When most people think of balance training they often think of yogis, gymnasts, and athletes. Rightfully so, balance training is an integral component of athletic performance. But what most people don’t realize, however, is the importance of balance training for everyday life.
Balance training is frequently overlooked and, in my opinion, underutilized when it comes to having a well-rounded workout regime. It’s a skill that everyone can benefit from–not just athletes– and regular participation in balance training can improve your overall core strength, proprioception, reaction time, mobility and movement patterns, and can even prevent a potentially harmful fall.
According to the World Health Organization, falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide. Although most falls are non-fatal, about 37.3 million falls each year are severe enough to require medical attention .
Regardless of age, learning how to improve your balance increases your overall strength and decreases your chances of falling in the future. If you want to improve balance and strength the American Heart Association suggests that balance exercises be done every day, as many days as you like, and as often as you like. However, older adults that are at risk of falls should carve out some time to participate in balance training at least three times per week . Here is how to improve core strength with balance training…
Best Balance Training Exercises
You can learn how to improve your balance and strength by doing this simple and effective balance training workout! These exercises will improve your proprioception (the concept of knowing where your body is in space [body awareness] and the ability to safely maneuver around your environment), develop fine motor skills, intrinsic and extrinsic core muscles, and core strength. Complete 3 sets of each exercise and 15-20 reps per exercise. Remember to engage your core!
Pro Tip: During each exercise, keep your eyes focused on something static during each rep. If you need to improve balance and strength, it might be difficult for you to keep your balance if you are looking all over the place. So stay focused!
1. Tabletop tuck & reach
Begin this exercise on your hands and knees in a tabletop position keeping your shoulders in alignment with your wrists and your hips in alignment with your knees. Keeping your right arm and left leg grounded, stretch your left arm and right leg outward and away from the central part of your body. You should be balancing on your left leg and right arm. Try keeping your back completely flat and avoid rotating your body as you reach out. Slowly bring your arm and leg back in to touch one another under your torso (still balancing). Repeat a full set of reps on one side before moving to the next side.
2. Single leg balance reach
For this exercise, you should begin in a standing, neutral position with one foot raised. If your right foot is raised, your goal is to reach a touchpoint below your knees with your right hand. (You can place something on the floor to reach for if you can’t touch all the way to the floor.) You should keep your gaze forward and keep a neutral spine as you complete this movement. Once you touch your goal point, return to your starting position keeping your knee lifted and your core engaged.
3. Curtsey lunge with side crunch
A curtsey lunge is a reverse lunge with a twist. Much like an old-fashioned curtsey, you will need lunge with one foot leading you backward, but instead of placing your foot directly behind you, you will need to place your foot on the opposite side of your body. As you stand up from the lunge position, raise your knee by your side and bring your elbow to meet your knee. During this movement, you should focus on sliding your top rib down towards your hip. This side crunch will activate your obliques and serratus anterior to help develop your external core.
4. Balancing standing ab tuck
A slightly more challenging move, you will want to begin standing, one leg lifted, with your knee lifted to the height of your hip. At this point, your hands should be lifted above your head. Slowly bring your hands to touch underneath your lifted leg to do a little high-five. Repeat for the assigned reps and sets. (For an extra challenge, stand on a roll up a yoga mat, towel, or use a bosu ball to add an addition balancing component!)
5. Plank with airplane arms
During this single arm plank, it’s important to keep your shoulder in alignment with your wrist, your pelvis pulled inward and up towards your belly button, and your feet slightly separated with your toes tucked in. Raise one arm forward reaching in front of your head and then bring your arm down by your side making a half circle with your arm along the way. Repeat all reps on one side before moving to the other side. (Hold a small weight in your hand for an added challenge).
6. Balancing torso rotation
When performing balance exercises, you should always add in a rotational movement to create a 3-Dimensional style of training. For this exercise, start by standing on one foot with your arms lifted above your head. Your knee should be lifted at the same height as your hip. (Make sure to pull your pelvis in and engage your core!) Now, slowly rotate your body towards the leg that is lifted, lowering your arms to finish by your side and then returning to the starting position. (Hold a weighted plate for an extra challenge!)
Balance Training Recovery
This workout is perfect to improve balance and strength in your core– but ensuring that your fuel your body with the proper nutrients is just as important if you want to maintain your results. SkinnyFit Repair and Recover helps replenish your body and muscles with essential amino acids to help boost recovery time, ease sore muscles, and help to build stronger and leaner muscle tone!
Because balance training uses fine motor skills and smaller muscle groups as the prime movers, Repair and Recover helps to release lactic acid making your recovery faster and easier than ever.