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Rediscover What Matters


We’ve been fiercely committed to real results and meaningful innovations based on scientific insight and the tireless pursuit of fitness perfection.

Arc Trainer Exercise Series: Functional Capacity


The next entry in this series on Cybex Arc Trainer training programs, we’re going to get out of the scientific/sports performance world for a second and look at simple function, or functional capacity. But what is functional capacity?

Functional capacity refers to power based tasks used in everyday life. Something as simple as walking up stairs is a power-based expression of functional capacity.
In 2009 we brought in a group of electricians as part of a worksite health promotion and trained them on the Cybex Arc Trainer for several months. During this time they reported decreases in joint pain, and body fat, while also commenting on increases in physical performance in worksite activities. What activities? Typical worksite activities included: walking, climbing (ladders and stairs), kneeling, lunging, carrying and lifting equipment overhead, etc.

In an effort to improve their ability to perform the hundreds of worksite activities, we agreed to put them on a functional power program on the Arc Trainer with the following two programs:

  1. Power Endurance:  4 sets of 4 minutes on 1 minute off at 120 strides per minute
  2. Maximal Power: 10 sets of 10-30 seconds on 90 seconds off working up to 150-170 strides per minute

In the Power Endurance (4 minute on 1 minute off) workout, the group was instructed to start off at an arbitrary resistance and then increase the resistance each set if they were able to maintain the 120 strides per minute pace.

In the Maximal Power workout, the group was instructed to start off with the maximum resistance they were able to tolerate in the first workout and steadily increase both pace and resistance until they were performing 20 second maximum effort ‘sprints’ on the Arc at a pace between 150 and 170 strides per minute with 90 seconds of recovery between each sprint. For more information on this study you can go to: http://www.cybexintl.com/education/.
The results were exactly what we were looking for, as the workers improved their ability to perform daily tasks with less discomfort and fatigue. The Arc Trainer provided a low impact, power based workout, which the group could undergo with very little supervision. Most power programs require weightlifting activities where form and progressive overload can take months to teach and perfect.
The low impact nature of this activity also provided an ideal training environment for those in the group with a history of knee and back pain. During the study, these individuals with a history of pain reported no discomfort during any of the workouts.
We have talked about the performance-based aspects of the Arc Trainer in the sport and fitness world in previous posts, but the Arc’s ability to improve the performance in daily activities is something that should hit home with all of us.

Scott Moody
Founder and CEO