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Stable or Unstable Training: Which Is Better?

Is stable or unstable training superior for improving physical adaptation? Recently, researchers compared the two modalities to see which was better for developing strength, power and velocity.

The study included 36 “untrained” men who were separated into three groups: non-exercise control, “traditional” exercise and unstable exercise. The exercise groups met three times per week for 7 weeks. Each performed a circuit-style workout; the unstable group used the TRX® Suspension Trainer™ and BOSU® Balance Trainer, while the stable group performed traditional circuit exercises. Before and after the intervention, the men provided data on maximal strength, average and peak velocity, and average and peak power by performing bench press, back squat, squat jump and counter movement jump.

At study completion, the researchers found significant improvements in all exercisers.

But which protocol proved more effective?

“No significant differences were detected in the post-training variables recorded for the two experimental groups,” the authors explained. “These data indicate that a circuit training program using two instability training devices is as effective in untrained men as a program executed under stable conditions for improving strength (1RM), power, movement velocity and jumping ability.”

The report was published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine (2014; 13, 460–68).

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