There is a certain percentage of the population who find traditional, weight-bearing fitness modalities, such as stair climbers or ellipticals, too intense on their bodies. People who have a hard time supporting their own bodyweight (full load bearing) on a traditional upright cardio machine will often display some common actions to compensate for this.
First, they may lean forward onto a machine, thereby putting themselves out of alignment. Second, they may use a piece of equipment incorrectly, creating shear in the knee and deactivating the glutes. Third, and maybe most common, they avoid exercising altogether.
These reasons illustrate the importance of clubs offering more recumbent equipment in their facilities to complement their upright counterparts. A cutting-edge form of recumbent modality is recumbent lateral stability training. Lateral strength and stability are essential to proper biomechanics for everyone, from seniors fighting functional decline to elite athletes and everyone in between.
Because recumbent lateral trainers activate the glutes, and because the glutes are one of the muscle groups most responsible for lateral stability, studies have shown seniors who use recumbent lateral trainers consistently can greatly reduce their risk of falling.
What this means is none of the exercise modalities typically prescribed to seniors do much to help lateral stability. Lateral stability and strength, and balance/proprioception, are the items with the most bearing on fall prevention. Furthermore, people who compensate because they find upright full load bearing workouts challenging may have the opportunity to strengthen their stability muscles in a seated position, bringing confidence to their everyday lives and possibly to their upright workouts once again.
When choosing recumbent equipment for your facility, look for recumbent pieces with the following features:
- Bi-directional resistance, for more effective training than traditional recumbent cycles.
- Correct knee flexion and hip engagement.
- Engagement of gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and quadriceps, which results in a broad range of benefits — greater muscle activation and metabolic cost (compared to other recumbent exercise modalities), greater knee stability, and greater power generation (for athletes).
For clubs that truly want to offer something for everyone of all ages, shapes and sizes, offering recumbent equipment is a must-have.
Scott Logan is the Vice President of sales and marketing and a principal of Helix Lateral Trainer. He has been in the fitness industry since 1990, and joined Helix five years ago. For more information visit https://helixco.com/.