5 Side Plank Variations to Try

5 Side Plank Variations to Try (add these to your next ab workout!)There are endless exercise possibilities based in a plank or side plank position. Simply holding the static pose is great for the core (especially obliques), but you can also switch it up by adding movement, dumbbells, ankle weights and sliders. Try incorporating some of these fun side plank variations into your next workout!

5 Side Plank Variations to Try

Scroll down below for full exercises descriptions. 5 Side Plank Variations to Try (add these to your next ab workout!)

Toe Tap Side Planks

Start in a side plank position with top arm reaching straight up towards the ceiling and top leg lifted up at a high, straight 45-degree angle. This is your starting position. From here, bend the top knee, pointing your toes as you bring them down in front of your bottom base leg and lightly tap them to the floor. Don’t shift your bodyweight into the foot—it’s just a light tap. Straighten the knee, returning to your starting position. Bend the knee once more, pointing the toes and bringing them behind your body this time; again, lightly tapping them to the floor before extending the leg back up to your starting position.

Breaststroke Kick Side Planks

Think of your kick while swimming the breaststroke. I’m wearing ankle weights while doing these for an added challenge, but you can also perform them without the added resistance. Start in a side plank position with supporting hand stacked underneath your shoulder. Hover your top leg (the goal is to not rest it on the ground the entire duration of the exercise). This is your starting position. Crunch the top knee in towards your chest. Next, kick that top foot straight out in front of you (as if you were trying to kick yourself in the face). From here, sweep the leg straight back into the starting position. That’s one rep: bend, kick, sweep. Try not to let your hips sag while doing these; engage the bottom oblique to keep hips lifted.

Thread-the-Needle Pikes

This exercise is another megaformer favorite that I’ve adapted to be done off the machine. Start in a forearm plank position with your feet on a dishtowel (or sliders). You’ll want your top foot staggered in front of your bottom foot. Your shoulders should be stacked over the bottom elbow and your top arm is reaching up towards the ceiling. This is your starting position. From here, you’re going to “thread the needle” by wrapping your top arm around your torso, weaving in between your body and floor (like giving yourself a one-arm hug). As you do this, twist your chest towards the ground and pike your hips up towards the ceiling, keeping your legs straight and sliding the feet in. Slowly return to your starting position by sliding the feet back out and untwisting your torso, reaching your top hand back up towards the ceiling. 5 Side Plank Variations to Try (add these to your next ab workout!)

Star Crunch Side Planks with (Optional) Hand Weight

Start in a side plank position, bottom hand stacked underneath your shoulder, top arm stretched up towards the ceiling holding a weight (optional). I also like to wear ankle weights during these for an added challenge, but these are optional as well. Hover your top leg a couple feet up from the bottom supporting foot. The goal is to never rest this top foot down on the floor during the exercise. From this starting position, you’re going to crunch your top limbs, bending the top knee and top elbow and pulling them towards each other while keeping your hips lifted in a strong side plank. Extend the top leg and arm back out to starting position.

Sliding Breakdance Side Planks

For this side plank variation, your top leg is the base leg. Start with your bottom hand stacked underneath your shoulder and the bottom foot on a dishtowel or slider. That bottom foot will just lightly slide across the floor; don’t shift your bodyweight into it (top foot and bottom hand support your bodyweight). Top hand is lighting behind your head, elbow bent. Start with the bottom foot slid forward in front of your body. From here, slide the bottom foot back behind your body and as you do, crunch your top elbow down towards the floor, twisting through the waist so that your chest faces the floor. As you open back up and untwist from the torso, slide the foot forward again.

5 Side Plank Variations to Try (add these to your next ab workout!)

WEARING | tank VS Sport (old but similar here) // sports bra c/o Puma (old but similar here) // leggings c/o Eddie Bauer

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What’s your favorite way to side plank? Have you tried any of these five variations?

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P.S. Sorry it’s been so quiet on the blog this week! Sometimes life gets in the way of … everything. It’s been one of those weeks! 
deal-classpassBefore I end this post, I just wanted to let you guys know that ClassPass is running another of their referral deals. If you sign up using THIS LINK before March 24th, you’ll get $25 off your first month. I love CP and it’s expanded to a ton of cities throughout the US (and Canada!). Last time they did one of these refer-a-friend deals, several of you were bummed to miss the sign-up deadline, so just thought I’d pass along the news again this time around! :)

 

A Makeshift Megaformer Ab Workout You Can Do at Home

A Makeshift Megaformer Ab Workout You Can Do at Home -- all you need is a dish towel (or sliders). Under 15 minutes long and your abs will be on fire!My brain is not working today. Ever have those moments when you just can’t for the life of you form coherent sentences? I think I told my Btone classes to lift the “toes of their heels” like eight times this morning. Because heels have toes. I also gave this very helpful cue: “push up through your heel by pushing up through your heel.” Try again, Nicole. Let’s hope I can type better than I can talk today…

Speaking of megaformer workouts, I wanted to share a makeshift one I did while traveling. When I was in Australia, we were eating healthily and being constantly active during the day (walking around, snorkeling, swimming, hiking, etc.)—so active that I didn’t worry much about fitting in workouts. My boyfriend and I did, however, go on several scenic runs (one of my favorite ways to explore a new area) and I snuck in a few quick at-home workouts on mornings I woke up earlier than everyone else.

Our hotel in Port Douglas had hardwood floors, so I grabbed a towel to recreate the sliding motion of a megaformer for a quick ab workout. It’s no Btone class, but it did the trick!

A Makeshift Megaformer Ab Workout You Can Do at Home

Equipment I Used:

  • Dish towel (plus an extra one for knee padding) – if you have sliders at your gym or in your home gym, those are great. Also, sliders used for moving furniture = awesome. If you have carpets, try DVD cases or an overturned Frisbee. Get creative!

Do each exercise for 1 minute before moving right into the next. If you’re a beginner, you might want to start by doing each exercise for 30-45 second instead Try not to rest in between exercises—transitions should be quick. You can set an interval timer for 14 rounds of 60 sec work and 0 sec rest so that your timer beeps at you every minute, signaling the next exercise. You could also just watch the clock. Full descriptions below the pics!

If these exercise names sound like Jibberish, welcome to Lagree Fitness. :) I realize that this might be a confusing routine for those who haven’t taken a megaformer class, and admittedly had those familiar with the machine in mind when making it.

I’ve placed an asterisks (*) next to exercises that can be modified by doing them from your knees. Fourteen minutes is a long time to go without resting, so don’t hesitate to modify! Always better to modify than to stop moving altogether. I finished a couple of the moves with crossbody holds. Count to 10 in your head and then move on to the next exercise—it’s fine if the hold makes the next exercise a little less than a minute.

A Makeshift Megaformer Ab Workout You Can Do at Home -- all you need is a dish towel (or sliders). Under 15 minutes long and your abs will be on fire!

Feet on a towel, hands on the floor (or exercise mat) …

  • High Plank*
  • Plank to Pike | Keeping your legs straight, pike your hips up into the air, bringing your body into an upside down “v” shape. Try to keep your heels lifted as you do this, sliding on the balls of your feet. Once you hit your peak (if you have tight hamstrings, you may not be able to get your hips up very high—that’s ok!), slowly lower back down into plank position. If your wrists bother you, you can do this from your forearms (I find this to be more challenging than from my hands).
  • Bear—end with crossbody holds | Keeping your hips level with your shoulders, back flat, slide your feet forward, bending your knees in towards your elbows. Slide feet back out, straightening your legs into plank position. Two most common errors while doing this are lifting the booty up as your feet slide in and letting the low back arch down towards the floor. Pull your abs in tight the whole time, maintaining a flat back. For the holds at the end, slide your feet out to plank and from that position, bring your left knee across your body to your right elbow—really pull it forward, trying to make contact. Hold it there for about 10 seconds then switch sides: right knee to left elbow.
  • Forearm Plank*

I’m about to make things confusing with the next two moves (I’m sorry!). I did the workout as pictured: knees on mat, hands sliding out on towels. Then I realized that if I just padded my knees with an extra towel, it was way easier to keep my hands on the mat with knees sliding. I’m going to describe what’s pictured for simplicity’s sake, but you may want to try the other way (especially if your floors are a little sticky). It’s the same thing as what’s pictured/described; you just slide your body away, rather than sliding your hands away. 

  • Wheelbarrow | Start with your hands on the towel shoulder-width apart and knees on an exercise mat. Lower your hips so that from your knees to top of head is one straight diagonal line (as if you were about to do a push up from your knees). Keep your abs held in tight and arms straight (but not locked) as you hinge from the shoulders, sliding your hands out in front of you. When you reach your farthest extension, press into the hands, sliding them back in underneath your shoulders to the starting position. It’s almost like an ab roller. If you feel this straining your low back, stack your hips over the knees and your wheel from that tabletop position.
  • Cobra | Start with your hands on the towel shoulder-width apart and knees on an exercise mat. Lower your hips so that from your knees to top of head is one straight diagonal line (as if you were about to do a push up from your knees). From here, you’re going to slide your hands out in front of you. As you do, bend your elbows so that you slowly lower onto your forearms into a sort of kneeling plank. Next, reverse the motion, pressing up into your hands to slide the towel back in as you rise up to straight arms and your starting position. It’s tough! To make it easier, lower onto one forearm at a time and press up onto one hand at a time (just make sure to alternate you leading hand each time). As you do these, resist the urge to turn it into a cobra stretch (bending the spine and lifting your chest). Keep the abs in tight the whole time, maintaining that straight diagonal with your torso. If you feel any strain in your low back, stack your hips over your knees (rather than having them lowered) and do it from this tabletop position.
  • Twisted Pike (right foot in front of left) | In a plank position, feet on a towel, hands stacked under shoulders on an exercise mat, cross your right foot in front of the left and drop your heels so that you’re heel-to-toe with toes pointing towards the left. You’ll twist through the waist, slightly lowering your right hip to do so. This is your starting position. Maintaining this leg position and keeping your knees straight, pike your hips slowly up into the air. When you’ve reached your peak, slowly lower back down to that twisted plank starting position. You are targeting your right oblique with these.
  • Snake (right foot in front of left)—end with crossbody hold | In a plank position, feet on a towel, hands stacked under shoulders on an exercise mat, cross your right foot in front of the left and drop your heels so that you’re heel-to-toe with toes pointing towards the left. You’ll twist through the waist, slightly lowering your right hip to do so. This is your starting position. From here, start bending your knees in towards your left elbow, sliding your feet forward. When you’re in as far as you can go, slide the feet back out, straightening your knees back into your starting position. As you do these, try to keep your hips level with your shoulders (don’t sit your bum onto your heels as you slide the feet in; engage your right sidebody to keep them lifted). For the crossbody hold at the end, from that twisted plank position, you’ll pull your right knee across your body towards your left elbow (try to make contact!). Hold it there for about 10 seconds.
  • Side Forearm Plank (right forearm on the floor)*
  • Forearm Plank Hinges* | Maintaining a forearm plank position, just rock your shoulders back and then forward slowly. This isn’t a huge motion, you’ll slide back and forward about 3-6” each direction. Pay attention to your core as you do this: is your low back sagging down towards the ground? Is your butt piking up into the air? Don’t let either happen! Pull the abs in tight with a micro upper tilt to the pelvis to keep your body straight.
  • Side Forearm Plank (left forearm on the floor)*
  • Twisted Pike (left foot in front of right)
  • Snake (left foot in front of right)—end with crossbody hold
  • Push Ups* | Keep these slow—they’re not explosive (think Vinyasa yoga flow speed).

When you finish, relish a long Child’s Pose. Then take it to a gentle Up Dog (or cobra) to stretch out that core.

Child's Pose to Up Dog

This workout would be a fun one to turn into a real-time video, right?? I played around with making videos and GIFs on Monday and worked some of the newbie kinks out. Really excited to start putting a few together! Don’t worry—for those of you who like the pictorials, they won’t go anywhere.

Lagree Fitness lovers—try this ab workout next time you have to go without a megaformer for an extended period of time! (What an embarrassing #firstworldproblem, huh?). Count how many times you need to take a break during the 14 minutes (modifying doesn’t count as a break—stopping does). Next time you do the workout, try to reduce the number of breaks you take. I took three breaks, two during left side Twisted Pike and one during left side Snake (I was dying). I did about 20 seconds of the forearm plank hinges modified from my knees, and the last 30 seconds of push ups also modified on my knees. A Makeshift Megaformer Ab Workout You Can Do at Home -- all you need is a dish towel (or sliders). Under 15 minutes long and your abs will be on fire!

WEARING | Sevan Sports Bra and Salar Capri Foldover Capri from Fabletics // Tank from LF Stores (similar) // Nike Free +3 Sneakers (similar)

SHOP A SIMILAR LOOK

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Deck of Cards Ab Workout

Deck of Cards Ab Workout -- all you need is a towel!Towel + hardwood floor = ghetto Megaformer?? In an attempt to mimic my beloved machine while visiting my parents this holiday, I put together this ab workout using a towel to recreate a couple of my favorite Lagree Fitness exercises.

Deck of Cards Ab Workout

Equipment I Used:

  • Exercise mat
  • Dish towel (if you have carpeted floors, use DVD cases or an overturned Frisbee; if you’re at a gym, use sliders)
  • Deck of cards (you can also use a smartphone app like RipDeck)

In a deck of cards workout, each suit corresponds to an exercise and the number on the card tells you how many reps to complete. Face cards = 10. Aces = 11. Flip the cards over one at a time, completing the given rep-exercise combo, flipping over the next, and continuing until you’ve gone through the entire deck.

Deck of Cards Ab Workout -- all you need is a towel!

HEARTS = Bear – Pike Sliding Plank Combo

Start in a plank position with your feet on a towel. Keeping your hips level with your shoulders, back flat, slide your feet forward, bending your knees in towards your elbows. Slide feet back out, straightening your legs into plank position. Now, keeping your legs straight, pike your hips up into the air, bringing your body into an upside down “v” shape. Try to keep your heels lifted as you do this, sliding on the balls of your feet. Once you hit your peak (if you have tight hamstrings, you may not be able to get your hips up very high—that’s ok!), slowly lower back down into plank position. That combo (1 bear with bent knees + 1 pike with straight legs) = 1 rep.

SPADES = Side Plank Hip + Leg Lifts

Start in a side plank position, right hand stacked under right shoulder. From here, dip your hips down towards the ground and then squeeze your right sidebody to lift them back up to starting position. Next, lift your top, left leg straight up and then back down to starting position. That’s one rep. When you do the leg lift, make sure you’re not letting your hips sag downward—hold ‘em up! Repeat on both sides (so if you draw a 7 of spades, do 7 reps on the right and 7 reps on the left). 

DIAMONDS = Oblique Towel Sliders

Start in a plank position with feet on a towel (or other sliding object). From here, slide both feet up towards the outside of your right hand. Slide back to center and starting plank position, and then repeat in the opposite direction. Once you’ve gone to each side, that’s one rep. As you do these, avoid letting your hips drop—you don’t want to sit on your heels as you slide your feet up to the side. Engage your obliques to keep hips relatively level with shoulder-height the whole time.

CLUBS = V-Up to Full-Body Crunch Combo

Start on your back with arms stretched overhead and legs hovering just slightly above the ground. Pull your abs in tight and press your low back to the ground. You’ll then crunch up, bringing your hands towards your toes (keeping legs and arms straight). When done correctly, your body will make a “v” shape as you crunch; this means you’re not just reaching your arms up, your chest needs to move towards your knees. Lower back down to starting position. Next, go into your full body crunch, bending your knees in as you crunch your chest up to meet them, wrapping your arms around your knees. Extend and lower back down to starting position. That sequence is one rep. If possible, your feet should never touch the ground between moves and reps.

workout outfit-- fabletics, lululemon, cory vines

WEARING | top & leggings: Fabletics // leg warmers: Lululemon // bra: c/o Cory Vines

As an added bonus to this workout, your floors will be beautifully polished by the end… :)

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