The BOSU ball is a deceptively simple yet versatile piece of fitness equipment that enhances your training regimen, be it a rehabilitation plan, stretching routine, or strengthening program. It’s also a fresh and fun alternative to toning up and sculpting those “loose” ends around your body. Additionally, straightforward moves like the plank become that much harder because of the added element of instability that the body must adapt to. The BOSU ball, which stands for “both sides utilized” or “both sides up,” forces your body to use additional muscle groups for balance and stability while performing strength-training exercises, says Gigi Amurao, IFBB Bikini Pro, Team Allmax athlete, and fitness coach, who designed and demonstrated this core-strengthening circuit routine. “I love that the BOSU ball keeps your routine varied and keeps your body working new muscle groups every time,” she adds.
Because of the uneven surface, the BOSU ball requires you to engage your core muscles in order to maintain balance, which translates to better strength, increased endurance, sharpened reflexes, and an overall better kinesthetic awareness. Try doing push-ups with perfect form on a BOSU and notice the degree of difficulty in performing such a basic, fundamental movement!
Gigi recommends performing these movements as a circuit, working up to three sets of 25 reps (with the exception of the plank; see page 66 for details). Focus on quality over quantity: keep movements slow and controlled, and your abdominals contracted the entire time.
Up The Ante
To make any BOSU exercise easier, flip the ball-side up so that flat surface is on the ground. Once you feel comfortable working up to max reps, increase the level of difficulty by flipping the ball-side down.
Targets: Abs, shoulders, lower back
Rest your forearms on the flat side of the BOSU and extend your legs behind you into a plank position. Your shoulders, hips, and heels should be in line. Pull your belly button toward your spine and squeeze your glutes. Keep your shoulder over your elbows the entire time.
Tip: To make it easier, widen your stance. To increase the challenge, raise one leg up at a time.
Targets: Lower and upper abs
Sit atop the BOSU with your hands on the ground on either side of the ball. Straighten your legs and lower them toward the floor. Hold for a brief second and raise them straight up toward the ceiling.
Tip: Squeeze your legs together, point your toes, and make sure to exhale during each rep.
Targets: Abs, shoulders, legs, and glutes
Grab the handles of the BOSU and get into a plank position. Drive your right knee toward your chest, balancing your weight on the ball of your left foot. Switch sides and bring your left knee forward as you extend your right leg back. Continue to switch back and forth quickly, as if you are running on the spot.
Tip: Contract your abs to keep your hips from bouncing too much.
Targets: Glutes, hamstrings
Lay face up with your feet flat on the floor, and upper back and shoulders resting on the dome. Squeeze your glutes and slowly lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Pause at the top for a few counts, then lower your hips to the starting position.
Tip: Drive your heels into the ground and squeeze those glutes.
Targets: Obliques, lower and middle abs, shoulders
Grip each side of the BOSU and hold a plank position with your arms straight. Drive your left knee up, then across to the right side of your ribs, moving your torso as one unit. Repeat with the other knee, quickly alternating legs.
Tip: Keep your pelvis tucked under to help engage your abs.
Start in a side-plank position with the highest point of the dome above your hip and your free hand behind your head. Your top leg should be outstretched and bottom leg slightly bent, resting on the ground. Simultaneously crunch your elbow and top knee toward each other.
Tip: Keep your upper body slightly open to the ceiling to protect your lower back.