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Unlock your power potential with Technogym Biostrength

Technogym's new range of Biostrength machines lets you adjust the style of resistance so you can exploit the benefits of advanced techniques such as eccentric overload and drop sets. We travelled to their HQ in Italy for a training session and to discover what else is on the product development horizon

If you work in health and fitness media, you get at least one press release a week touting a “groundbreaking” new item of strength training equipment. Genuinely innovative products, however, are so rare that you can count them on one hand.

In 1796, Francis Lowndes introduced the Gymnasticon, an early exercise machine equipped with levers, pulleys and gears, designed to replicate rowing movements. Around the same time, the girya, or kettlebell, was gaining popularity in Russia as a strength training tool.

The 1860s saw another leap forwards when Ludwig Durlacher, a strongman who trained European royalty and the American elite (making him the world’s first fitness influencer), created the first plate-loaded barbell.

Meanwhile, machines gradually evolved from the Gymnasticon to mid-20th century multi-station setups before Arthur Jones changed the game in the 1970s with Nautilus machines that brought variable resistance into play, offering a consistent challenge across a muscle’s entire range of motion.

Now it looks like we have a contender for the next chapter of strength training equipment history in the form of Technogym’s Biostrength range. The machines use “Biodrive” technology, created in conjunction with scientists from NASA, to offer six different types of pre-programmable resistance, including eccentric overload and reduction, explosive power (which removes inertia), viscous (which increases resistance as you apply more power), elastic and isotonic.

How Biostrength changes the way you train

Unfiltered had the chance to use the equipment at Technogym’s impeccably well-designed HQ in Cesena, a town on the east coast of Italy, about an hour’s drive from Bologna. The options and feeling are seriously impressive. You can test your one-rep max quickly and safely, and you can do things you simply couldn’t do on your own with conventional equipment, such as using the eccentric overload function, which allows you to add up to 50% on the eccentric phase of a lift.

“Is there scientific evidence on the effects of Biodrive? The answer is yes,” says Silvano Zanuso, Technogym’s scientific research director. “We are conducting a lot of scientific studies in collaboration with universities across Europe and also in Australia.

“Why does eccentric overload provide better results? There is a physiological answer to that. We know that the eccentric part of the contraction can be overloaded so the force you can generate during the eccentric component is higher than the force you can generate in the concentric component. That’s well known in science. The problem is that with normal equipment you can’t overload the eccentric component, so we have created a solution for that and that’s why it is so efficient.

“We’ve studied the effects of eccentric overload and now we are now testing the benefits of the viscous resistance as well as evaluating the benefit in terms of the time needed to obtain results. It seems that if you follow a programme delivered through Biostrength, you reduce the time needed to train.”

“A favourite of mine is drop sets,” says Fabrizio Cecchinelli, Technogym’s Product Manager. “This is a difficult technique which is complicated to perform on the gym floor. You need to unload the barbell or move the pin on the machine. With Biodrive and Biostrength, we made this technique available on the equipment which automatically strips down the weights during the full set of the exercise.”

Until now, trying to train drop sets on your own has either been awkward with weight stack machines or virtually impossible with plate-loaded ones. By the time you, or even your partner, has removed a plate from either side of a machine, you’ve recovered enough to take the edge off the benefit derived from the technique. The instant adjustment means you can maximise the benefit of a well-studied protocol. It makes advanced training techniques practical for experienced gym-goers and accessible to those who are newer to training. There’s no doubt that Lowndes and Durlacher would be suitably impressed.

Technogym’s wellness village HQ in Cesena, Italy
Artificial intelligence and the future of fitness

“We strongly believe that artificial intelligence is going to redesign the way we train and the way we use technology for training,” says Cecchinelli. “Adaptive machine learning, algorithms, all those fancy words, how do we apply this in our technology? We’re focusing on how to use the data that we have about lifestyle to create hyper-personalised programmes.”

“We are integrating AI but in an intelligent way,” says Zanuso. “We are not just saying to AI, do a programme or whatever, we are using it consciously with a high level of scientific evidence in order to provide programmes and exercise experiences that are safe and effective. AI will help in improving significantly the personalisation of your training programme. What does AI allow us to do now that wasn’t possible before? The ability to process an incredible amount of data to give answers about someone’s training programme, their risk of injury, and your preferences.”

Trends driving change in wellness

“We can see a few big trends in the industry,” says Cecchinelli. “We strongly believe that healthy longevity is going to be one of the key drivers for the company. Exercise as a medicine, we believe, is going to be another important asset for the future. We want to make exercise a cool medicine.”

“Strength is becoming more and more important,” says Zanuso. “Not only in the sports sector, where strength is obviously important, not only in fitness, where it is growing, but specifically in health, both for a pathological population but also for people looking for longevity. In the past, doctors were recommending aerobic exercise. Now they are saying you have to do strength training.”

For more on Biostrength, visit technogym.com

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