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Swiss Ball Exercises?

Posted: Mon May 21, 2007 8:56 am
by leif3141
Who here thinks it would build muscle better to do some Swiss Ball benches and seated presses? I am just wondering if it would only target my core more...or make my chest muscles do some more work! I've seen mixed recommendations for these. I used to do them for ab workouts...now I am wondering because a book I got highly recommends them if you do alot of dumbell for upper body (which I do dumbell/bodyweight exclusively).

Posted: Mon May 21, 2007 9:13 am
by stuward
Matt

Pay closest attention to the large movement compound exercises. Swiss Ball Benches will not build muscle but the may provide benefits depending on where your weak points are. Seated presses are a basic shoulder exercise. You should be doing them from time to time now.

This article talks about some of the exercises you'll get the most benefit from. http://www.t-nation.com/findArticle.do?article=229mon2

Some of them are technical and you may need a coach but others are basic, Squats, Bench, Chins, 400 m runs, etc. the technical ones are worth the investment in time to learn.

Stu

Posted: Mon May 21, 2007 9:16 am
by TimD
It can't hurt for your purposes. It will tend to work the stabilizers, but on the pro side of it, they come in handy if you don't have an adjustable bench, you can just shift your positioning while on the ball to get the desired angle.Just using DB's alone will allow a greater range of motion than with a Barbell, but I doubt (and have never noticed) that using a ball will help with the range of motion thing.
I used to use one for the angle variations a lot unil my 3 dogs thought it looked like fun toy and used it for tug of war. Now it's in a thousand pieces.
Tim

Re: Swiss Ball Exercises?

Posted: Mon May 21, 2007 10:14 am
by Kenny Croxdale
leif3141 wrote:Who here thinks it would build muscle better to do some Swiss Ball benches and seated presses? I am just wondering if it would only target my core more...or make my chest muscles do some more work!
The Swiss ball works the stabilizer and core muscles. However, these unstable devices like this are not going to build muscle in the primary muscles involved...chest, shoulders and triceps. These muscle groups are not taxed to their limit...only the stabilizer muscle are.

"In terms of providing a stimulus for strength gains no discernable
benefit of performing a resistance exercise in an unstable condition was observed in the current study."[Isometric Squat Force Output and Muscle Activity in Stable and Unstable Conditions, Jeffrey M. McBride, Prue Cormie, and Russell Deane]

This hold true for building muscle as well as strength. For maximal activation of the primary muscles involved a stable surface works best.
I've seen mixed recommendations for these.
Swiss ball has it place in one training. However, for the most part it is over rated.
I used to do them for ab workouts...now I am wondering because a book I got highly recommends them if you do alot of dumbell for upper body (which I do dumbell/bodyweight exclusively).
Why does this book recommend them if you do a lot of dumbbell work. Dumbbell work on a solid bench involves the stabilizer and core muscle more than using a straight bar or a machine.

How much more stabilizer work do you need? And for what?

Strength coaches Todor Bompa, Ian King, Charles Poliquin and others in the field have noted that traning on devices such as a swiss ball is over rated.

Kenny Croxdale

Posted: Mon May 21, 2007 11:42 am
by Scott Ismari
I have to agree with kenny here...keep the swiss ball for an addition to your ab work and use a stable platform for pressing moves. If you want to concentrate on balance, put your feet on the end of the bench, at least the bench is stable and you can drop your feet to the floor if you get to unsteady, I wouldnt even advise doing this.

Posted: Mon May 21, 2007 2:06 pm
by Ironman
There is another thread somewhere on here about that. swiss ball chest press does not contract the abs any more then doing a standard, flat unweighted crunch. It's totally worthless.

There may be some ab exercises you could do with it that would be ok if you don't have weights to do proper ones.

Posted: Mon May 21, 2007 3:19 pm
by leif3141
The funny thing is I do not do Swiss ball at all on abs anymore either...I do hanging leg raises, v-ups with weight, reverse woodchoppers and barbell rollouts. So no crunches=useless ball.

I think their theory behind the swiss ball being better for pressing exercises is in theory...you will be using more muscles, even if they are not the ones directly related to the chest/shoulders or whatever. Kinda like squatting and deadlifting...using so many muscles is why it works. Of course, I have one book that highly recommends them, and then looked at others that laugh at them. So who knows.

Posted: Tue May 22, 2007 3:38 am
by daniel4738
I use the swissball in various guises. Mainly for variation and skill development.

For example squatts. I do some form of Crossfit style of exercising at the moment. I can squatt xxxkg for 1RM and can squatt xxkg in excess of 50 reps. The weight is unimportant, but instead of doing 50 reps worth of squatts with weight, I do 50 reps standing on a Gym ball, developing balance, abs etc.

The plank exercise, I do with a ball, either with my arms or feet resting on the ball. As this became too easy, I began trying to write my name and then the alphabet with the ball.

a curled sit up on the ball. The situp where you extend your legs and body outwards with your hands at your side, you then crunch your knees towards your chest simultaneously (bad description sorry). Doing this on the ball with your hands stabilizing you is a real stomach killer, I can only just manage 12 reps of this.

As for weights on the gym ball, if you are going for volume, maybe a swissball would be good, but if you are going for intensity, then the lack of stability would certainly increase risk of injury.

Posted: Tue May 22, 2007 6:52 am
by hoosegow
I think they should be banned ;)

Posted: Tue May 22, 2007 7:49 am
by TimD
I can see the stability benefits, my father is 82 with major neuropathy from the knees down, and he just finished a class with a physiotherapist who was working with him to help him walk better, and yes, they use balance boards and various things, and yes, they helped him a lot, with his balance in the lower extremities. I can also see it's use for planks and other things like that, but when I saw the picture on Paul Chek's site, where a person was standing on a ball doing squats, the term "insanity" came to mind.
Tim

Posted: Tue May 22, 2007 9:20 am
by daniel4738
I don't know about weighted squatts, but unweighted they are great. But I mainly train for performance not for muscle gain. They are great for developing foot strength and balance for XC running. There is also the ego factor involved. I guess it was a challenge thing at first.

Any link to the image?

Posted: Tue May 22, 2007 9:20 am
by Kenny Croxdale
you will be using more muscles, even if they are not the ones directly related to the chest/shoulders or whatever. Kinda like squatting and deadlifting...using so many muscles is why it works.
I understand what you are trying to say. However, a bench press on a solid bench is more akin to squat and deadlifts, not the swiss ball or any other unstable surface.

Performing exercise on an unstable platform involves stabilizer muscle more. I think that is what the idea you are trying to put forth.

However, the shoulder press, squat and deadlift with free weights are "functional" movements that involve stabilizer muscles.

Think about it this way. Squatting help you sit down on a sofa, chair, even get on and off the potty.

Deadlifting is like picking up boxes off the floor.

The shoulder press help you put pots and pans up on high shelves and get them down.

One of the laws of training is "Specificity." You want a resistance movement that most closely replicates what you are going to do.

Squats, deadlifts, shoulder pressing, even the bench press is much more "fuctional" that training on a swiss ball or some other unstable device. "Functional" has become a bit of a "cult" word...misused and misunderstood.

As Tudor Bompa noted at the National Strength and Conditioning Annual Seminar one year, "If you play football on a wobbly field, the train on a wobble board."

Bompa's point was that exercises performed on instability devices do little for athletes or every day life.

However, if you're in a circus performing movements on a ball, then you need to train on a ball to become better at it.

Instability devices have a place in training. However, it is fairly low on the totum pole...unless you're a seal.

Kenny Croxdale

Posted: Tue May 22, 2007 9:32 am
by Kenny Croxdale
daniel4738 wrote:I don't know about weighted squatts, but unweighted they are great. But I mainly train for performance not for muscle gain. They are great for developing foot strength
Instability devices such as the swiss ball are very poor at developing strength. I provide one research artcle, see above, the explains that.

and balance for XC running.


As I mentiond in a post above, there is little conversion between being able to balance yourself on a ball and balance yourself while running.

Specificity: The best method to improve performance is to duplicate the movement as much as possible. Thus, going out running would work the best.

Resistance exercise such as "Step Up" Squat are better than traditional squats. "Step Up" Squats providing the need for stabilization on one leg, like running.
There is also the ego factor involved. I guess it was a challenge thing at first.
Science and empirical data should dictate how a program is written, not ego.

Kenny Croxdale

Posted: Tue May 22, 2007 9:44 am
by Kenny Croxdale
TimD wrote:I can see the stability benefits, my father is 82 with major neuropathy from the knees down, and he just finished a class with a physiotherapist who was working with him to help him walk better, and yes, they use balance boards and various things, and yes, they helped him a lot, with his balance in the lower extremities.
Tim, a great point.
Balance devices are fundamental in rehabilitation.
They reprogram the central nervous system.
I can also see it's use for planks and other things like that, but when I saw the picture on Paul Chek's site, where a person was standing on a ball doing squats, the term "insanity" came to mind.
Tim
Chek's a smart guy but standing on a ball is not going to improve athletic performance nor do much for "functional" daily activity...unless you're a seal.

Kenny Croxdale

Posted: Tue May 22, 2007 12:26 pm
by Matt Z
I think the important thing to remember is that, while instability training MAY have some value in certain instances, it is no substitute for conventional weight training. Also, use common sense. If something looks phenomonally akward and dangerous, it probably is.