The reverse plank is a body weight exercise that focuses on core strength. We’re talking abs of steel and a super strong lower-back, a part of the body that commonly suffers from everyday activities, even just sitting still!
It will likely be a challenging exercise to start out with, but one that can see huge improvements when consistently incorporated into your fitness regime.
Plus, a huge bonus is it requires zero equipment, so can be performed anywhere, even on your holidays.
Follow the steps below to get you started with this lesser known, but equally great, version of the plank.
How to Perform the Reverse Plank Exercise
- Step 1. Sit on the floor (or yoga mat if you have one) with your hands firmly on the ground behind you, fingertips facing forward.
- Step 2. Straighten your legs out in front of you, heels resting on the ground. You are now in the starting position.
- Step 3. Push your hips and your glutes up from the ground, until you have formed a straight line from head to your heels, toes pointed forwards.
- Step 4. Squeeze your abdominals tight – imagine you are squeezing your belly button into your spine and hold the position for as long as you can. Initially this may be just a few seconds. The key is to keep the straight line from your head to your heels. Do not allow your hips to drop.
- Step 5. Relax back into the starting position.
Remember form is vital, so a shorter hold with correct form is far better than a longer hold without.
Reverse Plank Variations
Decrease the Challenge
Forearms – if you suffer from weak wrists or have little strength in your arms and shoulders, your starting position can be from the seated position but resting on your forearms rather than hands. The lift will likely not be as high but you will still be working your core.
Increase the challenge
Single-leg hold– Perform the movement as above but hold the position with just one leg rather than both for the desired length of time. Relax out of the hold, before repeating the hold with the other leg.
Leg lifts – Whilst holding the position, lift each leg, one at a time, continuously alternating between the two before you relax out of the hold.
Benefits of Reverse Planks
The reverse plank helps to build strength in the posterior (rear) muscles of your lower back, in comparison to more common exercises like the regular plank and push-ups, which target the anterior (front) muscles in your body.
By mixing up your work-outs to include both, you’ll balance out your strength.
Definition and strength in the abdominal muscles, officially named the rectus abdominis, are the muscles required for the commonly desired ‘six-pack’ and these muscles are the predominant target of the reverse plank.
With a heavy emphasis on your abdominal muscles, the reverse plank can help to tone your tummy muscles and over-time lose weight here. Remember though, if weight loss is your aim, you’ll need to mix up your workout to include cardiovascular exercises as well.
We often think of the core as our abdominal muscles only, but it also includes hips and the lumbar spine. Strength here is vital for spinal stabilization, good balance and posture.
Reduce chance of injury
The reverse plank will help to reduce the likelihood of aches, pains and injury to the lower back, which is often put under pressure from everyday life. Not just from active movements but also from being stationary for long periods of time..
As a bodyweight exercise, reverse planks require no equipment making them perfect for working-out at home.
Your lumbar, aka lower back, glutes and hamstrings all need to be engaged for maintaining good posture during the reverse plank. The rectus abdominis, i.e. your abdominal muscles, however, receive the most attention as you hold the pose. You’ll also notice the pressure in your arms and on your triceps as you hold your weight.
When you first try this exercise, you’ll likely only be able to hold it for a few seconds and even this will feel fairly intense. Make sure you allow your body to rest properly before working on the same muscle groups and as always, stop if you feel any pain.
If you utilise reverse planks in the correct way, consistently incorporating them into your routine every few days, you’ll quickly notice improvement in the duration you are able to hold the position for. It’s a challenging exercise so be sure to congratulate yourself on your achievements as you make progress.