Balance and stability are two important components in all aspects of daily life. In terms of boxing, they’re vital because they have an impact of every aspect of your performance, from offense to defense.
You must always maintain gravity at the center of your body everytime you’re throwing a punch or avoiding one, and without this balance, you significantly reduce your punching power and co-ordination. Here are some exercises on how to improve balance.
1) Swiss Ball
Exercise balls are extremely versatile and can easily be incorporated into a variety of exercises and adds another dimension of difficulty to exercises, which forces you to maintain balance. Exercise balls can be utilized for performing abdominal crunches, exercise ball presses or squats to name a few.
The side plank is a unique exercise that strengthens your entire core region, but is even more impressive because it targets a relatively difficult to pinpoint muscle known as the quadratus lumborum.
The side plank may be done either with the elbow supporting the body or the arm extended straight down and on the ground.
The side plank differs from the standard plank in the way that it targets oblique’s as well as the side deltoids, and performing it on an exercise ball calls into play the lower abs.
The plank is an exercise position that forms the basis of many stability and strength routines, simply because its effectiveness is unchallenged.
It has become a staple in developing a strong core and is superior to the crunch for developing the abdominal muscles.
It basically involves resting the body’s weight on the elbows and toes, while keeping the back straight for an extended period of time.
The crunch is a staple movement in many athletes regimen, and targets mainly the rectus abdominals (upper abs) region.
A proper crunch involves maintaining contact of the lower back with the floor, while only elevating the shoulders.
The knees are normally bent with the soles of the feet flat on the floor. If planks and other core techniques are involved in an instability workout, standard crunches do not need to be performed.
However, swiss ball crunches effectively work all areas of the core and are advised to be added into a routine. You can check out reviews and prices of different swiss balls here.
2) Rope Climbing
Rope climbing is a very simple exercise to perform that is as effective as a whole body workout. Rope climbing builds massive grip and forearm strength, and can save your life down the line.
While not directly involving recruitment of the legs, they still play an important role in clamping your entire body into a fixed position as you climb.
3) Suspended Rows
Suspended rows are performed by using two straps with handles on them, and attaching them to a bar for body suspension.
You hold onto the handles and lean back so that your arms are straight and your body is titled. You’re then required you to maintain that elevated position for as long as possible.
The angle of the move is between 60-75 degrees and not 90 degrees as many believe. This is a great bodyweight exercise that focuses your shoulder and upper back muscles to keep your upper body stable.
4) Dynamic Loads
Dynamic loads are techniques which involve varying the actual force the weight is exerting through various parts of movement. Dynamic loads can be produced by anything where you can think of a way to change resistance.
Dynamic Loads produced by dumbbells are a bit more technical than that of barbells, in the sense that balance is a bit trickier to maintain.
To cause a dynamic load when using dumbbells, an additional person will need to be present to either push down on the dumbbells through parts of the movement, or take off resistance at certain parts (similar to what a spotter would do but more deliberate).
A perfect example of a dynamic load exercise is the dumbbell pullover; through the lowermost part of the movement the load is likely to be felt the most.
You can use single or double dumbbells and also performing it on an exercising ball is more difficult but effective at improving your balance and strength.
The advantage of using kettle bells over dumbbells mainly stem from the fact that they have a variable center of gravity throughout different ranges of motion; as such, the load is likely to feel heavier or lighter at different parts of the movement.
Kettle bells are also touted as being more practical for improving functionality of the body, something that fixed center of gravity objects do not give.
One of the best kettlebell exercises to improve balance is the vertical swing where you must stand with your feet apart, hold the kettle bell in front of you with both arms and swing it above your head, then between your legs.
You can check out customer reviews and prices on various weights from one of the best rated kettle bells here.
5) Balancing Beam
The balancing beam is an apparatus used by gymnasts to perform artistic moves. It requires excellent balance and co-ordination to move around freely on it. You don’t have to actually use a balancing beam, just find a thin but stable platform to perform the following.
Standing on the pad you will be performing a lunge, both backward and forward. The purpose of this exercise is to perform a lunge without bobbling. This exercise can improve core stability and feet co-ordination if mastered.
Straight back squats are a good exercise that can duplicate several moves on the balance beam. Perform a straight-backed squat with your feet about a shoulder width apart; you will want to make an angle of almost 90 degrees.
The goal is to get as low as possible without wobbling. It may also be advantageous to simply hold yourself in squatting position for 30 seconds as a drill.
6) Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are the best option for varying resistance throughout an exercise, simply because the property of elasticity mimics the outcome we are trying to accomplish. A resistance band, similar to a rubber band, depending on the degree that it is stretched, will become more and more opposed to movement.
What this translates to for the athlete is a greater force generation to break barriers, or more speed to increase the stretch. Resistance bands may be used as high force speed developers, or can be added to typical movements like bench presses to make very light weight feel heavy and recruit further stabilization muscles.
If you want great resistance bands, I would recommend Bodylastics Resistance Bands, where its high quality equipment and patented technology simply trumps the competition.
7) Unilateral Exercises
Unilateral exercises just means single side exercises, and are great for correcting balance of strength difference between sides.
Most people inherently have one side of the body that is a bit more underdeveloped than the other, and when performing bilateral exercises, the stronger side normally compensates for the weaker half.
Unilateral exercises such as unilateral squat, bench press or shoulder press are all great ways to correct muscle imbalances and improve spinal symmetry and overall balance.
8) Air Squat and Hold
Air squats requires you to maintain core stability and they strengthen your thigh and gluteal muscles. Keep your legs spread apart and as you sit down, extend your arms out in front of you then hold that position for 30 seconds (or for as long as possible), then come back up. The lower you go, the harder it gets.
To make things more difficult, you can hold free weights (around 1KG is good) or if you really want to test your balance and endurance, sit down so that your legs are at a 45 degree angle, then place a small plastic cup / holder full of water on each knee, and try not to let any spill.
The level of limb recruitment you need in sports like boxing, is to an extent proportional to the degree of instability being experienced. Take for example walking on a road; your limbs hang right down since there is no need for additional balance.
Now walk on a narrow 4 inches plank; your arms will need to spread to accommodate deviation of the midline to either side by shifting to the other side. A simple way to demonstrate this can be to stand on 1 leg for a period of time and see what ensues. By doing this, you will see just how good your balance is.
Written by: Margaret Simpson
To get the most out of your training, I highly recommend the following articles:
► How to Increase Punching Power
► 10 Tips to Improve Boxing Footwork
► Boxing Basics
► Top 10 Best Heavy Punching Bags
► Top 10 Best Boxing Gloves