Pilates Side Plank Exercise Variations

by | May 15, 2012 | Pilates, Pilates Exercises, Techniques & Teaching Tips | 0 comments

How To Add More Challenge to Your Simple Side Plank for an Advanced Pilates Mat Workout

There are many different ways to tweak the Side Plank exercise and provide variety and challenge.  BUT the technique of getting into and out of the Side Plank position needs to be the same for any version you do to ensure the shoulders work properly and risk of arm and shoulder injury is eliminated.

In the article, How to Execute a Great Side Plank,  I have provided directions to begin practicing a simple Side Plank so you can just focus on holding the position and improving strength and balance.  Once you’ve mastered this and are ready to add a bit more of a challenge to your Side Plank Exercise, there are several options to play with to make your Side Plank more difficult and see how well you’re able to maintain control and support!

3 Side Plank Exercise Variations for an Advanced Pilates Mat Workout:

Variations/Challenge from  Return to Life: (Joe’s version)

  1. Lift the non-supporting arm all the way over the head while the hips lift to really create a “side bend.”
  2. Lower the body ½ way down and then lift back up to the side bend.  Do 3-5 lift & lowers before lowering all the way down and switching to the other side.
  3. Add a head turn.  Right arm supporting – Right Side Plank.  When the right hip is lowered, turn the head to look over the left shoulder.  When lifted in the side plank, turn the head to look straight ahead.

Having the control and shoulder strength to do a good simple Side Plank is the first step in mastering this exercise.  These three Side Plank variations can help add more challenge and variety to your workout.

Once you’ve mastered these 3 more difficult variations…it will be time to add a twist!  Stay tuned for some helpful hints on executing the Pilates Side Plank Twist I & II.  Details coming in an upcoming article soon…

Meanwhile, keep practicing your simple Side Plank, and for a challenge consider adding the 3 variations above, either as individual exercises, pick one version to do during your workout and rotate each workout with a different variation,  or combine ALL three together to create one wonderfully challenging shoulder strengthening Pilates exercise!


This is the 3rd article I’ve posted to help tweak your technique and improve shoulder strength, and whole-body support for a great Pilates Side Plank.  If you’ve missed the first two articles and would like to review this info, check out Preparatory Exercises for Side Plank, and How to Execute a Great Side Plank

Want to learn more about the “Classical” versions of the Pilates Matwork Exercises?  Get your copy of Joseph H. Pilates book, “Return to Life with Contrology.”   A great resource for Pilates enthusiasts, and a must-have book for Pilates teachers & health professionals!



Aliesa George: Over the past three decades, Aliesa George has helped assist people with their personal health journeys by sharing, teaching, and developing Pilates, Foot Fitness, and other Mind-Body programs.


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