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How to Do the Copenhagen Plank: Technique and Popular Progressions

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girl performs the Copenhagen plank on trx ropes

What to add a challenge to your planks?🔥 Try Copenhagen plank, a side plank variation that works best for a strong core and toned inner thighs.

Jonathan Valdez post Reviewer Jonathan Valdez post Reviewer
Verified by Jonathan Valdez
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Dietitian/Nutritionist in NYC, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist

Table of Contents

The Copenhagen plank, also known as the Copenhagen adductor plank due to its target muscles, or the Copenhagen plank hold, is a more challenging side plank variation. It’s mainly used to strengthen the groin and hip muscles. It is also great for improving core strength and stability, especially in the obliques. 

In this article, we will discuss how to perform the Copenhagen side plank correctly, different variations of it, and alternative exercises to work on effectively strengthening your adductors.

Muscles Copenhagen plank works

As the muscles worked in the Copenhagen plank are mainly those in the inner thigh area.

muscles worked during Copenhagen plank
Muscles worked in the Copenhagen plank

However, it can also be used as a full body conditioning exercise, as it also requires the engagement of the core and, to some extent, the shoulders and back. By working mainly on the groin muscles in our legs, the Copenhagen plank benefits the hips and adductors by making them stronger and decreasing the risk of strains and injuries. [1], [2]

Copenhagen side plank: technique, tips, and progressions

The Copenhagen plank hold, which is the static version of this exercise, is the main variation used in rehab programs targeting the groin muscles. However, there are many ways the exercise difficulty level can be scaled up or down depending on your abilities. It is a fairly technical exercise; for this reason, we will describe in detail how to perform it successfully and apply regressions or progressions when needed. 

How to do a Copenhagen plank hold

As the Copenhagen plank aims to strengthen the hips, it would be ideal to start by performing some hip mobility exercises to warm the muscles up and improve the range of motion.

woman performing the classic Copenhagen plank
Copenhagen side plank

Once appropriately warmed up, follow the steps outlined below to execute a Copenhagen plank hold correctly. 

  • Put yourself in a side plank position perpendicular to a bench 
  • With your bottom arm fully extended, place the top leg on the bench, using the internal part of your foot to support the hold 
  • Extend out the bottom leg while keeping it off the floor. 
  • Hold this position for a minimum of 15 seconds, 3-4 times on each side

Pro Tips

  • Keep your core, glutes, and back engaged throughout to maintain the correct posture
  • If the knee of your top leg is feeling uncomfortable during the plank hold, bend it on the bench to decrease the strain in that area
  • If performing this exercise on a hard floor, place a mat under your body to provide more comfort to your hand 
  • If you don’t have a bench or other suitable support, you could also use a training buddy to help you perform this exercise. You would simply position your upper leg on their hands and keep the bottom leg off the floor. 

Copenhagen plank variations: from easy to hard

The Copenhagen plank comes with a range of variations that can either decrease or increase the intensity and help you progress in your adductor strengthening program. Below we list all the variations you can apply, from easy to hard, so that you can pick the right one based on your skill level. 

Copenhagen plank on the forearm

Difficulty Level: Easy

man is doing Copenhagen plank on the forearm
Copenhagen plank on the forearm

This modified Copenhagen plank variation is aimed at beginners who need to strengthen their hip muscles but still don’t have the strength required to perform the full version. This regression involves performing the side plank on the forearm rather than extending the arm fully to increase stability. 


  1. Place yourself in a perpendicular position to a bench, in a forearm side plank position
  2. Place your upper leg on top of the bench and keep the bottom one off the floor
  3. Hold the position

Pro Tips

  • Place a mat under your arm to provide more comfort to your elbow
  • Keep the core engaged to maintain the correct posture
  • Use a lower bench to further decrease the intensity and support your back
  • Bend your upper leg on the bench and use that knee as support to reduce the intensity and add stability 

Knee-assisted plank

Difficulty Level: Easy

man is doing Knee-assisted Copenhagen plank
Knee-assisted Copenhagen plank 

The knee-assisted plank simply requires you to use your knee as support to provide extra stability. This variation can be used as a progression for a beginner, or as a regression from the original exercises to focus on improving your form.


  1. Place yourself in a perpendicular position to a bench, in an extended side plank position
  2. Place your upper leg on top of the bench 
  3. Bend the bottom leg on the floor and use the knee as support 
  4. Hold the position

Pro Tips

  • Use a mat to put under your leg to provide extra comfort to your knee
  • To make it harder, use the internal part of your upper foot to hold the position rather than the leg. This can be achieved by positioning yourself further away from the bench, or closer if you want to decrease the intensity.

Another variation of the knee-assisted Copenhagen plank is the bent-knee Copenhagen plank.

Here, you place your top knee on the bench and keep your bottom leg bent too.

woman is doing the Bent knee Copenhagen plank
Bent-knee Copenhagen plank

Weighted Copenhagen plank

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

man is performing the Weighted Copenhagen plank using kettlebell
Weighted Copenhagen plank 

This variation is a Copenhagen plank progression, as it requires more strength and stability since there is the addition of weights. 


  1. Position yourself in an extended side plank position, perpendicular to a bench
  2. Place the top leg on the bench, using the internal part of your foot to support the hold 
  3. Extend out the bottom leg while keeping it off the floor
  4. With your top hand, hold a kettlebell up from the handle, with the weight underside facing up (bottom-up)
  5. Hold the position

Pro Tips

  • You can use a dumbbell to decrease the intensity and increase stability
  • If you need to regress this version, simply position yourself in a forearm side plank 
  • Be sure to perform this on a well-leveled, smooth floor to avoid losing balance

Suspended plank

Difficulty Level: Hard

woman is doing Suspended Copenhagen plank using gym ropes
Suspended Copenhagen plank 

To make the Copenhagen adductor plank even harder, you could also switch the support system to a suspended one. This progression requires a high level of inner thigh strength and core stability, therefore it is only suggested for those who have already mastered the traditional Copenhagen side plank. 


  1. Place yourself in a perpendicular position to a TRX, in an extended side plank position
  2. Place your top foot on the TRX handle section 
  3. Extend out the bottom leg while keeping it off the floor
  4. Hold the position

Pro Tips

  • As an alternative to a TRX, you could use gymnastics rings or a thick elastic band as a support system
  • Raise up the TRX or rings to increase the intensity
  • Keep the body in position and avoid swinging by tensing all your muscles, from your adductors and glutes to your core and arm
  • Add weight to hold up to further increase the intensity 

Another way to increase intensity is to perform a Copenhagen plank raise. This is a dynamic alternative that can be applied at any regression or progression stage to increase intensity and difficulty. From the static side plank position, you would then lift and drop your body using your abs to perform pulses. However, this could take away the focus from the adductors and shift it more onto the core and shoulders. 

Copenhagen plank alternatives

If your aim is to work on your hip and groin muscles, there are plenty of alternatives to the Copenhagen plank that also focus on the same muscles. Some of the most common exercises to target the inner thighs include 

  • sumo squats, 
  • adductor machine exercises,
  • standing inward cable kicks,
  • side lunges,
  • Cossack squats.

However, there are many more for every skill level and available equipment. 

For more exercises to target your adductors, use a fitness app to help you build the perfect inner thigh workout. 

Final words

The Copenhagen plank is a very technical, yet very effective, exercise. In essence:

  • Copenhagen planks are mainly aimed at improving strength in your hip and groin muscles, known as adductors; however, they also work the core and more specifically, the obliques.
  • They are mainly included in rehab programs for athletes who have suffered an injury in the groin area, but they are often also found in strength programs.
  • It is suggested that you perform hip mobility exercises to warm up the muscles before doing a Copenhagen side plank.
  • It can be regressed or progressed, which makes it perfect for any skill level.
  • To hold the correct position and avoid losing your balance, tense your whole body along with the adductors.

All in all, this is a great exercise that can provide excellent results and help prevent injuries in the groin area; therefore, it makes a great addition to any resistance training or conditioning program for anyone aiming to improve their inner thigh strength. 

Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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