Water-filled training tubes increase core muscle activation and somatosensory control of balance during squat

J Sports Sci. 2018 Sep;36(17):2002-2008. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2018.1431868. Epub 2018 Jan 24.


This study examined trunk muscle activation, balance and proprioception while squatting with a water-filled training tube (WT) and a traditional barbell (BB), with either closed (CE) or open eyes (OE). Eighteen male elite Gaelic footballers performed an isometric squat under the following conditions: BB-OE, BB-CE, WT-OE and WT-CE. The activity of rectus abdominis (RA), external oblique (EO) and multifidus (MF) was measured using electromyography, along with sway of the centre of pressure (CoP) using a force platform. Only the EO and the MF muscles exhibited an increased activity with WT (p < 0.01). In the medio-lateral direction both the velocity and range of the CoP increased significantly with WT (p < 0.01). Interestingly, the range of the CoP for the WT-CE condition was significantly lower than WT-OE (p < 0.05, d = 0.44), whilst the velocity of the CoP was marginally reduced (d = 0.29). WT elicited a greater level core muscle activation and created a greater challenge to postural stability when compared to a BB. It appears that WT does not benefit from vision but emphasises the somatosensory control of balance. The use of WT may be beneficial in those sports requiring development of somatosensory/proprioceptive contribution to balance control.

Keywords: Gaelic footballers; Unstable resistance training; surface EMG; sway range; sway velocity.

MeSH terms

  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Resistance Training / instrumentation*
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Torso / physiology
  • Water


  • Water