“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” -Mahatma Gandhi

Arnold exemplified the "wave intensities, weave modalities" ideal.
Arnold exemplified the “wave intensities, weave modalities” ideal.

Let’s cut to the chase on this: all of *anything* — all of one way — all the time, is a disaster in the making.  Training should be a dance along the modality / intensity continuum in which very little time is spent on the outer extremes.   “Weaving modalities, waving intensities”, as it were.  To progress, you have to clear your mind, once and for all, of binary (this / *not this*) thinking.  This and this is more appropriate.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have *emphasis* in your training.  Everyone needs a north star and intermittent goals. And everyone needs Five T direction to reach those intermittent goals, and to keep the ship on that north star trajectory.  But it does mean that you have to dial in to the ebb-and-flow of things.  Tides and seasons change.  So, too, should your training modality.  As well as intensity.

Look, I’m as big a HIIT / HIIRT fan as they come.  But that’s hardly the only modality (or intensity bracket) I utilize.  I dance the continuum.  And deftly so, if I do say so myself.

So what does this “dance along the modality / intensity continuum” look like in a practical sense?  What can the busy professional / entrepreneur glean from all this woo talk?

Well, to start, knowing the difference between a routine and a rut is a must. And the difference between that “dance along the modality / intensity continuum” and training ADD.  Navigating between the rut and ADD ditches is something that’s easier said than done for most.  A little common sense and wisdom come into play here.

Knowing the difference between a skill and a conditioning tool is paramount as well.  And realizing that proper technique degrades rapidly as a result of fatigue.  Programming accordingly so as to compensate for that duality is a must.

Particular skills require mindful practice.  To dial-in a power clean, for instance, you have to power clean.  Frequently, and correctly.  But not to the point of “technique failure”.  Skills before fatigue is a good way to think of it.  This is why sprint technique is worked early in a practice session.  Same with batting or golf swing technique work.

Pushing a wheelbarrow; dragging a sled.  Heavy carries.  All great conditioning tools.  Very little skill is required, and what skill is required can be maintained even under severe fatigue and distress.  Snatches as a conditioning tool?  That would be as fucking stupid as hitting fast balls as a conditioning tool (with the addition of a seriously elevated injury potential).  And yet, we see it done; venerated, even.  It boggles the mind.

The greater the skill required of an activity or lift, the earlier it ought to be programmed in the session.  Using the example above, if you’re going to snatch, snatch early in the session. Not following a conditioning bout.  And quit snatching before fatigue compromises technique.

Which is another reason ARXFit is such a great technology.  For the entrepreneur, as well as the athlete.  As its use requires minimal technique, inroading and fatigue can be pushed to the extreme without the potential for injury.  In this way, its programming uses are wide-ranging — from prehab / rehab to strength, hypertrophy… even conditioning.  In fact, it’s one of the most versatile S&C tools I know of.

 

Heal thyself.  Harden thyself.  Change the world –

Keith

6 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for this great reminder. I’ve loved HIT for a long time and default to it. The only sporting activity I do these days is karate and I look to resistance training for maintaining my strength as I near 50. My best shape was in my 30s and 40s when I ran a few times a week with sprints, did a Heavy Duty workout weekly, and played a ton of beach volleyball. I am time crunched these days so can get to the gym for a quick HIT session two or three times a week. I make karate two or three times a week. What I really notice is my lack of “wind” over the last five years or so. If I am doing a split HIT workout for strength, what do you recommend for building my aerobic capacity? I try to mix it all up without stressing my joints too much too. Thanks for your time and any info you can pass on!

    • Well, unfortunately there is a time cost associated with aerobic conditioning. Just not nearly as much as most think. I make the most of my “long / slow” aerobic training by doubling it as another opportunity to meditate. My preferred method is cycling, which works fine for me. However, if you have sport-specific conditioning needs, you’ll need to choose your long / slow methods accordingly. In other words, cycling doesn’t transfer well to running (and vice-versa).

      • Keith, I’ve read your blog for years, mostly because of the “mind/body”synthesis which so clearly inspires you. Nice going. I’ve have never commented because there was no reason to say anything of importance. And yet the comment about “time costs” with reader, JT, got me thinking. Just as a calorie is not “just a calorie,” five minutes is not necessarily five minutes wasted. It’s the “n=1” thing…You have influenced my training insofar as pointing me toward a window through which personal training is a meaningful part of living and not a necessary burden. This is an important distinction. What is interesting to me is that I don’t train like you at all and yet am satisfied, still learning, still tweaking etc. (I’ve been a good student lol!). For example, I like running and I know bloody well that you don’t! (We both love sprinting though). You like cycling. I’ve done that too, through snow, all winter long. But cycling doesn’t “transfer well to running” as you correctly observed. Running is harder. But, shit, Keith, I like it, and I love its buzz just as you like the buzz from lifting weights. However instead of running for 45-60 minutes (as I did in my 20’s and 30’s), I now run perhaps five times maximum a week, in a park/mountain (25-35 minutes) two days of which are intense hill sessions and intervals or fartlek training (i.e. enough “uncomfortableness” to know that I have really “worked” during a given week). I do this as the sun rises. It’s my thing. I love it. Not gonna change. However, I run not to be lean (lift weights, lay off the Doritos and sprint if you simply want to be cut) but, rather, to meditate/clear the mind. I’m a composer, which means I sit on my ass for hours and think really, really, hard for long periods of time. Thus my precondition: a vivid, quicksilver mind, directly triggered by, yes, old school ass hauling (fartlek training anyone?) but informed by new school “hit”/”hiit”research for which I thank you. It works. I don’t do weights (classical pianists need supple fingers, forearms) but do intense combos of pull-ups/pushups/chinups followed by old school combinations of sit ups (to me boxers are the ideal physical exemplifications of speed/power/strength). At 52 I’ve never been more strong, lean and ripped. Yes, it’s a 45-50 minute time investment (sometimes only three times a week). My best work, though, is yet to come which means I’ll never retire. I need to be in shape. To me, therefore, the long term dividends are worth the present “time costs.” I think you get my drift. It’s about loving oneself, isn’t it?

        Many thanks again for your years of honesty and self-exploration as regards keeping it real.

        Best,

        Blair Thomson from Montréal.

  2. Great thoughts Keith Norris​. Love the reminder to utilize the full spectrum of training modalities available to us. And that conditioning tools should be “low skill” that can be maintained in a fatigued state. (i.e. don’t hurt yourself trying to be technical when tired distressed)

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