Benefits of BOSU: Balance your way to better health
Tuesday, 6 June 2017
The world of fitness moves quickly, with plenty of odd-looking contraptions being thought up all the time that promise to revolutionise your fitness regime. The amount of these that stand the test of time though is another matter, as the majority of these products end up falling off the fitness world's radar in no time at all. That's why when a product sticks around for years, with plenty of reputable sources singing its praises, it catches our attention at Think Sport.
Enter the BOSU Balance Trainer
If you're even an occasional gym-goer, you've probably seen one of these looking like an out-of-place turtle somewhere on the gym floor. If you've stuck around, you may have seen a fellow aspirational athletic-type mount the contraption and perform some precarious balancing and strength exercises. After some research, we feel these adventurous people may be on to something, as we've found many of their claims to be true to life. These claims range from boosting balance and aiding flexibility to adding variety to your workout, and, so far, we've yet to come up with a reason to doubt them. So let's take a closer look at the BOSU and what it can do.
What is BOSU?
Simply put, BOSU stands for "Both Sides Up", which refers to the fact that it can be used on either side to facilitate a range of different exercises, from push ups to squats to deadlifts. Resembling half an exercise ball, the BOSU features one flat anti-slip side with a rubber dome on the other side. Together, these two sides provide a range of positions that can be used to enhance nearly any exercise, with plenty of ways to engage your muscles and force your stabilising balance muscles into action. It can sit flat on its plastic base, or can be used as a wobble board with the dome facing down, providing you with a number of different ways to work all parts of your body and provide yourself with a multitude of unique challenges for your muscles.
Balance and Dynamic Exercise
If you frequent the gym, you've probably heard fitness enthusiasts rabble on endlessly about how adding an element of balance or dynamic movement can take your workout to the next level. This can mean anything from using free weights instead of a machine to incorporating death-defying balancing acts into your regular routine.
This advice isn't just something they made up to sound impressive, but it's based on real science. That's because, when you incorporate balance into your workout, you force tiny muscles you didn't know you had - your stabilising muscles - to fire in line with your larger muscles, providing you with a much more effective and complete workout. The uneven surfaces of the BOSU force these balancing muscles into action, improving your stabilisers and thereby boosting both your strength and balance to new heights.
Variety is the Spice of Life
While we all have our favourite forms of exercise, doing one thing over and over is only going to get you so far. After performing one workout multiple times, you'll start to see your progress slow, and eventually you'll slam right into a plateau. To prevent this, it's important to switch up your workout routine regularly, usually once every few weeks. Therein lies perhaps the biggest strength of the BOSU, as it can be used for as many exercises as the mind can think up. To get you started on your BOSU journey and provide a little inspiration, we've compiled a few of our favourite simple changes to classic workouts that the BOSU can provide.
It should be noted that, while the BOSU provides more safety than standard exercise balls due to its domed shape and proximity to the ground, you can hurt yourself during any exercise. If you feel a little unstable, it may be best to hang onto something to support yourself until you get your confidence and balance up.
1) The Push-Up
To start with perhaps the most classic workout of them all, the BOSU is great for adding some variety to your push-up or chest workout routine. To do this, place the BOSU dome-side-down on the ground, and grip either side of the flat surface. With your wrists balanced beneath your shoulders, lower yourself to the BOSU, then raise to a fully extended position, and you've completed your first BOSU push-up. While it may seem simple, you'll notice muscles in your core firing like never before, and, after a few sets, you may feel the burn in muscles you didn't know you had.
From one workout staple to another, the next starting exercise we recommend is the BOSU sit-up. For this movement, flip your ball so the domed-side is facing up. Sit yourself evenly on the middle of the ball, and tighten your stomach muscles. Then, lift with your core, bringing your legs towards your torso. As you move down in preparation for your next repetition, ensure you don't let your back arch over the BOSU, and don't let your body touch the ground. You'll feel your muscles shake in attempt to balance, and on completion should feel a satisfying burn through your whole body.
Finally, one of the best workouts to perform on the BOSU is the squat. This one will get all your core muscles firing, and may also be the most difficult to balance yourself during. On your first try, we recommend having something nearby to grab onto in case you lose your balance. Place the BOSU dome-side-down on the ground with the flat side facing up. Carefully step on with one leg, feeling the BOSU squish down to the ground to boost your stability. Slowly step your other foot onto the BOSU, and you'll immediately feel those stabilisers firing to keep you upright. Once comfortably balanced, engage the normal squat position, with your back arched and bottom out. Then, perform as many squats as you can, and prepare for the burn and a boost to your normal squat routine.
For some more great ways to use your BOSU, check out this video!