One of the first core exercises which most people will be exposed to is the
side plank. The side plank is easily performed without equipment and requires
little space. The side plank is also a good test of your shoulder stability and
alignment. If you have shoulder pain during the exercise it may be an indication
of a shoulder pathology. The primary purpose of the side plank is to strengthen
the core as well as help you get used to the standard muscle actions (drawn in
core & contracted glutes) which should be maintained during all core exercises.
You can perform the side plank exercise
during your core and/or abdominal training routine, as well as use it in between exercises
for different muscles in a circuit training program. You can progress the
difficulty of the side plank in a variety of ways including raising your
feet to an elevated surface or
unstable surface such as a BOSU ball.
You can also add resistance by holding a dumbbell or weight plate on your
hip or having a partner push down on your upper hip. You can also add up and
down movement which targets the
quadratus lumborum a very important deep core muscle in the
dynamic side plank.
Start: Lie on your side and extend your legs as far as you can forward so
your body is in a straight line. Put one elbow, forearm and hand on the floor.
Position your feet with one on top of the other or with one behind the other.
Begin the motion: Lift your hips up until your body is in perfect
alignment. Your shoulders should be both in line with the elbow you have on the
floor. You should be able to visualize a straight line from your ankle, through
the center of your hips, through the middle of your cheat all the way to the
center of your forehead.
Since the side plank is a dynamic hold you need to focus on keeping your hips in
proper alignment. This can be done by drawing in your stomach, engaging your
core and isometrically contracting (squeezing) your glutes.
Breathing: If you are doing the static side plank you should maintain
your normal breathing pattern. Even though your core is engaged and stomach
drawn in, you should be able to relax your breathing and breathe the same as
if you were doing any form of cardio exercise.