Energy system specific training

By Andy on February 18, 2016

Conquer any exercise by incorporating energy-specific training.

We all train for certain goals right? Why else would you train? Even just training to be healthy or feel good is also a goal.

I do see individuals in the gym/box week after week sticking to the same weights or exercises and never progressing, this can also affect your health as you aren’t stimulating your body enough.

Thing is –  if you never increase the intensity or resistance of an exercise, that exercises will simply become your ‘new normal’.  Your body doesn’t do very well with adapting to something that isn’t stimulating anymore.  Why would your body adapt to something it’s already used to? – you are neglecting the energy system that is meant for that goal.

So here is an easy way to look at scaling a movement, or in other words – using the correct energy system – I’ll use a push up as an example here today. Scaling an exercise according to the correct energy system used in the goal you are aiming for is important as it enables you to gain the strength benefits of an exercise from the beginning phase and you’ll continue to gain benefits from the same exercises as long as you keep modifying the exercises as you progress from an easy to a more challenging phase as you get stronger.

The muscles affected in the push up are – the shoulders, triceps, chest muscles and core, lower back, and bum muscles to keep the body straight – these muscles will all be challenged more and more as you move through Phase 1 – 4, gradually increasing your strength gains and shaping your body more and more.

Here is the science  : 

Goal 1: Strength training – to build strength ensure you do 3-7 reps per set

Goal 2: Hypertrophy – to increase in strength, but also build lean muscle aim to do 8-12 reps.

You will have to progress or regress your exercise in order to match the repetitions of your ability with your goal.

Phase 1 – the easiest push-up – high bar push up

Place the bar slightly higher than hip height, the higher the bar – the easier the push-up. Lower the bar as you get stronger, I prefer this over a bent knee push up or ‘ladies’ push up as it targets the exact muscles targeted in a push-up, a bent knee pushes up deactivates the effect of the core and bum muscles.

Phase 2  – slightly more challenging – low bar push up

By dropping the height of the bar – you will increase the resistance of the muscles affected in the push-up.

Phase 3 – a normal straight leg push up.

This is an ideal point to ask yourself if you are hitting the goal reps you are aiming for. If you are aiming for 10 reps in hypertrophy training but you can do 20 reps in this phase – then you have to increase the difficulty of the exercise to reach the goal and rep range you are looking for. The opposite is also true –  if you are aiming for 10 reps and can’t complete this, you need to regress back to phase 1 or 2 as you haven’t adapted to the strength necessary for this phase yet.

Phase 4 – Feet elevated push up 

In summary – stick to your rep ranges to suit your goal needs. Don’t get comfortable and neglect progression. If you can do more reps due to adaptation, be sure to increase your load.

Coach Hannes, Iconic Fitness Dubai Marina

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