by: Yuri Elkaim

The 13 Bosu Ball Ab Exercises That Are Actually Safe to Do

It’s easy to glance at some pieces of gym equipment – especially those that look like a sliced-in-half stability ball – and assume they’re just another passing fad.

That’s because more often than not they are.

But that odd half-stability ball? It deserves a second look.

That half-ball is called a BOSU and it’s a half-dome, half-platform that’s designed to help improve stability, mobility, reflexes, and fitness in exercisers of all ages.

Its name stands for “both sides utilized” or “both sides up,” because it can be used either lying face-down on its platform side or on its domed side.

Its unique shape makes it perfect for adding versatility to any workout routine, especially when used to target the core, which is one of the most important muscle groups in the body.

Read on to discover the benefits of this nifty half-ball, and why you should use it to sculpt toned abs.

Balance, Stability, and Core

One of the best things about working with a BOSU ball? It can ramp up your core work big-time, as well as help you to strengthen your stabilizer muscles and improve your balance.

You can thank the unstable surface of the ball for these effects, which in some cases causes you to activate more core muscles than other “standard” abdominal exercises like the crunch.

Here’s the cool thing: exercises like planks (and all their variations) actually activate your ab muscles more than exercises like crunches that involve flexing (1). And when you do them on the BOSU’s unsteady surface, they take those planks to the next level, building tight and strong ab muscles.

Improve Your Balance

Considering that core strength dictates our ability to balance, it goes without saying that working with a BOSU ball can help improve it.

This is because each exercise done with the BOSU engages the stability muscles throughout your body – including your core – helping to keep your spine in proper alignment.

When the core is strong and tight, it acts as a cushion and a stabilizer for your entire skeletal system, with a greater ability to hold yourself upright and/or catch yourself if you find yourself on unstable ground.

The BOSU ball is even effective in increasing stability and mobility in older adults, with a study showing that just 12 weeks of training with a BOSU ball improved static and dynamic balance, as well as postural stability (2).

Keep Your Workouts Fun

Boredom is a big deal when it comes to sticking with any fitness regimen.

That’s because when you get bored, it’s easy to lose your motivation. And when you reach that point, it then becomes difficult to even get yourself to the gym, much less push yourself hard enough to see tangible results.

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It turns into a vicious cycle, with diminished results leading to even less motivation. And before you know it, you’ve fallen out of the exercise habit.

The beauty of BOSU ball exercises is that yes, they’re unique (which is refreshing), but they also require a good deal of mental concentration.

Any movement that requires balance requires focus. In other words, you can’t do BOSU exercises on autopilot. You have to pay attention.

This helps stop the boredom factor and it also makes time fly by, since you’re more focused on doing the exercise correctly and maintaining form than you are daydreaming about getting home or what you’re having for dinner.

The 13 Best BOSU Ball Ab Exercises

Still skeptical that you can get a strong core with nothing but a ball (with a flat side no less)? Trust me, you’ll be a believer after trying out some of these BOSU ball exercises for abs.

Check out the exercises, and then get started with the killer workout at the bottom of this post.

1. BOSU Planks

BOSU Ball Ab Exercises - BOSU Plank

Holding a plank on your BOSU ball will challenge your balance, engaging your stability muscles not only in your core, but throughout your upper body as well.

How to do it:

  • Begin by placing your ball dome-side down on the floor.
  • Come into a plank position, placing your hands on either side of the ball’s rim. Make sure your hands are directly beneath your shoulders and that your hips stay lifted.
  • Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

Beginners: Work up to planking on the BOSU ball by working on regular planks, or by doing elevated planks with your hands on a stability ball.

2. BOSU Side Plank

BOSU Ball Ab Exercises - Side Plank

(Image: Fit Nation Magazine)

Side planks take on a new (challenging!) twist when performed on a BOSU ball. This exercise engages nearly every muscle along your sides, pulling in your obliques like a corset to tighten up your core. The instability of the BOSU also challenges your core stability muscles.

How to do it:

  • Place the BOSU’s flat side on the floor. Get into a side plank position with your elbow on top of the ball, elbow directly under your shoulder. Stack your feet on top of one another.
  • Keep your hips lifted, holding this position for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

If you’re having trouble balancing, place one foot in front of the other on the ground instead of stacking them.

3. BOSU Twisting Plank

BOSU Ball Ab Exercises - Twisting Plank

(Image: Pop Sugar)

Twisting planks target your entire core, with extra emphasis on your oblique muscles due to the twisting motion of your hips.

How to do it:

  • Begin by placing your ball dome-side down on the floor.
  • Come into a plank on the ball, placing your hands on either side of the rim directly beneath your shoulders.
  • Engage your core and cross your right knee beneath you toward your left shoulder.
  • Return to your plank and repeat on the other side.
  • Alternate for 15 to 20 reps.

Beginners: Hold a standard plank on your ball for 30-60 seconds.

4. BOSU Plank Leg Lifts

BOSU Ball Ab Exercises - BOSU Plank Leg Lift

(Image: Womanista)

Plank leg lifts have all the core-tightening benefits of the plank, coupled with some extra glute and back action.

How to do it:

  • Begin with your ball’s flat side on the floor. Come into a plank position on your elbows on the center of the ball.
  • Once you find your center, engage your core and glutes and lift one leg.
  • Lower and repeat, alternating sides for 10 to 15 lifts on each side, holding for a second at the top of each lift.

Beginners: Hold a regular plank on the ball or do plank leg lifts on the floor without your BOSU.

5. BOSU One-Leg Bridge

BOSU Ball Ab Exercises - 1-Leg Glute Bridge

(Image: Womanista)

Bridges are fantastic for working the muscles of your posterior chain, which includes your glutes, low back, core, and hamstrings. The additional balance challenge from using a single leg will also engage your oblique stabilizer muscles.

How to do it:

  • Begin with your ball flat on the floor. Lie down on your back and place your feet on top of the ball.
  • Raise one leg toward the ceiling and push your hips skyward by engaging your glutes and core. Lower, then push your hips up again before touching the floor.
  • Repeat for 10 to 15 reps on each leg.

Beginners: Perform the bridge on both legs on the ball, or try the single-leg bridge on the floor before moving on to the ball.

6. BOSU Mountain Climber

BOSU Ball Ab Exercises - BOSU Mountain Climber

(Image: Women’s Health)

The BOSU mountain climber will work your entire lower body alongside your core and arms, while also getting your heart rate up.

How to do it:

  • Begin by coming into a plank position on your BOSU with the dome side on the floor.
  • Making sure you have a firm grip on either side of the platform and that your hands are directly beneath your shoulders, draw one knee in toward your chest.
  • Extend your leg back to plank position and draw in the opposite knee.
  • Alternate for 20 to 30 reps.

Beginners: Hold a static plank on the BOSU, or try the mountain climbers on the ground without the BOSU.

7. BOSU Bird Dog

BOSU Ball Ab Exercises - BOSU Bird Dog

(Image: Oxygen Magazine)

The BOSU bird dog not only strengthens the stability muscles in your obliques, shoulders, and low back, but also engages your glute muscles.

How to do it:

  • Begin by placing your ball flat-side down on the floor. Now come onto the ball on your hands and knees.
  • Find your balance and slowly extend your right arm, while simultaneously extending your left leg behind you.
  • Draw them in, then extend your opposite arm and leg, alternating for 10 to 12 reps on each side.

Beginners: Start by extending just one leg, or even just an arm until you feel comfortable extending both.

8. BOSU Elevated Push-Ups

BOSU elevated push-ups build your upper body strength, while also challenging your stability and core strength. The elevated and unstable surface guarantee a ton of muscle engagement.

How to do it:

  • Begin by placing your ball dome-side down on the floor in front of a low bench or chair.
  • Now, come into a plank position with your hands on either side of the ball platform. Extend your legs out and place your feet on top of the bench or chair.
  • Lower into a push-up, being sure to keep your elbows in and your spine straight throughout the movement.
  • Perform 10 to 20 reps.

Beginners: Hold an elevated plank with your feet on the dome side of the ball.

9. BOSU Wobbly Plank

Wobbly planks are super challenging not only for balance improvement, but also upper body strength and stability.

How to do it:

  • Begin by placing your ball dome-side down on the floor.
  • Come into a plank position on the platform, your hands firmly grasping either side.
  • Now, start to gently sway to one side, keeping your feet firmly planted and bending your elbows just slightly. Sway as far to one side, then the other, as you can (kind of like a side-to-side push-up)
  • Repeat for 10 to 20 reps.

Beginners: Hold a plank on the platform and sway just a few inches.

10. BOSU Walking Plank

BOSU walking planks will sculpt your shoulders, trcieps, and upper back while engaging your core.

How to do it:

  • Begin by placing your ball flat-side down on the floor.
  • Come into a plank position with your hands on the dome of the ball, shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower onto your right elbow, then follow with your left. Push back up with your right arm.
  • Now, lower onto your left elbow, followed by your right, then push back up with your left arm.
  • Continue to alternate sides for 20 to 30 seconds.

Beginners: Hold a plank on your elbows on the ball.

11. BOSU Dead Bug

The BOSU dead bug really engages your lower core and challenges your obliques.

How to do it:

  • Begin by placing your ball flat-side down on the floor.
  • Lie face-up on the ball with your back following the curve. Raise your knees to a 90-degree angle and your arms overhead.
  • Now extend your right arm behind your head, while simultaneously extending your left leg out in front of you. Keep you belly button pulled in toward your spine.
  • Repeat, alternating side, for 20 reps.

Beginners: Hold the dead bug position without extending your arms or legs, or extend only your arm, or only one leg.

12. BOSU Elevated Feet Plank

BOSU Ball Ab Exercises - BOSU Elevated Feet Plank

BOSU elevated feet planks work your entire upper body along with your core. The fact that your feet are placed on the ball’s unstable surface of the ball brings your lower body stability muscles into the action as well.

How to do it:

  • Begin by placing your ball dome-side down on the floor, so that the platform is facing up.
  • Now, come into a plank position in front of the ball and, one by one, place both feet onto the center of the platform.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

Beginners: Hold an elevated plank with your feet on the dome side of the ball.

13. BOSU Knee to Elbow Plank

BOSU Ball Ab Exercises - Knee to Elbow Plank

The BOSU knee-to-elbow plank is a killer exercise for your obliques, which will draw in your entire core and enhance stability.

How to do it:

  • Begin by placing your ball platform-side down on the floor.
  • Now, come into a plank position on the ball with your elbows on the dome.
  • Bring one knee up toward your outer elbow, then return to your plank.
  • Repeat with your opposite knee, alternating for a total of 20 to 25 reps.

Beginners: Try mountain climbers on the BOSU instead.

Try This Ab-Blasting BOSU Ball Workout

Below is a quick 15- to 20-minute ab workout using your BOSU ball and some of the exercises listed above. Switch up the exercises to keep your body guessing as you perform this routine 2 to 3 times a week.

Complete each circuit two times through with a one-minute rest between circuits. Don’t forget to warm up first with a 5- to 10-minute dynamic warmup.

Circuit One

  • BOSU Planks (hold for 30 to 60 seconds)
  • BOSU Bird Dog (10 to 12 reps on each side)
  • BOSU Plank Leg Lifts (10 to 15 reps on each leg)
  • High Knees (45 seconds)
  • Rest one minute

Circuit Two

  • BOSU Single-Leg Bridge
  • High Knees (45 seconds)
  • BOSU Side Plank (30 second hold on each side)
  • BOSU Twisting Planks (15-20 reps)
  • BOSU Elevated Pushups (10-15 reps)
  • Rest one minute

BOSU Ball for Abs is a Win

Chances are, that innocent-looking ball will have your entire core feeling the burn for the next couple of days.

However, the trade-off will be a sculpted core that stabilizes your entire body and helps prevent injuries during any type of training you do in the future.

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Yuri Elkaim

Yuri Elkaim

Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.