Side Plank Hip Strengthening Exercise on Elbows or Hands

Banish weak hips with this simple exercise

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You may be familiar with the side plank as an exercise for strengthening your core, but did you know that it also strengthens the hips in the process? Yes, it does. Which is a good reason to add it to your exercise routine.

Side Planks and Hips

Strengthening the hips may help reduce many common lower-leg pain and knee injuries, especially in runners. Some researchers believe that weakness in the muscles that support the hips may contribute to many overuse injuries in runners. Currently, a large and growing body of research suggests that hip muscle weakness changes lower leg mechanics and increases forces in the leg and foot while running.


Watch Now: Strengthen Your Hips with Side Planks

The takeaway is that if the hip abductors – the muscles that move the lower leg sideways away from the body, and the hip flexors – the muscles that move the lower leg in toward the body – are weak, the knee doesn't track as well as it should.

If the knee rolls inward while running, there is an increase in the risk of patellofemoral pain syndrome, iliotibial band syndrome, and other running overuse injuries.

Bottom line: Weak hips may be one of the causes of knee pain and lower leg injuries and the side plank exercise is one simple and effective to increase hip strength and stability. 

How to Do the Side Plank Exercise

There are two ways that you can do a side plank, on your elbows or on your hands.

Side Plank on Elbows

  1. Lay on your right side on the floor, resting your head on your right arm which is extended straight upward. Your feet should be flexed and stacked one on top of the other. Legs should be straight and also stacked. Hips facing forward. 
  2. Slide your right hand toward your body until your elbow on the floor just under your right shoulder.
  3. Using your elbow and feet as balance points, lift your hips up toward the ceiling. Keep your body stiff from head to toe and hips and body should remain facing forward.
  4. Hold this position for a count of 10 and lower your hip to the floor.
  5. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat three times. Switch sides and repeat the exercise on the other hip.

Side Plank on Hands

  1. Get into a push-up position, where your hands are directly under the shoulders and your arms are extended. Feet should be directly behind you and together, legs straight. Your body should make a straight line from heels to knees to hips to head.
  2. Gently raise your right arm and rotate your body so your right hand can reach toward the ceiling. Balance your body between your left hand and the side of your left foot. Maintain your body's straight line: heels to knees to hips to head.
  3. Hold this position for a count of 10 and then reverse the motion to return your right hand to the floor.
  4. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat three times. Switch sides and repeat the exercise on the other hip.

You can increase the effect of these exercise by lifting the top leg up toward the ceiling. Repeat the leg lift 10 times slowly and return to the start position.

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Article Sources
  • R. Ferber, et al. Suspected Mechanisms in the Cause of Overuse Running Injuries: A Clinical Review. Sports Health, May 2009.