What’s the first thing we have to do before building a structure? That’s right: lay down a solid foundation. Without one, even the most beautiful building will shift to one side or crumble.
Strength is similar in many ways. People often focus on their strength outcome (the building) but ignore the foundation they are building it on.
What Is Our Strength’s Foundation?
The foundation of our strength is stability, which represents our ability to maintain postural equilibrium during different activities.
An excellent way to look at the importance of stability would be to imagine that you’re about to do some back squats on an unstable surface, such as sand. The unstable surface makes the exercise much more challenging to perform, increasing the risk of falling and hurting yourself. But take that same squat to a gym, and you instantly feel more stable and better able to transfer force into the barbell.
The problem is that many trainees struggle with stability even on firm surfaces because they ignore their foundation and instead focus on the building.
Does Stability Matter In Strength Training?
We know what you might be thinking:
“Why do I need stability training? I’m not a gymnast balancing myself on a beam? I want to lift weights!”
As discussed in the previous point, stability is the foundation on which we build everything else. Without it, no matter how hard we try, we will never reach our full potential. Even worse, we will put ourselves at significant risk of an injury as we start lifting more weight.
Instability in strength training can result for several reasons:
- You lack experience with a specific exercise
- You lack core strength
- You’re trying to load too much weight on your body
- You’re deviating from the center of mass
- Your base is flawed (e.g., squatting in runner’s shoes)
Often, these reasons are connected in subtle ways. For example, you’re deviating from the center of mass because of improper footwear.
Working on each will contribute to superior stability, allowing you to resist external forces and maintain postural equilibrium.
How to Start Improving Your Stability In Two Simple Steps
1. Work On Technique
The simplest but most ego-damaging way to work on stability is to reduce training loads and focus on proper technique. Specifically, you should focus on your range of motion and ability to keep the weight over your center of gravity.
Filming some of your sets is beneficial, but you can also work with a coach. A trained eye can spot even the smallest of training errors.
In some cases, all you need is to drop the weight and re-learn proper form.
2. Introduce Dedicated Core Work
Contrary to popular belief, ‘the core’ doesn’t mean ab training. Our core makes up all the muscles in the midsection, including:
- Rectus abdominis
- Transverse abdominis
- Internal and external obliques
- Erector spinae
- Hip flexors
- Pelvic floor muscles
Some fantastic core-strengthening movements include:
- Dead bug
- Russian twist
- Glute bridge
Movements like the squat, deadlift, and overhead press also develop core stability, but dedicated midsection training is essential.