Several weeks ago, we introduced the idea of balance training and the many benefits it provides to runners. Now that you’ve completed Phase 1, you’re ready to move on to Phase 2: Balance Strength.
(Haven’t completed Phase 1 yet? This is a progressive program, so don’t skip it! Start here.)
Guidelines for Balance Training
- You may continue to incorporate some of the exercises from Phase 1 if you’d like.
- Reps should be relatively high (about 12 to 20 total), but it’s a good idea to start a bit lower for the first week or two as your body adjusts to this type of training.
- Complete the exercises two to three times per week.
- As with all exercises, proper form is key. Form is more important than how many reps you complete or how long you are able to hold a position. Proper form is your foundation.
Phase 2: Balance Strength
Four to six weeks of balance training following completion of Phase 1
These exercises involve dynamic movements and are designed to increase the strength of stabilizer muscles while maintaining the foundation of stability established in Phase 1.
Single Leg Box Squat
- Stand on a box and center your weight on your right foot, toes pointing straight forward.
- Drop your left leg so that it hangs off the side of the box.
- Extend your arms straight out in front of you and lower into a squat position. Be careful to keep your bending knee in line with your toes.
- Keep your left leg straight and lower your body as far down as comfortable, aiming to eventually have your bent quad parallel to the floor. Then raise back up.
- After several reps, switch legs so that you are balanced on your left leg. Repeat the exercise.
Step Up to Balance
- Begin by facing a step or box, standing tall and balanced on both feet.
- Step up with your right foot and pause there for three to five seconds, holding your left leg steady in the air with the knee at a 90° angle.
- Step back down at a controlled pace and repeat the exercise several times. Then, switch legs so that you are stepping up with your left leg.
Lunge to Balance
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointing forward.
- Step forward with your right foot to come into a lunge position. Aim to have your right quad parallel with the floor.
- After holding the lunge position for three to five seconds, push forward with your left foot to come into an upright position balanced on your right leg. Your left knee should be held at a 90° angle.
- Hold this position for another three to five seconds, then lower your left leg to return to your starting position.
- Repeat this exercise several times, then switch to stepping forward with your left leg.
Gluteus Medius Leg Lifts
- Lie on your side and bend your bottom arm so that your hand is behind your head.
- Put your top hand on your upper hip and press your pelvis forward to make sure it does not rotate back during the exercise.
- Engage your core muscles and keep the outside of your bottom foot level to the ground.
- Keeping your top leg straight, lift it up and then back using your glutes to lift the leg.
- Repeat this exercise several times and then switch sides.
Happy training and stay tuned for Phase 3: Balance Power for Runners.
Tracie is a former teacher and a lifelong learner who loves exploring. Most at home in the mountains, she enjoys tearing up and down the trails on her mountain bike, and occasionally leaves the wheels at home for a run through the trees. Having recently earned her personal trainer certification, Tracie thrives on helping others reach their athletic goals.