Floor wipers are a part of the infamous workout used by the cast of the movie "300," depicting six-pack-bound Spartans fighting fiercely in the Persian wars. The move is a variation on the lying straight leg raise that engages not only the superficial abdominal muscle, the rectus abdominis, and hip flexors, but also the oblique muscles at the sides of your waist. Holding the barbell extended over your chest also makes floor wipers an isometric chest and shoulder move.
The exercise isn't for beginners, but rather those who already have a good amount of core and upper-body strength. Before trying the floor wiper, talk to a fitness professional and enlist a spotter to keep you safe.
The Floor Wiper Steps
Lie on the floor, legs extended, holding a heavy barbell — loaded to total between 95 and 135 pounds — above your chest with an overhand grip, arms extended fully.
With the legs sealed together, raise them up to the side toward the right plate, then lower back to the floor.
Raise the legs to the left plate and lower to the floor to complete one repetition.
Place the barbell in the lowest rung of a squat rack and slide underneath before you lift it above your chest. This ensures that if you do lose your grip and drop the weight, it will fall onto the rack — not your chest.
How to Fit It Into Your Workout
Use the floor wiper as part of a total-body strengthening routine that also includes moves such as pull-ups, deadlifts and plyometric box jumps. Include other core strengthening moves, too. Plank holds, ab wheel roll-outs and kettlebell swings are appropriate choices. You only need to do the floor wiper at one or two workouts per week — it's not a move to do every day.
Read More: The 41 Hardest Core Exercises
Some intense workouts — and the infamous "300" workout — includes up to 50 repetitions of the move. You might choose to work up to this number, but start modestly, with just eight to 10 reps. Over the course of several weeks, you can add more repetitions.
Build Up to Floor Wipers
For some people, a straight leg lift from the floor causes discomfort or even pain in the lower back. If you experience such pain, stop immediately — the move might just not be for you. You might also experience back pain after several repetitions, and simply need to build up your strength and stamina to reach your goal set.
Consider starting your foray into the floor wiper without a barbell at all. Simply place your hands on the floor alongside your hips, your legs straight up the ceiling and lower your legs to the right, back to the center and then to the left.
This modified version helps to build the stamina necessary in your core to eventually do the move holding a barbell. Also ensure you've got the required upper-body strength to hold the barbell for an extended period of time. Push-ups, bench presses and shoulder presses help build this strength.