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Plyometric or aerobic boxes are the boxes of choice for toe taps.
If you're looking for a simple way to tone your lower body, it doesn't get much more straight forward than toe taps. Toe taps are a versatile plyometric exercise that rely on the strength of your hamstrings and quadriceps to complete the movement. Toe taps with boxes are particularly easy to adapt to your fitness level, allowing you to ease into the movement or amp up the intensity with simple adjustments.
Anatomy of a Toe Tap
A toe tap may refer to a number of aerobic exercises or even dance movements, but a toe tap with a box is a specific type of exercise that is intended to engage your lower body muscles. To perform a toe tap, start by standing with your toes pointing towards your plyometric box or aerobic stair. With a small jump, hop with your right foot onto the box, with your left foot landing on the ground. Take another small jump and switch feet so that your right foot stabilizes your body on the ground and your left foot is on top of the box. Continue jumping and alternating your feet to complete the set. A typical set may last between 30 and 90 seconds, depending on your fitness level and the height of your box.
Toe taps with boxes rely almost entirely on the engagement of your leg muscles to complete the exercise. Your quadriceps contract to lift your leg onto the box, as well as to stabilize the body on the opposite leg. As an added muscular bonus, your hamstrings and calves contract to increase your body's stability as you swtich between legs. The level of engagement is connected to the height of the box; boxes lower to the ground will have less impact, while increasing the height increases the intensity of the exercise.
True to Form
Stability is key to ensuring your safety during toe taps. Never perform a toe tap on a wobbly or flimsy box; even the strongest quads won't save you when your box tips over. Aerobic or plyometric boxes are best, but the bottom stair of your staircase may also work. Though increasing the height of the box will increase the intensity of the workout, it also increases your risk for injury, particularly if you have weak or injured knees. Start with a box that does not require you to lift your leg at greater than a 90-degree angle. If you feel pain or experience instability, move to a lower box and work up to the higher steps.
Variations for Increased Impact
If you think toe taps are just for beginner step aerobics classes, you might be ready to step up your game and add a challenging twist to the classic move. The simplest way to increase the impact is to add some cardio impact to this quad-strengthening move. Once you are steady on your feet, increase the speed of your switches so that you are alternating your feet in rapid succession. If you still aren't feeling the burn, hold a set of hand weights or dumbbells during the exercise to increase the load on your quads. Still not feeling it in those quads? Turn your toe tap into a step up by bringing your second foot onto the box after placing the first foot.