What Is A BOSU Ball Good For?

A BOSU ball is a piece of gym equipment that is a half exercise ball, with a flat, slip-resistant platform on the other half. 

Most gyms have BOSU balls, but most gym goers don’t know what they’re used for or why they’re there. 

What are BOSU Balls Good for?

BOSU balls are primarily used for balance and stability training. BOSU balls can be used for the lower body, upper body, and core exercises. BOSU balls provide the user with an unsteady surface that challenges their muscular system to maintain balance and stability while performing an exercise

The unsteady surface provided by the BOSU ball forces the body’s stabilizer muscles to maintain stability during an exercise. These muscles work harder during BOSU ball exercise than they do with overground exercise.

Because of this, the BOSU ball is a great tool for improving balance, stability, and core strength. 

Key Takeaways:

  • The BOSU ball is useful for balance and stability training since its unsteady nature challenges the body’s stabilizer muscles.
  • BOSU balls are useful for bodyweight strength and core exercise, but shouldn’t be used with heavier external resistance training.
  • Personal trainers and physical therapists use BOSU balls to enhance their clients’ training and to recover from and prevent injury.

Why Personal Trainers Love BOSU Ball

Personal trainers love the BOSU ball because it is a versatile tool that can improve a client’s strength, cardiovascular endurance, balance, and core strength. As a result, the BOSU ball can help clients of all skill levels reach their goals.

Personal trainers use the BOSU ball to help their clients:

  • Correct their exercise technique and form
  • Improve cardiovascular fitness
  • Challenge their balance 
  • Facilitate core strength and control
  • Provide variety in a training routine

BOSU Ball is Good For Strength Training

The BOSU ball is a practical tool for strength training since it forces you to use your stabilizer muscles to keep your balance and control the movement you are performing.

For example, when standing on an inverted, flat-side up BOSU, your hip and ankle musculature must work overtime to keep the surface stable while performing a squat- a movement primarily driven by the glutes and quads.

The same principle can be applied when performing a push-up with an inverted BOSU ball- your rotator cuff and serratus anterior muscles must work to keep the BOSU steady while performing the movement- a movement primarily driven by the chest and triceps.

BOSU balls are best used for bodyweight exercise training. BOSU balls should not be used with external resistance such as free weights, due to the increased risk of injury.

Evidence suggests the strength benefits of free weights combined with the BOSU ball are less than that of free weights alone. 

As a result of this, combined with the increased risk of injury, it is best to use the BOSU for exercise focused on balance, stability, and bodyweight resistance.

What About Core Strength?

The BOSU ball is one of the best tools for developing core strength and control. Your core muscles have to work harder to help you keep your balance and control while performing BOSU ball exercises.

When performing an upper or lower body exercise, you rely on your core musculature to keep your axial skeleton (head and trunk) stable while your appendicular skeleton (arms and legs) moves. 

The BOSU ball provides an unsteady surface, forcing your core muscles to work harder to keep your axial skeleton stable. Your core works harder when performing an upper or lower body exercise.

You can also use a BOSU ball for direct core training, as the two-sided surface makes for great variations of planks, sit-ups, and rotational ab exercises.

Muscle Group Challenged by BOSU Ball

The BOSU ball works the muscles in your body that are responsible for balance and stability. These include muscles in the lower body (glutes, posterior tibialis, peroneals), upper body (rotator cuff, serratus anterior), and core (transverse abdominis, obliques)

While all of these muscles are worked with overground exercises, BOSU ball exercises provide a greater challenge to the accessory stabilizer muscles that support our joints during movement.

Below is a table of commonly used exercises that can be performed overground or with a BOSU ball, and the muscle groups most challenged by using a BOSU ball to perform them.

ExerciseMuscles Challenged by BOSU Ball Variation
SquatGluteus medius, posterior tibialis, peroneal muscles
Single-Leg RDLGluteus medius, posterior tibialis, peroneals, obliques
Push-UpSerratus anterior, rotator cuff muscles
PlankRotator cuff muscles, transverse abdominis
LungeGluteus medius, tibialis posterior, adductors

The 12 Best BOSU Ball Exercises

  1. Push-Up (Ball-side Up): This exercise challenges the shoulder stabilizer muscles and puts less stress on the wrists.
  2. Squat (Ball-side Up): This exercise challenges the hip and ankle stabilizer muscles and requires more core control.
  3. Pistol Squat (Ball-side Up): This exercise further challenges your hip and ankle stabilizers in the transverse plane, and improves unilateral strength and balance.
  4. Single-leg RDL (Ball-side Up): This exercise also improves your unilateral strength and balance while targeting your posterior chain.
  5. Double-Leg Crunch (Ball-side Up): This exercise challenges your deep core muscles to stabilize your spine while your superficial abdominals perform the crunch.
  6. Lunge: This exercise challenges your hip and ankle stabilizer muscles while improving unilateral leg strength
  7. Jump Squat: This exercise challenges your leg and core stabilizer muscles, as well as your balance and landing mechanics.
  8. Push-Up (Flat-Side Up): This exercise further challenges your shoulder stabilizer and core muscles.
  9. Plank (Flat-Side Up): This exercise is a level up from a traditional plank- further challenging your core and shoulder stabilizer muscles.
  10. Directional Balance (Flat-Side Up): This exercise challenges your hip and ankle stabilizers, and improves your balance and proprioception
  11. Pistol Squat (Flat-Side Up): This exercise challenges your balance and transverse plane stability while performing a unilateral movement.
  12. Single-Leg RDL (Flat-Side Up): This exercise challenges your balance, unilateral strength, and posterior chain.

Is The BOSU Ball Good For Physical Therapy?

The BOSU ball is commonly used by physical therapists to help patients improve their balance and stability when recovering from an injury. They also use the BOSU ball to prevent injury by improving stabilizer muscle control.

For patients recovering from ankle and foot injuries, the BOSU ball provides an uneven, unsteady surface that challenges their balance in a way that firm ground doesn’t. 

The same principles can be applied to those recovering from knee and hip injuries, as well as for those who are older and are at a higher risk for falls due to worsening balance. 

By challenging the muscles responsible for balance and stability, BOSU ball exercise helps patients get stronger, improve their body mechanics, recover from injury, and prevent recurring or future injury.

Why Physical Therapists Love BOSU Ball

Physical therapists love the BOSU ball because of the benefits it has on recovering from injury, as well as preventing future injury. The BOSU ball can be used for patients recovering from orthopedic as well as neurological injuries.

BOSU ball exercises in physical therapy are aimed at improving the stabilizer muscles’ ability to contract and maintain balance and stability at an injured, unstable joint.

BOSU ball exercises also challenge proprioception- the perception of where our body is in space.

By improving our sense of joint positioning and muscular support of a joint, patients are better able to control their balance on unsteady surfaces.

The table below lists some different activities that patients get better at doing when using a BOSU ball to improve their proprioception.

Lower BodyUpper Body/Core
Walking on grass and unpaved groundReaching overhead
Walking in the darkPushing heavy objects
Negotiating stairs and curbsCarrying bags and suitcases
Standing on one footReaching away from the body

Common injuries treated by physical therapists using a BOSU ball include

  • Ankle Sprains
  • ACL/MCL injury
  • Joint Replacement
  • Shoulder dislocation
  • Back pain
  • Balance deficits/fall prevention

Recommended: 3 Best BOSU Balls On Amazon

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This BOSU ball is the best available for athletes and weekend warriors looking to optimize their at-home workouts.

Most Portable & Convenient: BOSU Sport Balance Trainer Travel Size

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This BOSU ball is slightly smaller than standard; perfect for exercisers with less storage space or for traveling.

Budget-Friend: ZELUS Balance Ball Wobble Board Balance Trainer

ZELUS 25in. Balance Ball | 1500lb Inflatable Half Exercise...
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This is an off-brand BOSU ball that provides similar benefits to a traditional BOSU ball, great for exercisers on a budget.

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Last update on 2022-10-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API