8 Training Innovations That Are Shaping the Future of Fitness | STACK

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

8 Training Innovations Shaping the Future of Fitness

April 18, 2014

Most athlete training programs focus on the basics. Barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells are prioritized over machines and other types of equipment, because they are considered more effective tools for building muscle strength and size. Plus, it eliminates the chance of falling for a gimmick.

But, many other training tools complement the big three or add unique wrinkles. Here are some of the latest fitness innovations shaping the future of strength and conditioning.

1. TRX Rip Trainer

TRX Rip Trainer

Photo: TRX Training

Most exercises, like Push-Ups and Squats, train your body in a linear direction, but the TRX Rip Trainer works rotation and anti-rotation. “If you look at any sport like tennis, golf, hockey or lacrosse, you have to be able to control and produce rotation, because that’s where all your power comes from,” says Pete Holman, creator of the Rip Trainer.

A resistance band attaches to one end of the Rip Trainer bar, forcing your body to resist an uneven load. “No matter what exercise you to do, you have to control rotation and produce rotation,” Holman says. “As soon as you grab the bar, there’s a huge force going through your body.”

The Rip Trainer's freedom of motion also allows you to perform exercises that mirror the movement patterns of many sports skills, like swinging a bat or a racquet, throwing a lacrosse ball, or taking a slap shot. Since your body is under constant tension, Rip Trainer exercises quickly elevate your heart rate, which improves your conditioning.

WATCH: Build Strength and Endurance With the TRX Rip Trainer

2. Bamboo Barbells

Rogue Fitness Bamboo Barbell

Photo: Rogue Fitness

Yes, bamboo can be used as a substitute for a barbell. But it’s an engineered product, not something you pick out of a Chinese forest. Besides looking cool, the bamboo barbell actually has performance benefits.

Jim Smith, owner of Diesel Strength and Conditioning, explains that bamboo improves rhythmic stabilization. “It causes muscles to contract rapidly more than a standard barbell lift,” he says.

Smith primarily uses it as a rehabilitative tool to improve shoulder stability and rotator cuff strength. He recommends trying it with moves like the Bench Press, Military Press, High-Incline Press, rowing variations and even Bicep Curls to increase stability and reinforce movement patterns.

3. Core Stix

Photo: Core Stix

Sports are played in three dimensions. You have to push, pull and rotate while maintaining your stability. But these four components are difficult to train at the same time with barbells, dumbbells and other conventional equipment.

Mike Kadar, strength coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins, solved this problem with Core Stix, a system of rods mounted to a stand or fixed to the ground. “The rods flex, so you’re not stuck in one linear motion,” explains Kadar. “You can be slow and controlled or as fast and dynamic as you want. You can build power and even rehab by working through multiple planes of motion.”

Having used Core Stix with many of the elite athletes he trains, Kadar claims he can crush even the strongest guys, because the rod poundage varies from five to 65 pounds.

“It’s a total gym. You can do everything,” he adds.

4. Cryo Therapy

Cryo Therapy

What’s the coldest temperature you’ve ever experienced? Think about that, then image what -280° might feel like. It sound horrible, but standing for two to three minutes at such an extremely low temperature—albeit with booties and gloves to protect your hands and feet—actually promotes recovery.

Cydne Currie, area manager for CryoUSA at Michael Johnson Performance (McKinney, Texas), says the body enters "fight or flight mode," sending warm blood to the core to protect itself. She says, “After two to three minutes, when you step out, warm blood recirculates throughout your body. This strips lactic acid build-up from your joints and muscle tissue, and reduces inflammation and swelling.”

And no, it’s not that cold. It’s only three minutes, and you come out of the nitrogen-filled cylinder feeling loose and energized.

5. MARC PRO Electric Stimulation



If you’ve ever spent time with a physical therapist, you might have experience with electric stimulation—commonly referred to as "e-stim."  The PT tech sticks pads to your body—typically near your injury—and sends a light electrical impulse to your muscle tissue. E-stim is an industry standard practice because of its ability to reduce inflammation and improve recovery.

The clever minds at MARC PRO decided to take this method and apply it to general recovery for non-injured athletes.

“Let’s say you’re a pitcher and your shoulder is tired. You could go out and lightly throw and help your body recover,” says Gary Reinl, MARC PRO's director of national accounts for professional athletic teams. “[But] we help you recover without doing anything other than putting the tool on the muscle.”

This is particularly advantageous when you're tired but can’t get in a recovery workout. You can sit on the couch and let the MARC PRO target specific muscles you want to recover faster.

Again, this sounds more painful than it really is. It feels like slight pinpricks rather than an electrical shock. And, you can control the intensity.

6. AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill

AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill

Photo: AlterG

When you run, your body takes a constant beating from pounding the ground. This is particularly problematic if you’re recovering from an injury or playing  a sport that puts a lot of stress on your joints. Many people turn to pool workouts for lower impact, but you don’t move in water the same as you do on land.

Enter the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill, a device that looks like it came from NASA—well, former NASA engineers actually designed it.

According to Currie, who has experience with the AlterG, the anti-gravity environment allows you to run with minimal wear and tear on your joints. You can select a weight as low as 20 percent of your body weight and still run with your natural technique. “It allows you to still run and get a great cardio workout without the damage that weight can do on your joints,” Currie says.

These machines are typically found in rehab facilities, but don’t be surprised if the technology goes mainstream. Overweight individuals are having great success with the AlterG, because it allows them to work out with minimal pain.

7. Elevation Training Mask 2.0

Elevation Training Mask

Photo: Elevation Training

High-altitude training is a proven method for teaching the body to use oxygen more efficiently, thus increasing endurance. But let’s be honest—training at a high-altitude is simply not an option for most athletes.

Try the Elevation Training Mask 2.0, designed to simulate training at an altitude between 3,000 to 18,000 feet without forcing you to travel to the top of a mountain.

According to its manufacturer, the Training Mask “promotes increased lung capacity by forcing you to inhale fuller, deeper breaths. When your body adapts to the resistance, your lungs will be trained to take deeper breaths and use oxygen more efficiently.”

You may get some funny looks if you wear it in your gym, but you won’t care when you take the mask off and notice how easy it feels to breathe.

8. Belt Grips

Belt Grips

Photo: Ultimate Advantage

Ultimate Advantage owner Rick Scarpulla specializes in developing powerful athletes. To do this, he often uses resistance bands to either add resistance or assistance to movements, but he noticed that mounting points are limited, and the bands often impair exercise form.

So Scarpulla developed Belt Grips, a system of hooks that slide around a standard weight belt, allowing you to attach resistance bands to your waist. “The bands and tension are attached to your waist, overloading you from two positions on moves like Squats and Deadlifts,” he explains.

You can perform Olympic lifts with bands, which previously was impossible. The system can also assist you on Pull-Ups more naturally than looping a band around your foot. You can attach the bands from your waist to a mounting point on the ground to perform Explosive Starts and other movement drills.

“If you have bands and a set of Belt Grips, you can completely transform your training and add hundreds of exercises to your program,” Scarpulla adds.

RELATED: Band Exercises to Make You a More Explosive Athlete





Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is an Associate Content Director at STACK Media. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science...
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is an Associate Content Director at STACK Media. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science...
Must See
Margus Hunt Benches 385 Pounds for Five Reps
Views: 18,578,295
Dwyane Wade Leads by Example
Views: 3,031,943
Derrick Rose Explains How He Stays Positive
Views: 4,433,010

Featured Videos

Quest for the Ring: University of Kentucky Views: 297,020
Add Core Power for Basketball With Damian Lillard's Med Ball Throws Views: 4,256,323
Path to the Pros 2015: The Journey Begins Views: 29,699
Load More


STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Improve Your Batting Average With a One-Handed Bat

A Simple Home Gym Setup and Workout

3 Specialty Barbells That Build Strength and Size

Common Lifting Accessories and What They Do For You

Weight Room Debate: Should You Wear Lifting Gloves?

Push-Up Equipment That Works

Low-Cost Speed Training Gear

Training Tool: SKLZ Quick Ladder

Under Armour's Armour39 Helps Athletes Get Better

New Cirrus Yoga Mats Let You Show Team Spirit

Basketball Workout: Vary Your Equipment

A Field Guide to Weird Looking Weightlifting Bars

Fitbit Force: They Got it Right

The Most Overrated Equipment in the Gym

Embrace Contact in Basketball With This Tool

Show Your Team Pride With a Cirrus Stability Ball

One Piece of Home Exercise Equipment Every Athlete Needs

Spend Less, Get Stronger

6 Ways to a Better High School Weight Room

Spark Motion Takes Baseball Training to the Next Level

Fitbit Surge vs. Charge HR: Which One Is Right for You?

Best Baseball Equipment for Pitchers

Pros and Cons of Using a Weightlifting Belt

17 Insanely Expensive College Athletic Training Facilities

12 Must-Have Items in the Athlete's Gym Bag

Short on Workout Equipment? Try These Tips

Mayfield Wildcats Get a New Training Home

A Better Foam Roller: the enso Roller by EvoFit, Reviewed

5 New Game-Changing Fitness Inventions

Previewing the Armour39

3 Pieces of Inexpensive, Effective Football Training Equipment

Short on Workout Equipment? Try These Tips, Part 2

Your High School Weight Room Is Inadequate

The Best Home Exercise Equipment For Under $200

8 Training Innovations Shaping the Future of Fitness

STACK Tests: RockTape

Previewing the New Fitbit Flex

Battle-Tested Workout Equipment You Can Make Yourself

5 Fitness Trackers That Are Worth the Money

VertiMax CEO Mike Wehrell on Life After Football

You Need These 4 Fitness Training Accessories

The Best Workout You're Not Doing

Nike+ FuelBand Tracks Your Everyday Activity

Training Tool: SKLZ Recoil 360

Guide to Training on Different Surfaces