ASSESS, DON’T GUESS.

This principle of exercise program design is the starting point for every effective energy system training program.

Having a systematic approach to assessing energy systems will help you identify limiting factors in your clients’ performance and improve them through personalized program design.

In this guide, you’ll learn the OPEX method of energy systems assessment, using Fitness Monitoring Exercises (FMEs) to provide insight into the three energy systems. Watch each video to see FMEs in action, with analysis from OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP) instructors, James FitzGerald and Carl Hardwick.

Energy Systems Assessment Infographic
WHY ASSESS ENERGY SYSTEMS?

Conducting energy system Fitness Monitoring Exercises (FMEs) provides you with insight into your clients ability to perform work across various time and energy domains, from short and powerful, to long and slow.

The OPEX Method uses a variety of FMEs, including cyclical (monostructural activities like biking or running) and mixed modalites (cyclical, weightlifting, and gymnastics activities performed for rounds or completion).

Assessing Gain

When testing the Gain energy system, you are testing your client’s ability to use power.

Gain FMEs should always be cyclical, as the duration is too short to express power in mixed modal settings. The Assault Bike is the best testing implement because of its fast contraction rate and turnover.

Assessing Pain

When testing the Pain energy system, you are testing both how strong your client’s anaerobic system is, and their ability to recover from using it.

Pain FMEs should be reserved for athletes with an intermediate or advanced training age, as general health clients should not engage in unsustainable training or testing.

They can be either cyclical or mixed modal, but exercise selection should be considered to ensure the contractions create a high enough power output to test the anaerobic lactic energy system. Clients also need to be strong enough to be able to express the required power output.

Assessing Sustain

When testing the Sustain energy system, you are testing how strong your client’s aerobic system is.

Sustain FMEs can be either cyclical or mixed modal. As a best practice, mixed modal tests are reserved for athletes who are both capable of expressing dynamic contractions in an aerobic setting and who need to in their sport.

ENERGY SYSTEMS FITNESS MONITORING EXERCISES IN ACTION

In the videos below, you will see five OPEX clients perform FMEs for the Gain, Pain, and Sustain energy systems.

OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP) instructors James FitzGerald and Carl Hardwick explain why each FME is being performed and analyze the results.

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OPEX GAIN FITNESS MONITORING EXERCISE - CYCLICAL

Assault Bike for peak watts

In this test, a client performs peak wattage on the Assault Bike, discontinuing as soon as power declines (typically around 8-12 seconds).

This test falls into the OPEX Gain category, as it is a maximal expression of power.

  • Sam’s score = 1720 watts
  • A base of absolute strength is necessary to get the correct dose-response
  • Expression and training of OPEX Gain is a precursor to OPEX Pain
  • Can be used as a monitor of readiness
  • For clients with low absolute score, the priority should be to build strength
OPEX PAIN FITNESS MONITORING EXERCISE - CYCLICAL

60 second Assault Bike for max calories

In this test, a client performs 60 seconds on the Assault Bike for as many calories as possible. 

This test falls into the OPEX Pain category due to the intensity and power needed over the 60 seconds of work. To perform the test, the client will set their bike to 60 seconds to ensure the appropriate number of calories are tracked and an average RPM can be gathered.

  • Jacob’s score = 37 calories
  • Absolute strength and experience training OPEX Pain is necessary to get the correct dose-response
  • Effort should be close to all out from the start
  • Provides insight into lactic threshold
OPEX PAIN FITNESS MONITORING EXERCISE - MIXED MODAL

Row/KBS/Burpee (Lactic Repeat) 

For Time 

250m Row
15 Kettlebell Swing, 70/53#
25 Burpees w/ Overhead Clap
15 Kettlebell Swing, 70/53#
250m Row
rest 12 min

x3 sets

In this test, a client performs the above work at a very hard effort for the best time possible each set. This test challenges the OPEX Pain system and is reserved for athletes with an advanced training age.

To perform this test, a client will ensure the rower is reset per effort to ensure exactly 250 m is rowed, kettlebell swings are American (all the way overhead) and the burpee is with an overhead clap. The 12-minute rest between rounds starts after the last 250 m is rowed per set.

  • Trevor’s scores = 3:47, 4:02, 4:13 
  • Experience with mixed modal training is necessary to get the correct dose-response
  • Provides insight into mixed modal lactic endurance
  • Smaller degradation between sets and slightly lower power is important during pre-competition for mixed modal athletes
OPEX SUSTAIN FITNESS MONITORING EXERCISE - CYCLICAL

For Time

5000 meter Row

In this test, a client performs a 5000 m row as fast as possible. The 5k row is a classic middle-distance row test that challenges aerobic power and sustainability.

To perform this test, set the rower to 5000 m to get an insight into how pacing, power, and stroke rate are sustained over the 5k.

  • Mark’s score = 19:44 mins
  • Experience with aerobic work and volume built on the rower are necessary to get the correct dose-response
  • Provides insight into aerobic capacity
  • Technique on the row should be personalized
OPEX SUSTAIN FITNESS MONITORING EXERCISE - MIXED MODAL

18 Minute AMRAP

15 Box Jumps Step Down 24/20”
12 Shoulder-To-Overhead 115/75#
9 Toes-To-Bar

In this test, the client performs the above work with the goal of accumulating the most reps over the 18 minutes. This assessment includes head to toe contractions, including jumping, hanging, the squat pattern, grip, barbell cycling, and core endurance.

To perform this test, the client will set up the barbell, box, and have a pull-up bar close by. The score will be the number of reps completed (36 per round).

  • Amanda’s score = 400
  • Experience with mixed modal training is necessary to get the correct dose-response
  • Provides insight into mixed modal muscle endurance and the ability to make dynamic contractions aerobic
  • Skill development of muscle endurance or technique limitations should be considered in program design

NEXT, START CREATING PERSONALIZED PROGRAMS

Download the CCP Curriculum Guide to learn more, and start designing personalized fitness programs for any client, anywhere.