You don't need a full gym to add diversity to your workouts. You can add new exercises to your repertoire and increase the difficulty of others with hand and foot sliders, or by using household items in creative ways during your workout. Sliders add a balance component to your workout which provides several benefits.
Various companies manufacture sliders specifically for exercise. When choosing a product look to see if it is designed for the type of flooring you will be using it on -- hardwood floors or carpet. If you don't have specialized sliders, chances are you own several household items that may work just as well. If you have hardwood floors, use paper plates, rags or a towel instead. If you have carpeting, furniture sliders will work.
Make a Common Exercise Challenging
Sliders can make typical exercises like mountain climbers more challenging. Begin in plank position, like you're at the top of a push-up. Pick up one foot at a time, and draw your knee in toward you chest. Using sliders you can bring in both feet at the same time. Place one slider under each foot and simultaneously draw both knees in towards your chest. Throughout the movement keep your hips parallel to the ceiling. The quadriceps and rectus abdominis muscles draw your knee in and flex the hip and spine whether you use sliders or not. With sliders you will use more muscles to balance your body in position. Shoulder stability becomes a factor and your chest muscles are used as stabilizers. Marta Montenegro, an exercise physiologist at Florida International University, explains that since this movement makes your abs resist external forces, flex and extend, you end up burning more calories.
Planks are only work one of the three muscular systems that make up your core -- the local system. This system provides your body with internal stability and postural control. By adding sliders and movement to a plank you recruit the other two systems of your core -- the global and movement systems. These systems, respectively, provide resistance against gravity and allow for your limbs to produce force while your body remains balanced. To use all three systems of your core, place one slider under each foot. Get into upper push-up position, slide your legs apart into a V-shape, and then bring them back together. You could, alternatively, place the sliders under your hands. Try sliding both arms forward six inches. If that is too hard try moving one arm at a time, making circles with one hand, or moving one hand out to the side.
Benefits from Sliders
Whether you exercise with bare feet or in shoes, you can grip the floor firmly. Introducing sliders, an unstable surface, into your workout follows the principle of progressive proprioception. This challenges your balance or your body's ability to sense its position. By challenging your balance you develop better stability, your arms and legs learn to work more efficiently together, and your level of muscular endurance can increase. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, training your core on unstable surfaces will help the right muscles work when needed, with the right amount of force, and only in the direction of motion desired.