For cyclists, well-developed balance and rock-solid stability are essential, not only to the performance aspects of your ride (think: bike-handling skills) but also to feel confident when flying down a fast descent or cornering at high speed.
That’s why balance training is so important, and equipment like a can provide an added challenge.
“The BOSU is a super-versatile piece of training equipment that takes up very little storage space and can take your workouts to a whole new level when it comes to impactful cardio, core-focused movements, balance, coordination, and strength training, “ says , a certified personal trainer based in Los Angeles.
Adding an element of controlled instability to your strength training regimen with a BOSU trainer sharpens your sensory feedback systems by requiring your muscles, stabilizers, and counter-balancing forces to work together.
Training on an unstable surface also enhances proprioception—your body’s awareness of where your limbs are in space—and builds coordination and neuromuscular function. “Your neurology strengthens its transmission between your stability muscles and your brain to better coordinate the adjustments needed to maintain balance and control,” says , a certified personal trainer in Los Angeles.
This sharp sense of balance not only translates to increased movement quality and efficiency on the bike, but it also helps in our day-to-day lives. “Stability is one of the most vital training components to work on and continuously improve no matter what your goals are in and out of the gym setting,” says Miller.
The best part is that you can use this one piece of equipment for an entire full-body workout. “Whether you’re boosting up a high-intensity exercise by adding instability to your movements or recovering stability in your core and joints, the BOSU is an incredibly useful tool,” says Farenga.
How to use this list: Review the list of BOSU exercises below. Each is demonstrated in the video above by , certified personal trainer and cyclist so you can learn the proper form. Perform each for the number of reps or time listed. Repeat the set 2 to 3 times per week on strength-training days to build strength and balance, both on and off the bike.
Once you’ve mastered the main workout, you can opt for the progression listed with each exercise to add an even greater challenge.
Single-Leg Glute Bridge
How to do it: Start by lying faceup, and placing the right foot on the top of the dome with the platform side facing down and knees bent. Extend the left leg straight. Engage your core and squeeze your glutes as you push through right heel to lift your hips up toward the ceiling using the right leg, keeping the left leg straight. Aim for a 90-degree bend in the right leg at the top of the movement, and don’t arch your low back. You should feel the exercise in your glutes and hamstrings. Perform 15 to 20 reps per side.
How to make it harder: Perform this movement with the dome side down, and place the planted foot on the center of the platform.
Pro tip: “If you wanted to make that even more challenging I would consider adding a mini band across the thighs to increase burn in the abductors,” says Miller.
How to do it: With the dome side down, start in a high plank position gripping the platform with your wrists under shoulders. The center of the dome should line up with the center of your chest. Keeping your core and your glutes engaged, pull one knee at a time toward chest, alternating as if you’re running in place. Perform this movement as quickly as you can while maintaining core engagement and preventing your body from shifting side to side. Perform as many reps as possible for 1 minute.
How to make it harder: Add resistance in the form of ankle weights or an ankle-secured resistance band.
Pro tip: “Keep your upper body weight over the BOSU and secure your hands, pressing slightly toward the ground,” advises Farenga. “This will help you use your core muscles instead of just your shoulders. Keep the hips down.”
Bulgarian Split Squat
How to do it: With feet shoulder-width apart and a long stance, place the right foot on the center of the dome. Once you feel stable, bend both knees and lower your body towards the floor until the left leg is at about a 90-degree bend. Make sure your stance is long enough to allow the left knee to remain centered over the ankle and not move past the toes. Push back up through the heel of the left foot until both knees are straight. This is one rep. Perform 12 to 15 reps on each leg.
How to make it harder: Perform this movement with the dome side down and the back foot in the center of the flat surface.
Pro tips: “Be sure to avoid allowing the front knee from tracking too far in front of the toes by lowering into the split squat perpendicularly, meaning both knee joints bend at the same rate,” says Miller. “Only use the back leg for support, don’t push off of it for maximum benefit,” adds Farenga.
Lateral Lunge to Single-Leg Balance
How to do it: Start standing next to the BOSU, dome-side up. With both feet facing forward, take a big step to the left and place left foot on top of the dome. Send hips back and bend left knee while keeping your right leg straight to perform a lateral lunge. Keep your torso as upright as possible and don’t let the left knee move past the toes. Push through the heel of the left leg until you are standing on top of the dome while lifting the right knee to a 90-degree bend. Hold and balance for 1 to 2 seconds, then place the right foot back into the starting position. This is one rep. Perform 12 to 15 reps on each leg.
How to make it harder: Move the right leg from center out the side and back to center while balancing on the dome. Repeat on other leg.
Pro tip: “Secure all four corners of the foot that is on the BOSU, and use the bridge of your foot to help you engage from the foot through thigh and core,” says Farenga.
How to do it: Lie faceup with your lumbar spine centered over the top of the dome, with both knees bent and the feet flat on the floor hip-distance apart. With your neck in a neutral position, place fingertips at your temples with the elbows open. Lift the right leg until the right knee is stacked vertically over the right hip while simultaneously rotating your trunk and lifting the left elbow toward the right knee. Hold for 1 to 2 seconds then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side, and perform 15 to 20 reps per side.
How to make it harder: Lift both feet off the floor and extend the leg that would have remained on the floor.
Pro tip: “Check in with your posture every rep when you come through the center to switch sides,” Farenga advises. “Be sure you have both sit bones secured on the BOSU and that your belly button is sucked in and not protruding forward. Slow and steady is better than fast.”
How to do it: Lie on your side with the forearm resting on the top of the dome. Align your elbow directly under your shoulder. Keeping both legs straight and stacked on top of each other, engage your core and lift your hips off the floor until your body is in a straight line from your ankles through your hips to your shoulders. Hold for 1 minute, and repeat on the other side.
How to make it harder: Raise the top leg while lifting the hips, and keep it elevated during the entire hold.
Pro tips: “Press with your whole forearm and not just your elbow or hand for improved stability,” says Farenga. “Actively engage your bottom leg to support you and flex both feet so the ankles are strong.”
“It is imperative you stack your shoulders and hips in this side plank variation to avoid added pressure on the shoulder joint,” Miller adds. “Don’t forget to breathe!”
High Plank with Platform Tilts
How to do it: With the dome side down, grasp the side handles and align your chest so it is centered over the middle of the platform. Keeping your hands in line with your shoulders, engage your core and lift yourself into a high plank position. Once you feel stable, bend right elbow to slowly tilt the platform to the right, making sure to keep hips stable and core engaged. Return to the centered position and tilt slowly to the left. Continue to repeat. Perform 20 reps per side.
How to make it harder: Lift one leg off the floor while performing the tilts, for 10 reps, then switch and lift the other leg for the next 10 reps.
Pro tips: “Be sure to separate the legs shoulder-width apart to find optimal stability in the lower body as the upper body stacks shoulders over wrists using the “handle” inset on each side of the BOSU’s flat base,” Miller advises.