I have talked about balance before, but concentrated on having a balanced program Here, I want to talk about physical balance and how you can improve it.
Many people in commercial gyms demonstrate poor technique because they don’t take balance into consideration when looking at improving their strength. The body has a knack of working around poor form or and injured part and this alters its natural movement patterns. This causes further injury and lack of reaching their physical potential. In observing someone exercising, if their movements lack a natural movement pattern, it is most likely caused by lack of balance.
If you observe competitors in an Olympic Weightlifting Contest it is obvious when they loose balance. The competitors who lack balance here demonstrate inconsistent form and miss lifts that are easily within their natural ability. You will also observe that they have difficulty holding a weight overhead. The top group of competitors demonstrate greater speed and their lifting looks effortless, because everything is in balance.
One-limbed exercises will correct poor balance, but there are several considerations to take into account –
- When starting these exercises either use a light resistance or only body weight.
- Concentrate on balancing from your foot for lower limb exercises and your shoulders for upper limb exercises. Also look at a point in front of you at head height to help maintaining balance throughout the exercise.
- If possible, exercise in front of a mirror to check your form. You can even get someone to film you with their phone to have a more accurate look at it. Without this biofeedback method – as I said before – the body has a propensity to adjust to an imbalance and you may be completely imbalanced without realizing it. I have proved this with even very experienced weight trainers!
- If you have the ability to ‘tune in’ to what your body is telling you – i.e. that you feel more strain on one side of the body as compared to the other, or that you are injuring parts of one side of your body – then take a closer look at your form.
An exercise such as the one in the photo above is a more advanced form of one-limbed exercises. You can start with simpler forms such as one leg squats or one arm presses, but be aware that without the biofeedback methods described above, you can still demonstrate poor form. So remember the old saying of ‘regress to progress’. If you demonstrate poor and imbalanced form, lighten the resistances that you use until you can demonstrate correct technique before slowly increasing the resistance you use. As I tell my clients, leave your ego at the door if you want to reach your full potential?