EPE training Systems is located in Laguna Niguel, CA. To find out more about EPE and our training center check us out at http://epetrainingsystems.com.
This post speaks specifically to the general fitness trainee. Future posts will focus on the athlete.
EPE Training Systems, in short is a synthesis of several different training methods, including the following:
• Powerlifting/Strength Training.
• Prehab (injury prevention).
• Aerobic Conditioning (Tempo Training, which is usually performed in some sort of circuit).
• Anerobic glycolytic conditioning (HIIT – high intensity interval training or circuit training.)
• Aerobic Glycolytinc Conditioning (performed in some sort of circuit training)
• Athete Training – strength and power (ultimate goal is to increase one’s “Rate of Force Development”.
• Athlete Training – in terms of Sport Specific Conditioning (i.e., aerobic capacity, anaerobic glycolytic capacity, anaerobic glycolytic power, strength endurance, alactic capacity, alactic power) (NOTE: I do not train athletes to be better skilled at their position. I leave that up to the coaches. Time is much better spent with me making them better athletes).
• Diet and supplementation guidance.
So, having an understanding in all of these systems allows me to form a plan that will most efficiently achieve a clients set of goals, while taking into this formula one’s current age and conditioning level. The basic rule of fitness is that it is an “individualized process”. And to add to that, there are always tweaks and adjustments, and different types of progressions that must be taken into account, on a never-ending basis.
When someone is following a basic template program, or is partaking in an exercise class/bootcamp/CrossFit, they performing in a “one size fits all” environment, which contains some extremely limiting elements. This is why I have no interest in training a group above six clients. The only exception would be if I brought in an assistant to help. Otherwise, we lose to many of the elements that maintain the integrity of an “individualized” process.
Training the Client
Just about every personal training environment, that is geared towards adults, takes the easy approach. They use equipment and methods that are easy to learn and equipment that is not threatening. Or they attempt to make an entire fitness program around one or two pieces of equipment. This is very limiting, as well falling into the “one size fits all” slippery slope.
First and foremost is the understanding that strength is the basis for any fitness oriented program. Whether your goal is to become a better bike rider, long distance runner, lose weight, be healthier, develop a healthier body, re-shape your body, or you just want to get in and out of the car more easily or address postural deficiencies, etc. – without first developing a foundation in strength you are taking a significantly less efficient path towards reaching your goals. Not my personal opinion – this is basic strength and conditioning science 101. So, then what is the most efficient path to getting stronger?
Free Weights Strength Training vs Anything Else
We’ve already touched on the fact that trendy fitness objects are limited in versatility. They are also severely limiting when attempting to increase one’s overall strength levels. Among other things, they do not use nearly the same relative degree of applied resistance (weight), and therefore do not elicit nearly as effective improvement (in the form of “supercompensation”) on the endocrine system, the physiological system, nor the central nervous system – all of these being key aspects of getting stronger, leaner, etc.
There is nothing that can ever replace the effectiveness of the barbell. In all of its beautiful simplicity, it allows the body to move a relatively heavy amount of weight through very long ranges of motion, while maintaining the bio-mechanical pathways that nature designed us to move in. It has been proven, both empirically and in countless bodies of research, over and over, and over again; that when you are able to exercise within these natural pathways – with relatively heavy resistance – you are putting yourself in the best possible position to achieve a variety of goals, notwithstanding strength, muscularity, muscle balancing, strengthening of the joints, speed, power, fat loss, endurance and overall function.
Problems with Machine-based Fitness Environments
Some machine use is fine, however a few of the limitations of too much of an emphasis with this approach are as follows:
• They force your body to move in unnatural pathways;
o This causes joint issues, in the long run, or possible injury in the short-run
o The progression of resistance, during the movement of a repetition, is different then what the body experiences in nature when moving naturally through gravity. This difference diminishes how the CNS reads the work, and it does not receive the stress stimulus (which is critical for progress to occur) nearly as efficiently. This is one of the reasons why you don’t get as strong using machines.
o The same also applies to the unnatural pathways, and the CNS responding less efficiently. Again, this causes your strength gains to be considerably less than with free weight.
A program that is based on a healthy focus of barbell and dumbbell training:
• allows the ability to move a relatively heavy amount of weight
• allows you to do this through a great range of motion
(Side Note: recently, research has been showing that the best way to achieve healthy flexibility is to use free weight equipment through a full range of motion. This shows greater functional results then any form of stretching – especially methods that have you stretching from positions like on your back)
• allows you to move in very natural pathways in which our bodies were designed to, resisting the forces of gravity, and therefore involving many more muscles above and beyond just the prime movers – which makes for a significantly more functional type of strength
• creates an environment where results can be tracked in detail, which allows for very specific increases in “overload”. This” progressive overload” environment is the key to sustaining improved results over long periods of time. It also allows us to constantly monitor a trainee’s performance, and determine, not only what form the increased “overload” comes in, but it also informs us if we need to take a step back in order to take two steps forward, later. If you are not monitoring current performance, and making the necessary adjustments, you are simply exercising, blindly, with no plan. After your initial fitness gains, your improvements will eventually slow down to a standstill.
Any fitness regimen will initially improve a de-conditioned client’s fitness level. However, it is after this initial period when you see people who are in a rut, yet they are doing the same things over and over again, expecting different results. I call this “fitness insanity”.
Getting Back to EPE
The interesting dilemma is, like everything else in life, the best techniques in getting stronger, leaner, and looking better; are also more difficult to properly learn – and I emphasize “properly”. Most trainers do not know how to properly perform these movements to begin with. Others just cannot be bothered with doing so. Then, others do not have an environment which is conducive to training this style of fitness. Orange County is filled with trendy exercise classes, watered down salon fitness boutiques, inexperienced trainers, horrible corporate big-box exercise environments, and one size fits all bootcamps/exercise classes/CrossFit classes. Worse yet, is being trained from the client’s home, with limited/poor quality equipment. EPE came about as an alternative to the pervasive watered down, trend mongering elements in this area.
In terms of the adult trainee, my vision is to open the door for them to be exposed to the most efficient fitness techniques, methods and strategies – usually reserved for true enthusiasts and athletes. The system is designed to take a person of any age, fitness level, and experience level; and apply these great methods in a format that is reasonable and not overwhelming. Remember, training is:
1. an individualized process
So, when a new client comes in (even if they are going to train in the Small Group sessions), we first spend time in a fundamental phase, where we must emphasize the overriding bio-mechanical aspects of weight training. This is performed by strict adherence to one’s technique, while working on a few basic movements. Once past the fundamental period, they are in no way a master of movement in the gym. Improving technique is an ever-going process, refined through thousands of repetitions. However, they have the basic knowledge to start working with in a “progressive overload” environment. In other words, we can really get started in attaining goals!
Every client has their own log book. Every workout is recorded, along with notes, and is used to gauge current and past performance. This provides reference points to determine how the following training session will be approached. Everything we do is geared towards improving on past performances. This is the difference between a true training program and simple exercise. Big difference!
An Example of the Advantages of Weight Training for the Older Trainee
As we age, maintaining or increasing proper bone density becomes extremely important – for both men and women. Research has shown that, by far and away, this most effective way for an aging person to actually increase their bone density is by working out with free-weights, using a relatively heavy weight.
Drugs do not work as well. Running can be helpful in maintaining bone density, but will do nothing for increasing it. The one best thing you can do is to perform free weight exercises which require compound movements, using multiple chains of muscles, moving weight through a natural and long range of motion, working against gravity – Not in a pre-determined pathway, such as with machines. This must be performed with relatively heavy weight. The research is clear, you cannot duplicate these benefits through Pilates, Yoga, machines, running, jazz dancing, TRX, kettlebells, Pure Barre, Brazilizan Butt, drugs, or any hyped-up TV marketed fitness “program”, or anything else. You must get under the bar!
Incorporating Various Fitness Goals Without Compromise
There are other Fitness systems/organizations (some, very popular) that will incorporate different aspects of fitness, but they take a different approach than EPE Training Systems. They tend to combine different elements all together into one course of exercise, simultaneously performing them together.
Every time we train towards a different goal (strength, fat loss, muscularity, power, etc.), we are training in different energy systems (metabolic systems). When we combine different metabolic systems at the same time, there is a compromise. What tends to happen is that some fitness systems/organizations will combine strength training with endurance (or fat loss) training. In environment like this, the endurance metabolic system will take precedence over others, and greatly compromises one’s ability to gain strength, re-shape their body by improving musculature, and their ability to become more explosive and athletic / functional. This is why clients from these environments, with average genetics tend to look “flat” and “washed out”. Relatively speaking, they are weak. Sure, when they first start, they get a little stronger, they lose weight, and get a little more “toned”, but there are very restrictive limits that soon come into play. If you were to ask these people, when they first decided to get involved with a fitness program, what their goals were and – looking at them now – it would probably be easy to notice that they have fallen short in some areas.
At EPE training Systems, I approach using multiple fitness methods in a manner which will lead to the least amount of invasiveness between different metabolic systems. For example, the conditioning is performed after (not during) the weight training. Now, ideally it would be great to separate the two by a couple hours or more, but ultimately, convenience must play a role. However, I am always monitoring the process, and making adjustments, based on the client’s current performance.
Conditioning is usually performed in a short, high intensity manner – just how intense that is, is dependent on the client’s current physical capabilities. This also applies to duration.
As for what is actually performed, for the less conditioned trainee, we will usually begin with using easier, low impact equipment like the Concept 2 Rower, the Versa Climber. The Airdyne bike, etc. As the trainee progresses they may become more curious and want to explore using equipment such as the following:
• medicine balls
• prowler sleds
• Bulgarian Bags
• Strongman wheelbarrow
• Framer’s walk handles
• Conan Wheel
• box jumps
At EPE Training Systems, I try to encourage long term goals, which are always 1000% (“one thousand” – this number stems from my own opinion) more effective at producing a life time of health and fitness. Because many fitness regimens are either flawed, or less than efficient, trainers will often compromise by placing their clients on very calorie restrictive diets. This will produce a fairly rapid change in the mirror (in terms of fat loss – but horrible for strength and muscularity/body-shaping), but it also ruins metabolisms and produces yo-yo syndromes. There are times when this makes sense, such as right before a wedding, but this should never become one’s standard approach to fitness. The client will lose some weight, eventually burn out, stop training, get fat, and then come back to the trainer and start all over again, its madness!