The Helix Recumbent, Demographics and Science

At the IHRSA 2017 Trade Show, Helix® introduced its revolutionary Helix® Recumbent, thereby also unveiling an entirely new category of fitness – Recumbent Lateral Training. This groundbreaking advance in fitness training focusses on two outcomes and one very large demographic: building lateral strength & increasing stability for everyone.

Many of you know Helix® as the company that created the category of cardio machine-based lateral trainers and, if you’ve tried one, you understand that it’s a pretty cool product. By moving beyond linear forward-and-back motion to incorporate lateral, multi-plane movement, Helix® training results in significantly greater muscle activation in about 2/3 of your body.

Because of this remarkable effectiveness at muscle activation, however, workouts on upright Helix® models are inherently more intense than certain classes of users desire. For example, deconditioned users, users recovering from injury, seniors and even some mainstream gym members have found Helix® training to be an intense, albeit low impact, workout.

Enter the Helix® Recumbent Trainer, designed to provide smooth recumbent training that captures the signature Helix® benefits of significantly greater lower-body muscle activation while providing users more control over pace, intensity and comfort.

In simplified terms, the basic principle behind the Helix® Recumbent is that more lower-body muscles need to be activated to increase lateral strength & stability. This has been accomplished by designing a recumbent cardio machine that, unlike all other recumbent options, provides lateral, multi-plane movement.

Lateral Strength Specifically, the Helix® Recumbent effectively engages the Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Maximus, Vatsus Lateralis, and all quadrants of the Quadriceps. This glute engagement has multiple fitness impacts across essentially all demographics:

  • For all levels of athlete – backyard, high school, college and elite – it creates both linear/lateral power and speed
  • For average gym members, it provides superior training of the entire lower body at a greater metabolic cost (i.e., burns more calories) than other recumbent options plus, of course, it firms, strengthens & defines the entire lower body
  • For all populations, it contributes to stabilizing the knees, making it a no-impact alternative for rehab and senior clients

While the power, speed, cardio & metabolic benefits are highly correlated to those of the Helix® upright machines, the potential contribution of the less-intensive Helix® Recumbent during rehabilitation of lower body injuries is particularly promising. During early testing, one expert found that ACL rehab patients exhibited measurably more glute firing while using the Helix®, even when at the lowest possible resistance. The medial glute plays a significant role in gait integrity when the knee is unstable.

This result is consistent with on-going studies involving the upright Helix®. In one such instance a Helix® associate, Dr. Cyd Charisse Williams, has developed an advanced rehab protocol for ACL reconstruction patients. She now has 37 case studies of athletes she has rehabbed returning to competition in as little as 3 months, without re-injury. She is now lecturing at universities and symposiums about this protocol.

recumbent user

Stability The muscle group providing the benefits listed above is also most responsible for providing lateral stability, i.e., the glutes. Stated differently, lateral strength in these muscles equals lateral stability, a benefit of particular importance to seniors who constitute the population most at-risk from falls and fall-related injuries. The Department of Physical Therapy & Human Movement Sciences at Northwestern University had these observations:

“An impaired ability to control postural balance stability in the lateral plane of motion appears to be particularly relevant to the problem of falling among older people. Moreover, falls often involve lateral body motion, and hip fractures occur most frequently in association with lateral falls.
“Further, atrophy of the gluteus medius is an independent risk factor for hip fractures resulting from falls. Specific attention to intervention strategies focused on the problem of lateral instability has not been forthcoming.”

Improving lateral stability is the single biggest factor in fall prevention, yet traditional cardio fitness modalities – recumbent or upright – do virtually nothing to enhance lateral stability.

In a defining study on the Helix® Recumbent, deconditioned seniors went through a Side Step Study (testing strength & lateral stability to successfully execute a side step, thus reducing the risk of falling). In just 4 months of using the Helix®, these seniors, ranging in age from 73 to 93, improved their power factor an average of 54%, with several showing improvements in excess of 100%!

The outcomes provided by the Helix® Recumbent unquestionably break entirely new ground in the recumbent fitness market – but the most exciting aspect of this revolutionary machine is the breadth of user populations that will benefit. Truly revolutionary.