Instability

While I often think my workouts don’t really change much, if I’m honest they change just a little bit almost every week or so. Often it’s determined by the available equipment: no single handles for the cables, I’ll do a seated row; no flat bench open though I’ll do incline presses; adjust the DBs based upon what I can find.

The big changes happen every month, though. I choose a type a workout to concentrate on and make sure that at least 1/2 of my workout each time applies to these goals. Some of these are the standards that you read about in books or on websites: strength or endurance. Others make sense even if they haven’t made it popular books yet.

Last month, I concentrated on unilateral exercises: exercising one side of the body at a time. As Gubernatrix pointed out these exercises help you improve weakness that exist in us all between the sides. Because these exercises always take me more time, I did a lot of split workouts and spent a bit more time in the gym.  But I actually LIKE unilaterals and make sure to return to this method at least once every 3 months.

So what am I doing in January?  I’m dedicating myself to unstable workouts.  Switching things so I have to rely on core stabilazation and balance while doing moves at a lower weight is what I’m all about this month.  Again, these are challenging enough that I’m looking at splits instead of full-body workouts.

Today was chest, bi/tri and core.  Thank goodness I could find a stability ball at the gym  This is going to be my BIG challenge this month as they tend disappear or be claimed quite quickly.

Chest press in bridge position on the ball; incline bench press rolled down on the ball, military press while seating on the ball.  Plus an assortment of planks and crunches filled the first half of the workout.  Then some tricep pull downs (2 kinds) and bicep curls while standing on one foot kind of finished off the instability.

Why choose to do these?  First, these make me concentrate in a different way than when I comfortable position myself on a bench or a seat.  Because I’m thinking “tighten your core, lift your hips, press through your heels” while I’m counting the tempo for a press or lift, I’m not thinking so much about the move itself.  It happens naturally and organically and I’m usually more successful at the exercise because I’m looking elsewhere.

I think I read somewhere that these type of exercises actually can strengthen brain connections.  And let’s be serious about this, we can all benefit from more brain connections.  Strong brains B Good!

Also (just between us), unstable exercises kind of freak out the guys.  There simply is no way you can do them with as heavy a weight; guys are all about the heavy weight.  Many would love the idea of the challenge, but few are willing to give up 10 pounds or so to get a better/different workout.  So to see a woman doing something that scares them just a little.  Macho freak time.

If you aren’t doing some kind of unstable exercise regularly, give it a try.

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4 responses to “Instability

  1. I spent three months in physical therapy working on strengthening my core and middle back (slipped disc) last spring.

    PT had me do as much as possible on a stability ball. I had not worked (regularly) on one before that time. And you are right – it made even the simplist of exercise so much more challenging.

    One of my favorite things is to do pilates with a small ball – child’s bouncy kind of ball – for resistance – like between the knees for bridge, between the legs for corkscrew, etc.

    I realized a couple weeks ago that when I was in my loosing phase – I reexamined my exercise every quarter or so – like – what am I doing?, what do I want?, is what I am doing getting me what I want? Now in maintenance – and with my back finally recovered – I haven’t taken a good hard look at where I am spending my exercise time. I need to do that again.

  2. just started back doing all this for the BRAIN REASON entirely.

    I swear I can feel it more in my brain than the ‘body muscle’ Im working.

  3. I know I’ve been living under a rock for the last several years – I just discovered the stability ball! I mean, I knew they were out there, but I’d never used one. I love it! For all the reasons you mentioned, but also . . . it kind of makes me giggle. It reminds me of being a little kid, hanging off the bed, bouncing on the couch, that sort of thing. My trainer laughs at me, because I giggle during the entire workout when we use the ball. *sheepish grin*

  4. stability balls are cool, but my favorite is the bosu, cause you can stand on it. i love doing weighted squats on the black side.

    Kelly Turner
    http://www.everygymsnightmare.com

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