BOSU, which stands for BOth Sides Up’ or BOth Sides Utilised’, is now a common piece of functional equipment in gyms. If you’re unsure how to get the best use of it, try these five exercises as explained by Annette Chatterton from the Australian Institute of Fitness in SA.
Start with one foot on the floor and one foot on the dome of the BOSU. Using power, push off the floor foot to transfer your body weight to the other side, replacing the foot on the dome with your other foot.
More power can be added by increasing the speed, the height, the depth of the sumo squat and the distance away from the centre of the BOSU.
To add more upper body challenge try an overhead press with a medicine ball while travelling over the top. Even more challenging is holding a dumbbell overhead with one arm while side lunging.
Holding the BOSU by the edges, with the flat side facing your body, the burpee is completed by jumping up, pushing the BOSU overhead, then putting the BOSU on the floor and shooting the legs out together. An unstable push-up can be completed with the hands on the side of the BOSU.
The BOSU burpee is a little easier than full burpees, as you do not need to drop so low. As your hands are not on the ground, but slightly elevated on the BOSU, less agile exercisers find it easier to shoot their legs to the back.
To increase the challenge, increase the speed, add more BOSU push-ups, add mountain climbers or torso twists when in the push-up position.
Ensure you have great core and shoulder girdle control. Good technique is very important in this exercise.
An alternating lunge to the BOSU is a little challenging. The stability challenge is higher if no dumbbells are held in the hands. While it’s tougher on the legs, it’s easier to stabilise with dumbbells in your hands.
To increase the challenge try a forward lunge onto the BOSU, then knee lift into a forward lunge travelling forward over the BOSU. The balance challenge is to the push from the front leg back up into a knee lift and return to a lunge. Then repeat the lunge, knee lift, forward lunge, knee lift, backward lunge on the other leg.
Adding a dumbbell shoulder press with the opposite arm to knee lift increases the effort and the balance requirements.
Another progression is to try lunges with both feet on a BOSU. Thus working on two BOSUs. Once an OTS lunge is mastered (actually a split squat) try a lunge switch jump on both BOSUs.
These stability challenging push-ups are performed with your hands on the edge of the BOSU while your feet are in the suspension straps. Technique is vital. It’s important that you maintain neutral spine and a safe neutral shoulder position. There shouldn’t be ‘sag’ in the shoulder girdle/rib cage, nor in the lower back.
A knee to chest tuck can be added or double knee tuck to alt shoulders to increase movement, thus increasing stability demands.
The BOSU has an unstable platform when the lat side is up. A beginner will find it challenging to stand on the BOSU with both feet. Hold onto your Personal Trainer’s hands as you get on, placing one foot at a time onto the BOSU brand name on the flat side. Release your hands when you are stable.
When confident balancing on both feet, add a squat. Then increase the load by holding dumbbells or with a barbell on your shoulders. A squat hold is very challenging as the lactic acid builds up in the quads.
A one-leg balance is more demanding. Get assistance onto the BOSU then stand with the centre of one foot right over the plug on the flat side of the BOSU. Increasing the stability challenge can be easily achieved by increasing proprioceptive demands. Eyes open/eyes closed.
The next progression is a one-legged squat. Rotation of the trunk can be added here. Perhaps holding a small ball and then progressing to a med ball. Even add a knee lift with the free leg flowing on from the squat. Why not challenge your stability even more by adding a shoulder press holding a dumbbell (through flexion) using the opposite arm to knee?!