Targeting the gluteals and abdominals in a training session is a popular goal for many fitness seekers, but what about training for balance? Do you regularly seek out strategies for improving balance in your exercise routines? Considering that balance training has been shown to reduce the risk of falls (especially in older adults) and improve dynamic balance in both athletes and non-athletes, incorporating this type of training could be a wise choice. In addition, many of the exercises used to train balance call upon the muscles of the hips and trunk to provide stability. This means you get the added benefit of strengthening the glutes and abs while you're working to become more balance savvy. Plus, the various single-leg exercises that target the glutes in balance-training programs are beneficial for knee health because they promote proper alignment between the hip, knee and ankle.
To experience these benefits, add one set of the following exercises at the beginning of your workouts, twice a week for at least six weeks (in other words, perform these balance exercises 12 times over the course of six weeks). To check your progress, take the single-leg balance test* (for both legs) during the first week. Retake the test again after the sixth week of training to see if there is a difference in your score.
*Single-leg Balance Test:
Grab a stopwatch and stand with your feet directly underneath the hips.
Cross your arms over the chest.
Lift one leg off the floor, making sure your legs do not touch each other.
Start the timer the instant your foot leaves the floor. Stop the timer when your foot touches back down, or if your body starts flailing to regain balance. The test should be performed with minimal bodily movement.
Record your score for each leg. The longer the time spent standing on one leg, the better your balance.
There are no norms for comparison, only your own score. The goal is to increase the time you are able to stand on one leg from pretest to post-test.
Note: It is up to you whether or not you wear shoes during this test. It makes sense that if you train in shoes, you should also test your balance wearing shoes. Clearly, this is not a scientific assessment, but making the pre- and post-tests factors the same, and the training variables the same as during testing (e.g., wearing shoes versus going barefoot), will give you a more realistic result.
1. Split Lunge
Adopt a split-stance position with one leg in front of the other and your
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