At the PFCA we know tha anyone can ‘work hard’, it’s easy to ‘empty the tanks’. The difficult thing for you to do as a fitness professional is to ensure that your training sessions are productive and have a purpose. Integrated Performance Conditioning is simply a ‘real-world’ approach to training and if you look at what each word means you can quickly figure out what IPC sets out to achieve.
Integrated (adjective) – with various parts of aspects linked or coordinated
Performance (noun) – the action or process of performing a task or function
Conditioning (noun) – bring (something) into the desired state for use
Integrated – Traditionally fitness coaches have adopted a unimodal approach to training, primarily focusing on the development of one fitness component at the expense of others. Lets say your client wanted to get fit so they could run a local 10km race. The starting point for most fitness coaches would be to get their clients to spend hours clocking up miles running out on the streets in an attempt to develop lungs like dustbin liners and a body that could withstand the constant pounding that running inflicts on it! Certainly this is a tried and tested option, but is it the most efficient and effective approach? What other fitness components would help improve performance? Could they be integrated into your clients training programme to boost performance?
Performance – For training to be effective it’s got to be related to the task or or what I call the performance outcome. When I spoke to renowned strength and conditioning coach, Vern Gambetta about what training should look like he simply said ‘everyone should train with a purpose’. It’s important that you realise that the training programmes you develop for your clients must be linked to the end goal. The programme needs to be functional… basically all movements have a level of functionality, and if training moves too far away from fundamental movements it will be less effective. If your client wants to be able to play 5-a-side football with their friends, the training must reflect that ‘performance outcome’. 5-a-side football can be physically demanding, lots of changes of direction, sudden bursts of speed, body contact etc. If this is your cleints performance outcome, you need to make sure that the exercises they are performing in your training sessions are preparing you for the demands of the game. In my experience most 5-a-side enthusiasts are poorly prepared (just look at the number of players that hobble home with an injury at the end of a game).
Conditioning – Have you ever taken up a sport in an attempt to ‘get fit’? This is a common mistake that I see time and time again and is absolutely the wrong approach to getting back into shape. The first step should always be to ‘get fit’ to cope with the demands of the activity you would like to take part in. If your client wants their body to perform a task (kick a ball, run for bus, lift their grandchildren up) it must have the appropriate level of conditioning to be able to perform the task. Conditioning is all about developing the ‘capacity’ needed to improve performance, and that doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort to ensure that your body is capable of doing what you want it to do without breaking down.
The first step you need to take to becoming a highly effective fitness professional is to recognise that a fundamental shift in your mindset is required if you are to develop a comprehensive physical preparation programmes that delivers optimal levels of fitness and function to your clients. If endurance is their thing, more endurance work isn’t going to cut it, you need to think about movement quality training, strength and power development and injury reduction strategies. If they are a busy parent juggling the demands of home, work and sport you need to think about doing less, improving their training density and focusing on recovery and regeneration. As a modern fitness professional, you need to open yourself up to the potential that an IPC has to offer. Step outside of your box and get ready to train your clients for the demands of the ‘real world’.