Side plank dips combine side plank and hip dips into a plank variation, sculpting stronger core muscles and strengthening your back and shoulders. I did 70 reps per side every day for a week to see what movement could do for my life (spoiler, sadly, no dramatic changes in seven days).
To perform a hip side plank, simply hold a side plank with your elbow resting under your shoulder, then slowly lower your hip back to the floor and bring it back up again. Obviously, the movement takes more work than that to keep your body stable, but do it safely and you’ll be strengthening several muscle groups at once.
The exercise is one of the best variations of the plank for strengthening your core, but what might 70 reps per side do after a week? Here’s what happened when I put them to the test and why we should all approach high reps with caution.
Are side plank dips effective?
Lateral plank dips primarily target the oblique muscles, made up of the deeper internal obliques and superficial external obliques. These muscles run down the waist from the ribs to the pelvis and support trunk rotation and flexion while protecting the spine.
But the move is no one-trick pony. Plank dips also activate the shoulders, deep stabilizer muscles in the hips and core, and back muscles, including the latissimus dorsi (lats). You will also be working the glutes throughout the movement, engaging the outer buttocks, the gluteus medius.
Although a plank and its popular variations build core muscles, sculpting definition in the midsection boils down to body fat percentage. You can’t reduce body fat, but if your goal is to have more visible abs, consider other factors such as diet, stress management and sleep quality.
I also recommend adding compound exercises to your strength program, as these multi-joint movements recruit more muscle and demand more output from your body, while burning more calories. Think about deadlifts or squats, for example.
How to do side plank dips
Try practicing bodyweight side planks first and developing an abs workout routine before moving on to hip dips. If you don’t train your core muscles regularly, adding hip flexions puts more pressure on your lower back and could lead to injury.
- Begin by lying on your side on an exercise mat
- Extend and stack your legs and rest your forearm on the floor. Keep your shoulder directly above your elbow
- Engage your abs and lift your hips and knees off the floor. He tries to keep a straight line from head to toe. Only your forearm and bottom of your foot should be touching the ground
- Keeping your chest facing forward, lower your hip to the floor. Pause, then bring your hip up. Repeat, then swap sides.
I did 70 side dives every day for a week – here are my results
Here’s how I went.
I’m familiar with side plank dips, but I don’t do them very often. So, I was looking forward to working my core differently and targeting my side body more carefully.
I settled on all 70 reps on one side, split between two sets of 35 reps, then switched to the other side. The game was on: my waist and shoulders were already on fire and I felt cooked after my first set of reps. It could be a long week.
I played it easy for the first couple days, focusing solely on form and making sure my chest stayed forward without swinging through my hips. Instead, I lowered down with control, then surged up with power, taking my time on each rep. The challenge – 140 reps a day – was already proving to be hard work on my hips.
If you’re new to exercising and still want to give it a try, there are two great ways to scale it. First, place your top foot in front of your bottom foot, which instantly provides more support. Your second option is to drop your bottom knee to the ground.
Days 3 and 4
On day three, the movement pattern seemed more comfortable, so I added weight to the hip. For a rundown on how to do it safely, our fitness editor did weighted side planks every day for a week and shared how to scale them back.
Immediately, I squeezed my stomach and glutes tighter to stabilize my body. A hex dumbbell is less cumbersome to control than kettlebells, but the best adjustable dumbbells are also a great home workout solution if you need variety. After day four, I dropped 2lbs as my lower back started talking.
As my reps increased, I noticed my upper hip starting to twist. Instead, I focused on straightening my chest and keeping my gaze on a stationary object to stay balanced – in yoga, this is called drishti — and I can confirm from this challenge that my excitable two-year-old dog doesn’t count as “still.”
Days 5 and 6
As the week progressed, my life felt worked hard. Most of my workout routine includes functional training like CrossFit, and it’s rare to isolate these muscle groups in class.
It felt good to use my muscles differently, and combined with CrossFit and yoga, my upper body felt on fire after a week of attention. Of course, physically, my life looked the same, and you won’t notice drastic changes in a week, but at least I felt fine.
By day seven, my shoulders had had enough. Your rotator cuffs (a group of muscles that surround your shoulder joints) provide shoulder stability during side dips, and I have left side issues from a previous injury.
Side planks can aggravate shoulder injuries, especially when you bear weight on one side. It’s vital to note that what works for me doesn’t mean it’s safe for everyone, and high repetitions every day could make things worse. Always work within your ability and stop if you notice any pain or weakness. For me, day seven came at just the right time.
Although side planks are an isometric (no movement) exercise, this variation burns your waist and requires work from your chest, shoulders, arms and back; these muscles support your posture, and strengthening them might help build a healthier spine, but it shouldn’t mean putting pressure on your shoulders.
To practice hip dips with better stability, our fitness editor provides low plank hip dips here, and I encourage you to use the tips above to provide support. We love our fitness challenges in Tom’s Guide, but you shouldn’t overwork your muscles by repeating the same exercise every day.
Check out some exercises our fitness team loves below for rest and recovery ideas.
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