Fitness

Why the BOSU Ball Is a Worthy Exercise Tool—and 6 Exercises to Try With It

For the longest time, I had no idea what a BOSU ball was. I called it “that weird half stability ball thing” and assumed it wasn’t something people actually used at the gym. And then I became a fitness editor and payed a lot more attention to what many different people actually use during workouts, and, yes, I realized the BOSU ball was indeed legit.

I’ve seen Instagram posts of celebrities like Shay Mitchell and model Jasmine Tookes using the exercise tool; I’ve watched random people at the gym drag it to their corner and put it to work; I’ve even seen some of my favorite trainers use them in their own workouts. The reason people like it? It’s a great tool for adding an extra stability (hello, core!) challenge to any workout.

“The beauty of a BOSU is that you can perform all types of exercises with it—everything from leg exercises balancing on it, to core exercises and even upper-body and cardio work,” says Autumn Calabrese, Beachbody super trainer and creator of 80-Day Obsession. In any of those scenarios, it simply adds an extra element of instability, which requires you to engage more of the small muscles in your core that help you control your body and stay balanced.

Ultimately, you’ll get a more intense core workout—no matter what muscles the exercise technically targets—and improve your balance by using a tool that challenges stability like a BOSU ball. “It also can help improve proprioception (knowing where your body is in space),” says Calabrese. Having a greater sense of body awareness helps you better control your movements, positioning, and ultimately, both your posture and ability to do exercises with proper form. So like, it’s kind of a big deal.

“The BOSU is absolutely a tool worth trying,” Calabrese says, though she does note that adding a stability challenge isn’t a good idea for every single exercise, namely any one that has you lifting a lot of weight and doesn't leave your hands free in case you fall. “An example of this would be having the unstable side of the BOSU (the blue side) on the ground, standing on the black side (the hard flat side), putting a barbell on your shoulders, and performing squats. That is a very dangerous exercise that could cause serious injury if you were to lose your balance,” she says. “A way to correct that would be to hold dumbbells at your sides—those you can let go of easily if you start to fall.”

Like any new exercise or piece of equipment, it’s best to start with the basics and work up to more complex moves after you’ve built your stability a bit. Before you do anything else, simply stand on the blue side of the BOSU to get a feel for it. Yes, you'll feel wobbly, but with time, you'll start to feel more stable. Then, try out some of the moves below.

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