Bodybuilding.com Information Motivation Supplementation
in:
How Can One Strengthen Stabilizer Muscles?

How can one strengthen stabilizer muscles? Here are some great tips, methods and a sample workout that emphasize the importance and benefit of these muscles. Everyone can benefit from this training. Find out more.

By: Workout Of The Week


TOPIC: How Can One Strengthen Stabilizer Muscles?

The Question:

Although strengthening stabilizer muscles does not give the appearance and feeling of training large muscles, they still play an important role in exercising.

How can one strengthen stabilizer muscles?

Is it important to train stabilizer muscles? Why or why not?

Who would benefit the most from strengthening stabilizer muscles?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

    Prizes:
      1st place - 75 in store credit.
      2nd place - 50 in store credit.

To use your credit, e-mail Justin @ justin.podzimek@bodybuilding.com for more info.


1st Place - Megapron
View This Author's BodySpace Here.


Strengthening The Stabilizer Muscles

If you have been involved in bodybuilding for a while, you've probably heard fellow lifters discussing stabilizer muscles. There are many things out there that might sound complicated, but you're lucky, this isn't one of them.

Much like how a foundation stabilizes a house, your stabilizer muscles help to keep you balanced and upright when moving. Your stabilizer muscles are not directly involved in the lifting of the weight, but help keep your body steady, through isometric muscle contractions.

Stabilizer Muscles Help Keep Your Body Steady During A Lift.
+ Click To Enlarge.
Stabilizer Muscles Help Keep Your
Body Steady During A Lift.

Now if you think about it, these muscles sound pretty important. If you didn't have stabilizer muscles your knees would buckle during squats and your elbows during the bench press. The good thing is that if you've been doing many full-range-of-motion, free-weight movements you've already been training them.

Free-weight movements, which includes any exercise done with a barbell, dumbbell or cable (I consider cables redirected dumbbells, as you are not lifting the weight in a guided path) require you to balance the weights yourself, as you are not lifting the weight in a pre-set path, as with machines.

BODYBUILDING.COM FORUM: STABILIZER MUSCLES
Stabilizer Muscles?
[ Click To Join The Thread. ]
Stabilizer Muscles?
OK, so the gym I go to only has a smith machine for bench press. I've heard that it's not ideal because it doesn't require you to use your stabilizer muscles and people typically lift more weight on a smith.
Started By:
swearujacked


The Methods:

    1. Free Weights:

      When doing free weight movements, your stabilizer muscles contract in order to keep your body steady. Since stabilizer muscles are important to free-weight movements, it makes sense to train those using free weights.

      Exercises that recruit a great number of muscles are better for strengthening your stabilizer muscles. For example, during the squat your body needs to stabilize itself more than if you were performing curls. Some of the best exercises include: Bench Press, Squat, Deadlift, Pull-ups, Rows, and Shoulder Press.

During A Squat Your Body Needs To Stabilize Itself More Than During Curls. During A Squat Your Body Needs To Stabilize Itself More Than During Curls.
+ Click To Enlarge.
During A Squat Your Body Needs To
Stabilize Itself More Than During Curls.


The Workout:

RELATED POLL
Are You Exclusive In The Equipment You Use?

Yes I Only Use Machines.
Yes I Only Use Cables.
Yes I Will Only Use Free Weights.
I Will Specifically Only Use Dumbbells.
I Will Specifically Only Use Barbells.
I Will Specifically Only Use Kettlebells.
I Will Specifically Only Use Clubbells.
No I Prefer To Mix It Up.
I Don't Use Equipment. Bodyweight only.

    Machine equipment forces the lifter to lift the weight in a pre-set, guided path (e.g. the leg press, or chest press); this takes many of the stabilizer muscles out of the movement because the lifter is no longer required to balance the weight.

    Non-lifters or people who have problems balancing themselves during certain activities, can benefit from this type of training. Even non-lifters who are active will not have the muscular and stabilizer muscle development of a dedicated bodybuilder.

People Who Have Trouble Balancing Can Benefit From This Type Of Training.
+ Click To Enlarge.
People Who Have Trouble Balancing Can
Benefit From This Type Of Training.


To Recap:

Using a lifting program, such as the one laid out above, can help develop the stabilizer muscles. The free weight and unilateral movements will help strengthen the stabilizer muscles, while getting you into to amazing shape to boot.

Sources:

  1. http://www.steadyhealth.com
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_contraction


2nd Place - soundcheck129
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

Although strengthening stabilizer muscles does not give the appearance and feeling of training large muscles, they still play an important role in exercising.

Often times, people say they want a beach body, but this isn't exactly the case ... what they want is biceps and abs, and they couldn't care less about the countless other unsung muscles that hold everything together. After all, how many times have you seen a guy turn heads flexing his erector spinae? That's right, zero. However, stabilizers are essential, providing support for prime movers through the entire range of motion. The muscular system works best when every part is working together.

When People Say They Want A Beach Body They Usually Mean Biceps And Abs.
+ Click To Enlarge.
When People Say They Want A Beach
Body They Usually Mean Biceps And Abs.


How Can One Strengthen Stabilizer Muscles?

Trying to define stabilizer muscles can be tricky, because the muscle taking on this role changes depending on what exercise you are performing. For example, a sit-up features the abdominals as prime movers, but during a deadlift, the abdominals are stabilizers. Therefore, the key to strengthening stabilizers is to perform a wide variety of lifts that target every muscle that you can, because at some point they are all bound to be stabilizers.

But let's say you're only concerned with the big three lifts - bench press, squats and deadlifts. Many workout plans are based on these lifts, and the muscle groups they focus on (chest, back and legs) are the focus of a lot of other exercises as well.

RELATED ARTICLE
What Is The Significance Of The Big 3?
Most bodybuilders don't brag about how much they curl, or what they do on the tricep machine. Bodybuilders are discussing the big 3 lifts: Squats, Deadlifts And Bench Press
[ Click here to learn more. ]


Bench Press

    For a bench press, the prime movers are your chest muscles, or pectorals. But they're not working alone; the anterior deltoids and triceps perform valuable roles as stabilizers. And while the bench press does work these muscles, there are other exercises that target them directly.


Click To Enlarge.
Bench Press.
Video : Windows Media - Real Player

    To isolate and strengthen your deltoids, you can perform lateral or front raises with dumbbells. And for your triceps, you can perform pulldowns or overhead extensions.


Squat


Click To Enlarge.
Squat.
Video : Windows Media


Deadlift


Click To Enlarge.
Deadlift.
Video : Windows Media


Further Strengthening

    It is important to note, though, that the stabilizer muscles are also strengthened when acting as stabilizers, not just as prime movers. And because all of your muscles play a role in stabilization at some point, your best bet is to incorporate many different exercises into your routine.

    Additionally, performing a lot of compound lifts will ensure that a large number of your muscles are active during each exercise, possibly getting a chance to act as stabilizers.

RELATED ARTICLE
Compound Vs. Isolated Exercises.
[ Click here to learn more. ]
Compound Vs. Isolated Exercises.
Isolated exercises are great for minor tweaking, however for those looking to make significant changes they are not ideal.
Author:
Shannon Clark

    There are some also non-traditional means to strengthen your stabilizing muscles. Using sandbags or weights filled with water results in an uneven load, and your stabilizers will be challenged to lift the load but keep it balanced at the same time.

    Similarly, single-leg and single-arm exercises activate stabilizers more than traditional lifts. This is because these lifts involve an element of balance that is not present in exercises that use both of your limbs simultaneously.

    For example, single-leg squats will challenge your back and core as stabilizers while your glutes and quads support your weight. In addition, performing a curl with a dumbbell instead of a barbell will strengthen your forearms more than a traditional curl because one arm's weakness cannot be overcome by depending on the other arm.


Click To Enlarge.
Single Leg Squat.
Video : Windows Media

    Free weights are a great way to strengthen stabilizer muscles, because you can't rely on the set structure of a machine to dictate your movement and provide support.


Is It Important To Train Stabilizer Muscles?

It is not only important to train stabilizer muscles, it is imperative. Stabilizer muscles provide the balance and support for taxing compound lifts, allowing you to perform major exercises such as squats and deadlifts. Without this stabilization, you would not be able to produce as much force in these compound maneuvers.

Training stabilizer muscles is vital to sports performance and ensures that your entire muscular system works as a whole. In a way, your stabilizer muscles are the unsung heroes of the kinetic chain, allowing other muscles to produce force as prime movers. Having weak stabilizers puts extra stress on the prime movers, reducing overall strength.

BODYBUILDING.COM FORUM: STABILIZER MUSCLES
Should I Do More Or Less Reps For Stabilizer Muscles?
[ Click To Join The Thread. ]
Should I Do More Or Less Reps For Stabilizer Muscles?
What is the ideal number of reps and sets to target the stabilizer muscles? More reps with less weight, or less reps more weight?
Started By:
DrunkDriver

But stabilizer muscles can also come to the forefront and be prime movers as well. This is another reason to train and strengthen them. If you ignored your stabilizers, you wouldn't be able to put up much weight on lifts that rely mostly on stabilizer muscles. In short, stabilizers need to be trained because you never know when you're going to be using them!


Who Would Benefit The Most From Strengthening Stabilizer Muscles?

By now, it should be apparent that anyone who wants to make the most of their training program should do everything they can to strengthen stabilizer muscles. If you hope to have a lot of strength for compound movements, training stabilizer muscles is a must.

One particular group of people that relies a lot on stabilizer muscles are athletes. Sports involve a lot of situations in which one must produce force while moving or while off-balance. For this reason, strong stabilizer muscles are a must.

Athletes Rely Greatly On Their Stabilizer Muscles.
+ Click To Enlarge.
Athletes Rely Greatly On
Their Stabilizer Muscles.

For instance, when I play hockey, I often find defense men exerting a lot of force on me to try to knock me away from the puck. However, strong stabilizer muscles in my legs allow me to maintain balance, keep moving forward, and still manage to produce enough force to shoot the puck.

Gymnasts, too, must have extremely strong stabilizer muscles so that they can perform complex movements while balancing in the air, often with one limb. The importance of stabilizer muscles cannot be overstated - they are the ultimate team players.


3rd Place - History in Effect
View This Author's BodySpace Here.


Stabilize Or Die

When people first start working out, they are just trying to get a feel for the weight room. They don't care about what exercises to do or what equipment to use. In fact, I had no clue what stabilizer muscles were until I started to do research on them.

Stabilizer muscles are not necessarily used in the direct movement of the body, but they keep you steady. The impact of stabilizer muscles is not felt during the first workout, but you will notice it in the long-term. Many of your body parts can be stabilizer muscles. For example, supporting the barbell on your shoulder and traps is key to performing squats.

RELATED ARTICLE
20-Rep Squat Routine: Variations & Benefits.
[ Click here to learn more. ]
20-Rep Squat Routine: Variations & Benefits.
In this article I'll touch on the history, give you some examples of early routines and give you a routine to follow based on this exercise.
Author:
Jim Brewster


How Can One Strengthen Stabilizer Muscles?

First of all, stabilizer muscles are used most when performing free-weight exercises. The use of machines does not since you follow in a fixed path of motion. The use of dumbbells on the other hand is dependent on you. You must make sure to be careful when using dumbbells and not swing the weight. Be careful and if you need a spotter get one.

If You Need A Spotter, Get One.
+ Click To Enlarge.
If You Need A Spotter, Get One.

You should pick exercises that you feel in your whole body. Exercises that target the whole body release hormones throughout the body. These exercises include stuff like that:


Squats

    You feel them in your whole body and you have to prep your body for them. Your back, neck, and shoulders have to be ready to support the weight and you have to be strong enough in your legs to do a rep.


Click To Enlarge.
Squat.
Video : Windows Media


Dumbbell Presses

    These presses would include bench press in any variety, shoulder press, and others. When I do bench press with a lot of weight, I have to get my whole body ready to lift. You feel it through your whole body.


Click To Enlarge.
Dumbbell Bench Press.
Video : Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod


Bodyweight Exercises

    Exercises that involve you supporting your bodyweight are very hard. These include dips, pushups, chinups, and pullups. Your whole body must be working in tandem to do these exercises. A pullups involves your back and biceps along with forearms working in tandem.


Click To Enlarge.
Bench Dips.
Video : Windows Media


Miscellaneous Exercises

    I call these "misc" because I rarely do them because I am not training for something in particular. Unilateral training falls under this principle. 1-legged or 1-arm exercises work the core like no other and are hard to do. If you can do unilateral movements, you are probably an all-around complete athlete.


Who Would Have Thought ...

    Putting stuff in wheelbarrows or picking up kegs are something you might see in the World's Strongest Man, but they do work the stabilizer muscles.

BODYBUILDING.COM FORUM: KEGS THREAD
Kegs.
[ Click To Join The Thread. ]
Kegs.
Do any of you train with kegs? I was wondering could I go to my local liquor store and by an empty keg at my age for training?
Started By:
stircrazy101


Is It Important To Train Stabilizer Muscles?

It is important to train stabilizer muscles, because it keeps your body guessing. A body that is constantly guessing will have more muscle growth and you experience better strength gains.

Doing barbell weights all the time is not a good idea and mixing it up by doing dumbbells gets those stabilizer muscles working great. You will break plateaus for sure and set new personal records. As soon I started hitting those dumbbells, I could feel new muscles being worked. Therefore, stabilizer muscles bring out new muscles in varied ways.

RELATED ARTICLE
How Should One Alter Their Workout If They Are Not Growing?
If you are frequently hitting the gym and not making progress you need to step back. Breakthrough the plateau with these great tips for success!
[ Click here to learn more. ]


Who Would Benefit The Most From Strengthening Stabilizer Muscles?

Everybody can benefit from strengthening stabilizer muscles. You use stabilizer muscles everyday. I walk up two flights of dorm room steps and to class. You use your whole body to keep from falling down the stairs or tripping. Using the incline during treadmill involves your legs having to be stabilized to walk with the incline and not down.

You Use Your Whole Body To Keep From Falling Down Stairs.
+ Click To Enlarge.
You Use Your Whole Body To Keep
From Falling Down Stairs.

Athletes benefit the most from using stabilizer muscles. Wide receivers are often faced at the line with aggressive cornerbacks who attempt to jam them as soon the ball is hiked. An athlete who trains stabilizer muscles adequately can get off the line faster and also react quicker being able to push the defensive back off the line.


3rd Place - mrkdrt
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

Although strengthening stabilizer muscles does not give the appearance and feeling of training large muscles, they still play an important role in exercising.

It's all in the name - stabilize muscles. Their role is to stabilize your core, or a limb, and keep you in balance. That means any muscle that serves this purpose can be a stabilizer, but does not necessarily always act as a stabilizer. With that, it is possible to train your stabilizer muscles by putting them into action!

RELATED ARTICLE
Core Training For MMA Excellence!
[ Click here to learn more. ]
Core Training For MMA Excellence!
Core training is thought to be one of the most important training requirements of benefit to athletes and non-athletes.
Author:
David Robson


How Can One Strengthen Stabilizer Muscles?

To be honest, anytime you are lifting with free-weights or even performing bodyweight exercises you are working your stabilizer muscles. But the types of exercises you perform greatly affect how many, and to what degree you are training your stabilizer muscles.

The best exercises to work your stabilizer muscles are compound exercises. Simply put, these exercises are multi-jointed. This means the movement uses several muscle groups - meaning more stabilizer muscles are required also.

Take squats for example. As you perform the eccentric action your knees bend, your hips bend, and your core tightens to keep you balanced. This is working several stabilizer muscles in one movement.

It's no surprise that the "Big Three" (squats, deadlifts and bench press) are part of this group of exercises. Choose Squats over Leg Press, Deadlifts over Hyperextensions and Leg Curls and Bench Press over Machine Bench Press - and you will be rewarded!

RELATED VIDEO


LiftRite Video Guide:
The Bench Press!

Impressive pectoral muscles are often defined as the foundation of a manly physique. In this installment of LiftRite, learn the proper lifting techniques for mastering the bench press!

Click The Play Button To Start The Video.
Or Download Here:
WMV (12.6 MB) - MPEG (93.3 MB) - Video iPod (18.6 MB)
[ LiftRite Video Guide ]

Isolation exercises, or exercises using machines, on the other hand, work across single joints. For example, when you do a hammer curl, the eccentric movement uses only the elbow joint as a pivot, requiring less stabilization than compound movements.

To train your stabilizer muscles further, you might want to use dumbbells instead of a barbell for some exercises, like bench press for example. Using dumbbells can call into action even more stabilizer muscles - to keep the single weight balanced in each arm, so you can perform the exercise.


Click To Enlarge.
Dumbbell Bench Press.
Video : Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod

So, to train your stabilizer muscles, lift! Easy enough, right? You're doing that anyway! But focus on free weights and compound exercises to keep them working for you! This does not mean ignore all isolation exercises, but focusing on compound will help you strengthen more stabilizer muscles, and lead to overall greater gains.


Is It Important To Train Stabilizer Muscles?

Training your stabilizer muscles is both critical and inevitable in most cases. A lot of exercises you cannot avoid training your stabilizer muscles. And why would you want to avoid it anyway?

Stabilizer muscles that are put in use consistently through training can have many benefits! For one, it is required for many exercises. Without stabilization, you wouldn't be able to perform much at all.

RELATED POLL
Do You Actively Try To Try Stabilizer Muscles?

Yes I Want To Be Completely Stable.
I Haven't But I Will.
No I'm Stable Enough From Other Exercises.

Next time thank your stabilizers with a killer workout they won't forget! Having sufficient strength in your stabilizer muscles for a certain exercise can also help prevent injury performing the movement. Strong stabilizers help support heavier lifts. Heavier lifts, being more effective, can lead to greater gains in muscle size and strength.


Who would benefit the most from strengthening stabilizer muscles?

Everyone and anyone benefits from stronger stabilizer muscles. Not only in the gym, but stronger stabilizer muscles make daily activities, or other physical pursuits easier, and possible.

Anyone trying to achieve a greater level of fitness may appreciate his or her stabilizer muscles the most. Stronger stabilizers can help make heavier lifts - leading to bigger gains. Stronger stabilizers help balance - making athletics easier. If you are trying to break that plateau, come in first in a footrace, or dunk on kids at the court, stronger stabilizers will help you out for sure!


How Can One Strengthen Stabilizer Muscles?

Back To Workout Of The Week's Main Page

Back To The Articles Main Page.

Related Articles
Start Here, Start Now: The 8-Week Beginner Workout Plan
Captain America's Training Plan
Larry Williams: The Strongest Teen You've Never Heard Of



RATE THIS ARTICLE
POOR
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
EXCELLENT
OVERALL RATING
N/A

Out of 10

0 Ratings

1

Comment

Showing 1 - 1 of 1 Comment

(5 characters minimum)

      • notify me when users reply to my comment
gymwillfixit

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
gymwillfixit

Stabiliser muscles in themselves don't exist.When any muscle or muscles perform a Yielding Isometric Contraction they are performing the role of a stabilizer.Extremes of this can be all the muscles of the core when performing a barbell squat,to the quadriceps when you are simply standing upright talking to a friend.Contrary to popular belief doing exercises which challenge your balance being performed on an unstable base are actually ineffective at stabilization,as the muscles which are trying to isometrically contract to stabilize are unable to do so due to the fact the exercise is being performed on an unstable platform.This is why these muscles tremble when doing these type of exercises as they are trying to isometrically contract but are unable to do so,it is nothing at all to do with your "stabilizers working harder"

Jan 21, 2014 6:28pm | report
 
Showing 1 - 1 of 1 Comment

Featured Product

Give Us Feedback:
Report A Problem
Site Feedback
Follow Us:
Twitter
Facebook
RSS Feeds
Bodybuilding.com Newsletter

Receive exciting features,
news & special offers from Bodybuilding.com