Resistance equipment
Sporting strength

Lauren Applegarth looks at how fixed resistance equipment is being integrated into sport-specific training programmes

By Lauren Applegarth | Published in Health Club Management 2014 issue 3


If you keep up to date with the latest fitness trends, you’re probably of the opinion that traditional resistance equipment is fast losing its place on the gym floor to functional training areas and rigs – and in some instances, you would be right.

However, fixed strength equipment still plays a key role in many facilities – and it’s powering some of the world’s top professional sportsmen and women to success, from global stars of the tennis world to Premier League football teams. But incorporating fixed strength equipment into sport-specific training programmes isn’t something that should be perceived as exclusive to professional athletes; it’s accessible to players of all ages and abilities.

As Cybex UK’s commercial director Rob Thurston explains: “Fixed strength equipment is still central to many gym floor layouts and users shouldn’t be intimidated by it. There are countless examples of sportspeople at all levels combining strength equipment into their training programmes, but it’s all about using the right pieces of equipment to develop the physical attributes most applicable to you and your sport.”

Such training will have the maximum effect providing best practice is followed, adds Chris Armstrong, strength and conditioning coach at Warwickshire County Cricket Club: “The key is to make the exercise movements as sport-specific as possible, ensuring good technique and that the focus is on the player’s range of movement as opposed to the weight they can lift.”

We look at ways in which fixed resistance kit is being used by elite athletes, and how amateur sports enthusiasts can incorporate similar techniques into their training.

REHAB & PERFORMANCE

Sport: Cricket
Client: Warwickshire County Cricket Club, UK
Supplier: Technogym

The physical demands of cricketers are distinctly unique to each player’s specialism: from tall, strong and powerful fast bowlers to shorter wicket keepers who place a large amount of pressure on their hamstrings during long days in the field. Building and maintaining peak physical fitness enables batsmen to score more runs, bowlers to maintain their desired pace and accuracy for longer, and fielders to sustain high levels of concentration and therefore faster reaction speeds.

While teams train year-round, the intended outcome of their strength and conditioning programmes will also change depending on where they are in a season, explains Armstrong: “Resistance training takes priority pre-season, throughout November and December, as the players focus towards building up their baseline strength; in January the programme switches to develop power and speed; and then, when the season starts in April, strength training is again incorporated to maintain high performance levels.”

In 2013, Technogym installed resistance equipment in the on-site gym at Edgbaston Stadium, home to Warwickshire CCC.

“The equipment we chose allows for a wide variety of exercises, uses and loads, and its flexibility meets the needs of the players’ unique specialisms,” adds Armstrong. The gym incorporates Technogym’s Multipower, a lifting rack that allows for assisted lower and upper limb exercises. This was used as part of a comprehensive rehabilitation programme for three of the club’s bowlers who suffered back stress fractures last year.

Products from Technogym’s Selection MED line were also installed, including the leg extension and leg press, which are designed specifically to support rehabilitation and users with various physical conditions during exercise.

The equipment also allows the team to quickly bring new players up to the required strength and fitness levels. “The adjustable head rest and handles of the leg press ensure players are seated in a safe and uncompromised position, allowing them to put significant loads through their legs without compromising their back,” explains Armstrong. “The use of such equipment allows us to load someone who hasn’t been training in the gym for as long, much earlier in their career.”

 



Strength and conditioning coach Chris Armstrong on the kit
RESISTING THE FORCE

Sport: Formula 1
Client: Lotus Formula 1 Junior Team, UK
Supplier: Matrix

Being a racing driver isn’t just about getting behind the steering wheel and driving around a track. It’s extremely physically and mentally challenging; you need to be in the best condition possible to cope with the physical demands and be at the top of your game,” explains Marlon Stöckinger, Lotus F1 Junior Team driver.

Consequently, physical fitness is one of the eight key areas of development identified by the Lotus F1 Junior Team, which has been established by Gravity Sports Management and the Lotus F1 team to uncover the sport’s stars of the future. Aside from a resilient cardiovascular system required to maintain an average heart rate of 140–160bpm, strength training is essential to combat the physical demands of the sport.

Drivers must focus on building neck strength to withstand cornering at speed and high G-forces; core strength to manage tight movements at extremely high speeds; strong and reactive glutes and legs to apply correct pressure and speed to the brake; and accelerator and grip strength to maintain maximum control of the car at all times.

Based at the Lotus F1 Team factory in Enstone, Oxfordshire, the team’s Human Performance Centre is equipped by Matrix Fitness. Products from its commercial strength series, Ultra and Aura, are incorporated into the bespoke training programmes of the drivers to focus on key muscle groups.

Specifically, drivers use the rotary torso, seated leg curl, leg press, leg extension and Matrix’s functional trainer. “The equipment helps me train the specific muscle groups that are crucial for racing and competing at a high level, from cardio fitness to being functionally strong and well-conditioned,” concludes Stöckinger.

 



The physical requirements of F1 drivers include strong neck muscles to withstand cornering at speed and high G-forces
ACEING IT

Sport: Tennis
Client: ATP World Tour Finals, UK
Supplier: Cybex International UK

Power, strength, agility, endurance, flexibility and speed are all vital abilities for tennis players at any level of the sport and, while time spent on-court is essential, time spent in the gym is often where a competitive edge is gained.

In November 2013, as the climax to the men’s professional tennis season, the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals returned to London’s O2 arena. Continuing a partnership that dates back to 2009, Cybex International UK was chosen to equip the tournament’s on-site gym. “Having a gym on-site opens up a lot of opportunities,” says ATP World Tour medical director Clay Sniteman. “Players can run their own functional warm-up sessions, cool down after matches or even rehabilitate injuries they pick up during the tournament.”

Alongside CV equipment, the gym housed the Bravo Pull and Bravo Press, two pieces from Cybex’s cable-based Bravo Functional Training system. “Cable-based training is perfect for tennis players, as it allows for the multi-directional movement required for the sport,” explains Sniteman. “By using the Cybex Bravo, players benefit hugely from the range of motion, angles and stability work, being able to isolate parts of the body during their workouts and target the weaker areas from abdominals to core, back to shoulders and even lower body.”

The Bravo Functional Training system is one of Cybex’s key strength pieces, popular in many facilities, from independent gyms, universities and schools to elite training centres. “The Bravo system combines the features of selectorised and cable-based strength training equipment to deliver endless training possibilities,” says Thurston.

 



Cable training with Andy Murray’s fitness trainer Jez Green
FUNCTIONAL POWER

Sport: Football
Client: Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, UK
Supplier: Keiser

The physical wellbeing of professional footballers can be the difference between a trophy-winning season or one to forget; with 38 Premier League fixtures, FA Cup and League Cup competitions and spells in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League for the last four seasons, fitness levels of the players at Tottenham Hotspur FC are crucial to the club’s success.

In September 2012, the Premier League side opened its new training centre in Bulls Cross, Enfield. A 77-acre facility, the training centre comprises 15 grass pitches, a covered artificial pitch, pool and hydrotherapy complex, altitude room, sports rehabilitation suites and a large-scale gym equipped by Keiser.

“We used Keiser equipment at our old training centre and our players were extremely satisfied with it,” says Dr Wayne Diesel, head of medical services at Tottenham.

“As part of the club’s commitment to research into football-specific strength and conditioning, we needed equipment that would allow functional power development, creating a greater spectrum to progress exercises. By this, I mean resistance, speed, angles and range of motion.”

Strength equipment from Keiser’s Air range is incorporated into the football-specific strength and conditioning programmes used by the players. Unlike most fixed resistance equipment with weight stacks, Keiser’s range uses air pressure to provide resistance. The range targets upper body, lower body and core strength, as well as offering detailed information display. “Keiser’s Air resistance equipment delivers ease of regulation of power output as a percentage of the player’s maximum; the ability to spot asymmetries between opposite limbs; and, importantly, safety of use,” explains Diesel.

 



Keiser’s equipment at the Enfield site helps develop speed and range of motion
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Health Club Management
2014 issue 3

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Sporting strength

Resistance equipment

Sporting strength


Lauren Applegarth looks at how fixed resistance equipment is being integrated into sport-specific training programmes

Lauren Applegarth

If you keep up to date with the latest fitness trends, you’re probably of the opinion that traditional resistance equipment is fast losing its place on the gym floor to functional training areas and rigs – and in some instances, you would be right.

However, fixed strength equipment still plays a key role in many facilities – and it’s powering some of the world’s top professional sportsmen and women to success, from global stars of the tennis world to Premier League football teams. But incorporating fixed strength equipment into sport-specific training programmes isn’t something that should be perceived as exclusive to professional athletes; it’s accessible to players of all ages and abilities.

As Cybex UK’s commercial director Rob Thurston explains: “Fixed strength equipment is still central to many gym floor layouts and users shouldn’t be intimidated by it. There are countless examples of sportspeople at all levels combining strength equipment into their training programmes, but it’s all about using the right pieces of equipment to develop the physical attributes most applicable to you and your sport.”

Such training will have the maximum effect providing best practice is followed, adds Chris Armstrong, strength and conditioning coach at Warwickshire County Cricket Club: “The key is to make the exercise movements as sport-specific as possible, ensuring good technique and that the focus is on the player’s range of movement as opposed to the weight they can lift.”

We look at ways in which fixed resistance kit is being used by elite athletes, and how amateur sports enthusiasts can incorporate similar techniques into their training.

REHAB & PERFORMANCE

Sport: Cricket
Client: Warwickshire County Cricket Club, UK
Supplier: Technogym

The physical demands of cricketers are distinctly unique to each player’s specialism: from tall, strong and powerful fast bowlers to shorter wicket keepers who place a large amount of pressure on their hamstrings during long days in the field. Building and maintaining peak physical fitness enables batsmen to score more runs, bowlers to maintain their desired pace and accuracy for longer, and fielders to sustain high levels of concentration and therefore faster reaction speeds.

While teams train year-round, the intended outcome of their strength and conditioning programmes will also change depending on where they are in a season, explains Armstrong: “Resistance training takes priority pre-season, throughout November and December, as the players focus towards building up their baseline strength; in January the programme switches to develop power and speed; and then, when the season starts in April, strength training is again incorporated to maintain high performance levels.”

In 2013, Technogym installed resistance equipment in the on-site gym at Edgbaston Stadium, home to Warwickshire CCC.

“The equipment we chose allows for a wide variety of exercises, uses and loads, and its flexibility meets the needs of the players’ unique specialisms,” adds Armstrong. The gym incorporates Technogym’s Multipower, a lifting rack that allows for assisted lower and upper limb exercises. This was used as part of a comprehensive rehabilitation programme for three of the club’s bowlers who suffered back stress fractures last year.

Products from Technogym’s Selection MED line were also installed, including the leg extension and leg press, which are designed specifically to support rehabilitation and users with various physical conditions during exercise.

The equipment also allows the team to quickly bring new players up to the required strength and fitness levels. “The adjustable head rest and handles of the leg press ensure players are seated in a safe and uncompromised position, allowing them to put significant loads through their legs without compromising their back,” explains Armstrong. “The use of such equipment allows us to load someone who hasn’t been training in the gym for as long, much earlier in their career.”

 



Strength and conditioning coach Chris Armstrong on the kit
RESISTING THE FORCE

Sport: Formula 1
Client: Lotus Formula 1 Junior Team, UK
Supplier: Matrix

Being a racing driver isn’t just about getting behind the steering wheel and driving around a track. It’s extremely physically and mentally challenging; you need to be in the best condition possible to cope with the physical demands and be at the top of your game,” explains Marlon Stöckinger, Lotus F1 Junior Team driver.

Consequently, physical fitness is one of the eight key areas of development identified by the Lotus F1 Junior Team, which has been established by Gravity Sports Management and the Lotus F1 team to uncover the sport’s stars of the future. Aside from a resilient cardiovascular system required to maintain an average heart rate of 140–160bpm, strength training is essential to combat the physical demands of the sport.

Drivers must focus on building neck strength to withstand cornering at speed and high G-forces; core strength to manage tight movements at extremely high speeds; strong and reactive glutes and legs to apply correct pressure and speed to the brake; and accelerator and grip strength to maintain maximum control of the car at all times.

Based at the Lotus F1 Team factory in Enstone, Oxfordshire, the team’s Human Performance Centre is equipped by Matrix Fitness. Products from its commercial strength series, Ultra and Aura, are incorporated into the bespoke training programmes of the drivers to focus on key muscle groups.

Specifically, drivers use the rotary torso, seated leg curl, leg press, leg extension and Matrix’s functional trainer. “The equipment helps me train the specific muscle groups that are crucial for racing and competing at a high level, from cardio fitness to being functionally strong and well-conditioned,” concludes Stöckinger.

 



The physical requirements of F1 drivers include strong neck muscles to withstand cornering at speed and high G-forces
ACEING IT

Sport: Tennis
Client: ATP World Tour Finals, UK
Supplier: Cybex International UK

Power, strength, agility, endurance, flexibility and speed are all vital abilities for tennis players at any level of the sport and, while time spent on-court is essential, time spent in the gym is often where a competitive edge is gained.

In November 2013, as the climax to the men’s professional tennis season, the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals returned to London’s O2 arena. Continuing a partnership that dates back to 2009, Cybex International UK was chosen to equip the tournament’s on-site gym. “Having a gym on-site opens up a lot of opportunities,” says ATP World Tour medical director Clay Sniteman. “Players can run their own functional warm-up sessions, cool down after matches or even rehabilitate injuries they pick up during the tournament.”

Alongside CV equipment, the gym housed the Bravo Pull and Bravo Press, two pieces from Cybex’s cable-based Bravo Functional Training system. “Cable-based training is perfect for tennis players, as it allows for the multi-directional movement required for the sport,” explains Sniteman. “By using the Cybex Bravo, players benefit hugely from the range of motion, angles and stability work, being able to isolate parts of the body during their workouts and target the weaker areas from abdominals to core, back to shoulders and even lower body.”

The Bravo Functional Training system is one of Cybex’s key strength pieces, popular in many facilities, from independent gyms, universities and schools to elite training centres. “The Bravo system combines the features of selectorised and cable-based strength training equipment to deliver endless training possibilities,” says Thurston.

 



Cable training with Andy Murray’s fitness trainer Jez Green
FUNCTIONAL POWER

Sport: Football
Client: Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, UK
Supplier: Keiser

The physical wellbeing of professional footballers can be the difference between a trophy-winning season or one to forget; with 38 Premier League fixtures, FA Cup and League Cup competitions and spells in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League for the last four seasons, fitness levels of the players at Tottenham Hotspur FC are crucial to the club’s success.

In September 2012, the Premier League side opened its new training centre in Bulls Cross, Enfield. A 77-acre facility, the training centre comprises 15 grass pitches, a covered artificial pitch, pool and hydrotherapy complex, altitude room, sports rehabilitation suites and a large-scale gym equipped by Keiser.

“We used Keiser equipment at our old training centre and our players were extremely satisfied with it,” says Dr Wayne Diesel, head of medical services at Tottenham.

“As part of the club’s commitment to research into football-specific strength and conditioning, we needed equipment that would allow functional power development, creating a greater spectrum to progress exercises. By this, I mean resistance, speed, angles and range of motion.”

Strength equipment from Keiser’s Air range is incorporated into the football-specific strength and conditioning programmes used by the players. Unlike most fixed resistance equipment with weight stacks, Keiser’s range uses air pressure to provide resistance. The range targets upper body, lower body and core strength, as well as offering detailed information display. “Keiser’s Air resistance equipment delivers ease of regulation of power output as a percentage of the player’s maximum; the ability to spot asymmetries between opposite limbs; and, importantly, safety of use,” explains Diesel.

 



Keiser’s equipment at the Enfield site helps develop speed and range of motion

Originally published in Health Club Management 2014 issue 3

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