If you’re looking for a unique and effective full-body exercise you can do anytime, anywhere, look no further than the windshield wiper workout. This simple yet powerful exercise works for all the major muscle groups in your upper and lower body using just your body weight.
What Is the Windshield Wiper Exercise?
The windshield wiper exercise is a core-strengthening move that engages your shoulders, back, hips, and legs. You lay on your back with arms extended overhead and legs straight out to do it. Keeping the legs stacked and knees unbent, you lower both legs to one side, just above the floor. Then raise them back up and drop them to the other side. The motion mimics that of windshield wipers going back and forth.
This deceivingly simple exercise engages all the major muscle groups in one fluid movement. Here’s a breakdown:
- Core: Rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis
- Shoulders: Deltoids, rotator cuff
- Back: Latissiumus dorsi, rhomboids, erector spinae
- Hips: Gluteus maximus, medius, minimus
- Legs: Quads, hamstrings, hip adductors/abductors
By recruiting so many muscles at once, you get an efficient full-body workout that builds overall strength.
Benefits of the Windshield Wiper
Adding the windshield wiper exercise to your routine provides many benefits:
Improves Core Strength
The controlled leg lowering motion heavily engages all the muscles of your core. Over time, your rectus abdominis, obliques and transverse abdominis will get stronger. A substantial body improves posture, stability, and lower back health.
Lowering your straightened legs from side to side improves flexibility in the hips and inner thighs. The stretching sensation helps open up your hips over time.
Shoulder and Back Strength
Keeping your arms extended overhead during the entire exercise engages the shoulders—your latissimus dorsi muscles in the back work to stabilize your shoulder position.
Tones the Legs
Lowering the legs to each side targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and inner thigh muscles. The constant tension shapes and tones the legs.
Performing the windshield wiper in a controlled, coordinated manner improves your mind-body connection. The bilateral movement challenges your proprioceptive abilities.
How to Do the Windshield Wiper Correctly?
Proper form is crucial when doing the windshield wiper exercise. Follow these technique tips:
- Lie on your back with your legs straight and arms extended overhead, in line with your body. Engage your core.
- Keeping legs stacked and knees unbent, inhale as you lower both legs together to one side as far as you comfortably can. Hover just above the floor.
- Exhale and use your core to raise your legs to the start position.
- Inhale again as you lower your legs down to the other side.
- Continue alternating sides in a controlled “wiping” motion.
- Keep abs engaged and spine neutral throughout the movement. Avoid arching your lower back.
- Move slowly and focus on breathing. Do not hold your breath.
- Keep arms extended overhead the entire time for added shoulder work.
Mistakes to Avoid
Proper form is essential when doing windshield wipers to avoid injury and get the most from the exercise. Common mistakes include:
- Not bracing core – can strain the lower back
- Bending knees – takes away leg work
- Lifting shoulders/head off the floor – reduces core activation
- Arching the lower back – puts the spine in a vulnerable position
- Holding breath – causes neck/facial tension
- Going too fast – prevents muscle engagement
- Using momentum – makes the move less effective
How to Progress the Exercise
There are a few ways to increase the intensity of the windshield wiper exercise over time:
- Add resistance: Hold the dumbbell in your hands or put one on the pelvis as you move.
- Increase range of motion: Work on extending legs closer to the floor on each side.
- Slow it down: Use a 3-4 second count lowering and lifting legs.
- Single leg variation: Keep one leg lifted as you drop the other leg side to side. Alternate sides.
- Add repetitions: Build up to 3 sets of 10-15 reps on each side.
Windshield Wipers Workout Ideas
The windshield wiper exercise can be incorporated into various workouts:
- Lower body burnout: Do 2-3 sets at the end of a leg day.
- Complete body circuit: Perform ten reps per side between strength moves like squats and pushups.
- Core blast: Do three sets as a finisher after an abs workout.
- Yoga flow: Add windshield wipers in between standing poses.
- Pre-run dynamic warm-up: 2 sets to open up hips before running.
- Post-run stretch: Use it as a lying hip stretch after your run.
The windshield wiper exercise is a unique full-body move that deserves a place in any workout routine. It simultaneously strengthens the core, shoulders, back, hips, and legs in one fluid motion. Master proper form to get the most from this underrated exercise and progress it over time for an added challenge. Let the windshield wiper workout help you build strength and flexibility!
How many reps of windshield wipers should you do?
Aim for 10-15 controlled reps, 1-3 sets on each side. Listen to your body, and don’t overdo it.
How often should you do windshield wipers?
Every other day is sufficient to gain benefits. You can do them daily as part of an abs workout.
What muscles do windshield wipers work?
Windshield wipers target the core, shoulders, back, hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, and inner thighs.
Can beginners do windshield wipers?
Yes, it’s a beginner-friendly exercise. Go slow and focus on proper form. Modify range of motion if needed.
Are windshield wipers good for losing belly fat?
It’s an effective core strengthener, but spot reduction is a myth. Combine with full-body workouts and clean eating.