The trend toward utilizing unstable surfaces for strength and core training is at an all-time high. From physioballs to balance boards, from foam rollers to Bosu’s™—virtually every gym contains an arsenal of core-oriented tools that collectively comprise a class of exercise known as unstable training.
The rationale behind unstable training lay in its ability to increase muscle activity while simultaneously stabilizing muscles through sudden, inconsistent movements. With this goal in mind, many fitness equipment manufacturers have added facets of unstable training to their own offerings.
Take the latest Core Bench from Vicore, which integrates an unstable surface with a traditional lifting bench. It’s an upgrade driven by core training research, which shows that unstable surfaces help build balance and quicken reaction times even faster—particularly when the body is positioned horizontally.
Cybex International (despite its recent publication of a study questioning the benefits of unstable training) also is adding elements of unstable training to its products—with great success. The award-winning Progressive Stabilization technology driving the Bravo Press and Bravo Pull offer no-stability and partial-stability settings, enabling workouts that build strength, balance and core.
Finally, the skyrocketing popularity of unstable training has no doubt helped Power Plate become a go-to training method among professional sports teams. By integrating whole body vibration with core training techniques, Power Plate has won the loyalty of top-ranked athletes and trainers alike.
While safety risks are inherent in unstable training (no surprise—any technique involving sudden, inconsistent movements may lead to injury), it’s undoubtedly here to stay. Going forward, I believe we’ll see more and more fitness equipment manufacturers integrating unstable surfaces into their core product offerings.