Beginner Side Plank Exercise

Video Transcript:

Today we are focusing on the side plank beginners version on our knees, a modified side plank. This is a fantastic exercise to help strengthen some of your core muscles, specifically your quadratus lumborum or QL muscles, which is a muscle on the lateral portion or side of your lower back, an extremely important muscle to help stabilize your core.

With the beginner side plank version, what that looks like is that my elbow is roughly under my shoulder. Keep it at 90 degrees, just to take some of the stress off your shoulder.

I would have my knees bent to roughly 90 degrees. I have my legs in alignment with my torso, in alignment with my neck, so I’m straight from my knees through my hips and torso into my neck. Then I’m going to come up and pivot slightly at my hip to bring it forward so that everything through my hips is not bent, but it’s completely straight.

I’m holding this position for 10-30 seconds or whatever you are comfortable with. For many people, they are very weak in their side or lateral stabilizers, their QL muscle. So oftentimes people feel really shaky with this. That is perfectly normal.

Once I’m done holding, I come down slowly. I keep myself relatively upright, so I’m not collapsing through my elbow. I’m keeping myself up to take some of that stress off my lower back. I rest for five or 10 seconds, and then I’m going to come up again.

Ideally I’m doing three sets, holding it anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds or whatever you are comfortable with. Then I would switch sides. None of this should be painful. If it’s painful, please stop. Let us know. We can work on modifying the beginner side plank for you. It is always better to do this slowly and controlled, better to do less time, fewer sets than to push through. It should be a nice, controlled motion with no pain.

Any questions about any of this, please ask.

What is the Beginner Side Plank Exercise?

The beginner side plank exercise is a great beginner-intermediate core exercise that targets the stabilizing side muscles of the spine. This exercise is done on the knees, which makes it easier than the traditional side plank on feet exercise.

Beginner Side Plank Exercise Instructions:

  • Step 1

    Begin on your side, with your knees bent to 90 degrees, and stacked on top of each other. Try to get your torso, hips and knees relatively straight, so all in one line as shown in the modified side plank video.

  • Step 2

    Bring yourself up onto your elbow, which is bent to roughly 90 degrees, and positioned under your shoulder. You can either raise yourself up using your core muscles, or use your other arm to help gently push you up.

  • Step 3

    As you raise up, try to keep yourself as straight as possible from your knees, through your hips, into your torso and neck. Keep your neck back in neutral, not sticking forwards over your body.

  • Step 4

    To keep yourself straight, often when you raise up from the floor, you will need to pivot slightly forward at the hips, to keep the in a straight line with your knees and torso, as shown in the beginner side plank video.

  • Step 5

    Contract your core, but specifically the muscles on the side of your core, your quadratus lumborum, or QL muscles, to keep you upright.

  • Step 6

    You may feel shaky in these muscles, that is normal.

  • Step 7

    After holding for as long as is comfortable for you, be it 10 seconds, 20 seconds, up to 60 seconds, gently lower yourself back down to the ground.

  • Step 8

    Avoid collapsing through your elbow, stay upright on it to take pressure off your low back.

  • Step 9

    Rest for 5-10 seconds, then raise yourself back up into the side plank position.

  • Step 10

    Try for 2-3 repetitions, ideally 1-2 times per day.

  • Step 11

    This should not be painful. If it’s painful, please stop, and we can look for a further side plank modification.

  • Step 12

    Any questions, please ask.

Read More About Beginner Side Plank Exercise Below

In this video you will learn the side plank exercise beginner version. This modified side plank is a great core exercise, but particularly for anyone with low back pain, as it places less stress on the lumbar spine. The positioning on the knees also allows for a more focused contraction on the core muscles, particularly the QL or quadratus lumborum muscle, which is a side or lateral stabilizer of the spine.

The key points for how to do a side plank exercise for beginners is to start on the knees. This decreases the number of joints involved, and also makes it easier to focus on the low back and core muscles.
Ensure your body is in alignment from knees, to hips to neck. Try to avoid sticking your neck out in front of your body, keep it back in alignment with your torso, to decrease stress on it.

This exercise should be thought of as two parts. Coming up from the ground, then pivoting forward slightly at the hips, so that you are straight from your legs, hips, torso into your neck. Hold this position for 5, 10, 20, 30 seconds, whatever you are comfortable with.

With your elbow, try to keep it directly under your shoulder, and bent to 90 degrees, to minimize stress on your elbow and shoulder.

If at any point during the exercise you experience pain, please stop, as there may be some modification required.

If you find this exercise too easy over time, consider progressing to the side plank exercise on feet as a next variation.

Any questions, please feel free to ask.

For further low back exercises, low back stretches, and core exercises, refer to our back pain Toronto condition page here:

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