Gliders — those seemingly simple exercise discs — are one of the best pieces of exercise equipment. They’re especially effective to progress exercises. Do any exercise you know — such as lunges, knee tucks or planks with an arm reach — and then do them with gliders; you’ll see just how much harder it is. Glider workouts are great plateau-busters, too.
Here are five reasons trainers say you should be working out with gliders.
Add gliders to many exercises, and you target your core more. “This means you can get a good abdominal workout without ever having to do a single situp or crunch,” says Sylvia Borowska, a New York City-based personal trainer and group exercise instructor. And then there are tons of new exercises you can do to specifically work your core. “Most core exercises on gliders start in a plank position and then add movement from either the hands or feet. So if you think you’ve mastered a plank on a mat, think again,” she says.
Although you may not realize it, when used properly, gliders can give you a cardiovascular workout. “Because it is very easy to transition from one exercise to the next, gliders not only allow for quick and efficient workouts, they also can provide cardio conditioning, depending on the exercise, reps and intensity,” Borowska says. Try this circuit from her, doing it 2–3 times, keeping your feet on the gliders the entire time:
- Reverse lunges: 10–12 reps per side
- Pushup to pike: 8–10 reps (do a pushup, followed by a pike)
- Mountain climbers: 2 sets of 30 seconds on, 10 seconds rest
“For someone who has an injury that keeps them from doing high-impact exercises, gliders can be a great alternative,” Borowska says. “Because your feet or hands stay on the gliders, there are no hard landings or jumping, which keeps the exercises low impact. Don’t be fooled, though — low impact does not mean it’s not challenging!”
“A lot of people underestimate the importance of balance and stability,” Borowska says. “As we age, we lose our sense of balance, which, in turn, leads to an increased risk of falls and injuries.” Even if you are young and plan to never grow old, being on an unstable surface puts your muscles under constant tension as they have to work harder to keep you stable throughout the full range of motion of an exercise, she adds. This helps you when you inevitably misstep off the sidewalk or lose your balance hurrying to a meeting.
Forget that fancy in-home fitness system that costs thousands of dollars. Gliders cost about $10–$25, depending on the brand and if they’re made for hardwood or carpeting. Even more, you can take them anywhere. “They’re great for the on-the-go person who may not have access to a gym at all times,” says Anthony Crouchelli, a trainer at Performix House in New York City. “They’re super lightweight and can fit in any bag, purse or small compact carrying case that you use to travel.” Even if you don’t travel often and only use them at home, they take up minimal space, making them easy to store.