5 Expert Balance Exercises
Having a well-developed sense of balance is critical to your overall physical fitness. These five exercises strengthen muscles as they build balance.
Move 4: Varied-Width Push-Up
Recommended by Elena Zhirnova, age 30, performer in Cirque du Soleil’s “La Nouba.”
What it works: Shoulders, chest, upper back, core, wrists.
How to do it: Get into a modified push-up position (hands and knees on the floor), then cross your ankles and position your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Lower your body to the ground for as deep a push-up as possible, then push back up to the starting position. Do five repetitions, then do five more with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart. This will target different muscle groups. Repeat the set two times.
Tip: “After about a month of this exercise, try a more advanced push-up position with your knees straight and your toes on the floor, as in a full-on push-up,” says Zhirnova, who specializes in aerial acrobatics and hand balancing. If you’re working toward doing a handstand, which requires not just balance but also a strong upper body, try changing your arm and hand positions so that your index fingers and thumbs form a diamond on the floor. This works additional arm muscles.
Move 5: Medicine-Ball Toss
Recommended by Erica Hosseini, age 26, series champion of the 2012 Association Pro Surfing competition.
What it works: Chest, back, arms, core, obliques, legs.
How to do it: Sit on an exercise ball, holding a three-pound medicine ball in your hands. Rotate your trunk to the right, then return to
the center and toss the ball up lightly and catch. Repeat on the left. Do four reps on each side.
Tip: Straighten your spine, squeeze your core, keep your shoulders down and back, and look straight ahead. For a harder workout, says Hosseini, try kneeling on the ball for eight counts. When you find your balance, which can take some practice, you can gradually add the ball toss and twist.
Can’t seem to steady yourself? It could be your health. Here are five conditions that can cause balance problems.