When it comes to developing a muscular core, Pilates has long been the game changer of choice. But you don’t need one of those fancy, space-eating, expensive reformer machines to work your way to awesome abs. Instead, you can use similar techniques with a few small gliding discs called sliders. They’re smooth on the bottom, so you can glide along a slick surface—think tile or wood floors. The sliders make you work to balance, which will help strengthen your core muscles.
“Sliders are a wonderful and inexpensive way to improve balance, stability, and core strength,” says Jenn Seracuse, director of Pilates at Flex Studios in New York City. “The beauty of working with sliders is that you’re always multitasking—every exercise requires an enormous amount of core involvement, making your workout more efficient and effective.”
Strengthen your core with these 5 slider exercises
Stand with your left foot on the floor and your right foot slightly further back on the slider with your heel lifted. Hinge forward at the hips as you bend your left knee and send your right leg back, keeping it straight. Without moving your spine, straighten your left knee, bringing the slider forward again and keeping your right leg straight. Repeat for 1 minute, then switch legs.
Make it harder: Before bringing the slider forward, lift your right leg and balance for 10 seconds.
Make it easier: Hold onto a chair or wall for balance.
Begin in a modified plank with hands on the floor and knees on the sliders. Keeping your shoulders over your elbows, inhale to slide back and lower your forearms to the floor keeping your spine straight. Exhale to extend your elbows 45 degrees, bringing your spine forward into the modified plank and keeping your abdominals engaged to support your lower back. Repeat for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Make it easier: Instead of lowering down to your forearms and rising up again, just slide back and forward from your shoulder joint, either on your hands or your forearms.
Start in a plank position with hands on the floor and legs crossed with right leg in front, and your toes on sliders. Rotate your right hip down toward the floor, keeping your shoulders square. Inhale. Exhale as you lift your hips and bring your legs in toward your chest, keeping them as straight as possible and your shoulders over your wrists. Inhale to extend back into plank position, keeping your abdominals engaged. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Make it easier: Stack your shins on the sliders with feet to one side in a modified plank and lift and lower your waist.
Stand with arms straight out in front of you, your feet hip-width apart and parallel, your left foot on the floor and your right foot on the slider. Bend both knees into a deep squat, then shift your weight onto your left leg. Slowly extend your right leg out to the side, keeping your hips and spine completely still and your standing hip, knee, and ankle in one line. Focus on stabilizing your standing leg while keeping the inner thigh of your gliding leg engaged (to protect your knees). Repeat for 1 minute, then switch sides.
Make it harder: When your right leg is the gliding leg, open your left arm out to the side while keeping your right arm at shoulder height each time you glide. Reverse when your left leg is on the glider.
Knees to chest
Start in plank position with hands on the floor and toes on the sliders. Inhale, lifting through your abdominals and keeping your shoulders over your wrists, then exhale to slowly bend your knees and draw them under your hips. Then inhale to extend your legs back into plank position, keeping your abdominals engaged. Exhale. Repeat for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Make it easier: Place your knees on the sliders in a modified plank. Bring your knees in and out by lifting your hips. You can also do the exercise balancing on your forearms.
Where to buy sliders
Smart sliders help you get a safe, solid workout. Here are a few to try:
- Elite Core Sliders These sliders have two sides: the smooth side for carpet and the fabric side for hardwood floors. $20, elitesportzequipment.com.
- Valslides The 10-inch-long pads allow you to modify the movements to your own personal workout level. $30, valslides.com.
- Slidez The nonslip pattern will grip your feet and hands securely, a feature that’s great for beginners—no slipping, only sliding here. $30, sklz.com.
*Before starting any new exercise routine, make sure to check in with your doctor.