Plank shoulder taps are an advanced variation of the plank exercise.
Like the plank, the key to success is maintaining a stable core but this time with the added challenge of keeping your hips still as you lift one arm off the ground and raise your hand to tap your alternate shoulder. This type of movement is known as an anti-rotation exercise, great for functional movement whilst strengthening the core and toning muscles in the arms, glutes and legs.
Before discussing the benefits further, let’s find out how to execute this exercise to perfection!
How to Perform Plank with Shoulder Taps
- Step 1. Start in high plank position (this is the same as push-up position). Arms straight, hands firmly on the ground under your shoulders and feet in-line with your hips.
- Step 2. Flatten your back to keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels.
- Step 3. Use your toes to dig into the ground to help stabilise your lower body and core.
- Step 4. Carefully lift one arm and tap the opposite shoulder, without rotating or twisting your hips. Remember to keep your back flat with a tight core.
- Step 5. Alternate arms and repeat, making sure to keep your body as still as possible. The number of repititions will vary significantly depending on your current strength. Always start small and build these up slowly.
This exercise should not be rushed. A stable, tight core, without hip rotation is essential, so take it slowly and try to execute each shoulder tap with as little movement as possible. Remember also to breathe normally throughout – do not try to hold your breathe.
Plank with Shoulder Tap Variations
Decrease the challenge by:
On your knees
Rather than beginning in high plank position, you could begin on your knees with your arms straight out below your shoulders as before. Stay on your knees until you’ve mastered the movement of your arms without rotating your hips or core.
A step or any elevated surface can be used to raise your hands from the ground. This helps to alleviate the pressure on your shoulders and wrists.
Practise a stable core
If you’re really struggling to not rotate your hips and maintain a stable core, try placing an object, such as a hot water bottle on your back, before beginning. This will help you to practise maintaining the straight line from your heads to your heels without moving your hips. (If you don’t have a hot water bottle, why not just imagine a full glass of water is resting on your back – don’t let it spill!).
Increase the challenge by:
For the more advanced, you could change from a shoulder ‘tap’ to a shoulder ‘hold’ before returning to the starting position.
If you’ve mastered the shoulder tap or hold, try also to incorporate a leg lift whilst you tap. You’ll need to start with your feet slightly wider than your hips for this and raise your left leg as you tap your left shoulder, alternating legs as you alternate arms.
Plank Shoulder Taps Benefits and Muscles Worked
Engaging your core works the abdominal muscles. When combined with other abdominal exercises such as sit-ups, bridges and regular planks the shoulder tap plank is great for achieving a ‘six pack’. Don’t forget, cardio is important to reduce belly fat and maximise results if a six pack is desired! As well as toned abs, your triceps will also strengthen and add definition and tone your arms.
Together with the abdominal muscles, the obliques (found either side of your core) will strengthen as you master this exercise. A tight, strong core is key to good posture, balance and stability.
Lower back pain
By engaging the muscles in your lower back to maintain a stable position, this exercise can help to alleviate lower back pain.
The art of tapping alternate shoulders with your arms may seem straight forward but does require a level of coordination. Exercises like this are a great way to maintain and improve coordination skills.
Your triceps and wrists get a good workout from this exercise. Strength in both of these help ease the difficulty of everyday tasks especially those involving lifting.
Your shoulders work hard to allow the movement of your arms across your body. More specifically, this type of movement is known as an anti-rotation exercise, which makes it a great functional movement and improves flexibility.
Plank Shoulder Tap Challenge
With no gym and no equipment needed, just you and your own body weight, try adding plank shoulder taps to your work-out today. Take it steady and slowly build up the number of repetitions over time to reap the benefits of a strong core and so much more!
If you’re looking for more bodyweight movements to help you improve your fitness, simply sign up for a free account with us here at fitness drum to follow along to monthly virtual fitness challenges.