If you are looking for an exercise that effectively targets a wide range of your core muscles, this one is for you. It is a massively underrated core exercise when it comes to building strength and endurance, so be sure to add this to your training session.
What are Plank Shoulder Taps?
Plank Shoulder Taps are a fantastic active plank variation, but don’t be fooled they are no walk in the park. They are one of the most useful exercises because they are an example of an anti-rotation exercise, which means that they require you to keep your hips and shoulders steady.
Including this exercise in your workout routine will help to improve your core muscle strength as well as enhancing stability.
What muscles do Plank Shoulder Taps target?
This exercise works the rectus abdominis (muscles making up the six-pack) as well as the serratus anterior (the region around your rib cage), the trapezius (a major muscle in your upper back and neck), the triceps, the gluteus medius (a hip abductor muscle on the outer side of the pelvis), the obliques (muscles on both sides of your core), and the erector spinae (a set of muscles in your lower back).
How do I properly perform Plank Shoulder Taps?
To start the Plank Shoulder Taps exercise, begin by getting into the high plank position with your hands below your shoulders on the floor and your arms straight. Keep your head, shoulders, hips, and knees aligned while keeping your core tight.
Then proceed by bringing one hand up and tap the opposite shoulder. Repeat and alternate each side for the desired number of repetitions.
For best results, start by doing 3 sets of around 20 total reps. Try alternating this exercise with other core (but non-weight bearing) exercises such as Leg Raises, Situps, or Crunches.
But, be warned, if you have weak wrists or shoulders, take this exercise slowly and start with around 5 reps on each side and slowly build up the reps as your shoulders (and core) get stronger. Alternatively, try some of the Plank Shoulder Taps variations mentioned below.
Remember that you can always check the tutorial videos in the Freeletics app to see Plank Shoulder Taps demonstrated at full speed, half-speed, and from multiple angles.
Additional things to keep in mind when training
One of the most important things about this exercise is always keeping your hips steady. As you lift one hand off the ground to touch your opposite shoulder, gravity will pull your body down. This will require you to recruit the muscles on the opposite side of your body to keep you from falling.
If you are struggling to keep your hips still, keep practicing and it will come eventually, as you get stronger. But in the meantime, try placing a small weight, like a water bottle or cushion on your back to practice. This will teach you the basics of the exercise before you push yourself harder with some of the more challenging variations which include:
Plank Shoulder Taps with a hold:
In the same high plank position, when bringing one hand up to tap your shoulder, try keeping it there for 3 seconds. This will make it more challenging as it forces you to engage your core for longer.
Plank Shoulder Taps with leg lifts:
Once in the correct plank position, adjust your feet slightly so that they are wider than shoulder-width apart. Tap one shoulder with your hand, whilst lifting the opposite leg off the ground at the same time, and then repeat on the opposite side. This move is also great to practice your coordination!
Elevated Plank Shoulder Taps:
You can also make Plank Shoulder Taps a bit easier by decreasing the angle. You can do this by resting your hands on an elevated surface such as a bench or a step. This reduces the stress on your shoulders and wrists.
Exercise overview by David Weiner, Training and Nutrition Specialist