As a trainer, I am constantly asked by clients and gym members how the heck to use the “half-ball thing.” Well my friends, that “thing” is called a BOSU, as in “Both-Sides-Up”.
BOSU balls are great for incorporating balance challenges to your workouts and improving stability, because of their uneven surface. They are also great for increasing core strength as well as body awareness.
Today we are going to go over twenty of the most common BOSU exercises to get you started.
BOSU Mountain Climbers
Start in a plank with the BOSU dome side-down. Keeping your shoulders directly over your hands, bring one knee in towards to the chest using your abs. Switch legs as fast as you can and then switch again. Imagine that you are running with high knees — that’s the speed you’re looking for!
If you thought regular burpees were hard, wait until you try these! Hold the BOSU overhead with the dome side-up. Lower it to the floor, dome side-down, and jump your feet back into a plank, keeping your shoulders over your hands. Jump into your squat, and come all the way up, pressing the BOSU overhead again. For a full demonstration, watch this video.
BOSU Lateral Taps
Stand on top of the BOSU with the dome side-up, and slightly bend your knees in a small position. Shift your weight into your RIGHT leg as you step your left leg out to the side. Quickly bring the leg back in and shift your weight into the LEFT leg as you step the right leg out to the side. Continue alternating as quickly as possible. Watch this video for a full demonstration.
BOSU Jump Squats
Start by standing on the BOSU, dome side-up. Bend your knees and sit your hips back into a squat, and the use the hamstrings and glutes to power up and jump straight up into the air. Softly land back on the BOSU with the knees bent in your squat position. Hold for a second, and repeat. See a demonstration here.
Start in a plank position, dome side-down, and your hands on the flat side on the BOSU. Lower down into a push-up position, hovering your chest off the BOSU. Keeping your abs and core engaged, press back up to your plank position. (You can modify this by performing these on your knees.)
BOSU Alternating Push-Ups
Place the BOSU flat-side-down and start in a plank position, on the dome, on your hands. Step your RIGHT hand off the BOSU and onto the floor into a wide push-up position. Lower into your push-up, and then press back up, coming back onto the dome in your plank. Repeat on the other side, stepping the LEFT arm off the BOSU. (You can also modify these by doing them on your knees.)
BOSU Military Planks
With the BOSU dome side-up, bring yourself into a plank position with your elbows on the dome. Press your weight slightly into your LEFT side as you lift your RIGHT hand up, placing it where your RIGHT elbow was. Press yourself all the way up into a full plank, straightening the LEFT arm, as well. Lower the RIGHT elbow back down first, followed by the LEFT, and repeat. Complete all repetitions on the RIGHT side, and then switch to lead with the LEFT
BOSU Tricep Dips
With the flat side-down, have a seat on the BOSU and place your hands on the BOSU behind you. Engage the back of your arms to lift your hips off the BOSU, and straighten the legs out in front of you. Bend at the elbows until your hips just about hit the floor, and then use the triceps to straighten the arms, as you lift your body slightly up. Watch a demonstration here.
BOSU Forward Lunge
With the dome side-up, step your RIGHT foot on top of the BOSU, and your LEFT foot back into a lunge stance. Keeping your balance as much as possible, lower into a lunge position, getting as low as you can. Press the weight into the heel to straighten back up, getting the back leg completely straight. Repeat all repetitions with the RIGHT leg forward, and then switch sides.
BOSU Rear Lunge
Come into a lunge stance with your LEFT toes behind you in the center of the dome of the BOSU. Most of the weight should be in your front RIGHT heel. Lower into a low lunge, making sure the front knee doesn’t go over the toes. Use your hamstrings and glutes to come back up to standing, and repeat all the repetitions on this side before switching to the other leg.
Start with your RIGHT foot in the center of the BOSU and your LEFT foot flat on the floor, with your legs a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower into a squat, sitting your hips back and keeping your weight in your heels. Squeeze your glutes as you come back up to standing. Complete all repetitions on your RIGHT foot before you switch sides.
BOSU Side Lunge
With the dome side-down, place your RIGHT foot in the center of the BOSU and your LEFT foot on the floor wider than shoulder-width apart. Bend your RIGHT knee to come in towards the BOSU into a side lunge. Then press through the RIGHT heel to stand back up. Repeat to complete all of your repetitions, then switch sides. For a visual demonstration watch this video.
Lay on a mat with both feet in the center of the BOSU dome, and your hips close to the side of the BOSU. Press into the heels to lift the hips up into a bridge position, squeezing your glutes at the top. Make sure to engage your inner thighs as well, so that your knees don’t open out to the side too much. Lower back down and repeat. Click here to see a photo demonstration.
BOSU Full Plank
With the dome side-down, place your hands directly under your shoulders. Keep your abs engaged and be sure not to let the hips sink. Hold for 30-60 seconds.
BOSU Toe Plank
This plank variation is a little more challenging than the forearm version above. Position yourself so that your toes are on the center of the dome of the BOSU and place your elbows directly under your shoulders. Engage your abs as you lift your hips into a plank position. Keep your hips a little higher than you think you need to for this exercise, because when your feet are elevated, it makes the exercise a whole lot harder!
BOSU Side Plank with Abduction
Start in a side plank position with the flat side down and your elbow on the dome. Have your feet stacked and lift your hips up from your core, focusing on lifting that bottom oblique. If this is challenging enough, just hold the side plank, but if you want an extra challenge, lift your top leg up, focusing on your outer hip. Lower the leg down with control, but keep the rest of your body still and abs tight. Repeat all repetitions on your RIGHT leg, then repeat on the other side.
With the dome side-up, have a seat on the side of the BOSU, so that you can lay over the the BOSU, with it supporting the small of your lower back. Place your hands behind your head and slightly arch back over the BOSU. Engage your abs to curl your spine up into a crunch and lower back down, extending over the BOSU.
BOSU Oblique Crunch
Perform this just the same as above, but as you come up, twist to your RIGHT as you squeeze your right side obliques. Lower back down to the center and repeat on the same side, OR alternate.
Sit on the dome of the BOSU and position your hands behind you on the floor, on the edge of the BOSU, or for more of a challenge, reach them out in front of you. Bring your knees up, one leg at a time, and find your balance at the top. Once you’re balanced, squeeze both legs together and extend them out at a 45-degree angle, reaching them out long. Use your lower abs to pull your knees back in towards your chest. Be sure to keep your chest lifted and your spine straight. See a full demonstration in this video.
BOSU Back Extensions
Start by laying your stomach on the dome of the BOSU and dig your toes into the floor. Bring your hands behind your head and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Keeping your abs tight, lift your upper back up into an extension and squeeze all of your upper back muscles. Relax your muscles, lower down over the BOSU and repeat. Watch this video for a full demonstration.
Now that you have a few new moves in your arsenal, grab a BOSU the next time you’re at the gym, and give some of these exercises a try.