Benefits of BOSU Balance
BOSU stands for “Both Sides Utilized” or, more commonly, “Both Sides Up.” It is basically a stability or balance ball cut in half, so that it has a stable side (a platform that can be used in step aerobics among other things) and an unstable side (a balance ball that can be used for core training among other things). The essence of BOSU is to improve balance.
In the article entitled “The Critical Core,” I emphasized the importance of the Core for a myriad of reasons from improved balance and stability to better posture. In my opinion, there is no better device to exercise this critical core than the BOSU Balance Trainer or the BOSU ball as it’s commonly called. Simply stand on the BOSU ball, on either side and you will see what I mean. Either side up challenges you to maintain balance, keeping your core engaged at all times to maintain your equilibrium.
Created in 1999 by David Weck, this versatile piece of equipment can be used for any aspect of your exercise regimen, be it cardiovascular, weight training, flexibility training or even rehabilitation from injury.
BOSU and its uses
Coaches of professional teams from Basketball to Skiing, from Tennis to Martial Arts, including Olympic athletes all use BOSU balls to improve strength, balance and conditioning.
- BOSU balls can be used for motor skills development of infants as young as nine months of age.
- It is also used as a vital tool in physical therapy to facilitate rehabilitation from injury and also injury prevention.
- You can use it too! Whether it’s in your own home or at your gym, a BOSU ball is easy to integrate into your workout. This increases the caloric burn of your regular exercises.
- A BOSU ball helps you develop a greater awareness of your body’s flexibility and symmetry. It provides you the ability to be keenly aware of your body’s position at all times.
How to use a BOSU Ball
As with any exercise, if you’ve never done it before, check with your local gym, ask a trainer, use the comment cards below to ask for more explanation or simply Google the exercise to see the proper technique. You should use caution as you would with any new workout equipment.
- Core training — Simply standing on the BOSU ball with the ball side up is sufficient to challenge your core as you strive to maintain balance with your body shifting in and out of equilibrium. (Abdominal and lower back exercises are made more challenging on the BOSU ball.)
- Strength training — Stand on the BOSU ball while you do your weight training. Arms, shoulders, chest exercises take on a new dimension. Push-ups, squats, lunges can all be done on the BOSU.
- Cardiovascular training — For added challenge, do jumps, side hops, step-ups or step aerobics using the BOSU. As you progress to more advanced stages, you might even try running in place on a BOSU or even skipping. A 10-minute workout will feel like the burn of a 30-minute workout.
- Flexibility training — Certain yoga poses can be made more challenging by performing them on the BOSU Ball, for example plank pose, warrior poses, tree pose to name a few.
- Sports Specific training — Doing plyometric drills to improve short bursts of speed and power, such as that required for tennis, football, basketball, etc. are all possible on the BOSU ball.
The beauty of the BOSU Balance Trainer lies in its simplicity. Whether you’re an Olympic athlete or a weekend warrior, balance, stability and awareness are some of the most important components to physical fitness and athletic success. The BOSU Balance Trainer develops all of these qualities simultaneously.
While it is something I would highly advocate you purchase for your home gym arsenal, realize that you have to spend time on it to get comfortable with it. Expect to fall off ungracefully more than a few times before you are able to actually perform any exercises on it. Take your time to get used to it and find your own sense of balance on it. Persistence will pay off and pretty soon you’ll be balancing like a pro! No better way to “Change, challenge and confuse your body,” (which you know, is the number one motto to improve your workouts). Happy balancing!