The side plank rotation is a variation of the basic side plank and is one of the easiest ways to activate your deep abdominal muscles (obliques). It can help you enhance your lateral core strength and stability, your shoulder power and balance, and even improve spinal mobility!

One of the first things that you’ll notice once you start including this rotation exercise into your workout routine is a slimmer and more defined waistline. So, to ensure that you’re optimizing all its benefits (improved balance, increased endurance, and boosted core strength), execute side plank rotations in proper form by following this ultimate guide! 

This Ultimate Guide Will Cover:

  • How to do Side Plank with Rotation
  • Benefits of Doing Side Plank Rotation
  • Common Side Plank Rotation Mistakes To Avoid
  • Side Plank Rotation Muscles Worked
  • Side Plank Rotation vs Side Plank Dips
  • Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs
  • Side Plank Rotation Variations
  • Side Plank Rotation Alternatives
  • FAQs About Side Plank Rotation 

How To Do Side Plank With Rotation

What You’ll Need:

  • Exercise Mat – Since the side plank rotation is a bodyweight movement, you don’t need anything. However, using a fitness mat can help you perform this workout comfortably if you don’t have other soft surface areas.

Alternative Equipment: 

  • Weighted Vest – This will give your upper body more resistance and help you engage your obliques deeper.
  • Ankle Weights – Similar to a weighted vest, this will make the exercise more challenging. Position this accessory near your hips.
  • Weights (dumbbell, kettlebell, weight plates) – Use a weight that’s not too heavy and will let you do the exercise in proper form.

Step 1: Go to a Side Plank Position

Do a side plank position by lying on your right side on the ground with your left foot sitting on your right foot, and your left arm lifted straight above you so it’s perpendicular to the ground. Position your body in a straight line.

Step 2: Lift Your Body Off the Floor

To raise your body, put your right forearm flat on the floor, so it’s perpendicular to your torso. Raise your torso until your right upper arm is straight underneath. You need your elbow bent at 90 degrees and your forearm flat on the ground.

Step 3: Reach Under and Behind

While keeping the same position, reach underneath and behind your torso with your right hand, keeping your abs engaged. Perform the necessary reps before repeating on the left side.

Ensure that you’re twisting as far as you can with the goal that your chest becomes parallel to the ground. Don’t let your hips sag and squeeze your abs and glutes throughout the movement for stability. 

In addition, while the side plank rotation is safe for almost everyone, it’s better to avoid it if you’re experiencing arm, shoulder, or core pain. If you feel any discomfort while doing this workout, stop immediately.

5 Side Plank Rotation Benefits

1. Strengthens Three Muscle Groups In One Go

To keep you stable while performing side plank rotations, you need to engage your hips, shoulder, and side of your core muscles. Because of that, you activate these areas and build strength.

2. Enhance Balance

Since side plank rotations are a balancing exercise, you can develop your sense of coordination and balance.

3. Reduce the Risk of Back Injuries

If you have poor core endurance, you become more prone to injuries. When you include planks or side plank rotation in your workout, you increase your core endurance, reducing the risk for back-related injuries.

4. Avert Muscle Imbalances

When performing side plank rotations, you condition your core and effectively develop both sides of your body. Because of this, you create better posture, reduce lower back pain and increase spinal support.

5. Burn Fat and Calories

This workout is the fusion of cardiovascular and strength exercise, so it can regulate your weight and burn calories. Also, side plank rotation can lessen the risks of heart disease and lower blood pressure.

Common Side Plank Rotation Mistakes To Avoid

Allowing Your Hips to Drop

You want to create a straight line with your head, hips, and feet when performing side plank rotations. When your hips dip lower than the plane of your shoulder, you don’t get the glute and oblique strengthening advantages of this workout.

If you’re having trouble keeping your hips up throughout the movement as you rotate, prioritize getting stronger with the basic plank instead. When you’re able to hold a side plank for forty-five seconds, that’s the only time you add the rotation.

Pushing Your Glutes Back

Most of the challenges and benefits of this exercise come from keeping your body in a straight line not only from your head to your heels but also from the front to back. What does that mean? Many end up pushing their glutes back while holding a side plank.

When you push your behind, holding a side plank becomes bearable. To correct this, squeeze your glutes and abs to steady your hips, keeping them aligned with your shoulders. Maintain that full-body tension as you reach underneath your sides and back up again.

Lowering your Head

The key to executing a proper side plank rotation is keeping your spine aligned throughout the movement. When you lower your head, you lose some of the core activations and put unnecessary stress on your neck.

To prevent any potential neck pain or injuries, position your head in line with your spine. Ensure that only your gaze is rotating as you reach your arm underneath your body.

Side Plank Rotation Muscles Worked

The side plank rotation activates your upper and lower body, mainly:

  • Erector Spinae
  • Rectus Abdominus
  • Transverse Abdominus
  • Serratus Anterior
  • Lateral Deltoids
  • Trapezius 
  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Hip Flexors

Performing side plank rotations enables you to target all the muscles in your core and gain the benefits that come with a stronger core. 

In addition, this workout not only engages your core muscles but also activates your lower and upper body muscles, including your traps, rhomboids (major and minor), rotator cuff, anterior medial, delts, and biceps, triceps, quads, and calf muscles.

Side Plank Rotation vs Side Plank Dips

Both the side plank rotation and the plank dips are variations of the side plank. Because of that, they target similar muscle groups. The only noticeable difference between the two is their movement pattern. 

With side plank rotation, you’re on a side plank position with your tight core and arm moving from the top going underneath your body. On the other hand, you’re also in the same starting position with side plank dips, but instead of doing rotations, you’re dipping your hips.

Our Trainer’s Suggested Reps, Sets, and Programs:

For A More Defined Midsection (Abs, Core, Obliques)

Start with doing a standard side plank first. Once you get the hang of it, move to side plank rotations and perform ten to twelve reps or thirty-second sets on each side.

For Strength Training

For beginners who are building strength to progress with side plank rotations, start with one set of ten to fifteen reps per side and work your way up to three sets per side as you gain more power.

For General Fitness

If you want to improve your overall fitness with side plank rotations, perform three sets of eight reps on each side. Include it in your workout routine to keep your core constantly activated.

Side Plank Rotation Variations

Do you need an easier side plank variation, or do you want to increase the difficulty? Whatever you require, these exercises can help you target your deep abdominal muscles and achieve solid abs!

Side Plank Dips

Also known as the side plank hip raise, the side plank dips focus on your obliques and outer thighs. In this exercise, you go down on the ground on your left side with your elbow directly under your shoulder and feet stacked. Then, dip your hips down. 

Ensure that when you’re doing this workout, you don’t let your shoulders and hips sag and prevent your body from rotating. Also, keep your core tight to stabilize your upper body and breath out as you raise your top leg and tighten your thigh.

Rolling Side Plank

This variation is a core stability workout that can help increase your core strength and endurance while emphasizing your obliques. Also, it can help in developing strength in your lower back and shoulders.

The rolling side plank switches between the right and left arm with a regular short plank in between. Putting together all the three movements in one smooth flow engages all the muscles in your core and challenges your stability.

Elevated Side Plank

When doing the elevated side plank, the focus shifts to your shoulders. Depending on the strength proportion between your core and upper body, you might find this variation more challenging to perform. 

In this exercise, you start with a traditional side plank stance. Then, you’ll lift your hips off the mat, the palms of your hand directly under your shoulders. After, stretch your top arm towards the ceiling. Hold for fifteen to sixty seconds before moving to the other side.

Side Plank Rotation Alternatives

If you need an alternative for side plank rotations to fully engage and build a defined waistline, try these exercises!

Side Leg Raise

When performing the side leg raise, you push away your leg from your midline. It’s an effective and simple exercise to increase the strength in your outer thighs and hip abductors, including your gluteus minimus and medius. You can do this workout while lying down or standing using your body weight.


You may not be familiar with this leg and hip boosting workout, but it’s one that you should think of adding to your training plan. This exercise got its name thanks to how your legs and hips resemble a clamshell during the movement. 

It’s a great alternative that can strengthen your thighs and hips as well as stabilize your pelvic muscles and tone your glutes.

Standing Side Bends

This standing exercise may look easy to execute, but it can target your external and internal obliques and build up your side ab wall. It can sculpt your waist, beef up your core, and enhance your stability and posture.

You can benefit from side plank rotations when you do them in proper form and with the correct technique. Always remember to be safe and avoid making the common mistakes of this exercise to ensure that you’re getting all the burns in your abs and obliques. 

If you’re having problems with this rotating variation, don’t rush and start with a side plank. Soon enough, you’ll have the strength to do a side plank rotation properly!

Frequently Asked Questions

Although the side plank rotation targets your core, upper body, and lower body, it mainly activates the erector spinae, rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, serratus anterior, lateral deltoids, trapezius, gluteus maximus and hip flexors.

Side plank rotations are excellent for defining your midsection, improving your overall balance, preventing muscle imbalance, burning fats and calories, and reducing lower back pain and injuries.

Generally, Planks are the best exercise to work your abdominal muscles. Also, side planks can tighten your waist and help you achieve that hourglass look.

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