We’re sure you’ve walked into your gym, eyed people using the BOSU ball and wondered if what they’re doing is actually working. Well, it is, according to a recent study published by the Journal Of Strength and Conditioning – as long as it’s being used the proper way.
In the study, researchers set out to assess the electromyographic activity of the upper and lower abs and the external obliques during situps performed on the BOSU ball. Electromyography (EMG) is a tool used by scientists which measures the electrical activity of the muscles and shows how much the muscles work during specific exercises. Scientists record EMG by placing electrodes over a muscle belly, and the harder the muscle works, the greater the electricity measured on the EMG. Using EMG on key muscle groups, scientists can determine which exercises are best for activating muscles and building size, strength and definition.
They had 24 men participate in a series of tests, in random order, and examined EMG activity on four variations of both bodyweight and weighted sit-ups. The sit-ups were performed with 10 repetitions with body weight and with 10 repetition maximum (10RM) using elastic bands as external resistance under four different conditions:
– On a stable surface
– With a BOSU ball under the low back (upper body instability)
– With their feet on a BOSU ball (lower-body instability)
– With BOSU balls under their feet and under the low back (dual instability)
Their findings were:
– External oblique activation was significantly affected in the dual-instability tests (by 22 to 24%)
– Lower-body instability did not affect muscle activities significantly one either bodyweight or 10RM sit-ups
– The upper and lower abs were significantly increased by upper body and dual-instability sit-ups, by 21 to 24% compared to sit-ups done on a stable surface
The take-home message? Performing weighted sit-ups on with a BOSU ball under your low back can significantly increase the electromyographic activity of the upper and lower abs which, of course, will help you build a stronger and more defined midsection.
Source: Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: December 2014 – Volume 28 – Issue 12