Sunday, October 9, 2011

Strength Ball Training

These days a lot of interesting work on health and fitness is being done in Canada.  Strength Ball Training, by Lorne Goldenberg and Peter Twist, builds on this work.  I started using SBT a couple of years ago when I was no longer making progress with my workout at the time, a challenging program involving fairly heavy weights, stretching, and aerobic exercise.  I especially wanted to work on my core, which had been helped, but not completely shaped up, by ab machines at the Y.  (This was before I knew about Ab Ripper X.)

The exercises in this book employ stability balls, medicine balls, weights, and occasionally weight machines.  The program particularly emphasizes core work and balance but all major body parts are covered.  Because of the element of instability introduced by the ball the exercises get into little in-between areas that weights and weight machines don’t touch.  On a recent trip to Vancouver I visited Twist, an exercise facility owned by Peter Twist.  Its main clientele is hockey players so the emphasis on core work and balance makes sense.

What first impressed me about SBT was the quality, the amount of care that has gone into every aspect of the book and the accompanying DVD.  The introduction explains the approach and cites recent research. The instructions and photo accompanying each exercise are clear and helpful and the beautifully produced DVD demonstrates proper form for many, though not all, of the exercises.
Exercises are arranged in categories depending on the part of the body being worked and a sixteen week program is included in the back. 

When I started using SBT, I tried the sixteen-week program and saw dramatic changes not only in my core but also in my upper arms and legs.  I'm now following the same pattern, selecting eight or more exercises from different parts of the book and changing the selection every four weeks.  The instructions for each exercise have advice about progressions, so the possibilities are really endless. Some strength training programs are illustrated with photos of people who look like the Michelin Man. The people in this book look like regular people in very good shape. That's how I want to look.

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