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NO MORE BOSU BALLS

This morning, I saw an "expert" in the golf fitness world using a bosu ball lunge exercise with one of his PGA Tour athletes.


Major sigh...


I'm out here trying to break stereotypes in the golf fitness world and then I got dudes like this posting hot trash.


If you want to maximize golf performance, hit bombs, and increase resilience, ditch the bosu ball.

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Why the Hate on Bosu Balls?


The tool itself is fine, I've used it before as a SpikeBall net.


That's about where the list stops.


When you start including instability tools like bosu balls, those disc things, or the blue squishy pads you remove a ton of your force production potential.


As instability goes up, force production and rate of force production goes significantly down (1,2,3).


But, you can "engage your core more."


Probably not. While some research does show that core activation is slightly higher when lifting on an unstable surface, this is only when the absolute load applied is equal... which is NEVER the case in practice (4).


For example, if you grab a 35 lb dumbbell to do a goblet squat on a bosu ball, you'll probably grab a 60+ on a stable surface.


So, which is better.... High loads on a stable surface or low loads on an unstable surface?


No doubt about it, the former.


"...unstable surface training 'attenuates' athletic performance" (5).


Attenuate

Verb

/əˈtenyəˌwāt/

Reduce the force, effect, or value of.

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Is stable actually stable?


You generate a TON of core activation via loading the body on a stable surface.


Have you ever tried picking up and walking with two 90 lb dumbbells... Your core will be "activated."


Or picking up a 315 lb deadlift? Your core will be "activated."


Just because you are lifting on the ground which we consider to be a "stable" surface, your dynamic movement is going to create levels of instability which can be perpetuated by load.


Combine this with the increased force production potential of the movement and we are going to create some serious adaptations.

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Moral of the Story


Bosu balls are not a great tool (within a strength training program) 95% of the time. If you want to use them a couple times a week because you enjoy them... go for it.


But please never use them for your true strength and power work.


Squats, lunges, step ups, RDLs... don't even consider completing them with a Bosu ball.


Load em up on a stable surface. Produce force. Become more resilient.


Let's go low.

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Carter Schmitz, CSCS, TPI

carter@resistancebandtraining.com












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Sources


1. Anderson, K. G., & Behm, D. G. (2004). Maintenance of EMG activity and loss of force output with instability. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 18(3), 637–640. https://doi.org/10.1519/1533-4287(2004)18<637:MOEAAL>2.0.CO;2


2. Behm, DG, Anderson, K, and Curnew, RS. Muscle force and activation under stable and unstable conditions. J Strength Cond Res 16: 416-422, 2002.


3. McBride, JM, Cormie, P, and Deane, R. Isometric squat force output and muscle activity in stable and unstable conditions. J Strength Cond Res 20: 915-918, 2006.


4. Kohler, James M; Flanagan, Sean P; Whiting, William C Muscle Activation Patterns While Lifting Stable and Unstable Loads on Stable and Unstable Surfaces, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: February 2010 - Volume 24 - Issue 2 - p 313-321

doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181c8655a


5. Cressey, E. M., West, C. A., Tiberio, D. P., Kraemer, W. J., & Maresh, C. M. (2007). The effects of ten weeks of lower-body unstable surface training on markers of athletic performance. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 21(2), 561–567. https://doi.org/10.1519/R-19845.1