Over the last couple of weeks, we have been incorporating a style or philosophy of training known as HIT. HIT is simply an acronym for high-intensity training. There can be many different interpretations of what HIT means. In this article, I simply want to give you my interpretation and why we use it in our training system.
There are three predominant methods for stimulating a positive adaptive response (strength, hypertrophy, muscle tone). Those methods are as follows:
1. Max Effort- This method focuses on trying to create maximal force. This can be done by lifting more weight and/or creating maximal tension.
2. Dynamic effort- This method focuses on moving the weight as fast as possible.
3. Repeated Effort- In this method, you perform repeated sets with the goal of inroading or fatiguing the muscle in order to stimulate an adaptive response.
During HIT, we are focusing on utilizing the repeated effort method by taking the muscle to momentary exhaustion. This can be achieved by performing an exercise, then resting and repeating until exhaustion or in the case of HIT, you can focus on taking the muscle to momentary exhaustion on each set. When we refer to HIT, we are referring to applying maximum intensity of effort to each and every set squeezing the most out of every rep. When done where there is little to no rest between exercise you are able to achieve a very deep level of fatigue very rapidly. This is especially true if the exercises are sequenced such that the same primary muscles are targeted on consecutive exercises. This type of training can be very productive, as well as, physically and mentally challenging.
The are several advantages of HIT training:
1. The total volume of training is less which can correlate to higher intensity of effort. The shorter the training the more intense you can train.
2. A very deep inroad can be achieved in a short period of time.
3. It is safe. If focus and attention to form are maintained, the set actually becomes safer as you near fatigue. This is due to decreased force production potential as you near failure.
4. It allows you to work on developing the ability to distinguish between pain and intensity and thereby learn to push your body and mind to new levels.
5. It is an effective means of increasing strength, hypertrophy, and muscle tone.
Some of the disadvantages of HIT training are:
1. It is extremely hard and requires a high level of focus to maximize the effect and to prevent injury.
2. It can be psychologically challenging because It tends to be more feel than task oriented. When the stated goal is to work to failure, the mind can sometimes play tricks on us and convince us that we have reached fatigue prematurely. It is sometimes easy to say I’ve reached failure because I know I get to stop when I get there.
3. Due to the brevity of the workouts, it can again be psychologically challenging for those who crave volume and feel they always need to do more. HIT is about quality and intensity, not quantity.
I have been asked if we will continue to use HIT on a regular basis. HIT has been a part of our training system for many years. For several years, it was the predominant method we used. I consider training in general to be high intensity. However, the specific application of HIT described in this article is best used intermittently. For the reasons mentioned above, it has been my experience that it is difficult to use HIT on a consistent basis. Research also supports this idea. It can, however, be used intermittently as a change of pace and to teach intensity.This is how we are using it at this time. Hope this answers some of your questions.
Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon
We originally planned to have our annual in-house powerlifting event a couple of weekends ago, but the weather did not cooperate. So, last week we had our test for max squat, bench, and deadlift during our normal scheduled classes.
The primary goal for this testing was to give you a measure of where you are currently and how your strength is progressing in each of these basic lifts. These lifts have been used for many years to measure overall strength and can provide excellent feedback. However, you also need to be aware of how these lifts relate to you on an individual basis. It is important to have an awareness and understanding that if you have a movement restriction or issue, these exercises may not be the best measure. The strongman training, that is part of our training system, may be better for developing and testing your strength.
Having said this, here is the data collected from last week. Although not 100% scientific, this data gives us some great insight into how the program is working as a whole.
1. Out of 26 squat maxes recorded there were 22 personal records.
2. Out of 33 bench maxes recorded there were 8 personal records.
3. Out of 26 deadlfit maxes recorded there were 22 personal records.
Those are some pretty good numbers in terms of the percentage of people who set personal records. There are many factors to be considered when looking at these numbers. Since one of the themes of 2017 is biohacking, lets look at it from that perspective. If you want to look at the data as a biohacker would, you must examine the data logically and not emotionally. As humans, it is normal for us to make decisions based on emotion instead of logic. You just need to look at almost all marketing strategies to see the effect of such thinking.
Here are some of the things to consider. One factor to look at is the timing of the testing. During this time of year, some people were coming off vacation, being sick, or staying up late watching the National Championship game. Another thing to consider is your individual goals and how important they are to you. You can examine your numbers and whether or not you are happy with your results, you can continue to do as you have been doing. In either case, you can also look to see what you can do better. It is really up to you.
Here are some things to think about in terms of maximizing your results.
You need to look at how consistently you are making your training sessions and how engaged you are in those sessions. If gaining strength is a goal, this consistency includes not only our specific strength days but our strongman training also.
This has been a main focal point of the system we are using on our designated strength days on Monday and Wednesday. Technique is a combination of proper body position and application of proper torque/tension. If you are not focusing on this each and every rep of every set including warmups you are missing an opportunity to get better.
Are you engaged in each training session? This does not mean that you need to get excessively pumped up for every training session, but if you are focused on the task at hand and locked into each rep you are doing, you will have more likelihood of success. Expect to be successful.
Is your nutrition dialed in or can you do a better job in this area?
Are you getting an adequate amount and quality of sleep?
Are you managing your stress effectively?
You don’t have to necessarily maximize all of these things at once to see positive results. You can just pick one are two areas where you know you can improve and focus on those. I’ll be sending more detailed info about systems you can use to get dialed into each of these areas in the following weeks.
Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon,
Training versus working out, which one do you do? Is there a difference? I think there is a difference, but I think most people don’t make the distinction. To me, the difference is very simple. Almost anything can be considered a workout. Any assortment of movement and exercises that are thrown together can be considered a workout. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Back when I was studying health science in college, one of the big papers that came out at the time showed that accumulating 30 minutes of activity 5 days per week had a profound impact on your health by decreasing the risk for a disease. Notice I said health, not fitness. Also, when we were an affiliate of Crossfit we labeled our daily training as the Workout of the Day. If you look at the definition of Crossfit, which I quoted on a regular basis, for several years it says,” Crossfit is functional movement, done at high intensity with constant or near random variation.” This type of training can be very effective, depending on your goal. Working out can help you attain a great level of general physical fitness and health. It is certainly much better than not working out.
What I would like you to consider, however, is how much better results you could achieve if you trained versus simply worked out. Training has a specific purpose. Even when we were Crossfit, we had a more structured training template. It was varied but definitely not random. One of the many things that drew me to the Training for Warriors system was the fact that the template Martin Rooney had used to help train some of the best fighters in the world, mirrored what we were already using and had also found to be effective. There were some differences, which we have embraced. One was sprinting, the other was more specific training. In other words, we have days which are more specifically dedicated to strength and days which or more specifically dedicated to metabolic conditioning. That is not to say that you cannot train both in the same training session but for many, it is difficult to truly focus on both in one session without one or the other suffering. As a coach, when I examine the TFW system, it fills two primary needs:
1. For the Jiujitsu athlete, it prepares you for both training and competition.
2. For those who are not training Jiujitsu, it helps you burn fat, build muscle, and feel good!
This training can be dialed in even more if you have very specific goals. The point of this article is to follow the Alliance Code and be honest with yourself about how you are approaching your training. Are you simply working out or do you have a specific goal? If you are just working out and you are good with that then that is great. Keep doing what you are doing. If however, you want to focus more on training, we are here to help you. That is where the strategy sessions come in. We can help assess your current goals and ensure we have you on the right path to achieve them.
Commit, Show Up, Don’t Quit, Be Uncommon
In the first part of this series discussing the Alliance Warrior Code, we introduced Honesty. We emphasized the importance of honesty, not only with others but just as importantly and often times more important, honesty with yourself.
Now, I would like to introduce the second value of the Alliance Warrior Code which is Work Ethic.
I still remember back in high school ( yes, I can remember that far back) when the theme for our off season training for football was, “Hard Work Pays Off!”. When we made “X” number of training sessions beyond the required minimum of required summer workouts, we received a t-shirt with the saying on it.
Likewise, another saying, “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard!” really resonates with me because I never considered myself possessing any special talent in regards to sports.
As a kid, when it came to picking teams, I was usually one of the last ones picked. I even remember being laughed at by some of the other kids when I was asked to be a part of the track team. But, what helped and propelled me was I learned at an early age that if I worked really hard, harder than everyone else, I got better. I remember even then of having a goal of working harder and longer than anyone else in the gym.
Which brings me to the term, “Grinder” that is used frequently, especially in the “workout” world. It refers to that person who may not be especially talented, but just keeps working hard, pushing through, and refusing to quit. When it comes to the people I derive the most joy from coaching, I have to say it is probably the “grinders”. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy working with the gifted athletes also, but I probably can relate to the “grinders” a little better.
Another thing I have learned the hard way about work ethic is that it is not just about working hard but also, about working smart and doing the right work.
Let’s take the basic exercises of the squat, Deadlift, and bench as examples. I can work really hard and allow my back to round in order to get one last rep on a Squat or Deadlift or I can let my shoulders move into a bad position to get five more pounds on the bench. I’ve done this on so many occasions I can’t count them, but I promise you it is not smart and eventually, you will pay either with stagnation in training or worse, an injury.
Working smart goes for martial arts training also. Throwing a punch or kick with sloppy technique can cause damage to your joints. In Jiujitsu, this concept can apply to consistently not tapping (saying “Uncle” to get your opponent now to break your arm) to joint locks when you know you are caught, but your ego gets the better of you. It can also, apply to the unwillingness to open up your game in training in order to learn more.
Again, these are all things I am working on myself. It is my goal to continue to learn and pass on my knowledge and experience so that your hard work is both smart and right for helping you reach your intended goals.
Lastly, hard work and in particular hard physical training can become a vehicle by which you can tap into what Mark Divine of SealFit articulates so well as the Five Mountains. The Five Mountains are:
4. Intuition/ Awareness
5. Kokoro (Warrior Spirit)
Our goal at Alliance is to help everyone who chooses to train with us and follow the Warrior Path to tap into and maximize these Five Mountains.
One of the ways (although certainly not the only way) to push yourself further is to participate in challenges or competitions.
My first Jiu-Jitsu instructor and founder of Alliance, Jacare, has always encouraged his students to compete. His reasoning was that you grow and learn so much faster by competing. I would say that his approach has been successful in that Alliance, the team he founded and the one we are a part of, has won 11 world championships including the last 9 in a row including 2016, last weekend.
Much of what is learned from competing or participating in a challenge occurs not just during the competition but during preparation and training for the competition. The point is that if you just enter a competition just for the experience of the competition but you do not do the proper training preparing for the competition, then, you are missing a big part of the learning and growing experience.
1. If you are short on physical attributes (and everyone is at some point if they continue to test themselves at higher and higher levels), being a “Grinder” and working harder than the competition can take you a long way.
2. If you are a “Gifted” Athlete, (and I am proud that we do have a number of gifted athletes at Alliance) working harder will take you further and into realms that others can only dream about. Please do not take your God given talent and attributes lightly and do not waste them on not working hard.
3. And finally, for both Grinders and the Gifted Athletes, the hard work that is put into challenges and competitions can certainly provide a lift up the Five Mountains to Self-Actualization and Realization!
Embrace The Grind