Windshield Wipers

Isolation exercise, Body weight




Required equipment

Main muscles

  • Abdomen: External oblique abdominal muscle
    (Musculus obliquus externus abdominis)

Workout plan

Here you can find example plans for windshield wipers training:

Windshield Wipers: Basics and alternatives

: Involved main muscle groups Windshield Wipers

Involved main muscle groups:
Windshield Wipers

Windshield Wipers is a challenging exercise for working out the side abdominal muscles. From the movement itself, it’s clear that this exercise demands a high level of body tension and strength. As a result, the windshield wiper ab workout is mainly suitable for advanced users. The basic movement sequence involves hanging from a pull-up bar, bringing your upper body into a horizontal position, lifting your legs at about a right angle, and then swinging your legs from side to side.

For beginner-friendly alternatives, you can try lateral knee lifts and lateral torso bends with dumbbells or on a machine. Various seated abdominal twist variations, standing twists, or using a machine are also suitable.

As an introductory exercise, consider hanging knee lifts. Your core is already stressed in a similar way as with the windshield wipers, so you can use the knee lifts as preparatory training.

Correct execution

When doing windshield wipers, it’s crucial to use a secure and stable pull-up bar. A power rack is the best option for this exercise. Since you’ll be tilting your upper body horizontally and moving your legs to the side, it’s important to avoid any potential falls that could result in serious injury. Make sure the pull-up bar is firmly fastened and not clamped into a door frame, for example.

There are different ways to perform the windshield wipers. This guide describes the version where you turn both your upper body and legs, which particularly targets the side abdominal muscles.

Another option is to keep your upper body upright and lift and lower your legs in various positions. This approach engages the core more with each lift and lower, but it doesn’t focus as much on the side abdominal muscles.

Video tutorial

Hanging Windshield Wiper Exercise | How to Tutorial by Urbacise

Step-by-Step instructions

Stand in the middle under the pull-up bar. Grab the bar with both hands about shoulder width apart. Grip the bar with your thumb (don’t use the monkey grip).

Pull your body up a bit at the shoulders so you’re hanging on the pull-up bar.

Lift your upper body together with your legs up. Your upper body should be positioned parallel to the ground. Your legs are straight and your toes point diagonally upwards. You are now in the starting position.

Now turn your upper body controlled from one direction to the other. You follow this movement with the namesake windshield wiper on a vehicle.

Common mistakes and injuries

As already mentioned, a stable pull-up bar is particularly important for this exercise. In the hanging position, your back is exposed, which can lead to serious injuries in the event of a fall.

But not only the pull-up bar must be stable, your grip must also be strong. Therefore, only perform the exercise with advanced training experience. If your strength in your hands and arms fades, it’s better to end the exercise.

Remember, safety is essential when performing windshield wipers. Make sure you have a solid grip, a stable pull-up bar, and enough experience before attempting this challenging exercise. It’s always better to progress slowly and build up to more advanced exercises than to risk injury by pushing yourself too hard, too soon.

By following these guidelines and starting with beginner-friendly alternatives, you can safely progress towards mastering the windshield wiper exercise and effectively work out your side abdominal muscles.