The front plank hip extension is a fantastic bodyweight exercise for strengthening the glutes and core. Boren et al. (2011) studied several glute exercises commonly used in rehab and found that the front plank hip extension was one of the better glute exercises. Glute medius activation with 75%MVIC for the extending leg and glute max activation was 106%MVIC!
Performance of this bodyweight exercise isn’t terribly complicated. First, assume the standard front plank position. Bend the knee of one leg to 90 degrees and maintain this knee angle throughout the movement. Finally, extend the leg by bringing the foot towards the ceiling while keeping the lumbar spine positioned in neutral.
So what makes this exercise so good? Previous research has shown that performing a prone hip extension with the knees bent increases glute activation. This is due to the hamstrings being put in a position of active insufficiency due to their shortened position. Also, the performance of the plank and maintenance of a neutral spine prevents the movement from coming from lumbar spine hyperextension. This combination means that the glutes are forced to do the work themselves.