Are your workouts well-rounded? When considering what constitutes a comprehensive exercise routine, it’s common to think primarily of cardio and weight training. And although these types of activities are essential for overall well-being, they don’t represent all the fitness factors necessary for a healthy and strong body.

Balance is a major building block of fitness. It’s necessary for moving safely and securely through daily activities such as walking, stair climbing, or even stopping a fall on an icy sidewalk. It’s vital for preserving independence as we age, and during such balance-altering life events as pregnancy. Since becoming pregnant, I’ve noticed the profound effect that a slight shift in the body’s center of gravity can have on my balance. It’s given me a renewed sense how important stability strengthening exercises are.

It’s easy to forget about balance training, especially because most exercisers don’t know exactly how to improve balance. If you are a gym-goer, chances are you’ve seen that inflated, circular, blue Bosu ball collecting dust in the corner. It’s a great toning tool for enhancing balance, but if you’ve never used this device, it can be intimidating at first. And it’s quite pricey to purchase for at-home use.

To work around these deterrents, I’ve created a balance-building workout that can be completed from the comfort, convenience, and privacy of your home. An added bonus: It’s free. All you need is a medium or large pillow that you don’t mind standing on. You’ll need a pillow wide enough to allow you to stand with your feet hip-width apart, and one with adequate stuffing to challenge your balance.

These movements work best in socks or bare feet. Stand near a wall or sturdy surface for extra support. As your balance improves, you’ll need that support less and less.

Stork stance

  • Begin by standing with both feet on the center of the pillow about hip-width apart.
  • Slowly lift your right leg. Depending on your skill level, you can either hover it over the pillow’s surface or lift it higher until your knee is at a 90-degree angle. Hold for 10 seconds then practice on your left leg.
Stork
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Stork

Biceps balance

  • Once you feel confident standing on a single leg, grab a pair of light free weights to practice biceps curls.
  • Resume the same position as the stork stance, keeping your foot near the center of the pillow. Elevate it and hold for 10 biceps curls. Practice on both legs. While developing biceps strength is valuable, the true goal here is to see how well your stabilizer muscles respond when incorporating movement on a single leg.
Stork with biceps curl
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Stork with biceps curl

Squat stabilizer

  • Stand on the pillow with your feet hip-width apart. Your feet should be parallel and toes forward-facing.
  • Hinge back at your hips and lower your body until your knees form a 90-degree angle. As you lower your body, extend both arms overhead. Keep your shoulders back, chest up, and gaze forward. Hold for 10 seconds, then push through your heels to return to a standing position. Repeat five times, adding more reps as your balance builds.
Squat
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Squat

When you practice stability-strengthening moves, life is less likely to catch you off balance.

Ashley Blake Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more about her virtual training program, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.