Title:
Rapid circuit training machine with dual resistance
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A training machine provides two independently operable resistance systems for providing resistance to the upper and lower body of a user and to enable training equivalent to circuit training in a small amount of time. A first resistance system provides training resistance to the upper body and comprises a first resistance member with handles coupled thereto. A second resistance system provides a second training resistance to the lower body, and comprises a seat support and a seat, the seat having a first position with a first potential energy and a second position having a second potential energy, the differential providing the second training resistance. Handles are each independently coupled to the first resistance member by a cable fed through a pulley to a cable reel assembly so as to enable the user to operate the handles separately from each other and in any direction.



Inventors:
Pyles, Nathan (Lake Mills, WI, US)
Kannel, Mark J. (Oconomowoc, WI, US)
Fenster, Mrako (Madison, WI, US)
Pettis, Addison J. (Mazomanie, WI, US)
Knox, Robin (Stoke on Trent, GB)
Application Number:
11/214370
Publication Date:
03/01/2007
Filing Date:
08/29/2005
Assignee:
Johnson Health Tech Co., Ltd. (Taichung Hsein, TW)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/72
International Classes:
A63B69/06; A63B21/068
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HWANG, VICTOR KENNY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MICHAEL BEST & FRIEDRICH LLP (Mke) (MILWAUKEE, WI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An exercise machine, comprising: (a) a frame having a base supporting the exercise machine on a floor surface; (b) a first resistance system for providing a first training resistance to an upper body of a user, the first resistance system comprising a first resistance member mounted on said frame and one or more handles coupled to said first resistance member; and, (c) a second resistance system for providing a second training resistance to a lower body of the user, the second resistance system comprising a seat support mounted on said frame and a seat movably mounted on the seat support, the seat having a first position on the seat support with a first potential energy and a second position on the seat support with a second potential energy, the difference between the first and the second potential energies providing the second training resistance.

2. The exercise machine of claim 1, wherein said second resistance system is operable independently of said first resistance system.

3. The exercise machine of claim 1, wherein said first resistance system is operable independently of said second resistance system.

4. The exercise machine of claim 1, wherein said first and second resistance systems are operable independently of one another.

5. An exercise machine, comprising: (a) a frame having a base supporting the exercise machine on a floor surface; (b) a first resistance system for providing a first training resistance to an upper body of a user, the first resistance system comprising a first resistance member mounted on said frame and one or more handles coupled to said first resistance member; and, (c) a second resistance system for providing a second training resistance to a lower body of the user, said first and second resistance systems being operable independently of one another, the second resistance system comprising a seat support mounted on said frame and a seat movably mounted on the seat support, the seat having a first position on the seat support with a first potential energy and a second position on the seat support with a second potential energy, the difference between the first and the second potential energies providing the second training resistance.

6. The exercise machine of claim 5, wherein said one or more handles comprise a right handle and a left handle, said right and left handles each being separately coupled to said first resistance member by means of a right and a left cable, respectively, and so as to enable said right and left handles to operate independently of one another.

7. The exercise apparatus of claim 6, wherein said right and left cables are functionally engaged with a right and left pulley and a right and a left cable-reel assembly, respectively, the right and left pulleys and right and left cable-reel assemblies being mounted on said frame, the right and left cable-reel assemblies operating independently of one another so as to enable independent operation of the right and left handle.

8. The exercise apparatus of claim 6, wherein said right and left handles further comprise one or more controls for controlling an amount of the first training resistance.

9. The exercise apparatus of claim 6, wherein said right and left handles further comprise one or more controls for controlling an amount of the second training resistance.

10. An exercise machine, comprising: (a) a frame having a base supporting the exercise machine on a floor surface; (b) a first resistance system for providing a first training resistance to an upper body of a user, the first resistance system comprising a first resistance member mounted on said frame and a right handle and a left handle, said right and left handles each being separately coupled to said first resistance member by means of a right and a left cable, respectively, and so as to enable said right and left handles to operate independently of one another; and, (c) a second resistance system for providing a second training resistance to a lower body of the user, said first and second resistance systems being operable independently of one another, the second resistance system comprising a seat support mounted on said frame and a seat mounted on the seat support in which the user is positioned, the seat having a first position on the seat support with a first potential energy and a second position on the seat support with a second potential energy, the difference between the first and the second potential energies providing the second training resistance.

11. The exercise apparatus of claim 10, wherein said right and left cables are functionally engaged with a right and left pulley and a right and a left cable-reel assembly, respectively, the right and left pulleys and right and left cable-reel assemblies being mounted on said frame, the right and left cable-reel assemblies operating independently of one another so as to enable independent operation of the right and left handle.

12. The exercise apparatus of claim 10, wherein the right and left handles further comprise one or more controls for controlling an amount of the first training resistance.

13. The exercise apparatus of claim 10, wherein the right and left handles further comprise one or more controls for controlling an amount of the second training resistance.

14. The exercise apparatus of claim 10, further comprising an instructional console.

15. An exercise machine, comprising: (a) a frame having a base supporting the exercise machine on a floor surface; (b) a first resistance system for providing a first training resistance to an upper body of a user, the first resistance system comprising a first resistance member mounted on said frame, a right handle and a left handle, said right and left handles each being separately coupled to said first resistance member via a right and a left cable, respectively, each right and left cable being functionally engaged with a right and a left pulley and a right and a left cable-reel assembly, respectively, the right and left pulleys and right and left cable-reel assemblies being mounted on said frame, the right and left cable-reel assemblies operating independently of one another so as to enable independent operation of the right and left handles; and, (c) a second resistance system for providing a second training resistance to a lower body of the user, said first and second resistance systems being operable independently of one another, the second resistance system comprising a seat support mounted on said frame and a seat mounted on the seat support in which the user is positioned, the seat having a first position on the seat support with a first potential energy and a second position on the seat support with a second potential energy, the difference between the first and the second potential energies providing the second training resistance.

16. The exercise apparatus of claim 15, wherein the right and left handles further comprise one or more controls for controlling an amount of the first training resistance.

17. The exercise apparatus of claim 15, wherein the right and left handles further comprise one or more controls for controlling an amount of the second training resistance.

18. The exercise apparatus of claim 15, further comprising an instructional console.

19. The exercise apparatus of claim 16, further comprising an instructional console and wherein the right and left handles further comprise communication means for communicating with said instructional console.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Overall fitness is a goal many people strive to achieve by combining a large variety of strength training programs with a cardio vascular program. The challenge is combining these programs in such a way as to achieve optimal results in minimal amounts of time using as little equipment as possible.

Circuit training is one means of providing a wide variety of strength workouts, but this requires that a user navigate a circuit of weight training and other types of exercise machines according to a prescribed program. In practice, this requires that a person frequent a gym where he or she has access to a room full of exercise equipment. Providing the required variety of exercise equipment at a health club, much less in a person's own home, can be cost and space prohibitive.

Achieving proportionate conditioning is also a challenge, generally requiring that a person seek advice of a trainer who can provide them with a program of training that works all part of the body proportionately and includes an appropriate amount of cardiovascular training.

Attempts have been made to make exercise machines that provide a user multiple forms of exercise, thereby reducing the number of exercise machines needed. At core, exercise machines generally provide a resistance against which a user works in some way, thereby exercising one or more parts of their body.

Many machines provide only one source of resistance against which a user works. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,752,879 to Berdut, provides only one resistance means and that resistance is provided solely by a user's body weight. By tilting a table on which the user sits or lays, a variety of exercises may be performed to exercise different parts of the user's body. Though handles are provided in one version, they are not used to provide resistance, the user is still relying on his body weight to produce resistance as he pulls on the handles, etc.

Conventional rower exercise machines attempt to exercise both the upper and lower portions of a body, but are generally limited to providing a user with a cardiovascular workout—no actual strength training workout is provided. In addition, they tend to place a disproportionate load on the user's upper body exhausting the upper body relative to the lower body of a user. This is because the seat moves nearly parallel to the ground which places a disproportionate load on the user's upper body in relation to the comparative strength of the user's muscles.

A further limitation of conventional rower machines is that they generally only provide a single handle. In exercise machines providing two handles, the two handles do not operate independently of one another nor do they allow arm movements at variable angles. Providing only one handle, or two which do not operate independently of one another, limits a user's ability to perform exercises beyond synchronous pulling exercises. Without two handles operating independently of one another, asynchronous arm movements are not possible, nor are one-armed movements—preventing a user from performing such exercises as flies, independent arm curls, and the like. Likewise, in current two-handle machines, both handle-cables feed through a single cable-reel, therefore the resistance provided each handle is the same. Again, having no independence of the amount of resistance to each handle, limits the variety of exercise a user is able to perform.

Attempts have been made to expand on the rower model to include more balanced strength training aspects, such as U.S. Pat. No. 4,625,962 to Street. In Street, handle resistance means are provided to work the upper body, and in one version a user may push up against weights with his or her legs to work the lower body. However, the exercises possible with Street are limited. For example, the handles do not operate independently of one another, so a user cannot conduct many types of upper body exercises. Likewise, no squat type exercises, among other types, are possible for training of the lower body.

For the foregoing reasons there is a need for a trainer that enables a user to gain proportionate conditioning in a short period of time using a single space-saving trainer by providing two resistance systems that operate independently of one another so as to enable circuit training, i.e., the performance of a wide variety of exercises having different proportions of upper and lower body resistances. There is furthermore a need for a trainer that enables a user to exercise his or her arms independently of one another to allow more varied and precise exercises to be performed.

SUMMARY

The present invention is directed to a device that satisfies these needs for an exercise machine that enables a user to gain proportionate conditioning in a short period of time using a single space-saving trainer, and that also enables a user to exercise his or her arms independently of one another and in diverse ways. The trainer of the present invention satisfies these needs by providing two resistance systems that may operate independently of one another so as to enable circuit training (i.e., the performance of a wide variety of exercises in sequence) by shifting the proportion of load between the user's legs, arms and cardiovascular system throughout a single exercise session on the trainer. The trainer furthermore provides a first resistance system for the upper body that enables the user to perform varied arm exercises either synchronously or asynchronously.

The exercise machine generally consists of a frame having a base supporting the exercise machine on a floor surface. A first resistance system provides a first training resistance to the upper body of a user and consists of a first resistance member mounted on the frame and one or more handles coupled to the first resistance member. A second resistance system provides a second training resistance to the lower body of the user. The second resistance system consists of a seat support mounted on the frame and a seat mounted on the seat support. The seat has a first position with a first potential energy and a second position with a second potential energy, the difference between the first and the second potential energies providing the second training resistance. The first and second resistance systems are operable independently of one another, enabling different resistance levels to be provided to the upper and lower body of the user so as to shift the proportion of load between the user's legs, arms and cardiovascular system throughout a single exercise session on the trainer.

In another version, two handles are provided, each independently coupled to the first resistance member by a cable so as to enable the user to operate the handles separately. The handles may be pulled individually or together in asynchronous or synchronous fashion. Further, the user may pull the handles in any direction to enable a wide variety of exercises to be conducted.

In another version, two cable-reel assemblies are provided each operating independently of one another to enable independent operation of the handles.

In yet another version, a method for employing the exercise machine described above is disclosed.

Several objects and advantages of the present invention are: (a) to provide an exercise machine that enables a user to gain proportionate conditioning in a short period of time using a single space-saving trainer; (b) to provide an exercise machine with two resistance systems that are independently operable of one another allowing a user to use only one or both together; (c) to provide an exercise machine with two independently operable resistance systems, each of which may be set to provide different levels of resistance to the upper and lower body of the user over time so as to shift the proportion of load between the user's legs, arms and cardiovascular system, thereby enabling a user to perform the equivalent of circuit training, intervals training and the like throughout a single uninterrupted exercise session on one machine; (d) to provide an exercise machine that enables a user to exercise his or her arms independently of one another or synchronously; and, (e) to provide an exercise machine that enables a user to operate handles independently of one another so the user may pull the handles out at any angle using one arm only or both arms either contralaterally or together, synchronously or asynchronously, so as to enable the user to perform a wide variety of upper body exercises such as arm curls, reverse flies, and more.

The reader is advised that this summary is not meant to be exhaustive. Further features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following description, accompanying drawings and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a better understanding of the present invention, reference may be made to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1a, shows a side view of one version of the exercise machine of the present invention positioned with the seat support 120 at an angle of incline of about 10 degrees, with the seat 124 in a first position and showing features interior to a shroud 150;

FIG. 1b, shows the exercise machine of FIG. 1a, with the seat 124 in a second position;

FIG. 1c, shows the exercise machine of FIG. 1a with the shroud 150 in place and no interior features showing;

FIG. 1d, shows the exercise machine of FIG. 1b with the shroud 150 in place and no interior features showing;

FIG. 1e, shows the exercise machine of FIG. 1a positioned with the seat support 120 at an angle of incline of about 40 degrees and with the seat 124 in a second position;

FIG. 2, shows a front right perspective view of one version of the present invention showing both right and left sets of handles 132, pulleys 138/139, cables 134 and cable-reel assemblies 136;

FIG. 3a, shows a rear right perspective view of one version of the present invention noting the locations of the pulleys 138;

FIG. 3b shows a close-up view detailing one version of a pulley 138 showing a V-type groove and defining the angle of the groove (i.e., V-angle) and the depth of the groove (i.e., V-depth);

FIG. 3c shows a close-up view detailing one version of a pulley 138 with a wide V-type groove and with a cable pulled out to the right, suggesting the wide range of angles at which the cables may be pulled out;

FIG. 4, shows a diagram of how a user may use the controls of a handle 132 to control the angle of incline of the seat support 120;

FIG. 5a, shows one version of a handle 132 with a single control button 170, 171;

FIG. 5b, shows a close up view of a handle 132 showing a detail of one version in which two control buttons 170, 171 are provided;

FIG. 6, shows a schematic of one version of a handle 132 seated in a dock 160;

FIG. 7a, shows a right rear side view of one version of the exercise machine depicting handles 132 in a docked position relative to the console 140 and the foot support 128;

FIG. 7b, shows a close up view of the handles, console and foot support in FIG. 7a;

FIG. 8a, shows a lift-type version of a seat support 120 with seat 124 in a first position;

FIG. 8b, shows the seat support 120 of FIG. 8a with seat 124 in a second position;

FIGS. 9a and 9b, show a side view of one version of the exercise machine of the present invention on which a user is seated to illustrate how the user pushes the seat 124 back from a first (FIG. 9a) to a second (FIG. 9b) position and also how the user may simultaneously pull out on the handles (see dashed line);

FIGS. 10a and 10b, show the exercise apparatus of FIG. 1e where the seat rail 120 is set to an angle of incline of about 40 degrees and illustrating movement of the seat 124 between a first (FIG. 10a) and a second (FIG. 10b) position;

FIGS. 11a and 11b, illustrate how the plane formed by the seat bench 126 and the footplate 128 position (indicating the user's foot position) vary relative to one another as the seat rail 120 pivots at the pivot point 116 to change the angle of incline from a lower angle (FIG. 11a) to a higher angle (FIG. 11b).

FIGS. 12a and 12b, show a user pushing the seat 124 back along a seat rail as the seat rail angle of incline simultaneously increases;

FIGS. 12c and 12d, show detail of the seat 124 in FIGS. 12a and 12b, showing how the seat back 125 may incline as the user moves the seat back along the rail 120;

FIG. 13, shows a side view of an inclined seat rail version of the present invention with seat resistance means 220 connected to the seat 124 via a seat cable 222.

DESCRIPTION

Referring now specifically to the figures, in which identical or similar parts are designated by the same reference numerals throughout, a detailed description of the present invention is given. It should be understood that the following detailed description relates to the best presently known embodiment of the invention. However, the present invention can assume numerous other embodiments, as will become apparent to those skilled in the art, without departing from the appended claims.

It should also be understood that, while any methods disclosed herein may be described and shown with reference to particular steps taken in a particular order, these steps may be combined, sub-divided, or re-ordered to form an equivalent method without departing from the teachings of the present invention. Accordingly, unless specifically indicated herein, the order and grouping of the steps is not a limitation of the present invention.

Detailed Description—Apparatus

Referring to FIGS. 1a and 1b, the exercise apparatus of the present invention is a rapid circuit training machine (“trainer”) 100 with dual resistance. The trainer 100 consists generally of a frame 110, a first resistance system for providing a first training resistance to an upper body of a user, and a second resistance system for providing a second training resistance to a lower body of the user. The first and second resistance systems may be independently operable of one another allowing a user to use one resistance system only or both together. Each resistance system may likewise be set to provide different levels of resistance and those levels changed over time. The trainer 100 thus allows different resistance levels to be provided to the upper and lower body of the user and for those levels to be varied over time so as to shift the proportion of load between the user's legs, arms and cardiovascular system throughout a single uninterrupted exercise session on one machine. The equivalent of circuit training is thus possible during a single session on the trainer 100 as is intervals training and the like.

The frame 110 provides structural support to the trainer 100 and includes a base 112 which supports the trainer 100 on a floor surface. The frame 110 may be constructed of any material able to provide the strength and rigidity required to support the weight of the user and the first and second resistance system.

A shroud 150 may be provided as a covering to enclose the various components of the trainer 100 to protect the enclosed components from exposure to dirt and the like and for safety purposes. The shroud 150 is shown in place in FIGS. 1a to 1e, with features interior to the shroud visible in FIGS. 1a, 1b and 1e (in which shroud 150 shown as transparent). FIGS. 1c and 1d show how the trainer 100 may look with the shroud 150 in place and the interior features enclosed within.

First resistance system. As mentioned above, the first resistance system provides the first training resistance to the upper body of the user. It generally consists of a first resistance member 130 mounted on the frame 110 and one or more handles 132 coupled to the first resistance member 130 by means of one or more cables 134. When the user pulls on the one or more handles 132, the user is pulling against a resistance provided by the first resistance member 130, thereby exercising his or her upper body. The first resistance system may be operable independently of the second resistance system.

The first resistance member 130 provides a dynamic resistance to the cable(s) 134 when the user grips and pulls on the one or more handles 132. In versions where two handles 132 are provided (i.e., a right and a left handle 132), a right and a left cable 134 are provided to independently couple the right and left handles 132, respectively, to the resistance means 130. The first resistance member 130 may comprise a combination of flywheel and eddy current break (ECB) with optional fan resistance, or other means for providing the dynamic resistance to the cables 134 and handles 132.

Referring to FIG. 2, front right perspective view of one version of the present invention is illustrated in which a right and a left handle 132 are provided, each independently coupled to the first resistance member 130 via right and left cables 134 which are each, in turn, threaded around a right and a left pulley 138. The cables 134 may further thread around a second set of pulleys, right and left directional pulleys 139. The right and left cables 134 then pass to a right and left cable-reel assembly 136, respectively. Each of the right and left cables 134 is thus functionally engaged with its own respective pulleys 138 (and 139) and cable-reel assemblies 136.

The right and left pulleys 138 are designed to enable the right and left cables 134 to be pulled out smoothly and at any angle to facilitate performance of a wide variety of exercises by the user. This may be achieved in any number of ways, for example, the pulley heads themselves may swivel, the pulleys may have V-grooves to allow any angle of pull, or other similarly functioning designs may be employed.

Referring to FIGS. 3a to 3c, views of versions of the trainer having V-groove type right and left pulleys 138 are illustrated. The pulleys 138 have wide V-grooves which function to allow the cables 134 to be pulled out at almost any angle. Referring to FIG. 3b the V-groove defines an angle (i.e., V-angle) and a depth (i.e., V-depth). The V-angle will generally be greater than 60 degrees. The V-groove of the pulley 138 will generally be less than 20 percent as deep (i.e., V-depth) as the diameter of the pulley 138. Thus the V-groove of this version of the pulley 138 is relatively wide in angle and shallow in depth.

Each right and left cable-reel assembly 136 may generally comprise springs which function to rewind the cables 134 to remove any slack when a cable is not under tension, and a clutch bearing which functions to allow the right and left handles 134 to operate independently of one another on a common axle.

In another version, a second pair of handles (i.e., rear handles) may be provided that are located behind the user so as to enable the user to conduct pushing type exercises (vs. pulling type exercises using the first pair of handles 132 located in front of the user). In this version, the rear handles may be connected to the same resistance means 130, but, for example in the case of a flywheel type assembly, have separate step up drive/clutch assemblies.

The right and left handles 132 are independently operable by the user, enabling the user to pull the handles 132 out at any angle and to do so using one arm only or both arms either contralaterally or together, synchronously or asynchronously. This allows the user to customize a workout according to his or her needs. For example, they may exercise just one arm at a time. Using both arms, they may perform synchronous movements or move the arms independently of one another in asynchronous fashion. This enables the user to perform an extremely wide variety of upper body exercises including arm curls, reverse flies, and the like.

The handles 132 may further be provided with hand-actuated controls integrated therein (see FIGS. 4 to 6) to enable the user to simultaneously control the first and second resistance system manually or to switch to automatic operation where a program controls the resistance levels and amounts of time for each in the circuit training session (see method section below for an example of a circuit training program). Under manual control the user controls the level of resistance provided to his or her upper and lower body via the first (e.g., by setting level of resistance on the cables 134) and second (e.g., by setting angle of incline of the seat support 120) resistance systems. Many different arrangements and numbers of hand-actuated controls may be provided. For example, only one (see FIG. 5a) or more than one (see FIGS. 5, 5b, 6) control button may be provided. A control button 170 may be provided to actuate automatic control and a control button 171 is provided to actuate manual control. However, buttons 170/171 may control other functions and other types of controls and locations may be provided on the handles 132. For example, a control button may be provided for control of the first resistance level and another button provided for the control of the second resistance level.

Communication means 172 may likewise be provided in the handles 132 to, among other things, communicate the user's settings to the first and second resistance systems when manual mode is selected, or to communicate the user's choice of circuit training program to the console 140 when automatic mode is selected (see FIG. 6). Various modes of communication may be employed such as infra red (IR), radio frequency (RF) and the like. In the diagram of FIG. 4, the user has, for example, changed the angle of incline of the seat support 120 to 20 degrees (see below for discussion of seat support 120) to either increase or decrease the amount of resistance to his or her lower body, depending on what the original angle of incline was. In versions where the user's heart rate (HR) is being monitored, the handles 132 may further comprise HR monitoring means and the communication means 172 may transmit those HR measurements to the console 140. HR transmissions to the console 140 may provide feedback to the program, affecting changes in first and second resistance level settings.

Handle docks 160 may further be provided to facilitate docking of the handles on the trainer 100 before, during and after an exercise session. Referring to FIG. 6, a cross-sectional schematic of a handle 132 seated in a dock 160 is shown. In this version of the handle 132 and dock 160, the dock 160 is also capable of charging the handle 132 while the handle is seated in the dock (see paired electrical contacts in the handle 132 and dock 160). Inductance charging can help to reduce the amount of time and effort required to maintain the trainer.

An instructional console 140 may optionally also be provided (see FIGS. 7a and 7b). The console 140 may provide programming to simultaneously control the amount of resistance provided by the first resistance member 130 and the angle of incline of the seat support 120 (and/or amount of resistance provided by a seat resistance means 220; see below). Under automatic control, the programming may simultaneously control both resistance to the upper and to the lower body (i.e., first and second resistances) to free the user from needing to think about what to do when and for how long. Levels of resistance to the upper and lower body are changed according to the program and the user is prompted, if necessary, to perform certain types of exercises in order to complete the training program. The user may manually, or automatically through a circuit training program, simultaneously change the angle of incline of the seat rail 120 and the resistance to the cables 134, thereby shifting the proportion of the load between his or her legs, arms and cardiovascular system.

The console 140 may consist of a display for providing instructions and feedback to the user. For example, under automatic mode operation, a program may prompt the user to perform a specific type of exercise for a specific number of repetitions. The instructions and feedback may be provided visually and/or via sound transmissions (for which headphones may be provided). For new users especially, coaching instructions may be provided to inform the user of proper form, to provide encouragement and the like. Likewise, the program may display the particular portion of a circuit training program the user is experiencing (e.g., “warm up;” the first and second resistance level settings, and the amount of time for the segment, and the like).

Second resistance system. As mentioned above, the second resistance system provides the second training resistance to the lower body of the user. It consists generally of a seat support 120 mounted on the frame 110 and a seat 124 mounted on the seat support 120 in which the user is positioned. The seat 124 is movable by the user between a first position located near the lower end 121 of the seat support having a first potential energy (see, e.g., FIGS. 1a, 1c) and a second position nearer the upper end 122 of the seat support having a second potential energy (see, e.g., FIGS. 1b, 1d) by pushing against the foot support 128 (see also, FIGS. 9a-9b, 12a-12b). The differential in potential energies between the first and second positions provides the second resistance against which a user pushes in moving the seat 124 between positions. The second resistance system may be operable independently of the first resistance system.

The seat support 120 may be provided in various forms. For example, it may be provided as an inclined seat rail type seat support 120, as generally illustrated throughout the figures. Alternatively, it may be provided as a lift-type seat support 120 (see FIGS. 8a and 8b). Other types of seat support 120 that enable a seat 124 to move between a first and second position with different potential energies, are possible as well.

In the seat rail version illustrated throughout most of the figures (see, e.g., FIGS. 1a-1e, 2, 7a, 9a-10b,), the seat 124 is slidably mounted on the seat rail 120 and may be moved along its length from a first position at the lower end 121 of the seat rail to a second position at an upper end 122. When the seat 124 is in the first position (an example of which is illustrated in FIGS. 1a, 10a), it has a first potential energy and when the seat 124 is in the second position (an example of which is illustrated in FIGS. 1b, 10b), it has a second potential energy. In this case, the first position lower on the rail 120 (i.e., near the lower end 121 of the seat rail 120) has a lower potential energy than the second position higher on the rail 120 (i.e., near the upper end 122). The difference between the first and second potential energies provides the second resistance, and this resistance is to the lower body of the user when the user, with one or both feet positioned on a foot support 128, pushes the seat up the seat rail 120 against the second resistance.

The greater the differential in potential energies between seat positions, the greater the resistance level and the more difficult it is for user to push the seat from the first position to the second position using one or both of his or her legs. Hence, the second resistance system functions to exercise the lower body of the user. Compare, for example, FIGS. 1a-1b and 9a-9b in which the seat rail 120 is inclined at about a 10 degree angle and where the differential in potential energy between the first (FIGS. 1a, 9a) and second (FIGS. 1b, 9b) seat positions is smaller than when the seat rail 120 is inclined at a higher angle of about 40 degrees (see FIGS. 10a and 10b).

The seat 124 consists of bench 126 and back 125 portions and is attached to the seat support 120 by mounting means 127 (see, e.g., FIGS. 1a-1e, 2, 9a-9b). In the case of the seat rail type seat support 120, the mounting means 127 enables the seat 124 to slidably mount upon the seat rail 120. In one version of the mounting means 127, rollers are provided to slidably mount the seat 124 to the seat rail 120. However, other means may also be employed to mount the seat 130 to the seat rail 120.

The seat 124 is oriented so that when the user is seated therein, he/she faces toward the lower end 121 of the seat rail 120 (see, e.g., FIGS. 9a-9b, 12a-12b). The first and second positions of the seat 124 may be located anywhere along the length of the seat rail 120.

In one version of the seat rail type of seat support 120, adjustment means 129 are further provided for varying the angle of incline of the seat rail 120, thereby providing for greater or lesser differentials in potential energies between the first and second positions of the seat 124, and thereby also the amount of resistance against which a user must push (with his or her feet against the foot support 128) in order to move the seat 124 equivalent distances along the seat rail 120 by comparison to a seat rail 120 having a fixed angle of incline. Compare, for example, FIGS. 1a and 1b in which the angle of incline of the seat rail 120 is set to about 10 degrees, with FIGS. 10a and 10b in which the angle of incline is set to about 40 degrees. Comparing FIG. 1a to FIG. 1e shows how angle of incline may be increased while the user is pushing the seat 124 back along the seat rail 120 (in this case angle of incline goes from about 10 degrees to about 40 degrees while the seat 124 is moved between the first and second positions).

In this version, the frame 110 further consists of a pivot 114 extending upward from the base 112 to a pivot point 116 (see FIGS. 1a-1b, 1e, 2, 9a-10b). The pivot point 116 may be positioned at a location between the midpoint 123 and the lower end 121 of the seat rail 120. Positioning the pivot point 116 at a location on the seat rail 120 at some distance in from the lower end 121, helps to get the user's body into a typical squat position and facilitates this type of exercise. This also tends to reduce the shear stress on the user's knees.

FIGS. 11a to 12b are provided to illustrate how the plane formed by the seat bench 126 and the footplate 128 position (indicating the user's foot position) vary relative to one another as the seat rail 120 pivots at the pivot point 116 to change the angle of incline. At lower angles of incline (as shown in FIGS. 11a, 12a), the user's foot position will normally be below the plane formed by the seat bench 126, and the user's toes will be pointed forward on the footplate 128 about 135 degrees from the seat rail angle of incline. By contrast, at higher angles of incline (as shown in FIGS. 11b, 12b), the user's foot position will normally be above the plane formed by the seat bench 126, and the user's toes will be pointed forward only a small amount (e.g., such as 105 degrees) from the seat rail angle of incline.

The seat rail 120 is tiltably mounted on the pivot 114 at an angle of incline which is adjustably variable in degrees relative to the floor surface. Generally, the angle of incline is adjustable between 0 and 45 degrees.

Preferably, the angle of incline varies between 10 and 40 degrees (see FIGS. 1a-1d, 2, 9a-9b for an approximately 10 degree angle of incline; see FIGS. 1e, 10a, 10b for an approximately 40 degree angle of incline). At an angle of about 10 degrees or more, a user's weight enables the user's feet to movably maintain contact with the footplate 128 (see below). Unlike with conventional rower machines, the user's feet are not held in a static position via foot straps or cups on two separate foot pads. On the present trainer 100, the user is able to move his or her feet according to preference and the type of exercise being done. Also, by providing a positively inclined seat rail 120, the user is provided with a resistance against which the user's legs must push. The user of the present trainer 100 is essentially rowing, or simply pushing his or her body weight, uphill, providing proportionately more leg resistance than with a conventional rower machine and thereby also providing a more balanced upper and lower body workout. The steeper the angle of incline, the greater the portion of the load placed on the user's legs.

The adjustment means 129 may be manual or motor driven. In either case, by changing the angle of incline of the seat rail 120, the user can adjust the second resistance level relative to the first resistance level, thus shifting the proportion of the load between his or her legs, arms and cardiovascular system.

When the adjustment means 129 is mechanical, the user may set the incline by mechanically positioning the seat rail 120 at the desired angle. This may be accomplished in many ways including, for example, using a hand-turned worm screw or similar devices enabling manual adjustment.

Alternatively, the adjustment means 129 may be automated electro-mechanically to allow the angle of incline to be varied uninterruptedly while the user continues exercising. Employing such a motorized adjustment means 129, enables continuous variations in angle of incline to be achieved. Unlike with mechanical adjustment, virtually any angle of incline may be achieved. The adjustment means 129 may be controlled by the user via controls on the handles 132, for example, or by programs in the console 140 which is in communication with the adjustment means 129.

The motorized version of adjustment means 129 may consist of a lift mechanism (such as a worm screw actuator or the like) to lift/lower the upper end 122 of the seat rail 120 to adjust the angle of incline.

Automatic adjustment of the angle of incline, and thereby the amount of leg resistance, allows a user to continue exercising without having to stop to adjust the amount of leg resistance. This enables a user to switch between upper and/or lower-body training without interruption. It also enables a user to do intervals training and the like otherwise not possible. It also enables resistance to be varied in such a way as to maintain a certain heart rate when used in combination with heart rate monitoring. This further enables heart rate zone training.

In the lift-type version of the seat support 120 illustrated in FIGS. 8a and 8b, the first and second seat positions are achieved by the user pushing against the foot support 128 to move the seat back and up from a lower first position (FIG. 8a) to a higher second position (FIG. 8b). The seat support 120 lifts the seat to the higher second position when the user pushes the seat 124 back.

The second resistance system may further include resistance means for the legs to increase the resistance against which a user pushes in moving the seat 124 between the first and second positions beyond that provided by the differing potential energies between the two positions. The additional resistance means may be provided by a cable 222 attached to the seat 124 on one end, and an axle and seat resistance means 220 on the other end (see FIG. 13). The seat resistance means 220 may be provided as an alternative to adjusting the angle of incline of the seat rail 120 in order to increase or decrease the differential in potential energy between the two seat positions and thereby the amount of resistance against movement of the seat.

The seat resistance means 220 may consist of a flywheel attached to the axle with resistance provided by a magnetic brake, a generator or the like. The advantage of using a generator is that the unit could be completely self-powered so no external power source is required. In health clubs where outlets are sometime short in supply, this is a significant advantage.

A foot support 128 (or footplate) is mounted on the frame 110, separate from the seat rail 120 to provide a step-through design (see FIGS. 1a-1e, 2, 3a, 7a, 9a,-10b, 13). Unlike with conventional rower machines, the footplate 128 of the present trainer 100 is a single unit of relatively large size which does not fix the user's feet in place (e.g., by means of straps, clips and the like). Instead the user is able to move his or her feet freely about the footplate 128. The footplate 128 is relatively large and stable providing solid footing to the user, and enabling the user to do a wide variety of exercises such as squats (both one- and two-legged), controlled jumping, and more.

Additionally, the footplate 128 is not connected to the seat rail 120 enabling the seat 124 to move up/down the seat rail 120 independently of the footplate 128. Additionally, the footplate 128 may itself be tiltably movable to enable both the seat rail 120 and footplate 128 to move independently of each other.

The footplate 128 may further comprise a resilient cushion on its surface. The resilient cushion forces the user's stabilizing muscles to engage, thereby expanding the workout to develop those muscles.

As mentioned above, a seat mounting means 127 is provided to enable the seat 124 to be slidably mounted on the seat rail 120 (see, e.g., FIG. 1a). One version of the mounting means 127 may comprise rollers for slidably mounting the seat 124 on the seat rail 120. However, other means may also be employed.

The seat rail 120 may be provided with adjustable stops dispersed along its length to enable the user to limit the downward travel of the seat 124 while in use and/or upon dismount. In addition to this, or alternatively, the seat mounting means 127 may further comprise a locking means (or, “locking mechanism”) for retaining the seat 124 in position. Having a locking mechanism enables fixing the seat 124 in position for when the user wishes to do arm-only type workouts. It also facilitates the mounting/dismounting of the trainer 100.

Several alternative locking mechanisms are possible. For example, the locking mechanism may consist of a spring-actuated friction brake that is unlocked when the user bears his or her weight on the seat bench 126. When the user's weight comes off of the seat bench 126, the spring causes a friction pad to engage on the seat rail 120, effectively holding the seat in place. The locking mechanism may further employ geometry that causes it to be self-energizing, thereby increasing its holding power beyond what the spring can do.

The seat bench 126 is generally sized to fit an average user. The seat back 125 may be resilient, i.e., able to tilt in synch with the user's efforts so as to help the user to maintain proper posture during exercise (see FIGS. 12a-12d). The back 125 may tilt by means of a spring mechanism or the like.

The seat 124 may further accept a cushion disc surface. Having a cushion disc surface in place promotes more rapid development of the core abdominal and back muscles because the user is required to tension those core muscles throughout the workout.

Detailed Description—Method of Use

The trainer 100 as described above provides two independently operating resistance systems, a first resistance system for exercising the upper body of the user and a second resistance system for exercising the lower body of the user. Used in combination, the equivalent of circuit training may be achieved using a single machine. A user may simultaneously change the level of the first and second resistances either manually or automatically via a pre-programmed circuit training program.

Different types of circuit training programs may be programmed. For example, if the first resistance member 130 is provided with resistance levels 1 to 5 (i.e., first resistance level or “FRL”), and the seat support 120 of the second resistance system may be set to provide resistance levels of 1 to 5 (i.e., second resistance level or “SRL;” e.g., in the inclinable seat rail version of the seat support, by adjusting the angle of incline), one example of a circuit training program may be as follows:

Program portionFRL settingSRL settingDuration (mins.)
Warm up:111
Upper body:311
Lower body:132
Total body I:332
Total body II:552
and so forth according to the particular program . . .
Cool down:111

By executing this or another circuit training program, the user is doing something different every minute or so and combining a large variety of strength training exercises with a cardiovascular workout, as in typical circuit training. However, unlike with typical circuit training there is no need for the user to use multiple machines and take time moving between each to complete a program.

In addition to varying the time each resistance is set to a certain level, the actual exercises performed by the user may vary. For example, the independent operability of the handles 132, allow a user to operate the handles 132 independently of one another so the user may pull the handles out at any angle using one arm only or both arms either contralaterally or together, synchronously or asynchronously, so as to enable the user to perform a wide array of upper body exercises such as arm curls, reverse flies, and the like.

Likewise, a wide variety of leg exercises is also possible given the provision of a large foot support 128 and the ability to vary the angle of incline of the seat support 120.

Advantages

The previously described versions of the present invention have many advantages, including: (a) providing an exercise machine that enables a user to gain proportionate conditioning in a short period of time using a single space-saving trainer; (b) providing an exercise machine with two resistance systems that are independently operable of one another allowing a user to use only one or both together; (c) providing an exercise machine with two independently operable resistance systems, each of which may be set to provide different levels of resistance to the upper and lower body of the user over time so as to shift the proportion of load between the user's legs, arms and cardiovascular system, thereby enabling a user to perform the equivalent of circuit training, intervals training and the like throughout a single uninterrupted exercise session on one machine; (d) providing an exercise machine that enables a user to exercise his or her arms independently of one another or synchronously; and, (e) providing an exercise machine that enables a user to operate handles independently of one another so the user may pull the handles out at any angle using one arm only or both arms either contralaterally or together, synchronously or asynchronously, so as to enable the user to perform a wide variety of upper body exercises such as arm curls, reverse flies, and more.

The present invention does not require that all the advantageous features and all the advantages need to be incorporated into every embodiment thereof.

Closing

Although the present invention has been described in considerable detail with reference to certain preferred versions thereof, other versions are possible. Therefore, the spirit and scope of the appended claims should not be limited to the description of the preferred versions contained herein.