The Matrix Explained

The Matrix has been an evolving project in the Fulcrum Fitpro Cadre for the past 8 years.

Its history is derived from an experience that I had with Crossfit in which the randomization of workouts, the competitive element, and the high rep sets administered with seemingly little regard for the fitness level of the participant, caused me to develop double elbow tendinitis from repeated high reps of pullups. I don’t necessarily blame Crossfit for this, but nonetheless, the experience gave me pause to ask myself, “if I as a personal trainer and athlete got injured, how can I prescribe this to my clients.”  There had to be a better way, I thought. So I came up with a system called the “Fulcrum Method,” which included the element we know as Matrix Bootcamp Training.

The overall purpose of the programming for Matrix Bootcamp Training is make sure that overuse opportunities (for example, doing multiple days in a row of high rep or really heavy activities in the same movement plane, like pullups) are minimized. This allows for adequate rest and recovery with a goal that if you workout 3 days per week, no matter what the schedule, you will hit all of the matrix days at least a couple of times throughout the month.  Through attending 3 workouts/week (or more if you have no other form of exercise), the results include safe, sustainable gains in your health, fitness, and happiness, including weight loss, strength gain, and improved confidence, among a host of other benefits or exercise you can read on just about anywhere these days.  The main point is that it’s designed so that users may continue with the program for years without injury.

The secondary goals of the Matrix are more specific.  Matrix Programming is what I call “adaptation based.” This means that each one of the day's workout plans (and their prescribed heart rate ranges), and exercises have a purpose that leads to an expected outcome.

Strength days/sections:
These are created using the widely researched exercise science principal that lower rep sets at near maximal effort with rest in between lead to pure strength gains.  This prescription came about primarily because the trend of increasing muscle size died out in the early 2000s.  Before that, if you remember the nineties, gym’s were about getting guys and gals huge, fast.  Fulcrum’s prescription of 4-6 rep near maximal effort sets minimally increased muscle fiber size, while maximally increasing strength.  It’s more scientific than that of course, but we’ll keep this simple.  Oh, and if you actually want to get bigger, on these days, simply lower the weight and up the reps of your strength sets from 4-6 to 10-12.  At the end of the day, it’s your workout.  Your heart rate in strength sections should average 70-75% of max heart rate.

Conditioning days/sections:
These are designed with a few different outcomes in mind.  The two primary adaptations we are trying to see are increased muscle tone (for those interested in the vanity aspect of training), and muscular endurance.  You’ll notice that Fitpros are designing workouts with the ascending goal of as many reps as possible of body weight or lightweight activities climbing into the hundreds.  This does two things.  First, it simulates real life demands of activities that Portlanders love, like hiking and biking around our beautiful area.  On a good day, I’ll easily walk 20,000 steps to reach a mountain top and come back.  Hundred rep sets train the muscular energy systems to process the type of waste created by this activity, as well as to efficiently fuel the muscles during this type of work.  We don’t expect everyone to a. Want to do this, or b. Be able to do this right away, which is why we’ve created flexibility in the system both ways, up or down.  That is, when you see a workout with 100 rep prescriptions, you may attack it either in 5 sets of 20 reps of each movement and just leave it somewhere around there for a good “sculpting” outcome, OR, you can can work up to 100 rep sets and beyond over time.  For example, you may start with 5 reps of 20, and then the following time you do “lowcon” for example, you may try 30 reps of each set, and then the next time it’s 40 and so on until you reach 100.  Can you imagine the type of shape you will be in when you achieve this milestone?? I can.  You’ll feel amazing. Here’s the kicker, and what really sets this system apart.  Why stop at 100?? If you’re like me, you love a challenge, and once you beat it it’s on to the next, so the following week (or maybe after a couple weeks of rest from your awesome cycle) try for 130, and on and on and on.   When first starting out, your heart rate on conditioning days will probably start between 80-80%.  As you get in better shape, this should come down into the 70’s.  Lastly, there is discussion regarding incorporating specific stretching during these workouts, which could potentially increase the “muscle lengthening” effect.  Think bar training with Fulcrum moves.

Cardio Days:
We believe that long duration cardiovascular training (biking, running, hiking, swimming) is essential for health, and fat loss.  Research shows that the types of muscle fibers developed by people who incorporate exercise bouts of at least an hour (2 is better) develop slow twitch muscle fiber.  Slow twitch muscle fiber uses the aerobic (with oxygen) system to function and this process primarily utilizes lipids (fats) as the fuel source.  Sounds pretty important right?? Since Fulcrum workouts are at most 50 minutes of actual movement (after explaining the workout and stretching), we try our best to provide this area of training to people who for whatever reason do not workout outside of Fulcrum in a long duration cardio way.  This is why these workouts will typically be more one dimensional than our other training days.  It’s supposed to be this way, so please go easy on your fitpros.  They are working hard to make things interesting while keeping you at the right heart rate zone. The classic “cardio” prescription this is from 60-70% of your max heart rate.  Speaking of, I highly recommend you get a Myzone to make sure you’re always in the optimum training zone.   These rates are also on posters around the gym.

HIIT is where we get our high intensity work in.  This includes Tabata, and any type of short duration interval training designed to spike your heart rate for short bursts, for a segment of a workout.  The outcomes of this training include some great benefits, like an “afterburn” effect, which can elevate your metabolism for hours after a workout.  At Fulcrum, we use HIIT as a condiment, and in a controlled fashion. We can tell from watching heart rates on the screen that some people think that they have to “kill themselves” every single workout by keeping their heart rates as high as possible as long as possible  This is not a healthy way to train.  In fact, research is showing that best results using high intensity metabolic training are achieved using it a maximum of 3, 8-10 minute bouts per week.  Other than that, it’s not really healthy to be in the “red” zone of 90% max heart rate or higher.  In fact, overuse of this zone can result in release of cortisol, which in this case, tends to increase fat storage, exactly what we don’t want.

Whoopass is our way of getting your heart rate up after a day of lower heart rate work.  The likelyhood of metabolic elevation or “afterburn” is relatively high after a Strengh followed by Whoopass day.

Mobility, previously known as Regeneration is the specific time we build in to ensure that every member gets the recovery work their muscles need and deserve.  On these days you can expect to see longer and dedicated stretch sessions that include elements of Yoga and other mobility protocols such as those found in the book the Supple Leopard.  You will also see Foam Rolling as a regular part of this section.

Prehab is exactly like it sounds.  It’s the opposite of rehab.  It’s what you do so that you don’t have to rehab from creating imbalanced power relationships between heavy duty joint moving muscles (like deltoids) and stabilizers and rotators (like the muscles of the oft-injured rotator cuff).  In a nutshell, we need to work the little members of the muscle team.  We can’t just do pushups, squats and pullups every day and expect to be aligned and balanced.  We make sure that with Prehab, you’re getting everything you need.

Core is very similar in concept to Prehab.  It’s where we focus on the part of the body that keeps our spine healthy and safe while the primary moves to the heavy lifting.  The spine is a pillar and it likes to stay like that.  This requires a high level of endurance in the muscles that support it, as well as a high level of ability of our nervous systems to communicate to those muscles and make them fire.  Generally, you’ll see two types of movements in Core.  Anti flexion/extension, and Anti Rotation.  What you won’t see, are situps, and loaded twisting motions because of the research that showsthey can be harmful.

So there you go. The Matrix in a not-so-small nutshell.  I look forward to your questions.


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