Bodyweight exercises can pack a serious punch, but take a note from ballerinas if you want to bring your workout to the next level by doing exercises for stability on your toes. Erin Gregory, Gold’s Gym national group exercise director, explains that doing certain exercises on your toes further activates muscles in your lower body and core by introducing instability.
“When you relevé, or lift to toes, during your workouts, you will improve muscle strength and tone as well as balance,” says Gregory. “You will strengthen the muscles that provide stability and protect joints—essentially, injury prevention. Example: when I lose balance, it’s my ability to fire my core muscles and stabilize my body that keep me from falling or becoming injured.” You’ll also work the backside of your body, which she says is responsible for athletic movements like jumping and running.
When you begin exercising on your toes, she says you’ll want to ease into it. Don’t start for the first time with your heels lifted so high that you’re toppling over or getting a cramp. “We lose ankle mobility as we get older so ease your toes into the new waters,” she says. Engage your core and squeeze your glutes to stay stable, and resist the urge to let all of your weight fall to the pinky edge of your foot by planting through both sides of your foot. And be sure to stretch out your calves and toes once you finish.
Gregory says the following exercises for stability are a great place to start working out on your toes.
Exercises for stability you can do on your toes
1. Heel Raises
Begin with your feet hip-width distance apart. Pressing into both sides of your feet, lift your heels off the ground. Squeeze your glutes, and lower with control.
Standing with your feet hip-width distance apart, jump straight up, lifting first your heels and then the balls of your feet to push the floor away. Land quietly, keeping your knees soft with a slight bend.
3. Narrow V
Make a V with your feet, with your heels in and toes out, making sure that your knees and toes are pointing in the same direction. Keeping your heels tight together, lift your heels and hold them on top. Bend down and up at the knee to work your thighs.
4. Plié squat with heel lift
Come into a wide squat with your knees and toes facing out, with your feet far apart enough so that when your squat down your knees don’t pas your toes. Squat down keeping your chest up, and your abs braced. When you reach the bottom, lift your heels up and place them back down before returning to stand.
5. Bridge with heel lift
Begin lying on your back. Bend your knees and bring your feet flat to floor. Squeeze your glutes while lifting your hips into a bridge position. Lift your heels off the ground while keeping your hips lifted. Return your heels to the floor before lowering your body to the floor.
6. Single leg hold with heel lift
Stand on one foot and lift your heel and hold for as log as you can. Feel all the muscles in your lower body activate and react to compensate and stabilize your body.
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