What Is A BOSU Ball?
A BOSU ball isn’t really a ball at all. It’s more like a half-ball attached to a flat surface. You might have seen these things lying around gyms and wondered at their purpose. BOSU stands for “both sides used” and reflects the purpose of this training device. In this article, we will examine not only the proper use of a BOSU ball but also the pros and cons associated with their use.
How To Use A BOSU Ball
There is a huge list of ways in which the BOSU ball can be used. In essence, it is just an unstable platform on which virtually any other exercise can be done. The idea is to
- A: Make sure that both sides of the body are worked evenly
- B: Provide balance training
- C: Engage the core muscles to a greater degree
Bear these principles in mind when you train with your BOSU. Improper use will not only negate the benefits but could also expose you to a risk of injury. Make sure that you always keep your eyes open and engaged when using a BOSU, as research has shown that balance is intimately connected with sight.
Let’s consider some specific examples. You can flip the BOSU over so that the ball faces down, and use it to do push-ups. In order to keep from falling off the ball, you will have to maintain a good balance. If you find that to be too easy, ramp it up a notch and do burpees with your BOSU. As you stand up to do your jump, be sure to take the BOSU with you.
Some people like to do dumbbell exercises while standing with one foot on a BOSU ball. This can be a great way to engage the muscles of the core without adding another exercise to your routine. You can also put the ball under your spine when doing bench presses. As with the push-up, it forces you to maintain perfect balance. As a precaution, you should not use a BOSU ball when lifting more than 100 lbs, as a blowout could present the potential for injury.
There are several good arguments in favor of this tool. First of all, there is little doubt that the use of a BOSU ball can help to improve one’s balance. Numerous studies have confirmed that instability training methods such as the use of a BOSU ball will produce a noticeable improvement in balance.
The balance benefits are especially useful for older people, who are much more likely to suffer injury as the result of a fall. However, anyone can benefit from a greater degree of balance. The study also confirmed that instability training produces good results when combined with resistance training.
BOSU ball training seems to be a little easier on the body. Several of these studies have confirmed that the body’s overall force output is reduced when using an instability device. This can be a bad thing for high-performance athletes, but it’s a great asset for physical therapists. It provides a way for less-durable individuals to do some resistance training without the same level of force being exerted on the body.
This decreased level of force output also makes the BOSU ball an ideal choice for your warm-up and cool-down routines. During a warmup, it gives you a way to decrease the intensity so that you can get the body activated before moving on to more serious training. The BOSU ball serves a similar function during cool-down exercises, which are very helpful for the prevention of injury.
As we have already mentioned, the BOSU ball is not the tool for those who are seeking maximum performance for sport-specific workouts. The reduction in force output will prevent you from getting the same amount of resistance. You will essentially be trading strength for a little more balance.
When we look at the research, we find confirmation of the fact that BOSU ball training isn’t the best choice for serious athletes.
The study found that highly-trained athletes did not experience a greater level of muscle activation when using a BOSU ball. While untrained people showed a slight increase in muscle activation, it was found that the trained group didn’t need to improve their balance. It was concluded that the trained group had already acquired excellent balance from training in their respective sports, thus negating the main benefit of the BOSU ball. This further suggests that the human body has a certain “balance ceiling” that cannot normally be exceeded.
There is more bad news in the muscle activation department. This study confirmed that instability training can actually decrease muscle activation under some circumstances. Like the other study, this one shows that there is definite potential for the BOSU ball in terms of injury prevention and rehabilitation, but it isn’t likely to help your muscle gains. This study showed similar results.
As you can see, the BOSU ball is neither good nor bad. It’s a low-impact option that allows the body to do the same exercises with a decreased level of force. It also allows you to incorporate balance training into nearly any other exercise. However, it’s kind of like a set of training wheels on a bicycle. Training wheels are great for those who need them, but serious riders do not.
We would definitely recommend the BOSU ball for those who are recovering from an injury, or older people who might need to be a little bit more careful. It is also possible that the use of a BOSU ball could reduce the risk of injury over time, although that doesn’t seem to be proven as yet. We hope that we have given you a balanced review of this method so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not it belongs in your workout. Feel free to follow us on Facebook if you would like to learn more.