It works your entire core, but particularly targets an often weak muscle called the quadratus lumborum. The benefit is simply that you’ll reduce your risk for lower back pain, become a better athlete, and look better than ever.
Researchers in Finland found that people with poor muscular endurance in their lower backs are 3.4 times more likely to develop lower back problems than those who have fair or good endurance. And turns out, a side-plank test is one of the best ways to gauge this endurance.
Simply perform a side plank for as long as you can without allowing your hips to drop or drift backward. A good score: 60 seconds. If you don’t meet this standard, start focusing more on your core.
Side Plank – Correct Technique
The body is suspended between the side of one foot and the elbow, with legs and trunk in a straight line. The non-supporting hand lays along the top of the body, rests on the hip, or is raised towards the ceiling to increase the difficulty.
Hold the position for between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. Change sides and repeat. The tendency is to let the upper shoulder fall forwards and twist the hips over. Imagine being stuck between two panes of glass so your body is always in a vertical plane.
- Lie on your left side with your knees straight.
- Prop your upper body up on your left elbow and forearm. Position your elbow under your shoulder.
- Brace your core by contracting your abs forcefully as if you were about to be punched in the gut.
- Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Your head should stay in line with your body.
- Hold this position for the prescribed amount of time while breathing deeply. That’s one set.
- Turn around so that you’re lying on your right side and repeat.
Side Plank Variations
On Hand – lift up so you are on you hand rather than elbow.
Lift Top Leg – either from elbow or hand position, raise the top leg, keeping the hips in the vertical plane.
Raise Top Hand – from ‘on hand’ position, raise the top hand towards the ceiling. Keeping the shoulders in the vertical plane.
Star – from ‘on hand’ position, raise the top hand and top leg to make a star shape. Keep a straight line between the lower foot and the lower shoulder.