A Little Instability Goes a Long Way for Your Workout

A Little Instability Goes a Long Way for Your Workout

Rev up your workout by throwing it a little off balance to power your body and mind.

By Kelly Bryant

It may sound counterintuitive, but a little instability can be a boon for your workout. Using a trampoline or balance ball can engage your core and target muscles that might otherwise go underserved. But those aren’t the only apparatus for getting your instability on -- there are a host of other ways to up your fitness game this way.

Some indoor cycling classes offer bikes that actually move side-to-side to make you really feel like you’re traveling with the pack without ever leaving the studio. But how do they affect your ride?

Despite the fact that stationary bikes with some sway might look a little intimidating, Colin Irving, creator of the RealRyder bikes, says they’re actually gentler on the body. He says these bikes are easier on the joints and skeletal system because the load you’re carrying is more evenly distributed throughout the body while pedaling.

But the surprising part of your body that gets a workout on this bike isn’t even an actual muscle – it’s the mind.

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“Riding our bike is much more like riding an outdoor bike, and riding an outdoor bike is fun (or it should be),” says Irving. “Of course, there are physiologically specific areas of the body that see greater engagement and involvement as well. The core is more active and engaged, as are the supporting muscle groups of the upper torso, back, arms, and legs, but really the mind being more actively engaged in the experience is what keeps people coming back for more.”

Similarly, Hunter Joslin, founder of the Indo Board, which can be used to simulate stand-up paddle board yoga inside a studio, finds the mental focus involved in using his creation is just as powerful as the physical effects.

“The practitioner must remain in the moment at all times by concentrating on good yoga breathing and maintaining proper form, progressing from posture to posture,” he explains.


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The board sits on four rockers equally spaced to create an unstable platform. There are also three air cushions equally spaced between the rockers. You can increase the level of difficulty by how much air you put in each. And if you think your abs are on fire during a regular yoga practice, get ready to seriously feel the burn.

“The increase in core activation is immediate, and then, the extra exertion extends to all the major muscle groups throughout the body as the yoga poses progress during a 60- to 90-minute class,” says Joslin. “The overall workout achieved is felt throughout the body to a far greater degree than yoga performed on a yoga mat.”

So, the next time you’re thinking of adding heavier weights to your fitness routine or upping the incline on that treadmill, consider opting for a touch of instability to work your muscles and your mind.

Which curveballs do you like to throw at your workout?

Kelly Bryant is a freelance writer and pop culture junkie. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and their two sons. Follow her on Twitter @MsKellyBryant.

Image ©iStock.com/Klubovy

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