Daily activities and sport performance rarely involve lifting objects that are stable and centered symmetrically with guided movement and a stabilized body position, as you would experience when working out on a weight machine. More often the demands of life encompass unstable objects manipulated by the upper extremities, with the load being unevenly distributed.
This is where the dynamic, destabilized weight of water inside a moving object can have greater transference into activities of daily living (ADLs). With a keen understanding of training principles and exercise environments, it’s easy to see why load training with the dynamic properties of water has real potential for functional improvements.
Machine-based training will always be popular due to the simplicity of single joint, isolated movements and a stabilized body position. To improve pure isolated strength, machines can be an effective way to enhance force production. However, your body’s ability to translate these gains into daily activities and sport performance presents obvious challenges. When in daily life is it necessary to sit with your back fully supported and press a heavy object away from the chest? It doesn’t exist. It’s nothing like pushing a car out of a snowbank where you’re standing, fully employing hip strength, torso stabilization and upper body force production.
Furthermore, when you consider the training position in many weight machines, being seated really doesn’t make sense when it comes to transitioning your strength gains into a gravitationally enriched environment with ground reaction forces. Clearly our population already spends far too much time seated. Why train in a position with movements that have little possibility to reverse this already overused position?
Although they are often used in standing positions, even dumbbells have limits. And although dumbbells offer greater functionality than many weight machines, they are still somewhat stable with their center of mass in your hands making them a “dead” weight. Carrying unevenly weighted shopping bags by the handles, walking a big dog, or carrying a squirming toddler all present daily movement challenges that involve dynamic, shifting, unstable loads. What’s more, life provides opportunities where all of these challenges can happen at once.
The Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands (S.A.I.D.) principle of training clearly states that the body will specifically adapt to any training stimulus, so training with “dead” weights can have limited transfer to ADLs. Optimally, for a more specific training stimulus we need to overload (the second training principle) our bodies with greater environmental similarity. Progression, (the third principle) means that in order to continue making gains, it’s necessary to provide our bodies with a training stimulus that is more challenging than what it is used to.
The dynamic shifting of water inside a moving object, is the key to providing a training stimulus for all three of these training principles. The environmental similarity of training with top-down instability, as well as the shifting load and unpredictability of training with water, provides a specific stimulus on the nervous system while creating overload and progression. This is a perfect trifecta that equals impressive results. This, along with training in an upright, standing position, provides the opportunity to transition your training to function.
Keli Roberts leads the Kamagon Development Team and has created several workout programs and a Kamagon Ball Certification for fitness professionals. She is a Master Trainer for Kamagon, Surge, BOSU, Schwinn, and Precision Nutrition, as well as a Certified Cancer Exercise Specialist.