridge Hip Abductor can be performed using a resistance band, dumbbells, or even a medicine ball, depending on your level of strength and fitness. It is an excellent exercise for building core strength and stability, and should be included in any workout routine that includes the Side Plank Hold.

Horizontal Pallof Press With Bands

Graphic image of Horizontal Pallof Press With Bands.

The Horizontal Pallof Press with Bands is a great complementary or alternative exercise to the Side Plank Hold. It is an anti-rotation core exercise that challenges the core musculature to resist rotation from an external force. The bands add a dynamic element to the exercise as they provide a resistance that changes throughout the movement. This exercise can help to build strength and stability in the core, hips, and shoulders, and it can be used to help improve posture and balance. Furthermore, it can be used as a substitute for the Side Plank Hold when time or space constraints limit its use.

Hanging Oblique Knee Raises

Graphic image of Hanging Oblique Knee Raises.

Hanging Oblique Knee Raises are an excellent alternative or complementary exercise to the Side Plank Hold. This exercise focuses on strengthening your oblique muscles and improving your core stability. To perform this exercise, hang from a bar with your arms fully extended and raise one knee at a time towards the opposite shoulder. This will work the obliques and engage the core muscles. Hanging Oblique Knee Raises will not only help to improve core strength, but it will also help to develop balance and coordination.

Find More Abs Exercises Here

Opposing Complementary Exercises

In order to maximize the benefits of the Side Plank Hold, it is important to include exercises that target opposing muscle groups. Complementing the Side Plank Hold with these exercises will help build a stronger core and improve overall strength and balance. Below is a list of exercises that work the opposite muscles as the Side Plank Hold:

Barbell Stiff Leg Good Morning

Graphic image of Barbell Stiff Leg Good Morning.

The Barbell Stiff Leg Good Morning is a great exercise for strengthening the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. It is a great complement to the Side Plank Hold because it works the opposing muscle group. This exercise helps to strengthen the core and improve posture. By working the lower back muscles, the glutes, and hamstrings in tandem, the Barbell Stiff Leg Good Morning can help to balance out the strength of the core, which is essential for overall health and fitness.

Barbell Good Morning

Graphic image of Barbell Good Morning.

The Barbell Good Morning is a great complementary exercise to the Side Plank Hold. It targets the muscles of the lower back and hamstrings, which are the opposing muscle group to the Side Plank Hold, which works the abs and obliques. By performing the Barbell Good Morning, you can help strengthen your core while maintaining stability and balance. Additionally, the Barbell Good Morning helps to increase flexibility in the lower back and hips, allowing you to move more freely during your Side Plank Hold.

Smith Machine Good Morning Off Pins

Graphic image of Smith Machine Good Morning Off Pins.

The Smith Machine Good Morning Off Pins is a great complementary exercise to the Side Plank Hold. This exercise is designed to strengthen and isolate the back muscles, while the Side Plank Hold works the core muscles. By performing these two exercises together, you are able to target both opposing muscle groups. The Smith Machine Good Morning Off Pins targets the erector spinae, glutes, hamstrings and core muscles while the Side Plank Hold works the rectus abdominis, obliques, and hip adductors. Performing these exercises together will help to improve posture, build strength, and increase overall muscular balance.

Feel Stronger Than Ever with Side Plank Holds

If you’re looking to feel strong and stable in your core and obliques, side plank holds may be the exercise for you. This exercise involves holding yourself up on one arm while lifting your hips off the ground, engaging the side of your body in a challenging isometric hold. By regularly incorporating side plank holds into your workout routine, you’ll not only increase your core strength but also improve your balance and posture, making it easier to carry out daily activities with ease. So next time you hit the gym or practice at home, give side plank holds a try and feel stronger than ever before.

References: Wikipedia | | | Comprehensive List of Abs Bodyweight Exercises

Pin image for side plank hold post. With an image of a man performing the exercise on Top and a graphic of the exercise on the Bottom.

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