Modifying exercises can sometimes make them more effective. Discover what side plank pulses are and what benefits they offer.
Side plank pulses are a side plank variation where you move your hips up and down a small amount.
This works the standard oblique and outer thigh muscles but in a bigger range of motion than the regular side plank.
Since this is good for muscle growth and strength progress, you can say side plank pulses are slightly more effective.
At the same time, combining side plank hip dips and side plank hip lifts, basically side plank pulses with an even larger range of motion, tends to be even better.
One thing to note is that some people will find the isometric (static) muscle engagement more comfortable on their spine and hips.
In a case like that, these more dynamic variations may not be a good idea.
How to do a side plank pulse
If you notice side plank pulses are uncomfortable on your elbows, you can put something soft like a yoga mat below them.
That aside, take the following steps to do the exercise:
- Sit sideways on the ground and lean on the forearm closest to the ground. Keep your upper arm about vertical.
- Step away from your upper body with your feet until you are in a straight line from your heels to your shoulders.
- Lift your hips up a small amount.
- Lower your hips a small amount.
- Alternate between steps 3 and 4 for a certain number of repetitions or amount of time.
- Repeat the same number of repetitions or amount of time while leaning on your other arm.
Resistance training beginners may find full side plank pulses too hard.
In that case, side plank progressions like regular side planks and knee side planks could be better choices for now.
Side plank pulses muscles worked
The main muscles worked in side plank pulses are your obliques and hip abductors (outer thigh muscles).
Additionally, you work your abs, erector spinae, deltoids, trapezius, and chest muscles to some extent to keep your body in a straight line.
If you are familiar with the muscles worked in regular side planks, you will notice that these are the same ones. The main difference is that side plank pulses work these muscles in a more dynamic way.
This bigger range of motion is generally more effective for goals like growing and strengthening muscles. In turn, you can say that side plank pulses are a bit more effective than the regular version.
You do want to keep in mind that you can move your hips even farther up and down. This will generally be even better in terms of results.
Additionally, some people will still need to do one of the weighted side plank versions of these dynamic movements to reach their training goals.
Side plank pulses benefits
Because there are not that many differences the positive effects of side plank pulses will be very similar to the benefits of regular side planks. Some of these are:
- Stronger muscles: If you do them with enough resistance and repetitions, side plank pulses can help you grow and strengthen your obliques and outer thighs.
- No equipment or location required: Many people will be able to get a good workout with bodyweight side plank pulses. In turn, you don’t need to invest in equipment or move to a different location.
- Helps you avoid muscle asymmetries: Working your muscles on one side at a time with side plank pulses can help you keep your strength balanced. You do want to time or count your side plank pulses to get this benefit.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Core strengthening movements like side plank pulses can reduce or prevent back pain (1, 2).
- Balance and coordination: The extra pulses will require just a bit more balance and coordination than the regular side plank. This could benefit your balance and coordination skills slightly.
While side plank pulses are not the only exercise that offers these benefits, they are a good option. Especially if you move your hips even farther.
Side plank pulse alternatives
Side plank pulses can be good but you may prefer to work the same muscles in different ways or from different positions.
In that case, you could prefer some of these side plank pulse alternatives:
- Side plank hip dips
- Lying side leg raises
- Side bends
- Weighted standing leg abductions
- Hanging sideways knee raises
- Regular side planks
Details like what muscles you want to work and what exercise equipment you have will influence what side plank pulse alternatives are good choices for you.
Are side plank pulses a good exercise?
Side plank pulses can be a good exercise for working your obliques and hip abductors (outer thigh muscles).
By making the movement more dynamic, side plank pulses will be slightly more effective than the static regular version.
Keep in mind that you do still need to implement the resistance training fundamentals. That means using enough weight and repetitions.
Additionally, moving your hips through an even larger range of motion tends to be more effective.
Lastly, the static aspect of side planks can also be a good thing.
If you find side plank pulses and other dynamic movements too uncomfortable, it may be smarter to stick to the standard version.