Fitness: Balance and stability
Balance and stability are two different components. Balance, as defined by the American Council on Exercise Personal Trainer Manual, “is the ability to maintain the body’s position over its base of support within stability limits, both statically and dynamically” and stability is defined as “characteristic of the body’s joints or posture that represents resistance to change of position.” For example, in order to perform a stationary lunge, you will need adequate balance and if we perform that lunge on an unstable surface, you would require adequate stability. Therefore, below are three exercises that require balance or stability or both which are excellent additions to most exercise programs.
Remember to master the fundamental movement pattern first (i.e. master the lunge before adding instability or external load), then perform 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of these three exercises two/three times/week on non-consecutive days. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
-Balance Disc Squats – w/biceps curls – moderate/heavy dumbbells – place the discs so that when you stand on the discs, your legs are positioned shoulder distance apart. Holding dumbbells by your sides, palms facing forward, engaging the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes (front/back of thighs/buttocks), lower the body into a squat position balancing on the discs as you perform a biceps curl. The entire foot must rest on top of the disc. Then, drive through the heels and back into a standing position as the arms fully extend. Make certain to keep the spine completely erect. *Compound exercise that trains the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes/biceps and nose to toes core.
-Curtsey Lunges – TRX Suspension Systems – set the straps approximately 18” from the floor; stand facing the TRX anchor point, move away from the anchor point so that the straps are completely straight as you hold the handles. Then, walk under the TRX far enough so that you will be able to load up the lower body appropriately and keep the straps taut throughout—no movement in the arms. Legs begin shoulder distance apart. Standing on the R leg, bring the L leg over and cross behind the R leg in a “curtsy” position with the L heel elevated and the R knee aligned over the R heel. Then, press up and to the other side. This is a great lower body exercise; however, you must be meticulous about keeping the knee of the stationary leg tracking properly over the heel. *Trains the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes/hip abductors/adductors and nose to toes core.
-High Step Ups – plyo box w/overhead press – moderate dumbbells – choose a manageable plyo box height (i.e. 12 inches is usually the lowest in a trio of boxes) – holding the dumbbells in each hand, and arms at a 90 degree position at the elbow joint, palms facing forward, step up onto the box with the R lead and press the dumbbells overhead, then step back down with the R foot and bring the arms back to the 90 degree position and repeat for 30 seconds. Then switch to the L lead and repeat.
Make certain that you do not choose a plyo box height that causes you to lose control on the down phase, change your technique as you climb or causes you to land hard.
You must control the step up/down throughout. *Compound exercise that trains the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes/deltoids and nose to toes core.
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