You can change a variety of details in planks to focus on more fitness components. Find out whether lateral plank walks are a good idea.
Lateral plank walks are a variation of high planks where you take steps sideways with both your arms and legs.
Because of this lateral planks work your deltoids (shoulders), chest muscles, obliques, cardiovascular system, and balance a tiny amount more.
That being said, since these differences are so small, you can mostly expect the same effects as high and regular planks.
Only in a way that some people find a bit more interesting.
This means lateral plank walks can be a good isometric (static) abs and hip flexor workout for people who find dynamic core exercises too uncomfortable.
If you don’t mind these more dynamic plank alternatives, they will typically be more effective.
How to do a lateral plank walk
Take the following steps to do a lateral plank walk:
- Sit on your hands and knees with your shoulders above your wrists.
- Step back with your feet until your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Shift your weight to one side and lift the hand and foot of the other side off the ground. Take a step sideways with these body parts.
- Take a step with the hand and foot that previously stood still in a similar way.
- After a few steps in one way, return to the location in step 1 by taking the same number of steps back.
Some people will find lowering their hips too much in lateral plank walks uncomfortable.
For this reason, it is typically recommended to keep your body in a straight line or even your hips a bit higher.
It is also possible that you just find lateral plank walks too hard for now.
In that case, you can start with movements like knee planks or other ab exercises.
To train your chest, tricep, and front deltoid muscles more you can also add a pushup in between each set. This is also known as a walking pushup.
Lateral plank walks muscles worked
Similar to the regular version, you can say lateral plank walks are a compound ab exercise.
More specifically, lateral plank walks mainly work muscles like your abs and hip flexors.
Additionally, you also work your obliques, deltoids (shoulders), chest, hip adductors (inner thighs), hip abductors (outer thighs), and quadriceps (front thighs) to some extent.
Compared to regular planks, lateral plank walks work your deltoids (shoulders), chest muscles, and obliques a bit more.
That being said, lateral plank walks still mainly work your abs and hip flexors in an isometric (static) way.
One of the benefits of isometric exercises is that they can be more comfortable on your spine.
However, more dynamic ab exercises tend to be more effective for muscle growth and strength progress.
People who do choose lateral plank walks want to keep in mind that they may need extra resistance like a weighted vest to reach their fitness goals.
Lateral plank walks benefits
While most of their positive effects are similar to the benefits of regular planks, there is also a more unique aspect in the list below:
- Balance and coordination: You can actually train your balance and coordination by doing exercises that are challenging in these areas. Lateral plank walks do this better than the regular version.
- Stronger muscles: A combination of enough resistance and lateral plank walks that are long enough can help you grow and strengthen your abs and hip flexors.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Making your abs stronger with lateral plank walks can help reduce and prevent back pain (1, 2).
- You could find them more comfortable: More dynamic ab exercises tend to be more effective than lateral plank walks but you could find these uncomfortable.
- Makes planks more interesting: Holding regular planks for minutes can get a bit boring. Lateral plank walks make things a bit more interesting.
- Can make daily activities easier: Improving your ab strength and endurance can make daily activities like standing up and walking around easier.
These benefits are not unique to lateral plank walks but if you enjoy the movement and like the isometric engagement, you can still consider it.
Lateral plank walk alternatives
You may also conclude that you want to give these more dynamic and effective lateral plank walk alternatives a try.
Additionally, there are other dynamic exercises you could prefer too.
- Ab wheel roll-outs
- Hanging knee raises
- Other plank variations
- Exercise ball planks
- Reverse crunches
To choose between these lateral plank walk alternatives you want to think about what muscles you want to work.
Carefully trying out a few options could also help you find out what your body is capable of.
Are lateral plank walks a good exercise?
Lateral plank walks can be a good/decent exercise for people who want to work their abs and hip flexors in a static way and find regular planks too boring.
That being said, it is also fair to say that lateral plank walks are not for everyone either.
First of all, more dynamic ab and hip flexor exercise alternatives tend to offer more muscle growth and strength progress than lateral plank walks in a shorter amount of time.
Secondly, by adding the step movements, certain weighted plank variations like using a weight plate stop being an option.
So what your body is able to do, how much you like doing lateral plank walks, and whether or not you need/have a weighted vest will influence whether this is the exercise for you.