Whether you’re walking to work, carrying groceries up the stairs, or picking up your toddler, being able to stay stable pays off. With targeted bodyweight balance training, you can train this often-overlooked component of fitness to improve your ability to confidently navigate tons of scenarios, both in daily life and in the gym.
First, though, let’s get clear on what balance is: You can think of it as the “ability to control your body in an upright position, whether stationary or in motion,” according to research in the American College of Sports Medicine. Health and Fitness Magazine.
Having good balance is all about being stable, coordinated, and aware of your body in space, says personal trainer Sivan Fagan, CPT, owner of Strong with Sivan. And it can improve your ability to stay upright and reduce the risk of injury in virtually any situation.
Balance is something that’s actually a struggle for many people, says Fagan, simply because they don’t often incorporate one-sided exercises: moves like lunges, single-leg deadlifts, and skaters, where only one leg does most of the lifting. work at a time—in your routine. Compared to bilateral movements like squats and deadlifts, unilateral exercises are great options for balance training because they inherently present more of a challenge to stay stable. After all, it’s a lot harder to stay upright when you only have one foot on the ground than two.
In addition, the unilateral movements translate directly into many everyday tasks that require balance, such as walking and climbing stairs, meaning they are truly functional. For much of life, “we need to be able to stabilize our body with one less point of contact with the ground,” says Fagan, and doing regular one-sided work can help you master this skill.
Another reason unilateral exercises are good for balance training is because they inherently work on core stability. This is actually a crucial part of balance, as your core muscles play an important role in keeping you stable and helping you avoid tipping to the side or bending over. As Fagan says: “We want a strong core so that we can be stable in everyday life.”
The following routine, which Fagan created for SELF, relies on one-sided moves like a front-to-back lunge, skater jump, star toe tap, and warrior balance to help challenge and ultimately instance, improve your balance. And because core stability is an integral part of balance, the workout also includes planks, a one-arm plank variation that will seriously engage your core stabilizer muscles.
You can do this bodyweight balance workout two to three times a week, Fagan says. Before you begin, take a few minutes to warm up first so your body is properly prepared. Fagan recommends doing dynamic exercises like striders (the first move in this sequence), inner thigh mobility exercises, and 90/90 stretches. Then you are ready to go!
What do you need: Just your body weight! You may also want a yoga mat for comfort.
- Warrior’s Balance
- front to back lunge
- skater jump
- plank touch
- star point touch
- Perform each movement for the repetitions listed below, resting as needed between exercises so that you can complete the next exercise with good form.
- Once you’ve completed all five exercises, rest as needed, then repeat the circuit for two to three rounds total.
Demonstrating the moves below are Cookie Janee (GIF 1), a background investigator and law enforcement specialist in the Air Force Reserve; Teresa Hui (GIF 2), a native New Yorker who has run more than 150 road races, including 16 full marathons; Nikki Pebbles (GIF 3 & 4), special populations personal trainer in New York City; and Keri Harvey (GIF 5), a NASM-certified personal trainer based in Brooklyn who currently trains at Form Fitness Brooklyn.