Ariana Grande’s personal trainer shares a killer ab exercise — try it now

Ariana Grande on stage
(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

There are a few people whose number’s I’d love to have in my phone book — Kate Middleton’s hairdresser, Hailey Bieber’s nail artist, and Ariana Grande’s personal trainer. While the first two might be trickier to track down, luckily for me, Grande’s PT, Harley Pasternak, has an Instagram account dedicated to fitness and nutrition, so I’m able to try some of his Hollywood workouts from the comfort of my own home. 

One exercise that caught my attention was the reverse plank, which Pasternak demonstrates in a video on his page. But what is a reverse plank, what are the benefits, and how do you do it? Read on to find out more. 

Looking for more workout inspiration? Here are some more full-body workouts you can do from just about anywhere, a weightless arm workout that surprised us, and the exact resistance band workout Chris Hemsworth used on the set of Thor: Love and Thunder

What is a reverse plank? 

“Most people focus on doing a traditional plank for the rectus abs turning onto the front of the body and their abs in position for 30 seconds to one minute, but what we should really be doing is a reverse plank,” Pasternak says. 

As its name suggests, a reverse plank is a plank that’s done on the reverse side, so your eye gaze, and abdominal muscles, will be facing the ceiling, not the floor. Pasternak demonstrates a reverse plank in the video with his shoulder blades resting on a weight bench, and his feet elevated on a block, but there are modifications that allow you to do a reverse plank on the floor. 

What are the benefits of a reverse plank? 

When we talk about the posterior chain, we’re referring to the muscles that run along the backside of the body. Think your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, but also the muscles in the core. A strong posterior chain is important to most athletes, as this muscle group contains most of the body’s power, they also help protect the spine and knees, and reduce your chance of injury. 

The reverse plank targets the posterior chain, hitting the lower back, abs, glutes, and hamstrings. When done correctly, the exercise is a challenging core workout. A strong core is far more than just an aesthetic goal — it can help you run faster, lift heavier weights, have a better posture, and reduce lower back pain. Here are some of the best exercises to do if you do have lower back pain

How to do a reverse plank with good form

Let’s turn to Pasternak for this answer. In the video, he says, “I actually have my shoulder blades on the bench, I have my heels up on a pad, and I’m contracting my glutes, my hamstrings, my lower back, all these things in my posterior chain are building up an endurance to help me with my posterior chain endurance as opposed to my interior chain. Really important you do this, my glutes are on fire. I can actually do phone calls, and watch tv, I’ll hold this up here probably for five minutes at a time. I started off with a minute, I built up to five,” he says. 

an illustration of a woman doing a reverse plank

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’re not ready to try this more advanced reverse plank, or you don’t have the equipment available, you can also do the move without a bench, pressing your palms into the floor and raising your hips to the sky. To do the bodyweight reverse plank, start by sitting on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you and your palms slightly behind your hips. Press down into your palms and raise your hips and torso to the ceiling — your body should form a straight line from the crown of your head to your toes. Keep your glutes engaged and squeeze your core, thinking about sucking your belly button into your spine. Hold here for as long as you can, before lowering your hips back down to the mat. 

If this bodyweight exercise puts too much pressure on your wrists, you can also perform the exercise with your elbows on the ground. If this is still too difficult, it’s a good idea to work on your front plank first. Talking of a plank, here’s how long you need to hold a plank to see results. And if you're looking for even more fitness guides, we have you covered. Check out how to do a box jump, how to do a reverse plank and how to build a home gym for under $500.

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.