Have you ever seen those blue half-balls in the gym and wondered what they were for? They’re called BOSU balls and can be used for a wide range of exercises. I often use them to get participants’ heart rates up during HIIT classes, help clients improve their balance, and for my own functional and strength training workouts. The circuit I’m sharing today is focused on improving balance and core stability.
The BOSU ball provides an unstable surface to challenge your balance more than exercises on the ground would. In order to successfully complete this circuit, you’ll need to recruit your core muscles in addition to staying mentally focused. Feel free to complete these moves all at once in a balance circuit or to build up over time! The moves are presented in ascending order of difficulty. If you choose to do these moves in order in a circuit, try each for 30 seconds per leg. Perform 1-3 times through.
- Single-leg extension. Stand on one foot with your lifted leg bent at a 90-degree angle in front of you. Extend your lifted leg until it’s straight. This exercise provides an excellent introduction to single-leg balance and also challenges your quadriceps and hip flexors.
- Single-leg deadlift. Stand on one foot with your lifted leg lengthened behind you. Hinge forward and lower the torso as you straighten the back leg. Keep a neutral spine and strong core the entire time. This is one of my favorite exercises to improve stability. You’ll use your core to keep your torso even as you hinge forward and back, and the muscles around the ankle and knee will work to support those joints as you move the upper body forward and back.
- Single-leg stand on the BOSU – ball side up. Leave the blue ball side up and step right in the middle of the BOSU. Your task is to balance here and stay as still as possible. For a beginner-friendly variation, option to kickstand one leg. You will still keep the majority of your weight in your straightened leg, but you’ll feel a little more stable with two feet on the ball. This move will activate the muscles around your ankles and invite you to stabilize your foot.
- Single-leg stand on the BOSU – ball side down. This variation of a single-leg stand is likely going to be a bit more challenging than our last variation. You’ll keep one foot right in the middle of the BOSU ball and work to keep your balance without letting the BOSU ball roll around too much underneath you. You’ll need to recruit your core muscles here; your glutes will also be on fire!
- Single-leg deadlift on the BOSU – ball side down.The entire circuit has been working toward this challenge move that will test your balance, focus, and leg stability! You’ll keep one foot planted in the center of the BOSU and move into the same single-leg deadlift movement you perfected on the ground while trying to keep the BOSU as still as possible. Your standing leg and core will work hard to stabilize you!
I hope you enjoyed this progressive balance circuit! Building up this type of balance can take time, so be patient with yourself if you fall out of a movement. Like most things in life, balance will improve with practice. It also tends to be one of the fastest improvements I see with clients. Perform this circuit one to three times a week to efficiently build your balance!
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Photo: Maille O’Donnell