By Lucy Gornall
Balance board exercises can be super-effective if you're looking to not only improve your overall strength and fitness, but also work on your, umm, balance.
Here's a simple exercise to try (just be sure to do it safely!). Shut your eyes and stand on one foot. Find yourself stumbling slightly? Yup, that’s your balance saying ‘woah, I need some work’.
Balance is crucial for everyday life. Think about it: even just the simple act of walking requires balance. Up the intensity to a run and your body is practically hopping from the left leg to the right and staying upright – that’s all about balance to.
That's where balance board exercises can help. Not familiar with this particular piece of fitness equipment? Typically, a balance board - also sometimes called a wobble board - features a flat, hard top attached to a rounded bottom, which creates instability when used during exercise.
The great thing about this workout is that it features a lot of exercises you're no doubt already familiar with. If you know how to do a plank or how to do squats already then you're halfway to mastering our balance board workout.
But even if you're a complete beginner, fear not - our simple step-by-step guides will have you balance boarding like a pro in no time.
Balance board benefits
Ben Davie, a fitness trainer and the founder of Move With Ben, explains that ultimately, a balance board – yes, you guessed it – helps to improve your balance. ‘It’s a perfect way to include unilateral exercises – where we strengthen each side of the body equally. It’s these unilateral exercises that are often neglected,' he says.
What’s more, a balance board helps to develop core stability, muscular control and co-ordination.
Sound good? Grab a board and try these five best balance board exercises...
5 best balance board exercises
1. Plank holds
- Instead of placing your hands or elbows on the ground as with a traditional plank, place your hands on either side of the balance board
- Extend your arms and rise up onto your toes, keeping the body in a straight line and engaging every muscle.
- Pay particular attention to keeping your spine in a straight line don't let that head sag!
- Beginners should aim to hold for 20 seconds then rest for another 20. Repeat five times
2. Reverse lunge
Works: quads, glutes and core
- Keeping your left foot planted in the middle of the board, slowly perform a reverse lunge.
- Take your right foot back and drop your right knee down to the floor.
- Aim for the right knee to touch the ground while keeping all sides of the balance board off the floor. Try 10 reps per side.
- Love lunges? See more variations in our dedicated guide on how to do lunges.
3. Side squats
Works: hamstrings, quads, glutes and core
- As per the lunge move above, start with your left foot planted on the board and your right foot on the ground, with feet hip-distance apart.
- From here, perform a traditional squat but keep the sides of the board off the floor. This might sound easy, but trust us - it’s not!
- Aim for 15 reps.
4. Glute bridges
Works: hamstrings, glutes and core
- Lying on your back, plant your right foot in the center of the board.
- Lift your left foot in the air at a 90-degree angle.
- Lift your hips to a bridge position, then lower them back down slowly.
- Once you reach the bottom, thrust the hips back up.
- Complete 15 reps on each leg.
5. Kick sits
Works: upper body and core
- Start in a similar stance to the plank position, but with your hands flat on the board instead of either side.
- Staying low, twist and kick one leg through to the opposite side, simultaneously lifting the opposite arm off the board.
- Repeat both sides and increase speed once comfortable.
- Attempt 10 reps each side. If you find this too tricky, practice without lifting your arm and just kicking your leg to the opposite site instead.
Lucy is Head of Wellness at Pure Sport and was formerly Health and Fitness Editor at various women's magazines, including Woman&Home Feel Good You. She has previously written for titles including Now, Look and Cosmopolitan. She lives and breathes all things fitness; she works out every morning, and mixes it up with runs, weights, boxing and endless box jumps. She is also a Level 3 personal trainer and teaches classes at various London studios, primarily Digme Fitness. Lucy is pre- and post-natal trained and helps new mums get back into fitness after the birth of their baby. Lucy claims that good sleep, plenty of food and a healthy gut (seriously, it's an obsession) are the key to maintaining energy and exercising efficiently. Saying this, she's partial to the odd Negroni on the dance floor with her friends.
What motivates you to exercise? New research examines what gets people moving
Wellness The University of Waterloo has found fear of illness and death is what gets people exercising rather than positive effects
By Matt Evans •
Watch: This 30-minute guided yoga flow for beginners' hip and posture health
Yoga This yoga flow from expert trainer Karen Kirkness will loosen up your hips and lower back
By Matt Evans •