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stabalizer muscles?

can someone tell me what “stabalizer muscles” are?

A “stablizer muscle” is a muscle that acts to help support a movement. For instance in a military press the teres major, teres minor, subscapularis, supraspinatus, etc…will aide in the stabilization of the scapula and humerous. I know it’s a difficult concept for HITers.

I think they’re the muscles that contract, near the prime movers of the exercise you’re doing, to support those directly exercised muscles, particularly during free weight movements. The core musculature would be involved during athletic movements, such as a golf or tennis stroke. In a standing press, the core plus upper back, lower back, etc.
Big Red

They are Mike Mentzers favorite muscles.
He used to say;“one set for stabalisers and that’s it!”.Do NOT overtrain the stabalisers!They are very small and overtrain easily.

Depends on what lift you are talking about. One muscle may stabilize the body in a particular movement, be a prime mover in another movement and be completely uninvolved in a third movement. I am sure you will get a better response if you clarify what movement you are concerned with.

I’ve brought this up many times before on this forum and everyone ignores me. Stabilizer muscles don’t exist. Stabilizing is a function, so ANY muscle can be a “stabilizer” in any particular movement. For example, the biceps stabilize the arms during the bench press, etc. But, Pop Exercise 101 dictates that stabilzer muscles are the small muscles in the upperback/deltoid region which tend to get overlooked in traditional training routines. I usually ignore advice stating anything about training the stabilizers. And by the way, I used to be one of those who talked about training on a stability ball to work the stabilizers—oh well, live and learn.

These are usually small muscles that “stabilize” a joint, but don’t contribute significant amounts of force to move a weight. The rotator cuff in the shoulder is a good example.

“Stabilizer muscles don’t exist. Stabilizing is a function, so ANY muscle can be a “stabilizer” in any particular movement.” Thats the thing, any muscle can stabilize a movement, hence any muscle can be a stabilizer, which means stabilizer muscles do exist.

Seriously, if stabilization is a function that any muscle can provide, then any and all muscles are stabilizers, which implies there is no unique stabilizer muscle. I think this also leads us to the esoteric concept of “functional strength”. Does that mean skill at an activity (like football or boxing) or “General Strength” like lugging around plates and bars at a gym? Now, I have seen “lift specialists” who are big benchers but who can’t handle 2 45s at a time, and I think they might lack “functional strength”, but that is just to say they are not really strong. As far as stabilization, functional strength and all that goes, if you can do overhead presses and deadlifts, is there a function that you might not be strong at? I gotta think no way.

Stabilizing is a function of muscle as has already been said. Training “stabilization” is important for new trainees to lower the risk of injury later when the weight gets more challenging, and to correct imbalances early in the new lifestyle. It is also advisable to occassionally return to stabilization challenges periodically for active rest periods and to prevent the nagging shoulder, hip, knee, and back pains that come with constantly pushing bigger weight. I believe many have gotten carried away with this type of training, it’s like a favorite new word you try to work into every sentence whether it’s appropriate or not. Generally, no more than one training cycle should be spent on this in any 1/2 year to year long plan unless you are training for the circus or maybe the x-games!


Exercises also don’t have to be real extravagant to challenge stability over the prime movers. For example, squatting through your full active range of motion, paying close attention to where your feet, knees, hips, back, shoulders, and neck are is going to challenge the stability of that movement far sooner than the prime movers. I think I see where you are coming from on this question, and to some degree I agree with you. But there are valid reasons and methods, despite what is usually associated with “stabilization”.

I’ve always seen it this way (at least since lifting class in college) when you lift using a machine all you have to do is push (or pull, whatever) so you can move a lot more weight than if you are using a ‘free weight’. The difference, as I understand it, is the incorporation of other muscles to help control the movement - i.e. stabalize it. But they don’t contribute directly to the power of the lift, but they definately are a factor…like when you do db bench and get near the set and the weights start to ‘weave’ that would be the ‘stabalizer’ muscles for that particular lift getting tired before the main mucscles for the movement do. That’s why someone can bench (I’m making up numbers here!) 200 with a machine, 175 with a barbell, and 150 with dumb bells…because each successive lift takes more ‘stabalization’ to complete. Am I way off base??? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Hetyey will now try to inflame the topic by telling us that you will not find any “stabilizer” muscles in any text - ala Mentzer.

When people mention stabilizers, they can mean muscles being used outside their prime function to support a lift (eg: Lats or rear delts in bench press).

While we’re on the topic I want to share one of my favorite entry level functional stabilization exercises…
One arm, cross snatch with a kettlebell, from opposite foot, standing on a dynadisc, balancing a hackeysack on the free leg, performing external rotation with tubing for the free arm, gyrating a bodyblade in my teeth, with an eyepatch over my left eye, an ear plug in my right ear, while my training partner walks slowly around me throwing med balls at my torso. reps to failure ala HIT. Bahaa!

Michelle, you pretty much nailed it. About 5 years ago I used to bench on a machine, and one day when the machines were all being used I decided to try it with a barbell. I loaded it up with the same weight I used on the machine and couldn’t bench it once… pretty embarassing. I had to do a lot of DB benching to get my stabilization strength caught up.

you guys are so quick to make sweeping generalizations when you are not necessarily well informed to make them. if you look in anatomy books i’m sure you can find a certian number of small mucles whose only function is to stabilize the shoulder or hip joint during movement. What I think is ment by stabilizers is muscles that don’t contract to move your limbs during a movement (bench press, squat) but contract anyways to stabilize the spine, shoulder joint, pelvis, hips, knees, etc.)