Exerfly team setting

Integrating Flywheel Resistance Training in the Team Setting: A Coach's Guide

Introduction

Flywheel resistance training (FRT) is rapidly becoming a staple in strength and conditioning and rehab due to its unique ability to provide variable resistance through both concentric and eccentric phases. (1) Additionally, there are beneficial effects on muscle tissue and function with FRT, including increased muscle power, strength, length, muscle activation, hypertrophy, and fast twitch muscle fibers content. (1)

For those working in the team environment, implementing FRT can optimize training sessions by easily accommodating varying levels of athletic ability and promoting rapid skill acquisition, given that the overload is regulated by the user. More on this later. This blog offers a practical guide for coaches and trainers to introduce athletes to FRT, particularly focusing on those new to this mode of resistance training.

Setting Up for Success

Initial Assessment and Group Segmentation

Before starting, determine each athlete's physical condition and experience with resistance training. Once this has been determined they can be grouped by similar skill levels and training experience to ensure that each member can train efficiently and safely. This initial segmentation aids in tailoring the introduction and progression of FRT according to the specific needs and capacities of different groups/skill levels. Those who display proficiency in movement and with an extensive training history can progress much quicker in the load used, velocity of training and use of motorized boost technology.

Movements

First Contact: Basic Techniques and Safety

In the initial sessions, focus on basic movements without utilizing the boost technology, as discussed in ‘Boosting Your Knowledge About Eccentric Boost Technology’. During the initial sessions it is important to discuss:

Athlete Positioning and Assistance

  • Foot Position:  Feet should be placed to provide a stable base, have pressure through the center of the foot, and should be aligned with the rope pulley.
  • Center of Mass: COM should be over the rope pulley/flywheel axis (rope pulley should not be off-set and rubbing against the spindle).
  • Assisted vs Unassisted: Assisted provides more stability when hands are supported with T-Bar providing for more focus on the intent of the movement, leading to greater force production. Unassisted acts as a ‘governor’, since stability is removed, and more focus must be placed on technical execution of the movement.

Starting the Flywheel (with and without Wind-Up Boost)

Rhythm and Timing of the Flywheel

  • Continuous Tension: Maintaining a steady tension ensures continuous resistance throughout the movement.
  • Even Force Distribution: Distributing the workload evenly across the targeted muscles prevents overloading of any single muscle group and allows for synchronous movement.
  • Coordination and Proprioception: Keeping a good rhythm improves neuromuscular coordination, improves body awareness and control, which are essential in athletic movements (2).

Preventing ‘Jumping’ of the Platform

  • Secure the Device: Ensure the device is on a stable surface, preferably rubber gym flooring.
  • Appropriate Resistance: Too little or too much resistance can cause irregular movements due to load.
  • Proper Technique: Perform warm up reps to ease into the movement in a smooth and controlled manner before working reps. Avoid jerky or overly aggressive movements which can destabilize the platform.
  • Foot Placement: Ensure appropriate weight distribution, not putting too much weight on toes or heels.
  • Correct Tether Length: Adjust the tether to the appropriate height of preferred movement to avoid the tether being too short.

Various Braking Styles

  • Delayed Braking Action: Do not resist through first half of the motion and just resist through bottom half (riding the braking) for maximal eccentric overload during the second half of the movement to produce overload at longer muscle lengths (3,4).
  • Slow Braking Action: Slowly decelerate throughout the eccentric phase to increase time under tension (3,4).
  • Fast Braking Action: Rapid deceleration typically in sport specific position (1/4 squat) for a greater peak eccentric force (3,4).
  • SSC Braking Action: Emphasize a quick transition from eccentric to concentric to improve stretch shortening cycle efficiency (3,4).

For more information on deceleration, see blog ‘Deceleration in Sport: Putting on the Brakes with Exerfly’.

Implementing Team-based Flywheel Sessions

Implementation in Team Setting

When implementing FRT sessions in a team setting, it is recommended to plan for athletes to utilize the flywheel in small groups (4-6 per unit) or even pairs. This strategy will allow some to use the flywheel while others engage in complementary training exercises. This not only keeps the entire team active and engaged but also facilitates focused coaching where needed. Additionally, it may be helpful to purchase additional harnesses for squat-based movements, as the changing of harnesses between athletes can bottleneck the training session. With each athlete having their own harness, this will allow them to keep it on through the flywheel training block, allowing for a more efficient training session.

Progressive Overload and Challenges

Once basic techniques are mastered without the overload boost, this allows athletes to feel the effects of the flywheel's inertia without overwhelming them. Once they have shown movement competency, and have built the strength capacity, then begin introducing the boost technology. Prescription of the overload boost will vary on the individual and should not be implemented in the first few sessions, unless the athletes are well trained, and you are confident in their abilities. For information on how to progressively overload, see blog post ‘Boosting Your Knowledge About Eccentric Boost Technology’. As stated previously, it is crucial during this phase to monitor each athlete's technique closely and correct any issues as they work with the flywheel's feedback.

Once athletes have become proficient in flywheel training, you may set individual and team challenges based on their progression. This can incorporate velocity-based training, introducing new exercises, and implementing various braking methods. Incorporating velocity targets can be a way of monitoring effort or fatigue to assist in getting desired adaptations. By incorporating these challenges flywheel training can keep the sessions engaging and goal-oriented for athletes and helps avoid training monotony.

Conclusion

Integrating flywheel resistance training into a team setting requires careful planning and a structured approach, especially when working with beginners. By assessing athlete readiness, educating them about the training, and progressively introducing the exercises, coaches can effectively enhance their team's performance capabilities. With regular monitoring and feedback, FRT can be a dynamic and integral part of any team’s training regimen, paving the way for improved athletic performance and injury prevention.

References

  1. Burton I & McCormack A (2002). Inertial Flywheel Resistance Training in Tendinopathy Rehabilitation: A Scoping Review. Int J Sports Physical Therapy. 1;17(5):775-786.
  2. Raya-González J, de Keijzer K, & Bishop C, Beato M (2021). Effects of flywheel training on strength-related variables in female populations. A systematic review. Res Sport Med. 30(4): 353—370.
  3. Maroto-Izquierdo S, García-López D, Fernandez-Gonzalo R, Moreira O, González-Gallego J & de Paz J (2017). Skeletal muscle functional and structural adaptations after eccentric overload flywheel resistance training: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 20(10): 943-951.
  4. Carroll K, Wagle J, Sato K, Taber C, Yoshida N, Bingham G & Stone M (2019) Characterizing overload in inertial flywheel devices for use in exercise training. Sports Biomechanics, 18(4): 390-401.

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The Exerfly Platform is a stable, multi-use flywheel training platform built for everything from heavy duty workouts to rehabilitation.

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The Exerfly Platform is a stable, multi-use flywheel training platform built for everything from heavy duty workouts to rehabilitation.

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The Exerfly Platform is a stable, multi-use flywheel training platform built for everything from heavy duty workouts to rehabilitation.

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