Walk into any gym and you will immediately notice unstable surface training is extremely popular. Bosu balls, stability balls,balance disks…. the list goes on.

Not surprisingly, as a Strength Coach one of the most common questions I get is ” What is that half-ball thingy?“Generally, following this questions something along the lines of ” Can I try it out? I see a lot of people using those!”

In most cases, this is where the talk and usage of unstable surfaces ends in my programming. There are a few exercises I prefer to use these pieces of equipment for, but they are few and far between.

Truth is, I have never been a big fan of bosu balls, stability balls, balance disks and the like. I didn’t use them much learning to train and my area of expertise doesn’t support much use of them.

The main reason being I come from the train of thought that weight should be lifted to build strength,

By throwing unstable surfaces underneath an athlete you are greatly limiting the bodies ability to generate force and creates what is known as a “power leak”Image. This results in lower muscle recruitment (especially in prime movers), nervous system activation and increases the risk of acute injury. Most of these pieces of equipment should be used in cases of muscle re-activation following injury, such as pt clinics and athletic training.

Seriously, the next time I see someone performing deadlifts on two pink balance disks I am going to shit a brick.

Now, without going into more detail this awesome post by DH Keifer sums up (and backs up) my thoughts on instability training to a T. Although I do not side with him regarding his ripping of the NASM due to the fact that I know some awesome trainers with an NASM filled resume, this article is spot on regarding instability training.

Train your ass off and get strong on solid ground, there is nothing more “functional” than that.

Check This beastly article out>>>>>>> Here <<<<<<<<<<


About Eric Bach Performance

Eric Bach is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Precision Nutrition Level 1 (PN1) with a degree in Kinesiology Concentrated in Human Performance and Emphasizing Sports Performance from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. A former collegiate Strength Coach Eric now resides in Denver, Colorado. Eric coaches clients at Forza Fitness and Performance Center and trains everyone from weekend warriors and post rehabilitation patients to professional athletes. Eric developed his passion for fitness through a competitive sports career which included competitive Olympic lifting, Football, Track and Field, and Powerlifting. Eric is a self proclaimed fitness nerd who enjoys reading, eating, deadlifting, and living a healthy and fullfilling life while helping others dominant their lives in and out of the gym. Eric can be contacted at ericbachperformance.com for all consultations and questions

7 responses »

  1. bezzymates says:

    Now I know why you’re not a fan of instability balls. Makes sense.

  2. bezzymates says:

    I mean stability balls!

  3. Chris says:

    He brings up good points. Yes stable exercises, non-circus kind, do help strengthen and increase balance on unstable surfaces. NASM does not deny this, and too many people take what they think they have learned from NASM and push it to an extreme. Stability balance training creates greater neuromuscular recruitment of muscle fibers known as neuromuscular efficiency. Full contraction of the muscles involved or not doesn’t matter. The whole point to stability training is to increase the activation, strength, endurance, of the local stabilization subsystem with postural control. The ability to reduce force at the correct joint, at the correct time and in the correct plane of motion requires optimum levels of functional dynamic balance and neuromuscular efficiency. Inefficient neuromuscular stabilization leads to abnormal stress throughout the human movement system. Consequently, the human movement system will not respond to the demands in posed during athletic activities if the neuromuscular system is inappropriately trained. As the efficiency of the neuromuscular system decreases, the ability to maintain appropriate forces also decreases. This leads to compensation and substitute movement patterns, which then leads to excessive tissue overload and possible injury. In short the human movement system is only as strong as its weakest link. The central nervous system will allow recruitment of the prime movers only to the degree that the body maintains dynamic joint stabilization and postural equilibrium. If a prime mover is weak or slow to activate, synergistic muscles are substituted to maintain force production. However, synergistic muscles fatigue faster and lack the precise neuromuscular control that the prime movers provide. This leads to faulty movement patterns, decreased performance, and injury. Research has demonstrated that balance training restores dynamic stabilization mechanisms, improves neuromuscular efficiency, and stimulates joint and muscle receptors to encourage maximal sensory input to the central nervous system. Acting collectively this improves proprioception, kinesthesia, and neuromuscular efficiency, which in turn can increase performance output and decrease injury. Remember the central nervous system optimizes the selection of muscle synergies not isolated muscles. If one component of the human movement system is dysfunctional it will have a direct effect of the others leading to decrease performance and possible injury on and off the playing field as well as in the weight room. Progression of a client’s program is much safer, through stable to less stable exercises when they have demonstrated the correct control and arthokidimatics through the movement pattern, more than progressing through weight. This however, does not mean that the only progression is through stabilization, and therefore, you must only train a like the fail pictured above. I like squats on a ball, but when an overload is needed to make the exercise more intense its time to come back down to planet earth and lift with heavy weights on a stable surface. A sports performance trainer must understand the concepts of balance training before designing a program that includes the above exercises. Doing NASM’s balance integrated training only increase the success of the client when they are ready to approach sub-maximal load training, and even increase their ability to produce force in sub-maximal load training and recruitment of muscle fibers correctly. In turn giving the client the better ability to perform heavy lifts to now overload the muscles creating the bigger power, and sexy muscles. These to types of training actually complement each other, and can be used over and over again,SEPARATE AND EVEN SUPERSETED, producing great strength and strength endurance. Mixing them together as ONE EXERCISE as you stated is very NAUGHTY! Thanks for the props on the Blog as me being one of the well informed NASM trainers you know. You always have great info you talk about!

  4. Zach Long says:

    Good post. A little instability training is obviously not back but too many people are taking it to the extreme. Build a solid level of strength and I believe you will have good stability as well.

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