Keeping It Simple - Cardio Drills on the BOSU® Balance Trainer

By: Jessica Maurer

Performing cardio drills on the dynamic surface of the BOSU® Balance Trainer is a great way to burn calories and improve cardiorespiratory fitness while simultaneously challenging balance and agility. The secret to getting great results is simplicity – less is more!

It is easy to keep cardio exercises and drills on the BOSU® Balance Trainer simple and non-intimidating. Choosing basic cardio drills that can be progressed or regressed depending on fitness level, will guarantee safe and effective workouts for everyone.

Using the BOSU® Balance Trainer for cardio fitness should not be about reinventing the wheel. Just like with any other piece of equipment or body weight exercise, cardio drills should be learned in a progressive manner. It’s not about how fast you can jump up and down on the dome right off the bat, but rather getting acclimated to the surface height, practicing a base movement skill, and then progressing and varying the drill when appropriate.

There are many ways to progress cardio drills. Adding propulsion to a base skill is an obvious and effective choice, but can be overused. Propulsion increases intensity, but it also adds complexity to the movement, so use it sparingly.

Let’s look at speed of movement and range of motion. These options for progression are easy to modify and make any drill look and feel different. Varying movement speeds from slow to faster tempos individualizes drills and allows self-pacing. Starting with smaller range of motion movements and progressing to larger range and additional movements (for example, starting with just the lower body skill and then adding arm movements), helps ensure good technique while progressing intensity.

Cardio drills do not need to be intimidating or highly complex to be effective. Remember this simple idea: Complexity and Intensity are sitting on a seesaw. As complexity goes up, the intensity goes down. As intensity goes up, complexity must go down.

Here are two easy to use cardio drills that you can add quickly and easily into any of your classes or training sessions. Remember, keep it simple. Keep it basic.

Just March

Yes, really. Just march. At the beginning of this drill, stand on the floor and tap one foot at a time on the dome to acclimate to the height. Then, progress to marching for a few reps on top of the dome and then back down on the floor. When ready, march up and down at a steady pace. Increase range of motion by lifting the knees a little higher on the march. To progress further, surge for more speed at a self-selected pace. Don’t worry about staying on the beat if you’re exercising to music. Repeat this drill for 3 non-stop sets.

Ready for more challenge? Don’t change the exercise, either add propulsion, increase the range of motion by stepping further away from the dome, or use more arm movement.

Squat and Stand

Balancing on the dome on one foot can be intimidating at first, so proper progression is the key. In this drill, keep the squat series simple with no hops or jumps. Start with one foot on the floor and the other on the dome. Squat as low as is comfortable, then stand back up, putting more weight on the dome foot. When ready, step to the dome foot, lifting the foot on the floor as you stand and tapping that foot on the side of the dome. Progress to adding a knee lift as you stand, increasing the depth of the squat, and then finally adding speed to the movement pattern.

For great cardio workouts on the BOSU® Balance Trainer, check out BOSU® Total Body Basics (for fitness enthusiasts) or 101 Ways to BOSU® (for fitness professionals).


Jessica Maurer is a BOSU® National Master Trainer with a background in dance and fitness education. She is the co-creator of LOK Fitness and a Master Trainer for Hedstrom Fitness, Lebert Training Systems, and Tabata Bootcamp.

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