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Bosu ball push ups might not be considered a hardcore or mass building exercise, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be effective. Push ups on a bosu ball help build stability throughout the upper body and torso, and can even be used when rehabbing the shoulder. Below is a brief explanation on how to do bosu ball push ups, how to integrate them into your routine, and some advanced variations you can try.
To do a bosu ball push up, put the bosu ball on the ground so that the hard, flat surface is facing upward. Put your hands on the flat surface as if you were going to be doing a normal push up – just outside shoulder width works well. Ensure that your hands fall on the “middle line” of the bosu ball so that you have relatively even balance.
Put your feet behind you in push up position, though you may want to spread them a little wider than normal for additional stability. Keeping your torso tight and body straight, lower yourself under control until your chest touches the bosu ball. At this point, push yourself back up, returning to the starting position.
Note that due to the round and soft side of the ball being on the ground, your hands will be on a now unstable surface. As such, ensure you have a strong mind-muscle connection and don’t get haphazard with the movement, as this variation is much more difficult than a standard push up.
What sort of rep range you start out with is going to depend on your current strength and muscular activation levels. Some strong guys can get on a bosu ball, feel all out of place, and have a hard time keeping themselves stable. If you need practice in muscular control, start off with sets of 6-8 reps and take at least 90 seconds rest between sets. This will let your nervous system recharge a little, and keeps the sets short enough that fatigue doesn’t become too big of an issue.
If this is still too difficult, reduce the strain more by keeping your feet on the floor and elevating the ball by putting it on a bench or box. If these are still too difficult, then you’re honestly probably not ready for integrating bosu ball push ups into your program quite yet. Spend some time getting stronger, then come back to them.
Once sets of 6-8 reps aren’t giving you trouble anymore, up it to 10-12 reps per set and stay here from this point forward. No matter what level you’re at, do 4-5 sets. Once 4-5 sets of 10-12 reps becomes easy, you can start looking at doing advanced variations of bosu ball push ups.
The biggest problem an exercise like the bosu ball push up has is that while it’s difficult at first, chances are you’re at some point going to get strong enough such that recommended set/reps are too easy. Now is when you can try implementing some advanced variations to increase workout difficulty.
The first and most obvious thing you could do would be to add weight. The movement is a little too unstable to do it with weight plates sitting on your back, because if your torso doesn’t remain perfectly level, there’s a chance they could slide off. However, having a partner drape large chains diagonally across your back would be fine. The best and safest option, though, would be to put on a weighted vest if you have one.
You could also take a cue from the regular push up and simply elevate your feet by putting them up on a box or bench. If you wanted to up the instability factor even more, keep your hands on a bosu ball, but put your feet on a second bosu ball or even a stability ball.
If explosive power and/or improved athleticism are your goal, the plyometric version of the bosu ball push up might be for you. Perform your push up as per normal, but as you come up to the fully extended position, pull the bosu ball off the ground, landing back on the ground with your elbows bent. Some even prefer this version to doing plyo push ups on the ground as the bosu ball absorbs the ballistic shock upon landing.
It might not look as tough as bench pressing with multiple big 45lbs plates rattling on each side of the bar, but bosu ball push ups are no joke. It’s great for stability, CNS activation, improves muscle control, and can even improve athleticism. Pick the version that’s best suited toward your current capabilities and work on improving from there.