Bosu Ball workouts can offer you impressive benefits for many muscles but what are some ab exercises you can do with a Bosu Ball?
You can describe the Bosu Ball as the top of a stability ball attached to a flat surface. This piece of equipment can be used to train multiple fitness components including muscle strength in your ab and other core muscles.
Most people can definitely also build a stronger core and abs without equipment but the Bosu Ball can add an extra degree of challenge. Sometimes in the form of extra muscle engagement, sometimes extra balance engagement. In a few cases, the exercise is simply more comfortable on the Bosu Ball than on the ground.
Before you give these ab and core exercises with a Bosu Ball a try, keep in mind that you generally can’t target fat loss in specific body parts.
These exercises are helpful for building abs and other core muscles but relatively bad for losing belly fat. If that is your goal you want to look for exercises that help you burn a lot of calories.
Keep in mind that even though there are upsides, like any workouts there is some injury risk involved. Especially if you have a weak back, neck, or shoulders you want to be careful when doing these exercises. You may want to talk to your primary care provider before starting a new workout routine.
Crunches are one of the most popular ab exercises out there and for a good reason, they are an effective ab exercise you can easily do at home. You can also do this exercise on a Bosu Ball.
To do a Bosu Ball crunch take the following steps:
- Sit in front of the Bosu Ball (with the round side up) with your back towards it.
- Move your upper back on the Bosu Ball so that the rounded part is placed against your lower back. Keep your feet planted on the ground. You can place your hands behind your head, cross them over your chest, or put them anywhere else. The point is to not really use your arms or move them during the exercise.
- Raise your head and shoulders as much as possible while keeping your lower back on the Bosu Ball. Make sure you don’t use your arms but your ab muscles to do this movement.
- Lower your head and shoulders until you are back in the position of step 2.
One study measured the difference in muscle activation between regular crunches, stability ball crunches with the ball against the upper back, and stability ball crunches with the ball against the lower back.
The stability ball is not the exact same but it will offer a similar type of crunches as the Bosu Ball. They measured that stability ball crunches with the ball against the lower back engaged ab muscles and obliques more than regular crunches.
In turn, regular crunches activated these muscles more than crunches with the ball against the upper back (1). This means the Bosu Ball placement is very important for this exercise.
2. Side plank hip dips
To do a side plank dips take the following steps:
- Sit sideways on the ground with one of your lower arms leaning on the rounded part of a Bosu Ball. The upper arm of that same arm is vertical to support your upper body.
- Walk away from your upper body with your feet until you can put your body in a straight side plank.
- Move your hips as far down as comfortable.
- Move your hips as far up as comfortable.
- Return your body into the position of step 2 in a controlled motion.
- Repeat the same number of repetitions while leaning on your other arm.
Because your upper body is elevated on the Bosu Ball, your hips can go through a larger range of motion. The Bosu Ball also adds an extra balance dimension to side plank dips.
Bosu side plank hip dips are mainly for training your obliques which are core muscles located more to the side. That being said your abs inevitably also have some work to do during the exercise.
3. Pike crunches
To do one pike crunch take the following steps:
- Lie horizontally on the rounded part of the Bosu Ball with your butt/lower back as the contact point with the ball. Your arms start stretched upwards at a 90-degree angle with the ground.
- Keep your legs more or less stretched while you move up your feet slowly until your legs make a 45-degree angle with the ground. Keep your lower back straight throughout the movement.
- Raise your head and shoulders from the ground as much as possible. Make sure you don’t use your arms but your ab muscles to do this movement.
- Lower your head and shoulders until you are back in the starting position.
Pike crunches are mainly for training your ab muscles. The Bosu Ball adds extra balance training to the exercise and possibly extra ab engagement like with regular crunches on the Bosu Ball.
4. Bird dogs
To do a Bosu ball bird dog take the following steps:
- Put the Bosu Ball with the flat side on the ground.
- Sit on the Bosu Ball on your hands and your knees with your arms slightly less than stretched. Look down to the ground throughout the exercise so your neck is in a straight line with your body.
- Slowly move one foot away from your body until your stretched leg is in a straight line with the rest of your body. At the same time raise the arm of the opposite side until it is in a straight line with your body. So if you choose your right leg, raise your left arm at the same time. Keep your hips and shoulders horizontal throughout the movement.
- Return to starting position in a controlled motion.
- Repeat the same movement with the arm and leg on the other sides.
In the bird dog exercise you engage your core muscles to keep your hips and shoulders horizontally. By doing this movement on a Bosu Ball it becomes harder for these muscles to do so.
If the full Bosu Ball bird dog is currently too challenging for you, you can start with either only your hands or only your knees on the ball and the other body parts on the ground.
Even the full version of this exercise is mostly for resistance training beginners with lower back issues. If you are not in this category other Bosu core exercises may be a better choice.
To do a v-up take the following steps:
- Lie horizontally on the rounded part of the Bosu Ball with your butt/lower back as the contact point with the ball. You can hold your arms against your chest if you are relatively new to ab training, stretched above your head if you are more experienced.
- Keep your legs slightly less than stretched while you move them up slowly. At the same time curl up your upper body starting with your shoulders and continuing with the rest of your back until your upper body makes a V-shape with your legs. Make sure you use your abs and not the momentum of your arms to power the movement.
- Slowly lower your legs and upper body again. If you will do more repetitions you can keep your feet hovering just above the ground and your lower back pressed against the ground with the help of your abs. If you are done you can lower your legs to the ground.
If the described angle is not yet within your capabilities you can start with repetitions with smaller angles and build up from there to a full Bosu Ball V-up.
Like with all of these Bosu Ball exercises make sure you use the right technique when doing V-ups to avoid any injuries, especially if you plan to do weighted V-ups.
6. Russian twists
The Russian twist is an ab and core exercise that involves twisting. Because of this, Russian twists engage a wide variety of core muscles including your obliques more than something like a regular crunch.
To do a Bosu Ball Russian twist take the following steps:
- Put the Bosu Ball with the flat part on the ground.
- Sit down on the top of the Bosu Ball with your legs bent at the knees and your feet hovering above the ground. Make sure your spine is straight and at about a 45-degree angle with the ground throughout the exercise.
- Slightly twist your upper body to one side and then the other in a controlled motion.
- Return to starting position.
Make sure you don’t twist too far and keep your back straight to avoid any injuries.
Even with the right technique, Bosu Ball Russian twists are not for everyone. If you have any back, neck, or shoulder issues you likely want to pass on this exercise.
To make Russian twists weighted you can use free weights like dumbbells, a weight plate, a medicine ball, any compact and heavy objects you can find, etc. to make them more challenging.
7. Bicycle crunches
This next exercise requires slightly more coordination. To do two repetitions of bicycle crunches take the following steps:
- Lie down with your back on the rounded part of the Bosu Ball with your lower back/butt as the main contact point. Hold a 90-degree angle in both your hips and knees. Put your hands against the side of your head with your elbows pointing sideways.
- Raise your shoulders and push your lower back against the ground with the help of your ab muscles.
- Slightly turn your upper body to one side and reach with your elbow to the knee of the opposite side (for example your left elbow to your right knee) while stretching the leg of the side of the elbow you use while still keeping it off the ground (continuing the example stretching your left leg).
- Bring the stretched leg back into the starting position and repeat with the other side. Keep your shoulders off the ground during the exercise.
For a good ab and core workout keep your movements slow and controlled. If you don’t feel your abs and other core muscles fatiguing your technique can likely use some improvement.
8. Reverse crunches
To do a reverse crunch take the following steps:
- Lie down on the rounded part of the Bosu Ball with your lower back as the main contact point with a 90-degree angle in both your hips and knees. Your arms start resting on the ground at 90 degrees out from your shoulders or just next to you for stability.
- Slowly move your knees towards your chest while keeping your hips and knees in a 90-degree angle. To do this your hips and lower back will come off the ground. Stop right before the middle of your back would come off the ground too.
- Lower your lower back, hips, and legs back into starting position in a controlled motion.
Reverse crunches can be a good alternative to more traditional ab exercises like sit-ups and crunches if you have trouble keeping your neck and back straight.
The Bosu Ball helps you increase the range of motion of your abs. In turn, this can lead to more muscle growth faster. Keep in mind that this is also more challenging than the floor version.
9. Knee tucks
To do a Bosu Ball knee tuck take the following steps:
- Put the Bosu Ball with the flat part on the ground. Sit on the round part of the Bosu Ball with your butt and “lie” down with your legs stretched and right next to each other on the ground. Your body is basically in a somwhat horizontal line. Hold your arms against your chest or next to you for balance.
- Slowly move your knees and hips towards your chest as far as comfortable. At the same crunch up your upper body starting with your shoulders as far as comfortable.
- Return to starting position in a controlled motion.
Bosu ball knee tucks work your abs, obliques, and hip flexors. One downside of the Bosu version is that it becomes easier to use the momentum of your legs instead of your lower ab muscles to move your hips.
In turn, this could lead to more hip flexor muscle engagement. This is likely a downside if you are interested in Bosu Ball core exercises.
- Sit on your elbows and knees with your hands on the flat part of the Bosu Ball and your knees on the ground.
- Move your feet back until your body is in a straight line. This means that your knees will be off the ground and that you are resting on your elbows and feet.
- Hold this position for an extended period of time.
Planks are a type of isometric exercise. In simpler words, this means that you engage your muscles in a more static way, without moving a lot. On the other hand, you have isotonic exercises where you engage your muscles in a dynamic way, by moving.
Isotonic exercises are generally more useful for building muscle. That means that the isotonic exercises on this list are likely better than planks for building bigger ab and core muscles.