Forget crunches – add this one exercise to your workouts for ultimate core strength

It’s particularly good for those days you're training upper body too

woman doing high plank
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Crunches aren’t just difficult to master, but they only target a selection of isolated muscles, your abdominal muscles. This may be beneficial if you’re just headset on getting abs (although your diet is key here), but if you want total core strength, avoid them. A celebrity fitness trainer suggests adding this one exercise to the start of each of your warm ups instead, and it won’t take you any longer than five minutes.

The fitness trainer in speaking is Dave Rienzi, who’s trained the likes of Henry Cavill and Dwayne Johnson, so it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about building a core of steel. You don’t need any home gym equipment either as it’s a bodyweight exercise. 

The one exercise he recommends that you do,  is the shoulder tap. This compound exercise works a multitude of muscles, including: your deep core muscles, abdominal muscles, obliques, back, shoulders, arms, chest, quads and glutes. A lot of muscles for one bodyweight exercise! 

You don’t need to do loads of sets and reps either, Dave recommends doing just three sets of 10 reps. “What’s unique about this exercise and the form is that you’re going to want to tap your shoulder for one to two seconds before switching arm," he says in his post. "This will challenge your core even more and make this exercise even more effective.”

How to do the shoulder tap

If you can’t hold a regular plank, you can just do this exercise from a kneeling push up position instead. "The wider your feet are the more stable/easier it will be," Dave writes in his post. "Start with your feet a little wider than shoulder width and move them in closer as you progress."

Here’s a step-by-step of how to perform shoulder taps:

  • Get into your high plank position: start on all fours, with your hands beneath your shoulders, then raise your knees off the floor and straighten your legs
  • Tighten your core and slowly raise one hand of the floor, then reach across to the opposite shoulder and tap it
  • Slowly bring that hand back to starting position, then repeat on the other side
Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.