Stability Balls & Resistance Training

Just wanting to start up a thread for quick reference for every time I have to explain to someone about “instability” balls. I have found a tonn of info, but I can never seem to find it when I need it.

-Fitness Fontlines (NSCA article by G. Gregory Haff PhD, CSCS)

-The Science of Specificity — John Garhammer, Loren Chiu, and Brian Schilling:
[li]The best balance training device is the barbell. Athletes need to put weight over their heads in exercises like the snatch to develop true core stability. This is better than any stability ball exercise. [/ul]
-Replacing a Swiss ball for an exercise bench causes variable changes in trunk muscle activity during upper limb strength exercises

-Is Swiss Ball Training For You?[ul]
[li]In addition, ISSA co-founder Fred Hatfield never touched a swiss ball on his way to becoming the first man to squat over 1000 pounds in competition. In other words, while the swiss ball is a great tool to put in your bag of tricks, it can never replace good old hard work and moving a mountain of iron. Stick with the basics, and you will garner far better results for your efforts.

-Unstable Resistance Exercises. By Jeffrey M. Willardson, PhD, CSCS. [ul]
[*]The performance of resistance exercises on unstable equipment has increased in popularity, despite the lack of research supporting their effectiveness. Resistance exercise performed on unstable equipment may not be effective in developing the type of balance, proprioception, and core stability required for successful sports performance. Free weight exercises performed while standing on a stable surface have been proven most effective for enhancing sports related skills.[/ul]

Good link.
I will be printing that out and putting copies in every trainers mailbox at the Health Club I work partime at.
Perhaps we can start other thread to use as references like this one.

I remember reading that article last summer and found it quite amusing as to how different philosophies there are among one association.

It’s really amusing how everything goes full circle (sort of) with the wobble boards, swiss ball, bongo board, swiss ball and now an olympic bar.

There’s probably a market for an “Instability Olympic Bar”. I’ll get right on that.

Thats called putting mismatched weights on each side of the bar for “stablity”. For example Squatting 135 with a 55 on one side and a 35 on other. People are actually doing this! :confused: :eek:

Balance training useful before strength training

Last Updated: 2006-06-16 14:09:12 -0400 (Reuters Health)

By Megan Rauscher

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Athletes who want to gain muscle strength, may want to start with balance training before weight lifting. Sports doctors from Germany have evidence that balance training can have preconditioning effects on strength training. However, it’s not a good idea to start with strength training and follow it with balance training, according to their study

It’s well known that high-intensity strength training, widely used by athletes, boosts muscle strength. Balance training or “sensorimotor training,” the more technical term, is often used in the prevention and rehabilitation of joint injury and to stabilize or improve posture.

Dr. Sven Bruhn from the sports science department at the University of Rostock and colleagues studied the effects of combined sensorimotor and classical leg strength training in 18 healthy young adult men and women.

One group performed four weeks of balance exercises, such as balancing on one leg on a wobbly board, followed by four weeks of strength training (leg presses). The other group started with four weeks of strength training and then moved on to four weeks of balance training. The balance and strength training tasks were performed two times per week for 45 minutes, according to the report, published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.

“Sensorimotor training including balance tasks has positive effects on the force production capacity of the lower extremity,” Bruhn noted in comments to Reuters Health. “Sensorimotor training preceding high-intensity strength training can enhance the effects of the strength training,” the researcher added.

However, the researchers also noticed that when sensorimotor training followed high intensity strength training, gains achieved through strength training were not preserved, and strength levels declined almost back to the starting point.

Therefore, Bruhn concludes: “In order to improve strength at the lower extremity, a combination of high-intensity strength training and sensorimotor training can be recommended, but only if sensorimotor training is performed at first.”

SOURCE: International Journal of Sports Medicine, May 2006.

If it was done on 18 healthy young adult trained athletes at a university level or higher, then I might bat an eye at it. What exactly were the differences in strength? How about having one group perform strength training for 4 weeks followed by another 4 weeks of strength training. I bet that group would have even higher levels of strength gain.

When did they measure the strength? I would think that 4 weeks off of strength training might be detrimental to strength.

I was thinking the exact same thing, if in the study you strength trained for four weeks, then did ‘balance training’ for an additional four, and THEN tested, obviously your strength levels would be lower than the group who did ‘balance traininig’ first and then tested their strength levels after a four week block of strength training. Is that how this test was run? Are there more details on this?

Not from me, it was something that got sent to me at work that I thought was worth posting.

Every point of view is welcome on this site. Thanks for the contribution.

i dont understand how effective it would be to tire your core out ‘before’ training…this is dangerous in my opinion…

i mean the core is what helps u through the tough lifts and if its fatigued ur gunna collapse at the base/foundation/ie the core.

That is one of the points in the “Is Swiss Ball Training For You?” link. I agree.

Don’t think because I posted it that I necessarily agree with that point of view.

IMHO stability balls have a place but not to the extent many prescribe them.

Standing on them is ok if
a. you are in the circus
b. you are a seal (not the navy type either :smiley: )

Re abs at the start, I recall Ian King being in favour of that if your core needs work. I have seen an article where he gives a definition of needing work and therefore placing them first. If you want I will see if I can find it.

Great idea to start this thread!

My opinion is that swiss ball can be used for core work, but it must be stressed that this represents progression!!! Trainers just put pople on those ball to do crunces, but they forget that doing them on the balls induces greater stress on spine due muscle co-contraction and its penalty on spine. They should progress on balls not just jump on them.

Other thing, I don’t think that “core work” fatigues stabilizers (if done properly) which can be detrimental on compound lifts… Core work prior to squats can “wake up” stabilizers which can be good.
I do all of mine core work as squats thought, but I do McGill’s Big Three too: isometrical curls, side bridges, bird dogs and I add some bridging and single leg bridging PRIOR to lifting! And I never did any troubles lifting, in fact I lifted more with better form due activated glutes etc. My PB squats is 200kg.

Swiss balls represents good tool if used properly… You cannot fix all problems with french key, sometimes you must use torch device :slight_smile:


-Unstable Resistance Exercises. By Jeffrey M. Willardson, PhD, CSCS. [ul]
[li]The performance of resistance exercises on unstable equipment has increased in popularity, despite the lack of research supporting their effectiveness. Resistance exercise performed on unstable equipment may not be effective in developing the type of balance, proprioception, and core stability required for successful sports performance. Free weight exercises performed while standing on a stable surface have been proven most effective for enhancing sports related skills.[/ul][/li][/quote]

New Link. Click the link and scroll down a bit.

Core training is presented as stabilizing from the core out to the extremities.

This is only the case for tramplienists( not sure of spelling) and divers, when they are in mid air. Stabilization comes from the point of fixation to the point of stabilization, through the core.

I heard someone say, you can’t shoot a cannon out of a row boat. Or you cant generate strength from an unstable joint, which was an interesting point made by the Bruhn study, athletes gained in strength when training using wobble boards for the lower extremity prior to strength training.

I guess what I am trying to say is that core has a place, which should not be over emphasized.

Core gained popularity with the gym/training world with its ability to cure low back problems, by stabilizing the core.

A point made with the last link by Herb is that there is a lack of supporting evidence for the effectiveness of core work.

The body does not have inherent corrective mechanisms, it only has adaptive mechanisms.

With mechanics, structure (of a joint) and function (of a joint) are reciprocally inter-related. Not structure governs function or the other way round, so by training the core you are changing the relationship of the structures of the low back, so the low back pain may be gone but this does not address the underlying mechanical pathologies it just forces them to adapt, not necesserally for the better. It just pushes the mischief somewhere else.

Core training is usually backed up with a good stretching routine, addressing the length tension relationships around the core.

The body is a tensegrative structure, the brain uses proprioceptors, mechanoreceptors, and other receptors, golgi tendon organs as well as higher brain functions to govern length tensions. Who are we to run the ruler over this imposing measuring devices and our interpretation of there readings upon the body.

Just finished reading the study in its entirety. Here’s a breakdown of the actual results:

HST - High intensity strength training
SMT - sesorimotor training

Subjects- 18 normal university students

Protocol: Two groups, group 1 HST-SMT; group 2 SMT-HST. Four weeks of one treatment ONLY, then 4 weeks of the other treatment ONLY.

SMT: “special postural stabilization tasks performed 45 min for each training session. The whole training session lasted about 60 min with warm-up and cool-down phases. Each task lasting 40 s was repeated five times with 20 s rest between sets. The postural stabilization tasks consisted of exercises on wobbling boards, on spinning tops, and on different kinds of mats - each performed in one leg stand with hands akimbo. Each stabilization task was performed with the objective to retain balance. The training was performed two times a week. The degree of difficulty was progressively increased according to the progress of the subjects”

HST: “The strength training was performed within eight single repetition high-intensity trials (100 % 1 RM) after standardised warm-up (two sets, six repetitions, 60 % 1 RM). This training protocol is supposed to increase rate of force development and maximum isometric strength. Subjects had to perform both legged maximum concentric contractions in a leg press. The training was performed two times a week. The load was adapted to the subjects’ performance after every training unit.”

Testing: Three times during study, pre, at 4 weeks (first intervention) and 8 weeks (sencond intervention).

Findings - RFD:

Group 1 - Increase RFD greatly, then plateau when SMT introduced.

Group 2 - Increase RFD during SMT, then increase again during HST. HOWEVER, STILL DID NOT INCREASE AS GREATLY AS GROUP 1. Results between the two were not significant.

% change RFD not significant in either group.

Findings - Max Strength:

Group 1 - increased during HST, then reuturned to almost normal when SMT introduced.

Group 2 - increased during both protocols.

I would have been interested to see a ‘Group 3’ - HST 8 weeks.

Notes from the discussion:

“Thus, HST remains the most effective method in improvement of rate of force development. On the other hand, SMT led to enhanced neuromuscular activation, independent from the order of the training interventions and thereby may prevent or compensate the reduction in neuromuscular activation caused by the HST”

“Enhanced neuromuscular activation caused by SMT may improve rate of force development at a low level of performance. Looking at the changes in rate of force development, SMT may be a helpful tool at the beginning of a strength training intervention. SMT may also be of advantage in training of rate of force development, if training with highest loads is not indicated as for example during early adolescence or rehabilitation of acute injury.”

“oncerning maximum isometric strength, both training interventions led to comparable gain at the beginning of the training period [[5], [6]]. While the HST further enhanced maximum isometric strength when it was performed after the SMT, SMT performed after the HST even reduced maximum isometric strength. That means that SMT may even counteract the purpose of strength training, when it is performed after HST. SMT may only be of benefit for maximum isometric strength, when starting from a lower level of performance. This should be kept in mind for training athletes at a high level of strength and power.”

“Nevertheless, SMT may only be in advance, when it is performed at first. Considering maximum isometric strength, the gain in neuromuscular activation caused by SMT does not compensate for the disadvantages of the low contractile intensity during this training, because the gain in neuromuscular activation after the SMT does not provide enough mechanical output during maximum isometric strength. Moreover, a high loading intensity is needed to hold or enhance a higher level of maximum isometric strength

Bottom Line: Newspaper writers and balance proponents love to take data and skew it to meet their own needs.

I take it all back. These balls are AWESOME!!!

Here is why!!!

Thank you for that, Herb. Thank you. :smiley:

Leave it to Herb to find the one and only use for these things!
(Come on- admit it! You know you have one in the basement already.)

I’m getting one, imagine the fun I’ll have with the office video camera and some local girls using Herb’s demo as an example.