If you’ve spotted a Bosu ball at the gym, but weren’t sure how to use it—or what it would do for your fitness—we have the perfect workout for you. While this piece of equipment can look intimidating, Bosu ball exercises simply add a unique upgrade to your strength routine by testing your stability on an unstable surface.
“The Bosu ball is a great tool to make a bodyweight workout more proprioceptive,” Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., CEO and owner of TS Fitness tells Runner’s World. That means it helps you get more in tune with how your body is working and what you’re feeling through each movement. “A runner can benefit greatly from this increased challenge in stability, strength, and power,” he adds.
The reason runners benefit from Bosu ball exercises? While you can use it to perform exercises like Bulgarian split squats and lateral hops—moves that strengthen prime running muscles—it also adds an anti-rotation element to moves like planks and push-ups. When your body has to work to fight rotation, it ups the ante on core stability and translates to helping you stay in sagittal plane while you run, Tamir says. This increases run efficiency.
How to use this list: Tamir demonstrates each Bosu ball exercise in the video above so you can follow proper form. Practice each exercise for the number of repetitions listed below and rest for 20 to 30 seconds in between each move. Complete three rounds each circuit, resting for two minutes in between circuits.
Glute Bridge March
Why it works: This exercise keeps the glutes and core engaged while also focusing on resisting rotation when in the single-leg position, Tamir says. He also explains that this exercise helps to strengthen the lower back, and provides a strong start to the workout, as it’s a solid, controlled movement.
How to do it: Place the Bosu ball on the ground with platform side down. Lie faceup with arms down by sides on the floor. Place feet on the Bosu ball with knees bent. Raise hips towards the ceiling, engaging glutes. Hold here. Lift left leg, keeping knee bent at a 90-degree angle, knee over hip. Then place it back down. Repeat on the right side. Continue alternating. Do 10-12 reps per side, keeping hips up the entire time.
Lateral Hop Over
How to do it: Start with the Bosu ball on the ground, platform side down. Stand to the left side of the ball with right foot on the ball and left foot planted on the ground. Swing arms back to build momentum, then push through right leg to hop to the right side of the ball. Shuffle feet to land with right foot on the ground and left foot on the ball. Repeat. Do 8-10 reps per side.
Why it works: Your core has to fight to resist the rotation and movement of the Bosu ball, which challenges your midsection, while developing your arm strength, Tamir says.
How to do it: Start with the Bosu ball on the ground, platform side facing up. Get into a high plank position, placing hands closer than shoulder-width apart on the platform side of the ball. Body should form a straight line from head to heels. Bend elbows out to sides and lower chest to ball (or as far as you can). Keep abs tight and body in one line; don’t let your hips dip or pike up. Push back up to plank. Repeat. Do 10-12 reps.
Bulgarian Split Squat
Why it works: This single-leg exercise transfers over to running because it targets muscles in your lower body—quads, glutes, and hamstrings—that strengthen a runner’s stride and help you produce power, Tamir says.
How to do it: Start with the Bosu ball on the ground, platform side down. Stand a few steps in front of the Bosu, facing away from it. Reach right foot back and rest laces on the ball. Keeping chest tall and leaning forward just slightly, bend left knee to lower as far as you can with control. Left knee should stay tracking over toes (you may need to take a step out to adjust). Drive left foot into the floor to stand back up. Repeat for reps. Then switch sides. Do 8-10 reps per side.
Why it works: Practicing this move will kick up your upper body and core strength, thanks to the movement through the shoulders and arms, as well as that anti-rotational element, Tamir says.
How to do it: Start with the Bosu ball on the ground, platform side down. Get in a high plank position with shoulders over wrists and core, glutes, and legs engaged. Body should form a straight line from head to heels. Replace right hand with right elbow, then left hand with left elbow until you’re in a forearm plank position. Reverse to come back into a high plank position. Repeat, alternating which arm you start with. Do 8-10 reps per side.
Why it works: Tamir explains that this move will target your anterior core muscles (like the rectus abdominis a.k.a. the six-pack muscles) to help keep you stable while you run.
How to do it: Start with the Bosu ball on the ground, platform side down. Sit on the ball, hands placed on the ground on either side of the ball. Lean back, bending elbows at a 90 degree angle and extending feet out in front of you. This is your starting position. Then, lift upper body by straightening arms, raising legs, and sitting up tall to form a V position—bring legs as close to chest as possible. Return to starting position. Repeat. Do 12-15 reps.