Prelude: Wearable Resistance (WR) the new way forward for strength training?

Don’t get me wrong. Barbells and weight plates is still and will always be the love of my life in terms of strength training. But wearable resistance is a different way of training. It becomes part of you. It follows your movement, rather than you are following the movement (haha..is this statement even scientifically correct?). At least that’s what I feel with barbells.


When I’m teaching my strength and conditioning classes, students need to learn that their training movements needs to be in-line with their sporting movement for best transference, and this is a strength of WR and a limitation with barbells. Similarly, when I’m dealing with coaches and athletes coming for training advice and programs, we talk about transfer of training to their sports specific or recreational physical activities movements. We actually need something that can really mimic the actual movement.


Figure 1: Is this in line with my muscle structure? The design seems to say that, but let’s test it first.

Strength development at certain angles or planes of movement, different to the movement of interest may increase risk of injury. We rarely get injured in the stronger part of our body, but normally it will occur at the weakest part of any range of motion during the activity. This is where WR seems to have a upper hand over my lovely barbells.


Sports specific movement as well as any daily life physical activities normally requires us to move in various directions, sometimes in a fraction of time. Thus, when using WR, combining actual strength training in relation to the sports or physical activities becomes much easier. The planning of getting that ‘transfer of training’ effect, become more logical and makes a lot more sense.


Figure 2: Our team member was fitted and loaded for first experience with WR here at UPSI Biomechanics Lab.

Currently, we are living in the world of evidence based practiced. We want to use devices or equipment that has a proven research track record, and not informal positive testimonials. And this is where this newly emerging WR has got it really right. I have listed some of the research articles below that have tested WR usage in sporting conditions.


Based on those articles, sprinting performance which is used in many sports, WR for sure will have a significant positive impact. Playing with the loads also has never been this easy. The light-loads makes WR more portable (mind you other non-WR studies have shown that light load training can produce similar force output with heavy load training, some articles listed at the end). Shifting the loads between body parts is super-easy. And arranging the loads in accordance with your actual sports line of resistance and path of movement has been made possible, effectively by the design of the WR. Now I think I am starting to sound like a sales promoter. But hey, this is what I think and I feel when I start to use this WR equipment.


Conclusion

Finally, I’m not calling this a product review, but it is actually what I am telling to my strength and conditioning group here in Malaysia, and also to others anywhere in the world. Is this WR thing really that good? Let’s try it. Let’s test it. Let’s do research on it. If this is the thing that will shape the future of strength training just like the dumbbells and barbells did a long time ago, than we do not want to be left behind.


Let’s get the evidence needed, especially for applications in our own types of sports. And Malaysians, don’t forget, let’s also be proud of it, as it is locally developed product.




References:

Dolcetti, J. C., Cronin, J. B., Macadam, P., & Feser, E. H. (2019). Wearable resistance training for speed and agility. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 41(4), 105-111.


Macadam, P., Cronin, J. B., & Simperingham, K. D. (2017). The effects of wearable resistance training on metabolic, kinematic and kinetic variables during walking, running, sprint running and jumping: A systematic review. Sports Medicine, 47(5), 887-906.


Macadam, P., Simperingham, K. D., & Cronin, J. B. (2017). Acute kinematic and kinetic adaptations to wearable resistance during sprint acceleration. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 31(5), 1297-1304.


Macadam, P., Simperingham, K. D., & Cronin, J. B. (2019). Forearm wearable resistance effects on sprint kinematics and kinetics. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 22(3), 348-352.


Macadam, P., Simperingham, K. D., Cronin, J. B., Couture, G., & Evison, C. (2017). Acute kinematic and kinetic adaptations to wearable resistance during vertical jumping. European journal of sport science, 17(5), 555-562.


Marriner, C. R., Cronin, J. B., Macadam, P., & Storey, A. (2017). Redistributing load using wearable resistance during power clean training improves athletic performance. European journal of sport science, 17(9), 1101-1109.


Mohamad, N. I., Cronin, J. B., & Nosaka, K. K. (2012). Difference in kinematics and kinetics between high-and low-velocity resistance loading equated by volume: implications for hypertrophy training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 26(1), 269-275.


Ogasawara, R., Loenneke, J. P., Thiebaud, R. S., & Abe, T. (2013). Low-load bench press training to fatigue results in muscle hypertrophy similar to high-load bench press training. International Journal of Clinical Medicine, 4(02), 114.


Schoenfeld, B. J., Grgic, J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2017). Strength and hypertrophy adaptations between low-vs. high-load resistance training: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 31(12), 3508-3523.


Schoenfeld, B. J., Wilson, J. M., Lowery, R. P., & Krieger, J. W. (2016). Muscular adaptations in low-versus high-load resistance training: A meta-analysis. European journal of sport science, 16(1), 1-10.


Simperingham, K., & Cronin, J. (2014). Changes in sprint kinematics and kinetics with upper body loading and lower body loading using exogen exoskeletons: A pilot study. J Aust Strength Cond, 22(5), 69-72.

Nur Ikhwan Mohamad,

Faculty of Sports Science & Coaching,

Sultan Idris Education University,

35900, Tanjung Malim,

Perak, MALAYSIA.

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