One of my favourite fitness tools is the Bosu balance trainer.
Essentially, it’s a stability ball, cut in half and mounted on a hard, flat piece of rubber. It can be used dome side up (for beginners) and platform side up (for more advanced and stable exercisers). I like to use it both ways (BOth Sides Up)!
Great for challenging your balance and adding a bit of instability to your workouts, I often use it with my clients to improve
- knee and ankle strength; just standing on the dome side forces all the little stabilizer muscles surrounding the knee and ankle joints to wake up and turn on (you’ll also feel it in your inner thighs). Try closing your eyes!
- balance and kinesthetic sense; knowing where your body is in space (“proprioception”) is helpful for avoiding slips and slides and falls
- knee tracking; often knees ‘drop’ inwards or ‘splay’ outwards during lunges due to weak quadriceps. Stationary lunges or squats on the Bosu can help strengthen the vastus medialis and reduce or eliminate the knee tracking problem. Just make sure that knees are staying above the ankles during movement
Balance training is an important part of a well-rounded fitness program. It improves your posture, functionally strengthens your core and adds an interesting challenge to exercises you may already have mastered on a stable surface.
Here’s a sample workout that I’ve done with my weekly Bosu Blast class.
You’ll need a Bosu balance trainer, some light to moderately heavy dumbbells and a mat. Make sure your running shoes are tightly laced; after a few minutes of marching on the dome, your feet may feel like they’re sliding around in your shoes. And avoid wearing short shorts; during seated Bosu work, they tend to ‘migrate’ upwards (think ‘wedgie’). Enough said.
The workout has 6 parts; I’ll describe the first five (with examples of increasing difficulty) and leave you to stretch on your own!
- Balance and proprioception
- Dynamic warmup
- Speed and agility (cardio)
- Strength and conditioning
- Core specific exercises
Balance and Proprioception
- standing on dome side; arms at sides or extended out from body or overhead, eyes open or closed
- 1/4 squat and hold; arms extended at sides, eyes open or closed
- single leg balance; non-supporting foot touching side of dome, pressed against calf of supporting leg, extended straight out to the side (‘tree pose’)
- marching on and off the dome; increasing speed
- marching or jogging on top of the dome; high knees
- mini-squat jumps
- lateral squat (one foot on top, one on the floor beside); up to balance knee
- fast feet; marching on an off as quickly as you can with pumping arms; switch lead leg 2nd time through
- squat or tuck jumps; arms out front or hands behind head
- tire runs; one foot on dome, one on floor; switch sides 2nd time through
- Bosu burpees
- Bosu straddle jacks or straddle squat jacks
- dome (or platform) squat with bicep curl to shoulder press
- platform power pushups (from knees or toes); drop, hold at bottom, slowly push up
- split lunge with lateral raise (back toe on dome or platform); lift arms as you push up out of the lunge
- bent over reverse flys (on dome or platform); both arms together or alternate arms with torso rotation
- V sit on dome (hands behind for support/knees bent/legs extended/arms across chest/arms extended)
- Bosu sit to stand crunches; sit low on dome, weight in hands, lean back, curl up and push through feet to stand
- platform plank tilts; holding handles, plank from knees/toes; alternately press hands down towards floor, pausing to regain balance in the centre before pressing to other side
- belly on Bosu back extension; hands on floor/feet on floor/hands behind head/feet lifting
Whew! That’s a lot of words to describe a workout. Maybe I should have shot a video? (Do you want me to???)
A big thank you to Lindsay for giving me the idea for today’s post. This week, Tuesday Trainer is all about balance training. Here’s my video contribution:
For more great balance exercise videos head on over to Lindsay’s List!
Do you incorporate balance training in your fitness routine?
Have you ever tried an extreme balance board? Makes the Bosu balance trainer look like a piece of cake!