How balanced are you? I confronted this question last week when I took a cross-country skiing lesson. While learning the kick and glide technique, which requires you to balance on one foot while moving fairly fast, it became apparent that you need a good amount of balance for this sport. On one hand, I was impressed that I had any balance at all; on the other hand, I decided I can use even more. Not only is stabilization needed for many sports and fitness endeavors, it can actually help to prevent injury.
So I committed to strengthening my stabilization endurance (i.e., balance), during my weights routines. I don’t have time for a class that would help (such as Pilates) right now, but I know I can gain more balance right in the weight room.
Finding Ways to be Unstable
Pretty much any exercise you do while standing on the floor can be done using the Bosu or Dynadisc, and of course you can always use your own body. The Bosu and Dynadisc provide an unstable surface that forces you to use your small stabilizer muscles in the upper and lower body. Keep in mind that having a strong core will help any time you need to balance too.
Note: Use caution when learning to use this equipment. Take your time and become accustomed to how it feels to stand on top before attempting exercises.
- Squats, squat jumps, and lunges, squats with shoulder press
- Any upper body exercise while atop the Bosu, such as shoulder presses, triceps extensions, rows, and lateral/front raises.
Dynadisc. For the longest time I could not figure out what to do with this little inflated cushion. I started using it this week and am floored at how challenging it is to stand on. You can add it to virtually any exercise to really amp up the intensity (you can even sit on it!). Put it under one foot or both feet for most cable, dumbbell, or tubing exercises.
Your Own Body. Just doing an exercise while standing on one leg can teach your body how to balance. Try:
- One-legged Romanian deadlift
- Bicep curl standing on one leg
- Power leg lunge
- Single-leg woodchop
- Single-leg hip rotation
Have fun, and feel free to share any other ideas for balance and stabilization that you’ve found to be effective!