Sliding Into Fitness
written by: Nicole Boddington
When starting a new workout routine, one tip is to keep it fun + to mix it up. Find something you actually enjoy doing but change it up often. There is new evidence that this kind of “muscle confusion” might help your workouts — but not in the way we originally thought.
“Muscle confusion” is the idea that altering our routines + adding variety to our workouts “confuses” our muscles, increasing strength by preventing plateau. Well, as the NYT reports, a new study tested this theory by subjecting two groups to two different exercise programs: one group did the same exercises in the same order each week for eight weeks, while the other group changed their routine daily. Results revealed that both groups saw similar gains; however, the group that mixed it up reported having more motivation to work out, proving that while muscles will adapt to load, the mind is a different kind of muscle that also needs to be flexed.
An inexpensive + super effective way to add variety to your workout + make any exercise harder is workout sliders. Portable, durable + versatile, sliders can be found at most sporting goods stores. We found these on Amazon for under $10.
Place these little discs under your hands or feet to add an element of instability that will challenge your balance and heat up your core + stabilizer muscles fast. And because sliders are small + lightweight, it’s easy to toss them in your gym bag or travel bag to use on-the-go, so, really, you have no excuses – except that these moves are hard + you may hate us for them. But the good news is these are all compound exercises, meaning you are using multiple muscle groups at the same time, as opposed to performing a move in isolation, like a bicep curl, so you’re actually increasing muscle mass + burning more calories [more bang for your buck — we got you, babe!]. Grab your sliders and a buddy, and do this 20-minute workout anywhere.
How To: Complete these five exercises, four times through | 40 seconds of work + 20 seconds of rest
Total Time: 20 minutes
01 | Atomic Knee-ins
Start in a push-up hold. Your hands are directly under your shoulders. Your body is in a straight line, head through heels. Think of your body like a diving board. Do not sag at the hips. Do not stick your booty in the air. Place a slider under each foot. Slowly bring both feet in towards the chest at the same time then extend the legs out again. Repeat for time. Modifications: Bring one foot in at a time in a mountain climber variation. Or, to make it harder, alternate sides of your atomic knee-in, bringing the knees in to the left side then extending the legs out; bringing the knees into the right side then extending the legs out. If you need to rest, drop down to your knees, reset, returning to the position and getting right back into it. If you fatigue, hold for time in the push-up position. [Pro tip: Check in with your body during this one—bracing the core by pulling the belly button towards the spine, will help protect your low back.]
02 | Reverse Lunge
Stand with feet parallel. Place a slider under your right foot. Extend the right foot back, and lower down into a lunge on the right side, dropping the right knee until it grazes the ground then bringing it back up to feet parallel. Repeat for time. Make sure to keep a vertical shin, or a 90-degree bend, with your knee tracking over your ankle. Do not let the knee shoot out over the toe. Weight is in the heel of your left leg. Stay on this side for the entire round, switching sides the next time through.
03 | Body Saw
Start in a front plank with your elbows on the ground, and a slider under each foot. Your body is in a straight line, head through heels. Brace your core by pulling your belly button towards your spine. Don’t let your hips sag. Don’t stick your booty up in the air. Now, slowly shift your bodyweight forwards and backwards in a sawing motion for time. [This is a great move for those hard-to-reach lower abs. You will feel this one the next day!]
04 | Glute Bridge with Hamstring Curl
Start on your back. Bend at the knees, placing feet on the floor with a slider under each foot. Arms are at your side, for support, but do not press your hands into the ground. This is a lower body exercise. Lift the hips off the ground in a glute bridge. Activate the posterior chain by squeezing your glutes the top. Keeping the hips up and glutes squeezed, slowly extend your right leg out, then bring it back in, then extend your left leg and bring it back in. Alternating for time. To make it harder, try extending both legs at the same time. [This is a special kind of torture known as hamstring hell!]
05 | Alligator Walk
Assume the push-up hold position. Hands are directly under your shoulders. Your body is in a straight line, head through heels, with a slider under each foot. Giving yourself enough space, walk the hands forward, dragging your feet behind you, like an alligator! Keep “walking” forward, or for a challenge, try to “walk” backwards. If you’re working out with a buddy, you can have an alligator race. To make it harder, add a push-up!
Bonus | Last Push:
For extra credit, set your timer + complete two minutes of ab rollouts. Begin on your knees in a tabletop position. Place one slider under each hand. Lower to a modified push-up hold position, and slowly extend one hand out, then back in, then the other hand out and back in. Repeat for time. This is a similar move that you would perform on an Ab Dolly, except you’re incorporating sliders here — a cheaper + more portable option than an Ab Dolly, and it’s just as effective. Abs for days.