You don’t have to stick to a regular side plank to get its benefits. Discover how to do start side planks and the muscles worked.
Star side planks are a side plank variation where you do a straight arm side plank, hold the other arm vertically in the air, and raise your upper leg as far as comfortable.
By doing this, star side planks are a lot more challenging for the outer thigh muscles of your lower leg, to some extent the outer thigh muscles of your upper leg, your balance, and your coordination.
Additionally, your tricep, chest, and back muscles will have to work a little harder due to the straight arm side plank position.
Besides that star side planks still work your obliques a nice amount similar to regular side planks.
That being said, it is worth noting that star side planks are still an isometric (static) exercise. This tends to be less effective than more dynamic exercises for the same muscles.
On top of that, the high plank position and upper leg raise do not add that many benefits while still making star side planks harder.
In simpler words, while it can still offer nice benefits, most people want to choose one of the star side plank alternatives instead.
How to do a star side plank
Take the following steps to do a star side plank:
- Sit sideways on the ground with the hand of your lowest arm leaning on the ground. Keep your arm slightly less than stretched throughout the exercise.
- Walk away from your upper body with your feet until your lower arm is about vertical and your body is in a straight line from your heels to your shoulders.
- Raise your highest arm until it is about vertical too. Additionally, raise your upper leg as far as comfortable without moving your hips.
- Hold this position for a certain amount of time.
- Repeat a star side plank of the same duration on your other side.
You want to pay attention to keeping your lower arm slightly less than stretched to avoid discomfort in star side planks.
Additionally, don’t forget to work each side to avoid muscle imbalances.
If you find the full version too hard in terms of balance you can also do a low-plank variation where you lean on your forearm during the star side plank.
Star side planks muscles worked
The main muscles worked in star side planks are the outer thigh muscles of your lower leg and your obliques. Additionally, the outer thigh muscles of your upper leg will have to work a nice amount too.
Besides that, a variety of muscles have to work to some extent to keep your body in the star side plank position.
Some of these include your triceps, chest, trapezius (upper back), deltoids (shoulders), abs, and erector spinae.
Compared to regular side planks, the star version will mostly work your upper outer thigh, shoulder, and chest muscles harder.
As long as the balance requirements don’t interfere with your resistance workout, this can be a good thing.
At the same time, you need to know that star side planks still work your muscles in a static aka isometric way. Working your muscles in a dynamic way tends to be more effective.
Additionally, you want to keep the recommended plank sets and reps in mind if you actually want to see results.
This could mean making star side planks harder with equipment options like a weighted vest and/or ankle weights and/or something like a dumbbell in your upper hand.
Star side planks benefits
The things above still apply but doing star side planks can still offer positive effects.
These will be very similar to the regular side plank benefits but with more focus on certain areas. Some examples include:
- Stronger muscles: Doing star side planks for long enough and with enough resistance can make certain muscles stronger. Potentially even to a larger extent than regular side planks.
- Balance and coordination: The extra balance and coordination requirements of star side planks can be a downside but they can also benefit your skills in these areas.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Star side planks put more focus on your outer thigh muscles but can still strengthen your obliques. This can help you reduce or prevent back pain (1, 2).
- No equipment or location required: Sometimes equipment can help but star side planks can be challenging with your body weight alone. This could help you avoid spending money on equipment or time on going to the gym.
You don’t have to stick to star side planks to get these benefits but this exercise can help to nice extents.
Star side plank alternatives
You may wonder what star side plank alternatives there are. These can focus on different muscles or work them in different ways.
- Weighted hip abductions
- Side bends
- Lying side leg raises
- Hanging sideways knee raises
- Side plank leg lifts
- Other side plank variations
Details like what exercises you prefer, what muscles you want to work, and what movements your body is comfortable with will influence what star side plank alternatives are right for you.
Are star side planks a good exercise?
Star side planks are a good exercise in the sense that they can work your outer thigh muscles and obliques to nice extents while also training your balance and coordination.
At the same time, it is important to note that there will be more effective exercises for each of these separate purposes.
For example, to really grow and strengthen your muscles, more dynamic resistance training exercises are typically more effective than star side planks.
Additionally, even if you want to work your muscles in an isometric way for the extra comfort, the balance challenge in star side planks may be suboptimal compared to the regular side plank.
So in terms of benefits per minute, you will likely prefer one of the star side plank alternatives.
That being said, this exercise can still offer nice benefits.
If you like doing star side planks you could still consider them. Potentially with the extra pressure from a weighted vest or ankle weights to work your muscles harder.