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HIIT It with the BOSU® Balance Trainer

Today’s fitness scene offers many more options for exercise enthusiasts than when I began my fitness journey just a “few” years ago, and I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that! At that time, steady state aerobics was the recommended activity to increase fitness level and improve body composition. Sure, this type of training is still popular, but for those of us who would rather have a root canal than endure painful, never-ending workouts, there are now many options available. For me, the days of the dreaded long runs are a thing of the past!

If you are interested in working smarter, but not longer, consider High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which involves alternating periods of high-intensity exercise with active recovery or rest. HIIT offers an effective way to improve cardiovascular fitness in less time than exercising at a moderate pace for a longer workout. The bursts of high-intensity exercise can, over time, increase aerobic capacity. This approach is also ideal for those of you “endurance junkies” who favor distance training. Throw in some HIIT sessions in between longer aerobic workouts to cross-train and reduce the likelihood of injury.

High-intensity interval training is also a great choice if you enjoy programming creativity into your exercise routine. There are endless options for exercise selection, and the length of the work and rest phases can be varied as well.  Consider these suggestions when planning your workout:

 

  • To work out at a higher intensity, select exercises that utilize larger muscle groups. HIIT training involves working above lactate threshold or the “uncomfortable” zone. Try working at a level of 7 or higher on a perceived exertion scale of 1 to 10.
  • The work phase can last anywhere from 20 seconds to 2 minutes and the recovery phase can last from 10 seconds to several minutes. Consider your fitness level and goals when selecting a ratio that will offer the appropriate amount of challenge for you.
  • For beginners, a ratio of 1:2 (work to recovery) is ideal. When you are ready for more intensity, try adjusting the ratio of work to rest and progress your workouts as your fitness level improves.
  • You can simply rest during the recovery phase of your workout or you can throw in some lower intensity exercises in between the bursts of intensity. I favor fun core moves for recovery because they provide additional benefits while offering a break from the cardio challenge.

If you have been enjoying interval training for a while, and want to up the ante, why not add the BOSU® Balance Trainer into the mix? The Balance Trainer can enhance your training regimen by increasing intensity, fun, and function! Here are some benefits:

  • HIIT workouts often involve high impact exercises. Working on top of the soft surface of the BOSU® Balance Trainer offers cushioning to protect joints and provide a gentler workout experience.
  • The Balance Trainer is an excellent tool to add a stability challenge to all types of exercises.  Working on an unstable surface adds a whole new element into the mix. Additional muscles are recruited to maintain balance and stability as you execute the moves.
  • The Balance Trainer is super versatile. You can work in all planes of motion, and use varied body positions like standing, kneeling, and sitting, plus you can play with the dome side up or down. The possibilities are endless!
  • Using the BOSU® Balance Trainer is just plain fun! Working on balance is not always graceful, trust me. But anytime we play with the Balance Trainer, we let go of our ego and enjoy the ride!

 

Check out this quick and creative routine for your next HIIT session!

 

The Workout

Alternate the following cardio and core exercises for 3 cycles for each block. Begin with 30 seconds of cardio training and one minute of core training.  Adjust the timing and ratio to progress when ready.

 

Block 1

*Dome side up

 

Cardio: Plyo Jack

Begin standing on top of the BOSUÒ dome.  Jump down to a squat with feet astride the Balance Trainer and then jump back up to the top.

*Progression: Squat deeper and touch hands to the dome on the squat.

 

Core: Supine Plank

Begin seated on the front side of the Balance Trainer. Lie back while reaching overhead with the arms and extending the legs a few inches off the floor. Hold for 1 minute.

*Regression: Keep one or both feet on the floor with knees bent about 90 degrees and reach toward the ceiling with the arms.

 

Block 2

*Platform side up

 

Cardio: Thruster

Hold the Balance Trainer in front of the chest. Squat and press overhead.

*Progression: Add a plyometric jump.

 

Core: Plank Circle

Begin in plank position with hands on the platform. Shift the weight and circle the Balance Trainer. Repeat in the other direction.

*Regression: Drop knees to the floor.

 

Block 3

*Dome side up

 

Cardio: Jump Squat Around the World

Jump to the top of the Balance Trainer, jump quarter turn on top, then step down. Repeat 3 times, then jump turn in the opposite direction.

*Progression: Jump to the floor instead of stepping down.

 

Core: Kneeling Balance

*Regression: Flex feet and lower the toes to the floor.

 


Melissa Weigelt, MS is a BOSU® Master Trainer and owner at Flow Fitness Training, where she develops and presents a variety of continuing education programs for fitness instructors.