Have you ever tried implementing balance and stability work within your training routine by using a blindfold or closing your eyes? Some of us begin to wobble back and forth by just standing on both feet when we close our eyes, while others can walk around very well and balance on one leg while blindfolded. This ability is called heightened kinesthetic awareness. It basically means being aware of where your body is at all times. It might sound easy but it’s definitely worth trying out! Some people have a natural talent to do this but all of us can work on improving this skill to some extent no matter how far off you think you may be.
To start off, you should be able to easily stand firm on one leg with your eyes closed for at least 30-60 seconds before trying some of these different techniques. Or, you can always do them with lots of padding around you (and a helmet)!
Doing standing bicep curls with dumbbells along with alternating curls is a great place to begin. Close your eyes before you start this exercise. Before lifting the weights, which should already be in your hands, soften your knees while neutralizing the pelvis and shoulder girdle. Now, do your reps with complete control and try to keep your eyes closed throughout the entire exercise, even between sets, until you have completed your required number of sets for that specific exercise. Once you have mastered this movement, you can try it with one leg up for one set and then switch legs for the next set.
While in the same body stance and position, do alternating front and side dumbbell shoulder raises (deltoids). Performing these with your foot up is an excellent challenge for conditioning your joints as well as for increasing balance and awareness. When you get really good, you can go from one exercise to the next without ever opening your eyes or you can even use a blindfold while doing them.
To increase the challenge, use ankle weights and perform forward leg lifts which many people can’t even do with their eyes wide open and not wobble like crazy! I like to combine a front, side and rear leg raise combination to challenge your body in all directions. Dumbbell squats to an overhead press is another excellent exercise you can use with this type of training. The dumbbells will actually help to stabilize your body and keep it balanced.
While doing this type of unique training, try to be aware of how strict and focused you need to be with your form and overall technique. You will be thinking where your elbows or knees are along with the rest of your body. You will be forced to pay close attention to your overall stability which makes your form much better in the end. This training will also help you from rushing through a workout and will help to slow everything down. When vision is removed, you will tend to move much slower and create a more defined mind-muscle connection which will allow each muscle group to work to its maximum potential.
There are several exercises you can try with this type of “blind” training but in order to complete a full session you will need to choose safe exercises at all times. Heavy training with barbells and other equipment should never be performed, so always focus on using very light weights. Before you end your training session, try stretching with your eyes closed as well. It will force you to pay closer attention to the feeling of each stretching movement than you could ever experience with your eyes open!