by Keith Grogg
A sense of balance is an important element in any Spartan routine. Proper balance will ensure that you stay on your feet and that you expend your energy purposefully, without any wasted movement. Although this may seem like a small thing, the ability to control your center of gravity to match whatever action your body is trying to accomplish is important in any sport. We call it agility.
Proprioception is another factor of balance. It refers to our ability to know the position of our bodies and joints in three-dimensional space. Have you ever been out hiking and not quite been able to get the right footing, only to find that after your fifth time on the same trail that you can do it without even thinking? This is because your feet have learned to master the terrain, finding balance without you necessarily even becoming aware of it. Good balance, more than strength or flexibility, is the primary way to prevent injury during strenuous physical activity.
Balance plays an important role in strength training as well. When lifting a heavy weight two major types of muscles come into play: the big muscles, which essentially lift the weight; and the stabilizing muscles, which make use of isometric muscle contractions, assuring that the body part is supported properly by the core and at the joint. Big muscles and stabilizing muscles do not have fixed roles but rather change depending on the need. In a curl with a free weight, for instance, the bicep is the big muscle, but in a dead lift the bicep acts as a stabilizer.
So what do you have to do, oh Spartan fitness warrior, to improve your balance? Probably nothing. If you are training regularly balance will naturally follow. The biggest cause of lack of balance is weak muscles. Strength training can fix that. When lifting in the gym free weights, cables, or any other type of weight that requires you to control your own range of movement will help you get those stabilizer muscles working and improve your balance.