The legs are one of if not the most important areas of the body to have strong to prevent injuries, improve performance, and improve one’s overall health. Leg strength is so important! Your legs propel you forward when walking, help you get out of a chair after sitting and get you to the top floor of the stairs. They are also the foundation for the rest of the body. Anyone that has sustained an injury to the knee or hips can attest that it’s common for a back or neck pain to start because of the compensations needed to get through the day.
In physical therapy, we are working to create stronger legs for almost any injury that walks in the door because of their importance to the overall health. We have never heard in our careers anyone say that they didn’t want stronger legs or regretted having strong legs. One of our favorite ways to strengthen the legs is using a Bosu Ball.
A Bosu Ball is now a staple in any gym, fitness center or physical therapy clinic that you might find yourself in. It’s a favorite for a full body work out, can be used to upper body, and is an excellent way to improve balance. We used to bosu balls almost daily in the clinic!
What is a Bosu Ball
A Bosu Ball is a genius piece of exercise equipment that is a half ball on one side and flat on the other side. The acronym “BOSU” stands for “Both Sides Up” or “Both Sides Utilized.” It was invented by David Weck in 1999 as a tool to help improve performance and strength.
The great design allows for a variety of uses with athletes, the elderly, and everyone in between for a vast amount of exercises. Some of the Bosu Balls even come with resistance bands for upper extremity exercises as well. Our favorite Bosu Ball is the original one based on the quality material, customer services and durability.
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Why a Bosu Ball is Beneficial for Hip, Thigh, and Calf Strengthening
The Bosu Ball is effective more many different reasons but one of the main reasons is that it provides a total leg workout with almost every move. By utilizing instability, it causes your hip, thigh, and lower leg to work to keep you upright.
Then add in the soft and squishy material and this works the calf, foot, and muscles in the hip hip to keep you upright.
In addition to creating a full body work out, here are some of the other benefits of using a Bosu Ball for exercising:
- Improves Balance
- Improve Core strength and stability
- An increase in lower body co-contraction
- Reduction in re-injury of most lower extremity injuries
- Can provide cardiovascular benefits
- Improvement in proprioception and postural sway
The Best Bosu Ball Exercises for Stronger Legs
Bosu Ball Single-Leg Bridge
The single-leg bridge on a Bosu ball is a great exercise to activate the core, glutes, and hamstrings. Start by lying on the ground with one foot on the center of the Bosu ball and the other leg held suspended in the air. Tighten your abdominals, squeeze your glutes and raise your hips off the ground with your single down leg and slowly lower back to the ground. To make it harder try crossing your arms across your chest for more instability. Try to do 3 sets of 10 on each leg and you might need an exercise mat on the floor to make it more comfortable lying on the ground.
Bosu Ball Squat Holds
Talk about a thigh burner! Start by SAFELY standing on the black side of the bosu ball while holding a weighted medicine ball. Squat down with equal weight in each leg and try to hold a squat position for 20-30 seconds. If you don’t have equal weight in both legs, the Bosu ball with begin to wobble and shake from side to side. Try to do 10 reps and hold as long as you can. To make it harder, try closing your eyes or hold the squat longer.
Bosu Ball Eccentric Step Down
Another leg killer and one of the best ways to build up strength. This exercise is a personal favorite in physical therapy for hip and thigh strengthening, especially for those in competitive sports. Start by standing on the center of the blue side of the Bosu Ball on one leg. Slowly lower yourself down in a single leg squat to touch the heel of your other leg to the floor. Try to maintain alignment of your hip, knee, and 2nd toe on the stance leg throughout the movement. A common compensation is the knee with start to move inward into Valgus. Try doing 3 sets of 10 reps.
Bosu Ball Lunges
One of the best overall exercises to improve leg strength, only much more difficult now on a bosu ball. You can do this exercise with the front or the back leg on the Bosu Ball and get different benefits for each position. Try to lower yourself down so the knee and hip are 90 degrees and keep your leg in proper alignment. Don’t let the front knee track to far in front of the toes and try to maintain an upright trunk position. You should really feel this working the muscles in the thighs and hips.
Bosu Ball Sliders
This is extremely difficult but fun to try, be safe! Start with your stance leg on the Bosu ball and the other leg on an exercise ball, a core slider if on carpet, or even a hand towel on a slick floor. Next balance on the center of the ball and try to slide or roll your other leg sideways as far as you can. Then slowly return to an upright position. This will strengthen your legs quickly! See if you can do a few sets of 10 reps on each leg.
Bosu Ball Bulgarian Split Squats
One of our absolute favorite therapy exercises! This exercise makes you balance, control lateral movement, and vertical movement. This exercise also targets any and all muscles in the leg! Put your front and stance leg in the center of the Bosu ball. Put your back leg or rear leg on an elevated surface. This could be a chair or a coffee table but not very much weight should be placed on the rear foot. This foot is primarily as a balance aid and should not help in the movement up and down. Try to do 2-3 sets of 10 reps.
Bosu Ball Single-Leg Hops
This is a great cardiovascular exercise as well. Make sure that the Bosu Ball is firmly planted on the ground and that it won’t slip out. You may need an exercise mat to prevent it from slipping out. Try to jump up and down on one foot. You can stay in one place or work your way around the ball in a circular motion. Try to go as fast as you can in 30 seconds and get as many hops as possible.
The Bosu ball is a great tool to improve balance, increase fitness, and also a great way to improve overall leg strength. The exercises mentioned in this post are some of the best and most beneficial exercises to improve lower extremity strength. A Bosu ball is a great tool to have in any home gym.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only. This is not a substitute for a medical appointment. Please refer to your physician before starting any exercise program.