There's a unique sound accompanying runners around the world.
"Ba-Boom, Ba-Boom, Ba-Boom." That two-toned snap you're hearing comes compliments of David Weck's ProPulse Speed Trainers. The claims behind them are grand. More ground force. "Ba-Boom, Ba-Boom, Ba-Boom." Faster times. "Ba-Boom, Ba-Boom Ba-Boom." Holding weights as you run leading to better form. "Ba-Boom, Ba-Boom Ba-Boom."
But does the product live up to the hype? Let's take a closer look.
What are Weck's ProPulse Speed Trainers?
The ProPulses look like ergonomic salt shakers. They are 3.5 inches high, weigh 4-16 ounces, and are filled with steel pellets that shift up and down. They're essentially hand weights filled with pellets.
The design is quite simple, but they're supposed to make you faster. Wait—weights that make you faster? Sounds insane, I know. But there's a reason everyone from national-level sprinters to masters runners are utilizing them.
To comprehend their purpose, you must understand that Weck advocates for an arm action that totally defies the commonly parroted knowledge when it comes to running.
How Do They Work?
If you have sprinted, you have heard the cues. Perhaps you have even said them yourself. Whether it's, "Keep your arms at 90 degrees," or "Swing your arms cheek to cheek," the arms have typically been coached to move with a linear front to back swinging motion.
For generations, these coaching soundbites have been seared into the running lexicon. These tips were then repeated from coach to athlete, to future coach, with minimal analysis of their origin or validity. It's a vicious cycle. However, today's slow-motion video debunks 90/90 as a total fallacy, and the arm "swing" as the best method is being re-examined, as well.
The fastest runners, be them male or female, sprinters or distance, do not in fact run this way. They certainly don't keep their arms at 90 degrees throughout their sequencing, and for many, there is a downward "pulsing" (not swinging) action of both arms that occurs microseconds before the foot applies force to the ground.
The ProPulses are designed to help provide audio and physical feedback that helps people run with more of the "double down" arm technique Weck advocates. At the heart of this technique is the idea that swinging an arm up immediately before attempting to apply max force to the ground makes little sense. Rather, a downward action of both arms is more logical and taps into the power of the upper body to run faster. Try stomping while swinging both arms up vs. stomping while swinging both arms down to feel the difference.
Ground contact is divided into three phases: land, load, and launch.
In the "double down" method, both hands are traveling down during the microseconds before the foot touches the ground. This sends steel shot towards the top of the ProPulses. As the foot hits the ground, this creates a jolt of force that travels throughout the body, purportedly increasing ground reaction forces, speed, and efficiency and crashing to steel pellets to the bottom of the ProPulses.
By harnessing the power of the upper body, this action supposedly harnesses the power of the bones, tendons and fascia to rebound up off the ground, using the power of our connective tissue rather than trying to utilize the eccentric/concentric contractions of the muscles to change the length/tension relationship. The latter is far more metabolically costly and biomechanically less efficient.
The world's best are the fastest because they put more umph into the ground than their mortal contemporaries. For them, the ground contact time is quicker, the power put into the earth is more robust, and the distance covered per stride is greater. More ground force can help naturally elicit these gains.
The key in learning the pulse is the rhythm. The beauty in using the ProPulses is the auditory and tactile feedback they instantly provide. The pellets allow you to hear and feel the impact as they hit the bottom of the pulsers. The greater the impact, the greater the force going through your body into the ground. Weck states, "They should make a ba-BOOM sound as they shift from the top of the pulser to the bottom."
If you can feel it and hear it, then you've got it. Ba-BOOM! If the pulsers make more of a swish-swish sound, then you still need to work on the rhythm of the double down.
We now know that a 90/90 arm swing is a fallacy. The ProPulses help fix this misnomer and teach how to move like some of the world's best athletes. Lawrence Taylor, Deion Sanders and Usain Bolt (at least on his right side) "pulse" their arms toward the ground instead of the smooth linear swing. Weck maintains "the entire world will run stronger, faster, longer very soon because the Double Down Pulsing technique is so easy to learn and do with immediate results."
This is all well and good, but the most important question is this—do they work?
Do Weck's ProPulse Trainers Actually Work?
Results matter, and Weck has some pretty compelling case studies on hand to reference. Recently, British 200-Meter sprinter, Chris Stone, snagged a silver medal at the National Championships and dropped .26 off his personal best while training using the double down method with the pulsers. Baseball's fastest man, Delino DeShields Jr., is running .1-.2 seconds faster from first to second base as a result of using Weck's wares. US Master's Class sprinter and former NFL wide receiver Phil McConkey is running faster in his 60s than he did seven years ago, which is unheard of for athletes over 50.
I can say the ProPulses have improved my times and those of the athletes I train.
"All you have to do is run with the ProPulses and compare your times with them versus not using them," says Weck. "At the end of the day, faster is faster, regardless of what sort of study you want to do...Look at the High Jump method.
"For years, the powers that be preached that the western roll was the undisputed best way to perform a High Jump. Then along comes Dick Fosbury and his flop in 1968 and changes the whole game. The crazy part is he still received pushback from the jumping elite despite his better results. It took nearly 10 years for the world to fully embrace his methods. I'm hoping this time around the running powers that be don't take as long. Faster is faster my friends."
Photo Credit: WeckMethod.com
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