What does the word balance mean to you? Perhaps it means successfully standing on one foot for Tree Pose in yoga, or maybe it is more of the internet joke of “cupcakes and bacon.” However you define balance, we all know that it is vital to our health and fitness.
In fitness, we define balance as the ability to stay steady in a particular position. Sometimes, fitness professionals will add the term “upright” to that definition, but that is not always true. While standing upright is the first body position you may think of when working on balance, we should incorporate other body positions as well, such as quadruped (hands and knees), kneeling, and prone.
Balance training has many benefits such as improving stability, mobility, and athletic performance, as well as alleviating back pain, aiding in mindfulness, and preventing falls. With so many great health and fitness benefits, balance training is often one of the most undervalued and under-used exercise categories.
The BOSU® Balance Trainer allows for constant balance training in almost everybody position and every type of exercise or drill. While training on an unstable surface, such as the BOSU® dome, your core muscles fire continually, while proprioceptive mechanisms give you feedback to facilitate balance and maintain correct body positioning. This allows you to simultaneously train strength and balance, flexibility and balance, or cardio and balance, depending on your fitness goals. Don’t believe it? Stand on top of the BOSU® Balance Trainer dome and close your eyes for a few seconds. You will quickly feel your core and proprioceptive receptors start to work in overdrive!
To help you incorporate more specific balance training exercises into your workouts, here are four balance drills in different body positions. Use these in your next training session or scattered throughout your work day to bring more movement into your life.
Kneeling Leg Lift with Rotation
Begin kneeling on the BOSU® dome with your arms extended to the sides at shoulder height. Center your right knee on the dome and lift your left knee laterally, so that it hovers just off the dome. Rotate your left arm towards the right side of the room, allowing your torso to turn with you. Return to the center. Lower the leg, then repeat. To progress, keep the leg lifted for multiple reps on one side, then repeat on the other side.
Bird Dog to Balance the Cat
Begin in a quadruped position with your knees on the BOSU® dome and your hands on the floor. Lift the left hand and right leg until they are parallel to the floor in “bird dog” position. Bend the right knee so the foot is facing the ceiling and simultaneously reach behind you to touch the foot with your hand. Return to the extended arm/leg bird dog position, then lower back to the start. Alternate sides with each repetition. To progress, start with both knees and hands on the BOSU® dome.
Begin with your hands on the BOSU® Balance Trainer dome and feet on the floor in a plank position. Place the left hand in the middle of the dome, while the right-hand lifts up with the elbow bent. Push the right hand forward to straighten the arm. Return to a bent elbow, lower the right hand to the dome, and switch sides. To progress, try lifting the opposing foot off of the floor while extending the arm.
Squat & Track
Begin standing on top of the BOSU® dome in a narrow hip width stance. Lower into a squat, counterbalancing with your arms out in front of you. Open your right arm to the side and return to center, followed by the left. Lift your right arm up overhead and return to the center, followed by your left. Progress by repeating these four movements with your head and eyes tracking your hands as they move.
Jessica Maurer is a BOSU® Master Trainer with a background in dance and fitness education. She is the co-creator of LOK Fitness and a Master Trainer for Hedstrom Fitness, Lebert Training Systems and Tabata Bootcamp.