The BOSU® Balance Trainer has been my functional training tool of choice for many, many years, not because I am part of the Development Team of BOSU, but because of its incredible versatility. Honestly, for the past 10 years I’ve been using the BOSU in my workouts wherever and whenever possible.
Here are four of my most favorite moves for cardio, strength, flexibility and balance training.
The move: Jump-sticks
What it works: This cardio move gets the heart pumping while challenging the glutes and legs.
How to do it: Stand to the left of the BOSU Balance Trainer in a squat position, with your left foot on the floor and right foot on the BOSU. For the first jump, slowly jump on top of the BOSU, landing with both feet as you stabilize for just a second. On the second jump, add one jump-stick, leaping as high as you can and landing on both feet with a “stick” stabilizing movement. For the third jump, jump to your right and land in a squat position with your left foot on top of the BOSU and your right food on the floor. Repeat the three different jumps, moving back to the left to where you began. As you become comfortable with these three jumps continue increasing the speed, aiming to be as fast—but efficient—as possible for two to three minutes.
The BOSU benefit: The BOSU gives this movement sequence instability and cushion, as well as the ability to increase height and ankle training during the plyometric-like movements.
The move: Twisting Planks
What it works: This strength-based exercise challenges the muscles of the core.
How to do it: Stand holding the BOSU’s handles at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions in front of you, with the flat side facing toward you. Hinge forward and place the BOSU dome-side down on the floor, jumping your legs behind you to come to a high plank position. For the push-up, twist to the left, bending your right elbow as you lower yourself toward the BOSU, aiming to touch the inflation valve with your heart. You will feel the entire core stabilize as the BOSU tilts to the right. Push back up to the starting position and repeat on the other side for one complete cycle. Aim for a total of five controlled cycles of push-ups.
The BOSU benefit: The BOSU offers ergonomic handles for a neutral wrist position, which is unavailable when placing hands directly on the floor. It also provides instability for targeting the arms and shoulders, as well as increased core stabilization due to the tilting nature of using the BOSU dome-side down.
The move: Kneeling Quadriceps and Hip Flexor Stretch
What it works: This stretch improves flexibility in the hips and the thighs.
How to do it: Stand to the right of the BOSU and stagger your feet into a lunge position, with right your right foot forward and left foot back and prepare to release your left knee on top of the BOSU. As you hinge forward from the hips, bring your left thigh onto the BOSU surface instead of the knee and feel your right hip area begin to open. For an additional balance challenge, try reaching your right hand forward. Bend your left knee actively and reach for your left ankle with your left hand to stretch the front of the left thigh. Hold this balancing stretch position for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
The BOSU benefit: This stretch can be uncomfortable when performed on the floor. The cushioning of the BOSU allows the hips to hinge forward, while simultaneously offering stabilizing benefits to the muscles on the non-stretching side.
The move: Supine, Side-lying and Prone Balance
What it works: With a focus on balance, combining these moves activates all of the muscles of the midsection, recruiting them to work together to hold a static position.
How to do it:
Supine: Begin by standing in front of the BOSU. Slowly squat down to sit and then recline back on the BOSU, finding your “sweet spot” of balance, which will be different for everyone. While keeping the legs together, open the arms out to the sides into a letter “T” shape. Try to hold this position with the body parallel to the floor for 30 seconds. This works all of the core muscles down the front of the body.
Side-Lying: From the previous position, use your hands to transition to lying on your left side. Once again find your “sweet spot,” where you can have your arms at your sides and legs together in a side-lying position on the BOSU, with the body parallel to the floor. Maintain a neutral neck position, lowering your left ear if necessary. Try to hold this position with the body parallel to the floor for 30 seconds. This works many of the muscles down the right side of the body.
Prone: Transition from your side onto your stomach (prone position), aiming the belly button toward the center of the BOSU dome. Open your arms out to the sides once again and keep the legs together. Try to hold this position with the body parallel to the floor for 30 seconds. This works many of the core muscles down the back of the body. Note: To help maintain a neutral neck position, imagine a grapefruit between your chin and chest.
Side-Lying: Repeat the side-lying now on your right side for 30 seconds.
The BOSU benefit: This series of movements isn’t possible on the floor without causing some discomfort. Because the BOSU is elevated off of the ground, the cushioned height gives the body the ability to stabilize using more muscles, which have to contract and work together against gravity.
The model in the photos is ACE-certified Personal Trainer Yury Rockit Menkovich. He is one of our international trainers living in Hanoi, Vietnam and has been training clients on the BOSU Balance Trainer for many years. He is one of the few trainers in the country to have formal BOSU education!
By Lawrence Biscontini
Lawrence Biscontini, M.A.Lawrence Biscontini, M.A., creates award-winning group fitness and personal training programming at an international level for clubs and spas, including Equinox, 24 Hour Fitness, Gold's Gym International, Bally and Golden Door Spas. As Nutritional Counselor, Biscontini has created complete nutritional menus for spas from Manhattan to Mykonos. He regularly contributes to fitness industry publications, such as AFAA's American Fitness Magazine, IDEA Fitness Journal and Spa Asia. His books include, Cream Rises: Excellence in Private & Group Education, and he dedicates a percentage of his website sales to charity, as well as to inspire career wellness development. As a movement specialist, Biscontini trains celebrity clients, including cast members of ABC TV's soap opera "General Hospital," and has made appearances on CNN Headline News and LIVE! With Regis and Kelly.