ARX And The Athlete

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Adaptive Resistance Exercise-ARX is leading market disruptive tech in the strength world. If you haven’t heard of ARXFit before, here’s a brief primer:

ARX is space age tech-literally-used by NASA to maintain strength and bone/connective tissue when gravity is nonexistent-rendering conventional weight training useless.

ARX is about maximal strength training in minimal time:  This high intensity, low volume training modality is facilitated via adaptive resistance exercise, or maximal strength isokinetic equipment.  The ARX technology allows for maximum overload of the muscles in key, compound and assistance movements-making necessary strength training available to your unique fitness level.

This is achieved via motor resistance which accommodates to the strength output of the individual so mitigate injury risk yet are achieving maximal resistance throughout the range of motion.  Whereas classical weight training is classified as force followed by momentum, ARX stimulates you throughout the range of motion. This isn’t to say we do not use conventional resistance training (quite the opposite), but we evolve and utilize ARX tech to complement sound exercise prescriptions.

Not Just Fitness

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To date, ARX has grown as a tool both in rehab settings for its safety and full ROM stimulation, as well as in the gen pop, for its obvious fitness benefits: Maximal results and minimal time investment. It’s almost like strength training that even those who hate lifting can get on board with. Furthermore, because the machine adapts to your force output, any fitness level-or fatigue level-can be reciprocated with an appropriate resistance.

Lastly, it cannot be overlooked how much it provides a dual threat stimulus of metabolic and mechanical stress. The former being the glycogen and fat (can vary) reserves it costs, as well as the ensuing hormonal cascade in the following recovery period. The latter is appropriate tissue damage that the body will have to recover from and rebuild-bigger, stronger, better.

I’m thankful to have access to it for these ‘fitness’ reasons, thanks to Ron Acevedo of Synergistic Strength & Recovery. Here’s the thing though-ARX is actually an untapped secret weapon in the world of strength & conditioning athletes. Why? Allow me to elaborate.

This is revolutionary for athletes because it allows us to microdose MAXIMAL strength training so that we can focus on other, individual components of athleticism-explosive strength, speed strength, strength speed, starting strength, accelerating strength, sports-specific movements, etc.

This is critical because even if you’re in a sport mainly played in other areas of the strength curve (i.e. basketball, MMA, baseball, etc.), you STILL need maximal strength to shore up strength deficits so that you can generate the appropriate mix of force and velocity for explosive feats.

What ARX does is allows us to lay these foundational bricks without overtaxing the athlete-this means less overall CNS cost, less DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), and thus more resources are available for sport specific needs. Lastly, it affords more time to be put towards recovery-an absolute gem of a benefit when most athletes are well-entrenched in some iteration of ‘overreaching’.

Case Study: MMA Fighter

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I’ve been working with Kona Oliveira of Bellator MMA throughout his fight camp as his nutritionist, health coach, and strength & conditioning coach. ARX has been a major value-adding tool in the process.

Of all sports, MMA (combat sports on the whole) tends to feature the most overreaching, particularly in camp. We’ve been able to appropriately deliver load thanks to some light athlete monitoring and sport science (I’ll talk nerdy to you on that another time) while acknowledging that health drives performance in our programming-they are not mutually exclusive enterprises. The simple breakdown is if you think of the systems biology at play (Russian Sport Science methodology and biopsychosocial models) and the summary of these systems as a joint bank account. We have caloric deficits, overreaching in training, sparring, blunt force trauma, excess time spent in fight/flight/freeze (fight in this case ;) ) and beyond-that’s a helluva lot of withdrawals without many deposits.

Thankfully ARX has allowed us to maintain maximal strength and maximal strength endurance without a heavy CNS cost nor prolonged delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). If you think of fight camp-or in-season for other sports-you can start to see how ARX fits into the S&C model quite nicely.

What’s more is that ARX’s built-in software has allowed us to quantify the fact that Kona’s maximal strength metrics are maintained. We also recruited ARX a little for the UFC’s Sheymon Moraes before his last win, but not enough for comparative analysis.

As a side bonus, ARX actually features some additional relevancy for MMA-anyone who’s ever seen a submission attempt/resistance battle or certain clinch work against the cage-can attest to this.

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MMA fighters can definitely encounter maximal strength and strength endurance in the cage-two things ARX can deliver, eliciting appropriate metabolic (mixed fuel oxidation), neural (one of them), and structural adaptations (one of them).


Could I train athletes without ARX? Of course. But does it make my life as a coach easier, while making the athlete healthier and perform better? You bet! Furthermore, it somewhat breaks the model by allowing me to concurrently build various performance pieces. Another question is how much time do you spend on ARX with athletes whose sports don’t feature maximal strength primarily? The answer is not much-but that’s the point-ARX can help grant us more time training skill work, sport-specific strength & conditioning, while simultaneously not further draining the athlete. This translates to healthier athletes, which translates to better performance.

We are absolutely still in the anecdata phase-I encourage other coaches with access to ARX to get out there and play with these concepts to see what you come up with. This is far from settled-I’m just lighting the fuse.

Matt Cooper1 Comment