(Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)The Competitive Edge Part 1: The Bosu Ball Aidan O'Connor September 1, 2014 Spotlight For every fifteen or twenty five minutes that a mixed martial artist prepares themselves to compete inside a cage, several weeks of time and effort have been carefully invested outside of it too. The gruelling contest that transpires once the door closes and the clock starts is only a fragment of a greater competition, highlighted by strict dieting; attentive research; and a committed approach to fitness. In this setting, the bottom of the gas tank is just as much an adversary as the actual opponent, forcing elite MMA athletes to pursue every competitive edge they can muster ahead of fight night to optimize physical health and perfect conditioning. The leaps in technical performance over MMA’s short history are paralleled by new training exercises that work the body as a whole, single unit. These next five articles will each examine one fitness tool that has excelled in the MMA sphere. The Bosu Ball In a sport that combines the dexterity of striking with the leverage of grappling, many modern athletes are rejuvenating their strength training with balance drills. As part of the Onnit family, top UFC featherweight contender Cub Swanson has embraced the benefits of the bosu stability ball to become a mascot for the “human optimization company,” which specializes in fitness and nutrition. Originally perceived as a utensil limited to rehabilitation purposes, the bosu ball now appeals to a wider range of physically fit athletes. As a low cost, light weight, long lasting product, the bosu ball also markets itself as a tool that does not discriminate users by weight, size, or range of motion. With options to use the bosu balance ball across different muscle groups including the legs, pelvic and spinal areas, this tool promotes other goals ranging from muscles toning and strengthening, to aerobic conditioning and improving flexibility through static stretching. By successfully maintaining balance and stabilized alignment on the flat side of the bosu ball, the user stimulates their body’s natural motor reflexes, encouraging the body to react as a single entity. The unpredictability and micro-movements that accompany using a bosu ball, compared to more generic singular contract-relax motions, engage muscles that are not challenged with some traditional exercise equipment, while also adding an element of challenging fun to the practice that separates the device from generic alternatives. As a supplementary exercise, using the bosu ball can catalyse performance in other areas of strength training and athletic performance. Through the consistent practice of maintaining correct posture and equilibrium as unorthodox forces act on the body, users become more receptive to the dynamic movements that are required in avoiding punches, stuffing takedowns, countering throws, and scrambling on the ground, all of which are actions seen regularly in MMA.