Menu Close

Tone Up At Home With Olympian Max Whitlock’s Cushion Crusher Workout

If you’re a dedicated couch potato take a deep breath before you read this.

Max Whitlock is using your living room sofa, normally devoted to horizontal  lounging, snacking, and snoozing for… exercise!

The double Olympic gold gymnast has revealed it as a brilliant piece of kit for toning and stretching and even a cushion can help build abs.

His work-out sessions in his own home, accompanied by his adorable 17-month-old daughter, Willow, are already a huge online hit and they’re in his new book, The Whitlock Workout.

“People are so busy and it’s easy to make excuses not to look after your body – the restrictions of the lockdown haven’t helped – but it’s so important to stay fit and active,” enthuses the 27-year-old whose routines and user-friendly exercises can be done at home or in a park.

So don’t let a lack of fancy kit hold you back. Rise up from that sofa – you have nothing to lose but some flab – grab a cushion and start toning up with his five-step Cushion Crusher Workout.


“Remember, you’re doing each exercise for 30 seconds and trying to do as many quality reps as possible.  Work as fast as you can but don’t sacrifice form or technique,” says Whitlock.

Before a workout he advises doing a five to 10 minute warm up and stretching exercises to raise your temperature and heart rate – then after your workout, finish with a five minute cool-down.

“For your first go, aim for two cycles through but, if that feels too easy, crack on for a third or maybe even a fourth,” he advises.  “Aim to do these workouts at least three times a week but no more than every other day.”

Four minutes per cycle
2-4 cycles
30 seconds for each exercise
10 seconds rest between exercises
1 minute rest between cycles

1:  One Leg Balances

An excellent exercise for developing balance and body awareness, with the cushion adding instability.

D1533a8a cb33 44e8 9563 5465fa8fb948
(Dan Jones/Headline Home/PA)

With your arms outstretched to the side, stand on the cushion and taking a deep breath, raise one leg. Balance, keeping your supporting leg straight but not locked.

It helps to look at a fixed spot in front of you. Hold for 15 seconds and then change legs.

Safety Note: When you first start, stand beside a wall on one side and near enough that you can touch it for support if you need to.  If you’re struggling with balance, try without the cushion.

2:  Leg Touches

This works on trunk strength and also hamstring flexibility.

D917a245 f7ed 4c73 9a4e c3a204e586dd
(Dan Jones/Headline Home/PA)

Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and toes pointed. Hold the cushion out in front of you at shoulder height.  Holding your trunk stable and without leaning back, raise one leg towards the cushion.

Don’t worry if you can’t quite reach it, just go to the point where you feel a slight stretch on the back of your leg.

Ed6da8f5 b913 4a4c 95a4 9d1ea026cff9
(Dan Jones/Headline Home/PA)

Lower the leg with control, replicate the movement with your other leg and keep alternating.

3:  Cushion Twists

Hitting your obliques on the sides of your torso and increasing rotational mobility.

8801223d 32b3 43f4 9a9f 9ab443df381f
(Dan Jones/Headline Home/PA).

Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and toes pointed.  Hold the cushion out in front of you at shoulder height.

8ca21195 7347 4879 b8b8 f3de5462784b
(Dan Jones/Headline Home/PA)

Twist fully to one side from your waist, don’t just turn your shoulders.

Def222c2 c666 43d6 9bd9 3471fa6e3762
(Dan Jones/Headline Home/PA)

Return to the centre, pause briefly and twist the other way.  Keep alternating.

4:  Dish Hold

A static hold that targets your abs.

9eb7c8f9 09f1 4a51 a85c 0317e89ce64f
(Dan Jones/Headline Home/PA)

Lie on the floor with your legs out to the side at 45 degrees and legs elevated and bent at 90 degrees.  Balance the cushion on your shins.

3ab15fc9 f50a 4403 9dc7 beddb55e460a
(Dan Jones/Headline Home/PA)

Contract your abs and lift your arms, head, shoulders and upper back off the ground.  Hold this position by maintaining tension in your abs.

5:  Air press-ups

This might look easy but by the end of 30 seconds I guarantee the front of your shoulders will be burning.

220e2b5a 27b1 45d1 a2cb 40a0ebac05cd
(Dan Jones/Headline Home/PA)

Stand with your feet hip width apart and hold the cushion in both hands at chest height.

Without leaning backwards or forwards, push the cushion away from you by straightening your arms.

F7b3f5c3 9763 4d39 9d44 868a7db3941a
(Dan Jones/Headline Home/PA)

Bring the cushion back to your chest and repeat the movement.


Exercise routine from The Whitlock Workout by Max Whitlock (Headline Home, £20).


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *