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Exercise in recovery: a 12-step approach (step five)

If you have been following this Exercise in Recovery program through the first four steps, then you are ready to add more progress to your goal of incorporating exercise into your current 12-step program. You are on step five:

 Short version:

A)  Learn, understand, and practice the Core/Stability mode.


Simply put, each muscle group consists of small and large strands.  The main goal of doing stability exercises is to get your body to utilize and strengthen the smaller ones. 

In weight lifting on stable surfaces, such as a bench or flat-footed on the ground, the larger strands of a muscle group develop quicker and, although get bigger (hypertrophy) and stronger, they prevent the smaller strands from this growth. 

In sports, say tennis, running in one direction actually pulls organs, muscles, etc, in the same direction but when the player's direction changes the body's momentum continues to go in the previous direction, momentarily.   This is only for a split second.  Over time it is enough to cause injuries.

Strengthening the thinner muscle strands through stability workouts (done on unstable surfaces) will cause organs, muscles and other body parts to have a stronger grip to the spine.  The body can change its direction quicker and with a lesser chance of injuries over time.  

In weight lifting and sports, stability work will strengthen full muscle groups.  It can improve golf drives, batting averages, maximum one-rep lifts, a whole number of movements. 

A weight lifting example:  A power lifter has a one-rep maximum barbell shoulder press of 200 lbs.  It has been his plateau for six months.  If he stops lifting heavy for, say, six weeks, and goes through a few other types of cycles, there's a good chance he can increase his maximum lift. 

In this example, he would use strictly stability exercises for all muscle groups for 2 weeks, followed by two weeks of light weight/high repetition exercises, followed by two weeks of pyramid exercises.  At this point he can transition back into heavy lifting.  A few more weeks of heavy lifting, now that his thinner strands have strengthened and are helping the larger ones, his maximum may very well have increased to 225 lbs!

To begin stability work, a good idea is to get hold of a stability ball.   They are inexpensive; they're generally between $6.00 - $20.00. 

When utilizing a stability ball you are less stable the closer you keep your legs together.  You should begin with your legs wide until you get good at the form.

Slightly alter exercises you've already learned on a flat (stable) bench in order to do them on the ball.  Example:  For chest presses,  sit on the ball with a very light set of dumbbells.  (This is the time for 30 seconds of deep breathing, if you've been following the steps.)  Slowly roll forward so that your upper back is resting on the ball.  Bring the dumbbells up to chest level with palms facing away from your body.  Just like on a bench, exhale on the positive (push, in this case); inhale on the negative.  Do each repetition very slowly.

The stability ball can be utilized to work many muscle groups.  As in the example above, slightly alter exercises you already know in order to do them on an unstable surface.  Try shoulder presses, seated biceps curls, overhead triceps extensions, french presses (also triceps); you can try just about any seated or lying-down exercise on the ball.  For further instruction on how each exercise is done, check out

If you get to the point where you want to venture out to do standing stability work, you can use a Bosu, a Dyna disc or a core board, even simply standing on one foot..

 Of great importance, ask your Higher Power to help you keep the will to want to exercise!


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