Guide to Training on Different Surfaces

Few coaches and athletes think about the floors they train on or consider the value of training on wood, synthetic or rubber floors.

Weight Room

A premium is placed on specific workout protocols, equipment and training functionality, but few coaches and athletes think about the floors they train on or consider the value of training on wood, synthetic or rubber floors.

Like equipment, flooring has dramatically changed over the past decade. The biggest change relates to performance and safety. As exercises have become more dynamic, coaches are seeking flooring that protects the ankles, knees and hips of their athletes while enhancing their performance. (Learn how to reduce the risk of injury in the weight room.)

"There is so much core training going on, and the movements are more advanced," says Brett Waite, President of Plae USA, a Georgia-based company that produces engineered flooring systems designed for shock absorption and energy return.

Waite continues, "You used to just throw down a floor and drop a treadmill on it. Now athletes stand up doing different movements, [and] the floor systems matter now more than ever."

Rubber, synthetic and wood flooring are the three most popular options because of their versatility. Waite says he's seeing more schools and teams incorporate all three into one floor, which allows for more functionality for trainers.

Rubber Flooring

Rubber flooring is popular with clients because it's thick. Its power of energy return and safety make it popular among athletes, according to Waite. He says, "The most popular infield product right now is a non-filament two-inch blade with sand and rubber. It's safer on the ankles and knees. It's also good for speed and running, specifically in health clubs."

Synthetic and Wood

Wood flooring is predominantly used for basketball courts, but it has emerged in weight rooms as a great option for power lifting, Squats and Deadlifts, and is popular because of its durability.

Waite says the most common type of floor combines all three materials—rubber, synthetic and wood.

"The floors now are so functional," Waite says. "You can create a new floor system with new ways to train. In the Olympic platforms, you used to have above ground wood platforms that were dangerous and really weren't best for performance. We created an inlay platform so the entire room is at the same level. The entire room has a safety zone."

With this inlay platform, coaches can do speed and weight drills on the same platforms, which allows them to maximize the training time they have, providing high value to coaches with limited time.

"You can do turf [drills], clean and jerk, speed and agility at the same time," Waite says. "If they can save five minutes, that's huge."

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