Strength training is often chosen as the main form of training for people who want to get better at their sport, lose weight effectively, and generally appear stronger and leaner. Strength training however, does have some training gaps. Yoga for fitness can help address these training gaps and improve your overall performance in any physical activity. Balance training through yoga can help you get the most out of your strength training exercises.
In this article, we will:
- Define balance training
- Discuss how balance training is useful for strength training
- Show you how you can test your balance
- Provide a balance training workout
What is Balance Training?
Balance training involves both skill and strength to keep your body remaining steady in compromised positions. It requires quite a bit of focus, that with practice, becomes easier to manage. Having good balance is important when doing any exercises that require your weight mainly on one leg, or when standing on uneven surfaces. During yoga, this may often look like standing on one foot while moving your body into different poses and positions.
Many balance exercises are easy to do, but require strength and focus to hold. Learning to balance comes with practice. Doing balance exercises often can help your body build muscle memory and ultimately allow you to stay in a pose longer. Don’t get discouraged if your body over or under compensates leading you to wiggling, it’s part of the process.
As far as strength, balance training can become easier with stronger hips, legs, ankles, and core muscles. Doing balancing poses through yoga will help you to build up these muscles, making these poses easier over time.
In addition to strength training and balance training, you’ll want to include endurance, mobility and flexibility exercises within your weekly workout routine. Luckily, yoga can be cardio as well as fulfill both mobility and flexibility exercises.
How Balance Training is Useful
One of the most effective ways to prevent injury in your lower body is balance training. This is due to a few reasons. First, balance exercises can help you to improve your body awareness. When you’re more aware of your body, how you move it, and how it feels, you will ultimately decrease your chances of getting injured and improve your muscle activation for better performance in all of your workouts. Secondly, by actively working to strengthen your ankles, knees, and hips, balance training is improving the stability within your lower body. This means you’re less likely to fall and potentially get injured. When you do balance training very regularly, it can even be effective at preventing chronic knee and back pain.
Ultimately, balance exercises strengthen the muscles that help keep you standing tall. Improving your stability, posture, and reaction time are all helpful when it comes to strength training.
Testing Your Balance
Have you tested your balance recently? You can do this simply by standing straight on one leg. If you can do this for over 30 seconds, you likely have decent balance. Otherwise, you may want to work on some balance exercises.
Falling forward towards the same side as your lifted leg means you may t not have a lot of strength in your outer hips and glutes. This can also happen if you have improper muscle engagement. By working on your muscle engagement and building strength in your outer hips and glutes, you may eliminate knee, hip, and back pain, as well as improve your athletic performance.
If you’re balancing but don’t feel your core engaged, you may not have a lot of core strength in your transverse abdominals. These muscles tend to be weak because they aren’t often used. By participating in yoga and balance training, you’ll be able to build up your core strength and even improve your posture.
10 Minute Balance Training Workout
There are plenty of exercises you can do to improve your balance training. This quick routine doesn’t require any equipment or extra flexibility to do. Follow along below or check out some of our other routines for free on our YouTube channel that are also posted at the end of this section.
Standing Side Bend
Stand tall with your big toes touching and keep your thighs, hips, and core slightly engaged. Reach your arms overhead, press your palms together and interlace your fingers, pointing your index fingers up. Reach up as high as you can before leaning towards on side with your upper body, pressing your hips in the opposite direction. As you inhale, try to get taller and reset your posture.
Do this for 45 seconds on each side
Stand back up with your big toes touching and keeping your thighs, hips, and core slightly engaged. Press your palms together. Keeping your length in your neck, look upward and squeeze your arms back as far as possible, coming into a strong backbend. Only bend from your mid back and up.Only bend as far back as it feels comfortable.
Hold this for 45 seconds.
Standing at the top of your mat, take a big step back with one foot and plant the ball of your other foot on the ground with your heel lifted. Bend your front knee until the shin is perpendicular to the floor. Reach your arms straight overhead, but avoid puffing out your chest and arching your back. Inhale to lengthen the spin and exhale to sink deeper into the lunge.
Hold this for 45 seconds on each side.
Bring yourself to a standing position and shift your body weight into one foot. Press the sole of the opposite foot into the shin or thigh of the standing leg. Keep your hips squared forward. If possible, extend your arms in a v-shape overhead.
Do this for 60 seconds on each side.
Stand with your big toes nearly touching. Hinge at your hips and bend your knees to lower your hips as if you were sitting into a chair while maintaining a straight spine. While maintaining this squat, reach your arms overhead, palms facing each other. Shift your weight into one foot and hover the other foot off the floor. Make sure your hips stay squared forward.
Do this for 30 seconds per side.
Stand in a shallow lunge with your hips squared forward and your arms along your sides, palms facing forward. While maintaining a straight spine and engaging your core, shift your weight into your front foot and lift your back leg off the ground, hinging at the hips. Maintain a straight line from your head to your leg.
Do this for 60 seconds per side.
Balancing on one leg, bend the knee of your lifted leg back and bring that heel toward your glutes. Use the corresponding hang to grab the inside of your foot, keeping your shoulder open as you do. Press down firmly through the standing leg. Then press your lifted foot into your hand and hinge at the hips to bring your torso forward and down while your lifted leg comes up and back. Keep core engaged.
Here are two other workouts you can do, straight from our YouTube Channel.