Forget planks — this workout uses 5 exercises and a Bosu ball to sculpt your core

a photo of a couple doing a bosu ball workout
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

A well-rounded fitness routine goes beyond just focusing on individual muscle groups; it's about building a strong foundation that enhances overall performance and functionality. When it comes to developing a powerful physique, two key areas are worth spending time on: the upper body and the core.

A strong upper body not only aids in building functional strength but also contributes to better posture and reduced risk of injuries. Meanwhile, the core serves as the body's powerhouse, providing stability and support to almost every movement we make. Strengthening the core not only helps achieve a sculpted midsection, but also improves balance, posture, and athletic performance in various sports and activities.

If you're seeking an effective and challenging workout that targets both the upper body and core, look no further than fitness coach Tara Emerson's bosu ball routine. Combining dynamic exercises with the use of a bosu ball and some of the best adjustable dumbbells, this workout promises to elevate your strength and muscle development.

Fire up your upper body and core in just five moves 

The workout consists of five exercises, with varying rep ranges, and is recommended to be completed for three to four sets.

To unlock the full potential of this workout, you'll need two essential tools: a Bosu ball and a set of dumbbells. The Bosu ball, with its unique half-circle design, challenges your balance and stability, intensifying every movement and engaging your core throughout the routine. As you lift the dumbbells, you'll experience progressive resistance, pushing your muscles to grow stronger and more defined.

Bosu Reverse Crunches

This exercise primarily targets the rectus abdominis, commonly known as the six-pack muscle. To perform, sit on the Bosu ball, balancing on your glutes, and lean back slightly. Engage your core, as you lift your knees toward your chest and perform a crunching motion. 

As you lift, twist your torso to one side, then return to the center and twist to the other side, alternating throughout the set. 

Bosu Bent Over Rear Row to Curl

To perform this exercise, kneel on the Bosu ball and find your balance. Bend forward at the hips while maintaining a neutral spine, and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Engage your back muscles to perform a rowing motion, pulling the dumbbells toward your chest. 

After completing the row, straighten your back and transition into a bicep curl, lifting the dumbbells towards your shoulders. This exercise targets the muscles in your upper back and biceps, helping to improve upper body strength and posture.

Bosu Swimmers Back Extensions

This exercise is an excellent one when it comes to working the muscles in the lower back. To do it, lie on the Bosu ball on your stomach, with your arms and legs outstretched. Engage your core, and lift one arm and the opposite leg a few inches off the ground, before returning to your starting position. Repeat on the other side. 

Here's what happened when a TG staffer did the swimmer exercise every single day for a week

Bosu Bridge Overhead Pull

For this exercise, start by lying on the Bosu ball, with your feet flat on the floor, and your knees bent. Hold a dumbbell in both hands. Engage your core and your glutes to raise up into a glute bridge, pause at the top, and keeping both arms extended, lower the dumbbell back behind you in an overhead press. 

As you bring your arms back up above your body, lower down from the glute bridge. That's one rep. 

Bosu Bridge Chest Fly

Focusing on the chest muscles, this exercise involves lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the Bosu ball while placing the rest of your body, including your upper back and shoulders, on the floor. 

Hold a dumbbell in each hand and lift your hips to form a bridge position. With your arms extended outward, lower the dumbbells towards the ground, keeping a slight bend in your elbows. Bring the weights back up to the starting position, engaging your chest muscles throughout the movement. 

This exercise targets your chest while challenging your core for stability on the Bosu ball.

What are the benefits? 

Emerson's Bosu ball routine offers a time-efficient and effective training session by seamlessly integrating upper body and core training. This combination allows you to engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, maximizing the benefits of each exercise.

While the aesthetic benefits of a sculpted upper body and defined core are appealing, the focus should be on the physical and health advantages. A robust upper body enhances your athletic performance in various sports and exercises, allowing you to lift, push, and pull with greater ease and efficiency. Moreover, a strong core supports the body's foundation, making everyday movements more manageable and reducing the risk of back pain.

Remember to challenge yourself while maintaining proper form, and prioritize balance in your fitness routine by incorporating rest days, allowing your muscles to recover and grow stronger.

More from Tom's Guide

Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.


Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.


She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.