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The Reebok Core Board


The Reebok core board is a new piece of equipment that health clubs throughout the last year. It is very similar to other unstable pieces of equipment such as teeter boards, or wobble boards, where your client has to stabilize their bodies while standing or moving on them. The major difference with the core board is that it has a spring mechanism built into it. This spring allows movement along a horizontal axis. Traditional boards only allow movement forward/back and side/side. This spring provides additional neuromuscular challenge, especially in a rotational sense. When a client or athlete turns in one direction on the board, the the board springs back to center, causing them to react and control the movement in a rotational plane of movement.

Core Board

Stability and Rotation

Two components to keep in mind when using the board with your client are stability and rotation. The stability component means that while standing on the unstable board doing exercises, your client will challenge their joints’ ability to keep the body still, while forcing the body to work together as a unit.

The board can actually be adjusted to be more or less stable as your client progresses.

The other component is rotation. You can ask your client to deliberately turn or rotate the board, aka “firing”. This movement demands an integrated effort from the entire body in order to move the board.

Core Board Notches

Training Progressions

When using the board in a workout, there are two immediate options you might want to consider.

Core Board as Warm Up

At the beginning of your training session, you can set up a full body circuit on the board, doing movements like squats, lunges, push ups, core and/or traditional upper body exercises. When you challenge the stability and the neuromuscular integration of the body, you can use no, or relatively lighter weights, as pure muscle hypertrophy is not the goal of these exercises or movements.

To make increase the challenge:

When doing a circuit like this at the beginning of the training session, you will “wake up” your client’s neuromuscular system, get the nervous system and sensory organs heightened, preparing the core and the entire body for movement in all planes. You can then put the board away and proceed onto the gym floor and proceed with the rest of your training session.

Core Board Integrated into Program

Another option is to alternate core board exercises with other exercises during your training session. For example, you can do a traditional exercise, and then immediately afterwards do an exercise on the core board. Pick an exercise that is similar in movement pattern or which muscle group is being challenged. For example, you can alternate a set of bench press with a set of push-ups with rotation on the core board. Or you can alternate a set of traditional lunges with relatively heavy weight with a set of lunges onto the board, deliberately trying to move the board as you step on it.

I will now explain and show exercises that can be set up as a full body circuit. At the end, an example training session will be listed, alternating traditional exercises with core board exercises.

Safest Progression for Core Board Training:

Observe your client’s form and modify or stop the exercise if you see:

Full Body Circuit

Squats and Overhead Moves

This is a great full body movement that challenges your client’s neuromuscular system, and would be valuable as a warm up in any training session. Have your client stand on the board and pretend to hold an object or medicine ball in their hands. Your client should then squat down, bringing the hands down towards the feet. As your client stands up, they bring their hands with the imagined med ball up over their head. Cue your client to exhale through pierced lips as they stand up, asking if they feel their abdominal muscles pulling in as they do so. As the client decelerates the body movement with their arms overhead, this also works as a great abdominal exercise.

Of Squat in Down Position

After one or two sets, have your client bring their arms up to one or the other shoulder during the movement. You can also alternate, e.g. squat and then bring the arms straight up overhead, then to the right shoulder, then to the left shoulder.

It won’t take long for your client to master this movement. You can then progress to a light med ball and have them do the same movements. As your client does the repetitions, tell them to think about throwing the ball up and behind them as they stand up. Be certain they understand they should just be pretending to throw the ball and not to really throw it unless you are outside in a wide-open, safe place!

Squat with Diagonal Movement; in Up Position

Rotation

In this position, you can also add a rotation movement. Have your client stand with knees soft, and arms in front as if holding a small med ball. Cue your client to rotate to each side, keeping the core engaged the entire time. You can make it harder by telling them to move faster, hold the arms further away from the body, or hold a med ball.

Rotation with no Toss

When your client has mastered this, you can increase difficulty by increasing speed of movement, essentially demanding more deceleration as they turn from side to side.

Add the medicine ball to the movement by having your client toss the ball to you and then catch it again as they turn away from you.

Rotation with Toss

Lunges

Simply doing a lunge with one foot on the board and one foot on the floor challenges the stability of all the joints. To increase difficulty have the client hold dumbbells, or a med ball, and progress to simultaneous movements with the weights during the lunge.

Stationary Lunge and Med Ball

For example, the client can lower and raise the ball as they rise and stand in the lunge. To increase the challenge, have your client stand off center, reduce the stability of the board, or add a diagonal pattern.

Lunge and Med Ball in Up Position

Lunge Clock Drill

A great reactive drill is the clock drill. Your client stands facing the board, and you explain that the numbers of a clock are written on the board. On your cue, the client steps onto the board to the matching number on the clock. You can cue “3” for example, and your client would step to the right side of the board, where a number 3 would be on a clock

Close Up of Shoe at 3 o'clock Position

Increase difficulty by cueing your client to deliberately turn or rotate the board as they step on it.

Push Up Sequences

Doing traditional push-ups on the core board increases the demand on the shoulder girdle, shoulder joint and core to stabilize the movement. Cue your client to start in either the regular or modified position.

Push ups in Down Position

You can change this challenge by asking your client to “walk” across the board as they do push ups. They start in the center of the board, then walk with one hand to where it is off the board, do one push up, then walk back to the center, do one push up, then walk the other hand off the board, and do one push up on the other side.

To integrate more moves, ask your client to turn the board as they go down into the push up. Your client will feel the abdominal muscles working as they stabilize their body during this movement. Another way to increase the difficulty is by having your client do an oblique crunch as they do the push up. Each time they lower to the floor, they bring one knee up towards the opposite shoulder. Even more difficult is to turn the board at the same time, e.g. turn the board to the right and bring the left knee up towards the right shoulder at the same time.

Oblique Twist While Turning Board and Push Up

Core Exercises

Dead Bug

Have your client lie with their torso on the board. Keeping the natural curve in the low back, your client flexes the hips and the knees to 90 degrees. They should be trying to keep the board still. This is much more difficult than it looks! Your client then brings both arms up towards the ceiling, keeping good posture in the upper body. From this starting position, your client lengthens one arm and the opposite leg, maintaining stillness in the low back and keeping the board still. Your guideline for progressing (how straight the extending leg should be) should be based on whether they are able to keep the board still, and the same natural curve in the low back the entire time.

Girl in Dead Bug Position

Start with one complete circuit of one set of 10-15 reps of each of the above exercises. Progress to more repetitions, more complete circuits, or just add neurological difficulty in each of the movements. Plan to take approximately 10-12 min. at the beginning of your training session for a circuit such as the one described.

Sample Workout

The following is a sample workout where these core board exercises are incorporated in to a traditional training session. It does not necessarily represent a complete training session, but just an example of alternating a traditional exercise with one that challenges the neuromuscular system and stability of the body. *Denotes exercise on core board.

1. SQUATS

  1. *Squats with overhead movements
  2. Traditional squats
  3. *Squats with overhead movements and med ball
  4. Traditional squats
  5. *Squats with overhead movements on diagonal planes
  6. Traditional squats
  7. *Rotations with med ball

2. LUNGES

  1. Traditional lunges
  2. *Lunges with one foot on board
  3. Traditional lunges
  4. *Clock drill
  5. Traditional lunges
  6. *Lunges with one foot on board-off center
  7. Traditional lunges
  8. *Rotations with med ball—increasing speed

3. BENCH PRESS

  1. Traditional bench press
  2. *Push-ups on core board
  3. Traditional bench press
  4. *Walking push-ups on core board
  5. Traditional bench press
  6. *Push-ups while turning board
  7. Rotations while tossing med ball

4. ABDOMINALS

  1. Traditional ab stability exercise
  2. *Dead bug on core board
  3. *Traditional back extension exercise
  4. Dead bug on core board

Future articles will show workouts using tubing with the core board, and variations of exercises with medicine ball and the core board.