Stabilizer muscles are those muscles that provide fixation and stability of parts of the skeleton relative to each other, but do not take a dynamic part in the movement. Simply put, stabilizer muscles allow us to maintain a stable position during a variety of movements, including lifting the barbell. Yes, some of these muscles are small and invisible to the eye, but this does not mean that they do not need to be trained at all. We will talk about this in this article.
Do I Need to Strengthen Stabilizer Muscles?
You may well be wondering: why would I train them? If you only care about the appearance of the muscles, then these muscles do not need to be trained. But a weightlifter does not even have such a question – without it there is no way.
Even now, there is an active debate about whether it is necessary to train the stabilizer muscles separately. Some of the coaches claim that it is necessary, the other part believes that they develop well when doing ordinary exercises. The truth is rather somewhere in between, but it all depends on the sport. I will say this – if you are engaged in bodybuilding, then your stabilizer muscles will be an order of magnitude better developed than that of an ordinary untrained person. If that’s okay with you, you may not be training this muscle group, but remember that by doing so you are putting yourself at risk. For example, the core muscles are both motor muscles and stabilizers. When you squat with a barbell or bench press while standing, the core muscles act as stabilizers – they keep the body in a stable, safe position. Incorporate plank into your workouts – this is a great exercise to strengthen core muscles.
I can firmly say that stabilizer muscles take minimal part in isolation exercises or when working in simulators. For example, when performing a leg press in a simulator, you do not need to worry about maintaining balance, and the carriage moves along a rigidly defined trajectory.
4 Basic Exercises to Strengthen Stabilizer Muscles
1. Overhead Barbell Squat
This is probably one of the hardest exercises in strength sports because it is difficult to maintain the correct body position while doing it. Overhead barbell squat place the highest demands on your flexibility and coordination. One wrong move and you will fall with the barbell.
Do not be intimidated and look for another exercise. For learning this movement, instead of a barbell, the weighted bar is also quite suitable. In the first stages, in no case should you rush to increase the weight of the weights. Instead, increase your mobility by squatting from the weighted bar.
After a while, you can go to workout with an empty bar. I am sure that even with an Olympic bar it will not be easy for you. You should not rush to add weight – 40-60 kg will be enough for strengthen stabilizer muscles. Tired of the barbell and want some variety? Dumbbells and weights are at your service. You can also do squats by holding the dumbbell in only one hand. An overhead barbell squat on an unstable support, for example, an exercise ball, is considered an advanced level.
An exercise that can be performed without much difficulty in any conditions, even at home. A flat surface, a soft mat, and willpower are all you need to complete this exercise. Many people believe that plank is an exercise for the abdominal muscles, but this is not entirely true. Plank loads almost the entire body, but most of the load falls on the abdominal muscles.
This is a great exercise to strengthen the stabilizer core muscles. You can adjust the level of stress in different ways and shift the focus to different parts of the body. For example, to transfer the load to the oblique abdominal muscles, you need to perform a side plank. In addition to the oblique muscles of the abdomen, you will also strengthen the stabilizer muscles throughout the lateral surface of the body!
You can make life harder for yourself and your stabilizing muscles by performing a plank on an unstable support – exercise ball. Moreover, you can try to stand on an unstable support and raise an arm or leg. This will certainly not leave your body’s stabilizer muscles unloaded.
The shoulder joints are the most mobile and most vulnerable joints in the human body. The love of men for all kinds of presses is a potential danger to these joints, and shoulder rotators are precisely the stabilizers when performing presses. L-Fly is an excellent exercise to strengthen shoulder rotators and is highly recommended as a preventative or warm-up exercise.
L-Fly is needed to strengthen the external and internal rotators of the shoulder. External rotators rotate the humerus outward, internal rotators, respectively, inward. You can perform these rotations at different angles and with different weights – with dumbbells or with resistance bands. L-Fly with resistance bands is preferred. This type of exercise is quite suitable as a warm-up of the shoulder joints before pressing. To do this, do an L-Fly with a light weight for 20 reps in each plane and go to warm up with a barbell.
4. Barbell Snatch
The two-handed barbell snatch is one of the exercises in athletic biathlon. This is a truly powerful exercise that employs 90% of your muscles. To do this exercise correctly, you need excellent joint mobility, good coordination, and a healthy musculoskeletal system. Attention! Do not try to do barbell snatch yourself, even with moderate weight! The correct snatch technique should only be done by a weightlifting trainer. The Barbell snatch is a challenging move that even world-class champions hone.
What then is to be done? You have several options. First, you are looking for a weightlifting coach and are learning to snatch correctly and safely. Option two – you learn the snatch technique over the Internet and perform the exercise with minimal weight. And finally, the third option – you modify the exercise.
The point is that snatch consists of several phases, and you are free to perform any of these phases. I recommend running the “lightweight” version of snatch – barbell clean. This exercise eliminates pulling the barbell over your head. To put it simply, barbell clean is a single movement from the deadlift, a sharp barbell pull, taking it to the chest and front squat. This exercise is safer than snatch, and you can easily learn this movement over the Internet, and you can also control the depth of the squat. In no case do not fall down with the barbell in the final part of the movement, as you injure the lumbosacral spine! At the initial stage, instead of a barbell, you can use an exercise ball.
Of course, I did not talk about all the ways to strengthen stabilizer muscles. There are some other good exercises, like jumping on one leg, barbell stepping lunge, burpee. Recently, workouts with TRX bands have become popular. If you want variety in your workouts, be sure to try exercises to develop stabilizer muscles.