Stronger and More Stable Athletes

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Sometimes I will use strength and stability almost interchangeably.

On one hand strength is stable. On the other, we can break this down a little bit further.

I have seen a lot of young athletes that get up to some pretty good numbers with their lifts. I have also seen some not so strong athletes struggle to get better.

Something that we can see in both of these cases is a lack of stability in their strength. This can be displayed in the following ways:

  • Shaking during lifts
  • Small jumps in weight cause an instant fail
  • Reduced depth with more weight

These are all signs that the athlete does not have a lot of control over what they are doing.

One way to create more control is through core stability training. 

The goal of core stability training is to stabilize the torso of the body, with or without limb movement.

The purpose of core stability training is to build tension that can transfer over to other lifts, sprints, jumps, etc.

Some of my favorite exercises for building core stability are as follows.

SA Cable Press

I also really like this variation with a longer pole attachment on this one. It becomes a very humbling exercise for someone who does not know how to really push with stability.

There is nothing more apparent than when an athlete gets knocked over with only a couple plates on the cable.

Stir the Pot 

Stir the Pot is another exercise that we can use to quickly see how stable someone is. Athletes will often struggle to make the circles if they can even hold themselves up.

KB pullovers also give us good feedback. Assuming the weight isn’t too heavy, we can see how far back the athlete can reach. An athlete that struggles to keep their back flat while moving their arms back is going to have some issues developing stability.

Eccentrics

Eccentrics are exercises that focuses on the lowering part of the movement. This is where athletes can develop the most amount of force.

More importantly it can teach control. A good example is the squat. When athletes start to show a lack of stability, we will often move them into some eccentrics. We will drop the weight and use a 6 second lower. That is a long time to hold good positions and is great for developing that missing tension.

Isometrics 

Isometrics are a pause at the bottom of the movement. Just like eccentrics, they are great for building control at the hardest part of the exercise.

We usually use a 3 second pause at the bottom of the movement. Less frequently, we have also done a longer hold like 30-45 seconds. We would really only do one rep of that and it would be a very basic movement.

Using eccentrics and isometrics are really beneficial but I like to make sure that the athlete has a good base in training before implementing these things.

Usually, we get athletes that are completely untrained. I like to get those doing much more basic and regular reps. I still may throw some pauses in there but not necessarily for 3 full timed seconds.

Having a bit of a training base before moving into more complicated means can help us better identify whether or not those methods are best for that athlete.