The plank is often regarded as one of the best ab exercises for sculpting a strong mid-section, but if you’re beyond bored of balancing on your forearms, plenty of plank variations get you a lot more bang for your buck.
One of the best plank variations out there is plank hip dips, and to find out more, I did 50 of them every single day for a week. Are plank hip dips the secret to strong oblique muscles? Read on to find out more.
As always, it goes without saying that doing 50 reps of any exercise every single day probably isn’t recommended by any personal trainer. It’s important not to work the same muscle group every day, as your body needs time to repair — in fact, this is how the muscles grow stronger, as the tiny tears created during a hard workout need time to heal. For this week-long challenge, I didn’t do any other ab workouts but did fit in four different runs as part of my marathon training schedule, and two strength sessions.
Plank hip dips target the oblique muscles, which run along the side of your torso, as well as the transverse abdominis, which are your deepest internal abdominal muscles. They also work the stabilizer muscles in your shoulders and the muscles in your back. Read on to find out how to do plank hip dips, and what happened when I did them for a week.
How to do a plank hip dip
If you’re new to exercise or returning to exercise following an injury, it’s a good idea to check your form with a personal trainer before attempting this exercise.
- To do a plank hip dip, start in a plank position, either on your forearms or in a high plank — the latter is more challenging.
- Check your form — your core should be engaged, and there should be a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Squeeze your core and your glutes, and slowly lower your hips down to the left until they are hovering a few inches from the ground.
- Hold here for a second, before rotating back to your starting position.
- Drop your hips down to the right.
- Keep repeating, swapping sides.
- Be sure to do the same amount of reps on each side.
I did plank hip dips everyday for a week — here’s what I learned
On my first day of plank hip dips, I was lulled into a false sense of security during my first ten reps — compared to doing 100 plank jacks a day for a week, this one would be easy, I naively thought. By 50 reps, I realized how wrong I’d been. I could really feel this one in my obliques and it was a slow burner.
When asking a personal trainer friend to look at my form, she reminded me to keep my abs engaged, even as I got tired towards the end of my reps. The twisting motion of this move has to come from the abs for the exercise to be effective, she reminded me.
By the first few reps on day two, my shoulders started to twinge, reminding me that this exercise doesn’t just work your abs. I opted for two sets of 25 reps, and lowered down to a forearm plank position for the second set to relieve some of the tension in my shoulders.
Like with a lot of these week-long challenges, by day three I’d gotten more confident. The move felt a lot easier. After my first few reps, I set up my phone to video myself, checking in with my form. I noticed I had walked my feet slightly wider than my hips, thus making the move easier. Once I returned to the correct position, with my feet hip-width apart, I realized three days of plank hip dips hadn’t given me crazy strong obliques after all.
Days 5 and 6
It often happens with these challenges that by days five and six I am sick to death of the exercise in question, and look for new ways to mix them up to make them interesting. On day five, I challenged myself to get to 60 reps, and on day six, to 70 reps. My obliques were definitely ready for this one to be over, and at last, the end was in sight.
On day seven, I returned to the original 50 reps, but decided to up the intensity by really slowing the move down, pausing for three seconds every time I lowered my hip to the ground. This was, by far, the hardest day yet, as my stabilizer muscles worked harder than ever to keep my body still at the bottom of the twist.
Did seven days of plank hip dips leave me with a six-pack? Of course not. Unfortunately visible abs are the result of a low body fat percentage, not endless planks or ab challenges (here’s how to calculate your body fat percentage, and why it matters). That said, ab exercises like this are great for me, as a runner, as they work on strength and stability, but also the rotational movement you do in most sports. I know to run faster and stronger, I need a rock solid core, and I’ll definitely be keeping plank hip dips in my ab routine in the future.