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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Weights on the BOSU Balance Trainer: Book Review

Weights on the BOSU® Balance Trainer: Strengthen and Tone All Your Muscles with Unstable Workouts

If you ask me what the most underutilized, underappreciated fitness equipment at most gyms is, I will always say 2 things:

1. The Stepmill cardio machine, and
2. BOSUs

Most people I see at the gym ignore the BOSUs available for members to use and fight over the elliptical machines (which I think are pretty useless) while the Stepmills sit idle.

Adam and I got a BOSU a few years ago and it is so fabulous.  Years ago when I still taught a lot of fitness classes, I used to use them all the time in my athletic training/boot camp classes and I just knew we had to have one for our home gym.  Unfortunately, I don't think we have the money or space to ever get a Stepmill!

Recently I was sent Weights on the BOSU Balance Trainer by Brett Stewart and Jason Warner to review.

BOSU, in case you don't already know, stands for Both Sides Up because it is a dome-shaped apparatus that can be used dome-side up or dome-side down, making it incredibly versatile.  Either way, it provides some instability which assists with balance and kinesthetic awareness (or the connection between our brain and our musculoskeletal function).  The BOSU can be used for strength training, stretching and cardiovascular activities ranging from fairly basic to extremely advanced levels of difficulty.

The book is geared primarily towards those not yet familiar with the BOSU.  It begins with a section introducing the reader to the BOSU and answering basic questions about how to get started using it for strength training.  The BOSU may be risky for some people who have health problems or injuries so the authors prudently advise readers to see their doctor before starting BOSU training.  They also spend some time in this section explaining why strength training is important for fitness, athletic performance, and even fat loss for both men and women, even if the goal is to slim down rather than bulk up.  I appreciate this as some women still worry lifting weights will turn them into a WWE wrestler.

The next section guides newbies through how to get on the BOSU, warming up appropriately for your workout, and tips for avoiding injuries.  Following this are the programs, which range in difficulty from basic to advanced. 

Part 3 of the book describes each exercise mentioned in the programs.  I was impressed with the level of detail and the number of pictures included for each one.  For someone like me that has difficulty picturing movement without actually seeing it, this is extremely helpful.  The authors also give you quite a lot of exercises to work with, as well as variations for many of them.  I was already familiar with all of the exercises they include in the first section, however, the exercises in the "Extra Credit" section are extremely advanced and, frankly, I am a little afraid to even try most of them!

The last section provides warm-up and stretching exercises along with more detailed descriptions and ample photos.

Overall, I think this is an excellent book for just about anyone wanting to incorporate the BOSU into their strength training routine.  If you have any health problems or injuries and/or have very little strength training experience, I would recommend first meeting with a personal trainer to help you get familiar with the BOSU and/or give you some tips/feedback on your technique and form before you start any of the programs.

If you don't have a gym membership, getting a BOSU for your home is a great idea.  They don't take up much room and are only about $140.  Not only can you use them for strength training, core work and stretching, but they can also be used for cardio workouts and there are lots of DVDs out now that can guide you through various types of workouts.

So go BOSU yourself fit!