Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Just Say NO to exercise balls, balance gimmicks, and core training

Butkus on a Nautilus Machine
Back in the 70's, 80's and 90's working out was all about building muscle using Nautilus and free weights.  Then from the mid 90's on till recently it's machines are bad and the term "core training" came into everyone's vocabulary.  It's play around on exercise balls, balance pads, and circus moves you see all the trainers doing have taken over fitness.  Now thank goodness, we are looking at all the rediculous ball and balance tricks and asking...maybe we are getting out of hand here and let's take a look to see whether it's productive.  As it turns out...core and balance training work, but not the way we thought and there's a much better way to do it.  Here's why:

Working out on unstable platforms such as balance pads and exercise balls actually create more joint stiffness because muscles on each side of the joint are firing to stabilize it.  You won't see a day in the gym go by without seeing someone doing a "Plank".  Planks cause the muscles around the spine to work real hard to stabilize it which can be a good thing as long as you never move. Problem as you may be thinking...in real life we actually have to move around!  Balancing on a squishy pad does work the muscles in the ankle and make them very stiff, there again as long as you never move this is a good thing.

Moving forward you can go a long way to having better core strength and balance by getting the muscles of your core and legs very strong through weight training.  If you need better balance, include standing on one leg but on the ground and not a pad of any kind.  It's just not needed.  I'm excited to see the industry getting back to what actually works and away for the trendy crap that doesn't.  Get strong as hell by weight training and the rest will fall into place. It's really that simple!