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Maybe your gym’s packed from the after-work rush. Maybe a group of high-fiving bros is bogarting the benches and racks. Or maybe you just want to a change of scenery for your workout. In all scenarios, the floor is there for you, providing a perfectly stable base for a variety of exercises.
“Your house or hotel might not have the greatest gym, but everybody has access to a floor,” says Michael Piercy, M.S., C.S.C.S. and owner of the Lab Performance and Sports Science in Fairfield, NJ. “You work with the space you’re given. You can still get a great workout without benches and machines and other equipment.” And, rather than looking at a floor workout as a last resort, think of it as a way to focus on some different muscle groups, perform some new exercises, and even test your movement in different planes.
“When you look at planes of motion, the majority of gym equipment operates in the sagittal [front to back] plane,” says Piercy. Think preacher curls and leg presses. “Working on the floor has the advantage of letting you work in different planes, especially the frontal [side-to-side] and transverse [rotational].” Your body moves through space in three dimensions, he says, so your workouts should, too.
Another advantage of being on the ground is that you’re not fighting against gravity like you are while standing. That changes the force that you’re transmitting, and you’re able to steal some stability from the floor. This doesn’t necessarily make things easier, however.
“Planks and hollow holds are deceivingly more difficult than you’d think,” says Piercy. “They challenge your core in a different way.” That’s even truer when you add weights to the equation—for example, in the high-plank dumbbell drag and the hollow hold dumbbell press.
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