While most people don’t spend much time thinking about their balance, good balance is needed to perform simple tasks like leaning over to tie your shoelaces, getting out of a chair, or walking. Good balance plays an even more critical role when it comes to athletic performance. Many of the movements used in sports like martial arts require a good deal of balance to execute.
A good balance training program involves performing exercises that help to strengthen muscles that keep your body stable, like the muscle tissues in your core and legs. Balance exercises range in intensity from simple movements most people can perform to challenging poses you might have to work up to, such as advanced Yoga poses. Equipment like a balance ball and a stability ball also helps to target your stabilizer muscles.
Some of the main muscle groups that balance training targets include:
- Core: Balance training exercises often target your abdominal and other deep core muscles. Strong core muscles are essential for good balance.
- Legs: Your legs help to keep the rest of your body upright, so strengthening them helps to improve balance.
- Glutes: Strong glutes help to improve stability, and they also improve explosive movements.
- Back: Your back muscles make up part of your core, and they help with stability. Strengthening back muscles also helps to improve your posture, leading to improved balance.
Simple Balance Training Exercises
Now that we’ve gone over how crucial good balance is and how balance training strengthens your core, let’s take a look at some simple balance training exercises you can integrate into your workout routine:
1) Sumo Squat With Outer Thigh Pulse
This exercise forces your core muscles to work to keep you balanced while strengthening your lower body. You can make the exercise more challenging by holding on to dumbbells when performing the motions. Here’s what it looks like:
- Start in a wide squatting stance with your feet at a 45-degree angle.
- Lower your hips while bending your knees to perform a sumo squat. Keep your upper body straight while dropping down.
- Return to the starting position and extend one of your arms and the opposite leg. Hold the position while pulsing your legs up and down a few inches for about three seconds.
- Return to the starting position and repeat the squat. Extend your other arm and leg this time to complete a rep.
2) Plank With Plane Arms
This exercise helps to build your core strength and improves your stability. You can increase the difficulty by bringing your feet together. Here’s how you perform this modified version of the plank:
- Start in a high plank position with both hands extended right under your shoulders.
- Engage your core and keep your hips stable as you lift one of your arms straight ahead of you.
- Move the extended arm to your side in an arc parallel to the ground while keeping it elevated. Extend the arm to your front once again before returning to the starting position.
- Perform the motion with your other arm to complete a rep. Aim for about ten reps in each set.
3) Weighted Balance Ball Squats
Squats are an excellent way to strengthen your core, quads, and glutes simultaneously. Adding weights to the exercise and performing it on a balance ball helps improve your stabilization, balance, and strength. This balance exercise helps to increase athletic performance. Here’s how to perform a weighted ball squat:
- Position a balance ball ahead of you with the round side on the ground and flat side up.
- Use a barbell, weighted vest, or dumbbells to add weight to the exercise.
- Stand on the balance ball and get into a squat starting position with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart.
- Perform a squat dropping down until your thighs and shins form a 90-degree angle. Return to the starting position to complete a rep. Aim for 12 reps in each set.
4) Standing Crunch With Under Leg Clap
This exercise involves clapping your hands during a static hold. It makes balancing on one leg a lot more challenging than you could ever imagine. You can increase the intensity of the exercise by holding on to weights as you perform the motions. Here’s what it looks like:
- Start while balanced on one leg with the other held in front of you. Your knee should form a 90-degree angle, and your hands should be together overhead.
- Clap your hands under the raised leg while crunching forward.
- Return to the starting position and repeat the motion ten times before alternating with your other leg.
5) Single-Leg, Cross-Body Punches
This exercise gives the stabilizer muscles in your legs and your core a good workout while helping to strengthen your shoulders and arms. It’s easy to perform, and it even helps to increase the power in your punches. You can perform the exercise on a balance ball to increase its intensity.
Here’s how to perform it:
- Start holding two dumbbells at chest height.
- Drop into a single-leg, quarter squat position.
- Keep one leg elevated off the ground while you throw controlled cross-body punches with your hands. Focus on keeping your balance and not resetting the elevated leg while performing the exercise.
- Alternate legs to complete a rep.
6) Banded Triplanar Foot Taps
This exercise helps to improve your core strength while forcing you to balance on one leg. It also forces you to work against a resistance band while trying to remain balanced. You can increase the intensity of the exercise by dropping into a deeper squat when performing it. You can also make the exercise easier by not using a resistance band. Here’s what it looks like:
- Position a resistance band right above your knees and drop down to a single-leg, quarter squat.
- Keep your weight on one leg and elevate the other.
- Move the elevated leg forward, to the sides, and behind you without letting it touch the ground. Your hip and core muscles will be activated to help keep you balanced as the resistance band hinders your movements. Alternate legs to complete a rep.
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