I’ve been thinking a lot about balance lately, as I’m feeling really good about my mental state of mind lately. I feel like I am not being so hard on myself. I’m making time for things besides work #1, work #2, blogging, and cleaning. I’m taking nights or chunks of my night to just watch TV or grab a beer just because and not feeling so guilty about it. I’m getting more sleep. I finally feel like my head is above water, and I’m working really hard to keep myself there and feel, well, more balanced.
The theme of balance ties into my core strength tip to wrap up week #2 of the 31 Day Abs Challenge, as improving your core strength truly will improve your physical balance. If you are someone who feels like you become unsteady in the shower or can’t keep a stable feeling while walking upstairs with many bags in your hands, it might be time to add some core strength training into your repertoire. Think about it – as you become older, a lot of times fitness is about remaining functional, moving, and avoiding falls. It’s really important to start with your core strength training when you are young, because while it’s great to help sculpt your body into looking the way you want it to, it’s also helping prepare you to be more self-sufficient when you get older.
That being said, my core strength tip for this week is to add some more balance work into your core strength training. Throw off your equilibrium a bit! Here are some ways you can do that:
Ways to Improve Balance
Pick some new equipment. Some great equipment that can help you improve your balance and core strength include stability balls, bosu trainers, medicine balls, or balance boards. Try your planks on a stability ball, your pushups on a bosu, or your squats on a balance board. Your core muscles have to work that much harder, and they have to work collaboratively with other major muscle groups, to keep you balanced and prevent you from falling.
Work unilaterally. This means working one arm or one leg at a time, which will throw you off kilter a bit. Even something like sitting on a stability ball and doing overhead presses, but working one arm at a time instead of together, will challenge your core muscles. Or do a bench press with one arm at a time instead. Pick simple exercises you are used to doing bilaterally, and you’ll be surprised at how conscious you will be of the small adjustments your body will need to make to keep you centered.
Change your stance. Sometimes adjusting to a split stance instead of a wide stance will throw your balance off a bit. Or even harder, standing on one leg! You would be amazed at how much harder simple bicep curls are if you do them standing on one leg instead of standing steady on two. You can even change your stance while working horizontally. While in your plank, the further apart your feet are the wider base of support you have and the easier the exercise will be. Trying bringing your feet closer together, or lifting one leg up at a time, during different exercises, and I promise you’ll feel a difference!
Stay away from machines! I’m not saying to never use the machines at the gym, but think about how much harder your body is working when you are doing free weights or body weight exercises. For example, when you are doing leg presses on a machine you are pretty much working your legs only. But if you do a body weight exercise for lower body, such as squats, you are not only working your legs but your core is engaging more as well to help keep you balanced as you squat down and up and not just sitting in the machine.
Do yoga. Think about how long you hold positions for sometimes in yoga! There are several different types of yoga out there today, but find one that is right for you and you can enjoy improved balanced, flexibility, range of motion, and strength.
Try small things throughout the day. Once you become comfortable with balance work, try finding small ways to sneak it into your day-to-day routine. For example, balance on one leg while pumping gas. Take a few seconds to try to stand on one foot while closing your eyes. Closing your eyes makes everything harder, so you could even try closing your eyes while working out! Stand on your tiptoes while waiting in line. Every little thing counts, and all the little things over the course of a day add up!
What is your favorite way to add balance training into your workout routines?
I hope this helped you guys! Have a great rest of your Saturday, and I’ll be back tomorrow with Week 3 of the Ab Challenge. Catch you later!