The abs are one of those muscle groups that everyone wants to develop but that many people will neglect during their training.
While some simply overlook them, many put off training their abs as the exercises are often much more mundane and less enjoyable than those for other parts of your body.
If you want that stage quality six pack though, you are going to have to suck it up and start training your core.
The best way to do that is to choose exercises that really challenge you, while at the same time keeping things interesting, so you can improve without getting bored.
One option to do just that is the windshield wipers exercise.
A wonderful alternative to traditional crunches and sit-ups, today I am going to explain how you perform them and what benefits they offer.
So, if you need a little motivation to carve out those washboard abs, this is the article for you.
What Is The Windshield Wipers Exercise?
The windshield wipers exercise is a core exercise that can be performed from a number of different positions.
It is a challenging exercise that is capable of producing greater results than traditional crunches or sit-ups.
The exercise is performed by raising your legs and rotating them from side to side in a slow and controlled manner.
The version of the exercise you are performing will determine just how far you need to raise your legs.
It is primarily designed to target the obliques and abdominals, particularly the lower sections.
The glutes and hip flexors also play an important role, while some variations incorporate the arms, back, chest, and shoulders as well.
Why Is It Important To Train Your Core?
While stage worthy abs are a goal for most involved in fitness, developing your core is important for more than just aesthetics.
A strong core has been shown to produce great results in other parts of your training as well, helping to increase overall strength and athletic performance.
Outside of performance, core strength has even been shown to be incredibly important to everyday life.
It offers benefits such as improved posture and a decreased chance of injury, while even having the potential to make day-to-day tasks easier to complete.
Who Should Use The Windshield Wipers Exercise?
Windshield wipers are quite a challenging exercise, so are best suited to more experienced trainers. Before deciding to try them, it is best to build up a good level of strength and coordination with easier, less complex core exercises.
They are an ideal option for those of an intermediate to advanced level of fitness, who are looking to add some variation to their routines.
This is because windshield wipers are a fun and challenging exercise that will help them to progress in their training.
This is especially true as there are multiple variations of windshield wipers, so there is room to progress even within the exercise itself.
Windshield wipers are also a great choice for those involved in activities such as calisthenics, gymnastics, and rock climbing.
The strength, coordination, and control of your body you gain, as well as the movements themselves, are directly transferable to these activities.
This means you won’t just develop great abs by performing windshield wipers, you will also improve your performance in these areas as well.
How To Perform The Windshield Wipers Exercise
There are two main variations of the windshield wipers exercise, with one performed while lying down and the other while hanging with your arms.
The former is the traditional version, while the latter is a more advanced alternative, for those seeking a greater challenge.
Lying Windshield Wiper
Begin by lying down on the floor facing the ceiling. Extend your arms straight out to either side and place your palms flat on the floor to maintain balance. Engage your core and raise your legs enough that your feet are off of the floor.
In a slow and controlled movement, slide your legs through the air towards one of your hands, keeping them completely straight.
Twist across the torso and slightly raise the opposite hip off of the ground to bring your feet as close to your hand as possible.
Slowly begin returning to the starting position, although keep your feet a greater distance off the ground in the middle.
Rather than stopping, continue towards the other side, in one smooth, flowing motion.
This counts as a single rep and you will ideally want to perform 10 reps for between 3 to 5 sets.
There are also two adjustments people often perform with this exercise.
The first sees you raising your legs, so the soles of your feet are pointing directly at the ceiling on the initial rep. You then simply move them side to side, without extending them away from you in the middle.
This makes the exercise incredibly tough on the obliques but removes a lot of the work from the rest of the abs.
The other alteration sees people hold a barbell in the position where a bench press would end, either weighted or unweighted. You can then perform either of the versions of the exercise listed above, bringing your feet to where the barbell ends.
This option creates a slightly smaller range of motion throughout the exercise, although it requires much greater contraction of the core in order to keep yourself stable while supporting the weight.
Hanging Windshield Wiper
Hang with outstretched arms from a pull-up bar or stable overhead structure. Engage your lats and core to hold yourself steady and bend at the hips to raise your feet towards the ceiling.
Your legs should remain straight while bringing them as high as you can. Your back will naturally tilt, until you are at roughly 45 degrees.
Slowly lower your legs to one side in a controlled manner until they are nearly parallel with the floor.
Squeeze the abs to raise them back to the starting position and then down to the other side, which is the completion of your fist full rep.
As with the lying variety, you should attempt to perform between 3 and 5 sets of 10 repetitions.
The most common mistake people make when performing any version of the windshield wipers exercise is letting the body build up too much momentum.
This results in the legs largely swinging from side to side, significantly reducing the amount of tension you maintain in the core.
Similarly, many people will neglect to engage their core effectively and instead use the legs and hips more than they should throughout the exercise.
This takes the emphasis away from the abdominals and transfers it to other muscles, such as the hip flexors.
Both of these will lead to you not working the abs as much as you should, resulting in greatly diminished developments in the targeted muscles.
The other common issue that people make when performing windshield wipers is progressing too quickly.
This can occur in a number of ways, from adding too much weight to the exercise, to simply performing the base manoeuvre before you are ready.
This will not only raise the risk of injuries and issues such as pain in the lower back, but it is also unlikely to produce any real results.
Windshield Wiper Progressions
For those who aren’t quite capable of performing the windshield wipers exercise just yet, there are a number of steps you can take to help you to do so.
For starters, you need to be regularly training your entire core. This includes both the upper and lower sections of your abs, your obliques, and even your lower back.
Then there is a selection of simpler exercises you can perform that will directly improve your ability to perform windshield wipers. These include:
- Russian Twists
- Side Plank Dips
- Toe Taps
- Plank Hops
- Hanging Leg Raises
- Hanging Side Crunches
These motions and the muscles used to perform them all directly relate to a part of the windshield wipers exercise.
By improving your strength in these areas, you will be improving your ability to perform windshield wipers as well.
When you are almost capable of performing windshield wipers, there is also a simplified version you can start with.
This simply involves performing the exercise with bent legs and is a modification that can be used on both the lying and hanging varieties.
The windshield wipers exercise is a great way to continue the development of your abs.
It is sufficiently challenging, so will promote continued development, while being entertaining enough that you aren’t likely to get bored and stop using it.
While it is best suited to those more experienced in fitness, there are plenty of ways for beginners to get themselves to a standard where they are capable of performing them, including modified versions of the exercise itself.
You will hopefully now have all the information you need to add these to your own workout, so you can achieve a core that looks amazing and helps you perform to the best of your ability in both other exercises and your daily life.