Category Archives: Fitness Articles

Core stability training on unstable devices

In many fitness centers people perform core stabilityBosu core stability training training to strengthen the so-called ‘core’ on unstable surfaces. Well known examples of these are the Bosu Balance Trainer, Bosu Ball (Both Sides Up) and the Swiss Ball. The core is usually defined as the region of the body which is made up by the abdominal wall, pelvic floor, the lower back and the diafragm. This region plays an important role in stabilizing the spine during movements and is therefore crucial in sports performance. In addition, a large percentage of low back pain cases are caused by badly functioning core muscles. The idea behind training on an instable surface is that more muscles are active to stabilize the body during any given movement compared with performing the same movement on a stable surface. This would result in improving intermuscular coordination and therfore reduce complaints caused by weak or badly cooperating muscles. Moreover it could result in better training results and in many sport activities improve performance. This article aims to review the scientific evidence for core stability training on unstable surfaces as a means to treat low back pain and as functional training to enhance sports performance.

Training for martial arts

To optimize performance and prepare for competitionstraining for martial arts, many athletes employ a combination of resistance and cardiovascular exercise. Martial arts athletes who want to improve their performance face different challenges than most other athletes. Weightlifters can focus on developing only strength for one lift and endurance athletes on increasing his oxygen uptake. People who are training for martial arts do not have this luxury of specialisation. For optimal performance, their muscles must be strong and fast yet also have good endurance and allow for flexibility. Additionally, the body of a martial arts athletes must also be able to withstand impact forces delivered by rival athletes. And while the barbell of a weight lifter will always act the same and runners generally run on the same surfaces, allowing once again specialised technique for their sports. A martial arts athlete has to decide which technique to use and when. Moreover, rival martial arts athletes also add to the variety since no opponent is the same and can be defeated in the same manner. It is clear that great training challenges awaits those who choose the road of a martial arts athlete and hope to perform. This article aims to clarify the training demands and highlight the important aspects of training for martial arts.

Exercise order: strength or cardio first?

Many people wonder about exercise order.Strength or cardio first? Which part of fitness training, cardio or strength training, should be performed first. Both alternatives have advantages and disadvantages so it is hard to give a clear answer but the advantages and disadvantages of each method are outlined below.


Plyometrics or plyometric training is a form of exercise which rplymetric trainingequires the muscles to contract quickly and deliver as much force (and therefore power) as possible. Plyometrics can be very useful to improve muscle contraction speed and the ability to generate power, which is useful in activitiets in which for example jumping or other explosive movements are important.

Determining your maximum heart rate

Determining maximum heart rateA very important part of cardiovascular training to consider is the training intensity. The training intensity is one of, if not the most important fator in achieving results with cardiovascular training. Several ways to determine the training intensity are available, which are discussed in this article. Exercise intensity can be expressed in various ways, but the most accurate method that is practical as well is to express it as a percentage of maximum heart rate.

When expressing the intensity in percentage of maximum heart rate, it is necessary to determine maximum heart rate (MaxHF). An easy method to determine MaxHF is the following formula: MaxHF = 220 – age. For example, someone who is 40 years old would have a MaxHF of 220 – 40 = 180 beats per minute (BPM). However this formula is based on an average, and as is often the case in populations there is a certain deviation from the average, which in this example is 12-17 BPM. In other words, if we translate it to the example of 40 year old people, 68% of 40 year old has a maximum heart rate between 168-192BPM and 95% will be between 156-204BPM. As one can see, the spread is quite large, which makes the formula above not the base training intensity on.

The best method to determine MaxHF is to determine it during exercise. This requires a reliable heart rate monitor, and intensity during the test is increased progressively until a plateau in heart rate is reached. This test is very exhausting and should only be performed by healthy people or people who have permission from their doctor.

When the training goal and MaxHF are determined, the training heart rate can be determined. This is done by multiplying the required training intensity with the MaxHF. For example, when someone wants to train at an intensity of 75-85% of HFMax and HFmax is 180, the heart rate range to train at is: 135-153BPM (180 x 75% = 135 and 180 x 85% = 153)


-Baechle, T.R., Earle, R.W., Aerobic Endurance Exercise. In:Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. Third Edition. Human Kinetics 2008.

-Wilmore, J.H., Costill, D.L., Kenney, W.L. Cardiorespiratory responses to Acute Exercise. In: Physiology of Sport and Exercise. Fourth edition. Human Kinetics 2008.