Pilates Training Tips: How to Execute a Great Side Plank
This is the 2nd article related to improving the Pilates Side Plank exercise. If you missed the first article, Pilates Training Tips: Preparatory Exercises for Side Plank, you might find it a helpful to review and practice some of the recommended preparatory exercises first, then progress to the more advanced Side Plank exercise described here.
Benefits of the Pilates Side Plank Exercise
Balance to support the body, strengthening the shoulders, and improving lateral torso control are three primary benefits of the Side Plank exercise.
It takes every ounce of focus to do a well-executed Side Plank. And while the Side Plank is a great exercise to improve shoulder strength, it is also an exercise that can quickly create shoulder pain, or a shoulder injury if executed incorrectly.
It is especially critical that during the transition to lift up into the Side Plank, and to lower the body back down to the mat, that shoulder mechanics are functioning properly to stay safe and injury free.
The Side Plank exercise is one of the traditional Pilates Matwork exercises that Joseph Pilates describes in his book Return to Life. In Return to Life, the Side Plank exercise is called The Side Bend.
How to Execute a Safe Side Plank
- Start seated on the right hip with the knees slightly bent. Ideally the legs are stacked on top of each other, but to assist with balance, take the feet hip width apart. If the top leg is forward, it will help keep the hips stacked.
- Weight is on the right arm with the fingers pointing out away from the body
- Be sure the elbow is bent, and the shoulder is pulling down away from the ear, supporting underneath the arm.
- Left arm is resting along the left side of the body.
- Eyes look straight ahead.
The Side Plank Exercise:
- Inhale and pull down under the shoulder to begin lifting the ribcage, hips, and thighs up off the mat to support on the hand and side of the foot.
- The non-supporting arm can assist by reaching up to the ceiling to create a T-shape. Having both arms reach away helps to spread the shoulder blades and activate the serratus and lat muscles to support the lifted position.
- Keep the Pelvic Floor engaged to help torso stability.
- Activate the muscles along the outside of the supporting leg to help lift the hips high.
- Hold and breathe.
- To lower the body down, BEND THE ELBOW and PULL THE SHOULDER DOWN first, then begin lowering the hip to the mat. If the arm stays straight and the shoulder goes up while the hip goes down, you are creating the potential for a serious shoulder injury!
A Few More Thoughts About Practicing Side Plank
In Return to Life, when following Joe’s traditional order for the Pilates Matwork exercises, the Side Plank / Side Bend is exercise number 28 of 34 exercises. This demonstrates the importance of doing many other exercises in your workout to ensure that the body is properly warmed up and prepared to do this more advanced and challenging move.
Before practicing your Side Planks, or incorporating the Side Plank exercise into your other workouts. Be sure that you have adequately prepared your body. Do some ab work, arm & shoulder work, and hip and leg work, before progressing to your side plank exercise. There is a lot of stress on the hand, wrists, and shoulders – doing push-ups first, or a few regular front planks first, along with exercises to warm up the rest of you, will help ensure that your body is ready to tackle the challenge of executing a great Side Plank.
***Stay tuned for an upcoming article on Side Plank variations. Discover ways to add variety and challenge to progress your workouts once you’ve mastered the Simple Side Plank!
- Pulse Power! The Daily Dozen – 10 Minute Workout Plan $7.99 Epub (for eReaders like Nook, iBooks, Sony Reader or software like Adobe Digital Editions) or PDF File (for accessing directly from your computer)
- Centerworks Acupressure Foot Massage Mat $40 Stimulate the foot reflexology points on the soles of your feet to release tension and stress and improve the fitness of your feet
- Pilates Walk – Tips, Techniques, and Exercises for a Healthy Stride 15.00 Quickly and Easily Maximize the Health Benefits of Your Walking Workouts
- Stretch Out Strap™ (XL Strap + Exercise Training & Conditioning Poster) 18.95 Includes XL Strap + Exercise Training & Conditioning Poster
- RunFit Foot Fitness Kit™ 2.0 $195 Includes Fantastic Feet Book, Arch Activators (pair), Toe Bandz Kit (4 bands + mini massage ball), Toe Separators Kit (1 pair skinny & 1 pair wide), Super-Ankle Board + exercise booklet and video training program, Foot Fitness COMBO Exercise Selection Guide Booklet -- All in a convenient, portable mesh carry bag; PLUS the Centerworks Acupressure Foot Massage Mat, Fantastic Feet mini-foot fitness kit (sticks, stones, TheraBand, and mini-massage ball), RunFit Kit 2.0 Quick Reference Guide (laminated charts) (to help you pick the best Run-Fit training tool/exercises to get started, based on the foot-care issues you may be dealing with…), Run-Fit Kit backpack to keep everything together, easy to find, and ready to use for your at-home, and on-the-go workouts.
- Super Ankles Foot-Fit Board Bundle $40 Includes Super Ankles Foot-Fit Board, 22-Page Exercise Spiral Bound Booklet and 41:20 "How-To" Exercise DVD
- Foam Roller Fitness Exercise Tips & Core Training Techniques $50 80-Minute Video Training Presented by Aliesa George
- Pilates Teachers Video Training: Foam Roller Training for Pilates Pros $50 60-Minute Video Training Presented by Aliesa George
- Combo: Foam Roller Fitness & Foam Roller Training for Pilates Pros $85 Live Video Training by Aliesa George,PMA-CPT
- How to Effectively Engage the Pelvic Floor to Help Strengthen the Core $35 60-Minute Video Training Presented by Aliesa George
- 6-Dot Strategy for Effective Rotation of the Spine $35 60-Minute Video Training Presented by Aliesa George
- 6 Simple Training Tips for Functional Movement at the Hips $35 60-Minute Video Training Presented by Aliesa George
- Pilates Magic Circle and Workout DVD $30 Pilates Magic Circle and Workout DVD
- Fantastic Feet! and Foot Fitness Kit Combo $30 Foot Fitness Kit and Fantastic Feet! 95-Page Paperback by Aliesa George
- Foot Fitness Kit $20 Foot Fitness Kit by Aliesa George
- Basic Pilates: The First 15 Matwork Exercises $12 37:30 Workout on Audio CD or MP3
- Beginner-Intermediate Pilates Matwork with Flow: 23 Exercises $12 41:10 Workout on Audio CD or MP3
- Intermediate Pilates Matwork Flowing Fitness Challenge: 35 Exercises $12 41:10 Workout on Audio CD or MP3
- Magic Circle Pilates Matwork: Basic-Intermediate $12 65 Minute Workout on Audio CD or MP3
- Posture Principles for Health $79 60-page study guide and DVD or Streaming Online Video
- A Barrel of Fun! Pilates Arc Barrel Workout $34.97 78-Page Spiral-Bound Book by Aliesa George
- Fantastic Feet! $20 95-Page Paperback by Aliesa George
- Return to Life Through Contrology $15.95 105-Page Paperback by Joseph H. Pilates
- Be FIT Journal $15 380-Page Paperback by Aliesa George