The side plank is a staple in many people’s workouts because it is so effective at challenging the full body in the frontal plane, targeting the hips, quadratus lumborum (QL) and obliques, and improving shoulder stabilization.
While the side plank is great, it’s always a good idea to add variety to your workouts and challenge your body in new ways. Here are five exercises that are great alternatives to the side plank.
1. Asymmetrical Carry
This exercise is a full-body challenge that requires you to stabilize the unloaded side.
Grab one heavy kettlebell. Keep shoulders parallel to floor and hips and walk as far as you can (aim for 100 yards), while maintaining good posture.
2. DVRT Leg Threading
This variation of the side plank challenges the core and increases hip mobility and shoulder stability.
Sit on the floor with the right knee bent, right heel on the floor, and the left leg extended at about a 45 degree angle with the foot flexed and the left heel on the floor. Hold a Power Ultimate Sandbag (USB) and place it on the right shoulder. Keep the torso upright and tall. Extend the left arm and contract the latissimus dorsi. Press the heels into the ground and lift the hips up to bridge position. Lift the left leg and slide back into a plank position. Slide the leg back underneath to return to the starting position. Use control throughout the whole movement, making sure to maintain packed shoulders. Repeat on the other side. Try to observe if you have significant asymmetries on each side.
3. TRX Hip Drop
This side plank variation targets the whole side body, eccentrically loading the core from standing, while also challenging lateral mobility.
Adjust the TRX Suspension Trainer to mid-length and put the handles in single-handle mode. Stand with your right side to the anchor. Position the right leg forward in an offset stance, making sure that your hip is in line with the anchor. Grab the handles, maintain tension in the straps and place on top of the head (as if you are holding onto a hat). Keep the elbows open, beside your ears, and the shoulders down. Slowly lower the left hip toward the floor to the edge of your lateral flexion. Raise back to the starting position. If this resistance is too light, step in closer toward the anchor. Repeat on both sides.
4. DVRT Half-kneeling Arc Press
This variation of side plank is quite challenging because both the load and the body position are unstable. It also targets shoulder/scapulae control, mobility, and core and hip stability.
Assume a half-kneeling position. With the right knee forward, bring the Power or Core USB (smaller is preferred; grab the middle of the bag) to the left shoulder. Slowly lift the USB, forming an arc over the crest of the head to the right shoulder; return to center. The key here is to create a complete arc, extending the arms at the center, directly above the head. Move very slowly through the movement, counting to five or six for each repetition.
5. TRX Side Plank
Being suspended requires greater shoulder stabilization, strength and control in loading eccentrically while resisting lateral flexion.
Adjust the TRX Suspension Trainer to mid-calf. Lie on your side with the left hip in line with the anchor. Position the elbow under the shoulder; keep the shoulder packed. With the toes in the straps, press the feet down into the straps until the body is lifted parallel to the floor. Hold as long as you can while maintaining stable shoulders and proper alignment. As you strengthen in the position, you can also add load at hips. Perform on both sides.