More often than not, triathletes tend to overlook strength training. Most are lucky to get the required swim, bike and run workouts in, but strength work can be just as vital to a triathlete. Strength training can enhance body control, increase power, stave off injuries and mix up an otherwise dreary training existence to name a few benefits.
Now, whether you hit the traditional weights, go to crossfit or do a combination, there’s right ways and wrong ways to go about it. You don’t want to hit the weights so hard as to bulk up and lose flexibility if your goal is to improve your triathlon performance. You also don’t want to go too heavy and possibly injure yourself. There are many plans and variations that triathletes can find on the internet.
The other obstacle is getting a gym membership or buying home gym equipment. If you have children, then your weights and racks will be competing with doll houses and motorized jeeps for storage space. Some just can’t afford the gym membership just for the weight lifting component.
That’s where this review on the Surge Dynamic Fluid Resistance Training tool by Hedstrom (http://getthesurge.bosu.com) comes in to play. Its design and applications address a lot of tough questions faced by triathletes about space, price and proper workouts. We tried one out and read on to find out what we thought.
Packaging / Shelf Appeal / Marketing
We were sent the Surge in the mail, in an appropriate sized box and packed neatly and securely in the box with the directions and marketing materials. When looking online, the Surge is available in a few brick-and-mortar stores, but we have yet to see what they look like on the shelf. Pure speculation would be that it would sit on the shelf with the instructions attached to it without any other packaging since it’s a pretty big.
Form / Construction
The Surge is sturdy. As soon as you unbox it, you can see that it’s made from thick durable plastic and the last thing you will need to worry about is the device breaking or leaking. The opening for adding water is a heavy duty thread with a thick plastic cap that screws on securely with a water-proof seal. No worries about this leaking on your carpet or hard woods.
The marker lines for how much water to add to determine how much weight you are working in are permanently raised marks on the exterior of the surge. You won’t need to break out your science book to figure out how much water you need to add to get to 15 pounds.
On minor setback might be the seams on the exterior where the two parts of the Surge are fused together. It’s probably unavoidable during manufacturing. The seam is a little raised and can be rough and possibly snag on clothes or leave a nice scratch on your skin. The issue is readily solved with a little sandpaper, so no problem.
Another nice feature is the texture of the Surge. It’s not a truly smooth plastic cylinder, but rather a little grit is present so when you go to grab the Surge to move it or workout, it won’t just slip out of your hands. Speaking of getting your hands on the Surge, the handles are excellent. They are built in, so no protruding parts to catch on walls, doors, clothes or body parts while working out or transporting. It also makes storage easier with less space needed to account for handles that stick out. The design is also smart and has two different handle positions on opposite sides to allow for different hand grips to work different muscles. Hedstrom did their research.
The Surge is what we would call no frills. It doesn’t have a race car paint theme or neon colors. It comes in utilitarian grey-ish blue with the Surge logo. Wouldn’t you rather have a solid strength training tool at a lower cost than pay more for a slick paint job? Let’s be honest, you won’t be taking the Surge out on the town to show off at the bars.
When you see the Surge, it looks tough and functional. It begs you to pick it up and see what it’s all about. It’s not a sissy plastic cylinder, but rather a tough and rugged resistance trainer.
Fit / Function
We tried out the Surge with a variety of workouts that came on a DVD that accompanied the Surge and a few online videos produced and distributed on YouTube by various coaches.
At first, we were a little skeptical and only went with 15 pounds of water in the Surge. Honestly, can water in a plastic tube be that difficult? Yes. After 50 minutes of following instructional videos we were sweating, panting and shaking from muscle fatigue. The Surge makes you use stabilizer muscles you didn’t know you had and probably wouldn’t want to use unless you had too. Now, you get out as much as you put in. If you take a lot of breaks and don’t take it seriously, you won’t get much out of it much in the same way as traditional strength training. You have to stay active and try to keep it under control.
We got adventurous and added more water to get to 25 pounds and it was almost too much. As with any weight program, you can definitely add too much weight too soon and the Surge is no exception. If you have too much water in it, you can hurt yourself trying to accomplish the workouts.
The dynamic fluid resistance concept might be akin to pilates reformer work or exercises with low weight, high holding times. But, unlike movements just using body weight or smaller weights, the Surge adds in the dynamic component of water swishing around. There’s even movements were the objective is to get the water moving as fast as possible and then counteract the movement to stop it.
On the Surge site, they list the price direct from them at $179.99 and online it ranges from $179.99 to $199.99. That’s before tax and shipping. All bets are on that it’s most cost effective to buy direct from the Surge site.
When looking at other workout gear, such as TRX or kettlebells, you could spend $150 to $300 for a kettlebell set with different weight options and $200 to $250 for the TRX set. For $179.99 you can get the Surge which can be filled with varying volumes of water to achieve different weights and resistance levels. You don’t have the storage issues as with kettlebells and you don’t need to tie the Surge to the wall or ceiling like with TRX.
When we broke open the box for the Surge, we weren’t sure that a water filled tube would offer much resistance training. When performed properly, workouts with the Surge can be more than challenging. You will have to do some searching for movements if you are not creative enough to figure out moves of your own, like us. But, there are plenty of offerings on YouTube and the Surge comes with a DVD compilation of workouts.
The Surge isn’t cheap, but you get what you pay for. It is very sturdy and appears to be very quality construction.
For those looking for functional strength without needing a costly gym membership or space for racks and benches for free weights, the Surge could be a great option. All you need to do is pour in more water for more challenge and shake your way to getting stronger.
Writer’s Note – Surge sent a unit for this review for no charge and in no way influenced this review.
Ryan Falkenrath is devoted family man balancing faith, family, Triathlon Coaching and racing. He is a certified USAT Level 1 Triathlon coach (www.SetThePaceTriathlon.com) and has formally raced endurance events since 2001 from 5k’s to Ironman distance races.
Ryan is racing Ironman Chattanooga in 2014 to raise funds for Ride to Give and Mended Little Hearts. You can follow his adventure on Facebook at Tri for a Hand Up, give to his Fundrazr campaign (), read more of his writing at Endurance Sports Examiner follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan or email him at Ryan.Falkenrath@SetThePaceMedia.com.