Doing exercises with more resistance can be great. Find out 5 ways to do weighted side planks, what their benefits are, and when you should do them.
Weighted side planks are a side plank variation where you apply the pressure of weights like dumbbells, sandbags, ankle weights, etc. to your hips.
By doing this, you can see more training results and get them more quickly.
More specifically, this can mean getting more muscle growth, strength increases, or endurance improvements in the areas weighted side planks mainly work.
In turn, this could also lead to benefits like a lower injury risk (outside of the weighted side plank sessions) and improvements in daily activities and athletic performance.
5 ways to do weighted side planks
Even if you already know about the benefits of weighted side planks you may be unsure about exactly how to do them.
While the movement itself is similar to the regular side plank, the weights you choose can offer different advantages and disadvantages.
Keep in mind that you want to apply extra pressure on your hips to work the main muscles involved harder.
1. Dumbbell side planks
Dumbbells are the handles with a weight on each side.
These are not necessarily the best way to do weighted side planks but they are a popular choice because dumbbells are simply so common.
One of the benefits of dumbbells in side planks is that they are easy to hold in place due to the handle and non-round shape.
On the flip side, dumbbell side planks are not the most comfortable and this type of weight has relatively big weight jumps.
2. Workout sandbag side planks
There are workout sandbags that are as their name implies sandbags but they often have a variety of handles so that you can use them to make many exercises more challenging.
These are great choices for side planks for a variety of reasons.
Some of these include that the sandbags are comfortable, you can easily adjust them in small weight increments, you can use them for many other workouts, and they are relatively budget-friendly.
At the same time, workout sandbag side planks will be more of an at-home choice. In the gym, you will likely have to go for one of the other options on this list.
3. Ankle weight side planks
Ankle weights are weights you can strap on your ankles. For a weighted side plank, you will need ankle weights that are big enough to strap around your thighs.
These can be helpful in the sense that you don’t have to hold anything. You can still do one of the more dynamic side plank variations relatively easily.
The main thing to keep in mind is that you want adjustable ankle weights. This way you can still increase the weight you use as you get stronger.
4. Weighted vest side planks
To do this next weighted side plank you need a weighted vest that is either easy to wear close to your hips or easy to wear around/between your thighs.
Similar to ankle weights, a benefit of weighted vest side planks is that you can still move your upper arm freely.
Additionally, you can easily use weighted vests for a variety of other exercises and workouts.
On the flip side, weighted vest side planks are typically less convenient to set up.
5. Kettlebell side planks
Kettlebells are basically metal balls with a handle.
These can be good for weighted side planks in the sense that the bigger surface could feel more comfortable on your thighs.
At the same time, you can still hold the handle to keep the kettlebell in place.
One potential downside of kettlebell side planks is that this piece of fitness equipment is often not the first choice for a home gym.
Additionally, the weight jumps may be bigger than you prefer.
How much weight should you use in weighted side planks?
After you have made your choice in terms of what equipment you want to use for weighted side planks, you can think about how much resistance would be good for your training goals.
Side planks are an isometric (static) exercise. This means the recommended side plank sets and reps will be somewhat unusual compared to many other resistance training exercises.
One review of studies suggests you want to do side planks for 3 to 30 seconds per set and more than 80 to 150 seconds per workout at 70-75% of maximum voluntary contraction to grow the muscles involved (1).
Unfortunately, maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) is a measurement you do with specialized devices.
While it is likely not the perfect conversion, you can do side planks with weights that make the durations above very challenging.
Next, to improve oblique and outer thigh muscle strength (how much force you can generate), you would do weighted side planks of 1 to 5 seconds per set and more than 30 to 90 seconds per workout.
Benefits of weighted side planks
The main benefits of weighted side planks are that they can help more experienced lifters grow and strengthen their muscles more and faster.
In turn, this also leads to getting certain benefits of regular side planks to larger extents. Some examples include:
- More and faster muscle-related results: Growing and strengthening muscles happens when you challenge these enough. By adding weights to side planks, this becomes easier to do in shorter amounts of time.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Having stronger obliques can reduce or prevent back pain (1, 2). Since weighted side planks offer more results in this area, they can also help more with this benefit.
- Daily activities could become easier: Your obliques and outer thighs are at work in daily activities like standing up, walking around, and climbing stairs. Regularly doing weighted side planks could make these activities easier.
- Could improve athletic performance: Being able to train your obliques and outer thighs more and faster make it so weighted side planks could improve your performance in certain movements.
This is not the longest list but adding weights to side planks and gradually increasing these as you get stronger can make a really big difference in results over time.