Top seven tips on balance and core training
Wade, as far as I am concerned, is a balance guru. Actually, I shouldn’t narrow it down to just one component because he’s got it all: strength, power, balance, endurance, and flexibility. As I told him, I have seen a lot of people do a lot of different things in the fourteen years I’ve worked at Club Sport and my twenty plus years as a trainer, and very few impress me. His ability to move caught my eye, and more than that, his ability to be perfectly still was even more fabulous.
How does he do it?
Well, he works very hard at all of these components, writes down his workouts, and it helps that he boosted his overall workout knowledge by obtaining his level one Crossfit certification in 2009. He was in charge of 30-40 men in the army and wanted to make their two hour a day “PT” ( physical training) more interesting and outside-the-box.
His average workout takes about two hours. He starts with minimum twenty minutes of cardio on the arm bike:
And he weight lifts for his upper body using the classic three exercises per muscle rule.
Then he finally gets to the core part of his workout, which is comprised of ten minutes of sitting on the ball being as still as possible.
Notice I did not say “abdominal workout” as there are many muscles in the front AND back engaged. The next ten minutes are spent twisting with an 8# medicine ball, for a total of twenty minutes. He said he never spent a minute on the ball before getting hurt, and this was a relatively new piece of his workout. He makes it look so easy. Makes me ill. 🙂
Are you noticing that ramrod straight spine? Holey Moley that is outstanding! I took a side view to show him, too. There is no slouch in that back!
By way of comparison, here is my coworker Colin who agreed to let me take an action photo cold of him balancing on the ball with no hands or feet helping.
Striking differences, eh? First off: Talk about a curvy spine! Colin then informed me he’d done ab training earlier in the day and his stomach cramped trying to hold the pose. Core vs. Abs. Big difference!
So what’s Wade’s secret?
I asked him if he would be willing to share his “secrets” with me. I am so glad he did, because he had ideas I certainly hadn’t thought of. I love collaborating with and picking the brains of super smart people!
Wades’s top suggestions for core and balance fitness
Here are his top suggestions, with regards to the core and balancing in particular.
ONE Practice balancing on something soft
For instance, a mat. Not just a little mat, but something substantial. Maybe two yoga mats side-by-side. This will help you be less concerned with falling, if you know you just might.
Come on now. You will! 🙂
However, falling when you are first learning is inevitable. Have an escape plan. Try:
TWO Tuck when you fall
Rather than trying to brace yourself. Channel your inner gymnast!
THREE Have something to grab ahold of
(Like a wall) if you don’t have a mat, so that both hands can reach out for stability.
When it comes to actually balancing, core is like any other muscle group, and it needs to be built up in segments. Notice this isn’t called an ab workout, because the core muscles are three dimensional and include the back. Need a quick review on the anatomy? Check this core blog post out.
Here is a sample workout plan devised by Wade:
- Start with 30 sec without touching anything, and a 45 second break.
- Set a goal to do that series for five mins, and it is important to set goals so you don’t get discouraged.
- Goals make sure you give yourself some positive reinforcement, not negative self talk like, “oh man, I’m not getting any better!”
FOUR Visual focal point
When starting out make sure find something to visually focus on … don’t look around or chat with your neighbor. Try a spot on the floor, or a nearby object. Even TV works.
Remember: Where your eyes go, the body goes. 🙂
For the two legged folk: do like just double leg lifts, and try keeping legs straight or make a “v” with your body. The act of lifting and lowering your legs creates balance, or try with legs bent like you would if you were sitting in a chair. This also saves fatigue in the hip flexors.
FIVE Go horse riding
Here is a completely different way. Sit on ball like horse saddle, and squeeze it like riding a horse, which will cut down on wobble a little bit.
Wade said, “I look at it that you’re cheating a little bit if you do it like that.”
Additionally, If you lean back, the balance centers primarily in the hams and glutes, and then you will feel the work generate in your low back. No bueno. Once stronger will use sit bones.
SIX Give yourself more challenge
Find this easy? There is always a way to challenge yourself more…
- Be Zen like Wade and Sit Still On Purpose, or
- Move intentionally and work on all four directions on top of the ball. Thats a really good chance of falling!
SEVEN Start with a little support
Still struggling? You can make a four-sided barrier with octagon weights like the ones below at the base of the ball, and then as you get better take away two at a time.
You can also try balancing on your knees like my client Elizabeth for another variation.
Let us know what you think of these fabulous tips on balancing in the comments below!