T Nation

Crazybell Beanch and Unstable Training

From a recent article re the crazbell bench:

"The unstable, dynamic load places a huge emphasis on stabilization muscles as the entire shoulder girdle must fire maximally to keep the bar path tight and stable throughout the press.

What’s the difference between this technique which seems to be accepted and unstable surface training which seem to be poo pooed on here?

As far as I know, UST is recommended for upper limbs as it promotes shoulder health, while it is not effective for lower limb exercises. Unless if you have a relevant injury to the lower limbs (like say frequent ankle sprains from playing basketball in my case), UST for the lower limb does not increase performance and is generally a waste of time. Search for Eric Cressey’s views on the subject. That’s why he does stability ball DB presses with his (baseball) athletes.

[quote]anakayub wrote:
As far as I know, UST is recommended for upper limbs as it promotes shoulder health, while it is not effective for lower limb exercises. Unless if you have a relevant injury to the lower limbs (like say frequent ankle sprains from playing basketball in my case), UST for the lower limb does not increase performance and is generally a waste of time. Search for Eric Cressey’s views on the subject. That’s why he does stability ball DB presses with his (baseball) athletes.[/quote]

stability dumbell presses for say 15-20 reps are really nice on your RE day or after ME benching

[quote]anakayub wrote:
As far as I know, UST is recommended for upper limbs as it promotes shoulder health, while it is not effective for lower limb exercises. Unless if you have a relevant injury to the lower limbs (like say frequent ankle sprains from playing basketball in my case), UST for the lower limb does not increase performance and is generally a waste of time. Search for Eric Cressey’s views on the subject. That’s why he does stability ball DB presses with his (baseball) athletes.[/quote]

That’s pretty much hitting the nail on the head.

If you have a decent biomechanics/exercise physiology background and are interested in the research relevant to the area I would recommend The Truth About Unstable Surface Training by Eric Cressey.

There was just a study in a recent strength and conditioning journal, the nsca one, that pretty much said unstable surface training does jack shit. The crazy bell bench, or chaos bench, or whatever the hell you call it, is awesome for every aspect of your upper body pressing. If you have weak synergists or torn up shoulders , it alleviates a lot of stress and gets the blood pumping all around your shoulder girdle. Just make sure you have a spotter or a really good dentist. oh yea, if you have problems staying tight when you bench this will fix that by the second set.

[quote]AndyG wrote:
From a recent article re the crazbell bench:

"The unstable, dynamic load places a huge emphasis on stabilization muscles as the entire shoulder girdle must fire maximally to keep the bar path tight and stable throughout the press.

What’s the difference between this technique which seems to be accepted and unstable surface training which seem to be poo pooed on here?[/quote]

well the obvious difference is that you’re benching on a stable surface, as opposed to an unstable surface…

I wasn’t sure if there was much difference between being on a stable surface and moving something unstable or being on an unstable surface and moving something stable.

What I’m trying to get at is why would shoulders benifit from unstable type training more than any other joint where stability is desirable?

Granted I’ve not read Eric’s book, but from my understanding of anatomy.

The shoulders are inherently unstable joints, in which stability comes from the muscles and soft tissues (ligaments) rather than the bony structure. This is different from the hip joint, which is a “mobile” joint (refer to Boyle’s joint-by-joint approach) but is much more stable due to the higher socket:ball ratio. So increased muscular activity increases stability at the shoulder joint at a higher rate than the hip joint.

When doing unstable work with the upper body the limiting factor of stability is usually the shoulders than the wrists (elbows and knees are stable joints). With lower body work, it’s actually the ankles that’s the limiting factor. Doing stability work for the upper body enhances shoulder performance which is what we want. Stability work for the lower body might overcome our ankle stability threshold to give a “stimulus” to the core/hip stability, which might lead to an ankle injury.

I’m not too sure of the first point, considering that I’m still new to lifting. I would think that the former is “safer”/easier to control. That’s probably as the latter uses more of the core to stabilize yourself first before you can move the load. With the former, the “unstability” is targeted more to the joint you want to work specifically, as you don’t have to stabilize yourself first.

[quote]AndyG wrote:
I wasn’t sure if there was much difference between being on a stable surface and moving something unstable or being on an unstable surface and moving something stable.

What I’m trying to get at is why would shoulders benifit from unstable type training more than any other joint where stability is desirable?[/quote]

The crazy-bell bench press is meant to teach you to keep your shoulders ultra tight when benching. It is not a power move to be done with heavy weight, and is probably better suited for use when you’re in a corrective training phase… or as a light warm-up, which actually sounds like a good idea, come to think of it.

Bosu-ball squats and the like are supposed to work your legs and your core at the same time, providing more ‘bang for your buck’. Problem is, they do a sub-par job at working either muscle group. You’ll get a hell of a lot more ‘bang’ from walking lunges… but then, of course, you won’t buy a bosu ball, so that’s not an effective marketing model.