Comparison of joint kinetics during free weight and flywheel resistance exercise

Loren Z F Chiu, George J Salem
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2006, 20 (3): 555-62
The most common modality for resistance exercise is free weight resistance. Alternative methods of providing external resistance have been investigated, in particular for use in microgravity environments such as space flight. One alternative modality is flywheel inertial resistance, which generates resistance as a function of the mass, distribution of mass, and angular acceleration of the flywheel. The purpose of this investigation was to characterize net joint kinetics of multijoint exercises performed with a flywheel inertial resistance device in comparison to free weights. Eleven trained men and women performed the front squat, lunge, and push press on separate days with free weight or flywheel resistance, while instrumented for biomechanical analysis. Front squats performed with flywheel resistance required greater contribution of the hip and ankle, and less contribution of the knee, compared to free weight. Push presses performed with flywheel resistance had similar impulse requirements at the knee compared to free weight, but greater impulse requirement at the hip and ankle. As used in this investigation, flywheel inertial resistance increases the demand on the hip extensors and ankle plantarflexors and decreases the mechanical demand on the knee extensors for lower extremity exercises such as the front squat and lunge. Exercises involving dynamic lower and upper extremity actions, such as the push press, may benefit from flywheel inertial resistance, due to the increased mechanical demand on the knee extensors.

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