Everyone loves working out at home. It’s easier than making the trek to the gym, and you never have to deal with the typical annoyances of a packed fitness center—waiting for equipment, long lines at the water fountain, personal trainers pestering you to buy a private session. And for many people, working out at home isn’t a choice—it’s their only option. Their schedules are simply too busy to handle the rigmarole of going to a gym.
But although the convenience of working out at home is unmatched, a dearth of equipment can make it dull and repetitive. Most people own only one or two pieces of gym equipment—maybe a set of dumbbells or a kettlebell—severely limiting the variety of their workouts. That’s why many people who train at home end up simply doing a bunch of Push-Ups and Sit-Ups, which are not terribly effective and can get boring quickly.
But lucky for you, there are some easy ways to spice up your at-home workouts. One method? Slide board exercises. Traditional ones require a costly piece of equipment, but you can easily perform many of the same exercises with everyday materials.
What are Slide Board Exercises?
Slide board exercises take advantage of the slide board, a piece of equipment that allows you to “slide” through a movement, as opposed to standard exercises, which require you to lift your hands or feet off the ground.
There’s a reason why athletes like James Harden and Dwyane Wade include slide board exercises in their routines—they work. In addition to strengthening major muscle groups, they are excellent for building stabilizer muscles, which are crucial for balance, mobility and injury prevention. Slide board exercises are also excellent for increasing mobility and strengthening your core.
A slide board will run you about 170 bucks, but you can easily perform slide board exercises at home with everyday materials. If you have a wood, tile or linoleum floor in your house, you can use a towel, a pair of athletic shorts or any other piece of fabric that slides across the floor smoothly. All you need to do is find some open space, throw the towel or fabric under your hands or feet, and get to work. If you’re willing to spend a few bucks, you can order a set of furniture sliders for under $15. These move smoothly on almost any surface, even allowing you to perform slide board exercises on carpet!
Now that you know this easy exercise hack, here are some awesome slide board exercises you can perform in the comfort of your home.
*Caveat: slide board exercises are safe movements for athletes, but like other types of exercise, they have inherent risks. Slide board exercises call for a unique type of movement, so be sure to perform them slowly and easily, using your own body weight until you get familiar with the movements. Once you’re comfortable performing the movements and can do so with proper form, you can increase your speed and intensity.
The Slide Board Reverse Lunge is a great exercise for building your quads, hamstrings and glutes. It also trains your lower-body muscles to effectively stabilize your body during movement. In the video above, Tim Collins is performing the Slide Board Reverse Lunge with a barbell, but the exercise is just as effective when you use your body weight. Once you are able to perform the movement effectively with your body weight, you can add other weight. Note that only the foot that is moving should have a sliding device beneath it—your front foot should be firmly planted on the floor.
Mountain Climbers are a pretty solid core exercise in their own right, but when you add a slide board to the mix, you kick their effectiveness up a notch. When you keep your foot in contact with the ground throughout the movement, your core has to work overtime to stabilize your body. One big thing to remember: keep your butt up and your core braced throughout the movement, like you would if you were performing a Plank.
Bodysaw Push-Ups are a slide board exercise that spices up boring old Push-Ups. By sliding one arm vertically while you perform a Push-Up, you recruit more stabilizing muscle groups and actively engage your core. If you’re tired of cranking out endless sets of Push-Ups with nothing to show for it, give this challenging variation a try.
The hamstrings are a critical muscle group for almost every athletic movement—like sprinting, jumping and cutting. If you’ve got weak hammys, you’ll never reach your full athletic potential. An excellent exercise targeting the hamstrings is the Hamstring Curl. Slide Board Hamstring Curls are especially effective, because they strengthen the small stabilizing muscles in and around your hamstrings, which can reduce your risk of hamstring injuries. When performing Slide Board Hamstring Curls, keep your glutes engaged and your core tight throughout the movement.
RELATED: Exercise of the Week: Towel Leg Curls
Plate Pushes are a popular exercise, but if you lack equipment, the same movement can be done using a towel. Place your hands flat on the towel, lock your arms out and get into a position where your shoulders are slightly behind your hands. Next, drive your knees and fire your feet into the ground to push the towel for a certain distance, trying to keep your torso level as you move. Towel Pushes engage nearly every muscle in your body—and they teach proper knee drive form, which is a critical sprinting mechanic. This is a great exercise to do in a long hallway.