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Barbells, Dumbbells and Water


The big difference between static load (dumbbells, kettlebells, weight plates and barbells) and dynamic load are the reactive stabilization requirements that occur when using the volatility and unpredictable nature of water. Research clearly supports stabilization improvements when “lifting heavy things.”

However, water as a resistance tool supplies a continually shifting, never-the-same stimulus the body must react and adapt to on a continual basis. In essence, add stabilization on and off as needed, and that’s what is required to perform well and avoid injury in both sports and life. This is not throwing out free-weights and barbells — rather, simply accessorizing with this new and different type of training of which your members’ bodies and brains don’t get enough.

When training with water (or “hydro-training”), force production and stabilization requirements are high, even though the relative water load, in an absolute sense, might be less. In other words, 20 pounds of water load may require more on-and-off stabilizing force production when compared to a heavier, fixed load, such as a 40-pound dumbbell. An unstable, constantly changing load — think static versus dynamic load — can increase maximal muscle recruitment for a given load, and improves motor control and stability.

It is critical that you understand fixed stable-load force production versus unstable-load force production to value this approach. By introducing a new overload variable your members’ bodies must continually adapt and respond to — reactive instability training using water — it becomes apparent there is a difference between static and dynamic loading.

That means a single type of training does not cover your, or your members’, training bases. Accessory exercises with dynamic and reactive water-load can help increase static load capability.

Simply put, power and strength capacity can increase when you integrate dynamic load accessory training with traditional static-load (barbells, weight plates and dumbbells) training. Adding accessory equipment like hydro-training products can improve your members’ overall experience and provide your staff with new equipment for instability training.

Douglas Brooks, M.S., Exercise Physiologist, is the director of programming for SURGE®, and specializes in sport conditioning and strength training.


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