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December 13, 2021 8 min read

If you have spent enough time at the gym, you would have come across isometric exercises like the plank. A linchpin of any gym bro’s exercise routine, planks come tailored in different variations that would make any noob’s head spin.

Plank toe touches are a bodyweight exercise, which simply means that you do not need to adopt the use of bulky gym equipment or even free weights. It is a pleasant way to take a break from high-impact and tedious routines while still ensuring that you give your muscles a bit of exercise.

Plank To Toe Touch exercise illustration

What Are Plank Toe Touches?

Plank toe touches are a simple exercise that doubles as a compound workout. Compared to many exercises, it is viewed as a relatively low-impact calisthenics option that can help you work as many muscles as possible in just a few movements. Plank toe touches are really just ‘plank with toe touches’. Many gym pros consider this exercise as a standard exercise on its own, while others view it as an active recovery  workout to circuit in for more difficult routines.

Regardless of its use, plank toe touches are a pleasant addition to an already sturdy workout routine. Planks are inarguably one of the best options when it comes to core and stability training. Therefore plank toes are forever a go-to option for the full-body, core tightening workout for many. While this would in no way help you achieve major bulking, it is a valid choice if you are looking to get cut. Plank toe touches make use of the same ideology as planks.

To do plank toe touches, you are required to get into a high plank position and then bend your torso to touch the toes of your leg with an opposite hand. 

Core exercises are a major part of any routine, as a strong core is synonymous with a healthier life and an ability to function better in gym exercises. 

Research shows a strong core is not only important in high-impact exercises but also in the everyday lifestyle, important to a healthy back, crucial to body stability, and also vital to having good posture.

Muscles Worked In Plank Toe Touches

Plank toe touches are a splendid choice of ab workout. It helps to activate the primary muscles of the abdomen which are the external obliques, internal obliques, Pyramidalis, rectus abdominis, and transverse abdominis. The aim of plank toe touches is to strengthen the muscles of your torso and obliques. Although it does not promote the growth of muscle groups or hypertrophy like other workout options, it involves the activation of lagging muscles to varying degrees.

Compared to some bodyweight exercises, Plank toe touches are relatively more challenging and thus engage the muscles of the upper body and lower body. Many beginners might find the minimal exercise challenging, as it requires pre-existing strength in the arms and the core or stabilizer muscles. When done properly, plank toe touches will help you to activate the ab muscles or the rectus abdominis. The rectus abdominis is a pair of long, flat muscles that run along the front part of the abdominal wall.

These muscles attach to the sternum and join the pubis. The muscles are important in daily activities that involve the bending of the body forward and sideways, bowel movements, and even something as trivial as letting out a cough. A toned rectus abdominis is often visible as the six-pack, which is basically just strengthened abs seen through a thin layer of belly fat. Plank toe touches are also great for priming the obliques, two muscles that are on each side of the abdominals and run the length of the ribs to the rib cage.

Each oblique, in reality, is a pair of muscles known as the internal and external obliques. The obliques help in the bending, twisting, and turning of the torso. Together, stronger abs and obliques are for stabilization of the upper body. It ensures that the balance is better during normal activities and when carrying out high-impact exercises in the gym. This helps to achieve body goals faster while ensuring that you are safe from injuries in these sports activities.

Stronger abs and obliques also are critical to preventing lower back pains. Other than working your core, plank toe touches help to work the hip flexor and the shoulder muscles, as these muscle groups are also engaged when your body completes the proper range of motion. The plank toe touch also activates the muscles of the glutes, triceps, quadriceps or quads, erector spinae, and muscles of the upper and lower back.

It also helps to lengthen the hamstring and even helps your calves join in on the fun. In summary, while many people might argue that plank toe touches is mainly a core exercise, it is safe to note that your whole body gains mechanical tension from this exercise. Plank toe touches are overall a great option for cross-training at the gym.

Are Plank Toe Touches Worth the Hype?

What advantages do plan toe touches offer? Other than the most obvious options like core strength, which is necessary to scale up to other more challenging exercises, plank toe touches help to;

  • Strengthen muscles: Bodyweight exercises are also, to some extent, resistance training exercises. Since your bodyweight is working against your muscles, you are, in fact, training and strengthening these muscles.
  • Weight loss: Although Plank toe touches are not a stand-alone exercise option for losing weight, coupled with the proper weight loss exercises, are effective for metabolic conditioning. While it is advisable to take it slow, safely increasing the tempo of your plan toe touches is a sure way to get your heart racing. This much-needed cardio is great for getting sweaty, getting your heart racing, and essentially burning those extra calories
  • Improves flexibility: Plank toe touches are a fun way to get your joints, especially your back, flexible. Keeping proper form during the exercise will also train your body to improve hamstring flexibility while also strengthening it.
  • Can be done anywhere: Seeking that you do not require the use of bulky gym equipment, plank toe touches can be done anywhere and at any time. It does not matter if you are in the comfort of your home, on vacation, or even at the gym.
  • Improves balance: Plank toe touches challenge and work some of the stabilizer muscles and so improve the balance and coordination of your body. Balance and coordination are important characteristics in life and at the gym. Getting involved in other high-impact exercises requires some amount of balance and body coordination in order to achieve your goals. Balance and coordination also go a long way in reducing the chances of injuries in the gym.
  • Prevent back pain: The core muscles of your body are an intricate system of muscle groups also connected to your back. Strengthening these muscles would help you have a strong back. This would go a long way in reducing or preventing back pain in your daily activities. It would also help you avoid injuries during exercises.
  • Promote good posture: Apart from easing the stress placed on your spine and reducing back pain, plank toe touches are equally effective for ensuring that you have a straight and aligned body posture. It strengthens your back, shoulder, and chest muscles to make it easier to have a neutral spine and stand taller without slouching. This helps to disperse your body weight.

While these are great ways to help tone your muscles, it is important to note that plank toe touches are not a great choice for losing belly fat. This would require that you incorporate other exercises to help you lose all that fat faster.

SHREDDED-AF, combined with the right exercises, are a great way to achieve good fat to muscle ratio.

Plank toe touches are easy, but can also be considered too easy for active individuals or athletes. Since it is a bodyweight exercise, it is easier to adapt to with stronger muscles. This simply means that people who have previously undergone lots of core training exercises might simply breeze through the exercise.

How To Do Plank Toe Touches


Plank toe touches involve aligning the body in a high plank position and touching the toes of the left foot and right foot alternately.

To do plank toe touches:

  1. Get into the push-up or high plank position. To get into this starting position, simply get on your hands and knees. Support your body weight on your hands and stretch your legs out behind you.
  2. Make sure that your hands are shoulder-width apart and feet are hip-width apart. Keep your elbows directly under your shoulders and support yourself on the balls of your feet. Distribute your weight evenly.
  3. Keep your head forward and your back straight. Ensure that you keep this form throughout your exercise reps.
  4. Lift your hips, shifting no part of your body. As you do this, stretch your right hand to touch the toes of your left leg. Do this while keeping your back straight.
  5. Hold this position for one second and then return to the starting position. Reach out your left hand as you simultaneously bend your hips, repeating the entire process. 
  6. Return to the starting position. This is one rep.

Plank toe touches are easy to do and even easier to get used to. Because it is a bodyweight exercise, there is a maximum limit to the amount of resistance that your body can provide. Once you are used to this limit, your body would not recognize this exercise as a challenge anymore.

To fix this, simply incorporate the use of resistance equipment into your plank toe touches routine. This could include the use of resistance bands, ankle cuffs, and weighted plates or vests. This would raise the difficulty level of your plank toe touches and make it more challenging.

Tips To hold Form

To get the right results from plank toe touches, it requires you to not only get into  proper form in the starting position of this exercise but also hold this form through your reps. Holding form can prove to be a difficult feat to beginners as their arms and legs tire out. Below are some tips on how to do plank toe touches properly:

  1. When stretching your right arm to your left foot or left foot to your right arm, focus on keeping the rest of your body still. This includes not adjusting your hips to drop some tension in your hamstrings and not moving your waist, shoulders, and head.
  2. Focus on restricting movement to the lower part of your body. The upper part of your body should support your body weight.
  3. Plank toe touches are relatively low-impact but also require strength in the back, hips, shoulders, and knees. Engage in other core exercises like the bicycle crunch, side plank, and other plan variation options to strengthen your muscles. This would help you reduce the risk of injuries when doing plank toe touches.
  4. If you find yourself lagging thanks to a weak core, simply warm up. Since studies show that planks are a great option for core strength, you are  doing your body a favor by warming with other plank variations and their alternatives. While doing this, remember to tip some stretches in.
  5. If you suffer from pre-existing health issues or injuries, ask for a spotter to assist you. This would ensure that you avoid injuries during your routine.

Wrapping Up

Although you might need to add more challenging exercises into your workout routines as you increase your working sets, plank toe touches remain a great option for core training. Coupled with other  core and abs workouts, plank toe touches are a splendid way to reach your fitness goals.