The 9 Best Wobble Boards
October 17, 2018: Removed the Reebok Balance and the Isokinetics Inc. due to availability issues. Added the UrbnFit Core because of its distinct reinforced bottom. Added the Rocco Balance because of its sturdy wood and plastic construction.
Why Incorporate A Wobble Board Into Your Workout?
Your hips hinge slightly backward with your weight rested in your heels, and you sit into the motion with relative comfort until you raise yourself back up.
If you've ever stood on a surface that was particularly unstable, you may have noticed that the muscles in your legs and your core quickly went into overdrive. Even on a stable surface, if you strike a difficult enough pose in yoga, you might experience rapid muscular contractions. This is because the body’s sense of equilibrium is particularly sensitive and will attempt to right itself without your conscious thought, much in the way that your hand will automatically retract from a hot surface before the signal of that temperature can even reach your brain. As your body suddenly loses balance, it immediately takes action to right itself.
Because of this, athletes whose sports require advanced senses of balance are often ones who are in especially good shape. Think of gymnasts, ice hockey players, and surfers, whose sports demand that they maintain balance when speeding along on a wave, or flying across the ice while being slammed into by other players. Now, we're not suggesting that you jump straight into the ocean, or strap a pair of razor blades to your feet to try to get in shape. What we are suggesting is that you incorporate a sense of instability to your workout.
To do this, you would employ a wobble board. This is a simple device made of a flat, circular platform that sits slightly elevated on a half dome base of rubber or some similar material that causes it to resemble the lower one quarter of a spinning top. When you stand on the wobble board you'll find it very difficult to steady yourself at first, but you'll soon find a balance provided you don't try anything too crazy.
Now, imagine yourself doing a squat on flat, stable ground. Your hips hinge slightly backward with your weight rested in your heels, and you sit into the motion with relative comfort until you raise yourself back up. If you were to stand on a wobble board and perform these same motions, you would find the muscles in your feet, calves, and thighs all going a little insane as they attempt to perform a motion they thought they understood, but that's been completely thrown off by a lack of stability. This recruitment of additional muscle fibers increases the amount of strain you put on those muscles, resulting in better tone and a bigger build.
It doesn't just stop with the lower body and core either. You can rest your forearms on either side of your wobble board and add an extra layer of difficulty to your planks, or you can grab the sides of the board and use it to destabilize your push ups. You can even incorporate it into a set of burpees if you really want to torture yourself.
What To Look For In A Wobble Board
Most of the wobble boards that you see on the market are mostly going to resemble one another. The general design of these items is pretty standard, but there are still a lot of little things that differentiate one board from another, and that you would do well to scrutinize before making a purchase.
The actual material out of which a given wobble board is made might be important to you, as well.
One of the most important aspects of any wobble board is the construction and design of the platform itself, especially when it comes to how well it will grip the bottoms of your shoes or your feet. Some boards provide little to no traction explicitly to make their use more difficult for serious athletes, while others — particularly those intended for physical therapy — try to be as grippy as possible to prevent you from slipping. Depending on your level of confidence and expertise in the gym, you should choose accordingly.
The actual material out of which a given wobble board is made might be important to you, as well. Wooden boards are popular for their cost and durability, but many of these woods are unfinished, and if you're a heavy sweater you may find that these are susceptible to mold and mildew. Plastic boards are fine in terms of durability, and they certainly aren't at risk for mold or mildew, but they tend to give a little more than their wooden counterparts, which may actually make it easier for some users to balance on them and might detract slightly from the intended destabilization of the workout.
Finally, you want to look at the wobbling mechanism itself, which is essentially like the bottom tip of the spinning top we discussed earlier. Some models boast very stiff bases, which will cause the wobble board to topple more quickly and may prove to ensure the most difficult and demanding workout. Models with softer bases may be a little bit easier to use for novices, so if you're looking for just a little bit of a difficulty, these might be best for you.
Other Simple Ways To Get A Great Workout
What's great about a wobble board is that it's relatively inexpensive and pretty easy to take with you on the road. This is ideal if you're going to be away from your gym for a while and you want to make sure you still get a decent workout in. There are some additional pieces of equipment you can get your hands on to accompany your wobble board for quick, effective workouts.
These can quickly pop in and out of a door frame, and provide you with one of the most thorough back and bicep workouts imaginable.
Resistance bands are among the most useful tools in any athlete’s arsenal. Like wobble boards, they are lightweight and incredibly easy to pack up and move around, and they can provide a solid workout to almost any muscle group. You can grab a single resistance band and increase its strength by folding it over on itself, or you can invest in a small set that will provide you with different levels of resistance.
If you're looking to outfit your home with a very small amount of easily stowable work out items to keep you fit on those days when you can't make it to the gym, a simple pull-up bar is a great addition. These can quickly pop in and out of a door frame, and provide you with one of the most thorough back and bicep workouts imaginable. Some even let you hang from them to perform leg lifts and other abdominal exercises.