When it comes to exercise, there is no shortage of equipment and accessories to facilitate and enhance a workout. In fact, the fitness equipment industry was estimated to be worth some 11.1 billion dollars in 2018 alone. While it’s true that you don’t need any equipment in order to get a killer workout, there’s no denying that they do serve important functions, especially sliding discs, which also go by the names gliding discs and exercise sliders, which have become increasingly popular in the last few years.
Put simply, a sliding disc is a piece of workout equipment that glides along a hard surface to create more resistance during your workout. These devices enable many bodyweight exercises and can enhance the difficulty of other bodyweight exercises, explains Robert Dodds, C.P.T. certified personal trainer, fitness coach and founder of Nothing Barred Fitness. “They’re very lightweight, usually circular and are about 8 cm in diameter,” he says.
Sliding discs provide a myriad of benefits to those looking to enhance the intensity and quality of their workouts. For starters, sliding discs enable some exercises that just aren’t possible with your bodyweight alone, notes Dodds. “When you’re training with bodyweight, the options for training certain muscle groups can be quite limited (especially for the lower body) as there aren’t many easy ways to directly train your hamstrings, for example,” he says. “Sliding discs allow for new variations on certain exercises that increase the difficulty, opening up new possibilities and allowing you to keep progressing without weights.”
Sliding discs can also help improve your balance. “As you work out with a sliding disc, you are using your muscle groups in different ways than when standing on flat ground for a traditional workout,” explains Allen Conrad, D.C., C.S.C.S., Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales, Pennsylvania. “The ground you are standing on may move with the sliding disc, and, as a result, your body has to try harder to keep you standing upright.”
All in all, sliding discs are a great addition to your exercise routine. Here, fitness pros share their favorite workout moves that involve sliding discs.
This exercise starts in the same way as a traditional push-up, with the only difference being that the sliding discs go under where your feet touch the ground, according to Dr. Conrad. “Engage your core and widen your straight legs as far as comfortable, then return to the starting position,” he says. “This will work the abductor and adductor muscles of your legs, as well as strengthen the lumbar paraspinal muscles.”
For core stability, Marvin Nixon, M.S., N.B.C.-H.W.C., health, and wellness coach, certified nutrition consultant and personal trainer, recommends adding sliders under your hands while doing push-up position planks. “While holding the plank make small circles with the slider and to increase the challenge make the circle bigger,” he says. “To advance the challenge, add a push-up with a hand circle on each hand each time you return to the up position and, to go even harder, turn the push-up into an archer push-up by sliding one arm out to the side while the other arm lowers the body in the push-up.”
Here’s a great exercise that’s not even possible without sliding discs, and it’s an excellent way to directly train your hamstrings with just your bodyweight, notes Dodds. “Start laying on the floor on your back. Have the heels of your feet on top of the sliding discs,” he says. “Bend your knees to pull the discs up towards your butt, lift your pelvis and feel the contraction in your hamstrings.”
This workout is a great way to combine core stability with cardio. “Start in push-up position and slide one foot forward bringing your knee towards your chest, keeping your knees low to the floor so that your butt doesn’t bounce towards the ceiling,” explains Nixon. “This is a core plus cardio move and moving fast at the expense of form will take away the stability challenge, slow down if this happens, it will still be hard.”
Looking to feel more tension on your quad, hamstrings, and inner thighs? Try this workout. “Place the right foot on top of the disc with your feet as wide as the hips distance apart,” says Mansour. “Press down through the toes as you glide back into a reverse lunge position, lowering the right knee towards the ground and keeping the right toes on the disc and press down through the left heel to glide your right foot back to center.” She suggests repeating this 10 times before switching sides.
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