Train Smarter with Christal Engle

Pro beach player Christal Engle secrets to staying on top of her game

Ed Chan
Pro beach volleyball Christal Engle uses the Cybex Arc trainer to prevent injury, increase endurance, and improve her vertical leap.

To stay on top of her game, professional beach volleyball player Christal Engle hits the gym three to five days a week. She does strength and conditioning work on everything from her shoulders to her calves to ensure she can meet the physical demands of playing in the unforgiving sand.

Engle’s workout philosophy is simple. She trains hard – and smart. The 27-year-old fitness fanatic now incorporates two exercise machines made by Cybex International into her workout routine.

The first machine is a cross-trainer called the Arc, which the company says is scientifically tested to be gentler on joints than an elliptical.

Engle agrees. “I’ve had four surgeries on my right knee,” the four-time All-American outside hitter from the University of Washington said. “And since I’ve started doing conditioning work on the Arc, I’ve been gaining muscle with little stress on my joints. The Arc takes all the pressure off my knees.”

Engle has discovered another “game changing” advantage from using the Arc. “It’s increased my vertical jump,” she said. “And it’s allowed me to do more [strength and conditioning] in a short amount of time.”

When Engle enters the gym, the first machine she heads toward is the Arc Trainer. It’s her “go-to” warm-up machine. “I do a low-resistance [setting] for 10 to 15 minutes,” she says.

The 6'2" beach volleyball star also uses the Bravo All-In-One machine by Cybex when she’s training indoors. The cable-based strength-training machine works muscle groups in the arms, core, and legs.

“The Bravo gives me a dynamic workout and allows me to do a lot of motions and mechanical lifts all in one machine,” Engle said of the Bravo, which has a stabilization pad that allows athletes to increase their core strength and workout load at the same time. “A lot of what we do in beach volleyball is dynamic movement. We jump and then swing. And this machine allows me to mimic that motion in the gym.”

Engle says she can do hundreds of different exercises on the Bravo and target them to specific muscles. “If I want to work on my leg strength, I do a squat press,” she said.

One of the exercises Engle does when she wants to work on her arms and core is called the woodchopper. To do this routine, Engle adjusts the handle on the Bravo to the highest point on the machine. She then reaches up at a 45 degree angle, grabs the handle, and pulls it across her body.

“The motion is from the top right of my body down to my left,” she said. “I do three sets of eight to 10 repetitions with 40 to 60 pounds of weight.”
Engle finishes her indoor workout routine back on the Arc. “I do intervals for 15 to 20 minutes at level four to six,” she said. “The Arc has helped my knee and my overall conditioning.”

She’s seen other benefits, too. “My body has felt better than it has in a really long time,” said Engle, who has her sights set on the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. “And I’m able to do things that I want to do on the court now.

“The Arc is spot-on for what we do in this sport,” added Engle, who also stays fit by running on the beach. “Both these machines are a good fit for volleyball players, especially beach players who want lean muscle mass. They’re easier on your body and still allow you to get a full workout.”

For more information about the Arc and Bravo visit Cybex International at .

For more information about Christal Engle visit her Facebook page at

Workout tip

Beach volleyball star Christal Engle advises athletes to “gain the knowledge of a trainer” before starting any workout on the Arc Trainer or Bravo. “Get someone to show you how to use the programs,” she said. “They can tell what you need to work on and how to use the machine.”

The Arc Trainer and Bravo are ideally suited for volleyball players, says Paul Juris, executive director of the Cybex Institute.

“They can help them become stronger, increase their power, and improve their stability,” said Jarvis, a kinesiologist who researches and develops products for the fitness company. “That’s what our products foster – strength, power, and body control.”

Exercise: The Bravo Woodchopper

Step one
Raise the pulley on the Bravo all the way to the top and stand a few feet from the machine with your feet a little further than shoulder-width apart. Grasp the handle with both hands.

Step two
Keeping your arms straight, move the handle at a diagonal across your body, keeping your abs tight and engaged. Go as far as you can with a straight back and then return to the starting position. Do this exercise very slow and controlled.

The alternative
The woodchopper can also be done with a dumbbell or a medicine ball. Stand in the same starting stance, with feet shoulder-width apart and the weight in both hands above your head and off to one side. Bring the weight across your body, keeping arms straight and abs engaged. Go as far as you can with a straight back and then return to the top.

Originally published in January 2013


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