The KATN® Strength Engine is a new piece of equipment that I have already found to be of great benefit to my athletes in their training sessions. The Strength Engine is a portable resistance trainer that can be used to develop strength and speed qualities. At first glance, it appears to be just another tool to add resistance to sprints, but I found that it offers much more.At first glance, the KATN Strength Engine appears to be just another tool to add resistance to sprints, but I found that it offers much more. Click To Tweet
The Strength Engine has been an asset due to its accessibility and versatility. These are the two key indicators I consider when buying new training equipment:
- It can be used virtually anywhere, traveling in a backpack, and it’s easy to set up and break down.
- It can be used in private or group training sessions with athletes of all levels.
While in use, KATN only takes up the space of the lane needed for the exercise; when not in use, it takes up virtually no room, and I store it under my desk.
The objective of this article is to dive into what the KATN Strength Engine is, how it’s worked for me, how I’ve found it compares to similar equipment, and finally, to show it off in action for you to see for yourself.
What Is the KATN Strength Engine?
The actual product is a small, orange, vented block with rope fed through it. The rope length can be customized and ranges from 50 to 150 feet, allowing you to select the appropriate size for your training space. The rope is stored on a spool, which makes setup and clean-up efficient.
The block has a turning mechanism that adjusts the amount of resistance given. This makes it quick and easy to adjust the resistance for different athletes or exercises. While not necessary, I wrote numbers on each corner of mine so I could be more exact with the tension provided and to make it easier to adjust when training multiple athletes.
How to Set Up the KATN
To set up the Strength Engine, you will need to use the anchor strap to lock down the block to a sturdy spot. Many facilities have anchor points in the walls or ground that can be used; if not, you can also anchor them to a heavy loaded sled. If outside, it’s easy to anchor it to a soccer or field goal post, and you can even anchor it to a car tire.
- Once anchored down, run the spool out until there is no more rope in it.
- When finished, you will be left with one long side of the rope and one short side where the exercise will be performed from.
- Then, take the spool and place it under the Strength Engine block. This will help with a smooth flow of resistance by supporting the block.
- Keep the rope lines straight and separate during training, ensuring an athlete doesn’t step on the rope.
How It’s Worked for Me
In the private sector, I work with a wide array of individuals with various needs. That is why it is essential to have versatile training equipment.
When considering how to lay out a training session, I want equipment that will make my life easier and benefit the athletes. Some things may look great on paper but aren’t optimal in the real world. Coaches must work within their own setting and reality.My biggest concern was that the Strength Engine would slow down my larger group sessions. Now I primarily use it in my group training sessions, and the flow remains excellent. Click To Tweet
At first, my biggest concern was that the Strength Engine would slow down my larger group sessions, leading to more headaches than help. Now I primarily use the Strength Engine in my group training sessions—up to around 10 athletes—and the flow remains excellent. While it is an effective training tool, a contributing factor to this efficiency was some front-end education and etiquette regarding the product. Teaching the athletes how to operate and adjust the tool has helped my sessions, and I think all training tools should be addressed in this manner.
In my larger group sessions, I have operated KATN in two ways. First, I keep a belt connected to each side of the rope the entire time.
- The athlete steps up and slides into the belt before performing the exercise.
- The other rope with the belt is pulled back to the starting spot for the next athlete.
- The process is repeated.
This works well, but the belt does create additional drag on the rope and can affect the resistance being given to the athlete performing the drill.
While this may not be a major issue, there is a second option if you’re just trying to get the group through the drill at a timely pace. Depending on how many belts you have, you could give each athlete their own belt or group them with another athlete to share.
We are fortunate to have several belts and can equip each athlete with their own, so the starting athlete walks up and hooks their belt to the end of the rope and performs the exercise. This drags back an empty rope to the start, which the next athlete will hook up to. Keeping the rope free allows the resistance to be a little more precise. Either method works well, and I have used both depending on the group.
I use the Strength Engine for several exercises but primarily with sprints and other movement exercises such as skips, bounds, and jumps. I find the easy-to-adjust resistance works best when training several athletes at once, and the resistance allows for fluid movement when performing rhythmic exercises like skips and bounds.
I apply it with my strength training sessions as well as incorporating overcoming isometrics and more traditional exercises like presses, pulls, and lunges. More movements will be demonstrated later in the article, but that is the bulk of my training with the Strength Engine.
How Does It Compare to Other Products?
While there are several other resistance-based sprint trainers on the market, I’ve found the accessibility portion to be what separates KATN from the crowd the most. I am biased, and the sled is my favorite training tool but carrying around a heavy sled to off-sites or fields is an inconvenience. If you’re at a facility that may not offer a lot of storage space, the Strength Engine can provide a solid alternative.
My training experience with other products is limited, so I do not want to speak about alternatives I haven’t personally used. I am only here to offer my experiences using the Strength Engine. You can make any decisions you like for what may be best for your specific situation, such as a Run Rocket, Vertimax Raptor, or EXER-GENIE.
I think future developments for the Strength Engine are where there will ultimately be more separation. Along with everything I have already mentioned, KATN also has a lifting platform and is in the process of offering a load cell with their product to test for force metrics when performing exercises.
This continues to add value to the accessibility and versatility of the Strength Engine. The lifting platform allows for a complete home gym setup where you can perform major compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, presses, and rows, along with the necessities of bicep curls, triceps extensions, and any other accessory movements you may find fit.
Video 1. KATN RDL.
Video 2. KATN SA overhead press.
I used the lifting platform to perform two sets of five reps of squats, and it was unlike any squat session I have ever trained. I was exhausted, but I didn’t have the usual wear and tear from a barbell. I don’t think this will replace the barbell, but it certainly offers you a different training option and greater training experience if you train from home or on the road.I don’t think this will replace the barbell, but it certainly offers you a different training option and greater training experience if you train from home or on the road. Click To Tweet
Video 3. KATN squat.
The addition of the load cell is a more affordable means of finding and utilizing data for those who may not have been able to in the past. The load cell attaches to the Strength Engine and is then synched through Bluetooth directly to your phone to a training app. The training app will allow you to monitor current and previous numbers from an entire selection of exercises and ones you can create.
Video 4. IMTP.
When examining the specific training metrics of an exercise, you can easily edit and isolate periods of that movement to better pinpoint peaks and eliminate unnecessary information. For someone like me who isn’t deeply involved with technology, this is useful to my coaching sessions—I don’t feel like I’m in a laboratory, stopping to look at data ever set.
Movement and speed training is where the Strength Engine gets the most reps at our facility. It is a great option due to the consistent, smooth application of the resistance.Movement and speed training is where the Strength Engine gets the most reps at our facility. It is a great option due to the constant, smooth application of the resistance. Click To Tweet
I prefer using the Strength Engine when adding resistance to skips and bounds. These exercises require fluidity and rhythm, and the steady give from the resistance allows the athletes to be powerful but not choppy and hesitant like you may find when they perform these exercises with a sled.
I still perform the standard progressions of skips, starting with marches and gradually working toward more dynamic means of power skips. When given even a little resistance, I find that the athletes can create faster and more forceful ground contacts, enhancing the movement.
Video 5. A progression from marches to skips.
Bounding helps teach athletes to be powerful and drive away from the ground upon contact. We perform straight or bent leg acceleration bounds within our program, and I highly recommend resisting with the Strength Engine instead of bands or sleds.
Video 6. Resisted bounds.
Multidirectional-based movements, such as lateral shuffles, runs, skips, and bounds, are great foundational movements that can be progressed through the Strength Engine. The additional resistance forces the athlete to drive with the appropriate edge of the foot and leads to higher intent for the movement.
Video 7. Lateral shuffles, backpedals, and other movements.
Without a doubt, the primary movement we perform with the Strength Engine is sprints. Resisted sprinting is a vital part of speed development for athletes, and the Strength Engine is a fantastic option to use in your sessions.
Video 8. Resisted sprints.
Piston sprints are essentially an athlete running in place, moving slowly upon each contact. A set may be five seconds in duration but only go 3 yards. Turn the resistance high on the Strength Engine and allow the athletes to be violent in their sprint. If they are covering too much ground, crank the resistance up.
Video 9. Piston sprints.
I love using the Strength Engine to perform jumps. The resistance forces the athletes to be powerful where it counts, focusing on driving away from the ground. And there is no elasticity with the Strength Engine, so there is no concern about athletes getting pulled back in like they can be with a band.There is no elasticity with the Strength Engine, so there is no concern about athletes getting pulled back in like they can be with a band. Click To Tweet
Video 10. Broad jumps.
Broad jumps are my go-to, and I often pair them with sprints (whether resisted or not). With the Strength Engine, you can perform single, double, triple, or continuous jumps. You can also begin working on other jumps, such as lateral jumps for a different stimulus and carryover.
Pogo jumps are another jumping exercise we perform with the Strength Engine. While pogo jumps are a more vertical-dominant exercise, the resistance allows the athlete to get some vertical height while loading the ankles and calves as they push down the field.
Video 11. Pogo jumps—I have athletes perform these with moderate resistance and cue my athletes for quick yet forceful ground contacts.
Sled exercises are a staple of my programming for strength and speed development. While not the same (I think sleds look cooler), the Strength Engine can be turned up to a heavy resistance and be an excellent alternative for performing these exercises. KATN has measured the Strength Engine up to 900 pounds of resistance, so it is safe to say that your athletes will not be too strong for it.
Video 12. “Sled”-style drag exercises.
Though I still use sleds often, I admit that just turning the Strength Engine to create a higher resistance is easier than loading a sled with several 45-pound plates. Any exercise you perform on a sled can be executed with the Strength Engine.
The ability to also use the Strength Engine as a means for strength training makes this product much more beneficial at our facility. The absence of an eccentric component works well for youth athletes just learning to perform basic movements—and it can be safer—while the load can still be made heavy enough to challenge your strongest athletes.The absence of an eccentric component works well for youth athletes just learning to perform basic movements, while the load can still be made heavy enough to challenge your strongest athletes. Click To Tweet
There are countless exercises and variations that you can use for the upper body, but here are some specific examples I have used in training.
Upper – Pulls
Video 13. Upper – pulls.
Upper – Press:
Video 14. Upper – press.
Upper – Accessory:
Video 15. Upper – accessory.
Lower – Lunges:
Video 16. Lower – lunges.
While almost every movement performed off the Strength Engine will require some lower-body strength or involvement, I did want to make a note about the use of the Strength Engine with lunges—turning the Strength Engine to a moderate to high load will help you overload the lower body in that unilateral, lowered position.
Using the Strength Engine to perform rotational exercises offers freedom and a different load than a band since the tension of the Strength Engine will be consistent throughout.
Video 17. Rotation.
There is no restriction here, but I have used it to perform standing rotations along with rotations coming from a press or row.
Isometrics is something I keep in my athletes’ programming year-round. I specifically use overcoming isometrics for potentiation, training strength in a specific joint angle, and even to cue proper body positioning for those learning.
You can set up the Strength Engine for overcoming isometrics by either setting the resistance level so high that it won’t move or simply stepping on the line so it ceases any drag.
When performing the isometrics, you can use the sled handle attachments or the belt to perform a variety of movements.
Video 18. Iso with sled attachment.
Video 19. Iso with a belt.
The KATN Strength Engine has been a welcome tool in my training programs. It allows me to successfully train large groups without hesitation and is versatile enough for me to be able to perform almost any exercise needed.
I would highly recommend giving this product a try, especially if you train offsite, away from a typical facility, or are just looking for a more accessible way to load and challenge your athletes.
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