Thursday, September 23, 2010

Instability Training...!?.

I know as a Coach / Trainer, I am always trying to learn as much as I can. I'm constantly reading, listening and watching the new and innovative ways in which to get my clients the best results in the shortest amount of time. But...I don't agree with the latest fads that incorporate standing on a wobble board or Bosu ball while trying to perform a movement such as a squat.

I understand people love new things. It's always great to be the first person with a new toy, but let's not get carried away with this. Unstable surfaces do help proprioception in muscle fibers. So does changing the surface you would normally run on. Ex: Let's say you are a road runner, what if you tried getting out on the sand. It's a huge difference in how your body reacts and it stimulates different muscles. Plus you get the added benefit of the resistance the sand is providing.

You don't have to stand on a half moon and do squats in order to benefit from instability training. If you can't perform a normal back squat, there is no reason you should be getting on a wobble board and trying it on there in the first place. Trainers should rely on their knowledge and common sense vs the latest and greatest fad.

Check out this article from the National Strength & Conditioning Association:
Resistance Training Performed on Unstable Surfaces Does Not Increase the Activation of Muscles Contained in the Core.

In recent years, it has become in vogue to target the development
of the lumbopelvic and abdominal regions
of the body with the use of training activities performed
on unstable surfaces. Since there is a paucity of data examining
the efficacy of this type of training, researchers
from Eastern Illinois University recently examined the
muscle activation during resistance exercises performed
on stable and unstable surfaces. A total of twelve trained
men were recruited to be subjects in a quasi-experimental
crossover study where each subject performed four
different exercises on either a stable or unstable surface
with various intensities. Prior to initiation of the study,
all subjects underwent a 5-week familiarization period in
which the subjects were familiarized with each condition.
The exercises employed in this investigation included the
dead lift, back squat, overhead press, and curl. Three different
intensities were examined: 50% of one repetition
maximum (1-RM) performed on stable ground (50S), 50%
of (1-RM) performed on an unstable surface (50US), and
75% of (1-RM) performed on stable ground (75S). Electormyographic
(EMG) techniques were utilized to determine
the amount of activation for the rectus abdominis, external
obliques, transverse abdominis/internal obliques, and
erector spinae. There were no differences between the 50S
and 50US condition for any muscles assessed. Additionally,
there were no differences between the 75S and 50US
when examining the external obliques and erector spinae
across all lifts examined. The 75S condition resulted in a
significantly greater activation of the rectus abdominus
and the transverse abdominis/internal obliques during
the overhead press when compared to the 50US condition.
As a whole, this study revealed that training on an
unstable surface offers no core training benefit beyond
what is accomplished while training on stable surfaces.
This suggests that the use of stable surface training with
appropriate loading schemes allows for the training of
core musculature without adding unstable surfaces to the
training plan. Therefore, it may be recommended to not
use unstable surfaces as part of the overall athlete development
Willardson, JM, Fontana, FE, and Bressel, E. Effect of
surface stability on core muscle activity for dynamic
resistance exercises. Int J Sports Physiol Perform
4:97 – 109. 2009.

If you need to be unstable when you train, try this...

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