BOSU – A great way to increase stability and balance

A few weeks ago, I asked Becky to impress me by leading me through one of her workout routines. Mixing up routines and confusing your muscles is a good way to maximize results. Becky lead me through some circuit training and totally kicked my butt! The exercise that exhausted me most was squat holds on the BOSU ball.

For those of you unfamiliar with BOSU, it stands for Both Sides Up or Both Sides Utilized. The BOSU is basically a stability ball that has been cut in half with a platform added in place of one side. My entire body shook as I tried to hold a squat for 30 seconds on the platform side of the BOSU. It was hard. So was the realization that I have been under-training my balance, stability and flexibility.

Stabilization training — one of the key benefits of BOSU exercises — is important for fitness routines because many of our bodies have been deconditioned by sedentary lifestyles. Without proper balance, stability and flexibility, risk of injury inside and outside the gym increases. Stabilization training helps increase your body’s awareness of how it moves in different environments.

Adding balance and stabilization exercises are a great way to sweat and engage muscle groups in new ways.

Here are a 3 exercises you can try with a BOSU:

1. Crunches – Place your lower back about halfway down the BOSU ball and keep your legs in front of you. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the ground. Place hour hands behind your head and lay on the ball. Now, do slow crunches. Next, lift your left leg off the ground and bring it to your right elbow during a crunch, then alternate sides, bringing your right leg to your left elbow. Do these slowly, and you’ll feel a great burn!

2. Planks – Planks are a great core workout that can train your balance and stability. Doing them on a BOSU will increase the intensity and help burn more calories. Turn the BOSU so the platform side is up. Get in a pushup position, gripping the handles with straight arms, keeping your feet on the floor and your body straight. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds. For a harder variation, try slowly rocking the BOSU from side to side in the plank position.

3. Squats – Stand on the domed side and hold a squat for 30 seconds. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, your shoulders back and your knees pointing forward. It may help to reach your arms out in front of you for balance. If you feel comfortable on the BOSU, try flipping it over and doing squat holds while standing on the platform side. These kick my butt!

Bonus workout – In many gyms, BOSUs are located by the weighted body bars. Take a weighted bar and lay it across the dome of the BOSU. Get into a push up position, holding the bar with a grip slightly wider than the width of the BOSU. Do pushups while holding onto the bar. You should feel muscles burning you never feel during a regular push up.

Don’t be afraid to try something new the next time you workout. Variety is key!

Some studies have shown that BOSU training may not result in significant gains in power, strength or speed. I wouldn’t recommend a BOSU-only training regimen, but supplementing your other exercises with BOSU training is a great way to heal from injuries and increase your stabilization.

Mark Spurbeck


3 Comments on “BOSU – A great way to increase stability and balance

  1. When I was in physical therapy I used the BOSU quite a bit. They had me do alternating leg lifts and stretches with each leg while standing on the platform side. It helped a ton to strengthen my ankles and all the small muscles in my lower legs that don’t usually get much action during a normal workout. They also had me stand on the platform side and just balance, and then close my eyes. You think you have that thing mastered, then you close your eyes and it becomes a whole different beast. Incredibly difficult.

    • There is something fun about not having balance when you think you should. The challenge is part of what makes the BOSU fun and rewarding.

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