Whether you use a homemade version or a high-tech one, slideboards put you through the kind of training normally reserved for speed skaters. A basic slideboard is simply a strong board covered with slippery material and bordered by bumpers at either end. Special coverings for the feet — or even the hands — enhance the gliding ability. Most slideboards are rectangular and about 8 feet long and 2 feet wide. Some people opt for friction pads and a waxed gym floor instead.

When Instability’s a Good Thing

Much like paddle boarding or hiking on rocky terrain, a slideboard workout offers the challenge of an instability workout. When your muscles are constantly tensing and re-positioning themselves to keep upright, they are working harder than when moving in a predictable pattern.

It’s no surprise that when you’re in the standing position and sliding back and forth, you’ll reap the benefits of instability. But you’ll also build extra muscle when you’re attempting lunges, crunches or planks on the equipment.

Additional Benefits

Low impact exercise. Because you don’t have to pick up and set down your feet when you’re gliding, a slideboard may be a better option for those with joint issues.
Blasting through plateaus. A slideboard or friction pads allows you to vary your basic position in more subtle ways than you’ve ever been able to do before. That means new muscle groups can be targeted by sliding just slightly during moves like push ups.

Strengthening vulnerable body parts. Hips are highly prone to injury and degeneration, yet few workouts are geared to working that area. Sideboards glide into the breach by helping to build up hip stability muscles.

Craving Your Own?

Most rectangular slideboards can be had for between $200-$300, and friction pads much less. For less than $50, handy types can make their own slideboard with melamine-topped particle board, 2 x 4s and household-type spray wax.