Perform Better Learn-By-Doing Seminar Recap: San Francisco 2012

Every year I do my best to make it out to at least one of the Perform Better Seminars and this year I was able to make it to the first one of the year which happened to be right in my own backyard.  The 2012 San Francisco seminar was filled with a star studded cast of top fitness professionals, including: Rachel Cosgrove, Lee Burton, Alwyn Cosgrove and Chris Frankel who unloaded their training knowledge on us and gave practical advice and movements that we could put into action right away.  Are you jealous that you were not able to attend?  Don’t worry I have the next best thing;  I am going to hi-light key points each speaker presented just for you.  Sit back and enjoy what I learned.

Rachel Cosgrove: Designing Fat Loss Programs for your Female Clients

In her presentation Rachel Cosgrove dances between the fine line between the difference in training men and women.  For simplicity sake she mentions that when starting to train women it is important to see the big picture by setting goals, constructing a plan and staying on track to get there.  Rachel suggests working backward from an overall goal then going month-by-month, week-by-week, day-by-day right down to the exercise selection.

Rachel mentions that many selectorized machines are not built with women in mind and may want to be avoided when writing a program.  Rachel generally likes to write 4-week programs which include an: introduction week, base phase week, overload (increased volume) week and a shock (high intensity) week.

Rachel emphasizes the loss of power production, especially as we age, as a huge concern for women.  Adding movements like medicine ball throws and slams not only counteract the diminishing power production associated with age, but adding power movements within a program also aides in greater fat loss potential; besides they are simply fun to do.

When constructing a program think not only about the main goal that remains ahead but the smaller ones as well.  She calls them feel good moments in training.  These moments can be smaller goal achievements which may include athletic moments or strong moments, something that has been achieved at a higher level than before.

Lee Burton: Tackling Soft Tissue, Mobility and Flexibility Problems

In his topic Lee Burton looked beyond the function of the muscles to talk about the role the soft tissue plays in dysfunctional mobility.  According to Lee, one type of soft tissue abnormality that inhibits mobility and function are trigger points.  Trigger points are, “hyper-irritable spots in the muscles associated with a hypersensitive palpable nodule in a taut band.” (Travell and Simons)  Trigger points can produce pain either locally or refer it to another area.  They can also inhibit flexibility and cause weakness.  Lee explains that trigger points occur when the muscles remain “on” (contracted) for too long.  They don’t get a chance to remain at their resting length, where they can relax and recover.

There are protocols you can perform to help deal and reduce trigger points through movement screening like the FMS, soft tissue and trigger point therapy using foam rollers, trigger point tools followed up with proper mobility, flexibility and strength work.

Alwyn Cosgrove: Cutting Edge Fitness Business Principles

Alwyn Cosgrove’s talk shifted gears from training and talked about the importance of the business side of training.  This topic is important because it is often overlooked by trainers who spend most of their time focusing on perfecting their craft of training rather than establishing a business system.

One of the first things to consider is how to remove the risk out of training so the potential client no longer focuses on the price but rather the benefits they will achieve from training with you and your place of business.  Clients look to trainers just like they look at other services, as solutions for their problems.  If the trainer keeps that in mind and listens to the potential client’s needs the trainer can offer solutions to the problems they are looking to overcome.  Business is about building relationships with clients.

To sum up his talk, Alwyn gave away his Five Secrets for Fitness Success which included:

  1. Have a Successful Mindset – Always be positive.
  2. Understand the Mindset of the Client – What is their need?
  3. Practice the Principles of The Slight Edge – Think of premium brands like Starbucks, Netflix and Amazon.
  4. Create Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA) – The client should think of you and your business first.
  5. Mastermind/Mentorship with Like-Minded Individuals – Create a healthy environment to facilitate success.

Chris Frankel: Functional Conditioning; Energy System Training

The entire Perform Better seminar was filled with great speakers and presentations.  One of the most fascinating presentations came from Chris Frankel the Head of Human Performance at TRX.  Chris’ focus for his presentation was to help us gain an understanding on Energy System Training and its application for Strength and Conditioning.

Chris emphasizes the notion that no one single energy system is at work during strength and conditioning.  You may begin with one energy system; it will shut off and shift to another system.  For example in a 30 second exercise test at least three different energy systems are at work.

The Phosphogen System comprises about 30% of the energy system used, the Glycolytic System is about 50% and the Aerobic System is the remaining 20% (see chart below).

Without getting too wrapped up in all the scientific numbers, it is important to understand that even for an athlete that performs an athletic event for a quick 30 secs should not be compartmentalized into one particular energy system.  Traditional thinking would have athletic durations of 30 secs fall into the sole category of Anerobic activity where ATP, Creatine Phosphate and muscle glycogen are the energy sources.  The chart above shows that this is not the case at all.  There are at least three different energy systems going on and therefore only focusing on training on only one of these systems may severely inhibit the overall optimal performance of the athlete.

Chris says the best way to train these different energy systems is to perform circuits of 3-6 different exercises of varying reps or time intervals of different work to rest ratios.  These circuits can change to make sure they are training and enhancing the different energy systems utilized during the events or sports that the athlete participates in.

The Perform Better workshops never disappoint and I always learn some new and practical information that I can use for my athletes to make them the best they can be.