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Copenhagen Plank: The Core Exercise Worth Doing

woman doing copenhagen plank


If you could start doing the ideal exercise that strengthens both your lower body and your core, the Copenhagen plank is it! This variation of a side plank can be challenging but the attempts and effort will be worth it. And if you haven’t explored what the benefits of a strong core are, we’ll explore that here too.


Copenhagen Planks: What is it and Why Should You Do It?

Indeed, your core can dictate your overall athletic performance and ought to be paid attention to for a well-balanced physique. So, if you’ve tried regular planks in hopes of top-tier ab strength, it’s time to up the ante with the Copenhagen plank. 

With Copenhagen planks, you not only engage your core muscles but you work out your adductor muscles of the inner thigh simultaneously. As adductors can often go overlooked, you’ll be able to build your leg strength, improve hip mobility, and ultimately reduce your risk for injury.

Here is a list of some of the muscles targeted:

  • Adductor longus
  • Adductor brevis
  • Obliques
  • Transverse Abdominis

Copenhagen Plank: Benefits

Targeting your core and adductors means reaping the benefits of growing your strength in these areas. Yes, you will positively affect your overall performance and stability by having a strong core but you can protect yourself from injuring your groin.

Having weaker adductor muscles means a higher possibility of groin strain and hip instability.

Adductor muscles are at work during movements such as:

  • Bringing the legs inward towards the body
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Hip stabilization and more

Core muscles can help with:

  • Body posture
  • Functional movements (lifting, bending, twisting, etc.)
  • Back health/support
  • Injury prevention

How to Do a Copenhagen Plank

  1. Lie on your side with your bottom elbow beneath your shoulder for support.
  2. Lifting your hips off the ground, keep your body parallel to the ground with your body straight. 
  3. Support points are your forearm and the bottom of your foot.
  4. Bend your top leg at the knee and place your foot on a raised surface (such as a bench or chair).
  5. Keep your glutes and core engaged.
  6. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds.
  7. Repeat on the opposite side.

It’s worth noting that the plank itself is a static exercise in which you hold this position. There is also a variation that challenges your adductors more - at which point it then becomes the Copenhagen Adductor Exercise (CAE). 

The CAE requires that you first abduct your lower leg down to the floor and then return it to the starting position. See the following video for how to do it.

Pro tips: 

  • Avoid dipping at the hips or arching at your back, keep your body straight!
  • Keep your posture straight from your head to your heels - this is how you know you’re engaging your muscles during the exercise.
  • The height of the surface being used can be modified, moving on to higher surfaces as you make progress.

Copenhagen Plank: Modifications

If you find that the basic Copenhagen plank is a bit challenging, fear not - there are some modifications you can try. Check out this short clip showing some easier versions…

If you’re able to start incorporating this awesome compound exercise, you can eventually try other variations. Try starting from knee-supported planks moving on to ankle-supported planks… then you can try even more advanced versions such as a loaded Copenhagen plank! 

This short video provides quick visuals for Copenhagen progression.

The Origin of the Copenhagen Plank

It might be no mystery as far as the birthplace - yes, this exercise was born in Copenhagen, Denmark but became popular due to its use by the FC Copenhagen Soccer team. 

Why would a soccer team need this drill? - you may wonder. Turns out that groin injuries are common in soccer. The frequent sideways movements at high speeds put them at risk for groin strain.

An article published in the International Journal of Sports Therapy states, “High quality studies have reported an increased number of groin injuries occurring in individuals with decreased adductor strength. Additionally, a significant increased risk of groin injury is present when an athlete has had a previous groin injury as far as 20 months previously.” [1] 

Copenhagen Plank: FAQ

What is a Copenhagen plank good for?

The Copenhagen plank is good for strengthening the adductor muscles of your inner thigh as well as targeting your core. 

As you build up these muscle groups you can hopefully prevent groin injury or even back pain. You may have noticed in our other articles that having a strong core can help with posture and balance in overall body movements. 

What is the hardest planking?

The answer to this question is relative to your core strength and overall fitness level. 

Some of the more challenging plank exercises include:

  • Weighted plank 
  • Planks using stability ball
  • Planks with leg lifts or arm extensions 

What are the benefits of the Copenhagen raise?

Check out the section Copenhagen Planks: Benefits. 

Some key points from this section are that you can target your adductors and core at the same time. The adductors are sometimes neglected yet they play a pivotal role in daily movement whether or not you’re an athlete. 

Additionally, if you’d like to maintain good posture and balance (which can also help prevent back pain or muscle imbalances) a strong core is essential. 

Where did the Copenhagen plank come from?

The exact origin appears to be unknown, other than the fact that it became popular as it was used by the Copenhagen Soccer team. 

Copenhagen Plank: Conclusion

Compound and bodyweight exercises are shown to be worth including in your fitness routine - increasing efficiency while being equally challenging. To recap, this exercise will improve your lower body (adductor muscle) strength, enhance hip stability, and the best part - reduce your risk for injury in the long run.

If you’re looking to upgrade your core and lower body routine while throwing in a little spice to it, don’t sleep on the Copenhagen plank!


Looking for another challenging core exercise? Check out our page about knee tucks


[1] Schaber, M., Guiser, Z., Brauer, L., Jackson, R., Banyasz, J., Miletti, R., Hassen-Miller, A. The neuromuscular effects of the Copenhagen adductor exercise: a systematic review. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 2021. 

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