kBox3 Review

kBox3 Review

 

For the last 6 weeks I’ve been getting to grips with the Exxentric kBox3 and kMeter ahead of the new academic year where we will begin to incorporate it with some of our athletes, who are at a more advanced level of training.

So what is the kBox?

Exxentric kBox 3

Exxentric kBox 3

The kBox is a flywheel training device that really opens up the world of eccentric training, taking many of the logistical challenges of eccentric training using traditional barbell methods and supramaximal loads which in many environments, such as ours with larger groups, you would struggle to perform safely.

When using the kBox3 you are working against the inertia of the heavy flywheels, using a variety of attachments to allow you to perform a wide range of exercises. You can adjust the number of wheels to adjust the level of overload according to what you wish to achieve, for example: strength, power or hypertrophy. The rest then is up to you, as whatever you ‘give’ concentrically to the device it gives you back eccentrically as it pulls you back down towards the ground once the flywheel has reversed at the top of the range of movement you have set.

The more flywheels you have stacked up on the device, the more it feels like it’s going to suck you down in to the ground when you really max out on your efforts, providing you with a strength training stimulus. With the fewer or lighter wheels on the device you can achieve a higher power output as you are able to execute the exercises at a higher speed.

Advantages of the kBox

At the moment are that I feel like I am really only just beginning to scratch the surface of what is possible with this awesome bit of equipment. I’m certain the coming months will allow me to really begin to understand the longer term adaptations to training with it.

From using it in the short term I’m really excited by what it has allowed me to do and some of the initial effects I’ve seen:

#1 The device is incredibly mobile and transportable

I’ve been away from work for 6 weeks so I haven’t had access to the main gym so the kBox has been everywhere with me. It has allowed me to train at home whilst I’ve been on holiday, in the living room, in the garden, wherever I have been. It has a  range of attachments with it so you can get a whole body session done with just this single bit of kit: squats, deadlifts, RDLs, presses, pulls…the options are endless.

For travelling athletes it really is a great option to be able to get a decent strength training stimulus away from the gym.

#2 It appears to have a post-activation potentiation effect

One of the first experiments I did with the kBox3 was to examine the effects of a 5RM effort with across a range of different flywheel loads (0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1.00 and 1.25) on an 18” depth jump using an electronic jump mat. It was interesting to see that following the 5RM at 0.5 inertia there was an increase in jump height of over 2 inches following a recovery period of 2 minutes post jump.

This is definitely an area that needs more investigation as if you consider this with the portability of the device it could be a very useful bit of kit for competing athletes on the road looking to gain a PAP effect pre-competition. I am also very keen to see the effects on other tasks such as sprinting and changes of direction, which we will be exploring over the coming months.

#3 Hypertrophy

For momentum based sports where added mass is an advantage, this device has some serious potential to add lean mass. During my initial chat with Fredrik at Exxentric back in July, he warned me that I’d need new shirts before too long. He wasn’t wrong! Particularly after hitting Fredrik’s recommended overloaded eccentric rows!

#4 Instant Feedback from the kMeter

 

All the time you can monitor whether you are achieving the desired outcome via the kMeter and associated app to your iPad as it gives you instantaneous information relating to Concentric and Eccentric Peak Power, Average Power, Peak Force, % Overload to name just some of the variables. The data from the app can easily be exported via email for further analysis in Excel/Numbers.

The instant objective feedback allows you to immediately see where you are at, and provides a real added stimulus to work maximally, when that is desirable, much like can be achieved with Velocity Based Training devices such as PUSH bands.  If you know your typical watts or newton’s produced over time you can target those levels again in your next session.

I know the guys out at Athletic Lab have also been using it to monitor readiness to train combined with some other measures such as HRV which I think could be another really useful application. Likewise I think it could be used in Return To Training / Return To Play protocols examining force capabilities pre & post injury using exercises like the Lateral Squat from the data that is coming from the kMeter.

Future developments

I am excited to see the impact regular exposure has on some of our key performance areas such as change of direction and speed. Of particular interest to me at the moment is how it can help improve the athlete’s ability to hold optimal positions in maximal velocity running where some of our guys have previously demonstrated an inability to control the eccentric forces and appear almost ‘seated’ when running. I think with some clever use of specific joint angles and positions when training with the kBox3 we could really begin to see a difference in this area.

The kBox3 has really added a new dimension to our training options and from my initial experiences I can’t wait to see what long term impact is for our athletes.

If you are keen to find out more about the kBox3 the guys at Exxentric are super helpful and always keen to chat about training ideas and how to get the most out of the kBox, they’ve been awesome in helping me understand it. You can follow them on Twitter @fredrikcorrea or @go_exxentric 

 

Split Squat – Unilateral Lower Body Level 1

SPLIT SQUAT

A great introductory unilateral movement when performed under bodyweight, can be progressed up to working under heavy loads with barbells and dumb bells gradually overtime making it a much more advanced movement at that point.

Loading options / progressions: bodyweight, dumb bells, single dumb bell (asymetrical load), barbell

Benefits:

Improved flexibility at the hip
Improved strength in the lower body
Improved stability

Technical points:

1) Keep a hip width gap between the feet for stability
2) Long stride out, knee should remain above the ankle throughout
3) Keep the torso up right
4) Drop the back knee down to the floor and return to the start position.

Goblet Squat – Level 2 Lower Body Strength Exercise

Goblet Squat – Lower Body Bilateral – Level 2 Movement

Goblet Squats are a great exercise to introduce athletes to loaded squat movements, especially those with limitations in their flexibility/mobility.

We use the goblet squat as a progression towards more advanced squat movements within the matrix, but also due to the lower technical demands they are great incorporated in to strength endurance / metabolic conditioning sessions.

Suggested sets & reps for beginners: 1-2 sets of 10 reps

Prerequisites:  Athletes must be able to complete a body weight prisoner squat (level 1) with good form i.e. hips below the knees, back straight, heels down.

Main muscles used:

Gluteals
Hamstrings
Quadriceps
Trunk musculature (isometric)

Elite Sport Programme – Strength & Acceleration Technique

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Elite Sport Programme- Year 8 / Year 9

Programme Objectives: Increase whole body strength, develop acceleration technique

RAMP Warm Up – 6 minute target time

Acceleration

1) Wall drives  3 x 10 per leg

2) Seated Arm Drive 3 x 5 seconds

3) Resisted Acceleration 3 x 10m (partner or harness resisted

4) 15 m Maximal Acceleration (unresisted from a standing start)

Strength

1) Goblet Squat – 3 x 10 reps

2) Assisted Pull Up or TRX Row 3 x 10

3) MB Walking Lunge wit Rotation 3 x 8/leg

4) Press Up 3 x 10

Rest between sets = 60 seconds

Core

1) Single Leg Bridge

2) Plank combo – front, side x 2, reverse – 30 seconds each side

3) Skydivers (a.k.a. Prone AW)

 

 

Strength Training Fundamentals

STRENGTH TRAINING FUNDAMENTALS

Anyone looking to start strength training whether for your sport or an active lifestyle you should commit some time to learning the correct technique.

For me there are two major things (the programme itself excluded) that are going to go some way to dictating your progress from a strength training programme:

1)      The individual knowing the correct technique for the major exercises – squats, pushes, pulls, deadlifts

2)      The individual having the flexibility/range of movement to perform the major exercises – squats, pushes, pulls, deadlifts

Something I pride myself on as a coach is being a stickler for good form and quality movement through all exercises. The main reasons being:

1)      If you put the body in the right position for the exercise you will see much better progress out of it

2)      You are much less likely to get injured if you perform the exercise well

STRENGTH TRAINING LIMITING FACTORS

The biggest limiting factor to training for strength development I see amongst young athletes and a lot of older ones too is a lack of flexibility. Without flexibility it prevents them putting their body in the correct position to perform the strength exercises safely and effectively.

Aside from that some people just don’t know how to do the exercises properly, or having too much pride whilst training with someone of a much higher level than them and getting sucked in to lifting heavy loads before they are ready for it.

There are other factors such as injury history that may rule out certain exercises as well but that can’t be helped and you’ve just got to learn and adapt your exercise selection accordingly.

EARN THE RIGHT

I always tell the people who train with me that you earn the right to progress to more advanced training by demonstrating competence in the fundamentals.

Especially when working with young athletes the emphasis should be on establishing technique, but this is something I apply with older populations too.

Bottom line is if the technique isn’t good enough through an exercise, I’m not going to be loading it. I’ll have an athlete work at it unloaded or use an alternative that can be loaded until the technique is at the required standard.

Once the technique is sound the load can be progressed gradually.

STRENGTH TRAINING EXERCISES – THE SQUAT

When it comes to improving performance and people’s functional fitness the fundamental movement I like people able to perform well is the squat.

Strength Training Exercises Squat

Sometimes there are the quick fixes to a poor squat just by adjusting the stance width to wide (heels at shoulder width) and toes turned out at 5 to 1 on the clock face opening the hips.

Strength Training Exercises

Or using 5-10 sec holds in the bottom of the prisoner squat or overhead squat (low load) if you’re looking to improve squat range of movement to be able to get your hips below the level of the knee so you can get the real performance benefits.

Sometimes though you’ve got to put the hard yards in and tackle those problem areas head on with some flexibility work. If that’s what it takes that’s what it takes. Earn the right.

If you can’t squat for any of the reasons mentioned above, get yourself in touch with a decent coach – I’d suggest checking out the UKSCA Accredited members list for your area on www.uksca.org.uk – who can help improve your technique and possibly help resolve any flexibility issues limiting your progress.

I use a squat facilitation system put together by Bob Wood of Physical Solutions, it is a great programme for improving most people’s squat, there are some that seem immune to it and destined to cause me sleepless nights as I try to unlock the movement puzzle, but generally it works well in getting athletes where they need to be in order to start strength training.

Learn more about fundamental training principles with Nick Grantham at his Physical Preparation for Performance Workshops & Speed Clinic 21st & 22nd February 2015. Nick will be covering 5 major areas: Programme Design, Core Training Concepts, Metabolic Mayham: A Modern Approach to Energy System Development, the Art & Science of Coaching and Speed, Agility and Change of Direction. For more information & to take advantage of the incredible Early Bird Discount Bundle >>CLICK HERE<< 

Semi-Private Training Packages are launched!

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We are very excited to have launched our new Semi-Private Training Packages offering high quality personal training on a small group basis (max 3-4 people per group).

By training in small groups we can give you a lot more training for the same price of your normal 1 to 1 personal training sessions which will give you better results! For the same price as 4 x 1 to1 PT sessions and your monthly gym membership we are offering 3 Semi-Private coaching sessions per week, that’s 12 coach led sessions per month!

For more info about Semi-Private Training check out the 3 new monthly package options on offer!

Strength Training: A Periodization Model

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Strength Training: A Periodization Model

As a coach one of the common things I hear when I’m talking to people about their strength training is that they’re banging away just trying to go heavier and heavier week on week.

Training in this way may get you results up to a point, but you’re going to hit a plateau at some point. In addition, if you’re always lifting at a 100% repetition max (RM) load (i.e. that maximum load you can lift for a given number of reps) you are constantly subjecting your body to a high level of stress that will result in a lot of fatigue & may in the long term result in over training.

The fact is you don’t have to max out every session to get stronger.

A system I have used with a lot of clients/athletes over the years is a step loading system varying loads across a training cycle between 80-105% of a rep max load. The loading pattern that has worked consistently for me is 80% – 90% – 95% – 105% then the pattern repeats itself.

Strength Training Periodization

With this system you lift “very heavy” (105% RM) once every 4 weeks and that week is followed by a recovery week of 80% RM to allow for supercompensation (see previous article on recovery for an explanation of this process) because the unloading gives your body an opportunity to recover. The process then repeats itself building the loads back up over the next few weeks from 80-90-95% to another 105% load.

In case that doesn’t make sense here’s an example programme to make it clearer:

Ex programme strength

Taking the example of the Back Squat – at the start of the cycle Client A is able to squat 100kg for 5 reps. Employing the above loading system for the next 4 weeks he squats as follows:

Week 1: 4 sets x 5 reps @ 80kg

Week 2: 4 sets x 5 reps @ 90kg

Week 3: 4 sets x 5 reps @ 95kg

Week 4: 4 sets x 5 reps @ 105kg

 

Having completed week 4 with a new 5RM of 105kg the next 4 weeks % RM loads are calculated from this new PB.

So based on 105kg 5RM the loads for the Back Squat for the second 4 week cycle would be:

Week 5: 4 x 5 reps @ 84kg (80%)

Week 6: 4 x 5 reps @ 94.5kg (90%)

Week 7: 4 x 5 reps @ 99.75kg (95%)

Week 8: 4 x 5 @ 110kg (105%)

 

Now this certainly isn’t the only way to get strong and there are lots of variations to the sets, reps and variations to %RM that you can utilise, but this system has produced consistent strength gains for me as a coach and reported improvements in the athlete’s physical and mental freshness/preparedness for their training after the carefully planned recovery weeks.

Learn more about Periodization and Programme Design with Nick Grantham at his Physical Preparation for Performance & Speed Workshops 21st & 22nd February 2015. Nick will be covering 5 major areas: Programme Design, Core Training Concepts, Metabolic Mayham: A Modern Approach to Energy System Development, the Art & Science of Coaching and Speed, Agility and Change of Direction. For more information & to take advantage of the incredible Early Bird Discount Bundle >>CLICK HERE<<