With the recent addition of our Energy System Training (EST) program there have been a lot of questions about what exactly EST is; here is the first of a two-part series to help explain.
Many of the athletes/clients at PC are involved in endurance-based sports, through our strength-training programs they have realized greater success and feel the benefit of increased strength and power. This study gives a perfect example of how endurance sport athletes highly benefit from increased strength and power. However as a Strength and Conditioning coach I can’t ignore the conditioning side of things. Thus the creation of EST.
For the sake of simplicity I’ll say there are three primary Energy Systems that our body uses: alactic, lactic and aerobic. Each is responsible for energy production although how and when they are used is dramatically different.
Alactic – This system is capable of producing the most energy in the least amount of time but it only lasts for a short duration, 5-12 seconds. Power exercises come to mind with this system; for a track analogy, the 100M will represent the alactic system.
Lactic – Energy production with this system involves more chemical processes than the alactic system, consequently it can’t produce energy quite as fast but the duration of sustained energy is slightly longer, 15-90 seconds, think 400M.
Aerobic – While the other two systems can function without oxygen the aerobic system can’t. It’s the least powerful in the short term but it allows us to perform for hour and hours. Even though it’s not the most aerobic activity possible, consider Ashton Eaton’s 1500M performance at the London Olympics to claim gold in the decathlon!
Because the three systems create energy at different rates and durations it’s important to train the Energy System most influential to your training goals or sport, however there can be a lot of cross over between systems. A common mistake is to think that the three systems are either “on” or “off.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead they all contribute to total energy production through almost all periods of exercise. A great example of this is in a 400M sprint where almost 50% of total energy is produced aerobically. Most people training for “general” fitness will benefit from training all three systems, which will make you a more well rounded athlete or potentially a superhero:
**I am Spiderman of course**
In the last decade the fitness industry has shifted away from steady state cardio for more flashy forms of cardiovascular training (intervals). There are a few driving forces for this:
1. Everyone is too busy. Today’s world is full of instant gratification with no time to waste, unless you count the 10.5 billion minutes spent on Facebook daily…by the way visit Peak Conditions page to see more superhero photos!
2. High injury rates associated with high volumes of steady state cardio (running for most people) have been well documented.
3. A certain injury prone and most of the time careless “hardcore” fitness craze is all about high intensity short workouts. And no it’s not dancing Gangnam style.
Despite the latest fitness craze, all three systems are important to being a balanced athlete. I call our program Energy System Training because it is intended to condition an athlete or client to be able to meet the energy production demands of their sport or fitness goal. For most sports, training will involve a combination of the three systems sequenced together at the appropriate time.
Part 2 will discuss HOW you train each of the three energy systems…
Putting up big weight loss numbers isn’t easy, however it is achievable. On February 28th Anthony came into Peak Condition with a good friend of his, Travis (a long time PC client). Anthony went through our assessment where I measured range of motion (ROM), stability, strength, cardiovascular function and a couple anthropometric measurements. With the results of those tests, coupled with Anthony’s goals, I created his unique workout program for the next 8 weeks.
As of today Anthony has been coming to PC twice a week for the last 5 weeks and his results are great!
Total lbs lost: 24
Dialed in nutrition: 2050 calories/day, Fat: 31% CHO: 50% Protein: 19%
ROM deficits: increased Supine Hip Flexion and FABER mobility (more details follow)
Now these results weren’t achieved by just doing 2 days a week. Anthony is on a cardio program 4-7 days a week for 45-60 minutes. We alternate his intensity between medium and high to make sure we aren’t over training or just over reaching. Additionally, and probably most important, is the fact that he has been extremely consistent with his workouts and nutritional plan.
This is a perfect example of how dramatic changes can occur when consistency is involved. Working out isn’t about going 110% all the time, instead being consistent and following a program that has varying volumes and intensities will always produce better results. There are entire text books covering the topic of periodization. In fact this is the one I am reading right now:
Losing 24 lbs in the last 5 weeks shows that Anthony is following his nutritional plan and getting in his cardio workouts. However, another number that I am extremely excited about is his increased ROM for two tests that needed improvement.
Supine Hip Flexion:
Original measurement: After 5 weeks:
Left Leg 61 Left Leg 80
Right leg 59 Right Leg 81
Hip Faber ROM
Original measurement: After 5 weeks:
Left Leg 56 Left Leg: 60
Right leg 65 Right Leg: 65
In both cases I am looking for a level of symmetry in addition to total ROM. There are situations where ROM imbalances are warranted and even desired for optimal performance. However, Anthony isn’t participating in any activities that would require such physiological adaptations, consequently symmetry is more of a focus.
Anthony is a perfect example of consistent hard work paying off in a big way. To learn more about what it takes to have great success check out the Biggest Winner Contest that starts on Saturday.
It is your friendly Peak Condition intern here (me, Jonathan) posting on the blog! I’m attempting to make this post informative but not too heavy.
Imagine the perfect workout. It would be quick, easy, and get great results right? Well, there is no easy workout that gets great results but there IS a workout that is quick, gets great results, and will bust your butt in the process. It is called interval training, specifically High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). It is basically a strategy of alternating high intensity exercise followed by recovery. For example, if you perform as many reps of body weight squats as you can in 20 seconds and then follow that with 15 seconds of rest, and repeat – that is an example of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). The idea is that you expose your body to an intensity it can’t maintain, and then allow yourself a short pause to catch your breath. For everyone from athletes to Biggest Winners (Peak Condition’s team weight loss challenge), and anyone looking for an intense workout, HIIT has a lot to offer.
Until recently, long aerobic workouts, consisting of 30+ minutes of cardio, have been promoted as the best method to reduce fat. While they are definitely a good way to exercise, HIIT has been shown to burn fat more effectively as well as increase your aerobic capacity and muscular strength, with better results compared to steady-state cardio. Additionally, HIIT workouts train muscular strength and speed while participating in steady state cardio (running or cycling) doesn’t. Here is a look at some HIIT methods.
1. Tabata Training: It is a whole body workout that really only consists of 4 minutes of training. It is short and quick but you will be sweating by the end of it. More importantly, it has been shown to actually improve both cardiovascular and muscular fitness. Below is an example Tabata workout, but you can do the same protocol of 20 seconds intense exercise followed by 10 seconds rest, doing any other full body exercise such as squat jumps, plank pushups, or burpees. Go ahead give it a try!
2. The Trapp Study Protocol: I included this because it is from an actual study proving weight loss using a HIIT method. The workout starts by 8 seconds of sprinting on a stationary bike, followed by 12 seconds of easy pedaling, repeating this for 20 minutes. In the study, the group doing this three times per week lost significantly more weight than a group that biked for twice as long at a consistent pace. Although the HIIT workout lasted half the time, it was more effective for weight loss. You could replicate this workout on a running track, elliptical or by alternating exercises such as squat jump, kettle bell swing, burpees, plank pushups, etc.
There are a variety of other HIIT protocols out there but these are two protocols that I specifically researched. I always think it is important to have verifiable information because, it seems, so many in the fitness industry pull their facts out of a hat.
In short, High Intensity Interval Training can be a smart training alternative to just running or biking. The workouts are shorter, more intense, and the payoff can result in greater weight loss and greater cardiovascular & muscular improvement.
If only it was this easy to know if a trainer was worth your time or not…
I’ve literally seen this while visiting gyms all over the nation. Most commercial facilities will have a couple (if not more) of these so called trainers, who are more interested in technology than their clients.
I love technology (embedding for this video was removed, sorry)
Because every year thousands of people try personal training for the first time, I want to give you a short list of things to look for BEFORE you choose a trainer. If you already have a trainer who does something on this list, the ball is in your court. I’d recommend finding another trainer and following these guidelines:
1 – If they text while a client is working out – You shouldn’t be on your phone while driving and you shouldn’t text while working or training. Simply leave your phone in the car or in the locker room, your trainer should do the same. Make sure your trainer is attentive and listens to you.
2 – Form is always the most important – If you see a trainer letting their client lift with improper form, move on. You are more likely to injure yourself than actually make improvements to your overall health.
I had a hard time watching this whole video, watching someones form should not evoke bleeding eyes and a strong gag response.
3 – One type of workout – If you see a trainer “training” everyone the exact same way there, is probably a problem. Personal training is exactly that, personal. Your program should have specific drills for you, from dynamic warm-ups to strength exercises. Unless you are in a class or boot camp your workouts should be tailored.
4 – No assessment – If your first session is a brutal workout with no assessment, you most likely did not get a personal workout. Some trainers can quickly assess while others simply don’t assess. You should always go through some kind of assessment before training. This gives the trainer a foundation for creating your program, not just your workout, your program.
5 – Programming not just workouts – If you see a trainer taking their clients through: Foam Rolling (tissue quality work), Dynamic Warm-ups and a Workout, you probably found a keeper.
6 - Certified/Educated – A national certification through NSCA, ASCM or NASM, there are other certifications but these are the big 3 that I value. A degree in Exercise Science, Kinesiology or Physiology are helpful but personally I look for a certification first. Training is a specific skill which isn’t necessarily taught in an undergraduate program.
A short rant, when I was back at the corporate setting I had the joy of watching new trainers start their fitness careers (most were very short). Each month was the same, they all thought it was their job to beat the hell out of their clients. It’s true that one thing people look for when working with a trainer is a good workout. However that is just a part of what a good trainer should be doing. As I mentioned in # 5, there are other elements that need to be added to someones program. If weight loss is your goal, nutrition should be addressed and will represent 70-80% of your success. You simply can never out-work bad nutrition. If all a trainer has to offer is a “hard” workout, you’re missing the boat with total body health the fitness. You can easily find someone to kick your a** but finding a professional that will keep you healthy and address your inefficiencies are worlds apart.
Those are my top 6 recommendations for those of you who are searching for a trainer this New Year. The list could have easily been double but 6 points are easy to remember, plus it’s the best number.