A balance disc is an inflated circular cushion that you can incorporate into your strength training workouts. The disc provides an unstable surface, so when you stand, kneel or place your hands on it, your body has to work to keep itself balanced. Performing exercises with the disc can not only build muscular strength, but also improve proprioception, which is body awareness; balance; and core stability. After a warm-up consisting of five to 10 minutes of light cardio, use the balance disc to focus strictly on balance improvements or for targeting muscles in the lower body, upper body and core.
Balance-focused exercises are an ideal place to start when first using a balance disc. They can improve your ability to maintain balance and correct yourself when you become off-balance. Begin by standing on the disc with both feet and work to keep your balance for 30 seconds. Once you're comfortable, try standing on the disc and maintaining balance for 30 seconds while your eyes are closed. Next, stand on the disc with just one foot, holding up the other behind you. Hold your balance for 30 seconds and then switch feet. For an even more challenging balance exercise, maintain your balance while standing on the disc with one foot and with your eyes closed.
After you can keep your balance while standing on the disc, incorporate squats and lunges into your regimen to strengthen muscles in your lower body. For squats, stand on the disc with both feet. Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower your hips toward the floor; then, straighten your legs to rise back up and finish the rep. For lunges, get into a staggered stance with the balance disc positioned under your front foot. Bend your front knee to lower your back knee toward the floor. Rise back up and then switch the position of your feet. Hold dumbbells at your shoulders as you do squats and lunges to make the exercises more challenging.
Use a balance disc during pushups to strengthen muscles in your upper body. Get into a pushup position with your hands atop the balance disc placed on the floor directly under your chest. Bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the floor and then straighten your arms to finish the rep. If regular pushups are too difficult, try the modified version of the exercise. Get into a pushup position with your knees on the floor instead of your toes. Keep your torso and thighs in a straight line as you bend and straighten your elbows to complete your pushups.
A balance disc can be incorporated when doing crunches, forearm planks and supine bridges. For crunches, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place the disc under the arch of your lower back. Crunch up to lift your shoulders off the floor and then lower back down. For forearm planks, lie face down with your elbows positioned atop the balance disc on the floor directly under your shoulders. Lift your body off the floor and hold yourself up on your elbows and toes for 30 to 60 seconds. Supine bridges can be performed by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet placed atop the balance disc. Lift your hips up and then lower them to the floor.
- Chicago Tribune: Balanced to the Core
- Physiobench: Uses and Benefits of an Exercise Disc Balance Cushion
- Sports Science Lab: Double Leg Squats on Instability Disks
- Living Healthy 360: Effective Ways to Use a Balance Disc
- Harvard Health Publications: Strengthening Your Core: : Right and Wrong Ways to do Lunges, Squats and Planks