You Train On Unstable Surfaces
Performing exercises while standing on an unstable surface (e.g. BOSU balance trainer or balance board) has shown promise when applied in a rehabilitative setting. Those with lower limb injuries can benefit from the unstable nature of the exercise and will improve balance, proprioception and strength.
However, this type of training was introduced to the world of strength and conditioning with the hopes of having similar training benefits. The infatuation with training the core has also played a role in this form of training. However, the benefits of this type of training have fallen short.
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In a review paper from the journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, it was concluded that unstable surface training is “not recommended as the primary [form of exercise] for hypertrophy, absolute strength, or power, especially in trained athletes.” In addition, the authors added that athletes will benefit the most from ground-based free weight training with minimal instability.
Take Home Message
Building strength and improving athletic performance requires that lower body exercises be performed on stable ground. Unstable surface training has its place but should not be the go-to form of improving strength in a runner’s strength training program.