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Stability Is More Than Just a Fitness Buzzword

This is Your Quick Training Tip, a chance to learn how to work smarter in just a few moments so you can get right to your workout.

You can’t call yourself “fit” without having some training routine that allows you to progressively improve your strength and other physical attributes, but many guys pursue this athletic skill as if it exists in a vacuum. They lift heavy and they lift often, but their training neglects another key skill that’s critical to achieving and expressing their full strength potential: stability.

You’ve likely heard trainers refer to stability in an offhand way as something that’s important to build, but what they’re talking about exists on two different levels. Joint stability is the ability to “maintain or control joint movement or position.” (If you’ve ever felt your knees wobble during a squat, you’ve experienced a lack of joint stability firsthand.) Body stability, on the other hand, refers to the ability to maintain your center of mass over your base of support (i.e., stay balanced).

The less stable you are (or any of your joints is), the less force you’ll be able to produce. That’s why increasing stability is so essential to improving strength. Need another reason to weave stability training into your workout program? Here it is: Doing so can significantly reduce your risk of injury, according to research.

Your move: Unilateral exercises, which work one limb or side of the body at a time, are a highly effective way to build strength and stability simultaneously because they force your core and smaller stabilizing muscles to work harder to keep you steady.

Performing exercises on a Bosu ball is another option—as long as you stick to bodyweight training.

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Men’s Health

Banging out reps of the barbell back squat or dumbbell deadlift while teetering on a Bosu ball, wobble board, or other unstable training device might look badass—and indeed used to be the very definition of stability training—but we now know that approach actually offers few real training benefits and amounts to little more than a recipe for injury.

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