One of the main benefits of resistance training, in both the fitness and Physical Therapy settings, is the increase in strength and muscle size in trained individuals. These benefits have been shown to improve an individual’s function and reduce their risk of future injury. One of the keys to success with this training is the principle of overload, asking a muscle to exceed its’ current capacity progressively overtime. Strength gains within a muscle must be matched by a progressive increase in intensity or weight of the exercise during training. The old saying, “if you only do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always gotten” rings true with overload.
In prior posts we have written about the importance of using fatigue or reps in reserve to determine the appropriate resistance for your selected exercise. Using these techniques removes the guess work from weight selection and ensures a submaximal weight is lifted a maximal amount of times for strength development. One of the limitations of traditional weight training is the weight of the exercise is fixed and a muscle’s fatigue may not be reached until the final few reps of the exercise. Conversely, fly wheel training allows for constant, variable resistance allowing each repetition to be a maximal contraction within the set. In addition, the ability to eccentrically overload a muscle with flywheel training creates a potential for greater muscle strength and development. A recent review article compared the available evidence on traditional weight training and flywheel training.
A review of the available evidence on these two resistance training methods was published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport (Izquierdo et al. 2017). Authors reviewed 9 studies of 276 participants who completed resistance training with traditional weights or flywheel/iso inertial training methods. They reported significantly greater improvements in strength (concentric and eccentric), muscle size, and power utilizing the fly wheel. In addition, performance measurements including speed and jumping ability were increased compared to traditional weight training methods.