By Jerome Rattoni, MovNat Master Instructor
Balance is one of those fun Natural Movement skills that can be made both very easy and very difficult by manipulating the skill and conditioning requirements. Whether you’re highly-trained or totally untrained, there’s an appropriate balance progression to help you build your movement skill, conditioning capacity, and confidence, and this guide will give you many ideas to get started.
The key to getting fast results from balance training is finding the right progression that will challenge you just enough without being too difficult or risky. The MovNat system will help you figure out just the right one to hit the “sweet spot” for your personal development.
Here are some examples of some beginner to advanced balance progressions, which we’ll dive into deeper in this article.
In the MovNat system, we start new students with simpler/easier skills and progress them towards more complex and difficult ones. For example, someone who is a beginner with limited skill and poor fitness could begin their balance practice by simply walking on top of a line on the ground (i.e. Balance Walking). Or, perhaps on a 2×4 board placed on the ground. This represents a low level skill with low conditioning requirements (and very low risk) – making it a perfect choice for a beginner or anyone who is balance-challenged (e.g. the elderly).
Someone who has become comfortable with this could increase the challenge by balancing on a narrower or more elevated surface (e.g. knee or waist height). Furthermore, an example of Balance Walking for someone who is a well-trained natural mover with excellent fitness would be balancing on a narrow surface at an elevated height while carrying something on your shoulder (e.g. a log).
To make it even more difficult, you could perform a Log Shoulder Switch while balancing, such as the one depicted in Erwan’s popular video, True To My Nature (2:50-2:57 mark). This requires both a high level of skill and a high level of fitness, especially if the load is heavy, because not only are you balancing on a narrow, elevated surface (e.g. a fallen tree), you’re also switching the load from shoulder to shoulder, which affects your center of gravity…which is a major factor when balancing.
Do you see how changing certain variables makes the training accessible to anyone, regardless of their skill or fitness level?
Obviously, it takes a lot of practice to get to a high level like this, and most people don’t need to aspire to risky feats to derive the vast majority of the benefits of balance training. But with a little practice, anyone can greatly improve both their skill and conditioning with some smart, fun balance progressions.
Let’s explore some balance progressions I’ve been using in my training recently.
Balance Progression 1
In this video, you’ll see examples of forward and backward Balance Walking and Side Shuffling on a 2×4 board set at ground level. This is an example of balancing movements that require little skill or conditioning to practice, and are thus, accessible to most people. They are also an excellent starting point to learn or review the fundamentals of efficient balance technique – even for advanced students.
Balance Progression 2
In this video, you’ll see me Balance Walking and reversing my orientation via a Pivot Reverse on a narrower piece of lumber that is slightly elevated to about knee height. The skill challenge has increased, but the conditioning challenge is about the same as the previous video. Also, there is a new element: the risk of falling a short distance.
Balance Progression 3
Here I am performing a Shoulder Carry combined with a Balance Walk on a 2×4 board at ground level. I’ve also added a Balancing Deep Knee Bend with Forward Walk/Step to a different balancing surface, and a Balancing Deep Split Squat. This example involves both an increase in the skill and conditioning challenge.
Balance Progression 4
Here is an example of a high volume balance practice session where I am performing many different balancing movements over a long period of time.
Balance Progression 5
Here I am balancing on a waist-height rail, which presents a greater skill challenge because of the reduced Surface of Support. You’ll see a Balancing Deep Knee Bend Forward Walk and a Low Pivot Reverse, along with a couple techniques for mounting and dismounting the rail (e.g. Balancing Tripod Get Up).
Balance Progression 6
Here’s another example of combining a couple of movement skills:
- Balancing and jumping with a rail to rail jump
- Balancing and crawling with a Foot Hand Crawl
I also increase the complexity/risk by balancing at a much higher height.
Balance Progression 7
Let’s wrap this up with a high volume Hand Carry: Forward, Backward, and Side Shuffle Balance Walks on 2×4 at ground level with a heavy load in each hand.
In the MovNat certification, we teach our students how to progress in their own training (and with their clients) by using the proper movement progressions (i.e. appropriate for their skill and conditioning level) to first complete a movement effectively (i.e. successfully), then efficiently (i.e. with the best performance possible, with the least amount of energy used, and the greatest degree of safety), and finally adaptively (i.e. by adjusting factors like volume, intensity, and environmental complexity).
We apply this formula to help our students improve both their movement skill and fitness in ALL natural movements – not just balance. So, if you’d like to experience the world’s best Natural Movement Fitness system to start getting the results you’ve always wanted because you’re training the way your body is designed, find a MovNat Certification near you.
-Jerome Rattoni, MovNat Master Instructor
At MovNat, we teach Natural Movement from the ground up – starting with the most rudimentary skills like breathing and sitting positions, and working our way up to more challenging, athletic movements, such as jumping and climbing skills.
If you’d like to learn how to move naturally and efficiently – the way your body is designed to – join us for a MovNat Level 1 Certification or a MovNat Workshop. We hold events all around the world. Or, find a MovNat Certified Trainer or Gym in your area. We also offer MovNat Online Coaching as an alternative to live instruction and a Natural Movement Fundamentals E-Course.
Most people know that they should be more physically active. Some even recognize the incredible value in a system like MovNat. But they struggle with actually implementing Natural Movement into their daily lives. That’s why we work closely with people from all walks of life to help them move better, get healthier and stronger, and discover their true potential with Natural Movement Fitness. It’s also why we work extensively with health and fitness professionals who understand the value of this new paradigm and are eager to start implementing it with their clients.
So, if you’re ready to take your movement practice to the next level, this is your chance. Please join our community and check out an event near you soon.