A couple days back, I wrote an article on the benefits of Generation UCAN as they pertain to maintaining/achieving low body fat levels AND in avoiding the deleterious effects of an over-reliance on carbohydrates. If you missed it (or want a re-read!), you can check it out here: UCAN Break Carbohydrate Dependence

The general idea of that article was that we don’t want to rely on high-intensity systems when we don’t need them. This is true from both a performance and fuel perspective, and has significant implications on training program design. This conversation highlights a change in my thinking regarding program design that stems from interactions I’ve had with Patrick Ward, Joel Jamieson, and David Tenney. Most recently, I spent 4 days with Patrick when I was out in Phoenix for a Postural Restoration Institute seminar. As Patrick described it, programs can be designed with a solitary or combined focus of these foundations:

  1. Exercise Progressions
  2. Energy System Utilization

While I think most people reading this are familiar with exercise progression concepts, the idea of energy system utilization congruency might be less familiar. A simple way to grasp this concept is to refer back to the article from last week: Peak Performance and Diet Design Seminar. More specifically, the list of physical quality competing demands from Dr. Issurin provides a structure through which we can begin to understand how to design programs around energy system congruency.

  1. Aerobic Endurance: Alactic (Sprint) abilities, strength endurance-aerobic, maximum strength-hypertrophy (after)
  2. Anaerobic (Glycolytic) Endurance: Strength endurance-anaerobic, aerobic restorative exercises, aerobic-anaerobic (mixed) endurance
  3. Alactic (Sprint) Abilities: Aerobic endurance, explosive strength, maximum strength-hypertrophy (after), aerobic restoration exercises
  4. Maximum Strength-Hypertrophy: Maximum strength-innervation, flexibility, aerobic restoration
  5. Learning New Technical Elements: Any kind of training modality, but after the dominant tasks

This list refers to a basic physical quality or energy system, and what other qualities can be developed concomitantly without the interfering with each other. Recently there has been an increased focus on high intensity interval training (or “Anaerobic/glycolytic endurance” in the list above) as a primary conditioning method for athletes. If you refer to the list above, you can see that this approach can be used coincidentally with training for anaerobic strength endurance, aerobic-anaerobic endurance, and aerobic restorative exercises. Notably absent from this list are many of the other major qualities that are important for both hockey players and almost all other team-sport athletes: alactic (sprint) abilities, maximum strength-hypertrophy, maximum strength-innervation, and explosive strength. 

Strength matters

Related to my previous post, putting such a high emphasis on anaerobic/glycolytic training, such as that commonly used during high intensity interval training sessions, will not only interfere with the development of other qualities, it will also make the body reliant on the glycolytic system (carb dependence!), which has a limited fuel supply, creates a high degree of stress on the body and has longer recovery times, especially in the absence of a well-developed aerobic system.

There is a time and a place for this, but this type of training should not be used haphazardly

Interestingly, last off-season I made some changes to our off-season conditioning progression based solely off of my feelings about how the athletes recovered from the progression in the previous off-season that appear to be in line with this “energy system utilization congruency” idea. That said, there is always room for improvement and I’ll be readdressing this for all of our athletes in the coming weeks.

Early in my career, if you would have said “energy systems training” I would have said, “sure, conditioning.” Recently, I’m finding that EVERYTHING is energy systems training, and viewing things in this light will have pretty profound implications on how I design programs in the future. A related take home is that it’s important to be proactive in seeking new information and to continually improve yourself. In this regard, it’s helpful to stand on the shoulders of giants, to learn from the best in the industry. Patrick, David, and Joel have been outstanding resources for me, and I’m confident they will be for you too. If you haven’t already, start looking into their work, much of which can be found here: StrengthCoach.com

Lastly, remember that you only have a couple days left to save $100 on Joe Dowdell and Dr. Mike Roussell’s Peak Diet and Training Summit Package, which includes 12 DVDs and 3 manuals with over 500 pages jammed full of quality training program and diet design information. Go here to take advantage of their offer before the price jumps! Peak Diet and Training Summit Package

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. If you’re interested in more information on energy systems training, Joel posted a great video from a talk he gave that you can watch for free here: A New Perspective on Energy Systems Training

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After last week’s post, which featured 14 new articles, training program, exercise videos, and webinars, this week’s update is a little less overwhelming. If you want a quick synopsis on those, you can read up on them here: This Week in Hockey Strength and Conditioning

If you’re coming here for the first time this week, check out these two posts from earlier in the week:

  1. Mike Robertson Interview
  2. Peak Performance and Diet Design Seminar

Over at Hockey Strength and Conditioning, I posted the next phase of our 2-day in-season program for the 16U-18U teams that I work with. You can check that out here:

2-Day In-Season Training Program: Phase 2

Running the off-ice training program for these teams has been a fun process. For most of the kids, this is their introduction to organized training. A few have been on the mirror-muscle program that their HS buddies told them was the only option, but many have never trained before. As a result, the goal has been to build a program that incorporates all the stresses I feel that they need during the season, AND simultaneously build-in exercise progressions that allow them to develop proficiency in basic exercises. This undertaking is done with a space less than 900 sq ft, with no racks, and an athlete to coach ratio that typically floats around 15-20:1. Certainly not ideal, but we get the job done.

When you head over to Hockey Strength and Conditioning make sure to check out the forum. There are three great discussions going on right now:

  1. Reactions to LTAD
  2. Athlete Metabolism Issue
  3. Vibration Training

That’s a wrap for today. A lighter load should allow you to catch up on all the great stuff I mentioned last week.  As always, if you aren’t a member yet, I encourage you to try out Hockey Strength and Conditioning for a week. It’ll only cost $1, and if it’s not the best buck you’ve ever spent, I’ll personally refund you!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. I also wanted to let you know that Joe Dowdell and Dr. Mike Roussell have released their Peak Diet and Training Summit Package, which includes 12 DVDs and over 500 pages spread across the 3 accompanying manuals. Having attended the summit live, I can tell you that this will be one of the most comprehensive collection of high quality training and nutrition/supplementation information that the fitness industry has ever seen. You can get the package, along with a few great bonuses, for $100 off if you buy before Friday, and it’s been approved for 2.0 CEUs from the NSCA, which is a great feature given that recertification deadlines are quickly approaching! Check it out here: Peak Diet and Training Summit Package

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Over the Summer I was very fortunate to attend Joe Dowdell and Dr. Mike Roussell’s Peak Performance and Diet Design Seminar and Joe’s facility Peak Performance NYC. The seminar was a blast. It was great to catch up with Dr. Perry Nickelston, Tony Gentilcore, and Joe and meet John Romaniello, Sean Hyson, Jim Smith, Mike Roussell, and a number of the other attendees.

You may recall that I discussed the “expert” panel Q&A that Joe asked me to be a part of here: Become a Great Coach!

Social gatherings aside, the seminar itself was packed with great information. It was the first time I saw either Joe or Dr. Mike speak, so to say it was an eye opener would be an understatement. I’ve referenced back through the binder that all of the attendees received several times since the course and thought it would be a good topic for today’s post. Without further ado, here are 5 things I picked up at the seminar.

5) Citrulline Malate
Dr. Roussell discussed his supplement recommendations, and divided them up into “core”, “performance enhancers”, and “case specific.” This in itself is an important concept as many people are quick to start taking supplements (or following training programs for that matter) based on what others are doing, which completely neglects the importance of individual training and body composition goals and stress tolerance. I was familiar with most of the supplements Dr. Mike spoke about, but one really caught my attention: citrulline malate.


According to Dr. Mike, citrulline malate can help fight fatigue and decrease muscle soreness by preventing lacate build-up and acidosis, as well as clearing ammonium.  CM also increases BCAA utilization during exercise, so it’s a great compliment to BCAA or protein supplementation. Some of these attributes have been described with arginine supplementation (such as one of the main active ingredients in all the garbage NO supplements), but Dr. Mike pointed out that arginine is shuttled to the liver shortly after absorption, making it a less effective option that citrulline malate. For hockey players, this means maintaining high performance through long shifts and physical games. For lifters, this means achieving more work in a training session and an expedited recovery. For everyone, this seems like good news.

4) Comprehensive Periodization
Joe is one of the most thorough planners I’ve ever spoken with. When a pro athlete comes to him, he lays out their schedule for the next several weeks or months (depending on what they know) and varies the stresses of the training based on their sport-specific training/practices, travel, and their competitions. This allows for both optimal progress and facilitate recovery, which in turn feeds optimal progress/performance. To an extent, every strength coach does this, but Joe really takes it to the next level. In the manual, Joe included a 4-phase (~5 months) training program that he used with National Fencing Champion Tim Morehouse and 4-phase energy system development program that he used with MMA fighter Marcos “Loro” Galvao. Looking through these programs spawn a lot of ideas regarding the importance of long-term planning and stress management, options for program periodization, and general options for resistance and energy systems training. You can infer a lot about the quality of a coach from analyzing his/her programs, and the attention to detail Joe builds into his programs explains why his gym is a top 3 gym in the nation.

3) Variety
I’ll be honest, I’m not usually impressed with random exercise variations. I think a lot of people put an excessive emphasis on variety at the expense of actually becoming proficient in the movements and their progress suffers accordingly. I also think that people prioritize effective behind “sexy” in selecting exercises (hence all the crazy BOSU and stability ball exercises that people fell in love with). That said, Joe put together a 23-page list with ~650 different exercise variations, describing the “dominant movement pattern or emphasis” for each and including additional classifications when appropriate. Beginners need to master the basics; that should be clear. But more advanced athletes with longer training backgrounds (5-10+ years depending on the consistency) will benefit both physically and psychologically from a varied stimulus. This is by far the most comprehensive list of categorized exercises I’ve ever come across. I’m impressed.

2) Training Residuals
In the interest of prioritizing different training qualities to help make maximum progress, it’s important to understand how long you can leave a quality alone before it starts to degrade. Joe did an outstanding job of discussing Dr. Issurin’s research in this area. Understand “motor ability” residuals as Dr. Issurin calls them, is extremely important in designing programs for elite level athletes. Joe also discussed the physiological changes that drive these residuals, but the list below will give you an idea of how long qualities last before they start to degrade.

  1. Aerobic Endurance: 30 +/- 5 days
  2. Maximum Strength: 30 +/- 5 days
  3. Anaerobic Glycolytic Endurance: 18 +/-4 days
  4. Strength Endurance: 15 +/- 5 days
  5. Maximum Speed (Alactic): 5 +/-3 days

1) Competing Demands
Related to the point above, it’s important to understand which physical qualities will interfere with the development of other qualities. In other words, you want to design your training so that the primary, secondary, and tertiary (if applicable) emphases of a given training phase compliment each other. Mixing contrasting qualities will limit the development of both. Again, Joe highlighted Dr. Issurin’s work in this area, which is briefly illustrated below:

  1. Aerobic Endurance: Alactic (Sprint) abilities, strength endurance-aerobic, maximum strength-hypertrophy (after)
  2. Anaerobic (Glycolytic) Endurance: Strength endurance-anaerobic, aerobic restorative exercises, aerobic-anaerobic (mixed) endurance
  3. Alactic (Sprint) Abilities: Aerobic endurance, explosive strength, maximum strength-hypertrophy (after), aerobic restoration exercises
  4. Maximum Strength-Hypertrophy: Maximum strength-innervation, flexibility, aerobic restoration
  5. Learning New Technical Elements: Any kind of training modality, but after the dominant tasks

A “Top 5” doesn’t really do the seminar justice. Joe described ALL of the adaptations to various resistance training and energy system development strategies and Dr. Mike gave the most comprehensive talk on nutrition and supplementation that I’ve ever seen. Simply, there wasn’t really any component of designing training programs or diets that they didn’t discuss, in detail (I think that was their intention!).

For those of you that missed the seminar, I know they recorded the entire thing and are in the final stages of putting together a huge package with all of the DVDs and the binder I alluded to earlier with all of the slides and extra bonuses from the presentation. Look out for more information on that in the near future, but in the meantime, Joe Dowdell put together a free webinar for you on the “Top 5 Keys for Success in the Fitness Industry.” If you’re coming from a hockey background, this may not interest you, but if you’re personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, or fitness enthusiast, I highly recommend you check out the webinar!

Click here to watch >> Top 5 Keys for Success in the Fitness Industry

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