Secondary Logo

Share this article on:

BEHM DAVID G.; ANDERSON, KENNETH G.
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: August 2006
BRIEF REVIEW: PDF Only

ABSTRACTThere are many instances in daily life and sport in which force must be exerted when an individual performing the task is in an unstable condition. Instability can decrease the externally-measured force output of a muscle while maintaining high muscle activation. The high muscle activation of limbs and trunk when unstable can be attributed to the increased stabilization functions. The increased stress associated with instability has been postulated to promote greater neuromuscular adaptations, such as decreased cocontractions, improved coordination, and confidence in performing a skill. In addition, high muscle activation with less stress on joints and muscles could also be beneficial for general musculoskeletal health and rehabilitation. However, the lower force output may be detrimental to absolute strength gains when resistance training. Furthermore, other studies have reported increased cocontractions with unstable training. The positive effects of instability resistance training on sports performance have yet to be quantified. The examination of the literature suggests that when implementing a resistance training program for musculoskeletal health or rehabilitation, both stable and unstable exercises should be included to ensure an emphasis on both higher force (stable) and balance (unstable) stressors to the neuromuscular system.

There are many instances in daily life and sport in which force must be exerted when an individual performing the task is in an unstable condition. Instability can decrease the externally-measured force output of a muscle while maintaining high muscle activation. The high muscle activation of limbs and trunk when unstable can be attributed to the increased stabilization functions. The increased stress associated with instability has been postulated to promote greater neuromuscular adaptations, such as decreased cocontractions, improved coordination, and confidence in performing a skill. In addition, high muscle activation with less stress on joints and muscles could also be beneficial for general musculoskeletal health and rehabilitation. However, the lower force output may be detrimental to absolute strength gains when resistance training. Furthermore, other studies have reported increased cocontractions with unstable training. The positive effects of instability resistance training on sports performance have yet to be quantified. The examination of the literature suggests that when implementing a resistance training program for musculoskeletal health or rehabilitation, both stable and unstable exercises should be included to ensure an emphasis on both higher force (stable) and balance (unstable) stressors to the neuromuscular system.

Address correspondence to David Behm, Ph.D., dbehm@mun.ca.

© 2006 National Strength and Conditioning Association