One of the single best all-time equipment purchases I’ve ever made has been the Surge 360 Performance Trainer (formerly called the Powermax 360). Just like a functional cable stack, a good squat rack and copious amounts of free weights, the Surge 360 has found an irreplaceable home in my gym and it’s collecting miles at an alarming rate. It got me thinking as to why no other gyms, training studios or big box gyms I know of in my area have one…for the most part it’s because it’s new to market, it’s a reasonable financial investment and in my opinion, despite the decent number of videos out there on how it works or athletes working out on it…the message hasn’t been delivered as to the value of this type of training or this peice of equipment has from a gym owner or personal trainer/coach’s perspective. So I’ll step up to bat and tell you EXACTLY why you, your clients, your club and your membership is missing out if you don’t have a Surge 360. (and no, they didn’t pay me a dime to say that; well they did give me a free t-shirt, but I don’t work for that cheap; I simply LOVE the 360).
- PLUG & PLAY: East set up (less than 30 mins from packaging to workout; watch the instruction video); Incredibly easy to insert into programming, simply ask your client to have some fun for 20 seconds: they will teach you what this machine is best for (though I will have a 75-100 exercise video coming soon for what you can do on this beast of a machine); Indoor boot camps and group personal training: this is an easy, no frills, high intensity way to make your group competitive with others and themselves, you know when you’re not working hard on this piece plus it’s safe to teach someone quickly and be okay to turn your head away to ensure the rest of your clients are doing their exercises correctly!
- EVERYONE CAN USE IT: Hydraulic resistance means the harder you push, the harder the machine fights you. If you have a very strong client or fragile clients, it doesn’t matter; the resistance is based on what they can handle. It’s a simple question “from 1-10 how hard are you working?” Everyone tells me the machine is tough, but yet they all keep jumping on it to go for more.
- SPECIAL POPULATIONS & INJURIES: Warming up overweight, obese, injured, and third-age/elderly clients all present challenges. Be a better trainer: don’t put your overweight/obese clients on the floor to make them do a dynamic warm up (they feel self-conscious, insecure, silly and clumsy getting up and down enough as it is). Yes some things are best done from the floor, get those over with first and quickly, then finish their warm up on the 360. Elderly/third-age clients: it’s important you increase their core temperature before you do much else with them and the bike for 10mins pre workout is not going to cut it! Prep their joints better on this machine. Underweight/skinny clients often feel weak or stupid when presented with strength challenges or even free weight exercises where they have to use low weights (or can’t even lift a barbell), again, bring your client confidence, they’ll love when they CAN do on this piece. Most injured people (shoulders, low back, knees, hips, etc.) function best from the upright standing position, being mindful of explosiveness on this machine, even people with “bad shoulders” can do very well on this machine AND even improve their shoulder situation. If they were able to walk from their car to get into the gym, they’ll be okay to train on the 360!
- WARM UP: This machine has been the single best addition to my warm up sequences since I first learned about self myofascial release or dynamic stretching and mobility drills. 4-5 minutes (20 seconds per drill with 10 seconds rest between x 8-10 exercises) will increase your core temperature, will lubricate your joints (especially the shoulders), will prep you for all upper body exercises, will engage your core, will increase your energy and most likely improve your mood and workout mindset before you get to all your other exercises. If a client walks in late, bang, no problem, no need to skimp on their warm up. If a client walks in anxious, looks frustrated or had a bad day, guess what: don’t lay them on the floor to warm them up, mentally they are good to go, just flip the switch, get them moving on the 360 and work some of their frustration away so they can zoom into the workout at hand.
- LEARN GROUND FORCE PRODUCTION: “Put your space boots on!” Some people just don’t understand how to plant, root or ground themselves before performing exercises. I cannot overstate this: ground force or grounding oneself must ALWAYS precede “core engagement.” Don’t believe me? You had to lie in the right spot, stand in the right stance or width and have the right posture FIRST before you went to engage your core. Being able to produce toe to fingertip tension/grounding is VERY important in power production of any kind.
- INSTANT, THOUGHTLESS “CORE ENGAGEMENT”: Forget telling your clients to activate their core on this equipment, forget telling them to hold their pee mid-stream to activate their pelvic floor, forget hollowing, and forget relaxing/overreliance of the diaphragm, forget all of it. You just simply CANNOT use this machine without core engagement happening on its own. The harder you push, the harder your “core” will buckle down to help produce power/movement. Also for those of us with lordosis (anterior pelvis tilt based, excessive low back/lumbar spine curvature) where we really should be doing significant anterior core work to limit the problems with this posture, the sheer volume of anterior midsection based core work you get with this machine save you TONS of time instead of wasting it on questionable crunching exercises. Unique circumstances of clients with SI joint instability or sciatica pain, this machine is friendly to those who suffer from these terrible pains and one of the major cures to training these clients is to make their core more stable and strong but many exercises are simply not useable for this population; the Surge 360 is a wonderful tool for them.
- BALANCED SHOULDER GIRDLE TRAINING VOLUME: Everything in our lives happens in front of us. The insane usage of cell phones, driving, eating, couch based TV surfing, computing, and school work; let alone people with sit down jobs…EVERYTHING in life and in most sports happen in front of us. All good trainers know the posterior chain, the postural based back muscles, the rear shoulder complex, rotator cuff health, etc. is VERY important to maintaining shoulder joint and shoulder girdle health. With the 360 every single rep pushed, must be pulled back. 1 Push = 1 Pull. At worst, that’s equality to the shoulder girdle. Personally, I like to add 50-100 lazy push, aggressive rows to the end of my upper body training to bring back some balance to my life.
- ROTATION & ANTI-ROTATION: Rotation is a very important plane/pattern of movement. It’s difficult to get enough volume, safety and exercise variety in rotation based work. And what about the eccentric (think the down phase of a landmine/angled barbell rotation) of a rotation: that’s where most of the injury risk happens. What about a heavy medicine ball toss or slam against a wall? Every catch of the med ball means the spine has to deal with anti-lateral flexion (so they don’t fall over) at the same time as rotation which is where most low back injuries happen (lateral flexion + rotation; e.g. you bend to tie your shoe or pick up a pen and blew your back out for a week). There are no eccentrics to your rotation based training on the Surge 360. Lastly, if you want to hit core stiffness from an “anti-rotation” based force production, no problem, just lock the body down, ensure all movement from the midsection down is frozen and the core is fighting very hard to resist the urge to fall into rotation. Hey, I love my anti-rotation cable Pallof presses like every other trainer but this is simply a better way.
- POSITIVE/POSITIVE OR CONCENTRIC/CONCENTRIC ONLY RESISTANCE: It must be stated, again, the Surge 360 was not designed to replace any of your current training. The closest thing to this unique system would be an angled/landmine barbell (which has huge eccentric based injury risk or client fear). Postive/positive or concentric/concentric resistance means you only have the “up” phase to all your exercises. Some of you might say “well the eccentric is where most the muscle breakdown is happening so I’m not going to get huge muscles with this thing.” Probably true. For those of you familiar with how eccentric-less training (think Prowler, sleds, Treadsleds, rower machines) all add volume of repetition and muscle work to your training, quite simply this is pretty much the only, and definitely the best eccentric-less training tool. For athletes who can’t afford muscle soreness or stiffness, this device allows training to continue at a very high intensity without the need for further muscle breakdown and recovery. You get the volume or work required for consistent improvements in power and aesthetics (especially upper torso/arms) without taking away from your other training. The finishers you can do on this piece of equipment will quickly turn any meathead into a believer, especially when his shoulders hurt a lot less!
- INTENSITY & TRAINING DENSITY INCREASES: Trainers know that if I superset, triset, giant set, quadplex or create a circuit of exercises versus my client simply doing one exercise and resting right after it I am going to see much faster results out of my training. Doing more quality reps or muscle work volume in the same or shorter time frame is what you should be accomplishing with your clients. But not all forms of exercise allow that. You have to recover if you are expected to produce power. For example, you don’t ask your client (or yourself) to perform a 3 repetition max bench press, followed by a 6 rep max barbell bent over row and then demand they jump right back on the bench press and start immediately! Instead, throw them on the Surge 360, add in 30 seconds of chest flyes and rear delt flyes or double arm push-pulls. That’s another 15-45 reps for the back and chest that won’t require a ton of rest before getting back to the bench press. Everything from warm ups to work-rest drills to finishers on the Surge 360 all mean one thing: increased workout intensity!
- LEG-LESS CARDIO CONDITIONING: Think about it for a second: every cardio exercise from jump rope to running, to the stair climber to an Airdyne or spin bike to hill sprints to sled/Prowler training to burpees and wall balls or anything else you can come up with ALL require significant or entirely leg based work. But what if your client has a big game, race or event coming up, what if you are doing something where they don’t want their legs to be useless or sore or stiff for the next three days, what if you are supposed to heavily train your legs tomorrow…cardio conditioning up till now has pretty much always taken away from this. The Surge 360 brings in upper body emphasis cardio and muscular conditioning. I hate to tell you, the elliptical trainer just ain’t gonna cut it!
- SPORT SPECIFIC POWER PRODUCTION/MOVEMENT TRAINING: Finally, I’ve arrived at the last and final reason for owning a Surge 360. If you work with, train or are an athlete in any sport you know that sport specific drills can be hard to mimic (more like gimmick!) into anything that actually makes you a better athlete. For the most part, athletes should spend their gym time focusing on increasing muscle mass, improving strength, improving explosiveness, minimizing chances of injuries occurring (think pre or re-hab based drills) and working their body with serious intensity. Save the sport specific skills for practice and the game/fight! However, mimicking force production (be it left to right, toe to fingertip, and front to back or multi-directional) SHOULD be trained in the gym. The Surge 360 has incredible versatility for your sport. From MMA to Jiu Jitsu to Hockey to Football to Soccer to Golf to all sports with sticks, paddles or change of direction or rotation patterns…bring some creativity to your Surge and the payoff is huge! Lastly, competition based drills amongst team members (or hell, even husband versus wife!), on the 360, is where you see the fire light up in your athletes!
Check out this video where I lay out all of the above:
If you want one for yourself or your fitness facility give the guy who hooked me up, Paul Schrantz a call at (240) 447-0605 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Their website: surgept.com has tons of great stuff coming!
You’ll also be seeing a handful of specific warm up videos (upper, lower, core, injured/tweaky shoulders, full body workout, etc.) coming very soon AND I endeavor to create a 75-100 exercise video demonstrating 15 seconds or so of every exercise I’ve tested on this thing.