Flywheel resistance training (RT) has been the subject of scrutiny in recent years for its elicitation of positive muscular adaptations presumably from eccentric overloading. What is a flywheel? A short description of the technology is as follows:
“During flywheel-based RT, participants rotationally accelerate a flywheel during concentric muscle actions. The invested energy is returned during the eccentric phase of the exercise, thus requiring eccentric force to slow the flywheel to a stop. By measuring speed of the rotating flywheel, flywheel-based RT devices provide near real-time measures of power, force, speed, and total work during resistance exercise (Bollinger et al., 2018).” Researchers in the Department of Kinesiology & Health Promotion at the University of Kentucky have been attempting to validate and show reliability in this relatively new equipment in recent years.
One of my professors at UK, Dr. Bollinger, and some of his colleagues found that flywheel-based performance testing shows validity but low reproducibility and indicate that a longer familiarization period with each technique is required. However, the physical results don’t lie! Even sport teams like the Golden State Warriors are using Flywheel technology to gain an edge on the competition. Nearly half the NBA is now utilizing this training technique! The point is that while it produces dramatic muscular adaptations, the equipment may not be measuring performance (via power, force, speed, and work outputs) in a reliable manner.
So, the discussion becomes this… if we know that the flywheel is an effective training tool but that it may not measure what it is supposed to measure reliably, should we use it? Obviously, a great deal of professional and collegiate sports teams think so. What are the risks involved? What are the benefits? What are some other ways we can test the capabilities of flywheel technology? How could its functionality be improved? Please contact me at email@example.com or find us at https://education.uky.edu/khp/grad/exercise-physiology/ to learn more about our exercise physiology graduate program here at UK.