The concept of the gliding disc is so simple you'll wish that you thought of it yourself. When placed under your feet, these circular discs facilitate smooth gliding movements on either a carpeted or wooden floor. Portable and affordable, these versatile exercise gizmos provide a challenging leg workout. If you don't own a set of discs, paper plates or hand towels will do the trick.
Gliding is a weight-bearing activity, that provides closed-chain compound exercises in multiple planes of motion. Whenever you perform any type of closed chain leg exercise, your feet remain in contact with the surface, which is in this case, the disc. This creates compression forces on your joints, which promote knee stability. Closed chain exercises are multi-taskers, which give you more bang for the buck by working multiple muscle groups simultaneously. As a weight-bearing exercise, gliding helps you maintain bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
Gliding Squats and Lunges
Lunges and squats engage your quads, hamstrings and gluteal muscles. The friction between the gliders and the floor surface creates added resistance, which causes your butt and thigh muscles to work harder and cry for help. They send out an SOS. Your abductors and adductors come to the rescue. Specific exercises such as the curtsey squat and the side lunge provide extra abductor/adductor love. The curtsey squat requires you to glide one leg diagonally behind the other as you perform the lunge, while the side lunge involves sliding your leg out to the side as you perform the lunging movement.
The plank is the exercise that people love to hate, and nobody in her right mind would look for reasons to stay in the dreaded position longer than necessary. Gliding leg exercises, however, might distract you from your quivering core and upper body. Assume the plank position, then glide your leg out the side and back to center. The mountain climber exercise adds a bit of cardio to your leg workout. Straighten your arms so that you are in a push-up position, then bend one knee and glide it toward your chest. Quickly switch legs. Establish a steady rhythm.
You might be strong, you might be invincible, but weak hamstrings will be your downfall. Powerful quads paired up with weak and lazy hamstrings spells disaster. When the leg curl machine starts to get old, get out your gliders and try the gliding hamstring curl bridge. Lie supine with your knees bent and the gliding discs under your feet. Peel each spinal vertebra away from the floor, until your body assumes a bridge position. Remain in the bridge as you extend and bend each leg.
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.