We last saw Copenhagen Planks in our rundown of the best bodyweight exercises that actually build strength. But it’s an underrated exercise and deserves a spotlight of its own. That Copenhagen plank looks a bit like a sideplank :YYou lean on your hand or elbow, the other arm off the floor, and try to keep your body in a rigid position. What makes Copenhagen special, however, is that you don’t rest your feet or knees on the floor. No, you place one leg (your top leg) on a bench. That means you have to use the inner thigh muscle on that upper leg to keep yourself upright. It’s a killer leg exercise, and it has benefits beyond just adding variety to your routine.
What are the advantages of Planke Copenhagen?
This exercise gets its name (and slight popularity) from research from Denmark that showed it helps prevent groin strains in athletes. Our inner thigh muscles, called hip adductors, are responsible for pulling our legs towards each other. Many of the muscles in this group are thin and prone to tears or strains (“pulls”), so the researchers used this exercise to strengthen the adductors.
It worked 😛Programs like this “Copenhagen Adductor Exercise” made the adductors of male soccer players strongerand while it’s not a magic bullet for groin strain prevention, it does seem to help.
As well as strengthening the adductors, the Copenhagen Plank also contains the elements of a regular side plank, meaning it strengthens a variety of core muscles as a side benefit, including your obliques. Even your abductors, the muscles on the outside of your hips, seem to get a little boost from training this exercise.
(And yes, those two words are very similar. awayDuctors take your leg away from your body, just like an alien abduction takes a person away from Ekind advertisementDuctors bring your legs toward your midline; The two letters D in the middle can help you remember that they bring the legs together.)
How exactly do I do a Copenhagen Plank?
The basic idea is to support your torso on your forearm or hand while supporting your leg on a bench or other object. For team exercises, a partner can stand up and hold your leg while you do the exercise.
Start with as much of your leg on the plank as possible. In order from easiest to most difficult, the progression goes:
- Knees or thighs on the bench
- Shin or foot on the bench
- Bend hips down and back up repeatedly (This can be done in either position.)
While planks are often done for longer and longer periods of time, you don’t have to take this approach to reap the benefits of the Copenhagen plank. Try a 10-second hold repeated three times, resting in between if necessary. If this becomes easy, try a more difficult variation.
What if I can’t do a Copenhagen Plank?
If you can’t do any of the above versions, even the one with your knee on the bench, one way to change is to keep your free leg on the floor. Raise your hips most of time with the top leg, but use some support from the bottom leg to help.
If you’re still not comfortable with this, you may need to do side planks (starting from the knees is fine) to build your core strength and look elsewhere for adductor exercises. This banded adductor exercise is a good place to start, and you can also do single-leg moves like step-ups to work the adductors along with other leg muscles.