Quality Input: The Koko Strength Test Explained

Kokoman_muscleAfter our members, Koko Smartrainers are the superstars of Koko FitClub. Their revolutionary technology sets our members up for incredible strength training results. But, you know the phrase “garbage in, garbage out?” Even the best technology in the world can’t accomplish a thing without quality input. Enter the Koko Strength Test.
The Koko Strength Test is how Smartraining technology customizes and controls each and every workout on the Smartrainer. First, it determines a baseline strength value, then every 12th session it checks your progress and adjusts your workouts based on your new-found strength. Every strength test is comprised of the same four, basic exercises. They are: 

1. Leg Extension,
2. Lateral Pull Down,
3. Chest Press and
4. Bicep Curl. 

The first set of each exercise is a warm up that gauges your range of motion (ROM,) a critical detail that is different for every body. After the warm up sets, the initial load is determined by a Koko algorithm using a number of variables including your age, sex and weight. During a strength test session, you will complete between 4 to 6 sets of each exercise. Depending on the exercise, each set has between 5 and 10 repetitions. The resulting data translates to a value representing your Five Repetition Maximum or 5RM. And what, exactly, is a 5RM?
Here’s a mini lesson in exercise science to answer that question: To get the best effect from strength training, one should lift 66-80% of the maximum weight possible with good form. The traditional method of determining this amount of weight is based on a one repetition maximum. Translation: The heaviest weight you can lift one time with proper form. Koko uses a 5 RM to determine your maximum weight. This would be the heaviest weight you can lift five times while maintaining proper form. This results in a lower maximum weight, but greatly reduces the possibility of injury.
Once your 5RM is determined for each of the four strength test exercises, that information allows the Smartraining technology to extrapolate the 5RM’s for all the remaining Koko exercises. Quality input. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer

Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s "Best of Boston" Personal Trainer, and made the Men's Journal "Dream Team" list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.

7 thoughts on “Quality Input: The Koko Strength Test Explained

  1. Hi Liz, Thanks for your question. You are somewhat correct – the strength test is conducted using a proprietary algorithm, so there are variations in how it is conducted based on what program you are on, how far you push, etc. Variety is part of what Koko is all about! – Lauren

  2. Hi Liz! I’m glad you checked back. I was waiting for Michael Wood (who is just catching back up after being out for awhile) but your reminder sent our inquiries to Josh, the technology man. Turns out, he says it has to do with the “proprietary algorithms.” (i.e. I think it might just be a great mystery of the universe! ;) Thanks for being patient. Deb

  3. Deb-

    I’ve checked back a few times, haven’t seen an answer. Is this something that will be posted to the blog generally, or will it be here in the comments to this post? Honestly, I’m also OK with this being one of the great mysteries of the universe — should I just stop checking? I’ve been checking because I don’t want you to go to the trouble of getting an answer only to miss it.


  4. Liz, you are right! The bicep curl is from a standing position. I’m going to check in with Michael Wood on some of your more specific questions. Check back soon!

  5. Very cool, and thank you for explaining it. I was a little puzzled last night (most recent strength test), as to why incremental changes in strength aren’t counted. That is, at my last strength test, I could lift X lbs five times but could not make the machine even start to THINK about moving at X+10 lbs — and then, last night, I could do X+10 three times, but the test showed no increase in strength. This explains it — that unless I can do the full five, it doesn’t count as any increase. Oh well . . . I guess it’ll show up on the next one.

    Also, could you explain the increments by which the weights increase? I found that there would be two or three ten-pound increases, and then (just as I was thinking ‘this next one will be where I hit my limit’) a twenty-pound increase.


    p.s. One of the four exercises is done standing, not sitting — the biceps curl.

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