If you wobble during yoga and can't help swaying in high heels, it might be time to evaluate your balance. Don't worry: Even the fittest people can have trouble mastering it. That's because balance doesn't just come down to age and inactivity. Equilibrium relies on sensors called proprioceptors, located in your muscles, tendons, and joints. These sensors, along with the muscles in your limbs and core, help your body maintain balance while changing position. But sticking to the same workout all the time can weaken those muscles, while overworking others. First, switch up your routine to increase your range of motion. Then, try this workout, created by Gunnar Peterson, a personal trainer in Beverly Hills, Calif., to boost your proprioception and reaction time.
Balance benefit: The towel increases instability; lifting one foot requires you to contract and strengthen the weight-bearing leg for steadiness.
Stand on a folded beach towel with legs together, holding a pair of dumbbells in front of thighs (A). Hinge forward at hips, keeping back flat as you lower weights and lift right leg (B). Reach forward until hands are about 8 inches in front of left foot. Pause, then push body back to start. Do 12 reps and repeat on opposite side.
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Balance benefit: Lining up your feet minimizes your base of support, forcing you to engage supporting muscles to stay upright.
Position left foot about 2 feet in front of right foot and place hands on hips (A). Keeping core tight, bend knees to lower body straight down until front knee is bent 90 degrees. Don't let front knee slide over toes or back knee touch the floor (B). Return to start by pushing up with front leg. Complete 12 reps, then repeat on opposite side.
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Balance benefit: Shifting your body weight from side to side engages supporting musclesyour glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexorsto maintain your position.
Stand with feet together, arms straight out in front of you (A). Step out to the left, bending left knee about 90 degrees as you push hips back and lower down (B). Push up to return to start. Complete 12 reps, then repeat on opposite side.
Balance benefit: Explosive motions like this prompt your abdominal muscles to fire in order to stabilize you.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms up. Swing arms behind you as you bend knees and push hips back (A). Swing arms forward as you drive feet into the floor, push hips forward and explode forward off the floor (B). Land on your feet and drop down (C). Do 12 reps.
Balance benefit: Resistance pulls you forward; engaging your core and upper body keeps you in alignment.
Wrap a resistance band around a fixed object and stand in front of it, an end in each hand. Hinge at hips, swinging left leg back until arms, head, torso and leg are as close to parallel as possible (A). Rise to stand, squeezing shoulder blades and lowering left leg to the floor as you pull band back (B). Do 12 reps, then repeat on opposite side.
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Single-Arm Overhead Press
Balance benefit: With an uneven load and feet positioned together, your core muscles have to work harder to keep you upright.
Stand with feet together, holding a dumbbell in right hand just above and outside right shoulder, palm turned toward you (A). Push dumbbell up and slightly forward into a Y position (B). Return to start and repeat 12 times without pausing. Repeat on opposite side.
Balance benefit: To maintain a solid posture on a movable object, you need to make small adjustments that require greater muscle activation.
Kneel in front of a stability ball and place forearms on top, fingers interlaced (A). Tighten core and lift knees off the floor into a plank, forming a line from head to heels. Keep shoulder blades pulled down and tighten glutes (B). Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat. To make it harder, lift one leg off the floor at a time.