Recent exercise trends have shown a return to using your own body weight with limited equipment in order to get an inexpensive, but effective workout. Of course there’s nothing wrong - if you have the money to spare - in joining an exclusive gym that has state-of-the-art exercise equipment and classes, or setting up a home gym with costly equipment. But new fitness trends are geared to engage reluctant exercisers. The goal is to let them know old school moves like jumping jacks, jumping rope, running stairs, jogging outdoors, and weight training moves like pushups, lunges, squats and crunches, still get the job done. ** But now there’s a newer angle called instability, and it may just take your workout to a whole new level.**** By taking a resistance exercise move and adding instability, you:**
- Increase the effort that you use to perform the exercise, which raises energy expenditure and burns more calories
- Engage the core muscles in the abdomen and back, since those muscles are needed for the additional balance demands.
So if you’re performing an upper body exercise, like a bicep curl, and stand on one leg, you’ll have to use your core muscles while performing the upper body curl.
Popular Instability Equipment* You might also want to try** using a Bosu ball. It looks like a large inflated exercise ball that’s been cut in half and placed in a stable molded plastic base on floor, with the rounded mound as the stepping and balancing surface. Lunging onto a rounded surface is requires more core effort, than just lunging on the flat surface of a floor. Balancing on that the Bosu’s rounded rubber surface while performing a shoulder press will also be tremendously challenging.*** ** The **ActivMotion Bar is a relatively new piece of equipment that has a hollow interior with steel balls that move back and forth in the hollow space. You have to grip and steady the bar as you perform standard exercises like a bicep curl or shoulder press, and that effort will have you engaging your core muscles throughout the exercise.
Try using instability to fire up a mundane workout.
There are no large studies yet on the ActivMotin Bar**;** however,** the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) does recommend balance training at least twice a week.** It’s an intuitive approach that many trainers utilize in the boomer and senior populations, where balance skills can become weakened due to the natural aging process, but it now seems a good idea for all age groups.
Consider doing pushups with one hand on the floor and one on a low step. Perform squats with your feet on different levels. Stand on one foot while you do shoulder presses. There are loads of ways to create instability or challenge your balance and, thankfully, these approaches won’t challenge your wallet
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Known as The HealthGal, expert contributor Amy Hendel is a popular medical and lifestyle reporter, nutrition and fitness expert, columnist, and brand ambassador, as well as a health coach. Trained as a physician assistant, she maintains a health coach private practice in New York and Los Angeles. Author of The Four Habits of Healthy Families, you can find her on Twitter @HealthGal1103 and on Facebook at TheHealthGal. Her personal mantra is “Fix it first with food, fitness, and lifestyle.”