If you're a frequent gym-goer, you're likely very familiar with barbells, dumbbells and pull-up bars. You may even have found yourself utilizing suspension systems (TRX), kettlebells, resistance bands or perhaps battle ropes and sleds. And while these tools are staples of the gym for a reason, there's one tool that's often underutilized (or isn't used at all). It's the slideboard. And while it's by no means a new piece of equipment, it's too often only used to mimic movements seen in sports like ice hockey. While that's a great application for it, there are many more exercises you can do to take your training to the next level, add some variety to your workout regimen and create a new challenge for your muscles. And if you don't have access to a slideboard (and the special shoe covers that go with them), you can substitute a pair of Valslides (on carpet or turf) for many of the exercises. If you are really hard-pressed for cash, some furniture movers or a few plastic plates (if you're working out on carpet) or paper plates (for smooth floor surfaces) have also been known to work quite well.
For lower-body exercises, the slideboard not only demands more stability from the core, hips and ankles, but it also requires more from the stationary leg during single-leg movements. For example, during a reverse or lateral lunge, you cannot use the sliding leg to help complete the rep as easily. Instead, you must pull through the stationary leg, placing more tension and demand on the working leg.
1. Slideboard Reverse Lunge
With one foot on the board and the other foot stable on the ground, slide your foot straight back as you descend into a reverse lunge. Make sure to keep your hips, knees and ankles aligned throughout the exercise. Do not let the moving foot cross the midline of your body or drift outward. Finish your reps and switch legs. Focus on driving most of your weight through the heel of your stationary leg. You should feel as if you are pulling yourself back up, targeting the glutes and hamstrings.
Related: 22 New Lunges to Supercharge Leg Day
2. Slideboard Lateral Lunge
With one foot on the board and the other foot on the ground, keep your weight in the heel of the stationary leg as you slide the other leg out, making sure to push your hips back. Keep the stationary hip, knee and ankle stacked over each other. Limit the amount of weight placed on the sliding leg, although you are likely to feel a bit of groin and/or hamstring stretch in the sliding leg. You should feel the work taking place in the stationary leg as you press yourself back up to the starting position. The key is to sit your weight back into the hip of the stationary leg. Finish your reps and switch legs.
3. Slideboard Hamstring Curl
Lying on your back with your heels on the board, bridge your hips up and keep your core and glutes active. Slide your heels away from your body until your hips and knees are as straight as possible without dropping your body to the board. Dig your heels in and slide your feet back to the starting position by contracting your glutes and hamstrings. You can progress this movement by placing your body on the board instead of your heels, now sliding your body over the slideboard instead of your feet. You should not feel the work taking place in the lower back: If you are, make sure to keep the core engaged to prevent the low back from arching.
For upper-body exercises (mainly push-up variations) the slideboard creates a novel stability demand. It also allows for greater and unfamiliar ranges of motion, both of which promote more motor-unit recruitment and strength gain. By sliding either the arms or the feet, you are placing more demand on the core to keep the hips from swiveling or dropping during the exercise. Because of the increased demand on your shoulder joint, don't do any of these variations if you have any shoulder injuries or if your shoulder starts hurting during these.
4. Slideboard Push-Up With Overhead Reach
Start with one hand on the slideboard (with a mitt on) and the other off the board. Perform a standard push-up, but slide one hand overhead on the slideboard. Since you'll be elongating the working lever, make sure to keep your core tight and don't let your lower back arch. As you slide your hand overhead, allow the shoulder blade to travel with the arm in order to prevent impingement at the shoulder (a mini shrug). Keep most of the work on the nonmoving arm. Finish your reps and switch hands.
5. Slideboard Push-Up With Lateral Reach
Think of this as a push-up and chest-fly combo. As you perform a push-up, slide one hand out laterally on the slideboard. You will feel as if you are completing a chest fly with the moving hand. Again, you should stay focused on engaging your core to prevent the hips from dropping or rotating as you place most of the work on the nonmoving arm. Finish your reps and switch hands.
Related: 30-Day Push-Up Challenge
6. Slideboard Spiderman Push-Up
With one foot on the slideboard, perform a push-up and slide the foot toward the elbow of the same side (you will be bringing the knee of the leg towards the elbow). Keep the hips from swiveling and the back from arching. Finish your reps and switch legs.
As previously mentioned, the slideboard provides a unique stimulus and greater variety to core training. It allows you to efficiently progress static core training into dynamic core training. Your core will be screaming for mercy and will have no choice but to grow stronger and more chiseled.
Related: The 41 Hardest Ab Exercises
7. Slideboard Body Saw
From the forearm plank position, place your toes on the slideboard. Keep your core engaged and don't allow the lower back to arch as you slide your entire body backward and forward. The hips will want to drop, especially during the transition as your elbows are at the furthest point overhead -- don't let them. Only go out as far as you can control. If that means only a few inches, start there and progress slowly until you're strong and stable enough to do more.
8. Slideboard Side-Plank Tucks
From a side-plank position with the feet stacked on the slideboard, tuck your knees toward your chest by sliding your feet up. Keep your hips up and obliques engaged to prevent your torso from bending to the side. You should feel the underside obliques holding you stable -- not your back. Make sure the motion takes place at the hips to prevent the spine from moving throughout the exercise. Finish all the reps on one side, and then repeat on the other side.
9. Slideboard Body Pike
From a push-up position with the feet on the slideboard, slide your feet toward your hands as you pike your hips toward the ceiling. Focus on maintaining a neutral spine to ensure that the movement comes from the hips and not the back. If you can't keep a neutral spine while piking the hips, try tucking the knees towards the chest instead (slideboard knee tuck). Once you become stronger, you can try the pike.
Slideboard conditioning is not only a great way to include explosive lateral movements that will challenge your legs, but it's also a fast way to get your heart rate up and your metabolism going -- a good thing if you're looking for a quick-hitting sweat session or perfect workout finisher. When it comes to high-intensity interval training, these exercises are hard to rival.
Related: The "Burn Fat Faster" Workout
10. Slideboard Lateral Striders
For this one, you'll need to make sure the slideboard has end barriers that are securely locked in place. Start at one end of the board and sit back into an athletic position. Explosively push yourself across the slideboard, absorbing your momentum into the opposite barrier. As quickly as possible, push yourself back to the other side and repeat for reps or time. This exercise requires some skill and practice, so don't be frustrated your first time out. It's better to not make it all the way across the board in one push than to get too overzealous and fall over the side barriers.
11. Slideboard Mountain Climbers
From a push-up position with your feet on the slideboard, slide one foot toward your chest so that your knee finishes right beneath the hip. Make sure not to bring the knee too high because it will likely cause the back to round. Slide it back as you bring the other knee forward and switch side to side as quickly as possible. You should feel as if you are sprinting from a push-up position. Do not allow the back to round or arch or the hips to swivel.
Related: Mountain Climb Away the Calories
What Do YOU Think?
Have you ever used a slideboard before? What did you think? Have you ever tried any of these exercises? After reading this slideshow, do you think you will add any of these moves into your workout? Share your thoughts, questions and suggestions in the comments section below!