This is a question that we are often posed here at AlterG.
People understand the benefits that the AlterG provides as far as unloading the lower extremity to provide relief after injuries or after surgery. They get that the unweighting can help people train with less impact and stress to their bodies, thus decreasing the likelihood of stress fractures and joint related injuries. But what they want to know, is are they going to get the same workout? Can they burn the same number of calories? Will it provide the same cardiovascular conditioning that overground training can?
Well, the answer to those questions are: yes, yes, and,….yes.
In an article by Grabowski and Kram, in the Journal of Applied Biomechanics (2008), they looked at the effects of weight support and velocity on ground reaction forces and metabolic power in running. Their conclusion was that in running with weight support, runners could reduce the ground reaction forces through their lower limbs, and thus the likelihood of associated lower extremity injuries. There is a slight decrease in the metabolic demands of running with weight support versus normal weight running, but by simply increasing running velocity, runners could compensate for the slight decrease and maintain aerobic stimulus in an unweighted environment.
The two variables that can be easily modified to try and elicit the same training effect as an overground session will be speed and duration. Some simple examples of how to manipulate these variables are:
1) To maintain training intensity and aerobic benefits, increase speed to achieve usual target heart rate. Use this new speed and workout for the same duration as you do in a normal full body weight situation.
2) If tracking caloric expenditure is more important, you can keep speed the same and increase the duration of your exercise until you have expended a similar amount as in a normal full body weight situation. Bear in mind that if your target heart rate is lower due to unweighting, you may not achieve the same aerobic benefits.
By allowing users to continue to elicit a training effect, in an environment with less impact, we are excited to see people achieve goals and succeed when they otherwise couldn’t. Users succeed because they’ve been able to train faster, train harder, and train healthier on the AlterG. By staying healthier, users are able to avoid the deconditioning effects that may accompany an injury.
So….people can continue to ask whether or not they will get the same workout on the AlterG. My response next time will be no. With the AlterG,…you’ll get a better one.
Please feel free to comment below on your workouts with the AlterG!
-Jacon Chun, MPT, SCS, ATC, CSCS