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View Full Version : Why does the Bullworker hurt?


ShrinkingGuy
02-11-2009, 09:52 AM
I can use Zass chains, Autoflex, and static contractions all day long, but when I put a bullworker in the mix is always goes right for the tennis elbow. I have tried them off and on for over 20 years, and it's always the same story. What is it about the Bullworker that attacks tendons? It is attractive to me because on the face of it, it really SEEMS to line up with my beliefs about working out...

isorez
02-11-2009, 10:05 AM
DId you warm up a bit before you used the BW?
John has posted a few times regarding this, I think it may have something to do with the spring compression being forced back into the limb. With free hand isos, or isos that are static using something adjustable, you can hit a muscle from different angles and control it a bit more because there is the absence of a reverse force.
I'm just guessing here at this, but this is what I think I remember being posted in the past.
That being said, as long as you don't OVERDUE it and attack the spring's energy right off the bat, an ease into it regarding the effort, I don't see why a device like this can't be used in the mix with other isos that you might be doing. Just take it easy and use smarts when doing it. The BW is nice becasue you can effectively see a range of imporvement, too, if you want to use it for some feedback now and then to test strength gains form free handed isos, too.

John Peterson
02-11-2009, 10:38 AM
Hey Shrinking Guy,

I fully understand where you are coming from with regard to this but let me just say that I personally could not care less about why a Bullworker causes tendinitis pain at all. The point is THAT IT DOES.


Example: A few years ago a friend of mine brought a Bullworker over to my office and asked me to close it all the way with my arms in front of me. I did and held it closed for a few seconds. BUT the next day I had the mother of all tendinitis. PAIN!!!! And I could not fully straighten my arms for several days. (needless to say, that was very, very stupid of me to do that)

Bottomline: I have known many, many men that have had Bullworkers over the years. In fact my friend Dave Cody had one years and years ago called a Tenso-lator(same exact product before it was called a BullWorker) that was one very sturdy well made piece of equipment. BUT every guy that I ever knew that tried to use a Bullworker type of unit on a daily basis ran into tendinitis problems. NO EXCEPTIONS. I don't recommend a BullWorker for training at all. Instead, I recommend that it be used as it was originally intended to be used by Hettinger and Mueller for testing Isometric Strength increases once each week. But that's it. Naturally, there may be some rare people that can train with it without experiencing tendinitis. But I am certain that such people are very few and very far between.

---John Peterson

tom
02-11-2009, 11:37 AM
Simple. It hurts because it is trying to tell you to not use it.

The trouble with my logic, though, is that pull-ups are telling me the same thing right now.

Tom

John Peterson
02-11-2009, 01:28 PM
Hey Tom,

If Pull-Ups beat you up there are plenty of other exercises that activate the same muscle structures so don't hesitate to stop performing Pull-Ups if they don't work for you.

---John Peterson

Andy62
02-11-2009, 01:29 PM
The problem with the Bullworker is the "retroforce" created by the spring fighting back against the primary resistance.

tom
02-11-2009, 01:32 PM
If Pull-Ups beat you up there are plenty of other exercises

Yeah, you're right, but they're not as impressive for bragging. Darn.

Tom

Mitch
02-11-2009, 02:32 PM
Hey Tom,

Try doing chin ups instead, from time to time I get tendotis in my elbow's and have to do chin ups. This does not seem to bother my elbow's as much. Also do them only 1 or 2 days a week, this seems to help me.

GB
02-11-2009, 03:09 PM
ShrinkingGuy,

You mentioned the Auto-flex is it the one that Tony Holland used / promoted? If so do you have one of the originals? How do you use it, follow a program or improvise?

The base to my Minute a Day iso-sizer is similar Toni’s Auto-Flex. I have made several make shift Auto-flex’s and recently have been thinking of making another. It’s great for a change but will never replace the Classic isometric contractions in IPR and it will come in second to John’s iso-sizer when it hits the market.

GB

ShrinkingGuy
02-11-2009, 04:26 PM
I wish I had an original Auto-flex. Mine is a hand-made knock-off.

I made mine out of steel pipe and alenwrench adjustable elbow and T-joints. Mine is longer, has more hand positions, and is padded on the ends so you can rest it agains your abdomen or hip for a contraction with a fair degree of comfort.

John Peterson
02-11-2009, 05:08 PM
hey jayjay 6631,

There is no advantage to a Bully Extreme over any other Bullworker type of product. Both have exactly the same function and both can give you the mother of all tendinitis.

---John Peterson

gruntbrain
02-11-2009, 05:41 PM
The BW is a decent tool. Since I'm guessing the pain comes from pulling moves, just perform pushing moves. I like the resulting ab contraction from push down on the BW. Another less harmful way to use the BW is to just perform static pushing &/or pulling contractions

ShrinkingGuy
02-11-2009, 08:02 PM
John thanks. Your ability to cut to the heart of it is a boon to the community. If it hurts that many guys who try using it daily then I know it isn't something stupid I have been doing. I have my dad's old green handled model, with the amber cables. I will keep it of course, but only to threaten the neighborhood children with...

Gruntbrain, I am not sure what gives me the problem. I pull and press on my Zass chains, and Auto-Flex in exactly the same holds as are possible with a bullworker, sans a spring and isotonic motion. I really thought with the months of doing those exact holds, I would be fine. Nope. Less than a week and I have a brace on my forearm. Blast!

Well now I know, the device doesn't like me, and pre-conditioning is of no benefit. I have to say I absolutely LOVE being able to do a standing "crunch". How handy is that? Still, with such good results from classic contractions and DVR, no great loss, other than the down time from the sore elbow/forearm....

gruntbrain
02-12-2009, 08:16 AM
The BW is a nice "companion" when walking the mean streets; no one messes with ya as you swing it

kelbiz
02-13-2009, 03:40 PM
It just may be trying too hard. The instructions to these type of apparatus say to use 2/3 of your total strength. Since this isn't really all that taxing, one just might feel the need to give it a little extra.

I bought the old brown handle model (It is still working - my dad uses it) around 1981 when my son was an infant and I stopped going to the gym. I wanted to spend time with my wife and son so I looked at different ways to work out. The Bullworker helped me increase my definition greatly. I followed the instructions to the letter and have never had any pain in tendons or ligaments.

Disclaimer: As far as exercise goes, I just may be blessed genetically as ANY type of program I have used (free weights, Soloflex, Total Gym, Bullworker and P.I.T.Bull, and of course the Atlas course and Transformetrics) has proved beneficial to me. Really, and I am not bragging since you cannot 'bluff' what God has given you, whatever I do works. More appropriately, following a proven course of success will bring successful results. There's no mystery to a lot of what we do, it's just sticking to the program!

I also regret not purchasing the Atlas course way back then as the advertisements were still running and remember seeing them. I would have saved a ton of money on weights and other items.

Jack

u2canshare
03-13-2009, 04:04 PM
Interesting theory… when I do too many pull-ups, my elbows hurt. Not 1-5, but 7-10.
When the negative force exceeds a certain level (push back or gravity) pain may result.

If I do an isometric push against a wall, no pain no matter how hard I push. If I push against my own hands, a retro force is established and if I exceed a certain level of exertion, the pain starts. On a mini-bullworker there is a sitting routine where multiple repetitions with no emphasis on resistance levels is called resilience training. It is an excellent toning and flexibility routine. There is no pain in my elbows. When I attempt the endurance training, which is the same movement but with harder compressions, pain is now experienced. To no surprise, the endurance training did not last long.

From these three examples (pull-ups, hand presses & spring/elastic band recoil) it appears there is a point where any form of negative resistance/force can produce inflammation of the joints. Using the spring as the measuring point, one could determine the pounds per resistance level that crosses the line producing the pain. As one does not do repetition on the hand press, it is definitely negative force kick back. As for the pull-ups, it is aggravated by the fatigued factor from the total number of reps performed, as my biceps feel great, the more reps the better the biceps feel.

A Bullworker device may tempt the user to exceed their limits; resulting in pain, but many of the Atlas exercises produced “returning” force that is just the same as the spring recoil.

A pound of negative force resistance is still a pound of negative force resistance, whether it is flesh or steel, and when one exceeds a certain level of either, elbows hurt.

John Peterson
03-13-2009, 06:06 PM
hello U2canshare,

That was a very well reasoned response. Thanks or posting it and welcome to the forum.

---John Peterson

JoeJustice
02-17-2010, 06:36 AM
tedster,

You're thinking of Newton's third law of motion; to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Pushing a wall mean the wall is pushing back with equal force. Stop pushing and the wall stop pushing.

Weights and bullworkers do not work this way, they have outside forces effecting them; gravity and springs. Push a barbell up into the air, when you stop pushing it doesn't simply float there. Pull a bullworker apart, when you stop, it doesn't stay open.

-Joe

blackbelt
02-17-2010, 07:57 AM
IAutoflex

Ok, what is an "Autoflex"?

I'm curious if nothing else.

GREGL
02-17-2010, 10:57 AM
Weights and bullworkers do not work this way, they have outside forces effecting them; gravity and springs. Push a barbell up into the air, when you stop pushing it doesn't simply float there. Pull a bullworker apart, when you stop, it doesn't stay open.

Joe

You hit it right on the head, in my opinion. I have never had a problem with regular Isometrics, but with both the Bullworker and with the infamous weight held static contractions, I experienced tendonitis. The problem is that after holding the weight, or contracting the Bullworker your muscles are spent and you are forced to off load under extreme tension, that you can no longer properly handle, therby compromising your tendons. With regular Iso's the offloading is done with zero tension.

GregL

JoeJustice
02-17-2010, 01:33 PM
Or you could just not use a bullworker.

-Joe

ShrinkingGuy
02-17-2010, 01:59 PM
Yeah Joe that is the option I went for.

There are very few things that the bullworker does that you can't do better and with less pain with the IsoBelt. You can also hit maximum contraction at more angles with the belt.

And the few things that you can't do with the belt, (like pushing type holds behind the back) you could use a hard-cover book, or a power-flex.

Blackbelt,
The Autoflex was an isometric workout device that was popular in Europe in the mid 70's. Particularly in the U.K. It looks like a trombone without the horn flair at the end. It is looped brass with an inner loop to give various positions and angles for static holds to isolate single muscles at a time. It is a very "Maxalding-ish" type of workout.

Here is a link: http://www.maxalding.co.uk/holland/hollandcourse/autoflex/course.htm

My copy of this course has about twice as many pages as you will find on this webpage.

EDIT: Oh I think I found some of the missing material. Some good demonstration pics here:
http://www.maxalding.co.uk/holland/hollandcourse/autoflex/portfolio.htm

JoeJustice
02-17-2010, 02:31 PM
Tedster, John calls the "push back" retroforce.

Let's take a look at pressing a 50lbs barbell over your head. It's gravity that exerting the force, gravity pushing the object down. (Incidentally, gravity does push, not pull) In the positive movement you are pushing with more than 50lbs of force in order to counteract gravity. In the negative, you're pushing with less than 50lbs of force.

The entire time 50lbs of force is being exerted on your body. The entire time, you 're exerting some amount of force. That constant force is the retroforce. If you're going all out on the positive portion of any given exercise that has retorforce, then yes, it's going to cause injury

With an isometric against a static object, once you're stop pressing then you're no longer exerting any force. There is no retorforce, so you can go all out on the positive.

-Joe

kelbiz
02-17-2010, 03:46 PM
It just may be trying too hard. The instructions to these type of apparatus say to use 2/3 of your total strength. Since this isn't really all that taxing, one just might feel the need to give it a little extra.

I bought the old brown handle model (It is still working - my dad uses it) around 1981 when my son was an infant and I stopped going to the gym. I wanted to spend time with my wife and son so I looked at different ways to work out. The Bullworker helped me increase my definition greatly. I followed the instructions to the letter and have never had any pain in tendons or ligaments.

Disclaimer: As far as exercise goes, I just may be blessed genetically as ANY type of program I have used (free weights, Soloflex, Total Gym, Bullworker and P.I.T.Bull, and of course the Atlas course and Transformetrics) has proved beneficial to me. Really, and I am not bragging since you cannot 'bluff' what God has given you, whatever I do works. More appropriately, following a proven course of success will bring successful results. There's no mystery to a lot of what we do, it's just sticking to the program!

I also regret not purchasing the Atlas course way back then as the advertisements were still running and remember seeing them. I would have saved a ton of money on weights and other items.

Jack

Tedster;

I wrote the above on this very same post a while back. Using 2/3 of max strength has worked well for me. A person just has to figure out what 2/3 is for them. Too many people go "all out" to their physical detriment. The research done by the Maxx Planck Institute decades ago recommended this as well.

That being said, save your money and stick with pushups, pullups, squats, situps and DSR's. John's book on Isometrics is great also. Unless you can get an older model on eBay or at a garage sale, the new Bullworker is, in my opinion, overpriced and inferior to the older models.

Jack

John Peterson
02-17-2010, 07:14 PM
Hey Guys,

Very interesting thread. Personally, I think Isometric Contraction with an Isometric Power Belt is the safest way to achieve maximum contraction with minimum risk of injury to one's tendons. With the belt that was first developed by professor James Baley one contract to the maximum and ease out of the contraction without any discomfort.

I also agree that certain Power Calisthenics can easily overtax the tendons and ligaments if pushed too far. For instance, years ago I would never have imagined that I would be doing 5 sets of 25 or more Pull-Ups (often times 36 or 37 on the first set) 5 to 6 days each week without the slightest tendon pain or discomfort. The only thing that I can attribute this to is my daily Isometrics with my Power Belt each day and the HGH, Testosterone, and CO Q10 Trans-dermal Supplements that I have taking for some time. At 57, my muscular endurance is better than ever and I have absolutely no tendinitis issues at all. On the other hand, you could not make me perform Isometrics on a Bull Worker. Been there, done that and won't ever again.

---John Peterson

ShrinkingGuy
02-18-2010, 03:59 AM
That power belt will not stretch. :)

You could tow a car with it.

isorez
02-18-2010, 10:43 AM
You could tow a car with it.

I have !