By Carl Valle
Coaches and medical professionals have developed some amazing solutions for the anatomical and physiological puzzles we encounter working with athletes. Recently, Christopher Glaeser, the founder of SimpliFaster, contacted me to construct an article on the 1080 Quantum and how to connect it to common training programs. With my earlier articles on the 1080 Sprint, such as the acceleration series on programming and benefits for both swimming and land sports, a Quantum summary sounded like a good idea. For years, I have had the privilege of trying out and experimenting with the best technology in the world, and the Quantum is the Formula 1 of resistance training.
The goal of this article is very straightforward: to introduce a training system that is very powerful, and explain what I like about it. Most of what I do are short 8- to 12-week experiments, so what I share is more first impressions and personal style than a framework of what you can do with the Quantum. It offers an exciting opportunity because it’s super versatile and collects data that matters. It’s been tested for both data integrity and performance by researchers, and is currently used by teams in both the NBA and NHL.
I was first exposed to the 1080 Quantum system at the NSCA conference in January 2016, and for about six months left it alone while I focused on the 1080 Sprint. Now, after a few months of learning about neuromuscular performance from modes of resistance, I can talk with far more accuracy about how the research and results connect.
An Argument for Bionic Resistance
We all likely remember a kinesiology class in college, or have read about muscle contractions at a superficial level. Knowing the differences between eccentric, concentric, and isometric forms of muscle action is interesting, but we are currently starting to understand that the details matter more than we think. In the past, I remember doing negatives as an athlete because of the bodybuilding concepts spilling over to athletic strength and conditioning, but now we are far more sophisticated with sports science. All of the key concepts in resistance are nothing new, but how they’re delivered has changed. I wrote a review on the training elements that helped establish a foundation on resistance types, but this article moves from foundation to high-rise.
Resistance is about force, not just gravity and mass. While we live in a world that is terrestrial, sometimes it’s worth applying resources to go beyond gravity. The promise of the Quantum, and its Syncro option (more on that system later), is that resistance is created and controlled by the technology and sensors of the equipment. Without oversimplifying too much, the electric servomotors can put out a lot of torque, but the sensors ensure the forces are exactly the right amount at the right velocity and mode. In the past, velocity-based training (VBT) measured speed of the barbell; now it’s a focus on injecting the adaptation parameters into the contraction of the muscle and then showing the data. As a lover of Olympic lifts and conventional training, I was indeed suspicious until I read the research thoroughly and merged what I normally do with the extra firepower of the Quantum.
“The amount of customization was not radical or revolutionary, but it was still in a class by itself.”
The Quantum, based on the information guide from the company, provides five resistance modes, plus several settings to modify them. Here are the modes available and their purposes listed from the brochure.
- Iso-inertial – emulate conventional weight cable stack resistance.
- Isotonic – constant resistance over the repetition.
- Isokinetic – constant speed for optimal force development and time under tension.
- Variable inertia – resistance and inertia when you need it. Perfect for power, ballistic, and high-velocity training.
- Vibration – different amplitudes at 25 Hz.
When I saw this, I simply said to myself I have five times as much testing to do, but the ability to customize the loading of the repetition via the settings increased this even further. The amount of customization was not radical or revolutionary, but it was still in a class by itself. It was exciting to be part of a small but growing community that was accessing something of this caliber.
A Quick Primer on Mounting Points
One area that quickly sparks questions is the use of vests and belts to mount cable-guided resistance. Most of us are comfortable loading athletes vertically, meaning we use gravity to load versus gravity and additional vectors. Instead of making things complicated by explaining resultant forces and then hoping to create a conclusion about transfer, the fair idea is to show how coaches can add value to what we are comfortable with. I have done some muscle activation (EMG) experiments on the exercises, but the benefit of using the 1080 line is to challenge the athlete instead of selectively trying to slice the precision too much. Remember that most adaptations don’t compound over time like we want them to, but some actually act like an investment.
Belt Harness: The Center of Mass (COM) is roughly the belt line of athletes, most of the time. The COM changes in certain activities, but that detail is minutia when you are trying to do basic activities like sprinting, lateral agility, and some rehab movements. Using a belt allows coaches to have athletes manipulate another implement with their hands or use total body motions to get even more work done in some exercises.
Chest Vest: I have talked about weighted vests, where the load is distributed around the torso as a comfortable option to artificially create a hyper-gravity load. Vests do add additional strain to the torso muscle, like the oblique systems and spinal erectors, and must be considered when training athletes. The ring attachments with the 1080’s vest are extensive, and can load at nearly any direction. What I like about the vest is that it’s a smart solution to assist motion, not just overload it. Many compromised athletes, as well as those fresh from surgery, need a consistent and objective assistance versus manual support.
Ankle Cuff: There’s nothing new with ankle cuffs, as many distal loading ideas can help athletes challenge the hip without using heavy loads. The ankle cuff is also a creative way to load the legs when the foot is injured, so it’s sometimes OK to do more isolation or workaround training when the body is banged up. Some third-party options with ankle cuffs are more geared to load around the foot, so an athlete can do reverse leg presses if needed.
Handle Options: Simple unilateral handles, ropes, and bars are typical with any cable option. When using the Syncro, coaches can technically take advantage of the 5 meters of line and use two column movements, but the reality is bilateral work should be left to barbell work when possible for space efficiency. Single arm actions are often seen as ways to help manage beaten-up joints from the shoulder down to the elbow and wrist.
Third-Party Accessories: Many of us have fallen in love with specialized handles and other types of accessories for cable equipment or similar. The great news is that the ecosystem of inventors in the iron game should see the 1080 Quantum and Quantum Syncro as another opportunity to service. Great equipment should be rewarded, and a mixed environment is not a problem, but an opening for both the smaller and larger companies.
It’s obvious the versatility of the Quantum expands as more tweaks to mounting are used. Variety without purpose is sometimes ineffective randomness, so it’s better to vary the load to remove staleness without changing exercises that work timelessly. The use of different mounting points was not something that I put a lot of time into because we tend to recycle and repurpose exercises we like versus exercises that may be slightly better for our goals.
How I Selected the Exercises
I had mixed feelings about writing an article on training equipment and suggestions because many readers might think it was a “top exercises for athletes” piece or something similar. Instead, the purpose is to bridge the gap between man and machine in order to illustrate how the Quantum works, and to use exercises we are comfortable with to help understand the resistance modes and features of the system. This is in no way a catalog of exercises, as that would be a YouTube channel or company poster. The exercises used simply explain the concepts of what can be done, and they just scratch the surface.
Sotts and Pallof Presses
I first met John Pallof in December 2007, and simply loved his presentation on the athletic shoulder. To me, he was aggressive yet very conservative, and his core exercise—the Pallof press—exploded that year to become a staple in nearly everyone’s program. The same year, I learned the details of the Sotts press, as I was not in favor of behind-the-shoulder pressing with most athletes. Like the behind- the-neck lat pull-down exercise, I felt the Sotts press simply didn’t jive with most athletes outside of weightlifters.
Both pressing exercises evolved, with the Sotts press transforming to a cable option and the Pallof press becoming an array of options such as vertical, as well as horizontal, pressing. Adding the Quantum is like injecting nitro into what we are all comfortable with: traditional barbell or cable exercises. Now the setting adds necessary challenges to two partly isometric movements.
Video 1. The horizontal option of the Pallof press with vibration is the perfect combination of bracing rapidly. Bursts of vibration really do a great job adding variety in training but with a purpose.
Video 2. The vertical option of the Pallof press is great for those trying to gain range of motion back after a long season. Vibration is perfect for the GPP when athletes need something to wake them up.
Take a conventional exercise and add vibration to it, and it becomes a high-frequency stabilization tool. The vibration setting adds a rapid “pulse” at a fast rate that really challenges athletes. Vertical options are also possible, but you must be careful with the overhead option, as the exercise is a different animal when you add vibration.
The Sotts press is interesting when it’s used for both assistance and resistance, but I believe its purpose is to challenge the upper back and the mobility of the shoulder joint. Athletes can use a vest option and press it with dumbbells for less-demanding strain, or use the cable for more aggressive work with the handles.
Video 3. Overhead squatting and pressing is very challenging with the Quantum. Coaches can also have the vector from the Quantum come from the front or back to help with those that need to bias their center of mass behind them or closer to their toes.
I have seen someone add functional EMS to leverage the isometric squat component of the exercise, but that is a lot to juggle when you have so much going on. I like the fact that both the Pallof and Sotts presses use a squat position; any time an athlete squats during an exercise it reinforces good mechanics.
Supramaximal Eccentric Squats
I am a big fan of flywheel options but my concern is that most trainers believe that the overload from the concentric pushing of the device creates a bigger eccentric response. Again, a flywheel redirects momentum; it doesn’t amplify the force transmitted through it. With the Syncro, the overload is indeed “supramaximal” and it’s perfect for the advanced athlete who needs something special.Using the Quantum Syncro provides actual velocity-specific eccentric work that is precise & safe. Click To Tweet
Eccentric work with squats sounds dangerous, or is often thought of as tempo work with long lowering times instead of extreme overload. I believe that using the Syncro provides actual velocity-specific eccentric work that is precise and safe. Eccentric training with the 1080 Quantum can be set so it has the same feel as regular weights, but with some guidance due to the construction of the equipment.
Video 4. Coaches get confused on understanding the difference between flywheel peak eccentric forces and true eccentric overload. The Syncro can deliver true overload beyond the concentric weight for a massive stimulus.
Video 5. Vectors can be at nearly any angle, so forward and downward forces are excellent for athletes needing to prepare for those specific patterns. Conversely, upward and behind assistance is great for those needing help, such as senior populations.
Video 6. Split jumps can be enhanced with the Quantum, as the eccentric phase can be modulated with just a touch of the screen. Instant feedback is also convenient as large displays are perfect for real-time management of fatigue.
Bilateral squats are a staple, but the Quantum is agnostic to methodology and training preferences. Therefore, other exercises can be used, such as split and single leg options. Isokinetic squatting and eccentric overload are possible for those wanting something truly innovative, but the coach should be fully comfortable knowing how to apply different resistance modes. I am confident that the triphasic crowd will jump on the Syncro as it proliferates in the college space and pro side.
Loaded UltraSlide Options
Slideboards have been around for years—longer, likely, than most of the athletes we are training. I think this is a really creative way to use the Quantum with athletes that do slideboard work. Many options to add resistance laterally with the horizontal plane exist, such as using a pure parallel force or something angled lower to get more of a vertical component to the equation. Users can mount to the torso or hip, thus changing the muscle recruitment slightly and manipulating the eccentric component.
So many options exist that the possibilities are near endless, but perhaps the best part is the quantification of the forces and power. Most of the time, people see slideboard training as a conditioning tool, but the reality is it’s more of a power endurance option and exercise modification solution for closed chain exercises like lunges and other body movements. Combining simple heart rate monitoring and power management with the Quantum adds a lot of resolution to all athletes, not just hockey or speed skaters.
Video 7. The 1080 Sprint is similar to the Quantum and the use of resistance with slideboards is a great way to increase specific lateral power. Coaches can manipulate the length of the board, as well as the type of resistance, for highly effective training.
Some other options are unknown, like loading down lower at the ankle with a cuff and focusing on positional stability of the free leg, rather than simple overload of the body. An essential point is that the Quantum’s resistance is more intelligent and unique than jerky cords and other options. The clean resistance creates a nice way to overload without forcing something for the sake of variety.
Power Jumps and Stiffness Hops
I shared the fact that the 1080 Sprint could help create simple overload horizontally with my article on agility. The Quantum can do the same, but has far more options than the Sprint, because that is more of a linear speed tool. Several customizations with pulley systems on the ground or ceiling can add a lot of interesting effects, but jumping in place is a great way to get athletes used to landing with quality movement before moving on to locomotive-style jumping activities.
Two key exercises that the Quantum makes interesting are extended power jumps and medial or lateral stiffness hops. The Quantum measures each jump or hop so it’s easy to do feedback after each set. The angles and attachment sites also make loading very thorough and you can modify the resistance settings for a change or specific need.
Video 8. Single leg hops with horizontal loading can create unique muscular responses. Hops can be lateral or medial, and be done with various settings on the Quantum.
Small subtle loading options can be resistance or assistance—either direction. I wrote about stiffness hops with my plyometric article, but with a 1080 Quantum the loading can be multi-directional if the athlete uses a vest attached in front or behind them.
Video 9. Bilateral jumps with the Quantum pulley under the athlete can create various contractions that are unique, such as loading the concentric phase of the jump. Unloaded jumps can be done for those working with return-to-play athletes after surgery.
Power jumps are a little bit of a misnomer because the goal is to improve overall power, not express peak or average power. I don’t believe in an optimal load, just maximum technique, and I find long response-style jumps a great way to prepare for more reactive work later. What is great about the Quantum is that fatigue patterns are seen live on the tablet, as the power jumps are less stressful than depth jumps, and this can help challenge an athlete without overloading joints.
Modern Nordic Hamstring Curls
Two ideas I like are the assisted and the resisted isometric cable Nordics for coaches who work with athletes in the off-season. With the Nordbord having a lot of interest, athletes are heavily influenced to rehearse or prepare for pre-season testing. The Quantum is not a replacement for testing, but it’s a great way to leverage the cable assistance and resistance using the vest or belt.
By attaching the system above and behind the athlete, the adjustment is unweighting the movement slightly so they can get more instruction opportunity without too much eccentric overload. Attached in front, the load is greater than the weight of the body, and is great for isometrics at specific joint angles. Again, I am a big fan of RDLs and curious about the isokinetic hamstring slides shown online, but this is a way to progress systematically to the popular Nordic hamstring curl.
Video 10. Using the vest for lowering and coming back up with different assistance percentages makes rehabilitation far more precise when every session matters. Here the loading is greater coming up than being lowered, thus providing a true eccentric overload.
Many athletes who don’t have hamstring strength find Nordics uncomfortable and too demanding. Without enough time for regression work, such as the prerequisite torso exercises, Nordics are often dropped in favor of other options. Full-range unweighted options are excellent, as the strain behind the knee isn’t as high and the athlete simply has more practice.
Isometrics are great early options and allow for a less-obtuse angle to the knee, as well as single leg options if elevated. I do believe in the testing with the Nordbord, but athletes, especially in soccer, don’t seem to love the exercise. The 1080 Quantum seems to be the best way I know to allow for more precision in the exercise outside of the Nordbord and features several ways to challenge the athlete. I have not tried using a GHR (glute-ham raise), but I’m sure by the time this is published the option will be experimented with.
Experiment and Share With the Community
The above ideas are just the tip of the iceberg, and I am not too proud to say that I may not have been the first to create the exercises. However, I can say I was the first to publicly put my stamp of approval on them. Coaches and therapists can use resistance modes and methodology to enhance conventional training, or just rethink everything and start from scratch with the Quantum from the ground up. I am not creative enough to start anew, so what I shared are my thoughts coming from what I have learned. I urge the community to go beyond what I have explained.