HAPPY SPRING! Let’s dive in and learn more about spring resistance…
One of the many factors directly affecting the intensity of your Insta workout is the tension from the springs on the Mega. Like weight training, we need some form of resistance in order to stimulate the muscles. A truly unique benefit of spring-resistance, that free-weight resistance does not offer, is variable resistance (think: a dumbbell does not become heavier as you pick it up and move it).
What this means is that, as the range of motion of the exercise you’re performing on the Mega increases, the resistance provided increases. The tension will change with the movement of the carriage – as you move the carriage out, the spring stretches and the tension increases. As the carriage moves back in, the spring compresses and the tension decreases. It’s a universal law of physics and it is a consideration for everything we do in class: modifications, variations, range of motion, timing pattern changes.
MAKING SPRINGS WORK FOR YOU
When understanding how to adjust tension, it helps to think of the machine as broken down into two parts: the front and the back. When you use the front, the springs support your body weight with resistance as opposed to the back where the springs work against your body weight in counter-resistance.
- Pulling from the front of the machine >> a light-load spring will help support and assist the movement.
- Pulling off the back of the machine >> a light-load spring is working against you.
- Pushing or pressing off the front of the machine >> a heavy-load spring provides progressive resistance.
As you move the carriage away from the front platform, you are stretching the spring which causes the tension to gradually increase. Note: Yellow and Red springs will build up tension at a different rate. It is important to understand that more tension doesn’t mean that the exercise gets harder. More tension can also provide you with more Support vs Gravity and actually make the exercise easier.
It is also important to understand that when you want to modify an exercise – either to increase or decrease resistance – you can often achieve this by simply adjusting your body’s position on the Mega.
For example, if you want to increase your resistance and intensity in Runner’s Lunge, you can add another yellow spring, -or- you can simply adjust the placement of your feet. By bringing the stabilizing leg in the front closer to the edge of the front platform and the foot of the pressing leg closer to the front of the carriage you’ve increased resistance. In Standing Inner Thighs, you can intensify the movement by doing the opposite – stepping your feet wider apart.
If you are new to Insta, don’t worry – your coach will advise you as to what spring load you should be working on. You will also be reminded of tips related to body placement. If you are ever unsure, however, please ask the next time you’re in class!
SMART TENSION AND ITS BENEFITS
Spring Tension works smarter than Static Tension — When you look at your muscles, and examine each effective range of motion, the variable tension is especially accommodating to the strength curve of the muscle. A strength curve refers to the way a muscle or muscle group’s strength changes over a range of motion. The variable resistance from the spring almost matches perfectly the natural strength curve of the muscle until it reaches peak muscular contraction. As you gather muscle strength throughout the range of motion, the resistance increases to match the force you exert, thus allowing you to reach full muscle stimulation. The muscles are not allowed to relax for even a fraction of a second during the movement!
Because free-weights rely on gravity to provide resistance, they can only provide resistance in a vertical plane — the direction of gravity. Spring-resistance, on the other hand, does not rely on gravity to provide resistance, thus it is possible to change the emphasis placed on the muscles during certain exercises, to change the plane of motion, and to provide continuous tension to the muscles being trained. This increases its potential for use in more functional movement patterns that mimic both everyday activities and sport-specific activities.
With springs, for example, you can perform exercises such as twisting your body from side to side with resistance. Performing exercises with resistance in a horizontal plane better prepares you for performing daily tasks—such as turning your body while carrying a heavy box—much easier and with less risk for injury. It also better prepares athletes for competitive movements that take place on a horizontal plane, such as swinging a baseball bat, and helps to prevent sports injuries.
FEEL THE DIFFERENCE
Besides increased muscle strength & tone and decreased body fat, your Insta class also provides benefits that are not offered by free-weight resistance programs, such as more functional strength, better injury prevention, greater ability to change muscle emphasis during exercises and greater muscle endurance and power development.
Most Insta clients report that they can feel a difference, such as a stronger burn in the muscles and greater muscle fatigue, as compared to when they use free-weights. This is due to the linear variable resistance that the spring resistance equipment offers. This allows a greater number of muscle fibers to be used and taxed throughout the range of motion. Anecdotal evidence aside, research studies also confirm this difference.
Ready to take all of this information and maximize your next workout? Book your Insta class now!