You can make side planks more dynamic by adding hip lifts. Find out precisely how to do this, what muscles it works, and whether it is good.
Side plank hip lifts are a side plank variation where you simply raise your hips to some extent and then lower them again.
This gives your obliques and outer thigh muscles a more active workout which is a good thing. More dynamic movements tend to be more effective than static ones for getting training results.
In simpler words, side plank hip lifts can be helpful for growing and strengthening your obliques and outer thigh muscles.
If you like the dynamic aspect but want something slightly more challenging, you can also consider side plank hip dips where you lower your hips instead of raising them.
In both variations, more advanced individuals can add weights to see more and faster results.
How to do a side plank hip lift
Something like a yoga mat can make the exercise more comfortable for your elbows.
That aside, take the following steps to do a side plank hip lift:
- Sit sideways on the ground and lean on the lowest forearm. Keep the upper arm of this side about vertical throughout the rest of the exercise.
- Step away from your upper arms with your feet until your body is in more or less a straight line from your heels to your shoulders.
- Raise your hips as far as comfortable in a controlled motion.
- Slowly raise your hips back to the position of step 2.
- Complete your set and do the same number of repetitions and the same duration on the other side.
For side plank hip lifts you preferably want a yoga mat or other soft surface to make the exercise more comfortable for your elbows. To do a side plank hip lift take the following steps:
The main challenge of side plank hip lifts is keeping your workouts on each side about the same.
Ideally, you would do the same number of up-down repetitions and hold the side plank for the same duration to keep your muscle strength balanced.
If you find full side plank hip lifts currently too challenging you can start with hip lift variations of side plank progressions like the modified side plank.
Side plank hip lifts muscles worked
The main muscles worked in side plank hip lifts are your obliques and hip abductors (outer thigh muscles).
Besides that, your abs, erector spinae (lower back), deltoids (shoulders), trapezius (upper back), and chest muscles have to work to some extent to keep your body in the side plank position.
Side plank hip lifts mainly work your oblique and outer thigh muscles. Your ab, shoulder, back, and chest muscles may have to work to a certain extent to keep your body balanced and in a straight line.
From a high-level view, side plank hip lifts work the same muscles as the regular side plank.
However, making the exercise more dynamic is generally a good thing for training results.
In simpler words, side plank hip lifts tend to be slightly more effective than the regular version.
It is still worth mentioning that some people will need to make side plank hip lifts harder to see optimal training results.
The main way to do this is by holding some form of weight on your hips. This can range from an actual dumbbell to household objects like a heavy backpack.
Side plank hip lifts benefits
While they are slightly more effective, the positive effects of side plank hip lifts will still be very similar to the benefits of regular side planks. Only to a slightly larger extent.
Some of these benefits are:
- Stronger muscles: Since side plank hip lifts are a resistance training exercise doing them enough times with enough pressure can help you grow and strengthen muscles.
- No equipment or location required: Many people will be able to see nice results from bodyweight plank hip lifts. This is a benefit since you don’t have to spend money on equipment or go to the gym to work out.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Side plank hip lifts can strengthen your obliques which in turn can reduce or prevent back pain (1, 2). You do want to be careful about doing side plank hip lifts if you already have issues in this area.
- Balance and coordination: The extra hip lifts make the side planks just a bit more challenging in terms of balance and coordination. This can help you improve your skills in these areas.
- Helps you avoid muscle asymmetries: Unilateral (working one side at a time) exercises like side plank hip lifts can help you keep your muscle strength balanced. Make sure you actually give each side the same workout to get this benefit.
- Makes the exercise more dynamic: Lifting your hips works the side plank muscles in more dynamic ways. This tends to be good for getting training results.
Side plank hip lifts are not always the number one option but they can be helpful for getting these benefits.
Side plank hip lift alternatives
Even if you like the benefits of side plank hip lifts you could prefer keeping your oblique and outer thigh training separate.
Additionally, some exercises can be more effective if they make it easy to go through a bigger range of motion.
Some examples of side plank hip lift alternatives include:
- Side bends
- Weighted leg abductions
- Hanging sideways knee raises
- Lying side leg raises
- Side planks
What side plank hip lift alternative you prefer will depend on details like what muscles you want to focus on.
Are side plank hip lifts a good exercise?
Side plank hip lifts can be a good exercise for working your outer thigh muscles and obliques.
By making the exercise more dynamic, you increase the effectiveness of the side plank exercise.
At the same time, keep in mind that you still need to work your muscles with enough resistance and repetitions. In the case of side plank hip lifts that means doing them enough times and potentially adding weights.
Besides that, it is worth mentioning that there are also movements that work your outer thigh and oblique muscles in bigger range of motions than side plank hip lifts.
These can offer you more training results in a shorter amount of time.