Athlete Workout for Stability and Balance

July 17, 2017 by VAHVA Fitness

Great exercises to develop stability in the core and hips. Stability will significantly improve your balance and also make you more athletic!

Stability is your body’s ability to stabilize and neutralize movement. It’s the ability to keep the body stable despite any distraction or disturbance.

Below is the definition of stability from National Strength & Conditioning Association (2012):

“The ability to return to a desired position or trajectory following a disturbance”. - NSCA 2012

These exercises will primarily focus on one leg stability - your ability to balance on one leg while holding the body stable.

The purpose of moving the weights is not to move the weights but to create instability. In other words, the purpose of the weights is to make stabilizing more difficult by changing the center of mass and by creating force.

Athletes focus greatly on stability and balance - sometimes it feels like it’s ALL they do when you look at the strength & conditioning footage of boxers and other athletes.

The benefits are numerous since the ability to stabilize gives you more support to produce power and it also gives you speed (because no joint will lose the base of support in movement).

Your joints should also stay healthier and good levels of stability can help you to avoid injuries.

Stability training is not just for athletes - it’s important for everyone and especially for martial artists who rely a lot on balance.

Mobility is important, but so is stability. This is the yin and yang. Optimally the joints should be mobile (full range of motion) but also have the ability to stabilize (stay in place during movement).

For full mobility training, you can check out Movement 20XX. To make your core stronger and improve your core stability, see Abs 20XX.

Balance and Stability Workout for Athletes

One Leg KB/DB Press: 2 x 7-12 repetitions per side

One Leg Front Push: 2 x 7-12 repetitions per side

One Leg Bent Over Row: 3 x 7-12 repetitions per side

One Leg Barbell Press: 2 x 7-12 repetitions per side

Overhead Walk: 2 x 10-20 steps per side

Suitcase carry: 2 x 10-20 steps per side

Rest 1-2 minutes between sets and exercises.

One Leg Press

one leg overhead press

You do a press while balancing on one leg at the time. The purpose of the press is to create instability and distraction by changing the center of mass and by creating force with the pressing movement.

Overhead pressing is already known for developing core stability when it is done standing up. Do it with just one leg and you will be working on both hip and core stability a lot harder.

Using a kettlebell or a dumbbell is a great way to start. Barbell is the hardest option.

You need to focus primarily on keeping the body stable while you are slowly pressing the weight up.

One Leg Front Push

chest press one leg stability

In the one leg chest push you are moving the weight in front of the body by utilizing the anterior deltoids while standing on one leg.

When with the one leg press the weight is moving upwards, here you are moving the weight in the front.

This change in center of mass will force different stabilizers to work and you will be focusing more on the stability of the abs and lower back muscles than the obliques.

Tense the whole body up and do slow and controlled repetitions.

One Leg Bent Over Row

one leg stability row

One leg bent over row will primarily challenge the stability of your lower back and hips. Take a 90 degree to 45 degree angle with your body and balance on one leg.

When the supporting leg is straight, you are mostly focusing on the hamstrings. If the leg is bent, you should feel it in the quads (knee stability) and glutes.

Execution here is important: the body is supposed to be stiff and rigid like a rock and no movement should be created with the trunk or hips. In other words, the only things that are supposed to move are the elbow and shoulder joints.

Move the weight slowly up and down. This unilateral movement will nicely emphasize one side of the lower back at the time.

One Arm Overhead Walk

overhead farmer's walk

Overhead walk will primarily work the core and shoulder stability.

The common mistake is to walk too fast - this is how almost everyone does it. Too much speed is not good for stability since the body simply won’t be as stable as you would want it to be.

Take small slow steps while holding the weight overhead. Your body from hips upwards should be stiff as a rock. If your arm or midsection is shaking, you need to pick a lighter weight.

Feel the obliques and core muscles burning and keep the form tight.

Suitcase Carry

suitcase carry for obliques and core stability

Pick a relatively light weight and hold it like a suitcase. Take small and slow steps forward or backwards while holding the midsection tense.

Similar to the overhead walk, people simply walk way too fast and use way too much weight. This can be good for forearm and trapezius strength, but you won’t develop good levels of stability this way (even if your core is burning, it’s not quality work).

Focus on mind-muscle connection and really feel the lower obliques working and burning with every step. The real purpose of the walking is to create instability for the obliques.


samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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