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The difference between Side Bridges v Side Planks



Side bridges and side planks are both effective exercises for core strengthening, but they have some distinct differences in terms of execution, muscle engagement, and overall intensity.


(1) Side bridges as shown above by Coach Katy, is generally considered to be less intense than side planks, making them suitable for beginners or those with lower core strength. The bent-knee variation further reduces the intensity.


However, we like starting young AND older athletes with side bridge progressions for 3 main reasons:

a) we like the focus of the "lateral" core and want to give athletes more lateral core options than just planks, especially for those that want more core work at home or on the road.

b) can be easily modified to increase or decrease difficulty, making them suitable for all fitness levels. Progressions can include lifting a leg, adding arm movements, or using resistance bands for eg.

c) we like the added bonus work of targeting the medial glutes along with the core


(2) Side Bridge w Top Leg Elevated

  • Push the ground away with the elbow and forearm that's on the ground then lift hips up & extend the top leg

  • Start by performing reps of 5-10 each side

  • Start by performing dynamic bridges with raising and lowering hips THEN progressing to holding hips up (iso-hold) - harder version

  • For more glute engagement and to progress the movement, hold the top leg for 10 secs

(3) Side Bridge w Top Leg Forward & Backward

  • Push the ground away with the elbow and forearm that's on the ground then lift hips up & extend the top leg

  • Move top leg forward then backward (without hyperextending lower back)

  • Maintain a hips-up position while top leg is moving

  • You'll notice the added medial glute engagement while challenging the core

(4) Side Bridge w Top Leg Forward & Backward

  • Push the ground away with the elbow and forearm that's on the ground then lift hips up & extend the top leg

  • Move top leg up and down for a different challenge

  • Maintain a hips-up position while top leg is moving

(5) Side Bridge w Top Leg Circles

  • Push the ground away with the elbow and forearm that's on the ground then lift hips up & extend the top leg

  • Move top leg in a small circle clockwise then counter clockwise

  • Maintain a hips-up position while top leg is moving


Want a challenge for your Core and Medial Glutes? Do all 4 Side Bridge progressions without breaks:

Side Bridge with top leg extended & hold for 10 secs

Side Bridge with top leg moving forward and backward for 5-10 reps

Side Bridge with top leg moving up and down for 5-10 reps

Side Bridge with top leg circles for 5-10 reps in each direction

Then switch sides and repeat!

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