The Challenging Plank Variation That Fires Up Your Shoulders and Your Butt

Activate your glutes and work your shoulders with a new plank variation.
Image Credit: AzmanJaka/E+/GettyImages

There's no shortage of strength-building plank variations. But there's one that just might take the cake: the toe-tap, shoulder-tap plank. As the name implies, the move involves alternating shoulder taps ​and​ toe taps while holding a plank, and it boasts a heap of full-body benefits.

That's because the exercise requires you to recruit a variety of different muscle groups as you shift your weight from side to side, says certified personal trainer CJ Koegel, NASM-CPT.

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The result is an intense workout that builds strength in your upper-body (especially in your shoulders) and glutes while challenging your core stability, coordination and mind-body connection.

How to Do the Plank With Shoulder and Toe Tap

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Skill Level Intermediate
Activity Body-Weight Workout
Region Full Body
  1. Begin in a high plank with your hands beneath your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to hips to heels.
  2. Look at a spot several inches in front of your hands, so your neck is in a neutral position.
  3. Drive your toes into the floor, squeeze your glutes and flex your quads.
  4. Starting slowly, tap one foot out to the side, then bring it back to center. Repeat on the other leg and continue alternating.
  5. Once you have a good rhythm going, add in the arms: as you tap your foot to the side, lift your same arm off the ground and tap your opposite shoulder.
  6. Place your hand back on the ground as you bring your leg back to the center.
  7. Repeat the same thing on the other side, continuing this alternating movement pattern.

4 Reasons to Do the Toe-Tap Shoulder-Tap Plank Every Day

Here are just a few reasons you should incorporate this dynamic exercise into your daily routine:

1. It Lights Up Your Core

"When tapping your shoulder, one of your hands lifts off the floor and the other hand and two feet have to take on the load of your body," Koegel says. "Because of this offset load, your core gets challenged differently than a regular plank."

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Essentially, your core muscles must work harder to stabilize your body during this movement.

2. It Smokes Your Shoulders

Anytime you hold a plank, you're working your arms and shoulders to support your body weight, Koegel says. Adding the shoulder taps — which forces you to offset the load of your body weight — really ramps up the difficulty of this exercise for your upper body, he says.

3. It Fires Up Your Glutes

"Squeezing your glutes and flexing your quads are two things you can do to help maintain proper form in your plank," Koegel says. "This means your glutes and legs are also getting a workout during the plank, especially when you add in the toe taps."

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4. It Challenges Your Coordination

"I find the coordination of this exercise to be difficult to get right, especially if you incorporate it deep into the workout when you are tired," Koegel says. Indeed, synchronizing the shoulder and toe taps can become like a brain game.

"I like this because it makes me focus back into my mind and muscle connection," he says.

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