Join over 8,000 subscribers who get fitness news from Cybex!

Your email:

Search the blog


Follow us on your favorite social sites!

Cybex Fitness Blog

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Stabilized Training for Building Muscle


We've all been bombarded with the need for our exercise programmes to be 'functional' haven't we? But what are your specific goals? If your goals include shaping/developing musclesFT450 ChestPress M resized 600 then be wary of programmes which are entirely based on standing ('ground based') cable exercises. Some recent evidence from the University of Massachusetts showed that we are limited in some of these standing cable-based exercises to a maximum of 40% of our body weight. For many of you, even if you've only recently started or resumed your strength programmes, you will find this load insufficient to effectively stimulate muscular development.

What happens in this instance is you may simply told to do even more reps - but this significantly alters the physiological outcome. If your goal really is muscular shaping/ development you want to reach that point of 'overload' within approximately 45 seconds. That will often require loads in excess of 40% body weight in standing cable-based exercises. If you can train for longer than 45 seconds you will need to do increase the support during the exercise so that you can really target the working muscles in a more appropriate time scale. There is a variety of ways to do this - not least of which is a bench or pad (!). Traditional stabilized training didn't become ineffective overnight. Consider adding stability into your exercises, watch the loads you're using increase and feel the results for yourself...

Ben Wilde
International Director of Education and Training
Ben Wilde

progressive stable


I believe there are some truths in your comments on stabilized training. That being said I think you are not painting the full canvas. I currently train clients on a cable machine that do and have acheived "muscle growth/hypertrophy" from using there own bodies for stabiization and are using quite heavy loads. One should not and I do not rely on cable training alone for further toning/muscle growth. Free weights, sandbags,olympic style and power lifting and of course kettle bells (which all require the core (think functional) for 95% of those lifts. While your cable machine has some merit it is not one I would use to train for olympic lifts or power athletes....unless they were injured, frail, or new to exercise. Although this is great for the "big box" fitness centers to throw in their sea of machines. 
Gary Larrison
Posted @ Wednesday, April 27, 2011 3:53 PM by Gary Larrison
Dear Mr. Larrison, 
Thank you for your comment on our blog, and for your insights into fitness and strength training. We share your opinion that one ought to view exercises and fitness practices through a wider lens, in order to consider how these might apply to different individuals in a variety of circumstances. 
That said, we think it is equally important to consider research findings within the context in which they are reported. As a case in point, consider Ben Wilde’s comments about stable v. unstable cable-based exercise. His remarks refer to an independent research study conducted at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in which it was determined that providing a stabilizing force during standing cable chest press, not only allowed for higher workloads, but also induced a significantly higher degree of core muscle activation, than the free standing cable chest press. 
We have no doubt that your clients will have increased their strength and muscular hypertrophy from performing the unstable variety. In fact, the UMass research made no claims that unstable exercises would fail to do so. It did, however, indicate that stabilization results in higher work capacity, and thus, your clients will likely get even stronger than they would without any stabilization. 
Let’s keep in mind that no machine or exercise is capable of doing everything. Frankly, comparing a cable product to an Olympic lift is a non sequitur. Cable products have their functionality, and snatches have theirs. Perhaps the best thing is to identify the specific needs of our clients, and optimize the exercises which we choose to administer to them. 
Thanks again for your interest, 
Paul M. Juris, Ed.D.  
Executive Director, CYBEX Institute for Exercise Science 
Posted @ Friday, April 29, 2011 2:54 PM by Dr. Paul Juris
Post Comment
Website (optional)

Allowed tags: <a> link, <b> bold, <i> italics