Reverse Planks for Healthy Shoulders and Strong Arms

You can learn exercises like this Reverse Plank using the GB Foundation Series.

When Coach Christopher Sommer of GymnasticBodies began working with adults over a decade ago, he began to notice that they were largely deficient in two key areas of physical preparation: core strength and joint mobility. We have previously written about several different core strength exercises that can be found in the GB Courses, including hollow body holds, V-ups, hanging leg lifts, L-sits, and more.

In order to fully develop yourself athletically, you also need to make sure that you have adequate range of motion in all the major joints of your body. Towards this end, today we are going to detail the Reverse Plank gymnastics exercise and how including it in your home workouts will improve your shoulder mobility, decrease your risk of injury, and help you get stronger arms.

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Reverse Planks and Shoulder Extension

Out of all the potential mobility deficiencies that one may have, Coach Sommer has noted that shoulder extension tends to be among the worst in most sedentary adults. When we say shoulder extension, we are referring to your ability to stretch your arms out behind your body, as can be seen in the photo of the Table position below.

Open your shoulders and chest with exercises like this from Foundation One.

When you first begin Gymnastics Strength Training, you may not be able to reach your arms all the way back to a 90-degree angle for Reverse Plank. Do not worry, and simply keep working at it in order to gradually make steady progress.

In this Reverse Plank gymnastics variation, you are helping increase the health of your shoulders and decrease your risk for injury. If you are like many people who spend hours each day sitting at a desk or in a car, then the muscles in your shoulders and upper back are likely to get excessively stiff and tight. By stretching your chest, shoulders, and arms using the Reverse Plank and Table exercises, you will be able to minimize the damage done from your sedentary lifestyle.

Reverse Planks for Strong Arms

Additionally, gymnastics exercises such as Reverse Plank and Table are excellent additions to your home workouts in order to build strong arms and a sculpted upper back. These movements emphasize a range of motion called scapular retraction, which is basically when you try to pinch your shoulder blades together in the middle of your back.

If you cannot adequately retract your shoulder blades, then you are likely to have an imbalance in your upper body that could lead to an injury down the road. Fortunately, simply including these movements in your gymnastics workouts will help strengthen your arms and keep your shoulders healthy.

Scale your Reverse Plank with Table, also featured in the GB Fundamentals Course.

To perform the GymnasticBodies Reverse Plank, start in a seated position with your arms outstretched behind you. If you can, reach your hands closer together until your pinky fingers are touching. From here, roll your shoulders back so that your shoulder blades are pinched together. In this retracted scapular position, press your arms into the ground to lift your hips off the floor. In the top position your shoulders, hips, and knees should all be lined up horizontally in one straight line. Pause briefly at the top, then slowly lower to the ground before repeating your next rep.


  1. Coach Sommer noticed that core strength and joint mobility are the two largest deficiencies in the average sedentary adult population.
  2. Shoulder extension tends to be one of the tightest ranges of motion in people who are just starting Gymnastics Strength Training.
  3. Reverse Planks will help stretch your chest and shoulders while also strengthening your arms and upper back.
Categorized In: Mobility, Strength

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