How to Do a Reverse Plank: Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

The reverse plank targets the posterior muscles (those along the backside of the body). When done properly, it also engages the abdominals. Although this exercise is most commonly seen in yoga workouts, it's an effective addition to any core strengthening routine.

Targets: Lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and abdominals

Equipment needed: Exercise mat (optional)

Level: Intermediate

How to Do a Reverse Plank

Reverse Plank
Verywell / Ben Goldstein

When doing this exercise, you will need enough space to fully extend your body. If you have an exercise mat or yoga mat, you can use that. Otherwise, perform the reverse plank on a surface that will keep your hands and feet from slipping.

To start, sitting 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.

  1. Press into your palms and lift your hips and torso toward the ceiling. Look up to the ceiling during this move. Point your toes and keep your arms and legs straight. Your entire body is strong, forming a straight line from your head to your heels.
  2. Squeeze your core and pull your belly button back toward your spine. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds.
  3. Lower your hips and torso back to the floor, returning to the starting position.

Beginners should start with the regular plank. When you're ready, progress to the reverse plank, holding this position for just a few seconds at a time—or as long as you can with good form.

Benefits of the Reverse Plank

Your core is more than just your abdominal muscles. It also 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.

A strong and balanced core helps you maintain a healthy posture and have ease of movement in your daily life. It also aids in the performance of a wide variety of sports and physical activities. The reverse plank may even improve exercise recovery.

Other Variations of a Reverse Plank

Though the reverse plank is an intermediate-level exercise, you can modify it to make it easier or more challenging.

Elbows and Forearms on Floor

If you have wrist problems, you can do this exercise with your elbows and forearms on the floor. Instead of placing your palms slightly behind and outside your hips, put your elbows in this same general spot and perform the reverse plank in this position.

Reverse Table Top Pose

Another slightly easier modification is the reverse table top pose. This move is similar to the reverse plank, except that your legs are bent and feet are planted on the ground. When in the raised position, your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Your body is flat from your knees to your shoulders, forming the table top.

Reverse table top is great for opening the shoulders and building shoulder strength. However, this pose should not be performed if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or any type of injury to the shoulder, neck, or wrist.

Single-Leg Reverse Plank

Once you feel strong enough, you can do one-legged reverse planks. This involves doing a reverse plank with only one foot on the ground and the other lifted in the air. To make this move even more challenging, lift the raised leg as far up as you can.

Wear a weighted vest while doing the reverse plank to add an even greater level of difficulty.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these errors so you can get the most from this exercise and avoid strain or injury.


Once your body begins sagging, it is time to end the reverse plank. It's better to hold the correct position for a shorter time than to go for a longer time in an incorrect position. Aim for just a few seconds at first, then work your way up from there.


Be careful not to hyperextend the elbows and knees. Your limbs should be straight, but don't force it. Use your back and gluteal muscles (buttocks) to take the pressure off of your knees.

Neck and Head Position

Don't tilt your head forward or back during the reverse plank. Instead, keep your head and neck in line with your torso to avoid neck strain.

Safety and Precautions

Talk to your doctor or physical therapist if you have or had an injury or condition involving your back, wrists, or shoulders to see if this exercise is appropriate for you. You will feel your muscles and core working during this exercise, but stop if you feel any pain.

Beginners should hold the reverse plank only for as long as they can with good form. This may be just a few seconds at first. You may even need to go back to a basic plank to develop your core strength before trying the reverse plank.

Do the reverse plank for whatever amount of time you are able to hold the position correctly and end each time you feel your body sagging. Work your way up to three sets of 30-second holds.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Maeo S, Takahashi T, Takai Y, Kanehisa H. Trunk muscle activities during abdominal bracing: comparison among muscles and exercises. J Sports Sci Med. 2013;12(3):467-474.

  2. Cinarli F, Olmez S, Namaldi S, Karanfil E, Gullu K, Soylu A. An examination of thigh muscle activations in bridge-plank exercises performed on different grounds. Turk J Physiother Rehabil. 2020;31(2):156-62. doi:10.21653/tjpr.547050

  3. Blasimann A, Eberle S, Scuderi MM. [Effect of core muscle strengthening exercises (including plank and side plank) on injury rate in male adult soccer players: a systematic review]. Sportverletz Sportschaden. 2018;32(1):35-46. doi:10.1589/jpts.30.1014.

  4. Mor A, İpekoğlu G, Arslanoglu C, Acar K, Arslanoglu E. The effects of electrostimulation and core exercises on recovery after high-intensity exercise: electrostimulation vs. core recovery methods. Int J App Exerc Physiol. 2017;6(4):46-53. doi:10.22631/ijaep.v6i4.178

  5. The Yoga Collective. Reverse table top — ardha purvottanasana.

By Elizabeth Quinn, MS
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.