Looking for the best bosu ball for your home gym within your budget?
There was a time years ago, when there was only one BOSU Ball. Unfortunately, those days are long gone, and today’s BOSU balls come with a wide range of features.
So which one is best?
In this article I’m going to utilise my 20 years in the fitness industry, working as a personal trainer and gym owner to help you understand the different BOSU balls, who they’re best for and which one to get. By the end you’ll know the best BOSU ball for your home gym.
If you don’t have time to read through the review of each, here’s my top 3 picks…
For what it’s worth, these are all excellent BOSU balls and any will be useful. The reason that they’re in this order is because of improvements in functionality, which I’ll discuss more in the article.
If you are looking for the best BOSU ball on the market, this is the one you want.
The BOSU is rigid enough to provide a good underfoot platform, but forgiving enough to provide sufficient instability. It’s also the strongest and most durable of the BOSU range, with an upper weight limit of 450LB.
The ball has been divided into two sections – a ‘power zone’ with maximum responsiveness and a honeycomb grip, and a smoother section with numbers on for precise foot positioning.
The power zone is stiffer, so you can do more dynamic movements on it such as jumping. The smoother section with the numbers on is for rehab, so you can precisely measure if your range of movement is getting better, for example.
It is reinforced around the base and the general materials have been upgraded. The base is now made of non-slip plastic, so it doesn’t slide all over the place when you’re jumping on and off it at different angles in plyometric drills.
There’s additional user grip to make holding the ball and standing on it safer and more stable. The improved functionality (different sections with adjusted levels of density, for rehab exercises) means the BOSU Elite is the best of the BOSU balls on the market in my opinion.
The price difference between this and the entry level BOSU is 25 bucks and I think that is a worthwhile upgrade for the home gym user.
It’s more versatile because of the different training zones, it adds functionality to your training (the number markings mean you can precisely adjust foot positioning. This helps to refine technique on exercises such as squats and rehab drills) and doesn’t cost the earth.
If you’re looking for something to take your core and accessory training to the next level, this is the one to go for. When you are looking for absolute precision when it comes to technique, having makings on the ball means your body positioning will always be accurate. There’s no guesswork, which is the case with unmarked BOSU balls.
The thicker, more dense rubber it’s made from will withstand the higher impact work you’ll do with it as your fitness and strength reaches elite levels.
When you start adding reaction drills into your training, sports-specific movements such as single-leg squats, jump workouts, weight training and plyometrics, using this ball will help you out.
It’ll last longer, provide more under-foot stability and reduce the injury risk.
Basically, you want to avoid this kind of thing…
When a ball is less stable or even worse, has the potential to slip, the risk of injury is much higher. When you’re jumping onto a ball from different angles and at different speeds, you need to be sure the BOSU ball you’re landing on is going to stay still.
By making the base out of non-slip materials and increasing the grip of the rubber on the ball sectio, BOSU have improved the safety of this model significantly. For these reasons, it’s also the best BOSU to use as a weight training platform.
When you’re working hard and sweating, the extra grip prevents slipping. It gives you something to hold on to whilst you’re training.
The BOSU Elite is the most expensive of the BOSU balls, but it’s the best. It’s the most durable, versatile, responsive and has the highest upper weight limit so it suits even the heaviest users. All of these upgrades are worth the extra money. It’s suitable for the basic home user or the elite athlete, so versatile for all levels of fitness.
The BOSU NEXGEN Pro Balance Trainer is designed to be the mid-range option, better than the most basic versions, but without the cutting-edge features of the BOSU Elite. I think it manages to fit that gap really well.
It is a large step up from the entry level (the non-BOSU branded) models because of the additional grip on the ball. When you consider the kind of dynamic use a BOSU ball gets, you need the grip as a safety feature as well as a performance one.
It has a maximum user weight allowance of 350LB, so it’s well made. It is made from high quality anti-burst rubber and a non-slip, no-mark base. Overall it’s a very well built and solid item of equipment that is more than up to the job.
There are textured quadrants on the ball, which allow for better hand and foot grip when placed in certain spots. This precision placement helps you determine optimum hand and foot position for exercises and drills using the BOSU.
It’ll be suitable for all, without the premium levels of grip, durability and support offered by the Elite BOSU ball. You’ll be able to do pretty much anything on it, but be aware that it won’t be as solid and durable under foot, so when you’re doing the reaction drills, the single leg power work etc it’s not as stable as the Elite.
If you’re a big, heavy and powerful guy then this is definitely something to consider. If you’re less than 180LBS, you’ll probably not really have to worry about it.
The BOSU NEXGEN Pro is a great offering at a reasonable price point. It lacks the extra quality of the elite model, but it’s slightly cheaper. It’s still suitable for almost all home gym use, just bear in mind the upper weight limit of 350LB.
It’s a BOSU ball for the regular exerciser looking for a great solution for additional core exercises and instability training. If you’re bored of crunches and are looking to take things up a notch without blowing a lot of cash, this is ideal for you.
The BOSU NEXGEN Pro is a versatile BOSU ball that will be suitable for home gym use. It’s equally at home with the sports drills or the rehab work, so is versatile and effective. Just bear in mind it has a 350LB upper weight limit, so that reduces the usability for larger exercisers. A great choice if you don’t need the Elite levels of performance.
The BOSU Pro Balance Trainer is the predecessor of the BOSU NEXGEN Pro model that took second place in this review. The differences between the two are essentially in the grip and functionality. It has the same specs as the NEXGEN in terms of materials and max user weight etc.
Whilst there’s no major difference between the two in terms of build quality, the reason the BOSU Pro Balance Trainer took second in this review is because of the functionality and safety upgrade the extra grip of the NEXGEN provides.
A BOSU ball is used in dynamic exercises and with rehab work – grip here isn’t just useful, it’s actually safer. When we exercise, we sweat. The possibility of sweat getting on the ball makes the ball potentially more slippy and therefore dangerous.
The BOSU Pro is still a good ball and if you’re going to be using it as a base for push ups and basic rehab, it’ll do the job very well. If you intend to use it for plyometric drills, dynamic circuits and the like I’d urge you to invest the extra few dollars on a grippier, less slippy BOSU.
The Elite is denser, provides more under foot stability and additional grip, reducing the injury risk. If you’re after a BOSU for basic core, balance and rehab work, this model is absolutely fine.
If you’re after something that is going to push your athleticism to another level and see heavy, powerful and dynamic use, spend bigger and get the Elite.
If your budget is slightly tighter but you still want a BOSU ball for your home gym, this one is still a great ball. It has the reliable original BOSU ball build quality and it is still a very functional ball. You’re not buying a bad ball with this one – it’s still the 3rd best on the market!
Your planks, balance work, instability exercises and the like are just about to dialled up a notch. If you’re in the market for a budget BOSU ball and overlook this one, you’ve missed out. It’s a solid ball for a good price. Don’t buy the super cheap BOSU balls – you’ll just end up replacing it soon.
For basic home use, this is a great model. It’s well made, will last you a long time and you won’t feel like you’ve bought a piece of garbage at all. This ball will support all of your general core work and basic rehab work. If however, you want your BOSU ball to withstand heavy, powerful use then go for the Elite. The extra grip and durability for not much extra money swings it for me.
Before we go any further I have to explain the differences between a stability ball and a BOSU ball. Although they share a commonality, they are very different products with different use cases.
The commonality between the two is that they’re both designed to create an unstable surface for training on. The thinking here is that unstable surfaces challenge the neuromuscular system more, making an exercise more effective.
There is a strong suggestion that unstable surfaces are particularly useful for rehabilitation work.
The word ‘BOSU’ is an acronym of ‘BOth Sides Utilized’, highlighting the fact that it is designed to be used on either side. With a BOSU ball there’s only one round surface – the other half is flat and therefore provides a solid platform, with the instability element coming from the ball.
The two different sides provide different workout environments, increasing the versatility.
A stability ball is a complete ball that comes in a range of sizes. It has a more generalized use case but it’s less practical for rehabilitation work. Rather than going for one OR the other, I’d suggest you buy both. A stability ball is very useful and doesn’t cost much money.
A good BOSU ball has to maintain a firm yet forgiving surface. It needs to be able to support the weight of an athlete jumping on it without collapsing too much, because its effectiveness is in its responsiveness.
It has to maintain its pressure, because if you have to keep pumping it back up every few days it’s a problem.
A good BOSU ball will have grips on both sides – the flat side and the round side. This is to help the person using it to safely work with the ball. Some of the cheaper copies of a BOSU ball will miss out on the grips, especially on the rounded side and that compromises safety and effectiveness.
The grips are best if they’re varied, as in the picture below. There’s distinct types of grips in the rubber, making the ball extra grippy and reducing the chances of users slipping.
The anti-burst technology on a BOSU ball is a must as well. It just gives the user extra peace of mind and reassurance the product is good quality.
On the flat section, anti-slip technology is a nice additional bonus. If you’re going to be bouncing on an unstable surface, the least you want is reassurance it’s not going to be sliding underfoot.
Beyond those features it’s the obvious ones – it has to be well made, the materials have to be good quality and it has to be able to withstand regular, high intensity use from a variety of users. The higher the upper the weight limit, generally the better the BOSU ball.
I’d urge you to always go with BOSU branded balls – the unbranded ones are usually poorly-made copies and don’t last anywhere near as long. They’re also not as safe as the real deal because they lack the stability and build quality.
They’re easy to look after – just keep them inflated and clean and they’ll last you years. Here’s a BOSU Pro Balance Trainer I’ve owned for a decade and it’s still going strong, even after super heavy commercial gym use…
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and for a lot of gym goers, that’s their core. Real core strength is so much more than crunches – it needs to be functionally strong in multiple different directions and be able to resist external force. Finally, it needs to be able to help generate force for powerful movement.
A BOSU ball is a great tool to help build these abilities. It’s also uniquely able to work on balance and rehab exercises. You can perform basic exercises such as planks and push ups on the BOSU, but take them up a notch with the instability element.
I know there was a phase a few years ago where coaches used them as an unstable base for general exercise, but I don’t like it being used for this purpose. I think the risk of falling over and hurting yourself is too high to justify.
The benefits you gain from an unstable surface aren’t enough to risk breaking your neck!
For joint strengthening work, rehab, core exercises and balance training, I think the BOSU ball is fantastic and comes into a world of its own. Just make sure you use the BOSU for the job it is best at and don’t force a use case on it.
The benefits from the instability forces the neuromuscular system to work harder and anecdotally, I believe that it helps to train stabilizing muscles around joints. I don’t use it all the time, but periodically I do exercises such as push ups, core work and plyometric lower body work on the BOSU to challenge the joints more.
This is the best use of a BOSU ball. Think of it as a tool to augment your workout quality, rather than the basis of the whole thing and you’ll get the most from it…
There’s still no replacement for the good honest hard work you’ll do with kettlebells, dumbbells and barbells, but you can supplement these things effectively with BOSU ball training.
BOSU balls have an absolute use case in a home gym, so make sure you are buying the right one. The BOSU balls in this list are all excellent items of equipment and you won’t go wrong with any – just read the advice on each to help you make sure you make the right decision. That way you won’t spend money on something that won’t be a great match for you.
To help you make the buying decision again, here’s my thoughts on the best BOSU balls on the market.