Can you guess the picture below that represents proper usage of a Stability Ball?
We have all heard of "The Core" and how everyone needs to train "The Core". "The Core" has almost become a phenomenon in itself. It's pretty freaky. Whisper "The Core" to yourself. Freaky, right? When most people think of what "The Core" (you can stop whispering it) is they think of the abdominals (Ab's). To me "The Core" is not just the Ab's but the entire hip complex, abdominal content, spine, and shoulder girdle. These are the stabilizing muscles in the body's ability to control it's constant changing center of gravity. The theory behind the Stability Ball is that it offers an unstable training surface for the body's core to be challenged. This unstable training surface or environment demands "The Core" to stabilize itself by the body's ability to demonstrate postural control and muscular balance during movement. The funny thing is an athlete does just that when they are balancing a barbell in movements like the front or back squat or any of the PPM's. Are you telling me that this dude has no core strength because he does not stand or jump on a Stability Ball?
Is This Not "Core" Strength At It's Best?
Is the entire hip complex, abdominal content, spine, shoulder girdle, not being challenged with this athlete (Beside every other major and supporting muscle group)? Doesn't the bar count as an unstable surface that needs postural control to perform the squat(The Squat is one of the PPM's)? Last time I checked, the ring and athletic field did not move. It was the fighter pushing off the mat overcoming resistance (his/her opponent).
Now here's my "BEEF" with training on Stability Balls:
I am "all for" adding and do in fact have my fighters use Stability Balls in their training, but It's one of the many tools that we implement in our program. We do not get carried away to extremes with Stability Balls as in standing on top of them. It's not the primary focus and should not be in any one's training unless you are training for the circus. No thumbs up from me here. The benefit should always out weigh the risk. It is very dangerous standing on a Stability Ball. I train fighters (Boxing, MMA, Kick Boxing, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, Etc). Every fighter that I have trained have become really strong and fast with out ever having to stand on one Stability Ball! Imagine that? What's the sense of training for a fight if you have a 99% chance of falling on your ass and busting it in the process! Makes absolutely no sense. Fighting does though!
Here is what you should have learned:
-Fighters should never stand on Stability Balls. The risk out weighs the benefit.
-Stability Balls can be used in a fighters training, just not for standing.
-Primal Pattern Movements, especially with added resistance build balance and postural control. Standing and Jumping on Stability Balls gets your head cracked open and a cast on your arm.
-The picture of the athlete performing Stability Ball weighted cable crunches represents one of the many ways a Stability Ball can be properly used. This happens to be one of the exercises we use to train "The Core".
-Whispering "The Core" to yourself can be freaky.
-"The Core" can be considered the entire hip complex, abdominal content, spine and shoulder girdle.
- Fighters and Athlete's in the traditional sports will benefit from dumbbell and barbell exercises where their center of gravity is challenged through movements such as the Squat. Like the ring and athletic playing field, the athlete has to use their entire body to push off the mat and control their center of gravity exhibiting postural control to perform the task at hand. The task in the Squat is the barbell weight and in the ring, your opponent trying to crush you to the ground.
-It's very dangerous standing on a Stability Ball.
-99% of all athletes who attempt standing on Stability Balls usually fall even under supervision.
-Standing on Stability Balls for most fighters makes absolutely no sense!
A Side Note:
The Stability Ball does in fact create a training surface that challenges the body to stabilize itself. Dumbbell chest presses, weighted abdominal crunches, and hamstring pull-ins are just a few movements we use the Stability Ball for. Another safe and effective way the Stability ball can be used to help further "Core" development is through body weight "Reverse Hypers". Just choose a big enough stability ball.
Body Weight Reverse Hypers:
In a push-up position, align stability ball under the lower portion of your abdominals and hips. In the start position toes should remain just off the floor, keeping the legs straight. Start the movement by squeezing your glutes (rear) and extending your "straight legs" away from the floor. Return to the start position in a controlled manner. This is a basic body weight exercise that strengthens the glutes, lower back, and hamstrings. This movement can be supplemented into your training program as a low back warm-up. If you do not have access to a reverse hyper machine, add some ankle weights and make sure you crank the reps up. 2-3 sets of 10-25 reps should get you started!