When you think about trampolines, you probably picture large backyard models. You might not be aware that smaller trampolines called rebounders are an amazing workout tool. These mini trampolines provide a low impact method of exercise. Widespread use has shown a wide range of health benefits with this full body workout.
If you're interested in a low-impact workout, with multiple health benefits, then keep reading. You'll burn more calories than walking or jogging, improve balance, improve immune system health, and more.
Below we dive into the detailed health benefits, how to safely exercise using a rebounder, and finally what to look for when choosing the right one.
Multiple uses of trampoline-like devices can be traced back in history. Firefighters used lift nets to catch people jumping from burning buildings as early as 1887. Circus performers used springboard like devices to launch themselves in the air during the 19th century. There are even rituals where groups threw people in the air using blankets.
The interesting history inspired the early trampoline pioneers George Nissen and Larry Griswold to create the first modern trampoline in 1936. (1) Since these early beginnings, trampolines have become a commonly found device in many backyards. Technological advances like better mats, protective padding, and netting have increased the safe use.
Trampoline types range from round backyard models to rectangular Olympic regulation mats to a patchwork of interconnected surfaces found at trampoline parks around the world. In this article we are going to be looking at mini trampolines used as an exercise machine. These small-scale versions are commonly referred to as rebounders.
The small size (roughly 3 ft in diameter, and 1 foot tall) offers a platform for performing various exercises.
Trampolines became very useful in understanding the effects of gravity and g-forces on the body during exercise. In 1980, NASA performed a study on rebounding by testing male participants aged 19-26. Their tests compared running on a treadmill against jumping on a rebounder. See the conclusion published by the Journal of Applied Physiology.
The conclusions were that oxygen intake and heart rate were increased when jumping vs running. Rebounding was adopted as a method for performing physical recovery on astronauts. The low impact jumping based exercise was a great way to regain muscle strength and balance.
Since the 1980's rebounding has continued to grow in popularity and continues to be a good option for a standalone or addition to a workout routine.
There are a number of benefits Lets explore exactly why rebounding is such a great form of exercise.
Due to the absorbing nature of a trampoline mat, rebounding is well known as a great low-impact method of exercise. The result is less impact on the joints, tissues and bones.
The trampoline technology has improved this factor as well. Higher end rebounders almost exclusively use bungees over the old spring systems. This provides for a more consistent, smoother, and safer bounce.
Running, especially on a hard surface, is well known to be a high impact exercise. The shock of each step is absorbed in the feet, ankles, knees and legs. The NASA study mentioned above compared the pressure across the ankle, back, and forehead. Rebounding showed a much more even distribution of these forces when compared to running.
The result is less joint pain, better overall joint health, and prevention of many common injuries associated with running.
A report published in 1979 concluded that the human lymph system is activated at high-g forces, and depressed at low-g. The high-g, low impact nature of rebounding encourages lymph fluid circulation. This in turn helps boost the immune system by providing greater white blood cell activity.
The bouncing motion provides constant increases and releases of gravitational pressure. These pressure activate the fluid movement of the lymph system. The end result is an overall flushing of the system.
The active bouncing and nature of the trampoline mat causes the brain to work hard to keep you upright. This type of training engages the major and minor muscles from your feet, up through your legs into your core, and beyond. The result is improved overall balance both in the body and mind.
The cerebellum is the portion of the brain responsible for motor control. During a rebounding session, this portion of your brain is challenged. The end result is improved posture and stability.
Improving balance can be especially beneficial for the elderly. In-fact, a study published in 2014 showed mini trampoline use as having a positive effect on improving postural balance of elderly women. The result is a lower risk of falls and accidents.
Mini-trampoline design has also been improved to support safe use of those suffering from balance issues. Support bars can be added to prevent any possible falls while supporting the jumper.
Hot tip: For extra improvements, using a rebounder while barefoot engages the feet and ankles. The end result is an increase in agility and fine motor contol in the lower portion of the body.
One of the most common questions is how many calories are burned while jumping on a trampoline? The average 150 lb person burns roughly 200 calories per 30 minutes. This falls somewhere between walking and jogging for the same duration. So off the top, the calorie burning numbers aren't that impressive, but there's more!
Unlike walking or jogging, rebounding is a full body workout that works every muscle group in the body. The total body workout effectively improves your muscle to fat ratio. It may also reduce cellulite and boost your metabolism. The benefits of this at-home workout aren't looking so bad now are they?
Also to note is that the intensity of your workout varies with your preference. If you want a light workout, you can have it. If you want an intense workout, you can have that too!
By raising your heart rate to at least 50% of its maximum rate, you enter the 'cardio zone'. The health benefits of maintaining an increase heart rate for an extended period of time are many. Rebounding is a great method of increasing your heart rate, and strengthening your heart muscle.
By working the heart, you'll reduce blood pressure, increase circulation, and increase the lipids that work with proteins to remove fat at a cellular level.
The following list of exercises will give you plenty of tools in your kit. You'll be able to follow our workout plan, or effectively create your own. With all these exercises be sure to maintain alignment in the center of the mat. If you feel yourself drifting off to one side or the other, it's better to stop and re-center rather than try to 'save it'.
This is the most basic exercise you can perform. Despite it's simple appearance, a basic bounce activates a wide range of muscles in your legs and core. This is a great warm up exercise.
How to Perform
Stand in the center of the mat with your feet shoulder width apart. While looking straight ahead, begin bouncing with your knees slightly bent to absorb the weight of each landing. Increase or decrease the intensity of each bounce based on your desired level of effort.
This exercise expands beyond the basic jump and brings the upper body into the picture. The exercise is as straightforward as the name, you simply jog in place with alternating arm and leg actions. This exercise is great cardio and will help burn fat.
How to Perform
Start in the center of the mat with your feet shoulder width apart. Lift one foot off the mat at a time while doing an upper body motion just as if you were running. Keep a moderate pace, lifting each foot just off the surface of the mat and place it back down. This exercise works well to raise your heart rate and is a good cardio workout when done in longer duration's.
It sounds silly, but be careful not to run off the trampoline. This exercise can encourage subconscious movement due to the habitual link of the motion to forward movement. Start slow and ensure you stay in the center of the mat.
Similar to the previous exercise, high knees activates the entire body. This exercise bumps the intensity of the workout up a good deal from simple jogging. You'll burn more calories this way. It can be good to alternate sets of jogging and high knees together for a more intense workout. Think of it as a sprint.
How to Perform
Start in the center with feet shoulder width apart. Slowly begin lifting one foot at a time, alternating back and forth. Pump your arms in an alternating motion as if you were running. Slowly increase the intensity until you are lifting your knees as high as possible. You'll perform this exercise in shorter bursts.
This move is an intermediate / advanced level exercise. You're going to get a full body workout that uses your full upper-body range of motion.
How to Perform
Start in the center with your feet placed narrowly. You don't want them touching together, but about hip width apart. With each jump, bring your hands above your head in a wide sweeping motion. As you lift off the mat you'll widen your legs a bit, then bring them back to hip width for the landing.
Before you perform the full maneuver, work on your coordination. Practice the arm and leg movements independently before combining them. It's preferred to master the leg movement with each bounce first, then add the arms. Landing with the legs spread apart can be risky as your feet can land in the springs or bungees.
You'll find this exercise to be quite similar to jogging in place. The main difference being that you'll be alternating footing with each bounce. This exercise works additional muscles in the legs and helps improve balance.
How to Perform
Begin with feet shoulder width apart and straight across. With the first jump, move one leg slightly forward and the other slightly back. With the next jump switch the forward/backward feet. Continue this motion, alternating your footing with each hop. You can also swing the arms in an alternating fashion with the rhythm.
This is a great exercise for working your hips, thighs, knees, ankles and more. You'll also see great cardiovascular workout in a fun to perform action.
How to Perform
Start in the center of the mat with your feet together. With your first bounce, jump both your feet to one side while keeping them together. With the next bounce, jump them to the other side. Get your arms involved in a running or sideways motion to engage your entire body. Pay close attention to your foot placement to ensure you keep a safe distance from the edge of the mat.
A move you'll no doubt be familiar with, but performed on the trampoline. Compared to the ground, the unstable mat provides an increased balance boost.
How to Perform
Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Lower your butt down and squat at a 90 degree bend in the knees. Keep your core engaged, back neutral and bend at the hips. Hold this position for 30 seconds before releasing back up.
This exercise does wonders for your lower body. The bouncing and twisting action loosens your lower back and improves mobility in the hips. It also acts as a massage for the internal organs including your liver, kidneys, spleen, and more.
How to Perform
Begin with a hip wide stance with your feet in the center of the rebounder. Begin with small hops, each time twisting the hips from side to side. Use your arms as a balance, moving them naturally against the twisting motion. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged as you hop. Maintaining your gaze straight ahead on a fixed point will keep your upper body from twisting with the lower body movements.
This simple, yet effective exercise is a great full body workout. The idea is to engage from head to toe and keep your body straight. The efforts of maintaining posture and keeping your body quiet through movement builds muscle and provides a great cardiovascular workout.
How to Perform
Begin with your feet hip width apart in the center of the mat. Keep your hands at your sides with fingers pointed down. Maintain this posture throughout the entire exercise. Begin jumping by lifting off from the balls of your feet. At the peak of each jump point your toes down and engage your entire lower body.
Ensure that you do absorb the landing impact with a slight bend in your legs. Landing on locked knees is not ideal.
This exercise takes a new approach by exercising your core while you sit on the rebounder. The bouncing motion provides great benefit to your stomach and core areas while also strengthening the legs. Begin by starting a bounce
How to Perform
Begin by sitting in the center of the trampoline. Keep your legs together and lift them off the ground in front of you. Use your hands extended out in front of you to naturally maintain balance. Begin bouncing while maintaining the position. With each alternating bounce, extend and retract your legs while maintaining balance.
Continuing with the core exercises, we take the well known plank move and add a rebounder. These exercises are a great break from the standing moves. Using the trampoline surface engages fine balance muscles that floor planks miss.
How to Perform
Begin kneeling just in-front of your mini trampoline. Lay your forearms on the center of the mat and extend the legs out into a straight body plank. Maintain your balance while keeping your hands together. If you want to extend these into plank pushups, raise up into a pushup position one arm at a time. Perform 1-3 pushups and then return to the forearm plank.
Now that you know the basic exercises you can do with your rebounder, lets dive into a workout plan. By sticking to this routine you'll burn calories, lose weight, gain muscle, improve your immune system. and enhance your balance. You can accomplish this in as little as 15-20 minutes per day.
Before you get on the trampoline, stretch your major muscle groups. Once limber, begin with a warmup set consisting of:
Working the lower body
To finish the workout, lay on your back on the mat. Plant both feet on the ground in front of the rebounder. Lift one leg at a time up in the air, holding the leg up by the back of the knee. Hold this for 45 seconds per side and repeat 2 times.
If done daily, this workout plan will quickly improve your total body fitness. As you become more accustomed to the workout, you can increase the duration or number of sets to your liking. Also feel free to add or change exercises in each category.
The smaller size and low profile to the ground makes rebounders much safer than a traditional backyard trampolines. Despite their safe nature, it is still important to use caution when exercising. Observing the following rules will keep you safe:
We've put together a few essential rules to follow when you're shopping for a rebounder. We cover the three main points in order of importance below.
It's easy to get sticker shock when you look at high end models. It's important to remember that a rebounder is a piece of exercise equipment, not a toy. For that reason we recommend focusing on quality. You want to find a trampoline that is sturdy, safe, and appropriate for the exercise you plan do to.
Going with a company with a good reputation like Bellicon or JumpSport ensures that you get a quality product.
The smaller size of these trampolines enables them to use a bungee system. Bungees are preferred over springs for multiple reasons including:
There are several options to consider based on your needs. The most common being:
Further Reading: Find the right rebounder for your needs in our guide to the best mini-trampolines.