Hardcore Exercises for Balance & Stability
Hard-Core Exercises For Balance And Stability In The Ultimate Athlete
Among the many groups of muscles trained by an athlete, the core group of muscles is often overlooked or improperly trained. Considering how we use our entire body to generate force, it would make sense to train from the center out to the extremities.
If the core is solid, balanced, and strong, it will serve its ultimate function of transferring power to the upper and lower extremities. A great number of injuries in combat sports are related to the core, low back injuries, and “interior” muscle strains to name a few. In this article, we will examine six exercises that will help the athlete generate more force, by utilizing the core muscle group. A few guidelines before we begin:
- Always use good form; with power comes speed.
- Balance your training; always train the opposing muscle group (abs = lower back)
- Maintain a good abdominal contractions throughout the exercise. Breathe out when exerting force.
- Be progressive in your training approach. Add weight and repetitions as you begin to gain strength.
- Add variety to your training, utilizing different exercises to avoid boredom and target all areas of the core.
- As a general rule, try to work the weaker regions of the belly first. Since the upper section assists the movement of your obliques and the lower part, begin with the obliques, and lower abs, then finish with the upper stomach.
Standing Medicine Ball Toss
This exercise is performed with a partner. Standing approximately 6-8 feet away from each other, the partners will assume a right-handed fighting stance. Right foot forward, left foot back approximately shoulder-width apart.
Your weight should be balanced between your front and back foot, with your knees slightly bent. Both partners should have their hands ready at all times. The first partner begins by throwing the medicine ball to his partner’s chest, using his right rear hand.
This should emulate a right-hand punch, twisting the hip, dropping the buttocks and knee, and pivoting the right rear foot into the throw. The body comes back to the “ready” position immediately following the throw, to accept the toss back from the partner.
After 20-30 reps on the right, change sides, and remember to always work the weak side as well as the strong.
***For an ULTIMATE twist, give your partner a target of your obliques and let the ball impact your side before returning it.
Seated Rotation Toss
This exercise is performed with a partner. One partner is sitting, cross-legged. The other partner is standing, two feet back and four feet off to the left of the sitting partner. The standing partner is holding a medicine ball of the appropriate weight.
The sitting partner is going to give the standing partner a target of two outreached hands (as if to catch a football) at the knee furthest away from the standing partner. The standing partner then throws the medicine ball into the outreached hands of the sitting partner.
The sitting partner catches the ball, allowing it to twist the obliques to the far right and touches the ground with it, then slings the ball aggressively back. The momentum of the ball should push the abdominal muscles to the far right, forcing them to brake and stop the weight just before touching the ground.
**If the weight of the ball is causing the ball to “bounce” off the ground, it’s too heavy.
After working 20-30 repetitions, change sides, with no more than one minute rest in between.
3 Man Abdominal Lift
This exercise takes three partners, two medicine balls, and some coordination. One partner sits cross-legged on the ground and will start with a medicine ball in his lap. The second partner will be directly in front of the working partner and will also start with a medicine ball.
The third partner will be directly behind the seated partner, and depending upon the length of the seated partner’s arms, will be standing anywhere from one to three feet behind. The exercise begins when the seated partner raises the medicine ball up and back to the rear partner, not letting go until the partner takes it from his hands.
The seated partner then accepts an underhand (soft) toss from the front partner, who then accepts a toss from the rear partner, and so on. This exercise has to be done in a good rhythm, with all partners paying attention, so as not to get cracked in the head by the ball.
***Once this exercise becomes easy, you can increase the distance of the rear partner, and have the seated partner hurl the ball backward, it is important to note, you need to slow the pace down in this instance.
Lying Abdominal Toss
This exercise is performed with one partner laying on their back, and the other partner standing in front at the base of their feet. The partner on the ground has their hands stretched out above their head, awaiting the toss of the medicine ball from the standing partner.
The standing partner throws the medicine ball underhand to the laying partner, with good force, causing the arms to break the momentum of the ball. The ball should “touch” the ground, then the partner crunches up, not too much, and throws the ball back to the standing partner.
The ball is thrown with good force, you should be breathing out when the toss is made.
A set of 20-30 reps is acceptable.
This exercise targets the lower back muscles and is performed on your stomach. You can anchor your feet under someone or something, place your hands on the back of your head, and arch up and down slowly. This is a basic back crunch.
To add more difficulty, release the anchor on your feet, and arch your feet off the ground simultaneously with your hands outreached. This will lead to the more advanced exercise that comes next.
Two partners, lying on their stomachs, approximately 3-4 feet apart, perform this exercise. Both partners will arch up their feet and arms, making sure the elbows are not touching the ground, and toss a small medicine ball back and forth for as many repetitions as they can both comfortably perform. You should feel tension in your lower back, buttocks, and hamstrings.
This concludes this month’s “Hardcore” training tips, stop in next time to see what’s new. And just a quick thought related to advise on training tips. Never give anyone a tip that you haven’t tried and found helpful to yourself. Never stop striving to be the best!
Jenifer “All-American” Alcorn.