A friend of mine once described yoga to me in a way that made me laugh. “It’s stretching, but made annoying,” she remarked. For the record, she was referring to the fact that many yoga stretches resemble regular stretches, only they often contain an additional element that makes them more challenging by engaging so many other muscle groups. (Take Triangle Pose, for instance; you perform what appears to be your typical lower-body hamstring stretch, but the pose also requires you to extend an arm into the sky, adding difficulty.)
Though my friend was merely having fun, she unwittingly touched on one of the better strategies of exercising and elevating any exercise move, which engaging several muscle groups at once by making stability harder. And one of the single best exercise tricks for doing this is to use a piece of equipment you may have seen lying around your gym but have never tried before: exercise sliders, those little discs you put under your hands or feet while exercising that introduce a new variable of stability to your exercise.
Let’s be clear: When you use sliders, it is annoying, because they’re hard, and they’re especially effective at targeting your core.
“Sliders reduce the amount of friction that exists between your body and the ground,” Lucy Sexton, an RRCA-certified running coach, trainer, and co-founder of the online fitness program Bonded By The Burn, recently explained to Metro UK. “Limited friction creates instability which forces your core and stabilizing muscles to work that much harder to control you and sliders. When performing dynamic slider exercises you are working time under tension and lengthening connective tissue around your muscles.”
She also notes that using sliders will help you “engage muscles you never knew you had.”
Imagine that you’re doing a burpee. Now, imagine that you’re doing a burpee with two plastic discs under your feet, and when you drop down into pushup position, you actually have to slide your feet back while keeping your core engaged. That’s what sliders can do to a workout.
How to Start Using Sliders
Use them as a stability tool during core exercises such as planks. “If you want strong muscles around your spine and pelvis, you generally want to have your shoulders and hips moving in opposite directions,” exercise physiologist Pete McCall, M.S., C.S.C.S., explained to Self.
In other words, by placing a slider under your hand or a foot during the move can allow you the freedom to slide around that part while holding the plank and trying to keep the rest of the move stable. Ultimately, this enhances the exercise in a number of ways. When you do this, “you’re keeping the muscle under tension but also lengthening the connective tissue around the muscle, which is one of the reasons why it makes you shake so much,” McCall further explained.
There are plenty of great slider options available on Amazon, but know that you can likely get by using a simple kitchen towel, as well.
Some Great Slider Exercise Moves
If you’re ready to give sliders a go, see here for an amazing instructional of exercises you can do with them, which include full-body and core moves that include “the body saw,” “alternate slide plank circles,” “mountain climbers with sliders,” and more.
And for more great exercise advice, see here for the 20-Minute Walking Workout That Can Help You Lose Weight.