Focus On: BOSU Balance Trainer

 The BOSU freaked me out for a long time. I knew it was kind of like a stability ball, but I didn’t want to use it and look like a giant goober. Instead, whenever I saw someone else use the BOSU, I watched intently to see if I could learn any new moves. The standards: ab work and strength training. I could do that. So I gave it a whirl and while the BOSU looks whimsical and innocent, it burns. For real.

Since then, it’s become a pretty standard tool in my training. It’s a versatile piece of equipment, doesn’t take up a lot of space, and is a great way to fire up your core by challenging your balance. 


So what exactly is it?

The BOSU Balance Trainer is like half a stability ball on a plastic platform. The term BOSU is an abbreviation from the phrase “both sides utilized,” so this means you can use the bouncy side of the BOSU and the platform side. By using the bouncy side, you’re able to perform a variety of strength training and cardio movements, and the platform is a fantastic way to work balance and upper body strength. Whatever you decide, it’s an extra challenge for your core since it has to work to stabilize your entire body. 


-Core challenge! Since the surface is constantly changing, the BOSU transforms every exercise into a bonus ab exercise since you’re trying to maintain balance.

-A huge benefit of balance training is proprioception, which is how the body interprets its position in space. It helps the body realize which muscles it needs to use according to where we are and what activity we’re doing. When the system gets overwhelmed, we lose balance and fall. Regular balance training can help improve posture, coordination, prevent injuries and falls as we age. 

-By using different tools, equipment and exercises, we prevent the body from kicking into cruise control. Remember, change creates change, so anything we can do to keep our body guessing is a good thing. 


-Not the best choice if you have balance or joint/knee considerations. At first, if you want to just practice standing on the BOSU, that in itself is utilizing your core. If you feel comfortable after that, venture into small squats, then full and finally strength training on the BOSU.

-BOSU balance trainers are expensive (about $100) so I don’t usually recommend them for small home gyms. They’re fun to use as a way to shake up your routine, but not a necessary component of a good strength training plan. 

Here are some of my favorite exercises: 

BOSU balance trainer

Switching up your usual strength training:

1) Try elevating your front or back foot on the BOSU for a lunge

2) Almost any standing strength move can be done on top of the BOSU- the key is to keep those abbies tucked in!

3) Try squats with a knee lift to challenge your balance even more than a usual squat, or squat jump, freeze, then knee lift

Core exercises:

4) The BOSU is perfect for any type of plank variation. Try a single leg plank, up and down planks (each arm goes into forearm then full plank, alternating) or the plank tilt

5) Crunch variations

6) Back extensions (add in a twist to make things more exciting)

7) V-ups

Cardio and plyo:

8) Squat lift (come into a deep pile squat and as you come up, lift the BOSU up overhead); this can also turn into burpees if you’re feeling feisty 😉

9) Squat jumps- jump both feet up into the air and land in a pile squat! Freeze and repeat.

Bosu tilk

How often do you use BOSU balance trainers in your fitness routine? What’s your favorite exercise?

Any piece of gym equipment that freaks you out?


Resistance Bands

Stability Balls

The scary pulley thing

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  1. Sarah on July 19, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Gina, You look so great! Just wanted to comment that your body adjusted verrrry well back to pre-baby body!!!! Keep it up!!! 🙂

    • Fitnessista on July 20, 2012 at 1:10 am

      wow, thank you so much, sarah!

  2. Katie @ running4cupcakes on July 19, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    The BOSU is by far my favorite piece of equipment. I use it all the time for aerobics classes. So good for cardio and strength moves.

  3. Seja_LiveLaughLove on July 20, 2012 at 2:11 am

    Your post made me laugh but I agree it is really intimidating, especially when people are doing insane things with it on one leg lol. My friend used to refer to it as the “turtle”. You can do some amazing things with it (and by amazing I mean cool moves that BURN)! Who knew such a innocent looking thing could be so evil? 🙂

  4. Tara on July 20, 2012 at 6:02 am

    I seriously love the challenge that the bosu adds to typical movements!! 🙂

  5. Suzanna on July 20, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Thanks for the BOSU “shout out”, Gina! I think your article was extremely insightful, honest and offered a great variety of exercises. When paired with the BOSU Balance Trainer, even basic exercises become more intense, effective and beneficial. The BOSU Balance Trainer may look odd and a bit intimidating, but there IS value in challenging your balance in order to improve it and maximize your workout. Great job! :o)

  6. Caitlin on July 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    It’s so funny you posted this because I read it and then went to the gym to meet with my trainer…and she decided to do an entire strength workout for me using the bosu ball…INCLUDING tabata intervals, which I thought was so interesting. We did burpies on the bosu (hands on the ball, feet on the floor when you kick out, then come back and stand up and balance on the ball), one where I had to hold it over my head and shuffle my feet, mountain climbers/plank holds, and jumping drills all for the tabata part. You don’t even realize how many muscles you have to use to balance on that thing!

  7. Kelly on August 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    My personal trainer LOVES the BOSU…I call it pure evil…when I started with him I couldn’t stand on one foot on the ground without falling over…with my eyes open. Now I’m doing one legged dead lifts on the BOSU fairly easily. I hate it but yet love it so much…I use it for those times when I really want a challenge and use it for everything from legs, to abs, back and upper body workouts. Planks in pushup position on them are my new favorite:)

  8. Mandy on October 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    I’m a huge BOSU fan. One of my very favorite exercises in to hold a 10lb weight with both hands against your chest. Stand about a foot in front of the BOSU (flat side down). Gently sit down so your backside lands towards the bottom of the “bubble”. Lean back and do a crunch. Finishe by sitting back up, standing back up and doing an overhead press with your weight. 3 sets of 15 🙂

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