Have you ever noticed that some of the most efficient exercises are also really … fun?
Think about it. Rock climbing is an exhilarating thrill that doubles as a full-body workout. Hiking offers breathtaking views of the landscape while testing your cardiovascular system. And resistance training? If your buddy doubles as your spotter, there's no better way to work out.
A balance board looks like something you might find on a playground, yet is one of the most efficient pieces of training equipment to add to your home gym. A balance board helps improve your balance (obviously), ignite core and glute activation, and increase stability in your lower body. For these reasons, they're commonly used to prevent injuries and improve your overall fitness level.
Below, I explain what a balance board is, how you should use it, and why you should add balance board exercises to your workout routine.
What Is a Balance Board?
A balance board is an unstable surface (really, that's it).
Some balance boards are Bosu balls, while others look like skateboards hovering over a foam roller. If you don't have a balance board at home, you can get the same benefits from virtually any unstable surface. You can stand on a pillow or sofa cushion, balance on a rolled-up yoga mat, or perform exercises on a halved foam roller.
Whether you choose to purchase a balance board or go the DIY route, below, we share a few reasons you should add it to your training program.
Why Is Balance Important?
Balance is being able to maintain your center of gravity — either when standing still or moving.
Balance is critical to injury prevention and preventing faulty movement patterns. If you have poor balance, it’s a sign that muscles in your body (typically your glutes or core) aren’t doing their job.
However, by learning to activate these muscles correctly, you increase your balance and stability. This, in turn, prevents wobbly or shaky form when you progress to other movements, such as HIIT workouts or running down the street.
Balance is also a key ability in almost any sports like Thai boxing, pole fitness, climbing, acrobatics, dancing, or weightlifting. In fact, I cannot think of any sport where a good balance would be not helpful.
How Can a Balance Board Help?
Below, I share specific reasons why you need balance in your life, and how a balance board can help you achieve it.
1. It Helps Progress Your Workout (Without Weights)
"Progressive overload" is personal trainer speak for continuously making a workout more challenging.
Clients often believe there is only one way to progress a workout: Add more weight. If you're performing an at-home workout where equipment is limited, this poses a serious problem.
In reality, there are numerous ways to progress your workouts. You can switch to single-leg exercises, add a pulse between reps, or add a source of instability. A source of instability could be a TRX, halved foam roller, or a balance board. Any familiar move — like bodyweight squats or pushups — can instantly become more challenging when a balance board is involved.
2. It Increases Core Strength
Here's something people with a personal trainer job rarely tell you: Every workout is a core workout.
Core strength is vital to your well-being because you use it in every movement. You need your core muscles to sit up in bed, turn a steering wheel, or reach for something from the kitchen cabinet. In the gym, you need to activate your core to perform a back squat, do a pushup, pull into a chinup, and jump into a burpee.
Balance training forces you to engage your core by heightening total body awareness. If you don't squeeze your abdominal muscles, you will instantly fall off a balance board. However, losing your balance reminds you to engage your core — a reminder that isn't so obvious when performing a squat or deadlift.
3. It Engages Your Glutes
Seemingly every chronic injury can be traced back to weak glutes. If you suffer from achilles tendonitis, knee pain, back pain, or shin splints, I highly recommend you incorporate glute activation exercises into your workout routine. (Note: If you do suffer from a chronic injury, be sure to pay a visit to your physical therapist.)
You need strong glutes (i.e., a strong posterior chain) to increase the stability of your entire leg. This is especially critical for cardio workouts — like HIIT classes or jogging down the street. Here's why: When you run, you are constantly balancing on one leg. If that one leg supporting your entire body is unstable, it causes undue stress on other body parts (like your achilles, calves, or other areas giving you grief).
Balance training is vital to the strengthening of your glutes. Standing on a balance board forces you to squeeze your glutes to keep your balance. Once you can perform stationery exercises (like squats or balancing on one foot) on a balance board, you're prepared to jog down the street.
4. It's a Low-Impact Workout
If you visit a physical therapist's office, you'll probably see a balance board hiding in the corner. Since balance boards help improve core and glute activation, they're commonly used in injury rehabilitation.
That being said, there's another reason these boards are so popular: They're extremely low-impact. Like pilates, mobility, yoga, and isometric exercises, balance board workouts don't cause pounding on your muscles or joints. This, in turn, prevents further injury.
Balance Board Exercises: 8 Moves to Add to Your Training
Now that you understand the importance of balance training, it's time to incorporate it into your regular fitness routine. Use these exercises to build a balance board workout to work your whole body:
To perform a pushup, come into a plank position on the board, with your shoulders rolled back and down (try to push your shoulders into your armpits, igniting your lats). Your arms should form a straight line from your shoulders to the ground.
Grip the sides of the balance board with each palm. Lower your chest to the ground, with your elbows forming a 45 degree angle from your body. Looking for an added challenge? Explode back to your starting position, lifting the balance board off the ground as you do so.
2. Single Leg Bridge
Want to fry your hamstrings? To perform a single leg bridge, lay with your back on the ground with your knees bent. Place your right foot on the ground and your left foot on the center of the balance board.
Raise your right leg so it's perpendicular to the ground, with the bottom of your foot pointing toward the sky. Squeeze your left glute and raise into a bridge position. Lower back to your starting position, and switch legs.
Note: This is an advanced exercise. If it's too difficult, do a double-leg bridge.
To perform a squat, stand on the top of a balance board with your feet shoulder width apart. Engage your core, roll your shoulders back and down, and scoot your butt back toward the wall behind you, lowering into a squat.
If you need an added challenge, try standing on one leg instead. Otherwise, hold a dumbbell in a goblet position while lowering into a squat.
4. Mountain Climbers
Begin in a plank position, with your palms gripping the side of the balance board. Bring your right knee toward your chest, squeezing your abdominal muscles as you do so. Return your right leg to its starting position, and bring your left leg to your chest. Now, speed up the exercise, so you are almost running in place.
To perform this exercise, your "balance board" must be in one piece (a Bosu ball works best). Begin in a standing position, gripping the sides of a Bosu ball with each hand, the flat side facing toward your chest.
Drop down into a plank position, bringing the bottom of the Bosu ball toward the ground. Perform a tricep pushup, then jump your feet in toward your hands, coming into a squat position. Simultaneously, bring the Bosu ball off the ground and explode into a vertical jump.
To perform a balance board lunge, place your right foot on the center of your balance trainer. Step your left leg one stride-length behind you. Rest your left knee on the ground, coming into a seated lunge.
Squeeze your right glute and quad, and raise your left leg off the ground. Return to your starting position. Perform all reps on your right side before switching to your left. If you need an added challenge, add a hop at the top of each lunge.
7. Boat Pose
If you really want to strengthen your abdominal muscles, try to hold a boat pose on a balance board. Sit at the center of your balance board, with your knees bent and your feet placed one the ground.
Now, squeeze your core. Slowly lift your feet off the ground, so your shins are parallel to the ground. If you're keeping your balance, try straightening your legs into a V-up (this is extremely difficult to do!). Keep your chest proud, and don't allow your spine to sag backward.
8. Side Lunge
Start by standing on your balance board, with your feet shoulder width apart. Step your left foot off the board, onto the ground. Bend your left knee, so you fire your left glute and extend your right leg. Return to standing, place both feet back on the balance board, then switch legs.
The 7 Best Balance Boards for Your Workout
A balance board trainer is one of the most versatile pieces of fitness equipment you can buy. Plus, they're relatively small, allowing them to be easily stored underneath a sofa or bed frame.
When selecting a balance board, there are a few models you can choose. Here are a few to consider.
1. The Bosu Balance Trainer
Price: $130+ / €106+
The Bosu Balance Trainer (affiliate link) offers a non-slip surface and heavy duty materials. Often used in physical therapy offices, the Bosu Balance Trainer can be used for balance exercises and core stability.
2. Wooden Wobble Balance Board
Price: $60+ / €49+
The Wooden Wobble Board is used for yoga poses, core balance challenges, and even to stretch your back. This wooden yoga board helps develop muscle memory to improve your balance and stability training.
3. Revolution 101 Balance Board Trainer
Price: $120+ / €98+
Revolution Balance Boards come in two separate pieces, with an anti-slip balance pad, soft grip, and weight limit up to 400 pounds. Popular amongst skateboarding and snowboarding crowds, this roller board helps you improve your balance, motor skills, and core strength.
4. Yes4All Wooden Wobble Balance Board
Price: $18+ / €14+
While many balance boards on Amazon cross the triple-digit market price-wise, there are plenty of affordable options available. This board costs just $20, yet can be used for injury rehabilitation, strength training, and balance training.
5. Indo Balance Board
Price: $150+ / €122+
Popular amongst surfers, the Indo Balance Board is made from cabinet-grade birch wood and finished with a non-slip surface. Specifically designed to improve core strength, coordination, and agility, it can help you improve your balance or help you stand upright on a surfboard.
6. EveryMile Wobble Board
Price: $30+ / €24+
Another affordable option, the EveryMile rocker board offers a 360-degree rotation, allowing you to test your balance at every angle. Lightweight, portable, and made with a durable plastic balance cushion, it's a suitable option for all your physiotherapy needs.
7. Sportneer Half Balance Ball With Resistance Bands
Price: $60+ / €49
If you want a full-body workout, combine the balance challenges of a balance ball with resistance bands. You can combine a leg exercise (like a standing squat) with an upper body exercise (like a resistance band curl) for an efficient workout.
Balance Board Training Improves Your Strength and Stability
A good balance is not only key for improved athletic performance in sports but generally important for injury prevention and healthier movement patterns. Exercises to improve balance (like with a balance board) are a fun way to improve your core strength, balance, and stability. Plus, balance board training helps improve your glute and core activation, which can prevent (or treat) a number of injuries.
You can perform a lot of different exercises on a balance board, including lunges, squats, pushups, and V-ups. Performing these exercises on an unstable surface can make seemingly "easy" workouts extremely challenging.
To learn more about how balance training can impact your fitness level, join the Build Bullet-Proof Health Program. This program includes strength workouts, cardio training, and nutrition plans, helping you build a well-rounded approach to fitness. For our premium membership, you get monthly one-on-one calls with me, where we can discuss your balance and stability.
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