One of the perks of what I do is that now and again I’ll get sent a new product to try out and pass comment on. Last week I was sent ‘XR Slide’ – a new slide training product – and putting it through its paces has inspired me to write a little piece on slide training.
What Is Slide Training?
The premise of slide training is simple. You place a part of a limb on the slider – for your arms this would be the hand or elbow, for the leg this would the foot or knee – and then you create movement by sliding the slider/limb away from the body. Because you remain in contact with the ground throughout slide training exercises, there are no impact forces acting on the body.
XR Slide have their own video to show off some ideas of how to use them but here are a few of the slider mainstays in my programmes.
- Adductor Conditioning
Slide training is a great way to start gently exploring more extreme ranges of motion and lateral lunges fit the billing perfectly. Think of these a bit like an RDL for the adductors, they develop strength and flexibility by training through full range.
- Hamstring Conditioning
Bodyweight leg curls are a fantastic bang-for-your-buck knee flexion exercise and offer variations to suit beginners and advanced athletes alike. I’ll defer to Ben Bruno’s article for some specific variations on this theme but rest assured that they’re a lot tougher than they look!
- Trunk Stability
The main role of the trunk is to resist movement whilst movement occurs around it. Sounds a lot like slider training doesn’t it?! The trunk is challenged during any exercise where you’re on all fours or lying on your back. Great for anti-flexion and anti-rotation exercises in particular, sliders do everything and ab wheel can and then some.
- Push Up Progression
I often use the push up reach and push up fly movements as a way to progress from regular to one arm push ups. These work well because you can gradually move the ‘free’ arm further away from the body and increase the demand on the ‘working’ arm.
Chances are that the first time you perform an exercise it will either be too hard or too easy. To adjust the intensity of an exercise there are a few progression pathways are common to the majority (but not all).
- Type of Movement: Isometric > Eccentric > Full Movement
- Distance from Centre of Mass: Close > Moderate > Far Away
- Stance: Kneeling > Half Kneeling > Standing
- Number of Limbs: Two Limb > Two Up, One Down > One Limb
My biggest gripe with slide trainers has always been the price. The last time I checked, a slideboard would set you back over £300, the Flowin system £100 and a pair of Valslides about £60. As slide training is far from an essential training modality, these prices really don’t make sense.
As slide training isn’t really a complex set-up, there are some DIY alternatives to avoid shelling out for equipment. The obvious option is to use furniture sliders but you’re only limited by your imagination. For instance, when I started working with the youngsters at Wasps we performed sliding ham curls using small, circle cones because that was all we had. In the office you can utilise an office chair to perform ab variations and keep those back twinges away. DIY options will work with varying degrees of success but they may be useful if you’ve no other option.
The XR Slide is the same concept as Valslide. You get a pair of sliders with a glossy, reinforced plastic surface to slide on and some foam padding on the top for increased comfort. They’re recommended to be used on carpets although work well on most flat surfaces, for example, lifting platform inserts and running tracks. They’re priced up at £24.99 on both the XR website and on Amazon. This is considerably cheaper than their competitors and they’re probably a better product into the bargain. At this price point the XR’s are worth an investment if you’re likely to be using slide training with any semblance of regularity.
Slide training is another great tool for the S&C to have in the coaching toolbox – it has a potential application in a wide array of scenarios. The XR Slide is nice, well designed product pitched at a price point that should make it attractive to both coaches and athletes alike.