Seen a trainer at your gym using a bosu ball lately? How about a dyna disc or airex pad? The amount of different objects and/or contraptions that your local gym has available for you to balance on while you exercise might be growing … but is there a reason everyone seems to be doing their squats on a bosu ball?
The concept behind unstable training is that we activate more muscle and thus make the exercise more effective and efficient for said goal. The abstract for a study done by JC Santana, et. al. comparing the standing cable chest press – a more ‘functional’ exercise – and the bench press – a more ‘traditional’ exercise – can be found here. It comes to the conclusion that the standing cable chest press is good for function and involving more stabilization musculature – which might be beneficial if, for example, we’re trying to improve ‘stabilization’ strength. On the other hand, the amount of weight that can be moved is limited by the individual’s body weight while in a standing position, while standing on an unstable surface, etc. – which might be a problem if we’re trying to build mass. That’s a situation where the bench press might be a better choice.
While we’re just skimming the surface here, it seems that there is a place for unstable training in your program – we just have to make sure it’s applied properly. Stay tuned for more on the topic in future posts!