Shoulder Tap Pushups: How To, Benefits,…

There are many different ways to improve your current exercise routine. What about doing shoulder tap pushups, what will the effects be?

Shoulder tap pushups are a pushup variation where you tap the shoulder of the opposite side with your hand in between each repetition.

By doing this you challenge your balance and coordination more and you core more to a small extent. That being said, shoulder tap pushups are still mostly for growing muscles like your chest, triceps, and shoulders.

The downside of shoulder tap pushups is that your spend less time challenging these main muscles. If that is your goal regular pushups are likely the better choice.

In the case of both the shoulder tap and regular pushup you may need to make the bodyweight version more challenging soon to keep seeing a lot of muscle growth.

Whether you should add shoulder tap pushups or alternatives to your routine ultimately depends on things like your personal situation, personal preference, and training goals.

How to do a shoulder tap pushup

To do a shoulder tap pushup take the following steps:

  1. Start on your hands and knees with your hands at about shoulder width and right below your shoulders.
  2. Move your feet back until your body is in a straight line from your head to your heels and your shoulders are right above your wrists.
  3. Slowly fold your arms at your elbows until your face is close to the platform. Your upper arms should be at an angle of about 45 degrees to your sides. Another way to put it is if someone is looking down at you from above your arms should make an arrow, not a T.
  4. Stretch your arms again and move your foot in the air back until you are back in the position from the second step.
  5. Shift your weight to one side and reach with the hand of the opposite side to your shoulder.
  6. Put the hand back into the previous position.
  7. Repeat the same movement but tap with the hand on the other side.

Keep your movements slow and controlled to make your chest, tricep, shoulder, and core muscles really work hard and avoid bad technique. If you struggle with balance you can put your feet slightly farther apart from each other.

The main attention points for shoulder tap pushups are keeping your back straight and the position of your upper arms. Also make sure you keep your neck in one line with your upper body.

Lastly you can also do two taps after each repetition if you want to focus more on the balance and coordination aspect of the exercise.

How to do a shoulder tap pushup

Shoulder tap pushup variations and stepping stones

The shoulder tap pushup with just your body weight is the standard version of the exercise. There are also a few shoulder tap pushup variations and stepping stones that can make the exercise easier, harder, or help you work up to a full shoulder tap pushup.

Easier varations

Some people are not ready yet for shoulder tap pushups. To work up to the full version you can start with a regular pushup or knee pushup if your chest, tricep, and shoulder muscles are not strong enough yet.

If you struggle with the balance part you can start with plank shoulder taps and the knee version of the same exercise.

Something else you can do is the shoulder tap variation of an incline pushup, a pushup with your hands on an elevated surface. Incline pushups are easier because less of your weight rests on your arms.

Make sure you use a sturdy and stable object that can deal with the movements of the extra jumps for this.

All of these will help you similar areas of your physical health that are used in the actual exercise but at a less challenging level.

Harder variations

If you are more experienced with chest, tricep, and shoulder resistance training, bodyweight shoulder tap pushups may be too easy to build a lot of extra muscle mass fast. At this point, you need to turn to other exercises or make shoulder tap pushups harder to keep growing your muscles a lot.

Making shoulder tap pushups harder at the right points in your training journey can also speed up muscle growth compared to doing the bodyweight variation over and over.

The first way to make shoulder tap pushups harder is by doing a shoulder tap variation of a decline pushup, a pushup with your feet on an elevated object. By changing the angle a bigger and bigger part of your body weight rests on your arms. This makes the pushup harder.

Another way is to do weighted shoulder tap pushups, basically doing shoulder tap pushups with extra external resistance. For this your main option is a weighted vest.

Shoulder tap pushups muscles worked

With any exercise you will almost always make a variety of different muscles work, especially with a compound chest exercise like shoulder tap pushups. Even so, there are a few muscles that will have to work the hardest for moving and keeping your body in position.

Even with the extra arm movements, shoulder tap pushups are still mainly an exercise to work chest and tricep muscles. Your arm muscles like biceps, shoulders, and triceps will have to work harder compared to a regular plank.

Shoulder tap pushups are still mainly an exercise to work chest and tricep muscles. Your shoulders and core muscles (abs and obliques) may have to work a good amount too.

Besides that muscles like glutes, quadriceps, erector spinae, hip flexors, biceps, triceps, and back muscles may have to work a small amount too.

Compared to regular pushups, shoulder tap pushups will engage your core muscles slightly more. At the same time you spend less time training the main target muscles of the exercise.

The way you build muscle in places like your chest and triceps is by engaging these muscles so that they get damaged enough. This may sound counterintuitive but this damaging makes it so your body repairs these muscles, and adds a bit more to be better prepared to exert similar efforts in the future.

If you stick to exercises with the same weight, as your muscles become stronger this same effort may not damage your muscles enough to promote extra muscle growth.

By adding extra resistance to exercises like shoulder tap pushups you are better able to damage the muscles in a shorter amount of time. If you don’t overdo it, give your body enough nutrients, and give your muscles enough rest this can in turn lead to faster and more chest and tricep muscle gain.

Depending on your personal situation, workout plan, and training goals, shoulder tap pushups may be a good or bad addition.

Shoulder tap pushup benefits

Some people question how useful this exercise can be but adding shoulder tap pushups to your routine can offer you some amazing benefits.

While shoulder tap pushups do focus slightly more on balance and core muscles and less on chest and tricep muscles, most of their benefits are similar to regular pushups. Some of the most important ones include:

  1. Stronger muscles: Shoulder tap pushups are a type of resistance training that can help you strengthen your tricep and core muscles.
  2. Can help with losing weight: Doing shoulder tap pushups likely requires more energy than your regular daily activities. Extra muscle mass also helps with burning more calories. Both of these aspects can help with, but are no guarantee for, weight loss.
  3. Improves mood: Exercise like shoulder tap pushups promotes the release of substances that help you feel good.
  4. Slows down aging: Shoulder tap pushups won’t influence how many days have passed since you were born. However, exercise can slow down the progress of certain aging markers that are correlated with negative health effects.
  5. Balance and coordination: Balance and coordination are fitness skills that can be improved by challenging them. Shoulder tap pushups can help you with this.
  6. Improves sleep: Exercise like shoulder tap pushups can improve the quality and duration of your sleep which in turn offers many important benefits.

While inevitably some workouts are better for some of these benefits than shoulder tap pushups, it is amazing that you can get so many important benefits from adding one activity to your routine.

Potential risks

The main thing to keep in mind is that shoulder tap pushups can be hard on body parts like your shoulders, wrists, elbows, back, and neck even if you implement the right technique.

If you are weak or sensitive in these body parts you may need to do other strengthening exercises first. Especially if you have any shoulder, back, or wrist pain, you may want to talk to your primary care provider before implementing shoulder tap pushups into your workout routine.

If you feel pain in any body parts it may be a sign you are overdoing it. In that case, you may need some rest, better lifestyle habits, a less intense workout schedule, or it may be a sign that shoulder tap pushups are not (yet) for you.

Shoulder tap pushup alternatives

While shoulder tap pushups can be a good addition to your workout routine, there are also some alternatives available for training similar aspects of your physical health. Some of these shoulder tap pushup alternatives include:

  • Regular pushups
  • Bench presses
  • Sideways leg raises on the captain’s chair
  • Ab wheel V-rolls
  • Plank shoulder taps

Which one of these options is the best depends on things like your personal situation, training goals, the equipment you have available, etc.

Conclusion

Many people will benefit from adding shoulder tap pushups with the right technique to their routine. You may need to switch to more challenging alternatives or make shoulder tap pushups harder soon to keep seeing a lot of muscle growth and strength progress.

That being said, if you want to train your chest, triceps, and shoulders in the shortest amount of time, regular pushups are likely the better option. For more balance and coordination training, shoulder tap pushups can be helpful anyway.

You also need to remember is that shoulder tap pushups can be hard on body parts like your shoulders, wrists, elbows, back, and neck, even if you implement the right technique.

If you are sensitive or weak in these body parts you may need to do other strengthening exercises first. Especially if you have any shoulder, back, or wrist pain, you may want to talk to your primary care provider before doing more shoulder tap pushups.

Also keep in mind that consistency is an important factor for any workout plan. The more you love the exercise you do the easier it becomes to do it consistently. If doing shoulder tap pushups is a workout you love, great. If not, other exercises can also offer a lot of benefits.

If you do decide to implement more shoulder tap pushups make sure you give your body enough nutrients, rest, and sleep to repair and grow your muscles. Also make sure you train your back muscles to avoid things like hunched shoulders.

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