The LATEST piece of gym equipment

In this weeks sports science news, the U-Bell, PNF stretching, menstrual health and sport dropout

Eric Curry

By Eric Curry
Last updated: January 21st, 2024
4 min read

This week in the world of sports science, here’s what happened…

  • Introducing the U-Bell
  • PNF stretching explained
  • Menstrual health’s impact on sport dropout

Introducing the U-Bell

Fitness Equipment Of The Future ?! (YouTube)

Dr. Aaron Horschig from Squat University is no stranger to SFS Weekly and has been featured in previous bulletins (here & here). Last week I came across a curious YouTube video from Horschig. In the video, an athlete performs a single-arm kneeling overhead press with a peculiar exercise tool that looks like a pair of headphones!

The unusual piece of equipment is called the “U-Bell”. Basically, it is like a cross between a kettlebell and a dumbbell. The U-Bell can be used for a range of exercises. However, it is proposed to be highly effective for developing shoulder stability. Because of its unique design, when performing overhead exercises, it becomes extremely unstable (as seen in the video). Therefore, more shoulder stability is required when performing overhead exercises with the U-Bell than with an adjustable dumbbell or kettlebell. Increasing shoulder stability may produce more power in other lifts and reduce shoulder injury risk.

While more practical experience and scientific evidence may be needed, adding a U-Bell to a gym can only be viewed as positive. As Horschig puts “It isn’t a replacement for kettlebells or dumbbells but rather a new tool that can deliver a unique and different training stimulus”.

PNF stretching explained

The Most Effective Stretching Technique | PNF Stretching Explained (YouTube)

Matt Casturo of The Movement System released an excellent YouTube video on Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching in the past week. When it comes to flexibility training, most people will use static or dynamic stretches. However, PNF stretching is an underrated and underutilised method for increasing flexibility. PNF stretching uses the nervous system to relax the muscles and thus, can facilitate greater joint range of motion.

The video starts by explaining and demonstrating the hold-relax PNF stretching method for the hamstrings. The use of clever video edits really enhances the viewing and learning experience. Next, the contract-relax PNF stretching method is demonstrated, again for the hamstrings. Lastly, PNF stretching examples are also shown for the adductors and lats.

Whether you are looking at increasing your own flexibility or helping an athlete/client, this video is worth checking out. Also, if you are studying for your CSCS accreditation, questions on PNF stretching may be asked in the exam, so be prepared!

Menstrual health’s impact on sport dropout

(Image: Pinterest)

Female dropout in organised sport, especially at the onset of adolescence, is a problem across the globe. An article by CBC Sport advocates that menstruation is the biggest obstacle preventing young women from staying in sports. In the article, Dr. Sarah Zipp, a leading researcher on sport and menstrual health, says that youth sports coaches must educate themselves about menstruation.

Zipp suggests, that female sport and athletic development programmes can be improved if there is the following:

  • Openness to talk about menstruation
  • Better education about menstruation (symptoms and impacts)
  • Better support from coaches to keep players playing

Zipp believes that empowering young female athletes with courage is very important too. If young female athletes do not feel like they are able to train or play due to menstruation, they shouldn’t be afraid to say it! If you coach young female athletes, this article is worth checking out.


Congratulations to South Africa who defeated New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup Final. The South African rugby team provided us here at SFS Weekly with some very interesting bulletins in previous weeks.

From us this week:

>> New course: Periodization for Football
>> New podcast: Recover Like A Pro With The Latest Science Behind Cooling Techniques
>> New infographic: Cold Showers: The Science
>> New article: VO₂ MAX

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I hope you enjoyed this week’s roundup of the hottest sports science news, and as always, we’ll be back next week with more to keep you at the forefront of the industry.

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Eric Curry

Eric Curry

Eric is a Strength and Conditioning Coach from Ireland. Eric holds a MSc in Sports Strength and Conditioning and an undergraduate degree in Sport and Exercise. Eric is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the NSCA. Eric currently works as a Strength and Conditioning Coach in Ireland predominantly with youth performance Tennis players. Eric also has experience working with athletes from basketball, martial arts, football, hurling, and Gaelic football.

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