Like millions of others, I moved my workouts home during the coronavirus pandemic, and have still not returned to the gym. In addition to trying to persuade my boyfriend to let me convert our shed into a workout space big enough for one of the best treadmills, I’ve spent a fortune on adjustable dumbbells, resistance bands, and a decent yoga mat.
Yet recently, I spent $4 on a pair of core sliders, which have completely revolutionized my home workouts, and burned my core like nothing else.
After road-testing most of the best ab workouts on YouTube, I was looking for a new challenge. I’m a huge Solidcore fan pre-pandemic, and took a look at some of their home workouts, but realized I’d need some core sliders, which somewhat mimic the reformer in the ab workouts.
If you haven’t heard of them, core sliders are a simple piece of kit — the sliders are two double-sided disks that make it easier to glide on carpets and hard floors. As they change the amount of friction between your feet or knees and the floor, they force your muscles — particularly your shoulders and core — to work harder to keep your body stable.
A few minutes into my first workout with the sliders, I had to stop and take a second — trying to do one plank to pike was challenging, let alone 30-seconds of them. The sliders really force your abs to engage, and you get that deep inner burn that comes from really switching on your transverse abdominis. They made simple exercises far more difficult and it took a while for me to get the hang of them.
After a month with my sliders, I haven’t looked back. No, I haven’t got the abs of my dreams (the visibility of your abdominal muscles depends on your overall body fat, not how many crunches you do), but my stomach is definitely looking more toned, and I feel stronger.
Here’s how to work sliders into your ab routine. You can also replace sliders with paper plates, or towels on a hard floor.
Gaiam Core Sliding Discs: $9.99 @ Amazon
These double sided core sliders have a softer side to use on hard floors, and a hard plastic side that makes it easier to glide on carpet.
The best core exercises to do with sliders
Here are a few core exercises to try with your sliders, paper plates, or towels. Aim for 15-seconds of each exercise at first, and build up to 30-seconds to a minute. Warning — your core will burn.
Plank to pike
To do a plank to pike, start in a high plank position, with your hands shoulder-width apart, your shoulders over your wrists, and your toes on the gliders. Engage your core, and press your toes into the sliders as you pull your feet towards your hands, hinging at your hips and raising your glutes to the ceiling. Pause, then push your feet back out to your starting position with control.
These are also referred to as body saws. Starting in a forearm plank position with your body weight on your elbows and your toes on the sliders, engage your glutes and core. Using your forearms and elbows, slowly slide yourself as far back as you can with your core still engaged, then slide back forward to your starting position. Be sure to keep your core engaged — with your belly button sucked into your spine — for the entire move. Don’t let your hips drop, and if they do, reduce the range of motion.
Mountain climbers are a killer core exercise, that also targets your shoulders, back, hips, quads, and glutes (read more on how to do a mountain climber here) but they are even more challenging with sliders. In a high plank position with your toes on the sliders, slowly pull one leg in underneath the body, touching it to the opposite elbow, before repeating on the opposite side. Continue to alternate, and move the legs faster to add a cardio challenge.
Single slider knee tuck
Similar to a mountain climber, the single slider knee tuck involves moving from a high plank position, with your toes on the slides, to tucking the knee under the body to touch the elbow on the same side. Keep your core engaged, and make sure you’re driving from your lower abs, not your legs.
Slider knee tuck
For this exercise, start in a high plank position and your toes on the sliders. Engaging your core, draw both knees towards your elbows at the same time. Try and make sure the movement is coming from your abdominal muscles, not your legs. Do a knee tuck, then slowly glide your legs back out to your starting position.
The tuck twist really blasts the oblique muscles, which run along the outside of your stomach. To do a tuck twist, start in a high plank position and your toes on the sliders. Engage your core and bring your legs diagonally underneath your body towards your right arm, then straighten your legs back to your starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.
Looking for more abdominal exercises to work into your routine? Here’s how long you need to hold a plank to see results, how to do a bicycle crunch with the correct form, and how to do a sit-up, and the best variations to try.