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”. 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.
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