Sunday Sweat Talk {Unstable Surface Training}

A couple of months ago, I splurged and bought myself a bosu ball. It was definitely an impromptu decision after training on them all day at my MMA Fighter Fit certification, but I learned a lot of new moves using the bosu that weekend. It was also on sale. Like super duper sale. My at home fitness equipment collection was starting to get boring, so a bosu seemed like a good solution to add some variety.

MMA Fighter Fit - Bosu & AirFit

Despite my purchase, I have mixed feelings about using the bosu as a workout tool. If the bosu is used correctly and creatively, it can be a fun piece of equipment to shake things up in a workout routine. However, I know many fitness professionals out there who will argue that unstable surface training is not all that cracked up as everyone makes it out to be.

Here are some reasons for this:

  • You can’t use nearly as much weight while training on an unsteady surface. I know that I can lift much more when both feet are standing on steady ground than when I’m wobbling around on a bosu. And lifting heavy equals results. You think there’s any chance of me deadlifting over 100 pounds while standing on a bosu? No way.
  • Quality of form often gets compromised, which can lead to injury. This kind of goes hand in hand with the first reason because it’s when trying to use too much weight on the bosu that you often see form go right out the window. But even just bodyweight exercises can lead to bad form. Buckling knees on bodyweight squats, arched backs or butts in the air during pushups and planks, etc. are very common things to see in your everyday exerciser who doesn’t know any better while using a bosu.
  • Core strength can be obtained in better ways. Using a bosu DOES challenge the core, but it’s not the end all be all to core strength training like many inexperienced people claim it is. I know that when I am holding a heavy barbell on my back in a back squat, I am using a LOT of core strength to be able to get through my full range of motion.

Weighted Barbell Squat

When I do train with the bosu, I really don’t use it much as a tool to stand on like many people do (and how I used to do myself). I know I’ve posted a couple of workouts on F&F before that include exercises standing on the bosu, but my views have simply changed over time and with more experience. Whenever I stand on the bosu now, it’s either 1) for rehabilitation or balance work, such as building the strength back up in my weak ankle after spraining it in January, or 2) for cardio, power, or explosive types of exercises that don’t focus on using weights.

For the latter, I love coming up with creative exercises that fit these categories. I like to pick the bosu up and LIFT it as part of my workouts by doing burpees with bosu halos and bosu sprawls. I like to punch the crap out of it for upper body work. I like to do core work on the bosu, but again, I prefer moves such as walking planks and oblique hip dips instead of awkwardly wobbling on one leg while curling 5 pound weights in each arm. How boring is that? When teaching, I like to use the bosu in stations classes to introduce members to these different types of exercises.

Stations Workout

I guess the point I’m trying to make in this post is to just be careful if you are doing unstable surface training. Save the weights for a different workout so you can lift heavier and safely. If you can’t yet do a regular pushup with good form and DEPTH without dropping to your knees, don’t do them on the bosu just because it seems like you’ll get more results that way. Use the bosu to work on balance, or try to think of ways to lift and hit the bosu instead.

Maybe I’ll do a post soon on some of my favorite creative bosu exercises. Just not today because I’m recovering from Katrina’s bachelorette party last night, and nobody wants to see me try to do anything that requires an unstable surface today.

–Let’s chat–
Do you incorporate unstable surface training into your workouts? Do you ever exercise using a bosu ball? What’s your favorite way to use them? After reading this post, do you think about some of the “traditional” standing bosu exercises in a different light? Agree or disagree, I’d love to hear from you!

For more Sunday Sweat Talk topics:

Sunday Sweat Talk {MMA Fighter Fit Certification}

Hope everyone is having a fab weekend and enjoyed their Valentine’s Day. It’s time for Sunday Sweat Talk!

Sunday Sweat Talk

First, thank you guys for the grip strength recommendations. I tried an alternating grip yesterday during my deadlifts, and it really helped! I feel much more confident now. Thank you!!

Let’s talk about…

The MMA Fighter Fit Certification

Last weekend I spent both Saturday and Sunday getting my MMA Fitness Certification through the Burn With Kearns training program. I was first introduced to this “real fighters’ workout for group fitness” concept at the Boston Mania fitness convention I attended in November. It was one of my favorite classes I took all weekend. I absolutely loved Coach Kearns’ energy levels, especially the way he made us yell and get into each move. Everyone left that session smiling and laughing, and it definitely had an impact on me as an instructor.

Boston Mania - MMA

During one of our breaks at Mania, I stopped by Coach Kearns’ table at the Expo to chat, and I entered a raffle for a free certification. I actually won, so off I went to Beverly this past weekend to see what this MMA “fit without the hit” stuff was all about. Coach Kearns brought the same energy to the cert as he did to Mania back in November, so I definitely enjoyed it and found the two days worthwhile. The whole MMA Fighter Fit concept came about when Coach Kearns took his training programs that were originally developed for UFC fighters and adapted them for group fitness classes and personal training clients.

Here are some of the topics the training covered:

  • How to conduct a personalized evaluation
  • Warm-up techniques that really matter
  • Flexibility in a multidimensional world
  • Strength training protocols
  • New approaches to achieve explosive power
  • Putting and maintaining gas in the tank
  • Partner drills that motivate, challenge, and burn
  • Cooling down for injury prevention
  • Developing training programs that optimize results
  • Nutrition and weight loss management
  • Adapting the principles of the Burn with Kearns MMA Training System to various populations
  • Establishing the foundation of strength for improved performance
  • Pushing your clients with stability & balance challenges, cardio circuits, core & strength training, and plyometric workouts utilizing rebounding
  • Innovative ways to incorporate the bosu balance trainer

MMA Fighter Fit - Bosu & AirFit

There were 12 of us present for the certification. I enjoyed the smaller group because we were all able try the different moves and equipment and get more personalized attention than we would have been able to with a larger group. I loved that we didn’t touch dumbbells, stability balls, or barbells the entire time. Instead, I learned so many new exercises using resistance bands, the bosu, medicine balls, and agility ladders.

MMA Fighter Fit Cert - agility ladders

We also got to play with some new to me equipment, including the Air Fit (wayyy better than the TRX!), JumpSport fitness trampolines, and the Surge.

MMA Fighter Fit - Surge

Talk about humbling… you use the Surge training equipment by filling it with 25-30 pounds of water and doing overhead presses, abdominal work, etc. It’s WAY harder than it looks!

I definitely learned a lot during the weekend and appreciated how hands on and interactive the entire certification was. Now that I’ve completed levels 1 & 2, I’m debating whether to pursue level 3. Level 3 comes with a monthly cost, but that monthly cost gets you recognized as an affiliate trainer on the Burns With Kearns website, conference calls with the other master trainers, weekly workouts, and the opportunity to go out/travel and conduct these certification sessions yourself (paid). I’m still debating all of this. I can’t decide. What do you guys think?

Oh yeah, one other thing. I came home with some new fitness toys too: a bosu and a JumpSport. Oops. 🙂

Jump Sport trampoline

All in all, it was a weekend totally up my alley, and I had a lot of fun.

Let’s talk about…

My weekly workout log

Last week’s workouts

MMA Fighter Fit certification, day 2

30 minutes of spin, medicine ball ab circuit, 1000 meter row finisher

Spin Bike

Took Liz’s Kickboxing class (no jumping), then taught my Valentine’s workout in my class (didn’t do much of it)

Valentine's Day Two A Day 2014

1000 meter row warm-up, followed by strength for chest, back, and abs

Even though I taught my morning class, it was a rest day for me.

25 minutes of core work at home on the trampoline and bosu

20 minutes on the spin bike, leg day, abs

This week’s workout plan

  • Sunday: Elliptical + upper body strength
  • Monday: Spin class + subbing for Cardio Ball at 10am (Oak Square)
  • Tuesday: Rest! Aloisia is subbing my 7:30pm Interval class
  • Wednesday: Subbing 6:30pm Lower Body Express and 7:15pm Interval Training (Oak Square)
  • Thursday: Teaching my 6am class
  • Friday: TBD or rest
  • Saturday: Likely a leg day

Time to talk! Have you ever heard of Burn With Kearns or MMA Fighter Fit? Think I should pursue the Level 3 master trainer program? Have you ever used equipment like the AirFit, Surge, or Jump Sport? Any good moves you can share for the trampoline? How were your workouts last week? What’s on tap for fitness this week?

Hope your weekends wind down nicely. Enjoy the day off if you have it tomorrow!

Weekend Recap and Weekly Workouts

This weekend definitely went by too quickly.  Don’t they all?

Friday night was somewhat shot since Tim was flying in from a business trip in DC, and I had to shoot home to pick something up from my parents’ house.  We managed to time it so Tim could come with me and we could grab a pizza at Flatbreads before heading back to our apartment where we pretty much fell asleep immediately.  Wah wuh.

Saturday included an early morning workout, Ashley’s bridal shower, and then some serious couch time.  I just needed to SIT.  Ashley looked so pretty at her shower and everything was wonderful.  I didn’t know anybody there (seriously not one other person!) but everyone was so nice and welcoming.  AND it seemed like many of them are F&F readers, which was kind of awesome and unexpected.

Here are a couple of pictures I snapped:

Ashley's Shower

Ashley's Shower

Finally on Sunday Tim and I ventured up to Gloucester/Rockport for a fun little day trip / date day.  Recap post coming soon!

For now, let’s dive into weekly workouts.

Weekly Workouts

Last Week’s Workouts

Rest day

I squeezed in an early morning Memorial Day workout: 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by 15 minutes of core strength work.  The rest of the day was spent kayaking at Cochituate State Park.  Kayaking is a no joke upper body burner!


15 minutes of sprints on the spin bike, then taught my animal theme class.

Train Like an Animal Workout

Active rest — walked with Sheila at lunch in Southcoast for Walking Wednesdays

Taught my 6am class.  We focused on lower body tabata for the first half of class since last week we focused on upper body tabata.  We were still able to do a short upper body and cardio circuit toward the end though.  Sweaty!

Traffic was awful, so I decided to take advantage of the gym at work instead of sitting in a bumper to bumper mess on the Mass Pike to get to the Y.  I did 30 minutes of cardio on the elliptical, and then 20 minutes of core and balance work.  By the end?  Highway was clear.  For the win.

Friday Workout

Forced myself to wake up at 8 to get my sweat on before Ashley’s bridal shower.  I did this workout that Jen posted last week and that I included in last week’s Friday Favorites.  I adjusted a couple of things, but it was a good one.  I especially love squat jumps onto the bosu.  Thank you, Jen!

Workout equipment

This Week’s Workouts

Here’s what’s on the agenda for this week:

  • Sunday:  Rest day
  • Monday:  Cardio workout TBD
  • Tuesday:  Subbing outdoor bootcamp and teaching Interval
  • Wednesday:  Active rest / light cardio
  • Thursday:  Teaching Interval
  • Friday:  Signed up for 6am class at Studio Empower
  • Saturday:  Morning workout TBD

Of course it’s subject to change and I can be easily persuaded by workout buddies. 🙂

How were your workouts last week?  Do they change at all with the change of season and weather?  Anyone rock outdoor workouts more often?  What’s up for the week ahead – anyone trying anything new?

Time to tackle the week ahead!