How To Get Your Abdominals Burning With Core Toe Taps

Assistant Managing Editor By Abby Moore
Assistant Managing Editor
Abby Moore is an assistant managing editor at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Ignite Your Core With A Pilates Move That's Way More Exciting Than Plank

Finding the motivation to do an hourlong workout can sometimes be more challenging than the workout itself. If it's just one of those days, skip the long sweat session and opt for mini movements throughout the day. Can't decide where to start? We recommend this core-burning, toe-tapping Pilates move.

Now, before you start grumbling, this abs exercise from certified Pilates instructor Helen Phelan is much more exciting than your generic plank or crunch. Plus, a strong core helps to maintain healthy posture, prevent injuries in the lower back, and improve coordination and balance.

So, if you're sitting all day (be it for work or for lounging), squeezing in a core movement is pretty essential. Here's how:

How to do core toe taps.

toe tap

Image by Helen Phelan

  1. Lie on your back with your hands at your sides.
  2. Bring the knees to a tabletop position and keep them bent at 90 degrees. Engage your core and press your lower back into the ground.
  3. Tap the right leg toward the ground. Then return it to tabletop. Repeat on the other side.
  4. Complete 10 reps.

Tips to keep in mind.

This particular exercise is great for anyone looking to build a strong and stable core. "Your toes don't need to actually tap the floor for this exercise to be effective," says Phelan, "your main concern here should be getting your back ribs to stay connected to the floor as the legs move."

If it starts to feel too easy, consider adding a challenge by crunching your upper body up every time your leg lowers. For an even bigger progression, add an arm reach: As you tap your right leg on the ground, extend your right arm straight behind you. As you lift your right leg, return your right hand behind your head. Do the same on the opposite side.

Benefits of toe taps.

Toe taps are a foundational Pilates movement, which allow people to engage the deepest of core muscles, the transverse abs (TVA), and emphasize spinal stability, Phelan explains.

Don't confuse the word foundational for "easy," though. "If you're doing them right—no matter how long you've been doing Pilates—they burn," she says. (But don't worry; it's the good kind of burn). As with any workout, tailor the move to your own body, and be sure to breathe throughout.

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