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

Max Whitlock

Max Whitlock, the double Olympic gold gymnast, has discovered a surprising fitness secret that could revolutionize your workout routine right from the comfort of your living room sofa.

In his new book, The Whitlock Workout, Max shares his ingenious approach to toning and stretching, proving that even a cushion can help build abs.

With his adorable 17-month-old daughter, Willow, by his side, Max’s home workout sessions have become an online sensation, inspiring people worldwide to prioritize their fitness despite the challenges of lockdown.

Don’t let a lack of fancy equipment hold you back—join Max and rise from your sofa to embark on his five-step Cushion Crusher Workout. It’s time to shed flab and get in shape, no matter where you are. Start your transformation today!


“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.

Max Whitlock one leg stand
(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.

  1. Leg Touches

This works on trunk strength and also hamstring flexibility.

Max Whitlock holds pillow out in front
(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.

Max Whitlock with one leg in air
(Dan Jones/Headline Home/PA)

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

  1. Cushion Twists

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

Max Whitlock
(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.

Max Whitlock twist with pillow
(Dan Jones/Headline Home/PA)

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

Max Whitlock twists with pillow
(Dan Jones/Headline Home/PA)

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

  1. Dish Hold

A static hold that targets your abs.

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(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.

Max Whitlock legs held in air
(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.

  1. Air press-ups

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

Max Whitlock with pillow held in front
(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.

Max Whitlock with pillow held in front
(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).