Begin With Stability

Stability is the ability to remain at homeostasis under forces which are trying to promote a change. What does that have to do with your workouts?

The first phase of any effective training program will include stabilization work. Static holds and slow, controlled movements build awareness of how your body moves when it is aligned and stable. The goal is to ingrain in your movement the optimal engagement patterns so as to eliminate muscle imbalances, which may lead to injury. In other words, when you deadlift, run or bend over to pick up a piece of paper (sometimes a dangerous, unconscious act) you are safe.

Stability begins with a strong core - but don’t roll your eyes because you’ve heard that before…The core is much more than the 8-pack, which is nice, but only useful at the beach. The core consists of muscles surrounding the spine and abdomen, including the glutes, paraspinals and hip girdle. True core stability is essential for proper load balance within the spine, pelvis and kinetic chain.

Why is stability important?

You might think of the core as everything from just above your knees up to your shoulders. When working properly, these muscles fire before your limbs move in order to support proper posture, balance and stability. This means your spine is held in its natural, curved position (neutral), your scapulas are rotated back and down (think chest up, shoulders back) and your pelvis is neutral, which gives you a slight curve in your lower back.

Spine

This correct, stable position enables the optimal transmission of force through your body because the core is your center of gravity and the area where all movement begins. It also allows for better weight distribution, which reduces wear on your joints and bones even during dynamic movement. So, your body will move in a more efficient manner while producing more power whether you are going for a rebound in basketball or tossing a suitcase in the trunk of your car. In short, an exercise program which promotes stability may help prevent injury and it will make you stronger.

Stability Sequence

  1. Squeeze your butt to set your pelvis in a neutral position.
  2. Pull your lower ribs in and set them over your pelvis.
  3. Brace your abs to lock your pelvis and ribcage in place.
  4. Draw your shoulders back and your shoulder blades down.

Stability Workout

These eight exercises are sequenced in such a way as to improve your muscular stability from head to toe.

Use these as a warmup or as your change-of-pace workout to improve your balance and core strength.

Balance on one leg              30 seconds each          1 set

Cobra                                     30 seconds                    2-3 sets

Plank                                      30-60 seconds              2-3 sets

Warrior 1                               30 seconds each          2-3 sets

Boat Dumbbell Hold           30-60 seconds              2-3 sets

Superman                              15-30 seconds              2-3 sets

Side Plank                              30 seconds each          2-3 sets

Chair                                       30 seconds                    2-3 sets

Remember, seeking the advice and clearance of a physician before beginning a program of exercise is advised. This is particularly true if you have a history of injuries. The author and publisher of this book shall not be liable or responsible for any injuries resulting to any person reading or following the information in this book.

Balance on One Leg

Balance on one leg

Balancing on one leg is a valuable tool to improve stability in your hips and your overall balance.

Balance for as long as you can on one foot.

When this becomes too easy, try it with your eyes closed.

Fit Tip: Keep your foot straight ahead for maximun stability.

Cobra

Cobra 2

Cobra 1

Cobra strengthens back extensors which support optimal posture.

Begin in a prone position with your hands under your shoulders and your elbows tucked into your ribs. Using your arms as support, roll your shoulders back and down while squeezing your shoulder blades together and lift your head and chest off the floor.

Hold cobra for 30 seconds and perform 2-3 sets.

Plank

Plank

Plank is a staple of core strength and stability work.

It is performed by coming onto your forearms with your knees on the floor. When you are ready, simply lift your knees off the floor and raise your hips to shoulder level. Draw your navel in, pick a spot on the ground to focus on, and breathe.

Perform 2-3 sets for 30-60 seconds each.

Fit Tip: Remember the stability sequence when holding plank in order to maintain proper, effective form.