By Kim Duke, NETA & AAFA Certified Trainer
Have you seen them and wondered what they were? They look like a Swiss ball cut in half with a solid base. The BOSU ball (which stands for both sides up), is a great way to increase both balance and core strength while conditioning the entire body.
When you focus on multiple elements of fitness, along with compound movements, more coordination is achieved, along with a greater calorie burn. Also, training on an unstable surface can prove to be essential for snow sports, such as skiing and snowboarding.
Drills can be performed in a circuit fashion, completing 20 repetitions or utilizing a time element, such as 30-60 seconds.
Start with your biggest muscle group, the legs. Squat by standing with either the bubble side up or bubble side down, sit back on your heels slowly keeping your core muscles tight and head up high. Add a dumbbell or medicine ball for more challenge.
Next, perform lunges, stepping forward on to the BOSU (bubble side up). Stand on top of the BOSU and step off, either to the side or backwards. With any of these exercises, keep the core muscles tight and don’t be afraid to use your arms as a counter balance device. If you fall off, get back on and continue to push forward for reps without compromising your form.
In order to challenge the stability of the upper body muscles, place yourself in a push up position with the bubble side down. Perform push-ups with an alternating plank and knee in for extra core performance.
BOSU balls are excellent for plyometrics as well. Completing power jumps from the ground to the top of the BOSU helps build that explosive power your legs need to tackle the toughest hills out there. Try some hop-overs, moving quickly side to side. Only add speed when you feel you have the movement mastered. As with any fitness tool, injuries can occur if you are sloppy or unskilled with the equipment.
Other great moves to include in your BOSU routine are the bird-dog, alternating between knees on the BOSU and hands on the BOSU. The Superman is another terrific move that even a beginner can perform. Just place your core on the bubble side while lifting your arms and legs off the ground.
Partner moves are also an excellent way to train with the BOSU ball. Use a medicine ball and stand with the flat side up. Have your partner toss the ball to you, add a squat and toss it back.
Once you get the hang of using a BOSU ball, the possibilities are endless. Again, start out carefully, hold your core tight and stay focused on good form. Have fun, be safe and condition that body.