No matter what types of workouts you love, you’ve likely come across a some variation of a side plank. They’re a fixture in every type of fitness modality from barre to bootcamp, and are an A+ way to target your arms and obliques.
But just because the move is common doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy. According to Le Sweat founder Charlee Atkins, there are a lot of common mistakes that people make with their side planks that prevent them from reaping the full benefits. “The goal of a side plank is to first of all work on the core, but also the arm strength,” says Atkins. “But in order to hold a successful side plank you need to make sure you’re in the right formation.” Plus, she explains, it’s important to make sure you’re doing them right to avoid any sort of injury. Some of the biggest form flaws she sees all the time?
1. Shoulders rotated to far forward or pushed up too far from wrist: Your shoulders should be in a straight line directly over your wrist with your middle finger pointed forward. Your head should be directly in line with your heels, creating a nice, solid plane down your body.
2. Hips too high or too low: To create that straight line from your head to your toes, you want to ensure that your hips aren’t too high or too low. Hold them in the center by engaging the core and your glutes.
3. Feet too far apart: You can stack or stagger your feet, but if they’re staggered, the heel of your top, front foot should be touching the toe of your bottom back one. No matter how you put your feet, you’ll want to make sure your feet are flexed.
Now that you know the wrong way to do a side plank, press play on the video above to watch Atkins demonstrate the right way to do it. And one thing to keep in mind? It is always ok to modify. “If holding a full side plank is too challenging, it’s better to drop the bottom knee than lose alignment,” says Atkins. Then, you can work your way up to the full expression.
Once you’ve perfected your side plank, see if you can master some of the other plank varieties out there. And then you can work your way up to what trainers call “the hardest oblique move there is.”