This is something I try to remain respectful of largely due to the extreme popularity of BOSU balls.  For whatever reason, it seems like most personal trainers have a love affair with this workout tool.  Today, I watched a trainer have his sixty year old clients jump from one BOSU ball to another that was about four feet away.  Seems like a good way to permanently injure someone to me.  My framework of thought makes me want to avoid them because they don’t train normal human movement.

BOSU balls are designed to be used for increasing joint stability, proprioception, and largely core stability.  So, that is their purpose.  No more and no less.  The problem comes when people start using them excessively or in dangerous manners.

All exercise should be designed to make you healthier (disease-resistant) and fitter (injury-resistant)  In order to do so, you have to train the body in the manner it is designed to be used.  One major tenet of that is that we typically walk on flat, solid ground.  BOSU balls are gelatinous and domed.  If you do every exercise on the BOSU ball, it is impossible to use enough weight to create enough demand on your muscles to make them grow.  Even something like a bicep curl is harder while standing on a BOSU ball (much less the single-legged deadlifts I’ve seen people do).  If you’re using less weight, you’re creating less stress on your muscle and bringing about less positive adaptation.

Although they can be beneficial from more of a Physical Therapy standpoint by working smaller muscles in the joints, they only work to bring a person back to normal health after an injury or extreme inactivity.  Once you’re normal, the main applications Strength and Conditioning professionals use BOSU balls for are push ups with your hands on a BOSU, putting your feet on the BOSU for glute bridges, and crunches with your back on the BOSU to give you a greater range of motion.  That’s about it.

The worst application of this tool is when ignorant trainers or exercisers decide to compete to see who can do the most cirque du soleil moves on the BOSU.  Doing so will just result in injury and a potential lawsuit.  If you’re a trainer, educate yourself about stability training.  If you don’t, you may end up with a lawsuit on your hands because expert testimony will say that you were being an imprudent trainer if you use the BOSU to the extreme.

If you want to work on stability, focus on things like single-legged or single-armed movements.  Single-legged squats, single-legged romanian deadlifts, standing single-arm cable presses, and standing single-arm cable pulls will get you a long way when it comes to creating a stable body.

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