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Frequently Asked Questions

+ How do you guys work?
First we’ll start with an initial consultation to learn about your goals, assess your current heart rate, and review your past training and any competitive experience you may have. Then we’ll create a long- term overview to establish goals and objectives for each phase of training.

Our training plans are not, however, written in stone. We will review your training data each day and make recommendations based on your daily performance and weekly workloads.  This is the key to our system. We are able to quickly identify signs of fatigue and make quick adaptations to ensure better long-term performance.

At the end of each training period your custom plan will be updated to reflect your status and ability to adapt to the training program.  Throughout, we use Firstbeat software to monitor your training load and recovery.
+ What is EPOC?
EPOC – Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption – is the extra oxygen your body needs in order to recover after a period of exercise. “Recover” in this case means returning to a normal resting state, or homeostasis, where the body’s systems are in balance. By monitoring a body’s EPOC during and after exercise, an experienced coach can design a more effective training program.
+ Why is EPOC so important in training?
When we exercise as part of athletic training, we purposefully upset the body’s homeostasis to a high degree. Proper exercise is designed to load organs and tissues more heavily than they’re accustomed to. This is the only way to strengthen the cardiovascular, muscular, skeletal, and neural functions to the extent needed for success in sports. We have to reset the body’s normal homeostasis to a higher level.

However, if we exercise too hard for too long, we can overstress any one of the body’s systems and risk injury. By tracking EPOC levels during and after exercise, an experienced and knowledgeable coach can design, monitor, and modify an exercise program that provides the most effective physical training with the lowest risk of over-exercise and injury.
+ What is Training Effect?
Training is an exercise regimen designed to improve physical stamina and performance in a specific athletic area. Training Effect is, quite simply, the effect produced by the specified exercise regimen.
+ How is EPOC related to Training Effect?
EPOC provides a way to quantitatively measure Training Effect. Here's how:

EPOC is affected primarily by two factors: intensity of exercise and duration of exercise. Intensity has a stronger effect than duration so a short burst of hard exercise will upset homeostasis more than a long period of less intense exercise. It will also require a longer period of recovery in order to optimize the benefit of the training session – the Training Effect.

This is because EPOC is cumulative. Adding more exercise too soon or too often will raise the EPOC value too much, reducing the Training Effect. By alternating periods of exercise with periods of rest, we can build the EPOC to a level that will improve the effectiveness of the training, as long as the rest periods are timed properly, the total number of work periods doesn’t push the EPOC too high, and the final recovery period is long enough to allow the body to re-achieve homeostasis at its new level. (See figure 3 below)

chart - epoc time
Figure 3. Training Effect can be determined for any given moment during exercise, which enables modifying the exercise while it is still in progress. Peak EPOC determines the training effect of the exercise.
+ How do you measure EPOC?
The Firstbeat system measures EPOC by analyzing changes in heartbeat rate, particularly the variability in heart rate on a beat-by-beat basis. These tiny changes in timing from one beat to the next indicate the total load on the system at any one heartbeat, during and after the exercise, enabling the coach to adjust the intensity and duration of each succeeding period of exercise and recovery, thus optimizing the Training Effect.

chart-epoc-recovery.jpg
Figure 1 A. EPOC measured in laboratory (EPOC meas ). B. Predicted EPOC based on heart rate derived information (EPOC pred ). EPOC prediction does not need any post- exercise measurements. VO 2REC = recovery VO 2 , t REC = recovery time, VO 2BL = Baseline (resting) VO 2.

chart-epoc-intensity.jpg
Figure 3. EPOCmeas (shaded area) and EPOCpred (dotted line) from four sample exercises. Figures A to C represent typical constant-intensity exercises, whereas Figure D represents a typical exercise during which the intensity changes naturally, for example according to speed (e.g. running, cycling, skating or rowing), work rate (e.g. indoor rowing or cycle ergometry) or terrain (uphill/downhill).
+ Why is recovery so important to Training Effect?
After exercise, the body needs time to rest, heal, and establish its new level of homeostasis. Without sufficient recovery, EPOC will continue to rise, until it reaches an overload point, where further exercise is less effective and the body is more prone to injury. EPOC decreases fastest during complete rest, but a cool-down period of light exercise after peak training will increase circulation, helping to flush lactic acid from the muscles faster, speed recovery, and improve the Training Effect of the session.

chart - epoc peak
Figure 9. Two examples of recovery exercises from an athlete. A) The intensity of this recovery exercise is slightly too high and EPOC accumulates rapidly at the beginning of session. B) A successful recovery exercise during which intensity and EPOC accumulation remain relatively low throughout the exercise. Note the small difference in intensity but a significant difference in the accumulated training load (peak EPOC) between the two exercises.
+ Does EPOC help with cross training?
An experienced coach can use EPOC monitoring to provide proper cross training and improve total body fitness. Weight training, for example, involves only small or limited muscle groups and will not always drive EPOC values as high as training that involves large muscle groups, such as rowing, running, or cross-country skiing. Local muscle fatigue and lactic acid buildup during heavy weight training will hinder performance even at relatively low EPOC values, when the body still has energy for more repetitions. A good coach understands this and will know when to push for more reps and when that would risk injury.

In addition to cross training, variations in exercise type and load during daily, weekly and seasonal training will help improve Training Effect and prevent overload. Lighter exercise sessions must be included regularly between more demanding sessions. Lighter exercise performed for longer durations will build to a peak EPOC, which can then be maintained for a longer period, building base fitness and the body's ability to cope with more intense training. (Goes with Figure 10, below)

chart - epoc week
Figure 10. A schematic representation of an endurance athlete’s training load during eight successive weeks (the columns represent daily values of EPOC). This two-month period prepares the athlete for the most important races of the season. The daily values are highest during weekends mainly due to races. Note also the less loading days before race days.
+ Why should I not always exercise as hard as I can?
It’s important to remember that athletes, like everyone else, have their good days and their bad days.

EPOC accumulation is affected by emotional stress, hydration, daily diet, quality and quantity of sleep, allergies, illness, and other factors that can alter homeostasis and both increase or diminish physical ability. On a down day, EPOC values rise more quickly at any level of exercise. Pushing too hard on a down day can reduce the Training Effect and increase the risk of injury.

On the other hand, holding back on a good day will also impair effective training. This is where a knowledgeable and objective coach can make a real difference in the quality of your workouts and in your final performance during competition.
+ How much do you charge for Real-Time Monitoring Devices?

FIRSTBEAT REAL-TIME MONITORING DEVICES
 
Firstbeat HR belt plastic    $85.00
Firstbeat Textile HR belt    $109.00

Team Receiver 10             $85.00
Team Receiver 30             $999.00
Team Receiver 80             $1,450.00

Firstbeat BODYGUARD

1-9 Units    $339.00
>10 units

AMBU L Electrodes 100pcs    $53.12
AMBU L Electrodes 500pcs    $212.48

Suunto

Suunto AMBIT 3 Run / Sport       (call for pricing)
Suunto Ambit 2                            (call for pricing)
 
+ How much do you charge for Firstbeat Software Licenses?

FIRSTBEAT SOFTWARE LICENSES

SPORTS Team Permanent license          $5,500.00
SPORTS Team 1yr license                       $1,500.00
SPORTS Individual 1yr license                 $299.00
SPORTS Individual Permanent license    $750.00
Firstbeat Recovery Pack                           $1,199.00
+ What do coaches have to say?
 

"I've found the First Beat software to be very valuable in training the junior skiers that I coach. Juniors tend to really struggle with learning proper pacing for their workouts. They start distance workouts too fast and then finish too slowly. They go all out on their first interval and then can't keep up the effort to the end. They often don't sleep enough to get adequate recovery. With the detailed reports I can show them how to pace properly and maximize their performance gains. And we can measure their recovery so they know when they are ready to go hard again. After a year of testing with a few athletes, I'm planning to expand use of First Beat to my entire team.​"

--Rob Bradlee​

* * *

"I have worked with international elite athletes for 30 years in different sports. The last 8 years I have used Firstbeat as a coaching tool and that has changed my work to the better. Now I don't have to guess how the stress and recovery is for my athletes.”

Christer Skog
Swedish Head Coach of Ski Classic’s Team Expirit

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In the year since we started working with Jim at EPOC Training on utilizing
Firstbeat technology in our work with athletes, Firstbeat has become an
indispensable tool for us. We've found that the predictive quality of the
Firstbeat recovery index surpasses any other recovery metric we've ever
employed. And the EPOC method of quantifying training disruption has altered
the way we assess and prescribe training load. We're currently using the
Firstbeat software with Paddy Caldwell, Tad Elliott, Kris Freeman, and Noah
Hoffman. These guys are all professional athletes, and Firstbeat provides a
layer of oversight and guidance that is demonstrably valuable. But in many
ways the more impressive testament to the value of Firstbeat is the use that
both Amy and I have made of the software for ourselves. We're working
stiffs, with a hectic fall and winter season. Unlike the pros, we've got to
balance work, family, and our own eagerness to get out the door for
exercise. It hasn't been surprising to find that we tend to go too hard, and
short change recovery. Firstbeat gives us the information we need to
prioritize rest, keep our training productive, and our enjoyment of life
optimal.