Balance is an essential component for a healthy life. You need it for activities in your daily life, such as carrying heavy loads, picking something up from the floor, getting out of a chair and going up and down stairs. Balance is not only important for elderly people to reduce the risk of injuries from falls, it also improves athletic performance.
Balance is the ability to maintain the body’s center of mass over its base of support.
For balance core stability is essential. But most core exercises don’t improve balance directly. Leg raises, crunches and bicycles are done lying down and therefore require little in terms of stabilizing the body.
Balancing also requires strong leg and glute muscles.
A good way to practice balance and core strength, is to do exercises on one leg. So maybe next time you are in the gym, try some of the following exercises.
Here are some exercises you can start with:
- Stand on one leg.
- Sit down and get up without using your hands.
- Walk like a stork (lift your knees up in front of you) while trying to keep your hips steady.
Start out by just doing the movement and then progress to using weights. There are also some very challenging yoga poses or equipment such as the bosu and trx to improve your core stability, body balance and agility.
Do these regularly and as you get better, try to hold the positions for longer. You can also close your eyes, and believe me, that is quite challenging!
These exercises are also great if you suffer from back pain. It is low impact and strengthens your core (which includes some of your back muscles).
Once you’ve mastered the above, progress with the following:
- Standing on one leg, pick something up from the floor in front of you.
- Practice squats and lunges without wobbling. As you progress you can add weights. To make this further challenging hold a weight only in one hand.
- Do exercises on one leg, such as a deadlift movement or try shadow boxing on one leg. As you progress, add holding weights.
As mentioned above, you can also add some equipment, such as a bosu (looks like a stability ball chopped in half), trx or Swiss ball:
- Put one foot on a bosu and do lunges.
- Put both feet on a bosu and do squats.
- Stand on one foot on a bosu and lift the other leg in front and behind you.
- Put your feet on a Swiss ball and hold the plank. Add a further challenge by lifting one arm off the floor.
- Put only one foot on a Swiss ball with the other one in the air and hold the plank.
- Put one foot into a trx and do jumping lunges.
Try and practice balance regularly. It’s one of those use it or lose it skills so it should be practiced at all ages. It adds a bit of fun and variety to exercise as well. It won’t take long and you will see how improved balance will add power and strength to your weightlifting and/or athletic performance.