Toe Touches (Abs) – How To – Exercise Library


Toe Touches - How to - Exercise Library

Toe touches are a great core exercise that can be incorporated at the end of a workout to train abs or toward the beginning of a workout as part of the warmup.

Toe touches are also a good core option because they are both easier to learn for beginners, but also still challenging for more advanced athletes.

In this guide I’m going to show you how to do toe touches, what muscles they work along with a few variations and alternatives.

How To Do Toe Touches

  • Lay flat on your back with your legs perpendicular to the floor (legs straight up in the air).
  • From this position, keep your chin off of your chest, keep your arms straight and raise your upper body toward your feet.
  • Touch your toes (or at least reach as high up your shins as you can) with your fingers and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise until your set is complete.

Coaching Points

Athletes with tight hamstrings may find it hard to keep their legs straight up in the air through the duration of the exercise. Work to keep legs straight and vertical as much as possible.

Keep hands relatively close to the shins throughout the movement. Swinging the arms toward the head at the bottom causes momentum which takes away from the quality of the movement.

Muscles Worked

Muscles Worked - Rectus Abdominis
Muscles Worked – Rectus Abdominis (decade3d – anatomy online / shutterstock.com)

Toe Touches primarily work the Rectus Abdominis.

The Hip Flexors (and Quads to a lesser degree), also play a part in keeping the legs vertical during Toe Touches.

Toe Touch Variations

Looking to slightly change up your toe touches? Here are a couple variations that you can try out:

Alternating Toe Touches

Start in the same starting position as regular toe touches – laying on your back with legs straight and vertical to the floor.

Now, widen your feet to should width apart.

Take both hands and crunch up to the left foot first and then back now. Then take both hands and crunch up to the right foot.

Continue to alternate back and forth from one foot to the other.

This variation will get the Obliques much more involved in the movement.

Weighted Toe Touches

This variation will make toe touches more challenging. Keep the movement the exact same, but hold onto a plate or dumbbell.

The added weight will create more resistance and make the toe touches more difficult. (You also may get a little burn in the shoulders on high rep sets!)

Toe Touch Alternatives

If you’re unable to do Toe Touches, here are a couple alternatives you can try out.

Seated Crunches

If laying in the floor is an issue, you may be able to give Seated Crunches a shot.

For seated crunches, sit down on the edge of a bench with knees and feet close together.

Crunch by lifting your knees up towards your chest. Use your hands on the bench for support if necessary.

Sky Crunches

If raising your legs up into the air (or keeping them there) is a problem, then Sky Crunches may be a better alternative.

Sky Crunches are very similar to toe touches, but the position of the legs is different.

Keep the legs straight and laying straight down on the ground. Now, simply crunch straight up to the sky (hence the name!). Remember to keep your chin lifted up off your chest throughout the movement.

Final Thoughts

Toe Touches are a great core strengthening exercise to have in your repertoire. You can utilize them toward the beginning of your workout as part of your warmup or as a core finisher at the end.

They’re easy for beginners to learn and still challenging for more advanced lifters (especially if you use the weighted toe touch variation).

All of these reasons is why Toe Touches are one of my favorite core exercises to incorporate into my training programs.

Ryan Horton

Horton Barbell was created by Ryan Horton who has served as a Sports Performance Coach for almost 20 years. My mission is to create a training resource to help as many coaches and athletes as possible maximize athletic potential.

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