EFFECTIVE Program Design: Variation vs. Consistency in Physical Development

Hi folks!

Just an FYI…this one’s for the nerds (kind of a Kinesiology 101).

Last week I had a client who asked me a great question:  “Why we do so few “exercises” in a training bout vs. other trainers who have their clients moving all over the room?”  Actually, I told him, “I used to do just that.  I had the belief that being efficient and getting as much done as possible was the way.”  I did used to train like that for a while.   But, it was tiring and I didn’t seem to get a lot out of it.  For clients whose only respite from the cubicle was our workouts it worked.  Although, it seemed to take more discipline and energy than they really had left in their tank on a consistent basis.

Then, I read a book concerning business efficiencies and inefficiencies and they talked a bit about the concept of effectiveness vs. efficiency.  Efficiency gets a lot of tasks done.  Effectiveness gets specific tasks done that produce results!

So, I returned to the way that I had trained in college…careful, methodical, focused, attentive….with a few new tweeks and tools in my tool belt, of course.  This brings us to today’s topic…. the balancing of variation in a program vs. consistency.  In other words, “How to be EFFECTIVE!”

How do we balance variation versus consistency of movement?  We know that the body needs variation to adapt.  However, how is one to tell truly gauge progress when all variables are constantly changing?  Was the program effective and, if it was, what was effective element within it?

Here are some of the possible variables in a training program:  Resistance (weight), repetitions (volume), sets (volume), time under tension, body position, range of motion, direction of force or movement, unilateral vs bilateral movements, rest periods, speed of contraction, exercise order, stability, complexity of movement, change of direction of force, joint angle, heart rate, distance, acceleration/deceleration

Exercise science is just that…a science.  One of the main rules of the scientific method is that when doing an experiment, only one variable may be changed at one time while all others stay constant.  Otherwise the experiment cannot prove cause and effect as more than one possible cause has been changed.  Therefore, consistency must be kept in order to gather quantitative results.  And our clients’/athletes’ programs are nothing if not each an experiment in human adaptation.

However, the body is an amazing thing. It adapts to specific imposed demands.  Therefore, the more different types of demands we put on it, the more it may adapt.

With so many variables, how does one know which to keep constant and which to change?  Well, first we have to look at the client.  What are the needs of that specific person?  What will get them from where they are to where they need to be?  The only way to know this is through very thorough testing and evaluation.

Certain parts of a program need constant components while others need variable ones.  One needs to, based upon the results of testing, put together a set of exercises that need to keep consistent while only changing one progressive variable at a time over the course of a program. This is the “Core” **portion of the workout.  Most of the time, the basic compound movements will serve this purpose in the case of pure ‘strength’ training.  Jumping, sprinting, and other basic movements will serve in other conditioning aspects.

**not to be confused with “core” as in the center of the body

After determining the core portion, the variable exercise component should be added in a precise manner according to the testing in order to balance the body and meet any secondary needs.

For example, in the strength portion of a workout, the trainee may have ‘the deadlift’ as core exercise.  The weight and/or repetitions (intensity and volume) change from bout to bout.  But deadlift remains as the basic exercise in that portion of the workout.  The supporting strengthening exercises may change, such as lunges instead of step ups.  In parts of the workout for warmup, flexibility, athleticism, or correction, more variety still may be present based upon how the client feels and other day to day factors.

Jason Root, CSCS

Functionally Integrated Performance training

Happy Friday everyone!

So, I was at a gym today.  I look around at all the folks on all the machines and had two conflicting thoughts.  The first one was, “How wonderful all these people are here working on themselves.”  Then, I looked at what was really going on.  The peoples faces were blank.  Many were talking on phones, texting, reading magazines, and those with trainers were talking about anything but their development and the work being undergone.  The second thought, “Wow, it reminds me of that episode of The Walking Dead I saw last night!”

When undergoing a program of adaptation and development, engagement is crucial.  What is being engaged?  Focus on the job being done…..dynamics of the mind and body, satisfaction for the completion of the task, or even better….HAVE SOME F$%^&*G FUN!!!

Upon this sight, I started thinking about our lifestyles and a bit that a comedian I like did.  (Might’ve been Carlin…can’t remember). It goes something like this:

“We wake up in a box that we sleep in and walk within a bigger box that keeps our stuff and have meals, entertainment.  We get in a box that keeps our car.  We get in the car (another box) and go to work.  Work is a very large box with little boxes called offices or cubicles (box right in the word) that we’re put in to work.  Then, at the end of the day, we hop back in the car box to go to a box to exercise to counteract what’s happened to our bodies in all the other boxes.”

A good point he has there.  Then I think of the answer we (at RootHealth) use for this.  In the strength and conditioning industry, there’s a term for a type of training called Functionally Integrated Strength and Performance training (our program is called ‘Out of the Box’ training).  Well, what exactly is that!?

Let’s look at each of the words.  Functional.  This is a buzzword in fitness everyone seems to use but no one explains what it actually means.  I mean, if you move, your body is functioning…so, isn’t everything ‘functional’?  Yes, but ‘functional’ is more of a spectrum than a “this is functional and this isn’t” scenario.  In general ‘functional’ exercises are movements with components of stabilization, reactivity, strength, and/or different planes of motion that overload similar to what the human body is designed to perform in nature.  These functions are walking, carrying, running (both sprint and jog), jumping, pushing, throwing, pulling, and more.

Integrated is perhaps the most important word here.  Similar to functional, we’re talking about what the body has to do neuromuscularly.  We look at things on a spectrum from ‘isolated’ to ‘integrated’.  An integrated exercise uses more joints with more functions than another.  For instance, a machine press isolates the chest muscles by moving from point A to B in a single dimension.  A dumbell bench press is more integrated as control is need in multiple dimensions to control the weight.  A standing cable, even more so, in that the core must engage to keep us standing while the force is pushing horizontally back against us, a chest pass is even more integrated in that, now, there’s an acceleration/deceleration component.

Strength‘ is the maximal amount of force/tension the body can handle for a given movement for a given amount of time or reps.  And, ‘performance‘ is the measurements put on any given function, usually transferred to an activity outside of the weight room.

The tools we use to train in this fashion are free weights (usually kettle bells or weights with materials that shift…sand/water), something to jump on or to, bands, body weight, and especially SPACE!

Because, there is so much more neuromuscular activity going on with this type of training, a few things happen.  1) infinitely more engaging and FUN 2) KIS!  We ‘keep it simple’ so that programs are more repeatable, attain a better focus, and are more measurable in their outcomes 3) the need for space means we can work in an open environment…a big warehouse or, even better, OUTSIDE!…..so, outside the box (see what we did there).

So, over this long Memorial Day weekend, train…outside the box, have fun, and maybe have a beer in celebration of our military folk!

Jason Root, CSCS, EIM, other letters and stuff

Texting Posture!!!

Does your neck mid or lower back pain ache?  THEN STOP THE TEXTING.  Well, at least mitigate the time periods you’re doing it.

A picture is worth a thousand words.  My back and neck hurt from just looking at this guy above!

Many of my clients and colleagues (and friends, family, girlfriends, the mailman, the gardener) know my aversion to texting and my belief that it: decreases ability to communicate in person,  develop natural conflict/resolution skills, read non-verbal communication cues, keep commitments, stay focused and productive, so on and so on.

But, these are all postulations and hypotheses formulated from my own experience and I haven’t seen many scientific studies yet to confirm this.  However, there is one thing we do know.  Constantly being on your phone will screw up your posture and cause you pain!

Look at the picture above.  Many of us look exactly like this for a large part of our day.

So what is happening here?….stretching and shutting down of our posterior chain muscles (for our posture, alignment, and locomotion) and shortening and weakening of our anterior chain muscles.  See the links below for more info.



Women’s Health Seminar

Today, we’re here to update you on our upcoming seminar in beautiful Temescal Canyon in the Pacific Palisades, CA!

Our seminar is called Women’s Exercise and Nutrition: A Prescription for Lifelong Health.  We will be going over how to create a training program that works for you, your time, your current condition, and your goals.  Of course, we will be looking at specific ways that exercise and nutrition are prescribed for a variety of health issues that mainly (or only) effect women.  However, the material is useful to all.

This is an experiential learning course, which means you will be learning form, function, and mechanics for core conditioning, strength training, and stretching while also participating in a hike that takes us over an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean for our cardiovascular experience.

Our wonderful and talented Registered Dietitian, Aletta Kennedy will be putting together a delicious lunch and snack menu for you.  She will also being speaking to give the nutritional portion of the course.

For your use during the course, you will receive a complimentary yoga mat and RootHealth t-shirt along with our textbook with the information from the course.  The book will be conveniently emailed straight to you for further reference.

This fantastic event will be held from 930am to 4pm on Sunday June 14.  To join us on this adventure, click on this link: http://rhconditioning.com/fitness and then click on the blue button in the middle.

I can’t wait to see you there!

Jason Root, CSCS