Re-Thinking Stability Training
stability – nounthe state of being stable; firmness, solidity, steadiness, strength, solidity, strength, durability, reliability, dependability
Active muscular stability is a derivitive of muscle contractions and co-contractions. When the muscles can contract appropriately, the joint(s) crossed by those muscles can be stabilized properly, and “stable”, controlled motions can occur. To achieve muscular stability, we will embark on a progressive effort to train the sensitivity of muscular contraction, the skill of contractile control, in various scenarios and positions, and at various degrees of effort. Contraction Sesitivity & position-specific isometric exercises will often be the starting point for this endeavor.
Although the billion-dollar fitness industry makes big promises regarding muscular stability (and has many wobbly doo-dads to sell), comprehensive muscular stability is not automatically achieved (or displayed) via training on unstable apparatus (balls, pads, boards etc). As a matter of fact, exposure to unstable surfaces and environments may mask muscular inabilities, create more instability, and encourage compensatory movements/positioning.
At BDx, we focus on improving muscular stablity via an Internal Performance-based process, involving the following elements.
- Contraction-Sensitivity Isometrics
- Position-Specific isometric challenges
- Intensity-Specific isometric challenges
- Strategic eccentrics
- Atypical position/plane contraction challenges
- Progressive perturberations
- Manual resistance
- Muscle contraction sequencing
- Muscle “twitch” strategies
- Speed-Specific muscular contractions
- Training and exercise modification
Although training on unstable surfaces might offer some degree of benefit, and may be appropriate at certain stages of training (depending on the individual), subjecting people to physical challenges while on an unstable surface is widely misapplied, poorly progressed, and often haphazard. Training on unstable surfaces is not inherently “core” training, it will not offer a stimulus consistent with a strength challenge, and is not the cure to male pattern baldness (ok, so that one I haven’t heard promised yet, but we’ll see what the future holds :)).
Watch these videos by RTS Founder Tom Purvis, as he discusses unstable apparatus and its applications/misapplications relative to strength training and core training.