Those in the composites industry know how strong composite materials are, so why not use their strength and flexibility to make our own muscles stronger? Gordon Brown’s Tsunami Bar® flexible barbells use pultruded fiberglass to simultaneously flex and oscillate, requiring up to three times the force for the user to return the bar to its original position than from a steel barbell. Introduced to the market in 2012, the product line has continued to expand and receive praise, including the Best of Show Product Award at ACMA’s COMPOSITES 2013.
Brown discussed with Composites Manufacturing Interviews what composites can do in the weight room and how attending a trade show could lead to the next composites innovation.
What composites are used in the Tsunami Bar? How do they bend and flex?
All Tsunami Bar® flexible barbells use pultruded fiberglass composites to give the barbells their performance features. The barbells feature a fat, 2-inch round surface with a choice of fiberglass pultruded shapes, round or rectangular, inside each of the round barbells. Glass fibers were selected because of the oscillation properties of glass fiber reinforced pultruded composites. Most of the barbells feature the use of more than one pultruded shape. The pultruded shapes are free to move inside the extruded thermoplastic round tubes, giving the bar the ability to bend in any direction in response to the forces applied to the bar’s center section by the user. As your arms move as in a bench press or your body moves up/down as in a squat, the ends of the bar will oscillate back-and-forth or up-and-down. As the ends of the bar move, the weights at each end gain speed, requiring you to exert a greater force during the lift to reverse the direction of the barbell. The ability of a pultruded shape to store potential energy when bent and to release it in a predictable and consistent manner is the key to the effective use of pultruded composites for this flexible barbell application. The fact that the barbell bends when used allows users to train for enhanced strength and speed of muscle contraction during the same lifting movement, which is not possible using a traditional steel barbell. This is an example of where the use of a composite product delivers more to the user than is possible using a traditional material such as steel.