STAGES Training System
“Proper progression is mastery of one level of development before proceeding to the next.” -Dr. Gray Cook, founder of the Functional Movement Screen
STAGES is a training protocol that seeks first to develop unrestricted, high quality movement patterns and bolster injury resistance, then build strength and performance on top of this newly established foundation. STAGES also incorporates a HIIT style conditioning program and food/lifestyle coaching to ensure you’re taking care of every facet of your health. In addition, STAGES provides extra coaching during the period you need help the most (in the beginning!) and packs exceptional value into each stage of the training cycle.
The creed of STAGES Training System is NOT to keep you as a paying client, but help you develop all the tools you need to successfully manage your own fitness. The goal is to have all STAGES trainees master not only exercise and food fundamentals, but also the essential method of exercise programming. Additionally, you'll develop the inner discipline necessary to take full ownership of your fitness at the programs conclusion.
STAGE 1: FITNESS FUNDAMENTALS
“First move well, then move often.” -Dr. Gray Cook, founder of the Functional Movement Screen
In STAGE 1 you will establish movement authenticity. This means re-claiming the patterns that allow high levels of injury resistance, strength and speed. The priorities of STAGE 1 are:
- Establish fitness habits and behavior. (Regular, scheduled exercise + food and lifestyle adjustments)
- Re-awaken correct breathing mechanics
- Improve body awareness
- Learn fundamentals of efficient movement and posture
STAGE 1 uses the Functional Movement Screen to rank your fundamental movement proficiencies. We use the patterns you’re good at to begin building strength. In the meantime, we address the patterns you struggle with using corrective exercise. Once you gain proficiency in a pattern, it is added to your resistance training to further cement your mastery of the movement. This method addresses the need for hard work to improve performance, while ensuring you never add intensity to a pattern that you can't perform well. Once you reach proficiency in all fundamental patterns, you're ready for the challenges of STAGE 2.
The Importance of Posture and Breathing
During times of high stress we have a tendency to form postural compensations, which, in turn, cause us to fall out of sync with our breath. Without correct posture and breathing we don’t supply our muscles with the oxygen they need to perform and recover. Faulty posture and breathing also decrease metabolic activity. When this happens frequently, compensations “stick” and we need help to find good posture and breathing again. Because of this, posture and breathing are considered essential facets of STAGE 1 training.
STAGE 1 includes a conditioning program designed to address the cardiovascular facet of fitness. This is primarily in the form of high intensity interval training (HIIT), which provides the greatest cardiovascular benefit without sacrificing improvements in strength and power. If endurance is the goal, then steady-state training may also be incorporated.
The “Other Stuff”
STAGE 1 is the time to develop habits in regards to “the Other Stuff.” By this I mean everything other than training that we can leverage to maximize your health and fitness. In aide of this, STAGE 1 includes food coaching, sleep and stress management and strategies to increase ancillary movement throughout your day. Each week we’ll choose one element (food, sleep, stress, etc.) and take action to improve it in some tangible way.
By putting all these fundamentals of fitness together and using an objective movement quality assessment tool (the FMS) to measure your progress, we establish an internal environment that maximizes both your movement and metabolic efficiency and allows you to make use of the physical challenge of STAGE 2!
Coaching during STAGE 1 is 3x per week. The benefits of high training regularity are 4-fold:
- Maximizes the accelerated gains possible during your initial weeks of training.
- Helps you adhere to the fitness routine during the most tenuous time in the training cycle (before you’ve formed good fitness habits.)
- Guarantees correct technique is being used at all times and allows for regular movement quality re-assessment.
- Allows for a high degree of food coaching support and rapport building between client and trainer.
- 4 weeks of STAGE one completed.
- All FMS movements reach a minimum score of 2.
- Mastery of basic strength movements.
STAGE 2: STRENGTH FOUNDATIONS
“If it doesn't have a specific percentage based on a specific max, it's useless. That's the hallmark of someone who doesn't understand basic programming.” -Jim Wendler, elite powerlifter and author of the 5/3/1 training protocol
In STAGE 2 you’ll leverage the skills you learned in STAGE 1 to begin building a foundation of strength. The primary movements you learned in STAGE 1 will carry over, but now you’ll start working with fewer reps at a higher intensity level. This is an exciting time in the training cycle, because you’ll make tangible strength improvement each week. The priorities of STAGE 2 are:
- Increase muscular strength.
- Learn to analyze and cue for self-coaching.
The first 2 weeks of STAGE 2 will involve 3xPT sessions per week, after which training decreases to 1xPT session per week. This shifts the focus from absolute oversight to weekly tune-ups and progressive routine updates. This change also allows you to start trying some of the training methods on your own and begin to develop a sense of program ownership.
During the latter part of STAGE 2 you’ll learn how to perform technically sound, max effort lifts. You’ll also begin to use more advanced lifting techniques to stimulate progression towards your fitness potential. (dumbbells, cables, single arm/leg work, etc.)
Maintenance of STAGE 1 Progress
With increased difficulty, you can count on compensation to creep back into your movement. To avoid asymmetry, we use dumbbells, kettlebells and other unilateral lifts. We’ll also continue to use the FMS on a regular basis to weed out compensation and address it before it has time to stick.
Coaching emphasis on the “other stuff” will decrease during STAGE 2. This allows a greater emphasis be placed on the training protocol itself. It’s ok though, because at this point you'll have all the tools necessary to keep an eye on your food, sleep and stress levels on you own.
Progressing from STAGE 2-3 requires you reach certain strength standards. These standards are relative to bodyweight and gender. They ensure you have the requisite strength for the dynamic, powerful training methods of STAGE 3.
STAGE 3: ADVANCED PERFORMANCE
“You can motivate by fear, and you can motivate by reward. But both those methods are only temporary. The only lasting thing is self motivation.” -Homer Rice, acclaimed sports administrator and head coach
In STAGE 3 you’ll take the foundational strength of STAGE 2 and apply it to dynamic, full body functional movement. Each day will focus on one of the hallmarks of performance: strength, power or capacity. We introduce advanced techniques, such as the olympic lifts, plyometrics, TRX and kettlebells. Additionally, the fundamental exercises from STAGE 2 are revisited using advanced training principles to further stimulate fitness results and overcome training plateaus.
While focusing on increasingly challenging scenarios and training techniques, you will also begin to take part in the exercise programming process. The end-game of STAGE 3 is to provide you with all the tools to manage your own exercise program. While you are more than welcome to continue learning and progressing under the STAGES system, at this point you are ready to "graduate" and begin building your own training programs!