Nearly all of the research in this search says there is either no statistical difference in effectiveness or “The diminished force output suggests that the overload stresses required for strength training necessitate the inclusion of resistance training on stable surfaces.”
Strength stabilization can be better achieved with unstable surfaces.
However, as Natalie mentioned, pure strength should be done on stable surfaces to provide more safety.
As an example, people bench pressing should ALWAYS keep their feet on the ground. Last thing you want is to drop too much weight on your chest.
Very nice thread Chris.
I don’t know of any research that substantiates that peripheral strength gains can be improved by training on an unstable surface.
It would seem that force production would be compromised on an unstable surface. One of the first things that we do if we are carrying something and feel as if we are going to fall is to drop the object (unless it is a baby).
Thanks for the research.
Thanks, Natalie. Yes, that would be absurd.
But, regarding balance, don’t we also know that there is no one balance skill or motor pathway. Each movement is specific unto itself with each change including any resistance differences involved creates a new motor pathway. There’s no way to train for a general “balance” skill or sense. For example,
“Skillful and efficient performance in a particular technique can be developed only by practice of that technique. Only in this way can the necessary adjustments in the neuromuscular mechanism be made to ensure a well-coordinated movement (p. 507).” “Strength or endurance training activities must be specific to the demands of the particular activity for which strength or endurance is being developed. The full range of joint action, the speed, and the resistance demands of the movement pattern should be duplicated in the training activity (p. 465).”
Luttgens, K., & Hamilton, N. (1997). Kinesiology: Scientific basis of human motion. Madison, W: Brown & Benchmark.
“A common misconception is that fundamental abilities can be trained through various drills and other activities…For example, athletes are often given various ‘quickening’ exercises, with the hope that these exercises would train some fundamental ability to be quick, allowing quicker response in their particular sport. There are two correct ways to think of these principles.
First, there is no general ability to be quick, to balance, or to use vision…Second, even if there were such general abilities, they are, by definition, genetic and not subject to modification through practice…A learner may acquire additional skill at a drill…but this learning does not transfer to the main skill of interest” (Schmidt, 1991, p. 222).”
Schmidt, R. A. (1991). Motor learning and performance: From principle to practice. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Some of those quote got off the balance argument, but they refer to the general vs. specific nature (or lack thereof) of training.
Hello Chris Lutz,
When is the last time a surfer went out on the waves with weights? Hmm, am I going to see a video of this now? Has anyone seen the new surfboard workout?
For strength gains we stick with stable surfaces; no circus acts, thank you.
For balance, we do unstable surface work without resistance.
That does the trick for us and no one gets hurt.