Balance training boosts strength

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: September 1st, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Standing on one foot doesn’t sound like a good way to get stronger.

But if you’re serious about weight training, balancing exercises may give you a leg up on gaining strength.

Just don’t do the weights before the balancing.

That was the conclusion German experts reached in a study published recently in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.

On average, volunteers became twenty percent stronger when they did four weeks of balance training, followed by four weeks of weight training.

In the study, eighteen men and women were randomly assigned to two groups. Both groups did balance and weight training; the only variable was which came first.

For balance, they stood one-legged on wobbling boards and other surfaces. For strength, they performed leg-presses, using both legs to lift as much weight as possible in a single repetition.

The group starting with the balance program gained strength steadily throughout the eight weeks.

The other group gained strength during the weight program, then lost most of it during the balance training that followed.

Researchers aren’t sure why the volunteers had much better results when they did balance training first. But they have a theory balance training could make it easier to sense how our bodies are positioned in space.

That improvement might translate to faster and better activation of the trained muscles during voluntary movement.

Whatever the reason, the strength gains shown in this study are dramatic enough to make serious athletes jump up and take notice. On one foot, of course.