Benefits of Support and Balance

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Training can be broken up in many different modalities:

  • By “limbs” (upper body, lower body).
  • By action (push, pull).
  • By process (grind, ballistic).
  • Or others, as you can creatively think of 🙂

Hébert breaks things down with a combination of limb movements: arm positions & movements, leg movements, support, suspended (off ground), breathing and balance work. In today’s sneak preview of the second book of the Practical Guide to Physical Education, I chose to present the benefits of support and balance movements as they form a good pairing. Balance here revolves around equilibrium, rather than symmetry (although performing single-leg movements one one side then on the other side does address the development of the muscles symmetrically). Strong support leads to solid balance.

WHAT ARE SUPPORT MOVES? (Think push-ups or planks).


“In the straight arm support on the ground, the body is facing down with support on the hands and toes. Hands are flat, slightly wider than the shoulders, fingers together and pointing forward or slightly inward, arms are vertical, legs are straight and in line with the body while maintaining the alignment of the Upright Stance, except for the arms.

Support drills can be made easier by placing the hands on any object, such as a bar, a table, a wall etc., in such a way that they are placed higher than the feet.

They can be made more difficult, on the other hand, by placing the hands lower than the feet.


The locked arms support position on the ground requires the voluntary contraction of the muscles of the chest (pectorals), abdominals and triceps (which extend the forearm).

Transition from straight arms to flexed arms exercises an intense action on these very muscles. In both positions, the pectorals are working without shortening.

The elevation of one leg during a locked arms support solicits the action of the spine and muscles extending the thigh. The elevation of one arm works on shoulder stabilization and retraction on that side. Lateral support requires the volumtary contraction of the dorsal, pectoral and of the lateral trunk muscles (obliques and sacral-lumbar) on the supported side.

While in lateral support, the elevation of one leg acts on the abductors of the elevated thigh.”

WHAT ARE BALANCE MOVEMENTS? (Think single leg stances or exercises)


“Balance movements, just like leg movements, are performed by placing the arms in a variety of positions.


These movements help develop a sense of equilibrium. In the forward leg balance, they strongly engage the abdominal muscles; in the backwards leg raise, the spinal erectors. Finally, in the lateral leg balance, they engage the oblique muscles on the raised leg side. They also strongly engage the extension muscles of the support leg.

The trunk and the head remain in the alignment of the raised leg, the alignment of the Upright Stance being maintained in relation to the raised leg. The angle of lean of the body can reach a horizontal level in all three types of balance.”

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