A blog by runners. For runners.

Demystifying the Gym: BOSU Ball

all-about-the-gym-bosu-ballHave you ever seen a fellow exerciser balancing on a half-inflated blue ball? Well, if you’re lucky, near the weights and mats in your local gym, you’ll find several BOSU Balance Trainers (otherwise known as BOSU balls). If you still don’t think you know what I’m talking about, think hard for a minute — they’re more popular than you might think.

WHAT IT IS
Invented by David Weck, the BOSU Balance Trainer debuted in 2000. These balls are like regular rubber stability balls, just cut in half. They are attached to a firm platform and can be used facing up or down. Actually, you might be surprised, as I was, to learn that BOSU is an acronym, standing for “BOth Sides Up” for this very reason.

HOW TO USE IT
Either way you flip it, this ingenious workout device is used primarily for balance exercises that challenge muscles from head to toe. Honestly, “how to use” the BOSU ball is pretty open-ended and up to you. It takes your usual floor strength and toning routine up a notch by engaging core stabilizing muscles that aren’t necessarily used in normal range of motion.

Five super simple moves to start:

  • Basic Balance. Step onto the ball and experience how it shifts and changes balance.
  • Solo Balance. Step onto the ball, balance on one foot with your hands on your waist. Repeat on other leg.
  • Flip-Side Balance. Flip the ball so the base is up, stand steady -with both feet atop the platform, engaging your core. Now try squatting!
  • Pushups. Your favorite body-weight move, taken to the next level. Place hands on the ball (stability) or feet on the ball (incline).
  • Crunches. Either balance on your back or side on the ball to perform crunches with a wider range of motion.

CONSIDERATIONS
As I mention above, the BOSU ball allows you to experiment with familiar moves — all while involving muscles that aren’t always active on the steady floor. For this reason, it’s important to take things slow and somewhat conservative to avoid injury. However, it’s well worth working up to doing more, since strengthening those often-forgotten muscles can help make you fitter overall and even help avoid injury with sports (or everyday tasks, for that matter).

RESOURCES

Written by  Ashley Marcin.

Related: WalkJogRun’s guide to the gym