This past week I had the pleasure of spending time at the Omegawave Headquarters in Helsinki, Finland.
The Omegawave system has been around for a number of years and recently, with the addition of a mobile version for personal use, it has gained more popularity. I have been using the Omegawave system for well over a year now and made the trip to their headquarters with two other colleagues in order to gain better understanding of the system, ask questions about how the system works, and gain a full appreciation for where the Omegawave system fits into the overall training approach.
The week was full of great content and we spent most of the time discussing Omegawave with the VP of Research, Val Nasedkin; Senior Research Scientist, Romin Fomin; and, North American Director of Education, Chris Frankel. The guys did a great job presenting the material and, rather than just lecturing at as for several days, they kept the room interactive and allowed us to question everything and discuss various approaches. I believe that I walked out of this past week a better coach with a greater understanding of what many of the parameters and indexes in the Omegwave system are telling me. Additionally, I have a better appreciation for what the Omegawave is testing and how it is calculated because, to be honest, going into the week I had a ton of questions and uncertainties about how the system works.
The Omegwave Approach
Most people consider the Omegawave to be only a monitoring system (which is how I thought of it as well). The system is more than that though. While it can be used to monitor the athlete, when applied correctly, it offers the coach the ability to adjust training based on the individual athlete’s needs based on how they are adapting to the training stresses applied to them. Rather than thinking of Omegawave as a monitoring tool think of it as an entire training approach. Instead of looking at just one single physiological parameter (for example, HRV) Omegawave looks at multiple parameters (Ex., DC Potential, Amplitude Frequency Analysis of ECG, neuromusclar, sensorimotor, etc) and uses various algorithms to provide the coach with a comprehensive report of the athlete.
The Omegawave approach to managing the training process is based on the following equation:
Genetics + Athlete + Training = Result
Most coaches focus solely on the result. They take the athlete, they apply training stresses, and they evaluate whether or not the athlete is improving. Where this approach fails is when the coach does not take into consideration the physiological cost of obtaining that end result. Of course the athlete can get stronger, more powerful, more fit, but at what cost? If the training load is inappropriate it may very well lead to a positive improvement in the athlete’s fitness but may be more damaging in the long run leading to an athlete who produces inconsistent results and breaks down, often modulating between successful competition outcomes to unsuccessful competition outcomes, breakdown, and/or injury.
The Omegawave approach, as indicated by Nasedkin, is focused on the final three pieces of the equation (since we can’t really change genetics) with the emphasis being on the athlete themselves. Thus, rather than just looking at the result of training we now look at how the athlete tolerates the training session and make adjustments from there, as needed, to ensure that the athlete produces steady results over a longer period of time, allowing them to maintain a higher level of daily readiness and produce more consistent results with less fluctuations in performance and less chance of injury.
Some Of My Thoughts And Fitting Omegawave Into The System
Over the past year, one of the things that I was hung up a lot about with the Omegawave system was the terminology in the system with regard to many of the parameters the system is reporting on. Coming out of this weekend I see that maybe a lot of stuff is getting lost in translation as once I got clearer explanations on how to look at some of the parameters and what they are reflecting (rather than what I thought they were reporting on based on their verbiage) I am a lot more comfortable with the system and now understand why I would see certain things with different athletes in training and didn’t really know how to interpret the findings the Omegawave was telling me. I think one of the goals of Omegawave going forward is to provide a lot of eduction to the end user which will certainly clear up a lot of confusion for those in the field and allow coaches to have a greater understanding on the system and their own training approach.
The idea of putting the athlete at the center of the training process (rather than only looking at the result of training) is an approach I have taken for a long time and something I consider to be very important. When evaluating how an athlete is adapting to training there are two key things to consider:
- External Training Loads
- Internal Training Loads
External training loads reflect what we do to the athlete as coaches and include things such as training loads, training volume, GPS, power outputs (bar speed, jump height, etc), temperature, altitude, etc.
Internal training loads reflect how the athletes’ respond to what we did in the training session and include things such as session RPE, daily readiness questionnaires, HR, HRV, etc.
The Omegawave can be used to provide information in both evaluation areas. Some of the Omegawave tests, such as HRV, DC Potential, and Amplitude Frequency Analysis of ECG, would fall under the Internal Training Load category as we are gaining an understanding of how the athlete has adapted to the previous training session, while things like the jump testing, sensorimotor testing, and Power Work Capacity Test, may fall under the External Training Load category as we are applying a training stress and looking at the result/outcome. In this way, the Omegawave provides a very comprehensive look at the athlete and what Val referred to as a “macro-view” of the individual.
The macro-view concept of the athlete is a critical one as you want to have a clear picture of the individual you are dealing with. The Omegawave will fit nicely into my training approach and methodology going forward as it provides critical information to react to within the context of a holistic training process. For those that have been reading my blog or seen me lectures over the past 3 or 4 years you would be familiar with my training philosophy which is centered around what I refer to as the “Physiological Buffer Zone” (For information on this concept you can read more HERE, HERE, and in THIS aduio lecture I did for sportsrehabexpert.com).
The physiological buffer zone is basically the area between physical capacity and injury or breakdown. Some athletes tolerate training well, can training frequently, and can compete often before ever approaching the line of breakdown (large physiological buffer zone) while others tend to always be walking that fine line and end up breaking down even with a minimal amount of training (small physiological buffer zone).
The Physiological Buffer Zone is focused on three key parameters:
Within each of those parameters we have tests to evaluate the athlete. These tests are carried out at the start of a training program – I don’t like to prescribe an exercise without knowing something about your movement, I don’t like to prescribe training methods without knowing something about your fitness (how can I choose training methods that target a specific physiological goal without knowing where you are at and where you are trying to get to?), and I don’t like to prescribe a training program without knowing about your ability to tolerate and resist the training stress and adapt adequately to the training sessions. The Omegawave fits nicely within this system and now that I have a better understanding of the parameters within the Omegawave it offers me a new way to look at the stress and fitness components within my physiological buffer zone concept (the movement piece is evaluated with the FMS which, coincidentally serves to provide us with a “macro-view” of the individuals movement which we can then dig deeper if need be should something come up). The Omegawave will compliment and add to all of the other assessments we are using to evaluate external and internal training loads to provide us with greater information on the athlete and better decision making going forward.
No matter what your training approach/methodology is you should be evaluating the athlete to gain a better understanding of how they are tolerating the training stress you apply to them. Gone are the days of very strict and rigid periodization schemes. Each athlete is an individual and each athlete will respond to training in a different way. It is important for the coach to take this into consideration and provide the athlete with the right training stimulus, at the right time, and in the right sequence during the training week – Give The Body What It Needs. After this past week I believe the Omegawave is a nice piece to have within the framework of your entire systematic approach. It shouldn’t replace what you are doing but it should compliment it, augment it, and help make it more directed and focused. Thanks to Val, Romin, and Chris for their time. Hopefully other coaches will soon get the opportunity to review the system as we did.