By Lauren Merrill – B.S. Kinesiology
Can you stand on one foot while perched atop a BOSU ball? How long can you do it? If you’re standing one legged on the BOSU, can you swing the other leg like you were kicking an imagine soccer ball? Pretty hard, huh?
You’ve got to have great balance to do all of that.
Great balance is becoming even more important for obstacle course racing athletes because all of the major race brand (Spartan, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, etc.) have all added balance obstacles to their courses.
Balance is actually controlled by structures of your inner ear and your eyesight. While I can’t help you there, I can help you to strengthen your body so the top half and the bottom half of it work together better by focusing on your core.
Here are a few core exercises you can use to gain strength and improve your balance.
TRX Plank – Start out by placing your feet in a pair of TRX straps suspended about 12 inches off the floor.
Then walk your hands out until they are directly under your shoulders with your arms straight down to the floor. Now straighten your back and squeeze your abs so that your body is straight.
This will make you look like an “L” that’s been knocked over.
Hold this for as long as you can. 1 minute is good. 2 minutes is great. 3 or more minutes and you’re on your way to being on the Human Octane Pro Team.
This is a great variation of the classic plank because it forces your abs to stabilize you in addition to them working to hold you up.
Jackknife on BOSU Ball – Start with the small of your back on the top (rounded) side of a BOSU and both of your feet flat on the floor with your knees pointing at the ceiling.
Put your left hand on the floor to steady yourself and your right hand just behind your right ear. Now lift your left foot off the ground, brining your left knee to meet your right elbow as you perform a crunch while keeping your chin pointed toward the ceiling.
That’s one rep.
Do 15 reps that way, then switch to the other side.
I like the use of the BOSU ball in this one because it requires stability in addition to strength.
Vertical Crunch – hang from a pull up bar with your hands shoulder width apart.
Now slowly lift your knees up to your chest by squeezing your abs, then slowly lower them back down.
Once you can do this 15 times, make it harder on yourself by keeping your legs straight as you raise them.
You can make it even harder by raising your legs straight in front of you and holding them there for as long as possible.
The bonuses with this move is that it
A) forces you to stabilize at the same time your contracting your abs to lift your legs and
B) works your grip strength at the same time.
Do you have questions? Want tips on how to make these exercises harder or easier?
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