The floor wiper became a popular exercise in the aftermath of the movie “300,” in which Gerard Butler and his colleagues bared their eye-popping six-packs. While you may not want to throw a spear or wear skimpy Spartan garb, you can blast your abs by doing floor wipers. The exercise requires a bit of coordination and balance as you perform a leg lift and trunk rotation while simultaneously holding a weight in the air.
To perform a floor wiper, lie supine on the floor. Hold a barbell above your chest with your arms shoulder-width apart and fully extended. While keeping the barbell still, exhale and slowly lift both legs toward the ceiling. Draw your toes toward the right end of the barbell, squeezing your abdominal muscles. Hold the peak position for a second. Breathing in, center and lower your legs back to starting position. Repeat the leg lift to your left side to complete one rep. Make sure your shoulder blades and upper back remain in contact with the ground throughout the exercise. Perform 10 reps for two sets.
The floor wiper is a variation of the windshield wiper exercise, which combines a leg lift with a trunk rotation. It strengthens the front and sides of your abdomen as well as your hip flexors. By adding a weight, such as a barbell or dumbbells, you bump up the intensity of the exercise yet another notch and strengthen your chest and arms. Holding the barbell in place while twisting your trunk requires extra effort from your core musculature to maintain balance and stability.
If you’re starting an exercise regimen, you can reduce the intensity of the exercise by using light dumbbells or simply extending your arms above your chest without weights. You can also do a reverse crunch instead of a leg lift and trunk rotation. Begin by holding the barbell up with arms shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and curl your lower abs toward your chest. To increase the difficulty of the exercise, perform it on a bench and lift the barbell off the rack. Also, use a narrower grip on the bar before you begin the reverse crunch.
Tips and Considerations
To take the pressure off your lower spine, keep your lower back pressed to the floor and abdominal muscles contracted throughout the exercise. You can boost the effectiveness of the floor wiper exercise by activating your deep abdominal muscle, the transversus abdominis. Like a corset, this muscle wraps around your ribs. If you cough, you can feel the transversus abdominis contract. Try coughing before you begin a floor wiper so you’re aware of it working during the exercise.
Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.