After shooting down crunches and inner/outer thigh machines, and advocating deadlifts instead, what other exercise might I push that many folks aren’t doing? Here’s a hint: it will develop your balance, your legs, your coordination…
DID I MENTION BALANCE?
With so many people spending their day sitting down -and then walking on firm predictable surfaces like sidewalks- we are losing many challenges to our balance and the opportunities to develop the proprioceptive response to uneven surfaces. Then, as we age, we might further limit our movement: using a support to raise out of chair or leaning on handrails as we walk up and down stairs. We lose the ability to adjust our gait, to recenter our weight. We lose the ability to balance.
Balance, is one of the predictors of longevity. The greater our ability to maintain balance in unstable situations, the greater the chance that we will be physically be able to adapt to our surroundings, protect ourselves from injury, and therefore survive.
So what is one thing you should be doing to work on balance? Easy answer is everything you can, but realistically lets begin with the Single Leg Romanian Deadlift. (what is it with me and deadlifts? They are the magic!)
How to do a Single Leg Romanian Dead Lift:
1. Stand up tall, feet just inside shoulder width apart. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand letting the weight hang down in front of your thigh. (No dumbbell? Use a plastic drink carton. The important thing is having a good way to hold it). Lift the opposite foot just off the ground and balance.
2. Slowly bend over, letting the weight carry your arm down, and touch the floor in front of your foot with the weight. The free leg should move slightly behind the support leg, but not fly out to the side or move far behind you.
3. With your abs tight, squeeze your glutes, feel the tension moving UP your back, squeeze your shoulder blades together. You should be standing back up again.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Right now, give it a try.
Do 10-15 reps with one foot, then switch.
By the end of this exercise, your feet should feel like they are growing roots and might be slightly cramped. Your inner thighs should be burning, your glutes burned out, your shoulders permanently in a down and back position. And your balance? Well, you’re working on it.
Let me know in the comments how you do – and any questions you have.