Working out can offer benefits but not all exercises have the same effects. Find out how to do plank toe taps and what they can do for you.
To do a plank toe tap you start in a regular plank position, move one foot/leg outward, tap the floor, go back to starting position, and repeat the same movement with your other foot.
Plank toe taps will mostly be challenging for your abs and hip flexors similar to the regular plank.
By adding the foot movements, you train your balance just a bit more and make the regular plank somewhat more interesting.
Similar to regular planks, the downside of the toe tap version is that you work your muscles isometrically (in a static way). This is generally less effective than more dynamic ab and hip flexor exercises.
Additionally, people who are more experienced with ab training will have to make bodyweight plank toe taps more challenging to see muscle growth and strength results.
If you really like plank toe taps and/or find more dynamic ab exercises uncomfortable on your back, you can consider implementing this exercise.
If not, you likely want to choose one of the more effective exercise alternatives available.
How to do a plank toe tap
Take the following steps to do a plank toe tap:
- Get in a plank position where you lean on your forearms and feet with your body in a straight line from your heels to the top of your head. Keep your shoulders above your hands.
- Shift your weight to one foot and lift the foot on the other side.
- Move the foot in the air sideways as far as comfortable and tap the floor.
- Return the outer foot to the starting position and repeat the same movement with the other side.
The main thing to keep in mind when doing plank toe taps is keeping your body straight. You don’t want to lower your hips too much but don’t want to raise them too much either.
Additionally, keeping your neck in one line with your body tends to be more comfortable.
If you find the floor uncomfortable on your forearms, you can also consider doing plank toe taps in the high plank position with your hands flat on the ground.
This variation will be more challenging for your balance and tricep muscles.
You can make both of these variations harder by wearing a good weighted vest close to your hips. This can offer more training results.
Muscles worked with plank toe taps
Compound ab exercises like plank toe taps involve a variety of muscles. That being said, there are a few that have to work the hardest.
Plank toe taps will mainly work your abs and hip flexor muscles. Your oblique muscles will have to work a nice amount too.
Besides that, you will also engage muscles like your hip abductors (outer thighs), hip adductors (inner thighs), quadriceps (front thighs), and glutes (butt).
Compared to a regular plank, the toe tap version will mostly work your outer thigh and inner thigh muscles more.
You do move your legs but for your ab muscles, plank toe taps are still mainly a type of isometric exercise. That means your muscles have to work but they don’t lengthen or shorten.
This is important to note because more dynamic (isotonic) exercises tend to be more helpful for growing and strengthening muscles.
You can do weighted planks to counteract this to some extent. However, even with this option in mind, there are likely more effective exercises than plank toe taps to grow and strengthen the muscles above.
Plank toe tap benefits
Even if they are not the number one option in terms of effectiveness, plank toe taps can still offer a few benefits over doing nothing. Some of these include:
- Balance and coordination: Plank toe taps can be challenging in terms of balance and coordination. This can help you become better in these areas.
- Stronger muscles: Plank toe taps can still help you strengthen a few muscles if you do them with enough resistance, repetitions, and sets.
- Can help with losing weight: Plank toe taps are not the most effective for losing weight but they help you move more intensely and potentially help you build a bit of muscle. This could help weight loss but keep in mind that you may need to make other changes too.
- Improves mood: Exercises like plank toe taps promote the release of substances that can help improve your mood.
- Improves sleep: You can improve the quality and duration of your sleep by implementing certain habits. One of these habits is doing exercises like plank toe taps more often.
- Slows down aging: Plank toe taps can slow down how fast certain aging processes progress. This can lead to a reduction in the risk of a variety of diseases.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Strengthening core muscles like your abs with plank toe taps can reduce or prevent back pain (1, 2). You do want to be careful and potentially talk to an expert first if you have issues in this area.
It is true that there are exercises that are better for these benefits than plank toe taps. Even so, it is useful to know that your life can get better by implementing even just one exercise.
You want to keep in mind that some people will find plank toe taps uncomfortably on body parts like your back, hips, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and neck.
People who are weak in one or more of these areas may need to do other strengthening exercises before doing plank toe taps.
Especially people who have any back pain may want to talk to an expert before implementing more plank toe taps into their exercise routines.
If you experience any pain, this may be a sign plank toe taps are not for you (yet). You might need more rest, better lifestyle habits, and/or a less intense workout schedule.
Plank toe tap alternatives
As mentioned, there will be plank toe tap alternatives that are more effective for a variety of fitness goals. If you like these just as much, you might as well do the exercises that offer more results.
A few plank toe tap alternatives include:
- Ab wheel roll-outs
- Reverse crunches
- Leg raises on the captain’s chair
- Plank toe touches
- Bicycle crunches
What plank toe tap alternative you want to do depends on details like your body, personal preferences, training goals, equipment available, etc.
Many people can get a few helpful benefits by doing more plank toe taps. Mostly growing and strengthening their abs and hip flexors.
You want to keep in mind that you may need to use extra weights to achieve these goals. Especially if you are more experienced with ab and hip flexor resistance training.
Additionally, there are exercise alternatives that are more effective for growing and strengthening your ab muscles.
If you really enjoy plank toe taps or find more dynamic ab exercises uncomfortable on your spine, you could consider implementing this exercise anyway.
Enjoying your exercise routine can help you stay more consistent. This leads to a variety of other benefits.
At the same time, if these things do not apply to you, plank alternatives and other exercises can also offer a lot of benefits.
No matter what resistance training exercises you implement, you want to make sure you consume enough nutrients, give your muscles enough rest, and give your body sleep to repair and strengthen your muscles.