Slowly Raise The Bar

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

The dedicated readers of this blog — and I thank you —- know that research is one of my passions (that research scientist thing never quite goes away, even outside the lab!)  Recently I was on the lookout for not simply new fitness trends, but also new exercise equipment.

Lest you allow boredom to settle into your workouts, a sure path to burnout, consider this new “toy” ~ the ActivMotion Bar.  I know, my first thought exactly: doesn’t active automatically include motion?  Certainly it does; but wouldn’t you prefer to get better results out of the motions you are already performing?

The ActivMotion Bar consists of a hollow tube with ball bearings inside.  As anything round tends to do, the bearings shift when the bar is moving. Depending on your point of view, such a design offers several challenges/advantages over a traditional barbell.  

Let’s look at a typical barbell bicep curl. In order to keep the back muscles from being overly recruited, thereby breaking good form, curling with an ActivMotion bar requires the user to maintain stability in an effort to keep the bearings from moving. Since strength is most likely the goal, moving a weight slowly keeps the muscles under tension longer, always a good idea. To bring about the required stability, one must indeed curl slowly, since physics is definitely on the side of the ball bearings and not the user (Courtesy of our friend Sir Isaac Newton)!

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 While a barbell being curled is in itself a shifting mass, from the straight-arms starting position to the peak of the concentric phase, the ball bearings are a significant shifting mass, most unstable with motion. The body’s effort to control this recruits the elastic fascia and connective tissue, all the vital unseen parts that enable our bodies to move fluidly and without much pain.  Over time, such training can improve the strength of the entire myofascial system.  

Admittedly, I have yet to research a price on the ActivBar.  However, an investment in your health, wellbeing, and strength is always a prudent choice!