In my experience, some of the most simple exercises can be the most challenging.  Since the exercise I’m demonstrating here, a side plank with a medicine ball only requires body weight and a medicine ball it looks pretty straightforward and kind of easy (ok maybe not easy…easy-ish?). Noooo, this one is, I would say, pretty challenging (and fun!).

I’d like to start by saying that I didn’t invent this exercise or anything (at least I don’t think), but I haven’t seen it demonstrated very often, nor have I seen it documented. But one day I just decided to start doing it. I had already been incorporating the basic side plank (from yoga) into some of my strength training routines, and had clients doing it as well. Then at some point I decided that I needed an additional challenge into the core strength portion of my workout. And a new exercise was born (haha!)

In order to perform this exercise, you need to have totally mastered the basic side plank.  And by mastered, I mean, you need to be able to hold it easily for quite a while, without wobbling around AT ALL.  You need to be able to keep your leg up in the air and be able to totally balance and control your body, lining up both feet and hands along the same plane and maintaining the neutral posture throughout the designated time.

Even once you have the ability to do this, adding the ball is very challenging and should only be attempted with guidance from a trainer or fitness expert who has both the ability to perform the exercise and teach you how to progress yourself safely from the basic side plank into the side plank with a ball while using appropriate form.  Use of the ball puts a dramatic demand on the wrist joint and also requires the ability to grip the ball really well.  In addition, the movement of the ball during the exercise requires quite a bit of control in the forearm and can put some torque on the elbow (do not attempt this exercise if you have tennis elbow).

Building up the ability to perform this exercise correctly takes some time.  Start with the basic side plank using a straight arm and progress to lifting and holding the leg away from the body.  Once you have mastered that, I recommend seeking guidance before adding any type of unstable surface into the movement as the element of risk can cause minor injury to wrist or elbow.

This exercise is part of my core strength training routine.  I typically use it during a back & core workout or during a total body workout.  Since it’s a rather unique movement, there is no rule as to when/how you could incorporate an exercise like this into your routine.  The main thing about this and other similar exercises is to have fun and challenge yourself when creating workouts.  Remember to work within your limitations and then push slightly beyond without trying to catapult yourself to far ahead (as this often leads to pointless injuries).  If you would like help learning how to do this or other core strength training exercises, send an email to and let me know.