Train Smart to Run More with the BOSU®

By: Carol Teteak

Endurance events such as 5K’s, triathlons and half- or full-marathons seem to be available almost every weekend from March through November and offer something for every fitness level. On the other hand, the growing popularity of extreme adventure racing brings about a completely different set of challenges to the mind and body with uneven terrains, mud, obstacles and teamwork. No matter which suits your fancy, establishing a strong physical base of support will help reduce the risk of injury and promote a solid performance.

Cardio training alone isn’t enough to prepare your body for the rigors of these endurance events; the movements and muscles involved must be considered as well. Behind the scenes, the joints and muscles throughout the body are actually working in all 3 planes of motion (sagittal, frontal and transverse), with mobility and stability simultaneously putting great demands on the musculoskeletal system. Although running is typically performed in the sagittal plane (legs and arms moving forward and back), limiting a conditioning program to exercises that only challenge the body in that plane would be unproductive. Our bodies depend upon complex interactions to maintain postural control, joint strength and dynamic stabilization when we are walking, running, increasing or reducing speed, cutting and changing direction, so it only makes sense to train accordingly. Based on this, a smart conditioning program should also include strength training for the foot, ankle, hip, trunk and upper back, and neuromuscular training to enhance balance, agility, coordination and power. The BOSU® Balance Trainer can help establish the strength and neuromuscular efficiency required for optimal running performance by challenging all of these body parts and variables simultaneously. Additionally, the unique, dynamic surface of the BOSU® Balance Trainer provides the proprioceptive challenges (i.e. awareness of body position) our muscles and joints need while keeping our total body fully engaged. 

Below are 8 fundamental exercises using the BOSU® Balance Trainer that can be incorporated into a regular routine to aid in reaching your running goals and keep you running more. Perform each exercise in control and with good posture for 1 - 3 sets of 8 - 16 repetitions. Make sure you perform the single leg exercises on both the right and left sides for the same number of repetitions and sets. Exercise #1, #4 and #7 can be timed in 10 - 30 second intervals. Gradual progression in sets, repetitions, load and time should be based on your ability and fitness level. Listen to your body and adjust any exercise that isn’t comfortable for you.

If you need more exercise ideas using the BOSU® Balance Trainer for cardio, strength, neuromuscular or flexibility training, visit for Official BOSU® Exercises, Fitness Enthusiast DVDs, or Fitness Pro DVDs.


1. Single Leg Balance

Target Body Parts: Foot and ankle
Target Training: Balance and dynamic stabilization
Challenge: Move lifted leg in all directions (not pictured)

Single Leg Balance


2. Lateral Lunge with Single Leg Balance

Target Body Parts: Foot, ankle and hip complex
Target Training: Strength, dynamic stabilization, agility and balance
Challenge: Extend into single leg balance on Balance Trainer from lunge

Lateral Lunge


3. Bulgarian Lunge with Optional Hop

Target Body Parts: Hip, thigh, ankle and foot
Target Training: Strength, dynamic stabilization, coordination and optional power
Challenge: Add hop with front leg

Bulgarian Lunge


4. Kneeling Balance with Battling Ropes

Target Body Parts: Hip complex, upper body and core
Target Training: Dynamic stabilization, coordination and power
Regress: Touch toes to floor behind Balance Trainer

Kneeling Balance


5. Seated Balance with Kettlebell Rotation

Target Body Parts: Core and upper body
Target Training: Core strength, dynamic stabilization and balance
Regress: Keep one foot on floor

Seated Balance


6. Rotational Crunch

Target Body Parts: Core
Target Training: Core strength, coordination and dynamic stabilization
Regress: Keep both feet on floor

Rotational Crunch


7. Plank with Optional Push/Pull

Target Body Parts: Core and upper body
Target Training: Core strength and dynamic stabilization
Challenge: Maintain stability while pushing Balance Trainer away from body then toward body



8. Single Leg Hip Bridge

Target Body Parts: Foot, ankle and hip complex
Target Training: Strength and dynamic stabilization
Regress: Keep both feet on Balance Trainer

Hip Bridge

Carol Teteak, MS, NASM-PES, ACE-CPT, is the BOSU® & Hedstrom Fitness Trade Show Coordinator, and Fitness Coordinator at Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness, Woodridge, IL


posted on May 17, 2016 5:27:25 PM EDT
Thank you for the helpful exercises! They make ordinary exercises more challenging!

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