The Atomic Approach

Everyone constructs meaning for what “Stronger, Faster, Harder to Kill” means. Your definition is almost certainly different than the next athlete’s. Those differences are most likely by degree. Principally, everyone’s definition shares common themes. These shared, often unspoken, overarching ideas bind us together, and drive us all forward to a better version of ourselves.


Everyone’s road is different, yet somehow we’re all on the same journey together.


As coaches, as a company, we are often scrutinized about our philosophy. People ask what makes us different – what “makes it work.”


Partly, it is an embrace of tried-and-true methodologies proven, time and again, by research.


Partly, it is constant innovation in spite of what’s been proven, using data and research that seems to debunk previous theories – a superficially contradictory approach to the first point.


Partly, it is how coaches are the frontline of sport science, and often figure out new methods far ahead of researchers – we see ourselves, and our athletes, as prime participants to test and refine new ways of training to innovate the occasionally staid practice of strength and conditioning.


Lastly, it’s that everyone in a session goes through it together – shared experience enriches the return.


Each of those points require us to bridge the gap between theory and practice. All the great research in the world, new or old, is pointless unless it can be turned into a gym functional product for a group of athletes.


If you’ve been training with us for an extended period of time, you know and have experienced that our sessions change over time as we grow and adapt, and as we develop better ways to achieve our goals. This is a necessary, and awesome, consequence of the factors that “makes Atomic work.”


We aim to develop athlete fitness to the greatest degree possible using 9 training methods:


  1. Maximal Strength – the ability to generate force to overcome loading.
  2. Hypertrophy – muscle tissue growth.
  3. Strength Endurance – deferring muscle fatigue during working bouts.
  4. Aerobic Capacity – the ability to metabolize fat as a primary energy source for the longest period of time.
  5. Work Capacity – the ability to maximize power output over time using various formats.
  6. Speed and Speed Endurance – deferring fatigue while moving over ground as long as possible.
  7. Core and Grip – the transmission of force generation.
  8. Resilience – the ability to sustain and recover from injury-causing effects.
  9. Athleticism – acceleration, directional changes, and changing levels.


All sessions and cycles align with one or more of the above. In order to prevent randomness, though, we program everything with a purpose in mind. Purpose drives programming.


Maximizing your ability in each attribute leads us to progress training. Progression elicits greater adaptation response. Intensity and volume are the two variables that can be progressed.


The interwoven nature of each method, and the performance gains that result, lead us to periodize training.


Our disciplined approach to purpose, programming, progression, and periodization serve as navigational guides to steer us on a course of continual athletic development. These “Four P’s”, expressed via the structures we design – the different types of circuits you do when training – is how we turn theory to practice.


Now, there is a temptation to look at the nine methods above and assume the time spent training each should be roughly equal. That’s far from the truth. Adaptation takes longer for Maximal Strength and Aerobic Capacity than any of the other attributes. And, those adaptations are far better for long-term health, fitness, and quality of life.


The long-term perspective can be tricky to maintain. Certainly, the most visceral experience at Atomic is a work capacity effort. Often, it is why athletes start training with us. Work capacity also tends to be the most rewarding to feel after a session. You feel different after a truly hard work capacity. Yet, we don’t do work capacity all the time, or even as much as some athletes want, due to it’s unsustainable nature and the quickness of the adaptation.


The gap between an athlete’s desire and a coach’s perspective can lead to tension. Appearance, emotion, life-situations, social pressures, and individual goals influence what athletes want. Frequently, those wants are data points to check off a list of accomplishments that have a tendency to be arbitrary (though not always). It is inevitable – and makes perfect sense.


A coach, on the other hand, sees the trend line of performance over time and is continually making adjustments to increase its upward slope. Both are valid, yet the trend line holds greater return than data points. One course is set by the stars, the other by the lights of passing ships, to paraphrase General Bradley.


At Atomic, athletes will see the changes they desire, but first must trust the process, and understand that the most meaningful and longest lasting changes take time. We accomplish this through accumulation and utilization.


Accumulation prepares athletes for utilization. Utilization leverages accumulation to render improved performance.


This is seen in the ebb and flow of training volume, intensity, and focus. Some cycles will be almost completely devoid of some aspects, only to return later with a greater intensity and volume demand. The focus shifts as we move from building an athlete’s capacity to do something to using that capacity.


The antithesis to our approach is continuous high intensity training.


But anyone with the inclination can design a hard session. It doesn’t take any knowledge to make exercise hard. Hard isn’t, categorically, training. The over-application of HIT leads to stagnation, overtraining, and injury, often in that order. Intensity drops over time as an athlete’s physiology can’t recover from the work and becomes overwhelmed.


The negative trajectory of continual high intensity training drives us toward data-proven methods, and the application of the Four Ps. It is also what leads many athletes to our garage doors.


Whatever brought you here, it is our mission to make you Stronger, Faster, and Harder to Kill.


We don’t take this privilege lightly.


Our philosophy, systems, culture, standards, and expectations are forged to provide our athletes with the most potential for development.


Our coaches must meet the highest standards of fitness and training knowledge to take charge of the floor.


We dedicate our skill, resources, and time to provide the best training anywhere and firmly believe that’s what we deliver. We are resolute to always fulfill this responsibility.

Recent Blog posts


Leave a Reply