DOMS has become something of a buzzword in fitness of late. Once we all worked out what it meant (*clears throat and adopts authoritative tone* That’ll be Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. i.e. the fact that aches and pains usually kick in the day after, or the day after the day after, working out) we liked to name-drop it as often as possible. Or was that just me?
Anyway, we can shut up about it now, because there’s a new workout in town – Speedflex – that uses special exercise machines and promises no (or very little) muscle soreness following a session. Soz DOMS.
I was rather sceptical about this claim, so went down to try a Speedflex session in London’s Bank with some of my pals. I expected to be met with glorified weights machines but actually I was impressed – the Speedflex machines are really quite ingenious.
They use hydraulics, so that the more power you put into lifting a “weights” bar up, the harder the resistance coming back at you (so a weakling and a weight lifter could use the same machine, with no adjustments, and be equally challenged by it).
What’s more, because you’re not lifting weights as such (instead, you’re working against force) the bar will just sit at the top until you pull it back down. So, unlike normal weights machines, you don’t have a heavy load that you’re trying to stabilise on the downward part of the movement. Apparently, it’s the stress of that load that usually causes damage in muscles and pain the next day.
I’m sensing you’ve gone to sleep. Watch this little vid I took and it’ll all make sense to you…
The class we tried was a 45-minute HIIT style workout. We partnered up and worked our way around all the Speedflex machines in pairs, alternating between using the machine or doing mat work (crunches, planks, leg raises etc) for quick intervals. All the time we were wearing heart rate monitors and the heart rate zone we were working in was posted on a screen. No slacking.
The class was tough. The Speedflex machines are mystical creatures. Technically, you can lift the bar up with just a finger (remember the effort you put in equates to the toughness) but once you try and do it with any kind of enthusiasm, it’s seriously hard. We were dragging ourselves between the stations like moany teenagers in PE by the end.
But here’s the weird thing – the next I wasn’t sore. OK, I was sore. But only a little in my mid-section from all the crunches. My arms were a-OK. Basically, there wasn’t a single twinge I could blame on those machines.
Could this be the end of DOMS? Just maybe. Shame. I do love a buzzword…
VITALS: speedflex.com, @SpeedflexEurope. There are centres in London, Surrey, Leeds, Newcastle (oh, and Dallas and Dubai. Just in case).