Your high-intensity workout is about to go high-tech

“Training smarter could be the wave of the future,” according to this Wall Street Journal article, which includes comments from a biomedical engineer at Case Western Reserve University.

With gyms shut during the pandemic, the Journal notes, “people embraced Zoom workouts and turned to the great outdoors. Functional exercises to help move through daily life became more relevant than vanity exercises aimed at bulging biceps. Now the fitness industry is looking to offer technologies and strategies aimed at taking healthy workouts to the next level.”

Among the trends the Journal identifies: “you’ll embrace neuromuscular training,” “more of your apparel will be smart,” “not just any outdoor exercise venue will do,” and “AI will customize your workout.”

The CWRU biomedical engineer, Dhruv Seshadri, Ph.D., who specializes in wearables, is quoted in a section with the subheadline, “You’ll Track Your Muscle-Oxygen Levels.”

His prediction: Weekend warriors will gauge the intensity of their efforts with muscle-oxygen saturation levels in addition to heart rate.

From the piece:

Now, elite athletes use this technology in their training. But the equipment, which initially cost upward of $15,000 and was so bulky that athletes could only be monitored in labs, is becoming more accessible. How it works: Muscle-oxygen saturation indicates the balance between oxygen delivery and consumption in muscles. By attaching a sensor to a specific body part — say forearms for a climber or quads for a cyclist — athletes can see whether their muscle oxygen is stable, rising, or dropping.

Rising levels indicate they can push harder. Dropping levels signify a buildup of lactate in the muscles and can help them know when to dial back intensity and gauge how long they have before they hit the wall.

A Minnesota company called Moxy sells a matchbook-sized muscle oxygen sensor for $800. In addition to helping improve performance, “this type of data can be used as another tool to help mitigate soft-tissue injuries caused by overtraining and help people safely return to a sport or activity after an injury,” Seshadri tells the Journal.

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