Are you looking for a way to improve your balance, increase flexibility and build strength using just one piece of equipment? If so, you may want to try out a BOSU trainer. You’ve probably seen BOSU balls at the gym, wondering what they are or what you do with them.

The BOSU is half of an exercise ball mounted on a sturdy flat platform. The acronym BOSU stands for “Both Sides Up” or “Both Sides Utilized”, and as the name implies, the balls can be used with either the dome side or the platform side facing up. BOSU trainers are typically used in conjunction with balance and strength-training exercises and may be incorporated into rehabilitation programs. They can also be used as stretching aids and plyometric training tools.

Here are some reasons why you may want to try out that odd-looking exercise ball the next time you’re at the gym:

BOSU helps improve balance. The unstable surface created by the BOSU ball is useful in helping to improve balance. One simple balance exercise involves standing on the flat platform while the dome is facing down. When standing on the flat surface, make sure your hands are close to something to stabilize yourself in case you lose your balance. This is not as easy as you might think, and at first, you may need to hold onto the wall or a chair to help you balance.

You can also stand on the dome side of the ball while holding a squat position. One study found that adults over 65 who performed 12 weeks of proprioception training using the BOSU trainer had improved gait and balance capacity, which led to a lower risk of falling.

BOSU helps increase flexibility. By supporting your body while you stretch, BOSU balls can help increase your flexibility. To stretch your back, place the ball with the dome facing up and lay across the dome on your back or stomach, stretching your body as you relax. To stretch your calf muscles, flip the ball over so the dome side is facing down and place the ball of your foot on the edge of the platform while you rest your heel on the floor.

BOSU helps build core strength. When you perform exercises such as squats, pushups, planks or lunges, or you do exercises using free weights while on the BOSU ball, you engage your core during the entire exercise while your body tries to stay balanced. This helps build core strength.

BOSU increases the intensity of cardio and strength-training. Because the BOSU requires you to engage muscles to stabilize your body as you exercise, it makes your workout harder and can also increase the calorie burn. And since no workout on the BOSU is ever exactly the same thanks to the instability of the ball, it prevents workouts from becoming too repetitive and will keep your body constantly adapting to new stimuli.

BOSU can be used by people at all fitness levels. Whether you are just starting out with an exercise program, are rehabbing from injury or you are a seasoned athlete, exercises using the BOSU trainer can be adapted to meet your abilities and goals.

Before using a BOSU trainer on your own, it’s best to have a personal trainer, class instructor or physical therapist show you how to properly perform exercises with the ball so you avoid injury.

Sources:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/468135-3-benefits-of-the-bosu/

http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2014/11/21/bosu-ball-exercises.aspx

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23207891

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/balance-training