This Side Plank Leaves Every Part of Your Core on Fire

Yes, you can hold a plank for hours upon hours. But that’s not the best way to train your abs.

Instead, says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., both the plank and its side plank cousin can be starting points for other movements. “Then you’re training your core and simultaneously teaching your core to resist excess movement in multiple planes,” says Samuel. “And that’s one key thing your core is meant to do.”

You’ll do that with the Copenhagen Plank Delt Raise, a devastating plank move that you won’t be able to hold for more than 20 to 30 seconds. Here, you’ll own a vicious Copenhagen plank position, already a challenging move, then you’ll add movement to that with a light weight. “You’ll build abdominal strength and build your entire core,” says Samuel, “and you’ll get some much-needed rear delt and mid-back activation too.”

You’ll want a light weight for this, lighter than you think, partly because the Copenhagen plank itself is such a challenging position to hold. “You’re lighting up adductors and abductors through your hips,” says Samuel, “and then when you add the weight things get fun. You have to find a way to keep hips and shoulders square to the front, but every time you bring that plate forward, your torso is going to want to tip. It takes massive core strength to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Meanwhile, you spend extra time building rear delt and mid-back strength. “These are key to overall shoulder health,” says Samuel. “So there’s a lot going on here.”

You’ll want a light weight for this move, and keep it light. “Go too heavy,” says Samuel, “and you compromise core positioning to move weight. Don’t do that.”

You can do the Copenhagen Plank Delt Raise almost anytime, says Samuel. “This is a great one for hotels,” he says, “because there’s a good chance there’s something heavy enough in your room to create challenge for the move.” But it also fits easily in a workout. It’s a perfect lead ab exercise in any core workout, or it can be a finisher to a total body session.

For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program.

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