Stability Training


Stability training is a type of exercise training program that helps to strengthen and steady the body's core muscles so that all other extremity movements (arms and legs) are more easily performed. It is sometimes called core stability training because such training concentrates on the core muscles of the upper body, excluding the neck, head, and arms. The completion of stability training provides for increased muscle endurance, along with added tendon and ligament strength and better range of motion for joints and muscles. Generally, stability training is used as a foundation to a larger fitness program, one that provides for enhanced performance, added muscular strength, and reduced risk from injuries.


The general purpose of stability training is to provide the human body with the best possible ability to move freely about in its daily activities. Foremost, it is a good foundation for a strong body. The body is able to better control its movements in any direction, shift its body weight, and transfer energy from the trunk to the outer extremities. Stability training provides the body with dynamic balancing of the joints and a properly aligned and stable posture. Stability training makes for a strong set of core muscles so people can develop a physically fit body for both daily activities and sports-related performance.


Stability training is appropriate for anyone interested in maximizing the fitness of their core muscles. As such, stability training lends itself as an excellent supplement for other exercise programs, such as those including aerobic and anaerobic exercises.


Stability training is used to stabilize the muscles of the torso so that the spine, pelvis, and shoulders are all stabilized. The torso muscles (those of the upper body) attach to the spine, pelvis, and shoulders, such as the scapula, the muscle that attaches to the back of the shoulder. With such stabilization of the torso, the extremities are provided with a good foundation in which to move. Stability training is also used to provide the best posture possible for the human body.

One type of exercise for stability training is called abdominal bracing. This technique uses exercises, such as abdominal crunches (commonly called ab crunches) and sit-ups, to contract the abdominal muscles. Specific programs or devices used to develop core strength include medicine balls, stability balls, kettle bells, wobble boards, yoga, and Pilates.

The core muscles located throughout the torso include:

Aerobic exercises—
Exercises that speed up respiration and heart rate, such as walking, running, bicycling, and swimming.
Anaerobic exercises—
Exercises high enough in intensity that oxygen is required at a greater rate than it can be supplied, for instance heavy weight training and sprinting.
Relating to the heart and blood vessels.
The inelastic band of connective tissue that attaches a muscle to a bone or other body part.

Equipment often used with stability training includes:


Stability training exercises should work all the muscles in the torso, either simultaneously or with several exercises that focus on isolated muscle groups. Popular exercises for stability training include:


Warming up is important, as it is with any type of exercise or physical activity, because it helps to prepare the muscles before they do more difficult work. Exercises involving stability training place the muscles under extra tension for longer periods than normal for most other exercises, so a warm-up period is critical before beginning this training. A warm-up period may consist of about five minutes of light exercise or walking. Stretches are also recommended during the warmup routine.

Once stability training is completed, it is a good idea to spend about five minutes cooling down. Light exercise or walking helps the body to settle back down to its normal routine. More stretching exercises are also recommended.


Performing stability training exercises poses some health risks to the body. It is important to use proper form and technique while performing the exercise. Stop any exercises if pain is present. It is important to breath continuously (and not hold one's breath) during the performance of stability training exercises.


The major benefits of stability training include:



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American Council on Exercise, 4851 Paramount Dr., San Diego, CA, 92123, (858) 576-6500, (888) 825-3636, Fax: (858) 576-6564,, .

National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, 1150 Connecticut Ave., NW, Ste. 300, Washington, DC, 20036, (202) 454-7521,, .

President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, 1101 Wootton Pkwy., Ste. 560, Rockville, MD, 20852, (240) 276-9567, Fax: (240) 276-9860,, .

SHAPE America, 1900 Association Dr., Reston, VA, 20191-1598, (800) 213-7193, Fax: (703) 476-9527, .

William A. Atkins, BB, BS, MBA

  This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.