A typical workout includes a dynamic warm-up, speed training, agility and quickness drills, plyometrics, weight and resistance training, core development, recovery and cool down. But the workout is not complete without a component that works balance and stability.
In general, you need to train balance in an unstable environment and in a fatigued state, so your muscles and neuromuscular system have to work harder.
So how do you find time to complete a traditional workout and add this important component? The simple answer is to integrate balance work in your existing regimen. For example, in your dynamic warm-up, add single-leg drills and exercises and use a narrow base—or work to stabilize one area while another part of your body is moving.
You can also make slight variations to weight training exercises by changing the intensity and including balance elements. Instead of doing the DB Chest Press on a bench, use a stability ball. For a DB Shoulder Press, stand on a balance disc or a BOSU ball.
You can even add balance work to your Squat routine. If you normally do four sets of six reps, you have four opportunities to include balance drills. After each regular set, instead of resting and shooting the breeze with teammates, lower the weight a bit and do Single-Leg Squats on a balance pad for 30 seconds on each leg. It shouldn't stress your body enough to hinder your regular Squats, but as you progress in your workout and start to get tired, the balance piece will become more difficult. At that point, you will work kinesthetic awareness—i.e., knowing where your body parts are in three-dimensional space—an important ability for any athlete.
In a full workout of six to eight exercises, you should be able to squeeze in several balance drills without adding more than 10 to 15 minutes of training time.
When you add a balance challenge to an exercise, you might need to decrease the weight load. Don't try to handle super heavy loads while working on balance. If you are in an absolute strength training phase, it's not a good time to use unstable surfaces. A better time would be during an endurance or hypertrophy phase of training.
Look for opportunities to add balance components to your training program. You should be able to do so within your timetable, and you will reap the benefits of stability work.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock