You’re about to wipe the floor with this exercise — literally.
Floor wipers are an exercise from the extremely challenging “300 workout.” It’s what trainer Mark Twight used to whip the cast of the 2016 movie “300” into Spartan shape.
It targets several muscle groups at once, such as the core, arms, hip flexors, and those harder-to-reach areas, like the obliques.
Keep reading to learn more about this exercise, proper technique, and its benefits.
For proper form and technique when doing floor wipers, it’s important to keep movements steady and controlled. You can start by using only a barbell and then gradually add weight plates as you get stronger.
When holding the barbell, use a pronated grip. This means that your hand goes over the barbell with your knuckles on top. The back of your hand should be facing you.
Proper grip is important for preventing injury or strain.
For the most stability, lie down on the ground where it’s even.
- Start by lying on your back, also called a supine position, with a weighted or unweighted barbell in your hands, with your arms fully extended, shoulder width above your chest. This is the position you’ll hold the barbell in for the next steps.
- Use controlled movements to straighten and squeeze your legs together, then raise them up and toward your left side.
- Lower back down to the middle.
- Raise your legs toward the right side and then back down to complete one rep.
- Complete 8 to 10 reps.
Whether you need to make the exercise easier or harder, there are many variations of floor wipers.
By removing weights, the exercise becomes what is known as a “three-kick windshield wiper.”
How to do a three-kick windshield wiper:
- Start by lying on your back in a “T” position. This means that your legs are extended and your arms are out to the side.
- Bend your knees so that they are over the hips.
- Engage the abdominals and slowly lower your legs toward the floor on your left side.
- Extend your right leg out in a kicking motion.
- Complete 3 kicks, engaging the obliques each time that you do.
- Return to the starting position by raising your legs back towards the middle.
- Perform the same set of kicks on the right side.
- Continue for 1 minute.
This is another variation that doesn’t require any weights. Instead of moving the legs diagonally, you simply raise and lower them.
Since there’s more focus on the abs, be sure to engage them throughout the exercise. This will also help with protecting the lower back.
- Start by lying on your back in the supine position. If you’re not using a mat, you can tuck your hands under your butt with the palms facing down for more support.
- Keeping your legs straight and squeezed together, slowly raise your legs towards the sky and then lower back down to the starting position.
- Complete 3 sets of 10 reps.
If you want to add weights to the straight leg raise, you can use light ankle weights.
Muscles at work during floor wipers:
- erector spinae (lower back)
- pectorals (chest)
Out of this list, floor wipers are exceptionally effective at building a strong core. Having engaged abs makes everyday tasks easier, such as picking something off the floor, doing the dishes, or even sitting in a chair.
Strong abs can even help improve your posture and help you breathe better.
Additionally, floor wipers are great for warming up your hip flexors, increasing range of motion, and stabilizing your lower back.
- Always stretch. Doing so reduces muscle stiffness, prevents injury, and boosts circulation.
- Never skip a proper cooldown. Since several muscles are being activated during the exercise, stretching the muscles out will relieve tension and help you relax.
- Don’t lift too heavy. Since you’ll be holding a barbell above your chest for the duration of the exercise, start with an amount of weight that feels comfortable. Gradually increase as you get stronger.
- Have a spotter. For extra precaution, you might want to have someone spot you during the exercise.
Hang out. To get the hang of floor wipers, you could try a hanging variation first. To do this, hang from a pull-up bar and raise your feet up towards one side of your shoulders to complete one rep. Repeat.
- Keep your back comfortable. Since you’re lying on the floor for the entire exercise, you can lay on a mat for extra back support. You could also tuck your hands under your butt with the palms facing down whenever you are skipping the weights.
- Bend your knees. If you notice any strain in your lower back during the straight leg raise, bend your knees instead.
- Remember to stop. Always stop any exercise if you feel back pain.
Keep your whole body conditioned by adding floor wipers into your exercise routine.
It’s a challenging, yet effective, way to increase strength since it targets several major muscle groups at once.
Beginners may benefit from starting with exercise variations, such as the straight leg raise or simply leaving out the weights.
You may want to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you take any medications or are pregnant.