5 Dynamic Balance Exercises to Try at Home Today
A good workout routine is well-rounded. It focuses no only on aesthetics but also on our ability to move through the world with ease, grace, and strength. While we appreciate all of the movements that allow us to isolate and work super-specific muscles, we also love dynamic movements that force the whole body to get involved.
One of the best ways to move more dynamically and with function in mind is with simple balance exercises.
What are Balance Training Exercises?
Balance training exercises are just what they sound like—they’re exercises that require you to engage multiple muscle groups to keep your balance. They vary from single-leg movements to plank variations to handstands, and they can be performed with an arsenal of tools and space you can find at the gym.
These moves may be difficult at first, but they’re a whole lot of fun, and they can make your life outside the gym easier than ever.
What Are Balance Exercises Good For?
Balance isn’t necessarily innate. It has to be practiced. As we perform our day-to-day tasks—playing in the park with our children, carrying a laundry basket, even walking across unstable surfaces—having a good sense of balance can make or break an activity (falling isn’t fun for anyone).
The older we get, the weaker our joints and muscles become and the more difficult it gets to balance. That’s why dynamic balance exercises are so important for your health in the long run.
Cultivating an amazing sense of balance is important to any and everyone, so we’ve put together a few exercises that work the whole body and give you a way to start working on your balance!
5 Exercises to Improve Balance
Single-Leg Bicep Curl
To set yourself up for success with a single leg bicep curl, stand with weights in either hand. If you’re trying this for the first time, start light the first few reps and work your way up to your usual bicep curl weight.
Shift your weight onto one foot, lifting your other off the ground so that your knee is slightly bent with your foot behind you. Your hips and knees should still be even here; don’t sink into your standing leg and find length through the center of your body. If you want to get a little more advanced, you can bring your knee up so that your thigh is parallel to the ground, knee bent.
Now, perform your bicep curls the way you would on two feet—don’t swing your arms and be mindful of your elbows (don’t let them come forward). Move through these deliberately, engaging your core muscles to maintain your balance and hold your back straight.
Single Leg Overhead Shoulder Press
The setup for a single leg overhead shoulder press is just like the single-leg bicep curl: stand on one foot, either just off the ground or with your leg at a 90-degree bend in front of you. Don’t sink into your standing leg. Engage your core.
Now, hold your weights (again, start light and build up) with your arms out and bent at the elbows with your hands toward the sky. Your upper arms should be parallel to the floor, and your forearms should be perpendicular (at a 90-degree angle to the upper arms).
If you’re a yoga fan, you may have heard the term “cactus arms.” This is similar, just don’t forget to engage your core to tuck the tailbone slightly and prevent the back from arching.
Now, extend your arms straight up into the sky and bring them back down to that cactus arm position slowly and intentionally.
The forward lunge is amazing because it’s mechanically simple but very challenging for the muscles as you add weight to the movement.
Stand up straight with feet hip-width distance apart and weights in either hand (or on the shoulders if you prefer loading your back with a barbell). Step forward, bending your knees until they are both near 90-degree angles. The goal is to gently tap the floor with your back knee, making sure that your front knee doesn’t go over your front foot.
With an explosive (but controlled) burst of energy, push off the front foot, returning to your starting position. Like any other balance exercise, keep that core engaged.
If you want to add a little something extra to this movement, perform it while holding one weight in both hands and at the bottom of the lunge, twist in the direction of the front leg (if the left leg is in front, twist left), and return to center before pressing back up off your front foot.
The single-leg RDL (RDL = “Romanian Deadlift”) is going to take your sense of balance to the next level; these can be super difficult, but they’re incredibly dynamic. They work the whole body while blasting your hamstrings, glutes, and the rest of the muscles that help you get and maintain a strong back and core.
The first time you try these, do so without any weight. Then add light weights, then go heavier as you get more confident with your strength and balance.
Start with a weight (or not, at first) in the same hand as your standing leg. Shift your weight onto that standing leg and tilt your torso forward as you let your back leg lift off the ground slightly bent with your back toes pointing straight down (don’t let your hip open up).
You’ll move with your standing knee bent slightly, standing hip pulling back, your weight-holding arm hanging toward the ground, and your weight-less arm stretched out straight at your side (this will help you maintain better balance).
The key here is to hinge at the waist with a flat back, using the muscles in the back of your standing leg, your core, and all of the muscles you use to hold your weight to maintain control.
Move slowly downward until you start to feel your standing leg hamstring stretch, then focus on engaging your legs and core to stand back up and repeat.
High Plank Variation
Now that we’ve covered upper and lower-body-focused exercises, here’s a movement that’ll have you feeling the burn all over.
Get into a high plank with your hands and feet on the floor like you’re about to do a push-up. Lift up out of your shoulders and pull your abs in so your back doesn’t arch toward the floor. Be careful not to let your hips stick up into the air, either.
Start by lifting one hand off the ground and reaching it up and forward. Then the other arm. Next, lift one foot off the ground, reaching it up and back. Then the other foot.
Finally, put these movements together by lifting one arm and the opposite foot off the ground simultaneously (left arm and right leg and vice versa). This is even harder than it sounds, but it’s worth the work once you figure it out.
Combined, these movements will support you in your functional and balance-related fitness goals and help you improve balance overall. They can be done at home or in the gym, (we love seeing our incredible Chuze Family practice balance at all of our locations) and they’re well worth the effort for health and longevity!