Anyone who wants to dial their workout game up a notch squeezes a few of the best BOSU ball exercises into their workout regimen. But why would anyone want to wobble on a ball literally cut in half? What could that do to your body, besides the obvious possibility of falling flat on your face?
Well, Grasshopper, this article about the BOSU ball, its benefits, effectiveness, and a handful of the best BOSU ball exercises is for you. Time to challenge your body, build muscles, get your heart rate up, and burn a few calories along the way!
Best BOSU Ball Exercises To Improve Your Functional Fitness
- 1 Best BOSU Ball Exercises To Improve Your Functional Fitness
- 2 Benefits Of A BOSU Ball In A Workout Session
- 3 Best BOSU Ball Exercises To Try At Home
- 4 Before You Start Using A BOSU Ball For The First Time
Repeating the same workout routine every day gets a tad bit boring after a few days. Before you disregard the whole of it, bringing a challenge could help you to stay motivated and look forward to working out. That’s where the stability ball came into the picture! But let’s face it, aside from our parents (and maybe grandparents) who was ever a fan of it? Also, if you really think about it, a BOSU ball has lesser chances of slipping (or rolling, in this case) than a stability ball.
You may have seen a few BOSU balls lying around your gym or must have definitely watched videos of gym trainers and celebrities on the Internet mastering it so effortlessly. Without falling over. For those who are new to it, a BOSU ball is an exercise ball that’s cut in half —with an inflated dome on one side and a flat platform on the other.
Its name is an abbreviation of “both sides u” or “both sides utilized,” because you can use it both by the half-dome side and by lying face-down on its flat side as well. You can find these at most gyms and sports stores.
Though odd-looking, this unique and versatile ball of strength is designed to help improve balance, stability, mobility, reflexes, and fitness. For exercisers of all ages, workout sessions with a BOSU ball promise legit improvement in core strength, which remains one of the most important targets in a workout regimen. A BOSU ball workout with all its muscle-popping perks prevents you from making your body get too used to the familiar groove. Guess David Weck’s invention of the BOSU ball in 1999 was indeed a fortunate success!
Benefits Of A BOSU Ball In A Workout Session
Why should you use a BOSU ball while exercising? Essentially, a BOSU ball creates instability to force you to engage your core which naturally pushes you to use more muscle groups to keep your body stay in the right position. This helps not just your core, but your entire body!
So, by adding a BOSU ball workout a few times a week, you can bring challenging variation as well as add intensity to your otherwise dull routine.
The bouncy dome, filled with air, provides enough instability to demand the working of all the core muscles while the flat surface provides stability to do all the exercises with optimum precision. As it is not symmetrical, there isn’t a “one way” to use a BOSU ball. Moreover, anyone, beginner or pro, can use it to do full-body exercises as well as targeted exercises.
This balance trainer allows all types of exercises, from core and leg exercises to cardio(1) and upper body exercises. However, the benefits don’t end there. Ahead, find a list of BOSU ball workout benefits and choose your kind of element of instability.
Working out with a BOSU ball can control and improve your sense of self-movement, body awareness, and position, meaning your body’s ability to perceive its own position in space. This further helps you in improving your posture and perfecting the right form whichever exercise move you do demands. Ultimately, it helps your rushing mind to quiet down and be present in the moment. Being aware of your range of motion gives mental concentration much better like when you meditate.
The whole purpose of the ball is too obvious: learning to improve your balance! The wobbly, unstable surface gives you a whole lot of composed stability along with a few heart drops. Almost all BOSU ball exercises mentioned below focus on balancing your body, in which proprioception helps immensely. When you are aware of your body’s position, it gives you tremendous control over to what extent you move your body while balancing it just the way you want. Additionally, it helps in coordination and flexibility as well.
No matter what exercise you try on this ball, it will give you an intense core workout that fires up your entire core at the end. Because to control your body and stay balanced, you are required to keep your core engaged along with more of the small muscles in your core throughout the entire workout.
Training on unstable surfaces activates your rectus abdominis(2) greatly, compared to a stable surface. Core strength is what makes you balance your body well. Not to mention, these BOSU ball exercises for abs tone your abdomen and help you get rid of the love handles, belly pouch, and back fat.
In your strengthening sessions, you may have incorporated all kinds of bodyweight and dumbbell strength exercises. Now, think of taking all those (and other favorites) moves a step ahead by adding an element of instability that comes in the name of BOSU ball. This certainly does not mean lifting the barbell on your shoulders and squatting while you stand on the flat side of the ball.
That is dangerous. You could lose your balance and fall, leading to a serious injury. But holding dumbbells at sides is a great move since you can let go of them pretty easily if you start to fall. Although it is unlikely to build mass, you can certainly bag some strength while doing strengthening moves with a BOSU ball. It can strengthen stabilizer muscles, which further helps in improving your stability and balance.
Prep And Warm Your Body
Before you start doing the best BOSU ball exercises, you must warm up your body. You can do types of warm-up exercises, such as neck tilt, neck, shoulder, wrist, arm, ankle, and hip rotation, spot jogging, jumping jacks, calf stretches, and other full-body stretches. You can complete one set of reps each. Once you are done, gear up to work your body to its full potential!
Best BOSU Ball Exercises To Try At Home
BOSU ball could be your new balance trainer through which you can reap all its benefits. Are BOSU ball exercises effective though? As opposed to the common misconception about how utterly useless exercising with a BOSU ball is, it does a terrific job if you workout maintaining the right form. After all, you are still doing all the physical activity. You are simply doing them on the ball instead of the ground. You gotta get the result at some point, right?
Some believe that a BOSU ball is only for beginners. But if you try extreme BOSU ball exercises, you can fire up the intensity and build tight and strong ab muscles or strengthen your muscles. Even if you do basic moves on the ball after flipping it on the wobbly side, you will have an effective workout session. If you are still skeptical, use resistance (could be with a band) but you can improve your postural strength if you don’t use resistance.
Now, here is a shortlist of a few exercises you can do on a BOSU ball. But of course, you can do several other exercises besides these mentioned below.
A beginner may not be able to do squats on a BOSU ball without the risk of slipping. Any lower body movements are hard enough to do on the floor, much less on a ball. This could only mean serious injury. But if you hear about the perks it promises, you might try to do it at any cost. Which are: firm and rounder butt, stronger legs, and improved balance, all wrapped in one single move.
This BOSU ball exercise for legs targets not only your lower back but also your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core. Your glutes will work much harder to help you balance yourself. So, start with BOSU ball squats while learning how to improve your balance, posture, and the right form on an unstable surface. After you master squats, try holding dumbbells or kettlebells.
How To Do Squats:
- Place the BOSU ball on the floor with the dome side facing down. See what I mean by unstable surface? If you want to go easy with greater stability, place the flat side on the ground.
- Stand with your knees hip-width apart by placing your right leg firmly on one side of the BOSU ball, then, place your left leg firmly on the other side. The further you keep your legs apart, the more stable you will be.
- Push your hips back and flex your knees while engaging your core. As you lower your body, keep your chest lifted and back flat.
- Bring your hands up near your chest as you lower down into a squat while keeping your knees not overshooting the toes.
- Push through your heels and get back up to the standing position. Squeeze your butt.
- Repeat the movements for 10 reps.
To make the movements a bit different and advanced, do split squats on the dome side, side-to-side squats, or jump squats.
This is another BOSU ball exercise for beginners that targets your upper abs, lower abs, and back. It is not exactly difficult to do, but you have to practice to get the right form.
How To Do Sit-Ups:
- Place the BOSU ball on the floor with the dome side up.
- Sit it on the BOSU ball and slide down a bit. Keep your feet flat on the ground, hands behind head to support with fingers. Make sure to rest your tailbone and lower back straight on the round side.
- From the starting position, exhale and lift your upper body and come to a sitting position while keeping your core engaged.
- Inhale and lower back to the starting position.
- Repeat the movements for 10 reps.
Improve your balance and stability by doing this exercise for one minute or so. This is just holding the position while keeping your core engaged and breathing steadily.
How To Do Boat Pose:
- Place the BOSU ball on the ground with the ball side up.
- Place your hands on the ball behind the glutes, legs together (bent at 45 degrees), and shins parallel to the floor. Find your balance in this position.
- Extend your arms out straight in front of your body and hold this position for 15 seconds while keeping your core engaged. Don’t hold your breath.
This is a beginner BOSU ball exercise targeting quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. You can improve your balance and stability while doing lunges as they require more stability while doing on an unstable surface. There are different modifications you can add to this, such as one-leg lunges, side lunges, and reverse lunges. You can also hold a dumbbell in each hand. Remember to go slowly without rushing to maintain good form.
How To Do Lunges:
- Place the BOSU ball on the ground with the dome side up and stand about a foot away from it.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, chest out, and core engaged.
- Place your right leg on the BOSU ball creating space between your legs.
- Flex your knees to a 90-degree angle to lower your torso with your thighs perpendicular to your shins.
- Hold this position for two seconds. Step back to the starting position.
- Repeat the movements for 10 reps for each leg.
This is the best BOSU ball exercise for runners because it is basically sprinting on the floor in plank (if you want to work on cardio). Apart from your core, it works your entire body, especially your lower body and shoulders. For extreme BOSU ball exercise, use the flat side to place your hands.
How To Do Mountain Climbers:
- Place the BOSU ball on the ground with the flat side down. Get down into a plank position while keeping your shoulder-width apart hands on the ball.
- Keep your core engaged, back straight, and make sure your hips are not dipping down. Your entire body should be in one line.
- Bring your right knee towards your chest. Then, stretch it back to the starting position. Bring your left leg to your chest as if you are going to run on the ground.
- Switch legs for 30 seconds at any pace. Always maintain the right form while bringing your knees to the chest.
- Start slowly at first. Then you can start sprinting if you want.
This BOSU ball exercise can be done in several different ways. If you know how to do push-ups in the right form, you can start doing the regular push-ups on the BOSU ball. Later, you can add variations to make it more challenging —elevated push-ups, one-arm push-up, and walking push-up. These variations can make it more of an advanced BOSU ball exercise. You will be targeting your pectorals, deltoids, biceps, triceps, and core. This could also be your BOSU exercise for abs.
How To Do Push-Ups:
- Place the BOSU ball on the ground with the flat surface up (or the other way around for easier movements).
- Keep your hands shoulder-width apart on the edges of the flat surface and extend your legs to a regular push-up position.
- From this high plank position, bring your shoulder in front of your wrists, bending elbows into a 90-degree angle.
- Press through your palms, then return to the high plank position.
- Repeat the movement as many as you can while keeping your core and glutes engaged.
Other common exercises people do on a BOSU ball are planks, crunches, burpee, bird dog, glute bridge, hip flexor stretches, seated oblique twists, chest press, tricep dips, single leg hold, and more. Since this training tool provides a low-impact workout, a BOSU ball is suitable for all ages and even those with knee or back pain. It doesn’t put stress on joints. BOSU ball exercises for seniors include knee lifts, leg extensions, unilateral heel raises, torso rotation.
Furthermore, the mix of stable and unstable moves makes it ideal for those who are recovering(3) from mild injuries. For instance, if you have a wrist or elbow injury, doing upper body movements like push-ups on a BOSU ball can help you workout while reducing the pressure on your joints. This is why athletes use it to speed up their healing.
Before You Start Using A BOSU Ball For The First Time
If you are a first-time user, start by simply standing on it to get the feel of it, before doing the basic moves. Of course, you will wobble and may even lose balance. So, don’t hesitate to use a chair or wall for support while starting at slow and controlled motions.
Gradually, you can crack up the intensity to try the complex moves once you build your stability. Always keep in mind to prevent the ball from shaking and to limit any additional movement that could make you lose balance. To reduce the chance of falling, remember to not lock your knees while standing and to stand with a slight bend in your knees. With these tips in mind, you can save yourself some swaying mistakes.
Instead of doing the same exercises again and again, trying these BOSU ball exercises will challenge your body to do more. Even a simple move like mountain climbers with this half-cut ball can add an interesting complication to help you stay motivated in the workout session. If you haven’t tried it before, it’s time to give the BOSU ball a try and let us know about your experience!
- The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. (2021). The ‘Best’ Cardio Workout for A Healthy Heart. (Online). Available at https://utswmed.org/medblog/heart-cardio-workouts/
- AO Foundation. (2021). Rectus Abdominis. (Online). Available at https://surgeryreference.aofoundation.org/cmf/reconstruction/basic-technique/rectus-abdominis
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. (n.d). Instability Resistance Training For Health And Performance. (Online). Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5388079/