Month: May 2017

Powerball Isometric Exercise Device

 

Powerball is the world’s most revolutionary isometric exercise device. Combining science and precision engineering to allow punishing isometric resistance training & rehabilitation. In this blog post, we will go through what is isometric exercise & how it differs to other types of exercise. While also looking at the benefits that isometric exercise has for individuals. At Powerball we have been involved in creating isometric exercise devices for the upper body for 20 yrs. We know a thing or two about the benefits!

What is Isometric Exercise?

Isometric exercise, man doing plank

If you are not familiar, isometric exercise means that as you are exercising there is no change in joint angle or muscle length. Whatever part of your body you are exercising you are stationary. Think planks, pushing against a wall or using a Powerball or Powerspin. With Isometric exercise, your muscles are working hard with the forces from the isometric exercise but there is little or no movement involved. Isometric exercise builds strength but has greater benefits in building muscle endurance. Climbers experience huge amounts of isometric exercise when the climb rock faces/climbing walls. This is why they have some of the greatest muscle endurance in the world out of any athletes.

Concentric Exercise

Concentric exercise happens when you undertake bicep curls or use a leg extension machine to exercise your quads in your thighs. The Concentric part of the exercise is when you lift the weight closer to your shoulder with a dumbbell or when push the weights upwards with your legs when exercising your quads. Your muscles feel like they are bulging and getting bigger. However, this is them also contracting and getting shorter as the joint angles changes as you lift the weights. This type of exercise is good for muscle building and strength. Basically ‘pumping iron’.

Eccentric Exercise

Eccentric exercise is the opposite of concentric in that your muscles are stretching and elongating. The below image shows eccentric exercises with a dumbbell. It is hard to do truly eccentric exercise on your own unless you have someone assisting you. In terms of athlete training, the most common form of eccentric exercise is in relation to explosive movements. Athletes use the power that’s built up in the eccentric phase of the exercise and then returning slowly eccentrically stretching the muscle out.

Will Isometric Exercise build muscle?

Building huge muscle solely with Isometric exercise is probably a bit unrealistic. It’s possible but the best (fastest) way to build muscle is with concentric movements (lifting weights). However, a key element of building muscle is placing enough tension on muscles in order to make them bigger and stronger. You are basically putting your muscles under strain and tension by working out, thereby, anything that does this will be beneficial for muscle building.

You’re missing out…

If you have never seriously tried isometric exercise before then you can make significant muscle and strength gains by incorporating it. At Powerball we are the home of Isometric gyroscopic trainers (Powerballs).Isometric exercise device The isometric resistance force that can be created can be upwards of 60+ pounds just by simply turning your wrists. Powerball alone will make a huge difference to your grip and forearm strength which will have benefits in other areas of your training.

Complimentary exercise is advised for best results incorporating all types of exercise into your routine (isometric, concentric, eccentric)

Isometric Exercise and Rehabilitation

Isometric Exercise is the most effective type of exercise for rehabilitation. This is due to its non-impact nature which allows you to strengthen your muscles even while you are injured/ in a recovery period. Isometric exercises and stretches have been the mainstay of physicians helping people through recovery and for good reason. Isometric exercise helps the stabilization of joints such as wrists, elbows, and shoulders as well as stopping muscle wastage while in recovery.

Recovery……

If you broke your arm you would not be able to pick up a dumbbell and start doing curls (the cast might get in the way anyways!) However, you would be able to exercise isometrically like using a Powerball. Exercising promotes blood flow which has great health benefits for areas that are trying to heal. Isometric exercise is perfect for;

  • Sprains, breaks & fractures
  • Repetitive strain injuries (prevents & rehabs)
  • Carpal Tunnel syndrome
  • Tennis & Golfer’s elbow
  • Arthritic conditions
  • Tendon damage and on & on…..

If you want to find out more behind the science of how Isometric exercise with Powerball aids rehabilitation visit our How it Works page.

Warming up and Down with Isometric exercise

Whether you’re playing sports, lifting weights or a musician etc it is advisable to warm your muscles up and down to ensure you don’t pick up injuries. Especially, if you are using your body and muscles in explosive bursts. Pitching a baseball, weightlifting (there is too many to mention). Stretching is massively important but so is warming up your muscles. Going straight into concentric exercises can lead to muscles tearing/ damage or repetitive strain injuries over time.

Incorporating Isometric exercise into your warm up routine can solve a lot of those problems for you. Cold muscles can tear a lot more easily than ones that are warmed up sufficiently. That is where Powerball or Powerspin can be uniquely effective at allowing you warm your whole upper body up no matter where you are. They are the only isometric exercise device you will need to stay healthy and build strength at home, on the go or in work!

 Powerball Isometric Exercise Device

Powerball is the home of gyroscope exercisers. A Powerball has a rotor (green wheel below) which spins on its axis as your turn your wrists. This rotor creates resistance as you turn your wrists which are known as gyroscopic precision (feels like gravity working against you). The faster the rotor spins the more resistance that is creating against the user. This resistance is purely isometric so your muscles work really hard even though they are static.

Gyroscope….?

If you want to find out more about gyroscopes and how Powerball works please see our blog which will teach you all you need to know about what a gyroscope and a Powerball is!

What is a Gyroscope?

There is a gyroscopic exerciser to meet everyone’s needs at www.powerballs.com! Below are our Powerballs in all their glory, however, we also have other isometric products like Powerspin. Powerspin is also an isometric exercise device that uses the same gyroscopic resistance as Powerball and is perfect for upper body fitness training and rehabilitation. See more about Powerspin @ Powerspin product page.

Isometric Exercise device

Powerspin isometric exercise device

Powerball® is a gyroscope but what exactly is that?

What is a gyroscope? Well, an agreed definition is…

‘A device consisting of a wheel, disc or rotor mounted so that it can spin rapidly about an axis which is itself free to alter in direction’

 

Visually seeing a gyroscope at work makes it easier to understand for the uninitiated. So here’s a little video that sums it up nicely;

Gyroscopes have some really cool applications. Most items that have spinning wheels somewhat resemble a gyroscope. Gyroscopic motion is actually present in bikes and motorcycle wheels as well as kids favourites like frisbees and Yo-yos (Big kids can love these too of course!).

Gyroscopes Keep us all alive….

Ever wonder why or how planes and space crafts can judge their direction with such absolute precision? Gyroscopes are used in virtually all aviation and space technology in order to measure precise changes in orientation and direction. This all gets bit technical so we won’t go into too much detail. Basically, when you try to change the direction of a spinning gyroscope this creates a force that instruments can detect with extreme precision allowing them to make directional changes to the plane or rocket they’re controlling.

Precision Balance

A gyroscope also helps items to balance far better once the wheel or rotor is spinning. As you can see from the video above a gyroscope has zero balance while its rotor wheel is stationary – it’s simply a lifeless inanimate object that falls over when you try to balance it. But once the rotor wheel is set in motion, the gyroscope comes alive, demonstrating almost “magical” properties. This allows gyroscopes to perform all manner of what seems like gravity-defying tricks and movements.

Robots, Gyroscopes and not falling over

Robots also use gyroscopes to help them balance. If a robot starts to lose its balance while trying to walk then its internal gyroscope senses this change in direction and counters this with an opposite force to keep it upright. You see, once a gyroscope is spinning and facing in one direction, it doesn’t like to change that direction and will “fight” hard against anything that tries to make it do so. Like a falling robot or an airplane being buffeted off course by turbulence.

Here is a video which illustrates this. (Hint: you might see a familiar object being used as a gyroscope here 🙂

Anyone who is familiar with Powerball® might now be thinking ‘hmm…was that a Powerball® rotor being used to balance the robot?’  Indeed it was…the gyroscopic inertial force generated by the spinning Powerball® rotor keeps the robot standing every time it looks like it might topple over…

Take a look inside Powerball®…

I’ve been mentioning a lot about rotors and here you can now see what a Powerball® rotor actually looks like. It’s that solid green wheel with the metal axle/bar running through its center (heavier, solid zinc rotors are used in metal series Powerball® models). In the example below, the rotor is encircled by a plastic support band which allows the rotor to spin freely in both its ‘X’ and ‘Y’ axis with almost zero friction. This is all then encased in a military grade plastic sphere (or stainless steel in the metal series models) and ready to generate all those amazing forces on your wrists and arms.

Setting the Powerball® rotor in motion…

Similar to how the gyroscope was started in the video above with a string, our cord-start Powerball® models can also be started this way too. The rotors can also be set in motion either using a quick snap of your finger or, better still, on our Auto-start models by simply rolling back and releasing the rotor as seen in the animated video below (the rotor may also be wound back with your thumbs if preferred). The Auto-start mechanism uses the same wind-back-and-release principle you’ll see in those toy cars where you roll the car backward and it shoots forward.

So how does Powerball® work?

Now that you’ve grasped the basics behind how a gyroscope works (and look, if you’re still struggling, just do yourself a favor and go and buy yourself a Powerball® – and find out for yourself!) The two main reasons Powerball® generates such powerful non-impact resistance force against the users are;

  1. Inertial Resistance
  2. Isometric Exercise

Inertial Resistance (AKA gyroscopic precession)

This is the force that fights against you when you try to change the direction of any spinning body (eg, like a Powerball rotor).

So what is inertia? Recently, I was driving to work and had my lunch (which included soup) on the passenger’s seat of the car. I went around a roundabout (a little too quickly) and my soup and lunch went flying off the seat. And this, unfortunately in my case, is what inertia is; an object in motion will continue on its path until it is acted upon. I.e, my soup continued in a straight line until my door intervened!

Inertial resistance in a Powerball works like this;

  • In Powerball® the rotor spins freely about on its axle.
  • Once spinning, this rotor wants to continue facing the same direction.
  • Exercising with Powerball requires that you turn your wrist in a circular motion;
  • Turning your wrist forces the rotor to change the direction in which it’s facing.
  • Changing the direction of the rotor creates inertial resistance.
  • And the faster Powerball® is spinning the greater the effort required to “knock it off direction” and so the more inertial resistance it generates. This can be anything up to a pretty incredible 60+ pounds of force against the user.

Harness the Energy

The inertial energy may also be used for some pretty cool features on Powerball®. For example, the energy can be used to power up little-LED lights embedded in the spinning rotor so that you can enjoy your own personal disco while exercising if you wish (maybe not!) It’s also used to power up the battery-free digital counter now present on some of the latest models, making the product 100% battery free.

Isometric Exercise

Isometric exercise is where joint and muscle length do not change during exercise, despite each being subjected to a constant force or resistance. For example, if you push your palms hard against both sides of a door frame then your muscles and joints will remain static yet your arms and shoulders will be under considerable pressure.  When you rotate your wrist while holding a spinning Powerball®, your fingers, hands, wrists, arms and shoulders will all be subjected to a highly targeted isometric force. Which muscles are exercised will depend on the position of the arm as you exercise with Powerball. Isometric exercise like this is uniquely adept at improving muscle strength & endurance as it’s been proven to engage a far higher % of muscle fibers over a given time frame when compared to traditional isotonic exercise (free weight training etc).

For this reason, Powerball® has a long history with climbers, cyclists and arm wrestlers in particular swearing by it.

 

Unique for rehabilitation

Isometric exercise is also highly efficient for rehabilitation purposes. Concentric & eccentric types of exercises (raising and lowering a dumbbell for example) involve contracting or expanding of muscles. Both of these types of exercise can be very painful if recovering from a broken bone, sprain or fracture and particularly painful if you’re carrying a repetitive strain injury (RSI) where the tendon which attaches your muscles to the joints of the wrist, elbow or shoulder has become inflamed. Because Powerball® exercises and applies its force to your muscles while they are in a static position this means that it is much safer to use when recovering from such injuries. It is highly efficient at [significantly] reducing overall rehab times simply because you are able to strengthen the limbs even while carrying that injury.

You can read more about the science behind how isometric exercise works for rehabilitation on our How it Works page.

So, thanks for reading our small exploration into the world of gyroscopes from Powerball’s point of view – if you happen to know any cool or interesting facts on gyroscopes that could add to this article then please get in touch, we would love to hear all about them and add them to the blog.