You can have a big bench press or squat, but if you can’t stand on one leg for a few moments, you can be tripped up and topple just like an AT-AT Walker. Improving your balance gives you better access to the strength, speed, and athleticism your body already possesses, allowing you to express it when you need to. That means you’ll have better, more efficient workouts, feel more agile when playing sports, and be able to ward off some of the problems associated with aging through the years.
In the third installment of our Star Wars: Fuel Your Force program, you’ll learn how to improve your balance with an 8-exercise series you can use as a warmup before workouts, or as a routine on its own.
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Star Wars Fuel Your Force, Week 3, Balance Series
Products used in this workout:
Perform 5–8 reps of each exercise in the following order.
Stand with feet between hip and shoulder-width apart. Draw your shoulder blades together and down (think: “proud chest”) and then hinge at your hips, pushing your bottom backward as if trying to touch it to the wall behind you and slightly upward to the ceiling. Try to drive your hips back as far as you can without letting your lower back round forward, and don’t let your shoulders drop below them. You should feel a stretch in the back of your legs.
Squeeze your butt as you come back up to standing tall. That’s one rep.
2. Staggered-Stance Hinge
Stagger your feet so that your right toe is next to your left heel—your stance should be a little narrower and your weight should be mostly on your left foot. Repeat the hinge motion described above. Do your reps, switch legs, and repeat.
3. Lateral Hip Bend
Return your feet to just outside hip width and turn your toes slightly inward. Shift your weight and push your bottom out to the right and slightly back so you feel a stretch right outside your hip pocket. Keep a soft bend in your knees. Repeat on the left side. Try to get your hips a little further past your feet on every rep.
4. Scrape The Barrel
Using the same stance as in the lateral hip bend, push your hips out to the right and then forward in front of your toes. Continue making a big circle, pushing the hips to the left and then back behind you. You’ll feel like you’re scouring the hip joint (somewhat like scraping the inside of a pot or barrel with a scour pad). Try to get a little deeper with each rep. Do your reps and then repeat in the opposite direction.
5. Leg Swing
Balance on your left leg and stand as tall as possible. Swing your right leg as high as you can without arching or extending your spine. Let your knee bend on the way down so your foot scrapes the floor and the knee bends 90 degrees behind you. Do your reps, but do not repeat on the opposite leg yet. Go on to the lateral leg lift.
6. Lateral Leg Lift
Raise your right leg out to your side as high as possible while staying tall. Don’t swing it; control the movement and hold it at the top for a split second. Keep the edge of your foot flat, toes pointing forward. Do your reps but do not repeat on the opposite leg yet. Go on to the leg circle.
7. Leg Circle
Raise your right leg in front of you and then around and out to your side, making a circle. Continue to stand tall; don’t lean away from the moving leg. Complete your reps and then repeat in the opposite direction.
* Repeat exercises 5–7 on the left leg. *
8. Knee Roll
Stand with your feet just outside your hips and bend forward to place your hands just above your knees. Drive your knees inward so that they almost meet between your legs, and then forward and outward in a big circle. Make as big a circle as you can, but don’t go into a range that hurts in any way. As your knees come outward, allow your feet to roll onto their outside edges. Do these slowly. Do your reps and then change direction.
Spinach & Kale Chicken Bites
People are always saying they’re going to “try” to eat better—whole foods, higher protein, and more vegetables. Our philosophy? To quote Master Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Here’s a recipe that shows you how to make lean chicken breast and veggies delicious, fast to prepare, and fun—the resulting bites look like your favorite green, pointy-eared Jedi!
Yields: 16–20 bites
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
2 cups cauliflower florets
2 cups raw spinach
1 cup chopped kale
3 tbsp fresh basil leaves
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp Onnit Himalayan salt
½ tsp black ground pepper
2 lbs ground chicken breast
2 eggs, pasture-raised if possible
½ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
½ cup pizza shredded cheese blend*
1 tbsp pinenuts
*Contains a blend of low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella, unsmoked provolone, and asiago cheese
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Add water to a large pot until it’s about an inch deep. Insert a steamer basket but make sure it’s above the water level. Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil.
3. Add the cauliflower florets to the steamer basket, cover the pot, and turn the heat to low. Check on them in two minutes. When the cauliflower starts getting soft, add the spinach and kale. When all vegetables have been steamed, drain any excess liquid from the pot and set it aside.
4. In a food processor, combine the steamed veggies, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Pulse until blended and the green color is uniform. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
5. In a large mixing bowl, add the ground chicken, pulsed vegetables, eggs, gluten-free breadcrumbs, and shredded cheese. Mix them together by hand.
6. Shape the mixture into 1 ½-inch meatballs. Place the balls on the lined baking sheet. To make Yoda ears, add a nickel-size amount of mixture to each ball and carefully shape into a pointed triangle. Repeat to make another ear, attaching each to the top right and top left sides of every meatball. Place two pine nuts in the center of the balls to resemble eyes.
7. Bake meatballs for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, add a pinch of shredded cheese on top of the meatballs to resemble hair, and return to the oven for one minute. Remove meatballs and let cool slightly before serving.