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Burn with Kearns: Get max benefits from BRAAD for those 40+ – Kevin Kearns




Balance reaction agility acceleration and deceleration 

BRAAD – what is it and why does the 40 plus guy need it

This was a concept I heard years ago from my friend and mentor, JC Santana. JC was and is a big fan of martial arts, especially boxing. I have been studying BRAAD for almost 40 years and include it in all my clients’ training routines, one on one, and group.

The reason why I incorporate martial arts into all my clients programming is the for the purpose of BRAAD as well as stress relief, mixing it up, as well it’s excellent croons training for all Sports, burning lots of calories, and building confidence.

So, let’s explore the concept of BRAAD. It stands for Balance, Reaction, Acceleration, Agility, and Declaration.  These aspects are involved in every sport, and just getting from point A to point B .

Balance –

Let’s face facts – we all need it, and we all lose it as we get older. The older we get the more our balance goes. As a baby we start with just being able to roll, sit, squat, to walk, and then run. None of that is possible without balance. As we get older, we tend not only to lose muscle mass but our brain cells, too, which directly effects our balance.

The good news is we can definitely improve our balance by incorporating some simple drills and skills into to our regular exercise routines or exercises. What many people don’t realize is that by activating a balance factor this fires off the Central Nervous System more. This is command control for the motor neurons to activate muscle fibers. In a sense, your muscles get more educated.

You have heard about muscle memory, this skeletal intelligence. Your entire body will respond to the new balance demand. Most people when they think of making a traditional exercise like bicep curls to shoulder presses, think they are more challenging, and they think they should increase the weight. What we try to do at Burn With Kearns is take that and stand it on its head, literally. We will have someone stand on one leg with the same movement. This not only activates their CNS by standing on one leg, but you activate your core because of the unilateral load placed on the body. In essence you get stronger in all ranges of motion as well as burn more calories because you are activating more muscle mass. That sounds efficient to me. As well as effective. Who has time to waste in the gym? No one.


Again, thanks to Mother Nature our reaction time decreases as we get older. The good news is research has proven although our brains are slowing down, they are much like a muscle, untrained. If you use it, you don’t lose it. Now reaction is a little different than normal strength training exercises in the gym. We have all seen athletes use orange cones and alike. Reaction is defined as how quickly you respond to a movement, or your body is able to respond. Just as young children performing soccer drills on the field you too can perform some of the same drills or similar drills to improve your response to a situation. In boxing we use focus mitts. In kali we use stick drills. In the gym just a simple light dumbbell drop, or use a reaction ball for a warmup will help improve your reaction time. When we were kids, we played red light – green light. This was all about a reaction time with your ears and eyes. It’s funny to me how now that we are older, we have forgotten how to play. Some of the best drills in the world are the ones we grew up with when we were kids.


Is all about your reaction time married to your fluidity of motion. In other words, how quickly can you move in a certain situation while maintaining your balance, pose, and a little grace. We know through plenty of research that rePetition is the mother of all skill. Agility can be trained all the way to our elder years. I, myself, have used tools like agility ladders and cones for clients in their 80’s!!! Agility is the ability to move in multiple directions with speed and accuracy. This is easily enhanced by adding this element into your training regimen.

At both Burn With Kearns and Beach Bod Dad, we use agility drills for a warm-up, insert in a workout, or as a cool down. It causes people to think outside the box and add an important element into their fitness plan. When you are crossing the street and there is pothole or ice while you are blabbing on your phone and you slip, you will be glad you did that agility work for a cool down. This will prevent the likelihood of injuries because your body is prepared for it. It already knows the patterns. This is very similar to riding a bike. Once you have it your brain will rehearse the movement while you sleep. You cannot ride a bike for 10 years and then sit on a bike and – bingo – your body instinctively knows what to do!

Acceleration- aka speed or explosiveness

This concept is really simple. Basically, getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Acceleration happens every day and people tend to discount it. You can’t even get up out of your chair unless you tell your legs to move, and your core to fire off. The interesting idea behind this concept is that it can be trained. Now if you’re in your 40’s or 50’s you have heard people talk about old athletes and alike losing a step. That’s because they retired, which is another term for die-early in my book. There is no doubt in my mind that you will lose steps, but I believe you can keep most of this as long as you train it.

The other fun part is it’s fun and breaks up the boredom. These drills and skills can be filled in as a warm-up , workout, and cool down. The idea is to think completely out of the box vs thinking it always has to be about strength. If you look at Olympic lifting, the “clean and snatch” is all about speed. Strength alone is not enough to pull the weight from the floor to the overhead position.

If you are a weekend warrior in Sports or train like I do in martial arts regularly this will keep you able to keep up with the 20 and 30 something guys in the gym. I don’t know you, but I like the fact at 51 that I can keep up if not bury 30-year-olds in the gym and in the ring. As we get older, we get more efficient and effective as well as know what’s in our tank.


The polar opposite of stepping on the gas is that you also have to be able put on the brakes. The key is to be effective, and do it in the proper manor. I live in Boston and many people attend the Boston Marathon. There are many injuries that happen during this great event. When you look at “Heart Break Hill” people think it’s the “up” that is the killer and causes injuries. In actuality, most knee and quad injuries happen on the way “down” the hills. The reason is simple. They have not worked on proper concept of learning how to work declaration on your quads and alike. Being able to slow down is the key to decreasing injuries. When you look at traditional weight-lifting the lift is the acceleration which is the explosive phase . The lowering of the weight is the Deceleration. For the 40-plus guys paying attention to the down phase of an exercise will decrease the chance of injuries and enhance the performance. Especially if they are doing weekend Sports.

Here is a sample workout and where to add some BRAAD concepts into your workout.



One legged dead lift, Squats on a Bosu, Step-ups on a Bosu, Squats on a foam roller

Chest – Stability ball pushups, Push-ups with hands on med ball, Chest press on a stability ball

Back – Bent over rows on one leg, inverted rows feet on a stability ball

Biceps and shoulders-bicep curl to shoulder press on one leg


Agility ladders are the best way I feel to add this in for both lower body and upper body, as well as cone drills which we have all seen.

Examples are –  

Ladder drills – icky shuffle, High Knees

Upper body and core – push up position 2 hand cross-overs

Cones drills-lateral bounds

Reaction – ladder drills married with chest passes a med ball to a partner or tennis ball tosses

One legged holds with tennis ball or basketball passes

Dot mat drills

Cones sprints – have your client facing away from the cones and then clap your hands to have them turn and point at a specific cone.

Acceleration – Here are some examples

Med ball chest passes against a wall or partner

Med ball over head slams

Med ball across a toss

Ladder drills for time


The above drills also have this concept built into them. As much as you explode, you have to put the brakes on as well. Some other drills are the following.

Low step downs

Focus mitt training

Plyo jumps to pause at the top  of the motion

Box jump downs

These drills can easily incorporate into anyone’s program. For the 40-plus guys they are essential.


Coach Kearns – Direct: 508 404 8503

Both of Coach Kearns’ books may be purchased on For more information about Coach Kevin Kearns, including scheduling speaking engagements and classes (both online and in person), please contact him at 508-404-8503 or [email protected]

Author of “There’s Light In The Tunnel” How to Survive and Thrive with Depression  – “Always Picked Last“ A guide to navigating bullies on Amazon and Audible

Coach Kevin Kearns has been coaching in the world of fitness, nutrition, and tactical self defense for over 3 decades. As the former conditioning coach to 15 UFC Pro Fighters, and ranked in the Top 5 in the UFC , he is no stranger to the the importance of proper nutrition and proper mindset programming. He has long advocated to all his clients – athletes or the general population – about the importance of programming mind, body and spirit. 

Coach Kevin Kearns BS FMS CPT – Former conditioning coach to 15 UFC Pros Ranked in Top 5 by the UFC Personal Fitness Coach, Author, Columnist, Motivational Speaker, Corporate Wellness Consultant, Youth Wellness Program Provider, Certification Specialist, Personal Self Defense, and Law Enforcement Defensive Tactics Specialist