Whenever I’m making my rounds in the gym, there are certain workout tools I see people using that always impress me. There are battle ropes, which make you look like a badass prepping for a superhero movie. Assault bikes, which just seem really advanced and intimidating. And then there are the ubiquitous yet mysterious Bosu balls.
I’m sure you’ve seen them around—they look like those big bouncy balls that you do crunches on, but chopped in half and attached to a flat base. If you’re like me, though, you just kind of gape at them as if they’ve been implanted into the gym by aliens… and then proceed to ignore them. This is a mistake: Trainers strongly advise getting to know them, because Bosu balls can be your new stability-building BFF.
“The Bosu ball is a piece of fitness equipment that’s used for balance and stability training,” explains Tiffani Hendin, obé fitness instructor. “I love it because it can be added to so many simple exercises to make them even more challenging and effective.”
It’s all about stability training, which is essential in a robust workout routine. “Stability is a very important part of a strong, healthy body, and the Bosu ball allows that to be incorporated in so many different ways,” says Hendin. “Working with an unstable surface [like a Bosu ball] is incredibly effective by recruiting more muscles and leveling up moves that your body has possibly gotten used to. Balancing works those small, stabilizing muscles that often get ignored when the bigger muscles take over.” Hence why adding instability to your workout feels incredibly challenging.
So just how exactly do you put the Bosu ball to work? Hendin’s go-to is—gulp—a Bosu ball burpee, which involves holding the Bosu by the handles with the ball side down. “This move takes a regular burpee to a whole new level by adding instability as well as added weight, which challenges your whole body with extra love on those core stabilizers,” she says.
Another way to work with the equipment is via a squat. “I love a Bosu ball squat—it’s deceivingly difficult,” says Hendin. “Flip the ball so the rigid surface is on top and stand on it while trying to keep evenly balanced and perform those squats.” Her tip? Hold that squat and watch your legs shake. It uses more muscles than regular squats, including your legs, butt, feet, ankles, and core stabilizers.
Then there’s the “up and over,” says Hendin, of another fave Bosu ball move. “Start with the dome facing up and the body on the floor, place one foot on top of the Bosu and squat, then hope up and over, replacing the other foot on the Bosu and landing in a squat,” she says. You’ll spike that heart rate in seconds flat.
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