Most gyms and clubs have a lot of machines as part of their fitness facility. They are stable, easy to use, and focus primarily on one muscle group. This may seem like the perfect solution for most people. They can do a circuit training session moving from one machine to the other. The machine does most all of the stabilization for you while you can focus on the basic movement required. But let’s think about this for a minute. Is that such a good thing after all? In reality when you use machines your nervous system doesn’t have to work very much to stabilize your body. This is because you are lying, sitting, or locked into the machine.
So let me ask you something. When in your everyday life are you supported by a machine when you are squatting down, bending over to pick something up, pushing or pulling something? Let me help you… never! So why would it make sense to train your musculo-skeletal and nervous systems in a fitness routine that doesn’t require it to adapt to the real life forces you put it through.
Here is a perfect example. Many people use some type of squatting machine or leg press to strengthen their legs. You may be lying down pushing against a platform or squatting in what is called a smith machine where the bar runs on a track. These machines will certainly help increase muscle tone, mass, and strength but they don’t stimulate the nervous system in a function real life pattern of load bearing. When lying or sitting in a leg press machine your nervous system doesn’t have to deal with holding you upright or stabilizing your body. In a way you are training your nervous system not to turn on those stabilizing muscles that will be needed in a real life situation such as squatting down to pick up a potted plant.
It is best to train your body with functional modalities. These modalities are vast and varied, and they all have one thing in common. They all cause the body to support and stabilize itself while under load. Your body has to balance and stabilize itself while you perform the exercise movement. It can be with bodyweight only or with additional weight by using dumbbells, barbells, kettle bell, sandbags, cables, chains, etc.
You can increase the demand on the nervous system by using such items as balance boards, Bosu balls, stability balls, and foam mats. All these items create an unstable platform creating additional stress on the nervous system, which will stimulate higher levels of stabilization and balance.I incorporate all these items into my client’s routines whether they are a top athlete, or someone recovering from an injury. The stability ball is one of my favorites because it demands the most out of the nervous system and gives the best results.
When you get good enough you can do every functional movement pattern on a Swiss ball. They include squatting, lunging, deadlifts, pushes, pulls, and twisting. It’s critical to make sure the stability balls are fully inflated and safe to use. It does take some instruction to use them properly so I would recommend getting together with a trainer to learn proper technique. Safety must always come first.
Stop by our studio and we will inflate your stability ball so you can be safe in your workouts.