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Athletes

Are Bosu Ball Exercises Wasting Your Time And Preventing You From Your Goals?


Hundreds of personal trainers are using the Bosu Ball for their clients but is it even safe or effective? There has been a huge push among trainers in the fitness industry to implement a wide array of exercises with the device that it is astonishing. Increasing balance and core strength has become so mainstream that the use of the device has become the norm. With the exception of rehab, could you possibly be wasting your time and energy with Bosu Ball exercises?

istock 000009101996small Are Bosu Ball Exercises Wasting Your Time And Preventing You From Your Goals?

(I seriously wouldn’t mind being a beach bum without being a bum.)

Skill And Ability: Understanding The Difference In Regards To Balance

Not many people realize that balance is an ability and is controlled by genetic traits. Demonstrating exceptional balance can be traced back to very young ages with a lot of high-profile athletes. Without any proper training, kids can display amazing balance capabilities. This ability is a major reason why only some individuals have what it takes to be a world-class athlete.

Why Skill And Work Don’t Assimilate

It is important to understand that skills can be improved but only to a certain extent. If you want to become a better sprinter, practicing on sprints will help develop that skill. Trying to sprint on a Bosu Ball will not develop that particular skill. You will notice your “work” on the Bosu Ball will increase, but the skills of sprinting on land will not increase. This is the same idea with trying to increase balance. Trying to increase balance by using the ball will only help develop the skill of “balancing on the ball.” Overall balance does not increase nor does it carry over into other activities. This is why gymnasts or skiers who have great balance will still have a hard time performing exercises on the ball. Only until they have practiced the skills on the Bosu Ball will they be able to perform the exercises.

But What About All The Core Work? Well Why Is This Such A Hard Pressed Issue For Trainers?

I’m not sure where this obsession over developing core strength came from but I believe it has been completely taken out of context. Trainers have taken this to the extreme by trying to implement core work for just about any exercise you can think of.  Not only has this “working on the core” been way overdone but there is also  too much focus on the use of Swiss balls and Bosu Ball exercises. Performing exercises like squats, dead lifts, overhead presses, and even bicep curls on the Bosu Ball will not show elevated “core” activity. With equal weight, there would be no difference between core muscle activation on solid ground or with the use of the Bosu Ball. Even though it may seem harder, your core muscles are not working and harder. Remember, despite what the “studies show” it is extremely important to find out who funded the study. The claims about the ball are nothing but self funded marketing.

Bosu Ball Exercises Are Bosu Ball Exercises Wasting Your Time And Preventing You From Your Goals?

(Aaahh the madness continues. So much wasted time and effort within the fitness industry.)

Rehab Facilities Have Their Part?

Bosu Ball exercises were originally developed for those in need of rehab. It has been a great tool for both knee and ankle rehabilitation. But for a normal person wanting to increase balance, core strength, or overall fitness capabilities, the use of a Bosu Ball is a waste of time.

Still Worried About Your Core?

Try not to get caught up in the whole “core strength” hype. Your core muscles receive plenty of work any time the body needs support. Whether it is for squats, dead lifts, bicep curls, and even military presses, your core will be worked to support the weight being lifted. But if you feel that you still need to strengthen your core, then doing planks for 2-3 sets for two minutes is all you need. Planks will provide much better results than what Bosu Ball exercises could ever give you.

Note: I do have to mention that I am not trying to put anyone down that use these, it’s just that you have valuable time and if it’s about losing weight quickly then I want you to maximize your efforts to the fullest. If fat loss is your goal then I would highly suggest skipping swiss balls, bosu balls, or those small toning balls. You are better off with intense cardio and strength training.  Of course there are certain occasions where athletics/balance could be benefited with these types of balls but most people are not in this category.

Flexibility And Stretching: Is Stretching Before Working Out Really Necessary?


I don’t know about you but the thought of stretching is like nails on a chalk board. I have harbored a slight hatred towards it since I was a kid. I always felt like I was wasting precious time. Whether it was getting ready to play kickball as a youngster, or psyching myself up for some intense HIIT. I have had numerous people and coaches tell me that stretching before working out was a must. The idea of flexibility and stretching as the proper way to prevent injury, reduce muscle soreness, and increase performance sounds correct and logical on the surface…but is it?

runner quad stretch Flexibility And Stretching: Is Stretching Before Working Out Really Necessary?

[Stretching before lifting will make you weaker for that particular exercise]

I’m Want To Pull My Hair Out!… But Only After 20 Minutes Of Touching My Toes

The importance of stretching was drilled in my head as a kid all the way up to college baseball. I remember times when pre practice stretching would last upwards of twenty minutes or more. I seriously couldn’t stand it. Not only did I feel like we were wasting our time, but I never felt as explosive and strong as I did with just a quick warm up. It seemed like I ran my fastest and threw my hardest when my muscles were “slightly stiff.” If stretching prior to competition was so important, why did it seem to work against me all the time? Before we take a look at what the experts say, I’ll give you the goods right away for you internet skimmers.

For Those Who Just Want The Summary

I figured I would simply give you the summary of my findings for those who could care less about the research. I understand people value their time so they simply want to know “is it good or bad?”  So here it is:

  • Properly warming up the muscles in a dynamic approach is highly beneficial. This is achieved by allowing a full range of motion but done in a lighter manner.
  • You don’t need to stretch before exercising because it reduces strength and power, thus making you weaker.(static)
  • If increasing flexibility is of importance to you, 1 stretch per body part for under 30 seconds/day is plenty. There is no need to hold stretches for minutes on end.( University of Central Arkansas: )

Note: Be smart and realize that there are exceptions for things. Especially requiring a different approach like specialy sports(gymnastics) or with the use of injury rehab.

Dynamic And Static Stretching/Flexibility

I will try and make this as short as possible so that it isn’t a “snooze” to read.

1. Dynamic(Active) Flexibility: You are using a full range of motion to help with flexibility. Think of a movement that slowly stretches the muscles while you are moving. (Ex: High knees, butt kicks, throwing motions, etc)

2. Static(Passive) Flexibility: Holding and extended position with tension for a longer period of time. This can be done with your own weight or assisted weight. (Ex: touching your toes, arm holds, doing the splits)

Does Stretching Before Working Out Prevent Injuries?

For nerds like us who like to see the research side: “Static (Passive) Stretching

  • An Australian army physiotherapist named Rod Pope conducted a study over a year with upwards of 1,600 recruits to determine the relationship between injury prevention and static stretching. He found that those who performed static stretches and those who didn’t, had no difference in preventing injury. ( www.pponline.co.uk, So what about dynamic flexibility. Rod Pope,  ‘Skip the warm-up,’  New Scientist, 164(2214),  p. 23)
  • In the book “Sports Medicine” by Gleim & McHugh, challenged the idea of stretching and increasing flexibility as a way to prevent injury. (Gleim & McHugh (1997), ‘Flexibility and its effects on sports injury and performance,’ Sports Medicine, 24(5), pp. 289-299)

What About Explosive Movements And Strength?

There are so many studies that point to muscle strength decreasing in static stretches that it is mind boggling. Strength can reduce close to 30% right after stretching. Although they can’t figure out why explosive movements and strength decrease with static holds, I think it has a lot to do with the muscles losing its ability to contract hard and quickly. Here are some studies:

  • Research shows that static stretching decreases muscle strength close to 10% for one hour after the stretch. It is also important to note that eccentric strength decreases by 7% when the hamstring is specifically stretched.(Mick Critchell, Warm Ups For Soccer: A Dynamic approach,  page 5)
  • A very good study for athletes: They found that the muscles used for explosive movements like the hamstrings, quads, and calf muscles, reduced quite a bit with only three 15-second stretches. A decrease in specific coordination also decreased. (Knudson, D., K. Bennet, R. Corn, D. Leick, and C. Smith. 2000. Acute Effects of Stretching Are Not Evident in the Kinematics of the Vertical Jump. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport vol. 71, no. 1 (Supplement), p. A-30.   Tomas Kurz, www.scienceofsports.com)
  • Wayne State College: Study shows a 5% decrease in bicep strength after static stretches.
  • McMaster University: Study shows a 30% decrease in calf strength after the muscle was stretched. This study also displayed a decrease in strength in the calf muscle almost an hour after the initial stretch. 

What About Reducing Muscle Soreness?

A study that researched several types of stretching was done at the University of Sydney by Rob D Herbert. He concluded that stretching does not seem to present a reduction or prevention of muscle soreness. Although he admits that that generality of his findings on injury prevention still needs further research, he says a lot of evidence is against it. 

Flexibility And Stretching: Dynamic And Static Don’t Equate

Whether you are warming up to lift weights or for sprinting, dynamic and static stretching can create a deficit in flexibility. What I mean is this: Stretching a muscle to “improve” flexibility in a static manner, will not improve flexibility in the same way as if you were to do it in a dynamic fashion. This is why a lot of stretches out there can create this imbalance (deficit), thus increasing the likelihood of injury.

A Full R.O.M Increases Flexibility And Performance

If you want to increase your dynamic flexibility, then optimizing a full range of motion is key. This is the kind of mindset that you want in regards to flexibility and stretching. Optimizing a full range of motion will increase that range of motion in whatever exercise that you are performing. The only problem is that it can be tough to do when your muscles aren’t warmed up. We have a solution for that! 

Warming Up The Right Way: From A Lifting Perspective

We have learned that stretching before working out reduces strength and performance, so that is the last thing that we want when lifting weights. So to properly warm up you will want to lift lighter weights using a full range of motion. While lifting you are going to “pretend” that the weight is really heavy. Grab the weight as hard as you can and flex the surrounding muscles really hard while lifting. Stick to a slow and controlled movement like you would with heavy weights. Not only will this warm up the muscles, but it is a great way for you to learn how to increase strength and muscle tone. For more on how to increase muscle tone without adding size check out: “Understanding True Muscle Tone And How To Get It”  and Enhance Your Upper Body Strength With Thick Bar Training

Spiderman VS. Batman- The Dark Knight Battles The Web Slinging Arachnid


What do you think would happen if billionaire Bruce Wayne made an inappropriate gesture towards Mary Jane? What if Peter Parker is caught snapping an embarrassing photo of Bruce in his Superman pajamas? Let’s say a fight breaks out between the two and you want to place a bet on the victor. Who would you choose? Would it be “The Beefcake” Bruce Wayne or the “Lean and Mean” Peter Parker.  Alright Geeks, here is Spiderman vs. Batman….light sabers unite!

Batman VS Spiderman2 300x187 Spiderman VS. Batman  The Dark Knight Battles The Web Slinging Arachnid

Batman V Spiderman1 197x300 Spiderman VS. Batman  The Dark Knight Battles The Web Slinging Arachnid                                                                                                                                                                        

                                    (I want this article to be humorous, nerdy, and fun)                                                    

Batman Is A Brute

Taking a look at Batman, we can see that he is taller and bulkier than Spiderman. You don’t want to be on the opposite end of his brute punches and kicks. He is also able to withstand more punishment from his fighting due to his muscle size and thick body armor. He wields some pretty nifty gadgets that allow him to glide through the air or grapple the tops of high rise building. Batman would most likely win a “Strong Man” competition and even school the American Gladiators, but would have a hard time winning the “Ninja Warrior.” Overall, He looks pretty intimidating with his bulky muscles, black mask, and cape. His size and bulk doesn’t help him with agility and endurance, but he does get to drive a pretty sweet car.

Spiderman Is The Agile Athlete

Spiderman is lightning quick, flexible, and super agile. His fighting ability is enhanced by his extreme athleticism and balance. He is able to dodge weapons and attacks very effectively which can cause his opponent to run out of juice. Since endurance is a strong attribute of Spiderman, long heated battles will always be in his favor. Spiderman also has great advantages with his web slinging abilities. Firing his sticky webs from any angle can help him momentarily disable his opponent while maneuvering around the sides of buildings.

So Who Would Come Out On Top

Batman’s excessive size would slow him down and hurt him in long drawn out battles. He would do very well in a pure fist fight. A few landed punches, kicks, body slams, is all it would take and good night Suzy! Spiderman’s only chance of winning is to utilize his “spidey sense.” If he can draw upon his amazing athletic abilities and wear down Batman, the floodgates would be open to easy body blows.

 0 Spiderman VS. Batman  The Dark Knight Battles The Web Slinging Arachnid 

(Abed Batman is my favorite character. I couldn’t stop laughing)

Functional Strength VS Raw Size

We have established that Spiderman has way more functional strength than Batman. He can utilize his body size in more athletic and meaningful ways outside the fighting world and into everyday life. Batman would most likely gain a lot of respect in the bodybuilding community but Spiderman’s body type would gain more interest with the ladies. 

 0 Spiderman VS. Batman  The Dark Knight Battles The Web Slinging Arachnid

(A modern day Spiderman) 

If I Had The Choice,Who Would I Be The Spiderman Vs. Batman Dilemma?

Let’s first think about my own fitness goals.  I would much rather be lean and ripped with a lot of functional ability. It is also important to me that I am able to fit into a nice suit and even jeans. This would be very difficult if I had a bodybuilder body. You would think that it would be an obvious choice to be Spiderman, but……I would pick Batman! Let’s be honest, they aren’t superhero’s all the time. Let’s take a look at Bruce Wayne. When he is not Batman, he is a multi-billionaire! He is a rich, handsome, and a famous guy who can literally buy anything and vacation wherever he wants.  Think about Spiderman as Peter Parker, or Superman as Clark Kent. Outside of being a superhero, they are the biggest nerds that work regular, boring, jobs. How much fun is in that?? 

What I Would Fix About Batman

Since I would pick Batman, I would focus on losing the excess muscle mass while increasing muscle density. Slimming down while increasing strength will give me a more of the lean and mean body like Spiderman.  I’ll have the best of both worlds. Spiderman’s physique and ability with Bruce Wayne’s paycheck, sounds great to me!

For Those Who Are Giving Fitness A Much Needed Face Lift

Since beginning this site I have been introduced to some great fitness bloggers. They have actively gone against the grain and are helping people reconsider why exactly they work out. By not catering to the “meat head” mentality, they have opened the doors for people to achieve a much better looking body. It’s only a matter of time for the fitness industry to catch up and realize that what is being taught is extremely ineffective and outdated. This is especially true within women’s fitness. There is way too much exercise garbage that is thrown at women that it makes your head spin.

Plyometrics Training: How Jump Training Workouts Increase Athletic Performance


 

micheal jordan dunking 43223 Plyometrics Training: How Jump Training Workouts Increase Athletic Performance

If you were to place a huge monetary bet on Jay Cutler (professional bodybuilder) or Lebron James in regards to overall athleticism, who would you pick?  For most people the obvious choice would be Lebron.  I just couldn’t imagine watching Jay Cutler running a 40 yard sprint, soaring in the long jump, or excelling at any kind of agility test.  These two guys are polar opposites and both have completely different training goals.  Lebron would greatly benefit with jump training workouts. Jay on the other hand would rather spend his time finding an industrial sized trash bag to wear as pants. Man his legs are huge!!

   jay cutler1 201x300 Plyometrics Training: How Jump Training Workouts Increase Athletic Performance            VS            Lebron James 209x300 Plyometrics Training: How Jump Training Workouts Increase Athletic Performance

                           ( This pair of “extremes” is supposed to humorous but I am trying to make a point.  So bear with me ! )

An interesting thought is that a lot of people equate athletics as being the biggest guy of the bunch.  I have a weak stomach when it comes to viewing fights on UFC so I simply don’t watch it, but if you were to make an educated pick on the fighter who will come out on top….95% of the time would be on the guy who does NOT look like a bodybuilder.  The only exception would be Georges St. Pierre and he makes up for the other 5% because he is simply a modern day superman.

Being Strong And Looking Strong Doesn’t = Athleticism

Another great tip for picking out professional players who are going to have terrible seasons is to view the ones who had too much media press on their “off season workouts.”  They trained super hard in the gym but have completely neglected their actual skills for the sport. An example of this could be a pitcher who trained so hard in the off season to gaining size and strength but never picked up a baseball.  Once the season rolls around, he wonders why he can’t throw the ball.  This also goes for players in the NFL.  Being big and strong is so crucial in this sport that without it, they could get seriously hurt.  A problem athletes in the NFL or any other professional sports team can run into, is that if they concentrate too much on their “gym performance” as opposed to agilities and overall plyometrics training to increase athletic performance….bad and unfortunate things can happen.

The Big 3 Do NOT Determine Someone’s Athletic Performance

I have found that most trainers still believe that the “Big 3”(Bench Press, Squat, Deadlifts) will indefinitely translate to athletic performance.  In actuality, these lifts rank very poorly and are mediocre at best in predicting athletic performance.  I know, I know….negative comments and emails will be flying my way very soon but let me explain first!  I am truly not a fan of these lifts at all for those trying to achieve a more visually stunning body, but I do understand that for some athletes these lifts are crucial for gaining muscle and strength.  I am NOT saying that a great athlete who improves in the “Big 3” won’t become a better athlete, but what I am trying to explain is that by training with these 3 lifts does NOT predict overall athletics.

A Simple Test To Gauge Your Athletic Performance

 Your vertical jump test dominates any other athletic performance predictors.  This is true for both men and women.  If you work very hard at improving your vertical, overall athletic performance will greatly increase.  Now, one thing to consider is that to improve your vertical jump, you may have to engage in exercises like deadlifts and squats.  The only difference is the type of goal that you are trying to achieve.  What I mean by this….if you are an “athlete,” jump training should be a huge portion of your plyometrics training program but if you are an average gym rat trying to build some good muscle, then jump training workouts may have no interest to you.

More To Jump Training Than What People Think

I have only scratched the surface as to why plyometrics training is so important.  There is so much more information that you can find to be very valuable to your overall performance but I just wanted to introduce the idea that most people have never thought about.  I do NOT consider myself an expert in jump training and not all jump training workouts are the same.  This is a very small field of expertise but I wanted to make sure I found “the best” for my readers. The program that I have been researching for awhile and found to have some pretty good feedback with testimonials is The Jump Manual. If your athletic performance is lacking, seriously consider seeking out jump specific training. I know it many not improve the way you look, but I really believe it will enhance your game.  Don’t just listen to me…take some time and check out more information. I think it’s worth it just to see some guys under 6’0 tall dunking a basketball.

jumpmanualad480x60 Plyometrics Training: How Jump Training Workouts Increase Athletic Performance

A Little Side Note

Overall athletic performance can also be helped by shedding that excess body fat.  Excluding football players, I see way to many athletes carrying around more body fat than what they should.  Their performance can increase drastically by dropping the pounds. If you are a consistent reader on my site then you know what I would recommend.

 

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