Balance, Core Strength & Variability

by | Feb 9, 2018 | Blog

Recently I had to leave the gym I love. Early in 2017 I moved to join a specific, elite gym: CrossFit New England. Every single workout there pushed me. There was constant variability. The community was second-to-none. But, I had to move. After building my tiny house and facing the laws regarding placement, I couldn’t stay close to my gym. I wasn’t happy about it.

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I had a few moments of nervousness – how will I continue to push myself outside of this gym that pushed me so hard? Should I hire a trainer? Join another CrossFit box?

I felt like I was facing a challenge right out of the gate when I realized that CrossFit box nearest to me doesn’t offer the scheduling flexibility I was used to at CFNE. That would make getting to CrossFit workouts a little more challenging.

My initial reaction was to be irritated and frustrated but I quickly realized it’s actually an opportunity. While I really, really love CrossFit, I know that my body can benefit from the variability of other types of workouts. Not being able to make it to the CrossFit box every day meant a chance to try new things & meet new people. I can get excited about that.

I joined an aerial yoga studio. Talk about a totally different kind of workout than CrossFit. I love it.

I also joined a regular globo-gym! It’s been a long time since I’ve had a “regular” gym membership! (I got an entire year membership for less than HALF what I was paying for ONE MONTH at CFNE. That’s not a complaint about CFNE’s pricing, but rather how I was able to justify having both.)

Yesterday when I was in the regular non-CrossFit gym, I didn’t have much time and I wasn’t in the mood for an intense barbell workout.

Instead of focusing on what I didn’t want to do, couldn’t do or didn’t have time for, I simply focused on what I could do. I didn’t touch a single barbell, dumbbell or machine and I got in a killer, fast workout!

I grabbed the bosu balance ball. I am a HUGE fan of these. A bosu balance ball is basically one half of a large, inflatable ball secured to a flat platform. Both sides of the bosu are used depending on the stimulus and stability you desire.

Before I tell you what I did with it, I can’t help but share why I love them:

  • They can be used by all fitness levels. Sure, they require some balance but even a beginner can start by just placing one foot on the ball and leaving one foot on the ground. The platform side down provides much more stability than ball side down.
  • Instability activates all your muscles. For example, doing shoulder press on a bosu is going to engage your glutes and core because of the balance required, whereas doing shoulder press while standing on the ground wouldn’t require near as much from your core and base.
  • You can do a million things with them! Think burpees, push-ups, lunges, plyometrics, one-armed rows…the sky is the limit!

Before I share my workout with you and the new (to me) way I used the bosu yesterday, please heed this warning:

I am not a personal trainer. I do not play one on the internet. I’m not giving workout advice or prescribing a workout, I’m just excited to share one of my workouts with you. If you are new to working out, do not try a bosu without the assistance of a trainer. You could fall. Falling is bad. Check with your doctor before beginning a workout routine.

One of my favorite things to do with the bosu is…burpees. Don’t get me wrong, I hate burpees like the rest of the world, but they’re a great way to get in a killer full body workout in a short amount of time.

Bosu burpees are an awesome burpee variation.

Here’s how it goes:

Stand holding the bosu, ball side down. Your thumbs will be over the top of the platform side, fingers wrapped under the ball side. Drop into the bottom position of a burpee (plank), the ball side on the ground and do a push-up on the ball. Jump your feet up towards your hands. Jump up to a vertical position. Press the bosu over your head. Repeat.

If you aren’t ready for the push-up, you can just go to the plank position on the bottom, hold it for a second and then jump back up.

Here’s a video of someone demonstrating a bosu burpee without the pushup.

I also love doing deep squats on the bosu balance ball becasue they require such muscular control and stability. It’s a very different stimulus than doing squats with a barbell or dumbbell. I did a few squats with my feet spread across the platform surface of the bosu (ball side on the ground) and then I decided to push myself and try something new:

An overhead squat on the bosu.

I started with a small 10-lb plate. I positioned my feet on the platform side of the bosu, exended the plate over my head, arms fully extended, shoulders externally rotated, and I dropped into a deep squat with the plate pressed overhead.

Holy fully body engagement! Gradually, I worked up to a 35 lb plate overhead, squatting on the bosu balance. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt such glute engagement on any squat variation!

(Obviously don’t put any weight over head, especially when standing on an object requiring balance, without the assistance of a trainer if you haven’t done it before and aren’t properly trained on the correct form for an overhead squat.)

Specifically, here was the flow of my workout:

5 rounds for time:

  • 20 bosu burpees (10 with pushup, 10 without, alternating)
  • 30 second bosu plank (active recovery)
  • 10 bosu overhead squats

I was in and out of the gym in no time. I didn’t do a CrossFit workout. I tried something new and it was fantastic! Step outside your box!

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