EPE Training Systems – Offering Quality Training in Orange County


EPE Training Systems is a one-of-a-kind training facility, located in Laguna Niguel, CA. There are no other establishments in Orange County, CA offering the various programs and unique training environment being offered here.

We offer both on-on-one personal training,small group training, and athlete performance training. Personal training is customized to reflect the goals and fitness levels of the individual. Our group training is kept small so that many op the principles of personal training are carried over into the group – but at a significantly reduced cost to the trainee. The Small Group Training consists of three components: Strength Training/Body Shaping-Hypertrophy/Conditioning.


EPE Training Systems is now offering our Strongman Hybrid Training Program. With this system, each session consists of:

1. One of the three core Powerlifting exercises (Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift)

2. Training on 1-2 Strongman events

3. Circuit conditioning using a variety of implements, including

– Various Strongman Equipment

– Awkward objects

– Ropes

– Kettlebells

– Sleds

– Medicine Balls

– Calisthenics

– Bulgarian Bags

– Sandbags

– Etc., etc.


We also offer Athlete Performance Training. We are using some of the world wide state of the art methods, such as Univ. of MN Head Strength Coach, Cal Dietz’s “Triphasic Undualted Block Periodization'” system. Our athletes are getting stronger, more explosive, increasing their power and rate of force development.


EPE has teamed up with a fitness trainer referral organization called Thumbtack.

Visit our website at http://www.epetrainingsystems.com, or call at 949-441-1262

The UGLY on Unstable Surface Training (UST)


This article is a must read for anyone who has considered instability/”functional” training as a legitimate means of fitness attainment – or if you’ve been looking for the research to prove what we’ve always known about this trend. It’s written by Eric Cressey of Cressey Performance. Click here for the article.

If you are looking for real world training – on stable surfaces – visit at EPE Training Systems at www.epetrainingsystems.com, or call at 949-441-1262.

My Rant: Fitness Gurus &; “Creative” Fitness Businesses

Stephen Yale is the owner of EPE Training Systems, located in Orange County, CA. He can be reached at 949-441-1262. Also, you can visit the website at www.epetrainingsystems.com.



So I get this email with a podcast from this sort of celebrity, marketing oriented trainer person who is interviewing another trainer person, who has a pretty thriving business. I get these kind of emails every single day from various fitness training business expert types. Usually, I immediately delete them without even looking. Truth be told, I get really tense and sweaty hearing or reading all of these things that I’m supposed to do if I want to have a successful training business. It’s just too much and it freaks me out.  I think I’m destined to be a lot better at performing my craft than at ever promoting it.  At least I’ll never feel like I’m out there faking it.

Anyway, Every once in a great while, I’ll actually take a deep breath and try to get through one of these life changing vehicles of enlightenment, which is what happened with this podcast. First off, the two guys seemed like nice enough, decent people. “I could have a beer with them” types. I have nothing against them as people, and Lord knows they’re both way more successful than I. But, honestly, they did not wow me with their knowledge – extremely basic, and somewhat misinformed. Also, they got on a little tangent that raised my ire a wee bit!



The active (the one actually training people) trainer’s system is not free weight oriented. He believes in “movement”.  Climbing around things, using ropes and dragging chains, swinging kettlebells, etc. Kind of “fun” oriented style of training. Basically using stuff that might be considered “accessory” exercises more so than “core”. But hey, more power to him. He’s getting a lot of people in better condition, and making money doing it.


The problem for me was when they were comparing training like this to fitness training with free weight. They made free weight training sound old and outdated, and portrayed it as not providing the overall health and mobility benefits of stuff like what he was doing. The marketing guru even mentioned how his big 6”3” 255 pound friend, who lifts a lot, was completely huffing and puffing while helping with a move. Odd as it was, it sounded to me like these guys really thought the wheel had been reinvented, and that the regular person who wants to get in shape and look good can do so more effectively using barbell-less programs like the one mentioned!

Where's the barbell?

Where’s the barbell?


This is not an attack of the two fellows on the podcast, but of the notion that creativity trumps science and empirical experience. The fitness  industry has become big business and, in the process, has become a bastion of misinformation, overly marketed hype, and a bunch of stupid guru wannabes who prey not only on the general public, but on fitness “professionals” as well. This is the world where the ‘functional” crew meets the marketers, meets the uninformed. This is where people like to make the ground unstable before confronting resistance, and where training sessions aren’t recorded within a system that intelligently reacts to performance. And they love to say they’re not “working out”, they’re “training” – but they don’t even know what they mean by this. And guess what pal? You’re wrong – you’re working out – you are NOT training!



Huge Guy

This picture has to have been altered…..right?

So the point these two podcast guys were making was that training that incorporates elements of powerlifting and bodybuilding are fine for powerlifters and bodybuilders, but they’re not so effective for the general person who wants to get in shape and be healthy. Supposedly conditioning and agility just isn’t addressed in these programs, versus the type of programs that pretend that they are going to train similar to how our ancestors (or farm boys) stayed in shape back when life was hard and we didn’t sit at desks all day – anyone heard this pitch lately? Podcast point made; the big lifter guy who was dying during the move is an unhealthy product of barbell training.



Anybody who is carrying a whole lot of muscle (and was probably aided by use of pharmacopeia) is going to get winded easily. That’s why MMA fighters don’t bulk up too much. The extra muscle comes with extra blood capillaries, which in turn requires more oxygen to be consumed. Hell, these really big guys are huffing and puffing while their sitting on the couch, and I’m not kidding! Let’s face it, a competitive powerlifter isn’t going to improve his conditioning (otherwise known as GPP – “general physical preparedness”) anymore than what’s needed to make three strong attempts at his three main lifts, during a competition – and the first lift is usually easy, at that. And the competitive bodybuilder isn’t going to perform any more cardio than what’s needed to obtain their fat percentage goal while minimizing muscle loss. So, fine, a lot of competitive powerlifters and bodybuilders are not the perfect picture of health, but that is NOT an indictment on the efficacy of their training methods.

They’re methods are the best available on the planet for building lean muscle mass and getting strong – two of the most critical elements to becoming fit. To not borrow from their methods is to ignore the most effective means of getting strong and building lean muscle mass. The average person who wants to get in shape isn’t going to ever train exactly like a competitive powerlifter or bodybuilder. But if they want to maximize their training time, you better believe that they’re going to want to do things like squat and bench press. I guarantee you that no person I have ever trained has lost agility or conditioning from use of free weight – nobody!




Whatever your fitness goals are, you will much more efficiently achieve them if you move forward with a foundation of strength. The stronger you are, the harder you are able to push yourself in everything else. It’s not a coincidence that, during the conditioning portion of my group training sessions, the stronger trainees ALWAYs are able to push their conditioning harder than the weaker trainees – without fail! But then again, my adult clients aren’t 300 pound behemoths (some of my football players are another story). They’re just regular people who want to get in shape, look good, and be healthy. They can’t help it if they get really strong in the process. And I guarantee you, none of them would be dying while helping you move into your new home.

In a recent article. “My Argument for the Barbell”, I discuss why the barbell is perfectly designed to allow a trainee to more efficiently develop strength and build lean muscle mass. Nothing allows one to lift as heavy a weight, while navigating against gravity, forcing all the other muscles and proprioceptors to support this action simultaneously – and providing the optimal neurological, physiological, and endocrinological responses from his or her body. Furthermore, because the degree of resistance is so easily adjusted and recorded, there is no other means of fitness that so lends itself to intelligent programming – which in, in fact, is what separates “training” from “working out”.



That’s right, my trainees at EPE utilize programs that strongly borrow from powerlifting and bodybuilding. And they also use strongman equipment, push sleds, and perform conditioning circuits with all sorts of instruments. And here is what I want to say to all of you “functional” and “creative” trainers who have your clients swinging from vines, etc. My clients are way stronger than your clients –WAY STRONGER! And they didn’t do it at the expense of their conditioning or general health. This is not magic, just strength and conditioning science, combined with empirical knowledge, combined with a filter for excluding the less efficient means of achieving their overall goals. And surely, you don’t have a problem with strength, right? I mean, you’re not actually going to disparage someone from becoming stronger, are you? And you’re not going to tell me I’m superficial if I were to enhance my shape by adding some lean muscle mass to my body? I mean, you don’t have a problem with someone looking like they train, right?

So if you want to criticize powerlifters or bodybuilders, be my guest. But if you are going to try to prop up your catchy little creative fitness systems by denigrating fitness systems that use barbells and dumbbells and pulleys, and established real world systems and programs, etc., then I ask you one simple question. What have you really truly built your business on; the best possible fitness model or the best possible business model. Hmmm………… now that I think about it, maybe I’m the idiot after all.


My Arguement for the Barbell

This topic came about from often being asked what I think is the  best piece of exercise equipment. In one sense, it surprises me that this could even be a question. But when we see different exercise systems and equipment so hyped, there really does seem to be more confusion than ever before as to what is the real deal and what is simply riding the latest marketing wave. Fitness has taken on an element of creativity over science and empirical results, and there are way too many “experts” who are more interested in cashing in than promoting the best possible fitness options.

EPE Training Systems is located in Laguna Niguel, CA. The website can be found at www.epetrainngsystems.com.


What do you think is the best tool ever created for getting strong and fit?

There are lots of opportunists in the fitness community looking to recreate the wheel  and come up with the next big marketable way to train or instrument to use. I find both quite amusing, but also a little frustrating. Take for, example, some of the more recent pieces of equipment that “experts” have taken and converted into a “complete” fitness system. Many of these are fine as a component within a complete fitness program, but are lacking as a solo instrument.

We had the kettlebell break out in the 90’s and next thing you knew, people started actually getting certified on it. Think about it, certified on using one simple piece of equipment! Funny that I don’t see a certification on barbell training – and which piece of equipment do you think is more involved, more versatile, and more effective at reaching whatever fitness goals? I mean, COME ON (but more on this later)!!

So what else are they building entire training programs around? There’s the TRX, the sandbag, the ballet “barre”, the Pilates reformer, the goofy stuff on commercials, etc.

Anyway, I want to discuss my opinion on what is the single best instrument to be used in order to get strong and fit – which is, of course, the barbell (sorry dumbbells – you do come in a close second, though).


So what about machines?


Like everything else, there are some positive applications for the use of machines. Just to name a couple:

  • They can be used to start progressing a novice towards the barbell
  • Machines allow for some high intensity bodybuilding techniques that could potentially be dangerous to perform with free weight
  • They’re fine for some single joint isolation movements, during the accessory portion of your workout, while trying to provide some extra focus to a body part for various reasons

But let’s face it, machines force your body to move in a pre-determined pathway. Not akin to the free form movement that mother nature designed our bodies to move in. This leads to potential for repetitive injuries, as well as inefficient path ways for increasing strength as it is displayed in our natural environment(s).

Also, machines support your body while providing stress to only the joints that are specifically being worked. In other words, we are not having to contend with moving a resistance in an environment which mimics how we have to contend with resistance in real life – whether it be making the bed or tackling a running back. The Universe does not provide for us an invisible seat and back rest to sit in, which puts us in the perfect position to place that bag of almonds back on the top of the cabinet shelf.



Okay, how about awkward objects and strongman equipment?


I love this stuff, and I use it with my clients, at EPE Training Systems regularly! I’ve even begun offering my “Strongman Hybrid Training” program, which is a combination of powerlifting, strongman training, and circuit training with various objects.

As great as this kind of training is, there’s  a reason why Strongman competitors still use barbells in their training.  Most of the Strongman implements are bulky, and this causes the center of these objects to be held further away from the trainees’ personal center mass (think the middle of your foot when you’re standing). The further away an object is from our center mass, the more awkward it is, and therefore the lighter the weight must be in order to move it. The most efficient way to get strong is lift the heaviest weight possible for the given number of repetitions, time, or distance. Because the barbell is so small in diameter, we are able to keep it very close to our body’s center mass, enabling the heaviest possible weight to be used.

Also, the barbell is the perfect instrument for incorporating the most important principal in strength training – “progressive overload”. Because we are able to alter and record the weight of the bar, all the way down to increments as low as ¼ lb, we have ultimate flexibility with incorporating intelligent strategies towards reaching our specific goals – be it strength, muscular size, conditioning, or sport-related performance.

Most Strongman and awkward instruments do incorporate same objects of different weight, but not to the same degree as the barbell.

Strongman was developed as a competition which displayed one’s strength. It is a sport, which requires skill, strength and conditioning. It was not developed as a means to get strong. Practicing it will make you brutally strong, no doubt. But, just like any other sport, the athletes know they better be squatting and deadlifting, and benching, etc, in order to be strong enough to compete at a high level.



Well, what about the kettlebell, it does everything the barbell can do, right?

Giant Kettlebell

Seriously? I mean, SERIOUSLY?!?! First of all, refer to the topic on strongman equipment.  Everything that is done with a kettlebell can be done with a barbell, but with tremendously more weight.

Truth be told, kettlebells are an excellent means for conditioning, and too many people are recklessly performing Olympic style movements with barbells in a fatigued state. This is causing injuries, as well as lots of buildup of local and systemic inflammation.

Having said that, anyone tried a hard 10-20 rep set of squats lately? Tell me that doesn’t have a tremendous conditioning affect on you, and I guarantee you, you’re not training hard. Also, barbell complexes can be performed very safely, and are a tremendous means of conditioning, and fat burning!


The Pilates reformer strengthens you and makes you flexible, unlike weight training that causes you to lose your flexibility, right?


Wrong, stupid. Very wrong. First of all, why would we ever want to strengthen ourselves on our backs when we seldom ever are in a position to display strength from our backs? If you want to be strong in a way that manifests itself in the environment that mother nature created for us, then you better train in a manner that resembles the neuromuscular pathways in which we use to thrive in this environment. Pilates comes closest to resembling a bug that rolled onto it’s back and can’t get up – not a thriving physical human being, taking charge in his or her daily environment.

Secondly, flexibility is way over emphasized in some circles. Just ask retired Cirque de Soleil performers. For several of them, their tendons around their joints are permanently overly-stretched out, and they no longer have the muscle to compensate – big problems. And yes, this is an extreme example, but it’s important to understand that more is not always better when dealing with flexibility. We need to be flexible enough around our joints to be able maintain a balanced musculoskeletal system. Most well-rounded barbell programs do contain some portion of dynamic stretching, and even some static stretching for those difficult areas. But also, barbell exercises taken through full ranges of motion do much to develop a very functional form of flexibility, which applies to our joints’ range of motion while our bodies support themselves in movement.


How about (blank) cardio machine, bike, whatever?

Whatever your fitness goals ultimately are, you will not get there efficiently without having forged a base foundation of strength. That’s just the fact of the matter. Conditioning is improved through depleting oneself of metabolic substrates (which are your sources for energy). This causes your body to both become more efficient with its use of those substrates, as well as become more efficient at storing and replenishing these substrates. As your body accomplishes this, you increase your conditioning, as well as typically get leaner.

So it stands to reason that the more efficiently you can deplete your body of these substrates, the quicker and more effective your body will be at performing the aforementioned tasks. Well, it also stands to reason that the stronger you are, the more efficiently you will be able to push yourself and deplete your body of these metabolic substrates.

I train people every day and, without fail, the weaker trainees can never push their conditioning as well as the stronger trainees. So if you want to increase your endurance, or just get leaner – you will reach your goals much quicker if you have developed your base strength. And besides, who wants to be that skinny fat person anyway?

For more information about EPE Training Systems go to: www.epetrainingsystems.com.



So what about calisthenics?

Calisthenics are fine, but certainly come with limitations. That’s why, when people start to get strong, they have to add weight to their pull-up, dips, push-ups, and ab work. Only now they are no longer performing calisthenics.

When we exercise, we first determine what exactly our goals are. We then determine a repetition scheme that will deliver our goals. The rep scheme will then determine the amount of weight we use. With calisthenics, your body weight is predetermining your rep scheme. This is okay for a while, but ultimately, it is (pardon my French) ass backwards. It’s putting the cart before the horse.  Eventually the reps are going to get too high for efficiently developing strength or lean muscle mass.

Listen, I don’t give a rat’s ass what Herschel Walker did. He is a genetic freak and therefore is the last person I want to take fitness advice from.

I love calisthenics, and they do some great things such as; developing initial strength, core strength development, they make for a great starting point before progressing to weights, they are excellent for use in conditioning circuits, etc. It’s just that they can’t touch the barbell.



What about the dumbbell? It has all the benefits of the barbell, but also possesses an instability element.

Yes it is and does all that, and more even. And that’s why dumbbells are used by every person I train. They also can be easier on the shoulders, elbows, low back, etc. And they do help promote stability, that you can then take back to your barbell exercises and improve upon them. But it is this very instability point which is why they are typically used to assist the main barbell exercises rather than being the main exercise.

We’ve already discussed that the quickest way to one’s goal is to use the greatest amount of resistance that can be applied within the specific parameters of that goal (i.e., a specific rep count). Try lifting the heaviest barbell weight you can overhead for ten repetitions. Then do the same with dumbbells. The combined weight of the dumbbells will not come close to the weight of the barbell. Enough said. Dumbbells are great, but if you could only use one, it has to be the barbell.



Well, how bout the barbell?


You are correct, Sir. Nothing comes close to taking the greatest amount of resistance possible and moving it, in a non-guided manner, against gravity – while calling upon not only the main driver muscles (agonists), but requiring the use of the antagonist muscles (think triceps when performing an biceps curl) along with the stabilizing and postural muscles and proprioceptors, all working together to accomplish this singular task! This is how our bodies are designed to move in nature. If we train any differently, or with less than optimal resistance, our bodies simply will not respond as efficiently – from a physiological (muscles and tendons), neurological (central nervous system), or endicrinological (hormones) context.


The barbell is not only the best tool available in the tool shed, from an overall viewpoint. It has no flaws. It is the perfect weapon for the following goals, and then some:

  • Strength development
  • Hypertrophy (building lean muscle mass)
  • Power development
  • Rate of force development
  • Starting Strength
  • Strength Speed
  • Speed strength
  • Speed development
  • Conditioning and strengthening the heart
  • Fat loss
  • Increasing bone density
  • Building confidence and self-esteem
  • Help for maintaining flexibility, joint integrity, & reducing arthritic inflammation
  • Reducing chance of disease
  • Improving sleep and stress levels
  • Etc, etc, etc.