How to improve your surfing with a bosu ball
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Top BOSU ball surf exercises

Here are the best exercises to train outside of the water to improve your surfing, all you need is a bosu ball and a few minutes a day to build the muscle memory.

Surfing is a great way to stay in shape. The resistance the water offers for pretty much all of your movements, the body rotation that’s needed to control your board, and even just the swimming aspect of the sport is enough to help you build muscles like crazy.

There is, however, another side to the correlation between surfing and working out. Most surfers don’t surf for the fitness benefits, but rather do certain exercises in order to improve their surfing skills.

If you’re someone who belongs in the latter category and would like to know a few workout routines that you can do in order to become a better surfer, you’ve clicked on the right link.

What exactly is a BOSU ball

BOSU stands for Bionic Oscillatory Stabilization Unit. This is a very complicated acronym for a very simple piece of exercise equipment. The BOSU ball is, in essence, an exercise ball that’s been cut in half and placed on a flat platform.

Due to the dome shape of the BOSU ball, as well as the rubber material that it’s made out of, it’s exclusively used for balance exercises. The nature of these exercises varies depending on which body part is the focus of the particular workout routine, but it can be used in a wide variety of different ways.

However, despite the many applications that the BOSU ball has when it comes to fitness, what can it realistically offer in terms of improving your surfing skills?

The short answer - a lot.

The long answer is what follows.

The BOSU ball pop-up

The pop-up is the first surfing move that every beginner learns. The entirety of the move consists of quickly transitioning from a lying position on your board, into a pushed upright position, a crouch position on your board, and finally a standing position. The quick implementation of all of these successive actions is referred to as a “pop-up”.

Usually, you would need some kind of body of water in order to properly practice this move, but a BOSU ball can actually work just as well. It won't provide the exact same feeling as the movement of the waves, but it will be a great way to transition from practicing pop-ups on a solid surface and practicing the same thing on the water.

  1. Grab the rim of the BOSU ball platform so that the flat part is turned towards your chest and the rubber sphere is turned towards the floor.
  2. Start out in the initial push up position - arms extended, core tight, and body in a straight line from your head to your feet.
  3. Lower your body until your chest touches the flat part of the ball.
  4. In one fluid motion, push your upper body upwards and bring both of your legs under your chest and place them on the flat side of the ball.
  5. Remain in the crouching position, take your hands off of the rim of the ball, and stabilize yourself.
  6. Jump off of the ball and repeat the exercise starting from step number 1.

You might need a lot of repetitions in order to master even one of these actions without losing your balance, so just keep at it and don’t get demotivated.

Benefits: Practicing this sequence of movements repeatedly will allow you to develop the balance that you require in order to perform the same move on the waves.

BOSU ball surf rail grabs

This is another great exercise that directly contributes to the development of better surfing instincts through repetitive motions.

  1. Place your surfboard on top of the BOSU ball.
  2. Take up your standard surfing position - feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, with the back foot near the fins and the front foot somewhere towards the centre.
  3. Balance on the ball so that both the nose and back of the surfboard aren’t touching the floor.
  4. While still keeping your balance, crouch forward and place one hand on the rail of the surfboard.
  5. Stand back up, all the while maintaining your balance on the ball.
  6. Crouch backwards and this time grab the other rail.
  7. Stand back up.
  8. Repeat.

The objective of this exercise isn’t to perform the rail grabs as quickly as possible, but rather to never lose your balance and touch the floor with any part of the surfboard.

Benefits: Much like the previous workout routine, this particular exercise will directly result in you developing the muscle memory for when you’re going to need to pull off the same move on the water.

BOSU ball push up variations

Push ups are a staple in every workout routine due to how many benefits there are to this one particular exercise, and just how many muscle groups it trains all at once. There are two variations of this exercise that you can do on the BOSU ball.

Explosive push ups

  1. Instead of placing your hands on the floor, grab the rim of the BOSU ball platform so that the flat part is turned towards your chest and you’re pushing the rubber sphere on the floor.
  2. Start out in the initial push up position - arms extended, core tight and body in a straight line from your head to your feet.
  3. Stay in this position for a couple of seconds until you have a steady balance on the BOSU ball.
  4. Start to lower your body until your chest is nearly touching the back half of the BOSU ball.
  5. Push off with enough force to be able to lift the end of the ball off of the ground.
  6. Try and keep your balance as the ball touches the floor again.
  7. Reposition to get a better balance if needed and repeat.

Lateral push ups

  1. Place your left hand on the BOSU ball and your right hand on the floor right next to it.
  2. Your arms should be positioned further apart than the width of your shoulders.
  3. Adopt the standard starting push up position - arms extended, core tight, and body in a straight line from your head to your feet.
  4. Lower your body to the point where your chest is around halfway between the height of the raised right hand that’s on the ball, and the left hand that’s on the floor.
  5. As you push up, raise the left hand that you had on the floor and place it right next to your other hand on the ball.
  6. Keep your left hand on the ball and position your right hand on the floor at the same length away from the ball that your left hand was a few moments ago.
  7. Repeat.

Benefits: Both variations of this exercise can really help you develop all of the muscles that you’ll need in order to do the initial push up from the board more effortlessly when you try and perform a pop-up.

BOSU ball squat variations

Squat jumps are great exercises for developing your explosive power. Doing this workout can really help you take off and move faster when you really need to.

  1. Stand next to the ball so that it’s to your immediate left.
  2. Jump onto the ball and keep your balance while crouching.
  3. Jump off of the ball to your left and crouch.
  4. Jump onto the ball and keep your balance while crouching.
  5. Jump off of the ball to the back and crouch.
  6. Jump onto the ball and keep your balance while crouching.
  7. Jump off of the ball to the front and crouch.
  8. Jump onto the ball and keep your balance while crouching.
  9. Jump off of the ball to your right and crouch.
  10. Repeat.

Rather than paying attention to the number of reps you do, try to focus on properly maintaining your stability while you’re on the ball.

You can perform a dumbbell variation of this exercise by simply holding a dumbbell in each hand while performing the jump squats. This will help strengthen your core muscles even further, but you’ll need to be careful not to overdo it with the weight of the dumbbells.

  1. Stand behind the ball in a crouched stance with a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Jump onto the ball and keep your balance while crouching.
  3. Jump backwards into your initial starting position.
  4. Repeat.

The single-leg squat is a great way of developing better balance, coordination, and core strength.

  1. Place the BOSU ball with the rubber side towards the floor and place one foot on top of the flat side.
  2. If your right foot is on the ball, place your left foot behind your body in a lunge position.
  3. The extension on the lunge is going to depend on you and how flexible you are, but we recommend that you don’t extend your leg too far backwards regardless.
  4. From the lunge position, raise your left leg and stand on the ball with your right leg, bringing your left leg towards the right side of your chest.
  5. Bring your left leg back towards its initial position behind your body.
  6. Do a few reps and then switch which leg is on the ball and which leg is extended behind your body.
  7. During this entire process, you’re going to want to move your arms so that they provide a counter balance to the movement of your legs.
  8. When you’re bringing your left leg up, you should be rotating your body so that your arms are on the left side of your body, and vise-versa.

Benefits: All of these exercises help strengthen the muscles you’ll need to stay on your board and properly control it on the waves. While the exercises themselves are designed to strengthen the glutes and core, the addition of the BOSU ball helps improve your stability with each exercise as well.

BOSU ball stability exercises

Speaking of exercises that enhance your sense of balance, while there are plenty of workout routines that can give you better muscle tone, there are 2 specific exercises that purely focus on the stability aspect.

BOSU ball and Stability discs

Stability discs are simply inflated rubber discs that are used primarily for balance oriented exercises, much like the BOSU balls themselves. They are usually slightly bigger than a dinner plate, and can have more of an oval look to them, depending on the exact type that you get. For this particular exercise, you’re going to need two of these discs.

  1. Place the two discs just in front of the BOSU ball.
  2. The distance between the two discs should be the same as the width of your shoulders.
  3. The distance between the ball and the discs should be about the same distance as well.
  4. Take a crouching stance on the BOSU ball.
  5. Jump on the discs and land with one foot on each disk.
  6. Crouch on the discs and hold that position for a few seconds.
  7. Once you’ve balanced yourself, jump back on to the BOSU ball.
  8. Crouch on the ball and hold that position for a few seconds.
  9. Repeat.

BOSU ball jump twist and stabilise

A medicine ball is recommended for this particular exercise, but seeing as how not many people have one of those, the second-best option is to go into your garage and dig up any old football or basketball that you have lying around somewhere.

  1. Grab your ball of choice and stand on the BOSU ball.
  2. Take on a crouching stance on the BOSU with your arms fully extended in front of your body and holding onto the basketball or football.
  3. Jump and rotate your body to the left or the right.
  4. Land and take up the same crouching and arms extended position.
  5. Repeat.

Benefits: The 2 exercises in question will still provide an increase in core and leg strength, but their primary purpose is to get you ready for staying on your board even on faster breaking waves.

Full body BOSU ball exercises

The final two exercises that we’ll cover are great for engaging a lot of different muscle groups and are both a great choice for anyone who wants to stick to only a few exercises but still wants to see significant results.

BOSU ball kettlebell swing

As you might have guessed from the name of this exercise, you’re going to need to go and get a kettlebell before we can get started.

  1. Turn the BOSU ball over so that the rubber sphere is pressed into the floor and the flat platform is turned up towards you.
  2. Take the kettlebell in your hands and step onto the flat side of the BOSU ball.
  3. Make sure that your core is engaged and that you have a good sense of balance before you start.
  4. Straighten your back and neck, and pull your shoulders down.
  5. Grasp the kettlebell firmly with both hands.
  6. Lift the kettlebell slightly up and allow it to swing down and between your legs.
  7. As it’s swinging down bend your knees, but don’t go into a crouch.
  8. Dive your hips forward and use the momentum to swing the kettlebell back up to around chest height or a bit lower.
  9. Swing it back down and repeat the sequence.

As you’re doing this workout routine, remember that your core should be engaged, your hips should do most of the heavy lifting, and your arms are only there to hold the kettlebell, not to lift or push.

BOSU ball 1 arm dumbbell squat

We promise that this is the last time that we ask you to go and find a piece of equipment that you’ll need aside from the BOSU ball. As you go and look for a dumbbell, make sure that it’s not that heavy, since you’re going to be using it with just one hand, and it might make you lose your balance if you overdo it on the weight.

  1. Turn the BOSU ball over so that the rubber sphere is pressed into the floor and the flat platform is turned up towards you.
  2. Take the dumbbell in one hand and stand on the flat side of the BOSU ball with your feet around shoulder-width apart.
  3. Extend your arm fully and lift the dumbbell over your head.
  4. Hold the dumbbell in this position.
  5. Make sure that your core is engaged and that your back and neck are straight.
  6. Start slowly lowering your body into a crouch until you’re able to touch the rim of the flat part of the BOSU ball that’s immediately in front of you.
  7. Slowly stand back up into your initial position.
  8. Repeat.
  9. Change hands after a few reps and repeat the exercise again.

Benefits: Both of these exercises are great for strengthening your core, glutes, hamstrings, back, deltoids, arms, and shoulders. The other benefit lies in the fact that both of these are phenomenal exercises for stability and posture, on top of training your body to handle more dynamic movements and making you a bit more flexible.


All of these workout routines are great for certain muscle groups when they’re done on their own. However, when you introduce the element of the BOSU ball into the mix, you get exercises that develop your muscles along with your stability on the board.

Keep in mind that if any of the mentioned exercises seem a bit too tricky, you can just start out a bit slower. Even if all you do is a few regular squats on the BOSU ball, the added difficulty will really go a long way in improving your skills as a surfer bit by bit. 

Honestly that’s all you can really expect - a little improvement each day.

Written by
Jeremy Dean
surf coaching