Balance and Stability Exercises: Tips for Core Workouts


Many people, when starting their fitness journey, are drawn to the machines at the gym that only isolate a single muscle at a time. This is really common, and the truth is, we oftentimes don’t really know any better. We think that by going to the gym to better our health we should be using those machines for our fitness training workouts. But that’s not the most effective way to work out.

The truth is, the foundation of your fitness routine should be stability and balance exercises to…

  • activate and strengthen the core and the many stabilizing muscles
  • improve coordination
  • decrease the risk of injury
  • work to eliminate overcompensations that probably have developed over time

And, there are so many effective bodyweight exercises you can do to build this foundation without ever even stepping foot into a gym. Hooray for time and money saved, right?

In this article, you will find basic information on stability and balance training, plus 12 core stability exercises for your next workout:

What Is Stability and Balance Training?

This kind of training is performing an exercise in what we call in the fitness industry a proprioceptively enriched environment. To put it in layman’s terms: an unstable environment.

This can be performing an exercise…

  • while balancing on one leg
  • standing on a pillow
  • BOSU ball
  • or even a rolled-up yoga mat

Stability and balance training demands a lot of core activation and attention (it’s impossible to be on your phone or have a conversation while doing this type of training – so you’ll have to save your selfies until after you’re done) you can take a selfie after). If you want to get a feel for stability and balance training, you can try balancing on one leg while brushing your teeth!

Think like a kid

As a kid, most of us were running, jumping, climbing, landing on one foot, balancing on a balance beam or on the edge of a sandbox…are you getting the mental picture here? We were doing balance and stability exercises without even realizing it. As adults, we’re not climbing all over the place anymore (unfortunately!), balancing and activating our core as we should.

As a result, many of us have a weak core and distressed lower back, and have adopted many movement compensations (favoring one side while walking, standing, sitting, and even while training). Have you adopted any of these bad habits? Not sure? Don’t worry – there are ways to fix it with core stability exercises.

How Often Should You Incorporate This Type of Training?

Aim for one to two workouts per week. This goes for beginners all the way up to advanced athletes. It’s very important that pros improve stability as well.

The 12 Best Balance and Stability Exercises 

1. Single-Leg Deadlift

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Start the single-leg deadlift in a standing position. Keep your core engaged. Now slowly move one leg back by keeping it straight. Simultaneously, move your torso forward until it’s parallel to the floor, with your arms straight and at shoulder height, perpendicular to the floor. To come up, pull your back leg forward, and lift your torso until you are back in a standing position. Switch sides and repeat.

2. Speed Skaters

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Train your balance and stability with speed skaters! Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Now shift your weight to your right leg and move your left leg off the floor. Engage your standing leg as you balance with your left leg slightly behind you. Then jump back to the left foot, in the opposite direction. While doing this, your arms are swinging from side to side like a speed skater.

3. Single Leg Squats (SL Squats)

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Stand straight on one foot if you want to do single leg squats. Bend the opposite leg by bringing it up in front of you, slightly bent at the knee. Now slowly bend your standing leg into a squat position keeping your knee stable and in line with your ankle. After you’ve completed all reps on one leg, switch sides and repeat.

4. Lunge & Twist

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Start in a standing position with your feet together. Keep your core engaged and your chest up. Step your right foot forward into a lunge position. The front knee is perpendicular to the floor, keeping it in line with the ankle and behind the toes. Hold the lunge position, keeping your hips, knees, and legs still while twisting your upper body towards the right from your midsection. Step back into the starting position and repeat the lunge and twist on the opposite side.

Tip:

For more intensity, you can hold a weight.

5. Single Leg Jump Squats (SL Jump Squats)

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Single leg jump squats made easy! Standing on one foot, slightly bend the opposite leg, keeping your foot slightly elevated, lifting at the knee. Keep your core engaged while pushing your bent leg back behind you, slightly squatting with your standing leg. Swing your leg forward, lifting your knee up as you jump off of your standing leg, your arms slightly bent and swinging with the movement. Switch sides and repeat.

6. Lunge to Front Kick

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Start in a standing position with your core engaged. Step one leg back into a lunge position. Swing the back leg forward in front of you, pushing through the front heel to power a kicking motion. Be sure to engage the glute muscle of your standing leg. Switch sides and repeat the lunge to front kick. 

7. Side Plank Oblique Crunch

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For the side plank oblique crunch, lie on the floor on one side, stacking your elbow directly under your shoulder. Lift your bottom hip up as high as you can while tucking your hips under to stay as straight as possible. Lower your hip back towards the floor, making sure not to touch the ground, and lift back up. Repeat the set on the other side.

8. Limb Raise Push-ups

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Limb raise push-ups can improve your balance and stability. For this exercise, perform a push-up while keeping your hips square to the ground at all times. At the top of the push-up, lift your opposite leg and arm while engaging your core. Your hips and shoulders should move at the same rate, controlling the movement as you raise your arm to shoulder height and lift your leg above hip-level. Be sure to keep your core engaged throughout the entire exercise. 

9. Low Plank Crunches

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Low plank crunches are another great stability exercise. When performing these crunches, it is important to find a steady pace, not moving too fast.   Starting in a plank position, make sure only to elevate your hips slightly, placing your elbows directly under your shoulders. Your core, glutes, and legs are engaged when bringing your opposite knee and elbow together, slightly touching underneath your midsection. 

Tip:

You can modify this exercise with a bodyweight exercise that’s called quadruped knee to elbow:

 

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10. One-Legged 4 Count Burpees

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The one-legged 4 count burpee is an advanced bodyweight exercise, so make sure to execute it correctly. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders in a plank position, and your core is engaged. Keeping one leg lifted off the ground for the entire movement, bring your grounded foot forward under your midsection and stand up straight, jumping upwards. Bring your body back into a plank position by lowering back to the floor on one leg, kicking one leg behind you, landing in a single-leg plank. 

11. Single Leg Crab Bridge

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Ever heard about the single leg crab bridge? This intermediate exercise can help you improve your balance and stability. Start by sitting on the floor with your hands slightly behind you, feet on the floor with your knees pointed up at the ceiling. Using one leg, lift your hips off of the floor to shoulder level, lifting your other leg in the air. With your wrists stacked under your shoulders and fingers pointing forward,  push through the heel of your supporting leg. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the bridge position, making sure that the ankle is directly under your knee on the supporting leg. Repeat on the other side.

12. Squat Knee to Elbow Twist

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For the squat knee to elbow twist, start in a standing position with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Lower your hips into a squat, keeping your elbows up, interlocking your hands in front of you at shoulder height. When you come back up to the standing position, twist at your midsection while lifting up one knee to touch your opposite elbow. Follow your hands with your head, looking forward and keeping your back straight. Alternate sides after each squat.

So, did you try out these stability and balance exercises? If so, you probably noticed that one side is much stronger and more coordinated than the other. That’s normal – just keep practicing to build more strength and balance!

All of these bodyweight exercises can be found in the adidas Training app! Download it today and start improving your balance, stability, and core control!  

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