Consistency: The True Variable in Training

Too often in my young coaching career I have seen people excited to get started in the gym, only to have that flame of excitement quickly burn out. Too often have I been asked to create a program for people looking to get back in shape, or train for a sport; only to check in after a few weeks, and find out they have completed the first work out… and that’s it. There is no secret formula to finding success in your training. There is no magic program that will create the results you are looking for if you do not dedicate the time to the program. When it comes down to it, the only way to get faster, stronger, more fit, is to stay true to the process. 

When I start training a new athlete, I do not immediately throw them into the gates of hell. A lot of coaches enjoy this, as I have come to find out. We attempt to build mental toughness via excruciatingly difficult/ pointless workouts before establishing some sort of training base, and before looking at the needs of the athlete. Besides the science behind this flawed practice of training, if I am looking to establish a consistent routine with this athlete, absolutely destroying them will more than likely prevent them from coming in the next day… and the next… and the next. Once they have recovered from your “session from hell” they have now missed 5-7 days of training time (probably). That is anywhere from 5-14 hours of training volume that could have accumulated, instead they were laying at home, struggling to walk. So, they come back in and we are starting from zero again. Here is your chance to make up for a pointless workout. Instead of going into the session with a mindset of training homicide, we can test the athlete to see where the athlete currently sits physically, and mentally. Run them through an evaluation! Everything from past medical history, to contralateral asymmetries, and work capacity. From there we can create a program that may not challenge YOU as a fitness junkee, but it will challenge your athlete appropriately.  Your athlete is now coming in 3-4 days/ week consistently with adequate rest between sessions, and after a few weeks some big changes have already begun to take place. Here is where a good program has merit, but that is a conversation for another day.

This same principle holds true for general population folks as well. If you haven’t run 5 miles in 5 years, or you haven't squatted your high school max since high school, do not attempt to do so on day 1. If you do not injure yourself, your body will be in recovery mode for years to come (that’s a joke, but really your body will scream at you). Then we see the same pattern, “I’m too sore” or “I’ll come back in a couple of days.” Before you know it, we haven’t exercised in 7 days. When you are unsure of how to begin,  ask a professional like myself for help. We must establish a routine that appropriately challenges your current fitness level. 

However, not all of the blame can fall on the misinformed fitness coach. If you want to accomplish health goals, or get better at your sport, YOU have to spend the time in the weight-room. Whatever program you decide to run, the common variable is consistency. Whether you come in 1 day per week or 7, the volume of training will accumulate, and change will take place.  

Thanks for your time!

Coach Nate Garcia 


Instagram: tp_strength

Training Specificity

When starting to train for speed and strength, what must come first is strength. Your body is a machine, and that machine must be prepared for the amount of work you will be exposing it to, or it will break down. It is possible to develop a foundation of strength through any number of programs, and for the most part as long as consistency is apart of that program you will succeed. When training myself, or my athletes, I have found great success in following simple programs that cover basic movement patterns repeatedly. Learning how to: squat, hinge, push, pull, rotate, and bend train the entire working system, to improve the qualities of these movements so we can appropriately overload the body and improve performance. 

Once we have established a solid foundation to build on, we can than further specify training modalities to attack the goal that we are training for. At this point I would like to introduce unilateral and bilateral training. Unilateral training indicates we are working one side of the body (typically dividing the body in the sagittal plane), and bilateral is both sides of the body. For example, a unilateral exercise would be the reverse lunge, and a traditional back squat is an example of a bilateral exercise. 

Bilateral exercises are great for force output. You are obviously stronger on two legs compared to one, however there is also a greater opportunity to compensate a movement and still complete it. This is a problem! Compensation patterns lead to efficient movement, lack of training adaptation, and injury! With unilateral movement, there is also a possibility of movement compensation, but the difference between the two is a unilateral movement compensation is more easily noticed and often leads to failure of movement completion. 

Unilateral movements are often more closely related to the movements required in sports. Sprinting is a unilateral plyometric. There is never a moment in time where there is two feet on the ground at the same time after the start! One of the goals of strength training is transferability to the field, and if I can more closely mimic a movement and load it safely, I will. With this principle in mind, let me discuss the back squat and reverse lunge. Neither of these movements are directly transfer to a sprint, but the reverse lunge is primarily completed on one leg (just like sprinting). The squat will work the same muscle group, and sprint performance will improve, but it will only take your improvements so far (the point of diminishing returns). Unless you participate in a barbell sport, there comes a certain point in training where the goal should shift from improving a squat number to improving athletic performance via movement specificity. 

I will continue to discuss how to improve training specificity for athletic improvement in the weight room with future posts! Thanks for reading! 

Coach Nate Garcia 


Instagram: tp_strength

Concurrent Training: Aerobic and Strength

The active stereotype for the weightlifting community is that cardio is the devil that must be avoided at all costs to ensure the best gains, and to an extent, they would be correct. However, just like any training plan, if the variables of the training are manipulated appropriately then you can see benefits on both sides of the spectrum. 

We have discussed the energy systems with some detail in previous posts. If you haven’t had the chance to review them, now we be a good time to scroll down and take a look. We have three primary energy systems (phosphagen, anaerobic glycolysis, aerobic glycolysis) and all three of those systems play into each other and we use all three systems everyday. In my opinion, to neglect one system in totality is a poor decision and it can lead to a plateau in training effects or even detraining. If you have a goal in mind that you are training for, then your training focus should aim to accomplish that goal. A first baseman does not have to be able to run 1600m as fast as possible, but they do require the ability to play 162 games in roughly 170 days. 

Aerobic training is not just running miles on end and puking from exhaustion. It serves a greater purpose than bettering the ability to run long distance, it is a pillar in the ability to recover. When planned appropriately, cardiovascular training can facilitate strength and power advancements for the strength and power athletes. If that is the case, what does appropriate planning look like? It depends! If you are participating in a power dominant event (baseball, long jump, 100m sprint) training in the aerobic zone should be accomplished at different points in your annual plan. The further away from the  competitive season, the more aerobic based training you can include. Also, including aerobic conditioning in the middle of a competitive season can be appropriate in order to facilitate active recovery between events. These particular athletes require low level aerobic conditioning (50-70% BPM of HRmax) that does not interfere with strength improvements. Not only does this modality not interfere with strength training, but the athlete was able to simultaneously improve cardiovascular and strength abilities. The time between these two sessions was a key variable, and the overall consensus was a minimum of 6 hours between training bouts of strength and aerobic conditioning. 

Keeping the goal of training in mind, a stimulus that promotes a person’s recovery ability is something that cannot be ignored. The metabolic adaptation that occurs with aerobic training is an adaptation that lasts much longer than the adaptations of power and speed training, so once a foundation is established, it does not take much to maintain this adaptation. The improved cardiovascular ability facilitates blood flow to working musculature, the more blood that is pumped through your skeletal muscles, the greater the ability to resynthesis necessary energy substrates needed for explosive movements, improvements in fat utilization as an energy source so that carbohydrate utilization can be reserved for highly intense work, and increased clearance of biochemical stressors associated with strength training. I can write a book on the benefits of aerobic training, but to see advancements in your training goal, variables such as: frequency, duration, intensity, and modality must be planned carefully. 

Looking at this topic from the other side of the training spectrum, the long distance athletes that also strength train. Essentially, the training considerations of the strength/power athlete flip. The endurance athlete can benefit from strength training as long as it is planned appropriately. These athletes often see immediate improvements in performance because they are often not exposed to strength training. These improvements are due to the body's improved ability to absorb and redistribute force when running, and prevent injuries. Strength training the endurance athletes is not something I have spent a lot of time doing, but avoiding hypertrophy to keep the necessary body composition for the sport, and not spending too much time in the weight room to prevent unwarranted soreness, are two general rules I would use when training these athletes. 

I touched on the idea of plateauing and detraining in the introduction. This is because the body requires a different stimulus every at certain points to allow for recovery. Even the elite powerlifters do not lift heavy weight (90% 1RM <) all year round. Their body would never be allowed to recover and would never have to adapt to a new stimulus. I will discuss this topic in greater detail in the future. 

In conclusion, aerobic conditioning can do wonders for athletes and non-athletes alike. Rather than avoiding aerobic conditioning, it should be planned for accordingly in order to enhance your body's ability to accomplish the goals you have set for yourself. Recovery is just as important as training, and the better your body is at recovering, the greater the demand you can place on your training. 

-Thank you for your time! If you have any questions please let us know!

Coach Nate Garcia 


Instagram: tp_strength

Training the "Core"

In my own experience, a lot people have similar goals in mind when they join a gym or hire a trainer. They want to look better and feel better about themselves. As we all know, one muscle in particular is often displayed as a sign of fitness superiority… rectus abdominis better known as: abs, 6 pack, etc etc. But, there is much more that goes into having a solid core than a 6-pack. Many people strive to attain this look in their work outs, but often do not succeed because there is a misnomer in the community that people continue to fall for, and that is the more isolated core work you do the stronger and leaner you’ll get. However, research has proven time and time again this modality of training is...eye wash. The term “core” is a relative term and really can be placed on any body part, so I will use “trunk” when referencing the muscles associated with trunk movement.  

Firstly, you cannot target fat areas with exercises, that is not how the process works. Fat is an energy source stored in the body. It is accumulated when our caloric consumption exceeds our caloric expenditure. So, when someone does crunches, they are not targeting belly fat, and belly fat does not magically turn into muscle. The muscle is there currently, and has always been there (unless there’s a problem), it is just covered by a layer of stored energy. In order to remove these excess energy stores, you must burn off the energy! This is accomplished by doing a healthy mixture of activities, and the more of the body that is involved in the activity, the more energy you’re burning (for the most part). As we have discussed previously, there is a ton of variables that will decide how much energy will be burned in the activity.

Secondly, completing isolated trunk movements is nowhere near as beneficial as completing externally loaded, total body movements that teach the body to work in unison. With that being said, I do use isolated trunk movements in my “trunk and spine” warm up before lifts. I do this to “turn on” smaller muscle groups, work in different planes of movement (sagittal, frontal, and transverse), and prepare the body for the real work of the day in an unloaded fashion. For example, the deadlift is a total body movement that requires massive amounts of trunk strength from the entire system to prevent unwarranted flexion of the trunk. Before I attempt this exercise, I will complete a circuit that mimics the requirements of a deadlift and promoting rigidity of the trunk, but I will be on the ground which is a regressed position. It gives the body an opportunity to wake up before asking it to accomplish a heavy task such as the deadlift. The reason I use isolated trunk movements is to prepare the body for the focus of the day, while others will dedicate a whole work out (ab day) when in actuality they can spend their time more efficiently completing total body movements like a squat, lunge, deadlift, or step up.

Crunches, planks, and the ab wheel all have their place and can be challenging to perform! But, if the goal of your program is to actually develop trunk strength and lose fat, those exercises do not hold a candle to total body movements mentioned previously. Plus, in every exercise there is a way to get the trunk more involved. Shifting from bilateral exercise to unilateral exercises to narrow your base of support, and uneven loading of movements will place a greater demand on the trunk musculature. Isolated trunk exercises have a place in my programming, and they should in yours as well, but they should not be the focus of a session… unless you’re coming back from injury, then that is a whole other can of worms.

-Thank you for your time! If you have any questions please let us know!

Coach Nate Garcia 


Instagram: tp_strength

Instability Training... Why?

There seems to be an increased popularity in the utilization of unstables surfaces in the weight-room to improve balance, strength,  core strength, and sports performance. Why add another variable to a skilled movement? What does training on an unstable surface enhance, and/or hinder? To what capacity should you incorporate this modality in your own training regimen?

In the rehab setting, when an individual is returning from injury, it is very common for the usage of unstable surfaces to strengthen all muscles associated with the area being rehabbed. Without going too far out of my scope of practice, the unstable surface promotes co-contraction of agonist and antagonist muscle groups to stabilize the joint and prevent future injury. 

Once someone is cleared from the rehab setting, the capacity to which someone would use instability training methods vary quite a bit. As I have discussed in previous posts, it all depends on what the goal of your program is! Let's look at two people: 1- a sprinter who has 5+ years training experience, 2- an average person not training for competition with < 5 years training experience. 

The sprinter has one goal in mind, and that is to get from point A to point B faster than everyone else. Peaking for these events require detailed programming in order to get the best out of the athlete at the time of the event. A sprinter needs to the ability to put a high amount of force in the ground in a very short amount of time. To aid in force absorption and redistribution, sprinters have the ability to disinhibit the natural inhibitors of muscle contraction. This is part of the reason why they look so fluid running down the track! This has a lot to do with co-contraction of muscles, sprinters want agonist muscle groups to shorten rapidly while the antagonist muscle groups relax. This increases the range of motion of the movement, allowing more time for force generation, and shortens the amortization phase of the stretch shortening cycle. I say all that because unstable surfaces promote co-contraction, thus fighting the results we are looking for! They also limit force production in one direction, meaning as you put force in to the unstable surface like sand, or a bosu ball, the force is distributed across the platform rather than back into the movement. Training to improve balance focusing on the usage of unstable surfaces for the sprint athlete would not be recommended. 

As an average person looking to improve overall fitness, I see no problem with using instability training as long as it’s performed safely with a purpose. Exercise should be fun for people, and if someone is inclined to use a bosu ball to do push-ups because they like the challenge… why not? Sure, they might be emphasizing efficient strength development, but there isn’t strength competition to prepare for either. Instability training provides a unique challenge, and easy way to track improvement with added variables to the exercise. As long as someone has a general strength foundation, and demonstrates that they can do the movement safely, I say go for it. BUT, you should know what instability training promotes if you are utilizing it in your program. If the goal of your program is to increase maximal power output, and one of your programs pillar’s is the utilization of unstable surfaces… I will shake my head in disappointment. 

People use unstable surfaces to promote balance ability, core development (abs, obliques, erectors, etc), a warm up to “activate” muscle groups before the session, rehabilitation from injury, and sometimes just to show off! These are all true statements, but are there better ways to accomplish these goals? For example, nothing has been shown to better develop core strength than performing standing, total body movement with an external load (LIKE A BACK SQUAT), and that includes the 30 minute crunch class. There is a time and a place for unstable surfaces, and IMO that is in the rehab setting, a warm up, a new challenge for someone not training for a competition, and to only be attempted safely by someone with training experience. 

Thank you for your time! If you have any questions, please reach out to us!

Instagram: tp_strength (Coach Nate)

Phone: 914-486-7678