The core includes all the muscles from the pelvic girdle to the shoulder girdle; it connects the lower body and upper body, providing the foundation for all movement. Planks are probably the most common exercise for core training in today’s fitness programs and classes. Some instructors have their students hold planks for up to 5 minutes! However, beyond 30 seconds one should make the exercise more challenging rather than just holding it causing stress to the shoulders and wrists. The exercise is probably causing more harm to those areas in these long duration planks than they are improving core strength.

It’s important to counterbalance “regular” planks with reverse planks and side planks, which are underutilized in most programs. Forearm planks are better than hand planks because your wrists don’t have to be put in a stressful position. Most people (thanks to phones, video games, computers, etc.) already have “less than healthy” wrists, so why add stress to them for the sake of core strengthening? Also it will be much easier to place your shoulders and back muscles in the proper position when performing a forearm plank.

In this video, we’ll learn the side plank, which allows us to work the muscles along the side of your body.  Holding this plank works muscles that are often overlooked by those who focus on a “standard” plank.  Try it with a step for 30 seconds and when you’re ready for a challenge, remove the step and place your forearm directly on the ground.


  • Find a step or box to prop yourself up off the ground.
  • Straighten your legs, get the elbow directly under the shoulder, and place your forearms on the step.
  • Drawing your abdominals in, lift up your waist.
  • Keep your head in line with your body and your bottom elbow directly under the shoulder.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds.

Tip: Bend the bottom knee forward to make it easier.