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15 Side Plank variations for toned abs and strong middle

Few exercises are as good for the core as the lateral plank . Despite this, this exercise is often overlooked in favor of the standard variation. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you integrate the lateral forearm plank into your training program, you’ll train several muscle groups at once and strengthen your core without straining your back. Plus, the exercise is ideal for the lateral abdominal muscles, which can only mean one thing: Goodbye hip flab! If you would also like to benefit from the advantages of the exercise, then try these Side Plank variations.

Side Plank variations for an effective workout

Side Plank exercise and variations for strong middle

Just like the normal plank exercise, the side plank offers many variations of execution. For example, you can make the exercise easier with dropped knees or more strenuous with additional movements or weights. Here we have compiled many Side Plank variations for beginners and advanced exercisers that you can incorporate into your workout plan.

Classic variation side plank forearm support with legs extended

One of the advantages of planking is that you don’t need any equipment or additional gear for these exercises. That is why we have divided the variations of the Side Plank exercise into two parts. First, we will show you variations of the exercise where no additional equipment is used. In the second part, weights, exercise balls and other fitness equipment will be used to increase the intensity of the workout.

Important: don’t forget to repeat all the exercises on both sides.

Bodyweight Side Planks

Side Plank for Beginners

Side plank exercise for beginners knee

If you have just started the exercise, then you may find it a bit difficult to perform. If you can’t hold the position for more than a few seconds, then you’d better slowly build up the strength of your oblique abs by starting with this less demanding variation of the exercise.

Lie on your side and support yourself on your forearm and knees instead of your feet. Tighten your core and maintain a straight line from your knees to your head, keeping your hips from sagging.

Raised Side Plank

Raised Side Plank with extended arm

This variant of the exercise is often preferred to the classic version. Here, the starting position is changed a little, in that you do not rest on your elbow, but on your hand. The palm of the supporting hand must be directly under the shoulder and the fingers point away from you, otherwise the hand and wrist will be unnecessarily stressed. For more balance, you can extend your top arm up toward the ceiling.

Side Plank with Hip Dips

Side planking with hip lift execution of the exercise

Start in the starting position with your legs extended. Instead of just holding the position, slowly lower your hips in a controlled manner and then raise them again until your body returns to the starting position.

Side Support with Side Crunch

Variation of Side Plank with Crunch lateral abdominals

This variation of the exercise with a crunch can be performed two ways. Try both variations and decide for yourself which one best fits your workout schedule.

For a side plank with side crunch, assume the position for a side plank and pull the top elbow and top knee together to do a side crunch. Make sure the knee is facing the ceiling and not forward.

Side Plank and Crunch (2nd variation).

Side Plank variations with crunch execution

Stand in the side plank, brace yourself on your left forearm and bring your right arm behind your head. Bring your right elbow to your abdomen and your left knee to it. Then return to the starting position. This is one repetition.

Lateral Plank with Rotation

Side Plank variation with rotation execution

Adding a twist to your side plank will help you activate your shoulder muscles, lumbar muscles, glutes and abs in addition to your obliques.

Start in the traditional Side Plank position – either on your knees or with your legs extended. Raise your top arm straight above you. Then lower your arm and rotate your core as you bring your top arm under your torso. Pause when your shoulders are almost parallel to the floor. Bring your arm back out and return to the starting position. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions and then repeat on the other side.

Side Plank with Leg Raises

Side Plank with Leg Raise Advanced Variation

This is another way to make the side plank exercise more challenging. By lifting one leg (or arm if desired), other muscles are engaged and the core has to work harder to maintain balance.

Start in the starting position with your legs extended. While keeping your spine extended and your abdominal muscles tensed, raise your top leg slightly higher than your top hip. Then slowly lower it back down to your lower leg. Do 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions.

Raised Side Plank with Leg Raises

Raised Side Plank with Leg Lift Version

Unlike the previous exercise, this variation is performed supported on the hand instead of the elbow.

Side Plank March

Side Plank March Exercise Execution

Start in a side plank position on the right forearm with legs crossed. The left leg should be in front, with the weight on the bottom of the foot, and the right leg should be behind, with the weight on the outside edge of the foot. The left arm is behind the head.

Raise the right knee toward the chest and drop it back down. Lift the left knee towards the chest and extend it again. Repeat this pattern rhythmically for 10 repetitions. Return to the starting position and settle on the floor to rest. Then do 10 repetitions on the other side.

Side Plank variations with additional equipment

advanced side planking with exercise ball and bosu ball

Weights and additional fitness equipment can make the workout even more effective. If you want to make your side plank a little more challenging, then it’s worth trying these side plank variations.

Gym Ball Side Plank

Side forearm support on exercise ball for advanced students

Place your supporting arm on an exercise ball. The added instability makes it harder to hold the position. So you’ll need to use your core muscles to control the wobble.

Lateral Plank with the Bosu Ball

Bosu ball side forearm support strengthen body core

If you rest your feet or elbow on a bosu ball , the exercise becomes more difficult, making it more challenging for your core without being as hard a variation as the exercise ball version.

However, if you have both on hand, you can really up the ante by bracing your elbow on the exercise ball and your feet on the bosu ball or vice versa.

Side Plank Hip Raise with Dumbbell

Side plank hip lift with dumbbell

Lie on your side and support yourself on your lower elbow and forearm with your feet stacked on top of each other. Grasp a light dumbbell with your top hand and hold it on your upper hip. Then raise your hips so that your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels. Slowly lower your hips and gently touch them to the floor. Perform more repetitions and then switch sides.

Side Plank with Reverse Fly

Combine high side plank with reverse fly exercise

Adding the Reverse Fly exercise to your side plank not only challenges your abs more, but also tones the back of your shoulders. Squeeze your inner thighs for added stability.

Start in a lateral plank on your left side, keeping your weight in your right hand and your right arm parallel to the floor. Exhale and pull your abs toward your spine to stabilize your core as you raise your right arm toward the ceiling. Do not let your hand move behind your shoulder. Lower the weight back to the starting position to complete one repetition. If you feel unstable in this position, spread your legs and bring your right leg forward to stabilize yourself. Do 10 to 15 repetitions before switching sides.

Side support with fitness band

Side Plank for beginners with fitness band

Fitness bands are ideal for a functional workout and can also be used for planking. Here we show a variation for it.

Support your body in the side plank position. The lower knee is set down and the upper leg is extended so that the lower elbow, lower knee and upper foot touch the floor. The resistance band should be above your knees. Raise your top leg against the resistance of the band. Keep your body straight and tense your gluteal muscles. Return to the starting position. Perform all repetitions on one side and then switch to the other side.

Advanced Side Plank on Weight Bench

Side Plank variation for advanced on weight bench

The Copenhagen Side Plank is among the hardest variations of the exercise. You don’t need any additional weights for this, but you do need a weight bench, which greatly increases the intensity of the exercise.

Lie on your side and place your feet directly under the bench. Place the top foot on the bench and rest your weight on the instep (make sure the bench is padded, or place an extra pad under your foot). Place your lower elbow and forearm directly under your shoulder and squeeze your fist tightly. Lift your hips off the floor by pressing your top foot into the bench. Lift the lower leg until it touches the bottom of the bench. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, focusing on the feeling of your abdominal muscles and obliques. Hold the position for 10-30 seconds and then repeat the exercise on the other side.