One of the best ways to ensure that you’re going to keep up an exercise regime is to make sure that you can do that exercise anywhere. However, if you’re trying to build up muscle mass that can be difficult, as it’s not always possible to have a set of weights or machines at your location. Activ5 (starting at $139.90) is a palm-sized strength training device that works with a coaching app to let you work out anywhere.
How it works
Are you familiar with isometric exercise? Isometrics are a type of strength training where the joint angle and muscle length do not change during the exercise — in other words, you’re contracting a muscle without any visible movement. Activ5 is an example of unweighted isometrics, in which the exerciser uses only themselves for resistance. Holding a crouch works the lower body muscles without movement, and that’s a good example of unweighted isometrics.
Activ5 goes one step further to what’s referred to as Dynamic Tension training, where the exerciser is pressing body parts against each other. As an example, press your palms together as hard as you can and hold that for a while, and you’ll find that you’re getting a good arm workout. The Activ5 device measures the force that you’re exerting during a variety of dynamic tension isometric exercises, and has you vary the force by making a force “dot” in the app follow a curving path. Progress is indicated by much more force being exerted during a fixed-length workout. The “5” in Activ5 refers to 5—minute workouts that the app leads you through.
The Activ5 Device
The device itself is a small rounded shape (approximately 3.7 x 3..1 x 1.3 inches or 95 x 78 x 33 mm) tapering on one side and with a single power/pairing button and an LED on the other side. Weighing just 131 grams (4.6 ounces), the device is powered for six months by one user-replaceable AAA battery.
It measures force to within 1.4 lb + 5% of the applied force, meaning that if you’re applying 100 pounds of force to Activ5, it’s accurate to within 6.4 pounds. The force range measure is up to 200 lb (90kg) and the max load that can be placed on the device is 250 lb (110kg).
Activ5 has developed a special six-week program that coaches users through three five-minute workouts each day. The results by those who have completed the challenge are pretty incredible. The average participant:
Increased strength by an average of 30 percent
Generated 32 percent more muscle activity than doing squats
Generated 55 percent more muscle activity than indoor cycling
Generated 50 percent more muscle activity than a treadmill workout
63 percent of weight loss was body fat
Most participants took inches off of their waistlines
Of course, like any exercise program, you need to follow it religiously to see results. The good thing about Activ5 is that that small size makes it possible to take the device anywhere and do one of the three workouts when you have the time.
Hands-On With Activ5
Once again in my life, I’m trying to get into shape as too many years of eating well have taken their toll on both my weight and strength. I felt that Activ5 would be a perfect tool for me as I can take it with me on any of my frequent vacation trips.
After loading the companion app onto my iPhone, I registered the device and then turned it on. That’s done by holding the power button down for two seconds. A blue light started flashing, at which time I followed the simple pairing instructions in the app. The LED turned green, indicating that it was connected to the app. If you forget to turn off Activ5, it shuts off automatically after 7 minutes.
The device is positioned on your palm (for upper body exercises) with the thickest part of the Activ5 placed on the bottom of the palm. For other exercises, you might be holding the device between your feet or using one hand and a part of your body for resistance.
The device needs to be aware of your maximum power capability for each exercise — that means that the first time you go through a series of exercises, you actually have to start by pressing as hard as you can to set the max power number. Activ5 recommends resetting the device max power numbers every week as you get stronger.
There are over a hundred isometric exercises to select from, which is why it’s good that you have a choice! I used the app to find a set of exercises for older people (ahem…) to start off with; when I feel more confident with my abilities I may accept the Activ5 challenge.
While I won’t go through the details of every exercise performed, let’s just say that you definitely feel like you’re getting a workout. After my first day of exercises (doing it three times for five minutes each time), I felt some muscle soreness the next day.
Where Can You Get An Activ5?
The device is available both on Amazon and will soon be available at all Apple retail stores worldwide. After a limited release of Activ5 in some high-end stores, it became apparent that the device was so popular that Apple accepted it into all stores, including the online Apple retail store.
If you’re like me and don’t like the hassle or sweatiness of going to the gym every day, Activ5 is a great way to build strength and muscle tone absolutely anywhere. With a large variety of 5-minute workouts available, you’ll always have time to squeeze in a workout.