You probably have an old (and dusty!) Reebok slide board stuck in some corner of your health club. If so, you have the opportunity to incorporate some challenging and fun routines into your program. The slide board gives personal trainers the ability to use closed chain movements for upper and lower body exercises.
If you yourself have never used a slide, begin by just standing on it with the booties (just socks works okay if necessary) and “feel” the instability of the slide. You can also do traditional lateral movements, pushing off one side of the slide, moving to the other. Simply moving around is a good way for your client to become acclimated to working with the slide. Now for some fun new stuff!
Basic Slide Exercises
For slide lunges, have your client stand on the slide, facing the narrower end. The easiest way to start is to have your client start with both feet on the rubber end – thus adding stability. Once positioned, cue them to slide backwards with one foot into a reverse lunge, and then bring that foot back to the starting position. The more you think about “pushing” your foot down into the slide during both movements, the more difficult the exercise becomes.
As your client becomes more proficient in the movement, you can increase the difficulty by having them start the exercise with both feet on the slide, as opposed to against the rubber edging.
Figure 1. Slide Lunges
When using the slide in this manner, it is easy to spot imbalances. If, for example, as in the above picture (Figure 1), your client tends to abduct the right leg as they are bringing it back, you can have them stand on the very end of the slide, essentially not allowing them to abduct as they do the movement. This is an example of “reactive” training, i.e. putting the body into a position where it automatically corrects to perform the movement.
The variations are only as limiting as your imagination! Try having your client stand in the center of the slide, and move one foot forward, and simultaneously move the other foot backwards, increasing the demand for coordinated movement. You can also add resistance when appropriate, using free weights or cables.
Closed chain adduction on the slide (Figure 2) is a difficult exercise, and one that really demands proximal core stability in initiating and stabilizing the movement. Have your client stand facing the longer side of the slide, with the knees soft. Let them slide their legs out a short distance at first, and then cue them to pull them together at the same time. This allows you the perfect opportunity to cue sequencing, e.g. “pull your abs in tight, and breathe out as you pull your legs together”. This exercise is great in addressing the traditional relationship of weak abdominals and adductors. You can also see imbalances in strength and movement; if your client favors one side more than the other; they may slide one leg in while the other adjusts and compensates on the way.
Figure 2. Slide Adduction
Upper Body Exercises
The slide gives us the opportunity to do closed chain exercises for the upper extremities. For example, have your client do a closed chain “flye” exercise (Figure 3 & 4) by cueing them to get on the knees, facing the wide side of the slide. Put the booties on the hands, and place the hands on the slide in front of the body, as if they were going to do a push up exercise. Have them keep the arms slightly bent, and allow the arms to slide out slightly. Cueing them to keep their abs tight, and the shoulder girdle stable, the client should then attempt to pull the arms together. This is a challenging exercise, and needs to be closely monitored in terms of range of motion.
|Figure 3 & 4. Slide Flyes
Another great upper body exercise is shoulder extension. Have your client kneel on the floor, facing the narrow side of the slide. Keeping good posture, cue them to let their arms slide forward, and allow the rest of the body to follow. The client should start with very limited range of motion, as this is a difficult exercise, very demanding on the core (especially low back), and shoulder girdle. You may want to do this exercise towards the beginning of your session.
When your client is not proficient at this movement, you will notice that they have difficulty in keeping the body still and in a straight line; many times they will keep their pelvis behind them; or pull their butt back first. This is a sign that they are not strong enough in the shoulder and/or core area, and you will need to limit the initial range of motion accordingly. In building a progression, the exercise can be done both bilaterally and unilaterally.
There will be more articles to follow on the using the slide, as well as other innovative tools for trainers.