Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Core Strength - Deadlift.....or use a Swiss Ball?

According to this study you are better off squatting and deadlifting than playing on a swiss ball......

(I think I've said something similar before)

Trunk muscle activity during stability ball and free weight exercises.

The purpose of this investigation was to compare trunk muscle activity during stability ball and free weight exercises. Nine resistance-trained men participated in one testing session in which squats (SQ) and deadlifts (DL) were completed with loads of approximately 50, 70, 90, and 100% of one-repetition maximum (1RM). Isometric contractions during 3 stability ball exercises (quadruped (QP), pelvic thrust (PT), ball back extension (BE)) were also completed. During all exercises, average integrated electromyography (IEMG) from the rectus abdominus (RA), external oblique (EO), longissimus (L1) and multifidus (L5) was collected and analyzed. Results demonstrate that when expressed relative to 100% DL 1RM, muscle activity was 19.5 +/- 14.8% for L1 and 30.2 +/- 19.3% for L5 during QP, 31.4 +/- 13.4% for L1 and 37.6 +/- 12.4% for L5 during PT, and 44.2 +/- 22.8% for L1 and 45.5 +/- 21.6% for L5 during BE. IEMG of L1 during SQ and DL at 90 and 100% 1RM, and relative muscle activity of L5 during SQ and DL at 100% 1RM was significantly greater (P < or = 0.05) than in the stability ball exercises. Furthermore, relative muscle activity of L1 during DL at 50 and 70% 1RM was significantly greater than in QP and PT. No significant differences were observed in RA and EO during any of the exercises. In conclusion, activity of the trunk muscles during SQs and DLs is greater or equal to that which is produced during the stability ball exercises. It appears that stability ball exercises may not provide a sufficient stimulus for increasing muscular strength or hypertrophy; consequently, the role of stability ball exercises in strength and conditioning programs is questioned. SQs and DLs are recommended for increasing strength and hypertrophy of the back extensors.

So it is this:

Or this:


Bryce said...

"than playing on a swiss ball......"


There is a prejudice in alot of the population against "musclehead" stuff, jogging freaks and "gymrats"...

This leads people to gravitate away from things that were just proven to work by the groups mentioned above and to lose weight by mere lightening of the bank account.

Deadlifts and squats don't necessarily have to have stigma attached but they do. The local commercial gym around here has a sign up on the wall banning them, instead of someone on the floor teaching people how to do them. I guess the sign is cheeper.


Chris said...

Hi there Bryce

The guy that I often see for a massage is a big fella - maybe 17 stone. A former powerlifter and grappler he knows his stuff and his prescription for most bad backs is to get people squatting, even if they use no weight, he wants them to to start squatting and strengthening the important muscles. He told me that people often complain and say that they can't squat. As long as they can sit in a chair he says they can squat.

I don't do a lot of weighted squats anymore, but I make sure i do some squatting motions each week, including jumps...

Maximus Lewin said...

Please. That dude in the picture obviously got his core power from the Swiss Ball!

Allen said...

As a chiropractor I have used swiss balls personally and for rehab for some of my patients. I don't use them much anymore for either, for various reasons. I still think there is a place for them in rehab for some patients - not everyone can afford a gym membership or a home gym, and not everyone would use them even if they could.

It seems like a no brainer that doing squats and deadlifts with >50% of your 1RM (plus at least part of your bodyweight) would cause significantly more muscle activation than doing bodyweight exercises on a swiss ball. The point of the swiss ball is to make bodyweight exercises a bit more challenging (or in some cases a bit easier), while at the same time stimulating complex neurological as well as muscular responses and minimizing the chance for injury. Over time this can dramatically improve balance and agility as well as muscular strength and stability. Is it the most effective or practical/real-life-applicable way to do this for a healthy athlete? Of course not. But for non-athletes in a rehab setting, it has its place. The swiss ball is a cheap, convenient, and relatively portable device that can be used in a home or office with limited space, no rubber plates or flooring, etc. It is a great tool for what it is, but I think its primary role is in rehab and for practicing party tricks, and occasional use to supplement barbell and other training, not as a primary tool for serious training.

I found that at first just kneeling on a ball was incredibly challenging, but after some practice I could jump on it and stand on it for minutes at a time with very little muscle activity. This tells me that the primary effect of this exercise is a neurological adaptation, which is probably not all that transferable to real-life situations. I still use it for back extensions at home sometimes, and for stretching. I don't do overhead squats on it anymore though, that didn't go over too well at 24 Hour Fitness.

Chris said...

Hi Allen - that was a good comment, thanks

Of course Swiss balls have their place and I often use one for different things.



E.M.R said...

I know this post was awhile ago, but man, that video with Paul Chek really cracks me up. Just looks like something that really needs to be spoofed.

This quote from CHek in a TMuscle interview really makes the video all that much more funny:

"The same people who criticize what I do are in the gym using Swiss balls and don't even realize I'm the guy who started that! When I started that everybody said I was a fucking idiot. Now they're rolling around on the balls and don't even know where the hell it came from!"

As for the deadlifter, is it just the camera angle, or does that guy have some serious hops for having such a large physique. At 0:54, the camera zooms in on his head and shoulders, and all of the sudden we're looking at his calves. Pretty impressive if it's not inadvertent camera angles at work.

Ben Cousins said...

It's an old saying that you can't improve what you can't measure so I was fascinated to stumble on to the measurements in this post.

It confirmed my opinion and experience, but was reassuring to see actual data.

To develop trunk muscles and 'core strength' I have personally done a lot of professionally supervised pilates. I'd love to see a similar comparison of trunk muscle activity that includes Pilates as well.

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