INCREASING VALUE
WITH ONLINE COACHING

By John Destacamento, December 4th, 2020

WHY ONLINE COACHING MATTERS?


covid A face to face personal training environment still holds significantly greater value than online coaching. As Covid 19 has forced more and more people to exercise at home, most of them without support from a coach, the risk of injury is greater. Even while using video conferencing, a coach can’t specifically observe angles and provide interactive support when necessary. Since video conferencing workout sessions seem to be devalued, what can coaches do to build value to their services? One way is to integrate educational services for better understanding of a coach's program along with general fitness aspects. This is where the use of analytical tools are golden.

HOW TO MEASURE PROGRESS?


Online coaching and personal training are services with various types of clients. With that said, achieving results is not the only reason why people tend to hire fitness trainers. Most clients enjoy personal training because of the personable relationship between coach and clients along with social aspects. However, athletes and overweight clients usually want to see physical improvements especially if they are paying good money for a service. Progress can be determined by amounts lifted, speed, agility and the performance within the sport itself. Usually this is done by using stopwatches, vertical jump tools and measuring the athlete’s ability to move their own body weight sometimes with objects. But when coaches want to measure strength, what procedures and methodology are used? Is it based on how much a client can Squat or Bench Press at a one-rep maximum? Perhaps it’s how many push ups or pull ups one can do? Or maybe it‘s how fast you can complete a WOD (Worthington, n.d.) Routine? These are all logical areas to determine physical progress usually performed in the presence of a fitness coach or personal trainer.

PERSONAL TRAINING APPS MAY ASSIST WITH DETERMINING STRENGTH


As a competitive powerlifter, weightlifter and physique bodybuilder, I believe strength should be measured based on balanced Strength Symmetry, one rep maximum lifts, and the amount of lifting volume produced within a specific duration. Like I mentioned above, attempting a one max-repetition lift is risky without having a spotter, so if you are a client using online coaching, it's better to estimate these attributes with assistance from the appropriate personal training app. Strength should be measured within all general movements for balanced strength and to avoid muscle imbalances (Frothingham, 2020).
clean Photo:John Destacamento, EfitX founder.
Balanced Strength Symmetry: If you are able to push up 160 pounds over your head, then you should be able to pull down a similar amount of force in the opposing direction.
sonjastand Photo:Sonja Durnin, EfitX user, INBA Bikini Competitor.

BALANCED STRENGTH SYMMETRY VS MUSCLE SYMMETRY


Balanced strength symmetry should not be compared or confused with muscle symmetry. For bodybuilders and physique competitors, balanced muscle symmetry is based on aesthetics. Body physique competitors sculpt symmetric muscles to create separation from others such as shoulders should look bigger than the arms. A tapered v-shaped back should not overshadow the legs in size. On the other hand, Strength Symmetry is a different animal. Strength Symmetry is achieving optimal strength balance between opposing muscle groups. For example, if you are able to push up 160 pounds over your head, you should be able to pull down a similar amount of force in the opposing direction. Another example is the leg extension and the opposing movement which is the leg flexion, both motions should consist of similar amounts of force. As these movements are applied, the force in each direction does not necessarily need to be equal. The reason why could be years of evolution of accumulating specific muscle balances to accommodate our chosen lifestyle while adapting to our environments. Since we carry many objects in front of our bodies, our muscular system has evolved to accommodate these such tasks.

Evolved to Survive

A possible scenario: If our late caveman ancestors chose to carry large rocks behind our backs instead of in front of our bodies, we’d probably have back muscles that looked like our pectorals (chest). Scapular bones may have different shapes. Another scenario: if our late ancestors chose to swim in the ocean everyday like mammals to rarely set foot on land, we’d probably have webbed feet, gills and flippers. Did anyone watch the movie WaterWorld?" (Rader, Twohy, 1995) As silly as this may sound, the physical characteristics of the human body can be altered throughout time, perhaps this process may take centuries, unless it is intentionally scientifically induced.

WORKOUT VOLUME

Resistance Training Volume or Workout Volume (Destacamento, 2019) are new terms to the fitness industry. As of today, you’d be lucky to find volume measuring tools which monitors or displays this capability. If your goal is to improve strength, endurance or even lose weight this is an attribute that is worth implementing into your program. In general, measuring resistance training volume requires calculations in basic math along with formulas. A simplified formula to calculate the amount of volume is an equation such as this:

(Weight or Load x Reps) x sets = Volume

This is the most logical method to measure volume but it’s definitely not the most efficient nor the most accurate in many scenarios. If we go deeper into the meaning of “volume” there are other important factors which may nullify the above equation.

TIME UNDER TENSION OR (TUT)


Time Under Tension (Cronkleton,2020) is the duration when the contracting muscle is under stress. Measuring volume becomes difficult when exercise tempo of repetitions are not consistent. In general weight training, a complete rep averages about 2 to 3 seconds in duration. But what if a lifter performs a 5 second repetition? This commonly occurs during the last few repetitions within the last sets when fatigue and lactic acid build up. More seconds to complete a repetition is an altered Time Under Tension. When this struggle occurs, muscles recruit more motor units (Waehner, 2020) to complete the task. Does this make a significant difference? Absolutely! Imagine squatting a heavy load and struggling with 2 reps of each of three sets. That’s a lot more seconds added where your muscles will be under extreme tension! This is where the above equation (Weight or Load x Reps) x sets = Volume has lost merit.

johncurl Photo:John Destacamento, EfitX founder.
A good example to feel Time Under Tension is to perform a few bicep curls with your regular optimal load, but do each repetition at a 6 second tempo. Feel the burn!

WORKOUT DURATION TO TOTAL REP RATIO


Most gym goers produce 250 to 350 repetitions within an hour workout. But let's say one day you decide to chat away with friends and it takes two hours to perform those 350 repetitions? This is where duration matters to the equation of measuring volume. Let’s say you do three exercises:
  • Barbell Squat 100 pounds, 3 sets of 10 that would equal 3000 pounds moved.
  • Lat Pull Down at 100 pounds, 3 sets of 10 = 3000 pounds moved.
  • Bench Press at 100 pounds, 3 sets of 10 = 3000 pounds moved.

    Summarized:
    Duration: 30 minutes. Total Volume: 9000 pounds
Now by utilizing the same workout model, don’t change any of the weight, reps or sets but perform it within 15 minutes. It can be done by shortening the rest intervals between sets, you’ve completed the same amount of volume within a shorter duration.

TYPES OF EXERCISE VOLUME


At this point you should be aware measuring exercise volume has many variables. An application such as EfitX classifies volume into two categories. Strength Volume and Endurance Volume. To explain how this works, let’s assume a person completes both of the following workouts within one minute.

Scenario 1:
Deadlift: 200 lbs x 10 reps x 1 set = about 2000 pounds Volume


Scenario 2:
Deadlift: 100 lbs x 20 reps x 1 set = about 2000 pounds Volume


Volume amount is identical but each scenario produces different workout results. This is where signifying two types of volume alleviates the confusion. The EfitX Application (currently the only application on the market) distinguishes the differences between endurance and strength.
graph
Photo: EfitX application.

Determined results when scenarios are inputted in EfitX. Amounts are higher because EfitX has an additional formula to calculate body weight into the equation.

Scenario 1
Produced the amount of 2235 Endurance Volume and 670 of Strength Volume. A total of 2905.

Scenario 2
Produced 2470 of Endurance Volume and only 330 of Strength Volume. A total of 2800.

Results: Scenario 1 is significantly a better set for developing strength, doubling the strength volume of Scenario 2. Scenario 2 is somewhat better for improving endurance.


MORE VOLUME MORE EPOC


EPOC (Wiki, n.d.) stands for Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. A more simplified definition: The amount of extra oxygen produced induced after exercise within the next 96 hours. This afterburn is very difficult to measure without specialized equipment and without a supervised secluded environment. To measure EPOC accurately, a subject would need to have every type of physical behavior monitored and measured accompanied with detailed assessments. Because there are many requirements and substantial variables, only a handful of universities have performed worthy case studies.

What we know?

  • EPOC is a lot less present when cardio or rhythmic activity is performed.
  • Most of the current case study participants were mostly seasoned athletes. This means athletes have adapted to most of the movement of selected exercises, therefore less EPOC will be present. Novice white collar workers may have significant results.
  • Due to the test subjects, the amount of resistance load and volume had to be a dramatic amount to produce a worthy measurable amount of EPOC. Those amounts were 10,000 to 20,000 kilos of volume within a 60 minute workout.
There has not been enough studies and many other important variables have not been considered. EPOC has yet been determined by the perceived amount of DOMS ( Delayed off-set muscular soreness). When a person is extremely sore from a workout, EPOC is said to be greater. Another considerable factor is when perceived soreness is present, typical daily routines are more difficult to perform. We all know this one or two days after that ‘killer’ leg day. On a regular day the walk from the parking lot to your office is relatively easy but after a good leg day it becomes a journey. The more soreness you need to deal with, regular daily tasks are more challenging thus more calories are expended.

CONCLUSION


As online fitness coaching continues with growth. Fitness professionals need creative ways to build value to their programs. Personal Training Apps assist with measuring important client statistics. Monitoring Strength Symmetry and the amount of volume produced may bring significant benefits to both client and the coach. Measuring these statistics is only the precursor on reaching the higher level of fitness machine learning and development of fitness A.I. If you are a coach or fitness enthusiast that would like to integrate these measurement tools and analytics to your program, please read more on EfitX Fitness Solutions.
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References

Worthington, M, What the WOD? Decoding the Language of CrossFit., Men's Health,
https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/what-wod-decoding-language-crossfit/

Frothingham, 2020, What Causes Muscle Imbalances and How to Fix Them, Healthline
https://www.healthline.com/health/muscle-imbalance

Peter Rader, David Twohy, 1995, Water World, IMDB
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114898/

Destacamento, J, 2019, How to measure volume in weight training, Medium,
https://medium.com/@johndestacamento/how-to-measure-volume-in-weight-training-43a0c5964254

Cronkleton E, 2020, Time Under Tension Workouts: Are They More Effective? Medically reviewed by Gregory Minnis, DPT 
https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/time-under-tension

Waehner , P, 2019, How Motor Units Work With Your Muscles, VeryWellFit
https://www.verywellfit.com/motor-unit-part-of-muscles-1231223

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excess_post-exercise_oxygen_consumption