Training for balance, strength and agility.

Spending a little effort on balance and sensori-motor training will improve your performance in WODs as well as in Olympic lifting.  The most effective balance training programs are exercises that are done at least three times a week and should be done long term.  This is something a lot of CrossFit-ters and Boxes seems to overlook.  (Boxes, for the uninitiated are essentially CrossFit gyms or clubs.)  Balance training will make you better able to respond to sudden physical demands (as you would experience transitioning from one WOD element to another, or simply slipping on something).  Sensorimotor training can improve force output and protect against injuries (Gruber & Gollhofer 2004).  This is likely because it can increase your rate of response and, let’s assume, the quality of your response.

There are a number of simple things you can do to improve your balance and responsiveness.  You can do standard balance exercises such as standing on one foot or standing on a wobble board.  You can increase the challenge by doing these things on unstable surfaces.  For example, balancing on one foot on a pillow.  This will be easier for some than for others.  If its easy try adding a little more challenge by attempting the following:

  •  Stand on one foot while brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. 
  •  Stand on one foot while extending the other foot behind you at a right angle.  Keep your hips parallel to the ground.  Try this while walking the dog.  Try to hold your balance each time your animal stops to relieve itself (try not to look as though you are joining it in this activity)
  • Try the same pose each time your dog tries to attack a passing car.   
  • And there’s yoga.

DiStefano LJ, Clark MA, & Padua DA (2009). Evidence supporting balance training in healthy individuals: a systemic review. Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association, 23 (9), 2718-31 PMID: 19910803  

Gruber M, & Gollhofer A (2004). Impact of sensorimotor training on the rate of force development and neural activation. European journal of applied physiology, 92 (1-2), 98-105 PMID: 15024669.

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