Balance boards are useful not just to train balance, but also to help develop core strength, stability, and motor coordination. While sometimes very difficult for a beginner to master, a typical, healthy user can begin to balance on a low-incline board within 10 to 20 minutes. Once this simple balance is achieved, the user can complete a wide variety of exercises, including standard exercises enhanced by the use of the board.
When beginning to train balance, first allow yourself to become accustomed to the movements of the board. To do this, alternate between three movements: front-to-back rocking, side-to-side rocking, and circular rotation. This will get you used to your balance board and the motions necessary to manipulate it.
When you feel in control of yourself throughout all three of these exercises, start trying to maintain your balance in the center of the board without any part of its rim touching the floor. You may only be able to stay balanced for a few seconds at first, but with a bit of practice, you should be able to maintain it. If necessary, a lower incline can be used to make the exercise easier. You can also stand near a wall and use it periodically to steady yourself.
Once you can maintain your balance unassisted for 30 seconds, you can increase the difficulty by bouncing a ball either off the floor or wall, standing on one foot and tracing numbers in the air with your other foot, or maintaining yoga positions.
Many balance board strength exercises are simply adaptations of other exercises. Pushups, for instance, when performed with both hands on the balance board instead of on the floor, make each pushup target stabilizer muscles in the arms, shoulders, and core. You can also perform crunches while sitting on the board, which targets your obliques as you maintain lateral balance throughout the exercise. Holding a plank position, in which your feet are placed in the center of the balance board with your forearms on the floor, will target your obliques and lower abdominal muscles. Performing squats on the balance board helps incorporate balance exercises with a leg and core workout. Tricep dips are made more difficult with the addition of the board, and will target smaller stabilizer muscles in your upper arm as well as your triceps.
The diversity of strength exercises that can be performed on a balance board ensures there is plenty to do at any fitness level, and the ability to adjust the incline on many balance boards is valuable to control the difficulty of any exercise. Almost any workout plan can be adapted to incorporate your board, but as its addition usually makes the exercise more difficult and increases your likelihood of falling, exercising on a balance board with heavy weights is not recommended.