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Plank Shoulder Taps: What Are the Benefits and How to Do Them

    While most people know about planking and its benefits, there is little known about plank shoulder taps. While traditional planking involves suspending your body in a prone position to create tension in the abs, lower back, shoulders, and glutes, the addition of the shoulder tap creates a functional compound movement.

    Plank shoulder taps can engage your obliques and drastically increase the demand on your stabilizing muscles while preventing any excess rotation. This exercise improves your core muscle strength while enhancing your stability overall.

    Plank shoulder taps what are the benefits how to

    Plank shoulder taps use several muscles and enjoy many benefits. This exercise may seem simple, but adopting proper form will engage several muscles simultaneously, benefiting your upper body strength in several ways.

    Also, see our post on 30 Best Shoulder Workouts and Women Back And Shoulder Workouts for more information.


    What Are the Benefits of Plank Shoulder Taps?

    Benefits of Plank Shoulder Taps

    There are numerous benefits to incorporating plank shoulder taps into your exercise routine. The plank shoulder tap is a variation of the traditional plank exercise with an additional compound movement.

    With a traditional plank, suspending your body in a prone position is an excellent way to place tension on the ab, lower back, glutes, and shoulders.

    Adding in the shoulder tap action will engage your obliques while simultaneously increasing the demand on your stabilizer muscles to prevent any excess rotation.

    Overall, plank shoulder taps are an excellent way to improve your core muscle strength and enhance overall muscle stability.


    The plank shoulder tap is an excellent workout for your arms that targets your biceps as you contract and bend them to tap your shoulder while in the plank position.

    You use your triceps to hold yourself up in the plank position while shifting your weight from one arm to the other.

    Overall, the plank shoulder tap has several benefits that strengthen the muscle groups that all work together to support your body.

    Firstly, plank shoulder taps can significantly improve your posture effectively.  Also, see Exercises To Correct Rounded Shoulders Posture.

    They also boast the added benefit of reducing lower back pain by strengthening the stabilizing muscles located in this area of the body. Your balance, on the whole, can be greatly improved by performing plank shoulder taps.

    What Are the Benefits of Plank Shoulder Taps5

    At the same time, you tighten and strengthen your midsection as you perform the exercise.

    Plank shoulder taps will help you strengthen your core to a great degree while improving your flexibility.

    These benefits will serve you in a big way when performing any other exercises in the gym or at home.

    Because of the nature of the exercise, you can greatly enhance the strength of your wrists by performing plank shoulder taps. This benefit will help you in many other aspects of your daily life. See more in Shoulder Workout Machines and Exercises.


    How to Perform Plank Shoulder Taps Correctly

    How to Perform Plank Shoulder Taps Correctly

    Your shoulders and hips must be kept steady throughout the plank shoulder tap. This is important as it is an anti-rotation movement that will see its greatest benefits through the body’s stability, as mentioned above.

    Begin the exercise in a traditional straight-arm plank. You can widen your legs if you need extra stability during the plank shoulder tap. 

    Ensure that your spine is neutral and that your neck and back are straight. Your hips must remain aligned with your shoulders. Engage your core and squeeze your glute muscles. This will ensure that your body remains stable and flat throughout the exercise.

    How to Perform Plank Shoulder Taps Correctly4

    While ensuring your core is completely tight, lift your right hand upwards from the floor and touch your left shoulder while ensuring that your hips do not move. Next, return your right hand to the floor.

    Repeat the same exercise with the left hand, touching your right shoulder. Keep repeating this exercise for the desired number of repetitions, alternating sides with each repetition. Ensure that your body remains in a straight line throughout the entire exercise.

    If you want to decrease the difficulty of the exercise at first, you can begin on your knees.

    The act of dropping onto your knees will alleviate some of the tension on the core. Rest assured, it will still ensure you can have a good workout for your abs, obliques, and shoulders.

    How to Perform Plank Shoulder Taps Correctly3

    Alternatively, widen your stance to make the exercise slightly easier.

    On the other hand, if you find the exercise too easy, you can bring your feet closer together.

    Bringing your feet closer together will make it more difficult for you to maintain stability, recruiting extra muscles to complete the exercise, thereby increasing the challenge.

    After each shoulder tap, you could extend your arm straight out in front of you.

    By extending your arm, you will increase the time that your abs and shoulders spend under pressure. The exercise will feel more difficult, and you will see the benefits in the results.

    Plan - Left Leg Raise

    Alternatively, lift your left leg straight behind you while your right arm lifts to tap your left shoulder. Extend your right leg behind you when lifting your left arm to tap your right shoulder.

    Remember with any of these modifications that proper form is the most important consideration.

    Without proper form, you will compromise the success of the exercise while putting yourself at risk for injury.

    Keep your back straight and your arms stacked at all times, and you will be sure to enjoy all the possible benefits of the exercise.


    Standing Shoulder Taps

    Shoulder TapStanding shoulder taps are an extremely simplified version of the plank shoulder tap.

    This exercise is perhaps a good place to start if you have never done any planking before, as it will introduce you to the act of tapping your shoulders.

    It will prepare the smaller muscles for this action while employing your stabilizing muscles to ensure a successful exercise.

    Stand up straight with your core engaged to perform a standing shoulder tap.

    Standing Shoulder Tap

    Image Credit: Darebee

    Begin by placing your right hand on your right shoulder in the most comfortable way possible.

    Lift your arm upwards until it is fully extended. Remember to engage your arm and shoulder muscles during the activity to ensure a successful exercise. 

    Squeeze your muscles at the top of the exercise, and repeat the entire sequence with the other arm.


    Muscles Worked During Shoulder Taps

    Muscles Worked During Shoulder Taps

    Plank shoulder taps work a surprising number of muscles simultaneously.

    This makes this exercise an excellent option to include in your workout routine at any stage. 

    First and foremost, the plank shoulder tap exercise works the rectus abdominis.

    The rectus abdominis is the muscles associated with your six-pack, so it’s naturally an important group of muscles to work with.

    Plank shoulder taps also target the serratus anterior. These are the muscles situated around the rib cage area.

    Muscles Worked During Shoulder Taps2

    The next muscle candidate that benefits from plank shoulder taps are the trapezius muscle (or traps, as they are more commonly known). This is a major muscle in the upper back and neck region.

    The plank shoulder taps also target the triceps, adding to the list of benefits of this exercise.

    Next is the gluteus medius (not to be confused with the gluteus maximus). The hip abductor muscles are located on the outer sides of the pelvis.

    The obliques on both sides of the core are also targeted during plank shoulder taps and the erector spinae, which is the set of muscles in the lower back region.

    All in all, plank shoulder taps are an excellent exercise that serves to stimulate several muscles simultaneously. See more exercises in Shoulder Mobility Exercises and Stretches for Shoulder Flexibility.


    Form Mistakes With Plank Shoulder Taps

    Form Mistakes With Plank Shoulder Taps

    As with any exercise, there is great potential to make mistakes in your form.

    These mistakes can jeopardize your safety during the exercise while simultaneously taking away from its potential benefits.

    By avoiding mistakes with your technique and adopting the correct form, you will reduce the chances of injury while ensuring you see the maximum benefits from the exercise.

    Many lift their rear ends while performing a plank shoulder tap or dip their stomachs towards the ground.

    Form Mistakes With Plank Shoulder Taps4

    These are both fundamental mistakes that will almost defeat the purpose of the exercise.

    You will prevent tension in the core by performing a plank shoulder tap with your hips held high.

    You must maintain tension in the core throughout the exercise to help focus on the correct muscles and strengthen them appropriately.

    Allowing your hips to sag during this exercise will stress the lower back, a highly undesirable side effect of the plank shoulder tap.

    If you place your feet together, it will be easier for your body to twist and rotate when moving through the exercise. It’s important, therefore, to ensure your feet remain hip-distance apart so your body can remain square with the floor.

    Many people slide their hands out for support during a plank shoulder tap. This makes the exercise somewhat easier.

    Form Mistakes With Plank Shoulder Taps2

    However, this will cause an unnecessary overextension of the body, resulting in unnecessary stress placed on the shoulder joints. Ensure that your hands remain stacked directly underneath your shoulders to avoid this.

    One of the most important things to remember with plank shoulder taps is ensuring your hips remain as steady as possible throughout the exercise.

    Naturally, as you lift one of your hands off the ground to touch the opposite shoulder, gravity will have the effect of pulling the body downwards.

    As a result, you will need to recruit the muscles on the opposite side of the body to ensure that you do not fall over. Ensuring that your hips remain completely still throughout will keep the right muscles engaged during the activity.



    What Are the Benefits of Plank Shoulder taps

    Plank shoulder taps are an extremely useful exercise that benefits various muscles in your upper body.

    As with any other exercise, correct form is of utmost importance to ensure the exercise performs its objective while preventing injury.


    James Wright

    James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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