Even mimicking certain objects can offer you a core workout. Find out how to do the windshield wipers exercise and whether it is a good choice.
To do a windshield wiper you lie down on your back, raise your legs in the air, and twist your hips to one side and the other.
This movement mainly works your obliques and to some extent your ab muscles.
To really grow these muscles with windshield wipers, you may need to do the exercise with something like ankle weights or other resistance options.
That aside, while windshield wipers can offer benefits, it is also worth mentioning that an exercise like cable standing Russian twists can be more effective because it makes it easier to control your movements.
Additionally, some people will find all these dynamic twisting exercises uncomfortable. In that case, something like a Pallof press can be a better idea.
How to do a windshield wiper
A soft surface like a yoga mat can make the windshield wiper exercise more comfortable to do.
That aside, take the following steps to do two windshield wipers:
- Lie down on your back with 90-degree angles in both your hips and knees. Put your arms on the ground next to you for balance.
- Slowly tilt your legs sideways as far as comfortable. This movement will raise one side of your hips but keep your upper back against the ground.
- Raise your upper legs until they are vertical again and repeat the movement from step 2 to the other side.
You can also complete one set of windshield wipers on one side and then do the same number of repetitions on the other side.
In both ways of approaching the windshield wiper exercise, you want to make sure you don’t twist too far for your current capacities.
To play it safe, you can start by lowering your legs in only small amounts and building up from there.
Muscles worked with windshield wipers
The main muscles worked with windshield wipers are your obliques and to some extent your abs.
Additionally, your hip flexors, glutes, and quadriceps have to work to a tiny extent to keep your legs in position.
Something to note is that you still need to do windshield wipers the right way for your training goals.
For training core muscles endurance, the ranges are not as strict. However, to actually grow and strengthen your muscles you may need extra resistance.
If that is the case, you can start by stretching your legs instead of keeping them at 90-degree angles. This will make the windshield wiper exercise harder on your muscles.
Next, you can also wear ankle weights or clamp weights like medicine balls between your legs.
One downside of windshield wipers is that it is hard to keep your movements the same and controlled. This can be suboptimal for training your muscles.
Windshield wipers benefits
Even if they are not perfect, doing windshield wipers can still offer nice benefits. A few of these include:
- Stronger muscles: Doing windshield wipers with enough resistance and repetitions can help you grow and strengthen your obliques.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: The oblique strengthening you can get from windshield wipers can help reduce and prevent back pain (1, 2). People with issues in this area do want to be careful with windshield wipers and potentially talk to an expert first.
- No equipment or location required: You can do windshield wipers with just your body and a place to lie down. In turn, this helps you avoid the cost of fitness equipment and the transport time of going to the gym.
- Balance & coordination: Windshield wipers are not the hardest in terms of balance and coordination but they do require these skills to some extent. This could lead to small improvements in these areas.
You don’t have to stick to windshield wipers to get these benefits but they do make the exercise an option for a core workout routine.
Windshield wiper exercise alternatives
You may wonder what some of these other exercises that can get you similar benefits are. A few windshield wiper exercise alternatives include:
- Standing cable Russian twist
- Pallof press
- Bicycle crunches
- Side planks
- Ab wheel V roll-outs
- Hanging sideways knee raises
- Plank exercises
- Side bends
What muscles you want to work in what ways will play a big role in what windshield wiper alternatives you prefer.
The exercise equipment you have available will influence this too.
Are windshield wipers a good exercise?
Windshield wipers can be a good exercise for working your obliques and to some extent your abs.
Two potential downsides are that it is hard to control your windshield wiper exercise movements and that it is challenging to keep your movements the same.
These things can make your core workouts somewhat less optimal. You may prefer other at-home oblique exercises for this reason.
That being said, windshield wipers can still offer nice benefits. Make sure you follow a workout routine that aligns with the things you want to achieve.