How to Incorporate Balance into your Training Sessions
One of the most overlooked parts of a training program is balance. As we age our balance typically decreases. Balance is an important part of everyday life. Whether you’re walking up the stairs or reaching for something, balance plays a part in our ability to function. Exercise programs can assist in helping to improve this balance but without special attention; it will never be trained to its fullest. Here are a couple ways to incorporate balance training into our workout programs.
Perform functional movements
Since we are training to improve our activities of daily living, it would make sense to train functionally. Since functional movements involve multiple joints moving, there is a degree of dynamic balance that gets trained. Exercises such as squats, lunges, and deadlift challenge the body to stay stable during the movement.
Add a balance component to an exercise
One great thing about most exercises is that they can always be made tougher. An example is adding a twist to your pushups or slowing down your step ups. Making things more challenging like this can make you work harder to stay balanced.
Decrease surface stability
Using different apparatuses such as a BOSU ball or a balance board decrease stability therefore forcing you to try and stay balanced. There is a learning curve with this strategy however. It will be tough at first but as time goes on; your balance will get better.
Disrupt the center of gravity
As crazy as this sounds, it works. Getting your training partner or trainer to literally push you to disrupt your center of gravity will challenge you to balance yourself. Obviously don’t push someone like you’re trying to hurt them. A gentle tap while performing a lunge is plenty to train your balance.
Incorporate sensory-specific balance challenges
Our 3 main sensory systems are the visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive systems. These systems send signals to your brain about your surroundings and where you are and how you move. To challenge your visual system, close your eyes while exercising. To challenge your vestibular system, move your head while exercising. Be careful because while under a load this could become dangerous as you could strain a neck muscle. Finally to challenge your proprioceptive system, stand on an unstable surface like we stated before.
Add balance exercise in between sets
Using your rest period between sets to improve balance can be a great way to maximize your time in the gym. Standing on one foot while resting or standing on a BOSU ball will challenge the body but won’t tax the body so much that you aren’t able to do your regular exercises.
Sean Willitts is an ACE certified personal trainer. He graduated from Kutztown University in 2015 with a bachelor’s is sport management and a minor in fitness. Including training at Body Elite, he is also a record holding powerlifter. He uses his practical experience and knowledge to help his clients achieve their strength and fitness goals.
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