There are many different ways to improve your current exercise routine. What about doing plank hip twists, what will the effects be?
Plank hip twists are a variation of regular planks where you rotate your hips to each side alternately. This makes it so plank hip twists give your core muscles, especially your obliques, a more active workout.
Plank hip twists are typically done to grow and strengthen core muscles like your obliques and abs. For other fitness goals, there are many better exercise options.
One potential downside of plank hip twists is that it is hard to make the bodyweight version more challenging. If you are more experienced with core training, plank hip twists may be too easy to cause a lot of progress.
Before you give this core exercise a try, keep in mind that you generally can’t target fat loss in specific body parts. Plank hip twists can be helpful for building obliques and abs but they are relatively bad for losing belly or waist fat. If that is your goal you want to look for exercises that help you burn a lot of calories.
Whether you should add plank hip twists or alternatives to your routine depends on things like your personal situation, personal preference, and training goals.
How to do a plank hip twist
For plank hip twists you preferably want a yoga mat or other soft surface to make the exercise more comfortable for your elbows. To do a plank hip twist take the following steps:
- Start in the regular plank position. This means on your forearms and front feet with shoulders above your elbows and a stretched body.
- Twist your hips as far as comfortable to one side while keeping your body as straight as possible. If needed you can also twist your feet.
- Return to starting position and repeat the same twisting motion to the other side.
Keep your movements slow and controlled to make your obliques really work hard and to avoid twisting too far. Especially if you have any back issues, you want to avoid lowering your hips too far.
Try not to go lower or higher than making a straight line with your body. Also keep your neck more or less in line with your body.
If your elbows hurt when doing plank hip twists, you can also do the same exercise from the high plank position on your hands instead of your forearms.
Plank hip twist variations and build-up exercises
Plank hip twists with just your body weight are the standard version of the exercise. There are also a few plank hip twist variations and build-up exercises that can make the exercise easier or harder, focus on slightly different things, or help you work toward a full plank hip twist.
Some people are not ready yet for full plank hip twists. To work up to the full version you can consider a few other exercise options. You have different options depending on what muscles are holding you back.
If your abs are not strong enough for plank hip twists you can start with a regular plank. If that is still too hard, you can start with plank progressions like knee planks or just lie down on your back and push your lower back down with the help of your ab muscles.
If your obliques are the weak link you can start with a sideways plank or sideways knee plank exercise.
To make plank hip twists harder you can also do them weighted, with extra resistance. Due to all the moving, your main option for this is wearing a good weighted vest close to your hips.
Plank hip twists muscles worked
With any exercise you will almost always make a variety of different muscles work, especially with a compound core exercise like plank hip twists. Even so, there are a few muscles that will have to work the hardest for moving and keeping your body in position.
Plank hip twists are mainly a core muscle (obliques and abs) exercise. Muscles like your shoulders, glutes, quadriceps, erector spinae, and back may have to work to a certain extent to keep your body in position.
Compared to regular planks, plank hip twists mostly train your obliques slightly more. Your other core muscles may have a slightly harder time too due to the extra movements.
The way you build muscle in places like your core is by engaging these muscles so that they get damaged enough. This may sound counterintuitive but this damaging makes it so your body repairs these muscles, and adds a bit more to be better prepared to exert similar efforts in the future.
If you stick to exercises with the same weight, as your muscles become stronger this same effort may not damage your muscles enough to promote extra muscle growth.
By adding extra resistance to exercises you are better able to damage the muscles in a shorter amount of time. If you don’t overdo it, give your body enough nutrients, and give your muscles enough rest this can in turn lead to faster and more core muscle gain.
One downside of plank hip twists is that it is hard to make the bodyweight version more challenging. You can wear a weighted vest but this may not be enough. For individuals more advanced with core training, plank hip twists may be too easy.
Depending on your personal situation, workout plan, and training goals, plank hip twists may be a good or bad addition.
Plank hip twist benefits
Some people question how useful this exercise can be but adding plank hip twists to your routine can offer you some helpful benefits. Some of the most important ones include:
- Stronger muscles: Plank hip twists are a type of resistance training that can help you strengthen your core muscles.
- Can help with losing weight: Doing plank hip twists likely requires more energy than your regular daily activities. Extra muscle mass also helps with burning more calories. Both of these aspects can help with, but are no guarantee for, weight loss. Keep in mind that there are better exercise choices if weight loss is your goal.
- Improves mood: Exercise like plank hip twists promotes the release of substances that help you feel good.
- No equipment or location required: Since plank hip twists are a bodyweight exercise you don’t have to invest in equipment or be in a specific location.
- Flexibility and mobility: Plank hip twists can push your boundaries when it comes to range of motion of certain body parts. By doing this you can gain some flexibility and mobility.
- Improves sleep: Exercise like plank hip twists can improve the quality and duration of your sleep which in turn offers many important benefits.
- Slows down aging: Plank hip twists won’t influence how many days have passed since you were born. However, exercise can slow down the progress of certain aging markers that are correlated with negative health effects.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Core strengthening exercises like plank hip twists can reduce or prevent back pain (1, 2). If you currently have back pain you do want to be careful and talk to an expert before implementing this exercise.
- Balance & coordination: Balance & coordination are fitness skills that can be improved by challenging them. Plank hip twists can help you with this.
While inevitably many workouts are better for some of these benefits than plank hip twists, it is amazing that you can get so many important benefits from adding one activity to your routine.
The main thing to keep in mind is that plank hip twists can be hard on body parts like your back, hips, shoulders, elbows, and neck even if you implement the right technique.
If you are weak or sensitive in these body parts you may need to do other strengthening exercises first. Especially if you have any back pain, you may want to talk to your primary care provider before implementing plank hip twists into your workout routine.
If you feel pain in any body parts it may be a sign you are overdoing it. In that case, you may need some rest, better lifestyle habits, a less intense workout schedule, or it may be a sign that plank hip twists are not (yet) for you.
Plank hip twist alternatives
While plank hip twists can be a great addition to your workout routine, there are also some alternatives available for training your core muscles. Some of these plank hip twist alternatives include:
- Ab wheel V-rolls
- Bicycle crunches
- Side bends
- Russian twists
- Leg raises on the captain’s chair
- Compound core exercises
- Pallof presses
Which one of these options is the best depends on things like your personal situation, training goals, the equipment you have available, etc.
Many people will benefit from adding plank hip twists with the right technique to their routine. You may need to switch to more challenging alternatives soon to keep seeing a lot of muscle growth and strength progress.
If you are more advanced when it comes to core training, plank hip twists may be too easy for you.
For goals besides strengthening your obliques and abs and making them stand out more, there are many better exercise options.
You also need to remember that plank hip twists can be hard on body parts like your back, hips, shoulders, elbows, and neck even if you implement the right technique.
If you are sensitive or weak in these body parts you may need to do other strengthening exercises first. Especially if you have any back pain, you may want to talk to your primary care provider before doing more plank hip twists.
Also keep in mind that consistency is an important factor for any workout plan. The more you love the exercise you do the easier it becomes to do it consistently. If doing plank hip twists is a workout you love, great. If not other exercises can also offer a lot of benefits.
If you do decide to implement more plank hip twists make sure you give your body enough nutrients, rest, and sleep to repair and grow your muscles.