You may have heard a Bosu Ball can be a great workout tool. But how do you use a Bosu Ball the right way to achieve results?
You can describe the Bosu Ball as the top of a stability ball attached to a flat surface. At first, it may be hard to imagine that this unusual construction can benefit your workouts in any way.
However, due to its relatively unique form and texture, a Bosu Ball can be used in different ways to improve a few fitness components.
Keep in mind that while a Bosu Ball can be great for some of the fitness goals below, it is not a miracle tool.
For some of the options below other fitness equipment options may be more effective. And even when using these, results will take some time and effort.
1. Balance and coordination training
You can use a Bosu Ball in a variety of ways that challenge your balance and coordination skills. By doing this frequently you get better at it like with most skills.
Both the round part and the flat part will be more challenging than standing on the ground. Even so, putting the round part of the Bosu Ball on the ground and standing on the flat part will be the most challenging for your balance.
Many people forget to implement balance training into their workout routine but it is a helpful fitness component.
The benefits of improved balance and coordination don’t just show up in technical sports. In daily activities as simple as walking, these skills can help you avoid accidents.
Keep in mind when training balance and coordination that the exercises are meant to challenge these skills. That also means that falling is possible when using this piece of balance training equipment.
Take it slowly and if needed do the exercises where you can hold onto something sturdy for balance or on a soft surface where falling matters less.
If you do not yet have a Bosu Ball, keep in mind that the bigger Bosu Ball sizes generally offer more potential when it comes to balance training.
Bosu Ball balance exercises
Most Bosu Ball exercises will challenge your balance and coordination more than similar exercises on the ground. More specifically, you can do balance board exercises on the Bosu Ball to focus even more on this.
Some examples include simply standing with two feet on the flat part of the Bosu Ball, standing on one leg, doing pushups and mountain climbers with your hands on the flat part, etc.
2. Flexibility and stretching exercises
Flexibility is a fitness component that comes down to the range of motion specific joints or joint groups can do. By pushing these boundaries in a safe way you are able to increase this range.
The way you use this flexibility equipment option for this goal is by doing stretching exercises. Some examples of Bosu Ball stretch exercises include ab stretches, oblique stretches, chest stretches, back muscle stretches, etc.
In turn, some of the potential benefits of stretching include better mobility, reduced injury risk, doing daily activities more easily, improved posture, improved sports performance, may reduce pain, etc.
Bosu Ball ab stretch
One of the Bosu Ball flexibility and stretching exercises you can do is the Bosu Ball ab stretch. To do this exercise take the following steps:
- Sit in front of the Bosu Ball.
- Lean on the Bosu Ball with the middle of your back on it, stretch your arms above your head, and lean backward as far as comfortable.
As the name implies, this is an ab stretching exercise.
3. Weight bench alternative
A weight bench is a type of padded bench without back support that is a very standard piece of equipment at most gyms. The bench press is one of the most popular exercises this piece of fitness equipment is used for.
A Bosu Ball can be used in a similar way for certain exercises.
One possible upside or downside, depending on your training goals, is that a Bosu Ball “bench” will require more balancing, glute, hamstring, and lower back muscle engagement.
A benefit of the Bosu Ball for this use is that it is less expensive and more storage-friendly than a real weight bench.
Keep in mind that Bosu Balls have a weight capacity. If you plan to use extra weights like dumbbells or kettlebells, make sure you have a good Bosu Ball that can hold the sum of you and the weights.
The main situation where you would use the Bosu Ball as a weight bench alternative is if you are on a budget and use relatively low weights or resistance bands. In most cases, a weight bench is preferred.
Bosu Ball chest press
The walkthrough below uses a resistance band but you can also use other bench press equipment that is easy to balance with like dumbbells, kettlebells, etc. To do a Bosu Ball chest press with a resistance band take the following steps:
- Anchor the resistance band either below the Bosu Ball or behind your back. Hold the other ends with your hands.
- Put your shoulders on the Bosu Ball so that they are on the top of the ball or slightly farther.
- Move your upper arms to an angle of about 45 degrees or less to your sides. Point your forearms straight upward.
- Raise your hips slightly so your body is in a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Plant your feet on the ground in a way that you are balanced.
- Slowly stretch your arms until they are slightly less than fully stretched and point upward vertically.
- Lower your hands back to the position of step 4 in a controlled motion.
The Bosu Ball chest press is an exercise that can help you strengthen chest, triceps, and shoulder muscles.
4. Building muscle
Another way you can use a Bosu Ball is to build muscle. The way you build muscle in places 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 you are better able to damage the muscles in a shorter amount of time.
A Bosu Ball can help with this by for example elevating your feet during pushups to make the exercise harder on your chest, tricep, and shoulder muscles.
Another thing that is generally helpful for muscle growth is increasing the range of motion the muscles have to go through during an exercise. A Bosu Ball is mainly useful for doing this for core exercises.
In theory, you could also use Bosu Balls as extra resistance. The downside of this is that the weight of Bosu Balls is only between 10-19 pounds (4.5-8.7 kg). For most people this is not much of a challenge.
That being said, in other exercises where you stand on the Bosu Ball, it will generally hinder muscle growth instead of helping it. This is because you have to pay more attention to balancing which leaves less attention for doing the exercise optimally.
It is also a lot harder when it comes to balancing to do something like weighted squats on a Bosu Ball instead of on the ground. At some point, you will likely need these extra weights for extra muscle growth. When this is the case Bosu Ball squats will likely be less effective.
There is one thing where Bosu Balls stand out in a positive way when it comes to building muscle. In exercises where you stand or lean with your hands on the round part of the Bosu Ball, you can strengthen your ankles or wrist extra on top of the regular muscles of the exercise.
Bosu Ball crunch
A typical exercise example where the Bosu Ball can help you increase the range of motion of muscles is the 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.
To make Bosu Ball crunches even more challenging you can stretch your arms above your head or hold weights against your chest.
Other Bosu Ball exercises
There are definitely many more Bosu Ball exercises than the ones in this article. You can check some of the exercise lists and examples below for some inspiration:
- Bosu Ball leg exercises
- Bosu Ball core exercises
- Bosu Ball sit-ups
- Bosu Ball planks
- Bosu Ball lunges
- Bosu Ball burpees
- Bosu Ball hip thrusts
- Bosu Ball mountain climbers
Doing these Bosu Ball exercises can offer resistance training beginners and possibly intermediates some muscle growth and strength progress and sometimes even some cardiovascular training.
As your muscles become stronger, you likely have to add external resistance to keep seeing the same amount of progress. When this is the case, and before, a Bosu Ball may interfere with the muscle-building process.
If you decide to use a Bosu Ball for these exercises make sure you give your body enough nutrients, rest, and sleep to repair and grow your muscles.
In a commercial setting where you have multiple Bosu Balls, a good Bosu Ball storage rack can be helpful.