Ready to add some bounce to your workout? Varying your workout is both effective and fun, and the BOSU® Balance Trainer (BOth Sides Utilized) is a unique and versatile tool for people of all ages and fitness levels. The BOSU ball looks like a stability ball that’s been cut in half – flat on one side, and a half dome on the other. It’s used for cardo conditioning, strengthening, flexibility, physical therapy and more, and it’s a great way to build your core muscles without putting stress on your back!
So, how does it work?
Generally, the “domed” side of the ball is used for aerobic exercises, and the flat size is used to promote balance. There is a growing number of exercises and routines – from beginner to advanced – you can try. Squats, push-ups and crunches, lifting the ball with your arms, sitting and lying down on it, hopping on and off, or elevating certain body parts are common BOSU exercises, each easily modified to accommodate all fitness levels. Many of the exercises can be done without a half-ball, so what makes BOSU better? Being off balance.
Exercising without a ball is good for you, but the BOSU ball works a lot of muscles at once (especially your core!) so you burn more calories while doing common exercises. The unstable surface trains muscle groups to work together to keep your body stabilized, so you get a total body workout packed with benefits:
- • Strengthens your core, builds endurance, and increases flexibility and balance.
• Improves bone density and reduces the rate of muscle loss (natural physiological changes that come with age)
• More independence and a better quality of life — the stronger you get, the less likely you are to fall or experience a fracture.
Not to mention, that total body strength makes day-to-day activities like gardening, golfing, shopping, walking and household projects easier and more comfortable.
Where to get started
You can buy your own BOSU Balance Trainer online or at many big retail stores, or you can try it out at your fitness center. BOSU is popular with fitness instructors because it’s a fun way to get class members engaged, and it’s effective. BOSU classes incorporate a lot of group and individual exercises, and new routines keep workouts exciting and fresh. Check with your fitness location to see if any SilverSneakers classes incorporate a BOSU ball. If not, many gyms offer BOSU equipment for individual member use, so learn some moves and create your own workout!
BOSU moves to get you started
Ready to give it a try? Check out our video, or try out these simple moves at home or the next time you’re at the gym.
Unilateral Heel Raise
FOR BALANCE & FALL PREVENTION
(Note: Keep your core stabilized, hips even and body straight)
1. Stand with left foot on the ball. Extend right leg behind with heel on the floor. Place hands on hips or extend out to sides.
2. Lift right heel and lower to the floor. Repeat 6 to 8 times, maintaining balance and alignment.
3. Bring both legs together on the floor to rest.
4. Repeat on left side.
Bridging Knee Lift
(Note: Squeeze buttocks to stabilize lifting motion; keep hips lifted and level throughout exercise)
1. Lie down horizontally with knees bent, feet on top of the ball, arms resting on the floor.
2. Squeeze buttocks and extend hips off the floor.
3. Slowly extend right leg, then pull right knee in toward chest.
4. Hold for 2-4 counts and lower back to starting position.
5. Repeat on left side.
6. Repeat 15 times on each side.
Some beginners worry about injury when using a BOSU ball, and rightly so: Balancing on half a ball is harder than it looks! Instructors always ensure that participants are performing exercises within their skill and comfort levels, in a safe and controlled environment.
Class members often practice the exercises on the floor several times before transitioning to the ball. Be sure to do the same if you use a ball outside class. Learn some moves, get on the ball (get it?) and enjoy a stronger, healthier you!