There are many different ways to improve your current exercise routine. What about doing Bosu Ball crunches, what will the effects be?
Bosu Ball crunches are a variation of regular crunches where you do the exercise while lying on a Bosu Ball. You can describe the Bosu Ball as the top of an exercise ball attached to a flat surface.
One study measured the difference in muscle activation between regular crunches, exercise ball crunches with the ball against the upper back, and exercise ball crunches with the ball against the lower back.
They measured that exercise ball crunches with the Bosu Ball against the lower back engaged ab muscles and obliques more than regular crunches. And that in turn, regular crunches activated these muscles more than crunches with the ball against the upper back (1).
You will likely get the same increase in effectiveness in terms of training your ab muscles by doing crunches on a Bosu Ball.
This exercise is typically done to grow and strengthen ab muscles. For other fitness goals, there are many better exercise options. Also keep in mind that Bosu Ball crunches can be hard on body parts like your lower back and neck.
Whether you should Bosu Ball crunches or alternatives to your routine ultimately depends on things like your personal situation, personal preference, and training goals.
- Related: 7 Of The Best Bosu Balls Reviewed
How to do a Bosu Ball crunch
To do a Bosu Ball crunch take the following steps:
- Put the Bosu Ball with the flat part on the ground on a steady surface. Sit in front of it.
- Lie down on the Bosu Ball so that it is positioned against your lower back. Put your hands against your chest, the side of your head, or stretch your arms.
- 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.
Keep your movements slow and controlled to make your abs really work hard and to avoid bad technique.
Make sure you don’t jerk your head forward throughout the exercise, especially if you put your hands behind your head. Also try to make sure your abs are powering the movement, not the momentum of your arms.
To make Bosu Ball crunches even more challenging you can stretch your arms above your head or hold weights against your chest.
Muscles worked with Bosu Ball crunches
Bosu Ball crunches are mainly an ab muscle isolation exercise. This makes Bosu Ball crunches more helpful for targetting abs compared to a more all-around core exercise like Bosu Ball sit-ups.
One study looked at the difference between regular crunches and crunches with an exercise ball under the back. They found that crunches with an exercise ball below the lower back engaged core muscles more compared to regular crunches (1). You can likely expect a similar effect from Bosu Ball crunches.
The way you build muscle in places like your abs is by engaging these muscles so that they get damaged enough. This may sound counterintuitive but this damaging makes it so your body repairs these muscles, and adds a bit more to be better prepared to exert similar efforts in the future.
If you stick to exercises with the same weight, as your muscles become stronger this same effort may not damage your muscles enough to promote extra muscle growth.
By adding extra resistance to exercises like Bosu Ball crunches you are better able to damage the muscles in a shorter amount of time. If you don’t overdo it, give your body enough nutrients, and give your muscles enough rest this can in turn lead to faster and more core muscle gain.
Depending on your personal situation, workout plan, and training goals, Bosu Ball crunches may be a good or bad addition.
Keep in mind that you have other core muscles like obliques that often play an important role too. Exercises that target both obliques and abs can be a better idea in some situations.
Benefits of Bosu Ball crunches
Some people question how useful this exercise can be but adding Bosu Ball crunches to your routine can offer you some helpful benefits. Some of the most important ones include:
- Stronger muscles: Bosu Ball crunches are a type of resistance training that can help you strengthen your ab muscles and make them stand out more.
- Can help with losing weight: Doing Bosu Ball crunches likely requires more energy than your regular daily activities. Extra muscle mass also helps with burning more calories. Both of these aspects can help with, but are no guarantee for, weight loss. Keep in mind that there are better exercise choices if weight loss is your goal.
- Improves mood: Exercise like Bosu Ball crunches promotes the release of substances that help you feel good.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Core strengthening exercises like Bosu Ball crunches can reduce or prevent back pain (2, 3). If you currently have back pain you do want to be careful and talk to an expert before implementing this exercise.
- Improves sleep: Exercise like Bosu Ball crunches can improve the quality and duration of your sleep which in turn offers many important benefits.
- Slows down aging: Bosu Ball crunches won’t influence how many days have passed since you were born. However, exercise can slow down the progress of certain aging markers that are correlated with negative health effects.
While inevitably many workouts are better for some of these benefits than Bosu Ball crunches, it is amazing that you can get so many important benefits from adding one activity to your routine. A Bosu Ball can offer other benefits too.
The main thing to keep in mind is that Bosu Ball crunches can be hard on body parts like your hips, neck, and back, even if you implement the right technique.
If you are weak or sensitive in these body parts you may need to do other strengthening exercises first. Especially if you have any back pain, you may want to talk to your primary care provider before implementing Bosu Ball crunches in your workout routine.
If you feel pain in any body parts it may be a sign you are overdoing it. In that case, you may need some rest, better lifestyle habits, a less intense workout schedule, or it may be a sign that Bosu Ball crunches are not (yet) for you.
Bosu Ball crunch alternatives
While Bosu Ball crunches can be a good addition to your workout routine, there are also some alternatives available for training similar aspects of your physical health. Some of these Bosu Ball crunch alternatives include:
- Other crunch variations
- Sit-ups (with or without Bosu Ball)
- Side plank dips
- Bird dog crunches
- Russian twists
Which one of these options is the best depends on things like your personal situation, training goals, the equipment you have available, etc.
Many people will benefit from adding Bosu Ball crunches with the right technique to their routine. You may need to make the regular version more challenging soon with crunch equipment to keep seeing a lot of muscle growth and strength progress.
That being said, for goals besides strengthening your abs and making them stand out more, there are many better exercise options.
You also need to remember is that Bosu Ball crunches can be hard on body parts like your back, hips, and neck even if you implement the right technique.
If you are sensitive or weak in these body parts you may need to do other strengthening exercises first. Especially if you have any back pain, you may want to talk to your primary care provider before doing more Bosu Ball crunches.
Also keep in mind that consistency is an important factor for any workout plan. The more you love the exercise you do the easier it becomes to do it consistently. If doing Bosu Ball crunches is a workout you love, great.
If not, crunch alternatives and other exercises can also offer a lot of benefits.
If you do decide to implement more Bosu Ball crunches make sure you give your body enough nutrients, rest, and sleep to repair and grow your muscles.