Reverse Plank Exercise for Your Core

Activating the Posterior and Core Muscles

woman doing reverse plank exercise

Photo: Ben Goldstein / Model: Ana Alarcon

The reverse plank exercise is an often-overlooked exercise that is great for the core. It targets the posterior muscles (those along the backside of the body), but when done properly, it also engages the abdominal muscles. Although this exercise is most commonly seen in yoga classes, it's a nice addition to any basic core workout routine.

Your core is more than just your abdominal muscles. The core includes the hip abductors, hip adductors, hip flexors, and the lumbar spine. When done correctly, the reverse plank engages all of these muscles, as well as the glutes and hamstrings, for a challenging full core workout.

The reverse plank exercise can also be used as a rehab exercise to improve core and spinal stabilization.

Equipment and Space Needed: This is a bodyweight exercise that requires no equipment other than an exercise mat. You will need space enough to fully extend your body.

Learning the Plank Pose

Before you try a reverse plank, it may be helpful to learn the basics of a standard plank pose. A staple of Pilates practice, the plank is an excellent way to develop core strength as well as overall flexibility. It most closely targets the abdominals and shoulders. 

  • Kneel on a mat or the floor, and walk your hands out in front of you. Extend your legs behind you, and place your forearms parallel to each other.
  • Lift your belly up away from the floor as you extend your spine.
  • Try to keep your shoulders from slumping by focusing on keeping them away from your ears.
  • Keep your head in line with your spine.
  • Hold your plank for 10 breaths or 30 seconds. Eventually, work toward holding the plank for a full two minutes.

How to Do the Reverse Plank Exercise

woman doing reverse plank exercise
Photo: Ben Goldstein / Model: Ana Alarcon

As for the reverse plank, it's just as its name suggests: the reverse of the plank pose.

  • Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
  • Place your palms, with fingers spread wide, on the floor slightly behind and outside your hips.
  • Press into your palms and lift your hips and torso toward the ceiling.
  • Look up to the ceiling, point your toes, and keep your arms and legs straight.
  • Keep your entire body strong and form a straight line from your head to your heels.
  • Squeeze your core and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine. Hold the position for up to 30 seconds.
  • If your hips begin to sag or drop, lower yourself back to the floor.

Tips for the Reverse Plank

To get the most benefit from the reverse plank, aim to maintain a straight line and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. You may need to begin by holding the position for only a few seconds as you build your strength. You might begin with three sets of 10-second holds. Note that it's better to hold the correct position for a shorter time than to go for a longer time in an incorrect position.

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