Just by reading the title people probably think this article is about squats or the clean and jerk. Both of those are good guesses because they involve strength, power, and coordination but both are also wrong. The exercise that is the ultimate for all athletes is based on balance.
Balance you say?
Balance is the Key
No matter what athletic sport you are doing you must have balance. Pick any sport and think about any position you play. Basketball players need to be balanced while shooting the ball or dribbling a high wire-like act along the out of bounds line. Offensive linemen in football need to keep their balance at all times to prevent the defenders from pushing them over. Baseball players balance themselves in the batter’s box before exploding into motion to hit the ball.
Balance is the foundation for everything in sports. Tennis, boxing, or volleyball all stress balance. Coordination and agility are all built off the foundation of balance. What about strength, endurance, and speed? They are all great but rather worthless without agility. Go back to our football lineman example; just because a guy is big doesn’t mean he will be successful when pitted against someone who can easily get him off-balance and on his back.
Also poor balance makes you slower because your body spends energy actually inhibit muscles from acting quickly to prevent injury because it knows you aren’t positioned properly.
So what is this miracle exercise that will make athletes better? It is the single-leg straight-leg deadlift reach. Yes it sounds complex but is fairly easy to get the hang of. Mastering it is another thing entirely.
We are going to use an acronym because that name is a mouthful. It works your balance, core, glutes, and hamstrings. These muscle groups are critical to balance because the more mind-muscle control you have over them the easier it is for your body to attain balance in various situations.
- Stand on your right leg with the left foot slightly off the ground with the left knee bent. The right knee should be unlocked but not particularly bent.
- You will bend at the waist. It will be the hinge joint for this entire exercise.
- Take your left hand and reach straight down towards the floor, bending at the waist while keeping the back flat. The left leg will naturally travel back but push your heel back and up. Bend forward until the back is parallel to the ground and your left ankle is at the same height as your glutes.
- Now stand straight back up and as you do raise your left hand in the air while the left knee now comes forward (still bent).
- Expect to have problems balancing during this exercise. You will probably wobble, hop, and shift as your body gets used to it.
- Aim for 10 to 12 reps on each side doing all reps on one side followed by the other.
- Remember to keep the hips as the hinge joint as you bend down to touch the ground and then straighten up to touch the ceiling.