BOSU: A Fabulous Piece of Exercise Equipment

In my new career as a fitness instructor, I focus on using small, portable equipment in my classes.  I thought I’d review one of my favourite pieces of equipment – the BOSU (short form of “Both Sides Up”).  It really is a fabulous piece of exercise equipment, and there are so many different moves you can do using a BOSU.  Let me share a few of my favourites…

1. Kneeling on the BOSU

This move forces you to engage your core because you are unstable.  Any exercise you do while balancing on the BOSU has the added bonus of providing an ab workout – score!  I always add in hand weights for the addition of upper body strength moves:  bicep curls, front shoulder raises, side shoulder raises, or an overhead press.

2. V-Sit on the BOSU

The v-sit is an even more targeted ab move that will strengthen your core in no time.  To do this move, sit on the centre of the BOSU on your sitting bones (NOT your tailbone) and contract your ab muscles in.  My mantra is “belly button to spine,” and I say it so often that I sometimes worry my fitness participants might get sick of hearing it.  It is a very important message, though, so I will keep on saying it!  You basically want to create a V shape with your legs and upper body, then draw those two parts toward each other.  Repeat for 5-20 reps (do as many as you can within that range), rest, then repeat twice.  I find that placing my hands beside my butt on the BOSU gives a bit of extra balance and still provides an intense workout, but if you want more of a challenge, raise your arms up to chest height (like in the photo).

3. BOSU Push Ups

Push ups on the BOSU have all the typical chest/arm/shoulder strengthening benefits of a regular push up, with the added benefit of targeting your core more specifically than a regular push up can.  I’ve mentioned core muscles multiple times in this post for good reason:  the BOSU is an unstable surface, so you are forced to employ your core muscles more effectively in order to maintain your balance.  Doing BOSU push ups off the dome side, with the flat side down is very effective, but for an even more challenging exercise, try flipping the BOSU over.  Because the BOSU dome is rounded, placing it with the dome side down will provide even less stability – an excellent thing when you want to force your core muscles to work harder.  Push ups are fantastic all on their own; you use your own body as weighted resistance.  Using the BOSU (in either direction) only adds to the equation!

4. BOSU Squats  

Squats strengthen the glutes, quads and hamstrings, and are a great all around “functional fitness” move because they work muscles that we rely on in our day-to-day lives.  Just like all of the other moves I’ve described, doing squats on the BOSU adds the benefit of instability.  To do this move, begin with both feet on the BOSU and lower down into a squat.  Remember to keep your butt pushing back toward the wall behind you, and keep your knees above (never forward of!) your ankles.  Get as low as you can, with the end goal of having your thighs parallel to the floor.  Rise up to standing straight, then step off the BOSU with your right foot to the right side, and again lower down into a squat (following all the same guidelines as above).  Come back to centre, squat, rise, and then step off to the left into a squat.  That is one rep.  Repeat for 5-20 reps.  This move is an easy one to add in the cardio factor as well – simply speed up your moves with a “jumping” motion in between squats on the centre and off to each side.  As with any jumping move, though, please be careful to maintain proper alignment – keep your knees safe!

These four moves are really only the tip of the iceberg; there are MANY more moves that you can do with a BOSU.  One additional thing that is great about the BOSU is that it can be used for strength training using your own body weight AND it can also be used for a variety of cardio workouts – it is really a very versatile piece of equipment.  Good luck in finding new workouts and happy sweating!

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