Why Training with a BOSU Ball Works
Credit: Opensource from US Marines via WikiCommons

Last year I discovered a way to work out that has changed my life. It incorporates elements of circuit and high intensity interval training with little to no rest in between exercises. Almost half of my daily workout routine involves something called a BOSU ball. I had never heard of, nor used one of these things until about a year and a half ago.

Basically, it looks like a normal blue balance ball you see a lot in gyms, but it has been cut in half with a solid plastic base on one side. In essence, it is a half dome, hard on one side with a soft blue balance side. BOSU actually stands for "both sides utilized".

On of the reasons I love this is because hardly anyone uses these things like I do in the gym so I can always find one available. But the most important reason is because of its versatility and the way it provides a total body workout. Any workout or exercise can be taken to the next level by incorporating this device into your routine. Your body will burn more calories because it  requires you to use more muscles to stabilize your body.

And that is the key to getting in really good shape. You need to work your entire body every day, not simply chest and back one day, legs the next, etc. If a personal trainer is giving you that advice, ignore them and get a new trainer. That kind of advice is for serious body builders. Most of us are not ripped or huge and do not require the heavy weights and exhaustive workouts required to tear your muscles down to get bigger. Most of us could not get that big even if we tried because it also requires an enormous amount of calories. As we age, the ideal body for looks and health is a lean, athletic body and the BOSU can help get you there.

Again, this type of workout with one of these half dome balls allows you to use all of your muscle groups every day, while keeping your heart rate up which is the real key to losing weight, not walking on a treadmill like a zombie for 30 minutes or more. The great thing about exercising like this is afterward, you are done. Not only did you do your full body workout, but you did your cardio too.

The following are some of my favorite ones to do. There are a lot of variations, but these are some of the basics. Initially, if you do a circuit of all of these exercises, then repeat 2 to 3 times, then build up to more reps and set over time, you will be on your way to a more toned body.

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Benefits of Training with a BOSU Ball

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Training on the half dome allows you to hit muscles from many different angles. Because the BOSU is unstable, it forces you to work harder in what ever exercise you do with it by requiring that you use your core muscles in order to maintain balance. It’s a form of functional training that not only gets you in shape, but make you better equipped to better perform the movements you need to get through the day, which becomes especially important as you get older.

For instance, there are endless ways to do push-ups using a BOSU. You can press your hands into the blue side of the dome and do a set of push-ups or flip the dome over and do push-ups as you balance your upper body holding the sides on the upside down dome. Each combination or variation hits your pectoral muscles at different angles promoting increases in strength and muscle growth.

Second, you can create a total body workout with the various combinations of exercises working the upper body and the lower body using combinations of push-up, burpees, mountain climbers triple squats and lunges onto the ball.

Third, you can isolate your core muscles easily by balancing your upper body on the hard side of the dome. As you plank, it provides an added challenge because not only are you keeping your body straight, but you are adding the additional stress of maintaining your balance on the blue dome side. If it is hard to visualize this, think of it as resting your body on a half ball.

The following is a combination of exercises using the BOSU ball that represents a total body workout.

  1. Triple Squats
  2. Squat with Overhead Press
  3. Squat Jumps
  4. Hip Extensions
  5. One-Armed Row
  6. Back Extension
  7. Full Crunch
  8. Burpees
  9. Pushups
  10. Mountain Climbers
  11. Ball Squats
  12. Hamstring Tilts

Final Thoughts

HIT with a BOSU Ball
Credit: Teran61 via Wikimedia Commons

A BOSU ball keeps your workout routine fresh and allows you to confuse the muscles so that you can gain strength and grow muscles.  This type of workout will not make you the next Mr. or Ms. Atlas, but it will get you toned and develop your core muscles much better than doing situps or crunches alone.

If you do 3 to 5 sets of each exercise listed above, 3 to 4 times a week, you will lose fat, gain strength and muscle tone. Notice I did not say you would lose weight. In fact, your weight may not change even though you are losing fat. The muscle you gain will compensate for it on the scales. For overall weightloss, you will may want to consider intermittent fasting.

It is best to mix it up every few weeks, so for instance you might incorporate 30 seconds of jumping jacks in between each exercise. Also, mix up the order to keep your body guessing.

With this combination of exercises, you are combining strength training with cardio. And the best part about doing this type of workout is that once you are finished with your sets, you are done and you can hit the showers.

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