What They Are and How to Do Them

While tapping on the back may seem like a board, in reality it is an exercise in its own right. This high-energy, low-impact movement targets your shoulders (of course!), Abs, and obliques, and will also activate your lower back as the core is activated to stabilize the entire body.

As you shift weight from arm to arm, in addition to its restorative benefits, this exercise will also increase your heart rate for a cardio boost. And as a bonus, your wrists and arms will get stronger over time, making it easier for you to carry more weight and support the body without feeling the strain.

Would you like to learn more? Get all the tips and tricks from the experts below.

What are shoulder taps?

When you pat on the back, you have to touch the opposite shoulder with each hand, which means it’s an active movement. “When you put your hand on your shoulder, you have to keep your body still in a plank position,” says Cat Kom, CEO and founder of Studio SWEAT onDemand. “This makes them a functional full-body exercise that targets multiple groups, including the deep core muscles, and (for posture) they help you maintain a square position in your hips and shoulders.”

To get the full benefit of this exercise, be sure to keep the spine in line, stabilizing the core, and avoiding any rotation of the hips.

But before you even try patting on the back, start with the basics. “Tapping on the back is a great way to spice up your core exercise, but should only be done after you’ve mastered a high plank hold,” said Brittany Bowman, personal trainer at DOGPOUND Los Angeles. This is because core strength is required to keep the body from swaying and hips from diving.


In addition to strengthening your arms, shoulders, and core, patting on the back:

  • Are minor effects: Shoulder taps do not require jumping or “jerking movements” and are therefore more gentle on the body compared to exercises like plank jacks. This makes them a suitable strength-building workout for those who avoid high-intensity sports.
  • Do not need any equipment: Perfect for workouts on the go, pat on the back only requires your body weight! The only addition you could consider putting a mat under you to cushion your palms.
  • Can improve posture: Given the extension of the spine and careful positioning of the body, tapping on the back naturally promotes good posture that can help you stand more upright.
  • Are versatile: Throw them in as a complementary exercise to a strength training, HIIT, or core workout. You can also make them easier by doing them on your knees or completing the challenge in a sloping position.

The right form of pat on the back

Follow our step-by-step guide from the experts to learn how to do a pat on the back with the correct form.

  1. Lower yourself onto the mat and bring your body into a high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders. If a full plank is too difficult, get on your knees and / or keep your feet hip-width apart for more stability.
  2. While squeezing your core together and keeping your hips and shoulders perpendicular to the floor, press in your right hand while tapping your right shoulder with your left palm.
  3. Turn the tap on with your right palm on your left shoulder.
  4. Make sure your shoulders are down and relaxed throughout the movement, and watch for your hips swaying.
  5. Alternate between sides for about 10-20 seconds (for beginners) and increase the time and / or repetitions as you gain strength and confidence.

“The aim is to avoid rocking sideways and any kind of turning movement. So always make sure that your hips are parallel to the floor, ”says Bowman.

How to change

There are many ways to decrease or increase the intensity of the exercise, depending on your fitness goals and core strength. “If you want to modify anything, first place your hands on a raised surface (e.g.,” As you get stronger, you can get down on your knees and then finally on your hands in a full plank. ”

From there, you can continue to challenge your muscles. “Try holding your hand on the opposite shoulder for 3-5 seconds to increase core activation or, if you’re patting your back from a high plank, try lifting your alternate leg as you pat it out “Adds Kom.

The key to patting the back is to maintain stability in the body. Therefore, practice holding yourself in position while patting your shoulders with your hands before continuing the movement. Once you are able to control the swaying of your hips, it is time to move on to the next level.

Security aspects

“As with any exercise, make sure you’re tapping the back with the correct form to avoid injury,” says Kom. Be aware that your hips are sagging, which puts unwanted pressure on your lower back, or yourself during the Moving movement too fast, causing shocks in the body that take focus away from the core. “Start slowly – especially if you have weaker wrists or shoulders as this exercise can put stress on those areas – and work your way up to higher reps,” says Kom.

If you’re not sure, start with an easier modification to perfect your shape in the first place. For example, “Getting on your knees and raising your hands will take some pressure off your wrists,” suggests Bowman. Or, after each alternating tap, drop to your knees for a moment (with control) to rest and sit back.

The last snack

Shoulder taps are designed to target the arms, shoulders, and core (especially the lower back), require no equipment, and are performed by tapping each palm on the opposite shoulder while maintaining a stable plank position. They can be modified by falling on your knees or using a raised surface, such as a desk. B. a block, or by lifting your feet more difficult. This exercise should be avoided if you suffer from chronic wrist, shoulder, or lower back injuries and make sure your hips are parallel to the floor and your spine is aligned during the movement. Your hips shouldn’t sway; Instead, stabilize yourself through the core to pat on the back with proper control.

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