Balance is one of the key aspect of Stand Up Paddle. Robert Norman, our SUP ambassador in Florida, introduces in this article a new drill aimed at improving balance and stability.
Balancing on a SUP board starts at the bottom of our feet on the deck pad. The legs are the first line of defense when conditions get tricky, and we start to lose our center of gravity. The ankles shift, the knees bend, and the hips rotate when faced with instability in an attempt to balance. This is where having legs that are conditioned to responsive movements comes into play. This article will focus around how to adeptly train your legs to be stabilizing units rather than be explosive during the paddle stroke phase.
The overall theme of the past articles has been midline stability, the ability to stay upright throughout the paddle stroke. This article also plays into that same practice, but through our legs rather than our upper torso. Our legs are the first joints to start moving and shifting when the board starts to shift laterally. How we condition our legs can be the difference in falling off in mild conditions, or braving waves and never flinching. An easy way to focus on these stabilizer muscles is to train each leg individually. Taking the other leg out of the equation during exercise will promote these stabilizing muscles to work harder; when you feel wobbly when one leg comes up, that is the stabilizers starting to kick in and try to balance everything out
The first and easiest progression, is a lunge in this exercise both legs remain on the ground, but the front leg takes on much more load during the movement down. During this motion remember to keep the knee tracking down, as it shouldn’t lurch forward over your toes. Introduce weights as you become more comfortable.
The next progression is the same lunge position, but the back foot is elevated on a box or bench.
This takes more weight off the back foot and more weight on the front leg. More instability will come into play and it will be harder to balance, but over time that feeling will diminish as those muscles become stronger. This is also an exercise to introduce weights to over time.
Une vidéo publiée par Robert Norman (@_super_robert_) le
The final progression is the addition of pistol squats; one of my favorite exercises. This exercise has an incredibly high mobility demand, but there are many modifications for athletes of all skill level. Starting off holding on to a pole or some sort of solid object, and sitting down as low as possible with the opposite leg straight.
This is an excellent way to utilize your full body weight on a single leg through a full range of motion. Typically you want to master the motion and try to increase repetitions, most people never introduce weights to this exercise.
I like to push the envelope and I’ve added instability objects to my pistol squats, very similar to the pushup article. If you can knock out pistol squats on a medicine ball, tag me on Instagram!