A Beginner's Guide to the BOSU

You may have seen them at the gym, may have been intimidated by them, and not sure really how to use them.  Luckily, this is beginner guide to the BOSU was made for you.

The BOSU trainer device has evolved as one of the most successful fitness training products since its debut in 2000.  The term BOSU means "Both Sides Utilized" which defines the product's versatile use as a functional trainer.  It is a half ball with a flat bottom.

How to Get on the BOSU

As the name implies, both sides of the device can be utilized.  I find it easier to start with the round side up than the other way around.  Start by placing your foot close to the center of the ball, find your balance and place your other foot on the BOSU.  Shimmy your feet so that they are approximately hip width apart.  Gently practice shifting your weight from side to side and front to back.  If you feel that your balance isn't very good to begin with, have balance poles in front of you or have a wall within arms reach.  The more you practice on the BOSU, the more confident you will feel on it and the less you will rely on the external supports.  Flip the BOSU with the flat side up and practice weight shifting as well.   


How to Get Off the BOSU

Getting off the BOSU with the flat side up is a bit tricky.  I've seen people jump off, stumble off and sprain their ankle while getting off.  I like to shimmy my foot towards the center until I feel balance enough to just simply step off.


Beginner Workout

Below is a simple beginner workout that focuses on the lower body but has a few upper body and core exercises.  Start with this workout and if you find it too easy, wait until next week for a more advanced workout or simply add weights to the exercise.

1.  Squats Flat Side Up

  • I'm not a huge fan of doing squats with the round side up as it doesn't allow your feet to be positioned wide enough to have proper form and can feel as if you're going to sprain your ankles.  You may feel very unstable at first, but the more you practice, the better you'll be.  I promise.


  • 10 reps x 3 sets



Click the picture for a video link

2. Push Ups w/ Flat Side Up

  • Grasp the side the of the BOSU and remain in a high plank position.  Lower yourself towards the BOSU in a push up manner.  Remember to keep your core engaged and not allow your lower back to arch. 


  • 10 reps x 3 sets


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Click the picture for a video link

3. High Plank Side to Side w/ Flat Side Up

  • Assume the same position as push up but remain in high plank.  Engage your core and shift all your weight into your right side and then to your left side.


  • 10 reps per side x 3 sets


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Click the picture for a video link

4. Forward Lunge w/ Round Side Up

  • Place the BOSU a few feet ahead of you, or just enough so that when you perform the lunge, your front leg is about 90 degrees.  Aim your front foot towards the center of the ball for greatest stability.


  • 10 reps per side x 3 sets


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Click the picture for a video link  

5. Lateral Lunge w/ Round Side Up

  • With your feet facing forward, perform a side lunge so that you are landing onto the BOSU.  This exercise requires you to stabilize of your legs first before you can push off.


  • 10 reps per side x 3 sets



Click the picture for a video link


6. Side Plank w/ Round Side Up

  • With your elbow underneath your shoulder, keep your body as straight as possible.  Do not allow your self to lean forward and rotate from your hips.  What makes this exercise a bit more difficult than your regular plank is that your elbow is on an unstable surface.  This rounded surface requires your scapular stabilizers to work extra hard to maintain stability.


  • 30-60 seconds per side x 3



No video link since this is pretty much what you're doing for 30-60 seconds


If you want a better bang for your buck with your workout, add the BOSU with any of your standing exercises.  For instance, if you're performing a bicep curl or a lateral arm raise, why not incorporate your legs at the same time by standing on the BOSU.  To take things a bit further, perform the bicep curls or lateral arm raise while in a squat position on the BOSU.  Not only are you going to feel it in your arms, you will be engaging your quads, hamstrings and other stabilizers as well.  Realistically, you can do any combination of movements on the BOSU.  Be creative and see what you come up with.

Stay tuned for more advanced BOSU workouts, which include my favourite butt burner exercise.



Jessie Wong, Physiotherapist from the Physio Room


*The exercises provided on this website are for educational purposes only, and are not to be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, or course of action. Exercise is not without its risks, and this or any other exercise program may result in injury. They include but are not limited to: risk of injury, aggravation of a pre-existing condition, or adverse effect of over-exertion such as muscle strain, abnormal blood pressure, fainting, disorders of heartbeat, and very rare instances of heart attack.

To reduce the risk of injury, before beginning this or any exercise program, please consult a healthcare provider for appropriate exercise prescription and safety precautions. The exercise instruction and advice presented are in no way intended as a substitute for medical consultation. We disclaim any liability from and in connection with this program. As with any exercise program, if at any point during your workout you begin to feel faint, dizzy, or have physical discomfort, you should stop immediately and consult a physician.