Maintenance of EMG activity and loss of force output with instability

J Strength Cond Res. 2004 Aug;18(3):637-40. doi: 10.1519/1533-4287(2004)18<637:MOEAAL>2.0.CO;2.


Swiss Balls used as a platform for training provide an unstable environment for force production. The objective of this study was to measure differences in force output and electromyographic (EMG) activity of the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, triceps, latissimus dorsi, and rectus abdominus for isometric and dynamic contractions under stable and unstable conditions. Ten healthy male subjects performed a chest press while supported on a bench or a ball. Unstable isometric maximum force output was 59.6% less than under stable conditions. However, there were no significant differences in overall EMG activity between the stable and unstable protocols. Greater EMG activity was detected with concentric vs. eccentric or isometric contractions. The decreased balance associated with resistance training on an unstable surface may force limb musculature to play a greater role in joint stability. The diminished force output suggests that the overload stresses required for strength training necessitate the inclusion of resistance training on stable surfaces.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / physiology
  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*