Side Plank vs Russian Twist

Side Plank vs Russian Twists (Better for Obliques?)

Side Planks and Russian Twists are two of the most effective exercises for strengthening the core muscles, including the oblique, rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis.

Side Planks are an isometric exercise that targets the obliques and rectus abdominis, while Russian Twists are a dynamic exercise that focuses on the oblique muscles and transverse abdominis.

In this article, I will compare Side Planks and Russian Twists side-by-side, looking at their benefits, how to perform them correctly, and what makes each exercise unique. In just a few minutes, you should have a better understanding of which exercise (or both) is a better fit for your training program based on your goals.

Side Planks

Equipment Needed

  • None

Muscles Worked

Lateral Planks directly target the Obliques, but they work so much more than just the Obliques. The Rectus Abdominus (your six-pack) also get really good work out of the Lateral Planks.

And it’s not just your abs. The hip abductors play a role in the movement, the QL (Quadratus Lumborum) which provides spinal stability is worked and this doesn’t even include the upper back muscles that have to work to keep yourself raised up off the floor.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Lay on your side, one elbow down and feet, hips and shoulders stacked vertically above one another.
  • The opposite hand (non-support arm) can be placed on the hip or held up in the air.
  • Hold this position for the designated amount of time.

Coaching Points

The biggest mistake I see with athletes with Side Planks (also called Lateral Planks) is allowing the top shoulder to hunch forward. Both shoulders (along with hips and feet) should be stacked directly above each other. Do not allow yourself to twist forward toward the ground with your upper body.

The other aspect of Lateral Planks to be mindful of is keeping the hips elevated and the body in a straight line. When fatigue starts to set in, the first thing that will happen is the hips will being to sag down toward the floor. Try to keep those hips high and fight through until the end.

RELATED –> 10 Side Plank Alternatives to Train Your Core

Benefits of Lateral Planks

Doing side planks regularly can improve core strength and stability, shoulder stability and balance. A strong core is crucial for many athletic activities, and Lateral Planks can help athletes improve their overall performance.

Even more importantly, a strong core can also help prevent injuries, especially in the lower back.

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Russian Twists

Equipment Needed

  • Medicine Ball

Muscles Worked

  • Obliques
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Secondarily: Shoulders and Upper Back

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Start by taking a seat on the floor and clasping your hands together.
  • Slightly bend the knees and raise your feet roughly six inches off the floor.
  • Start by rotating your torso to the left, taking your right elbow toward your left knee.
  • Now turn your shoulders and rotate your torso to the right, now taking your left elbow toward your right knee.
  • Keep legs mostly still and maintain the feet off the floor throughout the movement.
  • Continue rotating back and forth until all reps are completed.

Coaching Points (Common Mistakes)

The biggest mistake I see with athletes when doing Seated Twists is moving their hands back and forth instead of rotating through the core. The focus should be on the rotation. What the hands and arms do is merely a product of rotating through the torso.

Benefits of Seated Twists

Seated Twists are a great exercise for strengthening the core muscles, including the obliques and rectus abdominis as well as the shoulders and upper back.

Seated Twists are particularly effective at developing rotational strength which can be especially beneficial for athletes in rotational sports like baseball and tennis.

Side Planks vs Russian Twists: Which is Better?

Now, let’s take a side-by-side look at the two exercises to see if one is better than the other for some common lifting goals.

Better For Core Strength: Toss Up

It is difficult to really say whether Side Planks or Russian Twists are necessarily better for developing core strength because they work the obliques differently.

Side Planks are an isometric exercise that engage the oblique muscles and rectus abdominis in a static hold, while Russian twists are a dynamic exercise that engage the oblique muscles and rectus abdominis through a twisting motion.

My suggestion would to incorporate both exercises into your strength program, as each exercise will complement the other and help you build a stronger, more balanced core. By attacking the oblique muscles differently, doing both Side Planks and Russian Twists can lead to greater overall strength and improved athletic performance.

Better For Beginners: Toss Up

When I’m working with beginners, I like to stick to exercises that are safe, easy to learn and easy to execute. Then, as proficiency, strength and confidence grows, I’ll start to incorporate more complex exercises.

Having said that, I think both Side Planks and Russian Twists check all three boxes. They’re both bodyweight exercises that are safe, easy to learn and relatively easy to execute.

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Final Thoughts

I’ve just spent the last section of this article comparing which exercise is better, Side Planks or Russian Twists. But, the truth is there is no reason you shouldn’t be doing both exercises within your core workouts.

Both are extremely effective exercises and Side Planks and Russian Twists actually complement each other very well. One focuses on lateral stability and the other on rotation.

So, don’t try to decide between these two movements, figure out how to get both of them into your training!

More Links and Info

Check out how these exercises compare head-to-head to other popular core exercises:

Side Planks vs Regular Planks

Russian Twists vs Crunches

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