BOSU vs T-Bow vs Stable Surface Training

Training on unstable surfaces Bosu core stability traininghas gained much popularity in recent years. Performing exercises on a Swiss Ball, BOSU Balance Trainer or T-Bow is said to increase muscle activity in stabilizing muscle groups. Therefore it should be more effective than the same exercises performed in stable situations in increasing muscle strength. Scientists from the University of Valencia, Spain set out to test this theory and compare the effects of training on different unstable surfaces with exercises performed on stable surfaces. So which is more effective? Training using a BOSU vs T-Bow vs training on a stable surface?

What have the researchers done?

The researchers recruted 30 healthy young men with at least one year of resistance training experience, but no experience with training on unstable surfaces. The subjects were tested for maximum strength with a 1RM test and muscular endurance with a push up test. The subjects were randomly divided into three groups of 10 subjects each. One group trained on the BOSU Stability Trainer, one group trained on the T-Bow and the last 10 subjects trained on a stable floor and served as a control group. The subjects performed three sets of 10 repetitions of pushups on the BOSU, T-Bow or floor, depending on the group. When their own body weight would not lead to sufficient fatigue in the push up, weight plates were placed on the back to reach the required training intensity. The subjects trained two times a week during an eight week training period.

What were the results?  

The results are depicted in the Figure 1 and 2 below.

Training on unstable surfaces Number of pushups










Figure 1: Effect on number of pushups


1RM Bench Press










Figure 2: Effect on 1RM Bench Press strength

No significant differences were found between groups in pushup endurance and maximum bench press strength.

What did the researchers conclude?  

The researchers concluded that although there were no significant differences between the training conditions, the different training forms were equally effective and could at least be used in maintainance programs. The researchers also noted the positive effects on core strengthening and therapeutic training. (For more information see this article)

What does this mean for me?  

Performing resistance exercises on an unstable surface does not seem to lead to increased endurance or strength compared to a stable surface. However it does not harm progress either and can be very useful for core strengthening and theraputic uses.


-Chulvi-Medrano, I., Martínez-Ballester, E., Masiá-Tortosa, L. Comparison of the effects of an eight-week push-up program using stable versus unstable surfaces. The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy 2012, 7, 6, 586-594.