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How to Use a BOSU Ball

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Ever seen that odd-looking bit of workout equipment with half an exercise ball on one side and a flat platform on the other? That’s called a BOSU ball, and it can do a whole world of good for your fitness.

BOSU stands for ‘Both Sides Up’ or ‘Both Sides Utilised’, and each side of the BOSU ball will have specific benefits.

Here’s a look at some of the ways training with a BOSU ball can change your fitness regime for the better.

Benefits

Balance

One of the key features of a BOSU ball is that each side provides an unstable surface which you’ll have to compensate for with better awareness of your body while training.

When the ball side of the BOSU is facing up, exercises will be easier to perform. When the flat side is facing up, they’ll be harder, as the ball moves around on the floor.

In any case, exercises which involve placing some, or all, of your body weight on a BOSU ball will demand a high level of balance and body awareness, not to mention activation of the stabiliser muscles.

By training with a BOSU ball for a while, you may find that your balance ends up shooting through the roof.

Allowing greater range of motion on exercises

A BOSU ball provides a great way for trainees to improve their range of motion in certain exercises, with as little trouble as possible.

Moving a muscle through a full range of motion is important not just for ensuring the muscle gets the best possible workout, but also in order to improve overall flexibility.

By placing your feet on a BOSU ball and your back on the floor, you can get a much deeper stretch when performing a glute bridge. Or, as another example, V-sits and crunches become much easier to perform, as you can safely hyperextend your back and then contract without putting sharp pressure on the spine.

An easy way to up workout intensity

High-intensity training is a great way of rapidly burning fat, building muscle, and improving your body’s anaerobic conditioning. The thing is, it’s a bit tricky to perform a good, explosive, high-intensity session without any kind of equipment.

A BOSU ball provides you with a yielding, soft, slightly bouncy surface, which is perfect for doing explosive movements on. Performing plyometric exercises like skip lunges or explosive alternating pushups with a BOSU ball not only leads to a tougher exercise, due to a fuller range of motion, but also allows you to perform explosive movements much more easily and effectively.

A BOSU ball can, therefore, be used to up your workout intensity in a hurry.

BOSU ball exercises

Glute bridges

Glute bridges are a great exercise for working the glutes and quads, as well as stretching and strengthening the lower back. Doing the exercise on a BOSU ball makes it that much more effective, by significantly deepening the stretch and range of motion, and forcing you to engage your muscles more to maintain balance.

To perform this exercise, lie flat on your back, with your feet on either side of the BOSU ball (remember, flat side up is always tougher.) Next, push your hips up into the air as far as you can, then slowly lower back down. That’s one rep.

Explosive alternating pushups

Explosive alternating pushups work by getting your muscles to exert force as quickly as possible, while also placing an uneven load on one side of the body. Often, this would be done with a stool or medicine ball — doing a pushup with one hand on the ball, then rapidly ‘hopping’ to the other side.

The same process applies to BOSU balls, with the added benefit of the unsteady surface creating an extra layer of challenge.

Squats on ball

Bodyweight squats on a BOSU ball are a fantastic balance builder. The technique is simple; stand on the BOSU ball with both legs — either the ball or flat side -- then lower yourself slowly into a squat and stand up again without falling off the ball.

Maintaining your balance here will require serious focus and attention to the mind-muscle connection. If you want, you can make the exercise even trickier by holding a medicine ball or pair of dumbbells during the movement.

Alternating knees to elbows

This exercise is done by positioning the BOSU ball flat-side-up, putting your hands on the ball, getting into a pushup position, and then raising your knees, one at a time, across your body towards the opposite elbow.

This exercise will give your abs a great workout, and will really hit your obliques hard.

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