Fielded a few questions and got into a few arguments on my opinions* on unstable surface stuff on Saturday, and then later with beers on board before and after the UFC. Most of the questions were comical enough without the ensuing arguments.
Usually you get two types of opinion on Swiss Balls:
Bloke 1- “I think they’re great, I use mine instead of a bench for dumbell presses and stuff, I’ll never use a regular bench again”
Bloke 2- “They’re a fad, they’ll be gone in a year or two”
To the untrained eye, it might seem as though my opinion falls into the middle of those two, but it doesn’t as the middle ground between those two polar opinions is, in my opinion, just as stupid as either side. I like the swiss ball for the limited number of applications it has. By limited I mean in the same way that dumbells are limited, and a barbell is limited, and a pull up bar is limited. You can’t do squats on a pull up bar, nor is there any real benefit to doing your press ups on a barbell. The difficulty with the swiss ball is that in the right hands they are a great tool, and in the wrong hands they’re just for tools. I spend little or no time in commercial gyms these days which is great. The two gyms I spend all my time in now are my own and Will Heffernan’s, which means that I get to see good training practises most of the time. But when I did spend more time in the big warehouse gyms of this world I saw lots of things. Some guy taking his 10kg dumbells in each hand and lying on the swiss ball would have been common enough, so lets have a look at that exercise. The dumbell bench press. Let’s assume the goal is strength (what else?). Let’s set up an example. Let’s say a guy can bench 60kgs. Now lets say his dumbell press would be less than that, say 40kgs as a nice round figure. Now lets put him on that unstable surface, in this case the swiss ball. Whaddya reckon? Down to 30kgs? If that? (these are all wild figures, though I might try it one day). Now a 60kgs bench for an average guy of say 75kgs is not very strong, so what possible benefit can having a wobbly ball underneath him have? What would he be better doing? Some more 30kgs dumbell presses on the ball, or just some push ups?
I blame the parents, and youtube, but mostly youtube. The bosu ball is another one. Actually, it’s slightly better as they’re not so available as the swiss ball. They had a few in a gym I used to be a member of and they were the platform for some of the stupidest exercises I’ve ever seen. The guy doing the half squats on one in a smith machine has to be the worst, but there were others.
Hope that sounds clearer than it did on Saturday night!
*opinion meaning whatever I feel like today