Both the side bridge and side plank are great for building strength in the transverse abdominis and other muscles used to stabilize the spine. If you cannot hold a side plank or if engaging the abdominal wall causes pain, start with the side bridge.
- Lie on your left side with the knee bent at a 90-degree angle and your elbow underneath your shoulder.
- Push your hips forward, lifting your thighs off the ground. Rest the right hand on top of the right hip, and hold for 10 seconds.
- Be sure to keep your knees, hips, and upper body aligned. If you experience discomfort in your shoulder, place your right hand over your left shoulder with your fingers spread apart, and pull your right elbow down across your chest.
- Set one: six reps with a 10-second hold. Rest for 30 seconds.
- Set two: four reps with a 10-second hold. Rest for 30 seconds.
- Set three: two reps with a 10-second hold. Rest for 30 seconds.
If you can maintain a side bridge without pain, progress to the side plank.