Written by Sophie Russell and Marietta Mehanni
The Gymstick Original is a fitness tool designed to simply and effectively combine cardiovascular training, muscular endurance, strength and flexibility training. The Gymstick’s winning combination of the stick and resistance bands provides an overall body workout.
The Gymstick offers a range of training programs including rehabilitation and sports performance training. Today, more than ever, people are taking into consideration core stabilisation, muscular endurance and strength, balance, coordination and overall wellbeing. There are not many fitness products that are able to fulfil such diverse needs.
Gymstick can meet the exercise needs of a wide range of users from children to seniors, rehabilitation patients to world class athletes and fitness enthusiasts from beginners to professional body builders. Its genius is that it is small, light, cost effective, easy and safe to use and it can be adapted for any fitness level or modality.
The Gymstick is easier to grip than traditional exercise bands because it is not necessary to wrap or hold the bands in your hands as they are attached to the stick. All that is required to increase the resistance is to roll the stick so that the bands wrap around the ends.
Gymstick’s versatility is not only limited to the range of exercises available; its portability makes it possible to be used for several applications:
- one-on-one personal training sessions
- group sessions
- personal workouts
Why is the Gymstick simply effective?
When using the Gymstick, the whole body is actively involved even though the focus may be on a specific muscle group. The Gymstick Trios concept is based on three exercises that are repeated twice. The Primary exercise is the foundation exercise which is followed by a further two progressions. These add other levels of challenge to the Primary exercise. As the Primary exercise muscle groups are repeated in each section of the Trios, endurance is developed through repetition. The Chest Fly Trio demonstrates how a Trio can incorporate bilateral and unilateral movements. Photos 6 and 7 demonstrate the Primary exercise for this Trio, which is a bilateral movement. Photos 9 and 10 demonstrate Progression 1, whereby the exercise progresses an alternate unilateral Chest Fly. Finally for Progression 2, (Photos 11 and 12) the resistance is increased by moving to the left side of the stick to further challenge the endurance of the right pectoral and other upper body muscles. This Trio is then repeated with Progression 2 performed on the left.
To develop muscle strength using the Gymstick it is recommended to perform each exercise within the Trio a maximum of 15 repetitions. This can be achieved by ensuring that the resistance level of the bands is sufficient in order that the muscles are fatigued within the repetition range.
One of the benefits of using the Gymstick is that it provides instant neurological feedback regarding the positioning of the shoulders and hips. This is particularly noticeable with overhead exercises that traditionally have been difficult to perform with good technique as the line of pull from the bands assists with scapula retraction and shoulder stabilisation.
Proprioception of pelvic alignment is also assisted, particularly when the stick is in the hands and the bands are on the feet. In this case, the line of pull of the bands creates heightened awareness of the lower limbs as any resistance changes are immediately felt in the upper body.
Core muscle activation
The Gymstick assists with activating the transverse abdominus as the body is constantly being challenged by the pulling of bands in various directions.
The Gymstick is also effective for adding rotation to exercises that replicate functional movement. An example of this is a bicep curl with an oblique twist. The Gymstick provides the resistance to effectively work the biceps muscles and the obliques as well as encourage activation of the transverse abdominus.
Range of motion
Traditionally, some weighted exercises often start where the resistance is greatest at the point where the joint is most compromised, as in a Bench Press. In this the initial inertia can be difficult to overcome because the shoulder is in a compromised position.
The Gymstick is able to effectively work the same muscle group without this challenge because at the point where the shoulder is most vulnerable, the resistance is least. As the bands are stretched away from the body (photo 7), the resistance is increased. This means that range of motion can progress comfortably as the muscles strengthen without any compromise of technique or potential injury.
Within each Trio there are compound movements that require several joint actions. Multi-planar movement, direction and balance will effectively encourage greater synergy of muscle action. The advantage of training with a Gymstick is that you can combine coordination with resistance training. This is ultimately the most functional method of training. Everyday movements and sporting actions can be replicated with the Gymstick with the advantage of having a variable resistance to challenge the body safely.
The Abdominal Trio highlights how coordination is challenged:
- Primary exercise (Photo 13 and 14) is a reverse abdominal curl with a shoulder extension
- Progression 1 (Photo 15 and 16) is very similar to the Pilates ‘Hundreds’ exercise – whilst maintaining spinal flexion, the arms press the Gymstick to the floor on each exhalation
- Progression 2 (Photo 17 and 18) adds a further element of coordination challenge by including a leg adduction whilst continuing to perform an abdominal curl and a shoulder extension
What is balance – the definition of muscle balance is:
Balance is a biological system that enables us to know where our bodies are in the environment and to maintain a desired position. Normal balance depends on information from the inner ear, other senses, (such as sight and touch) and muscle movement.
Line of pull
The Gymstick has two bands attached to either end of the stick which create a line of pull that is away from the centre of gravity. This generates forces that challenge the body’s ability to stay in alignment. An example of this is a Lunge with a Tricep Extension. The stick is positioned across one shoulder and a band around each foot (photo 1). The immediate feedback to the upper body is to rotate the torso towards the back foot. Balance is challenged in several ways in this exercise; initially to maintain the alignment of the body and secondly to balance on the front foot whilst performing the Tricep Extension (photo 5). This exercise recruits several muscle groups that play an essential role in keeping the body still i.e. gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings, erector spinae, core muscles and the muscles of the feet.
- Primary exercise (Photo 1 and 2)
- Progression 1 (Photo 2 and 3)
- Progression 2 (Photo 4 and 5)
So, why are Gymstick Trios simply effective…?
The Trios concept allows the group fitness instructor or personal trainer the opportunity to incorporate different fitness principles into the one exercise sequence. Muscle endurance, strength, balance, coordination, core activation and postural awareness and alignment can all be progressively challenged to provide a well rounded program that uses resistance effectively in several planes of movement. The versatility of this equipment is only limited by the imagination.