If you’re like me, you enjoy exercises that include lots of dynamic movements. Everything from a kettlebell power clean to burpees (don’t we all love burpees)!! These exercises are fun, challenging and engage multiple muscle groups - making for a powerful workout. However, as fun as these movements are, they come with an inherent risk if your body is not prepared - specifically, if your kinetic chain isn’t strong and stable.
In this article, I am going to touch base on some key concepts surrounding stabilization and the importance of adding stabilizing exercises into your regular workout routines.
What is stability, really?
Stability refers to a muscle group’s ability to contract for an extended period of time while maintaining its joint position throughout a full range of motion. An example of this is being able to keep the core, chest and shoulders firm and in proper position while performing a barbell bench press. Each of these muscle groups are contracting and holding for the full duration of the movement, creating a strong foundation from which the primary movement can be performed.
There are three key checkpoints of the kinetic chain that greatly contribute to the body’s overall stability - especially for dynamic movement. These include the hip complex, knees and ankles. Together, these three create a powerhouse of foundational strength when trained properly. Think about how many movements involve the hips, knees and ankle - walking, jumping, standing, squatting, cleaning, lunging, etc.
Let’s talk a little bit about proper training for each of these checkpoints.
What exercises support stability?
There are a wide variety of exercises out there that challenge our body’s ability to stabilize. The key variables that you should be looking for in a stabilizing exercise include (1) time under tension, (2) proper alignment, and (3) an unstable yet controllable environment. A key example of this is standing on one foot. You are placing the muscles of the hip, knee and ankle under tension for an extended period of time, you are maintaining alignment by keeping the knee over the toe, and you are unstable yet still in control (depending on how good your balance is).
A few exercises that I’m fond of - because of their ability to challenge all three of the kinetic checkpoints together - include: the (1) Single-Leg Balance Reach, (2) Single-Leg Lift & Chop, and the (3) Single-Leg Squat TouchDown. These exercises require you to maintain a stable position throughout the kinetic chain in order to perform them correctly and can be easily added to any workout routine.
How can I start?
Getting started is simple. Consider adding one the following exercises into the warm-up or cool-down of your regular workout routine, at least three times per week. That’s it!
Single-Leg Balance Reach, 2 sets, 10 reps per side, 30-60s rest between sets
Single-Leg Lift & Chop, 2 sets, 10 reps per side, 30-60s rest between sets
Single-Leg Squat TouchDown, 2 sets, 10 reps per side, 30-60s rest between sets
As always, I’d love to hear from you and how you are enjoying these exercises. I’m also happy to answer any questions you may have. You can reach me at email@example.com.
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– Andrew Jacobs, CHC, CPT