Searching for fitness and health articles on the internet is like drinking water from a fire hose. With a click of a button, volumes and volumes of information is thrown at you and you are left to sift through it all hoping the articles you decide to read are insightful and accurate.
To save you time and energy we further condensed the “12 Truths about Training and Intensity” so that your actions are aligned with your goals – especially when it involves high intensity training.
TRAINING: TOP 5 “TRUTHS”
1. You will not get stronger without overload.
This one is simple. Training has two guiding principles — volume and intensity. The first refers to the number of repetitions performed, while the second refers to the relative demand those repetitions place on the body. Over time, you must expose your body to gradually increasing volume in order to reap fitness benefits. You must keep intensity high throughout.
The body will adapt to any stress placed upon it, and in order to get stronger, you need to make certain that you force the body to do so.
2. You will not get bigger without eating more or smaller without increasing energy expenditure.
All the girls want to get smaller and all the boys want to get bigger. Most women try to get smaller by eating less when they would be better served by increasing their energy expenditure. Most men try to get bigger by increasing their energy expenditure, although they’d be better served by eating more. Each gender should take a page out of the other’s playbook.
Eating less only serves to lower your metabolic rate, meaning your body will attempt to conserve every precious calorie for future use. What goes in stays in, stored as fat. Rather than lower their metabolic rate, women would be better served by lifting heavy to maintain lean muscle mass and exercising with high intensity to ramp up fat-burning.
In the same vein, lifting heavy and often will only increase lean muscle mass if the attendant caloric intake will support the new tissue. The boys need to take in more food, not lift more. Nonetheless, they’ll spend three hours a day in the gym, burning off those stray calories that would’ve turned into new tissue if energy expenditure had been a little lower.
Food for thought: Are you eating enough?…lifting heavy and often will only increase lean muscle mass if the attendant caloric intake will support the new tissue. Eating less only serves to lower your metabolic rate, meaning your body will attempt to conserve every precious calorie for future use.
3. Steady-state cardiovascular work will not lead to fitness.
The body uses three distinct energy pathways, each employed based on the demands placed on the body. Two of these systems (the lactic acid system and the glycolytic system) are called into play when the rate of muscle contraction exceeds the body’s ability to produce contractions using oxygen.
These two systems, collectively known as the anaerobic systems, are not trained during steady-state cardiovascular work. Steady-state work utilizes the aerobic energy system, which is only capable of producing muscle contractions in the presence of oxygen.
Unfortunately, the anaerobic systems are critical for high to moderate power output activities, such as the squat, the clean and jerk, and the 400-meter sprint. If they aren’t properly developed, the corresponding activities suffer.
4. Mental focus is more critical to training success than physical ability.
One of the primary differences between remaining average and becoming elite (or at least finding your personal best) is mental toughness. Don’t underestimate the power of the mind and mental training!
We are limited by our bodies, but our true limitations exist in the mind. Flat-out lying to an athlete about weight on the bar will often get them to lift a personal best, absence any organic change in the body. I attribute this phenomenon to the power of belief. “Knowing” that you can do something will instantly bring you closer to doing it. Combine an ardent belief with months of training, and you have a recipe for excellence.
On the flip side, God-given ability is easily negated by a poor outlook. I’ve seen otherwise-talented sandbaggers spend a lot of time claiming inability, giving them a ready-made hedge against failure. These folks fail a lot, and they remain in the realm of the novice athlete for years.
5. There is an inverse relationship between the complexity of a piece of exercise equipment and its effectiveness.
The most effective implements for building lean muscle tissue and shedding fat are heavy, blunt, and simple. They have few or no moving parts, and they don’t plug into the wall. A barbell, some weights, a few dumbbells, and a pull-up bar are all you need to achieve world-class fitness. Everything else just adds variety.
By their nature, these things require effort to use. You’ve got to pick them up off the ground and hoist them around. They don’t give you a place to sit, and they don’t read your heart rate every ten seconds.
…Find the stuff that’s cold and heavy and made of metal. It’s the only route to fitness.
INTENSITY: TOP 5 “TRUTHS”
1. Many People Don’t Know What High Intensity Is
A lot of people think they are “going hard” but really they are only kidding themselves. Of course, intensity is different for everyone. But, if you never try to lift as much as you can, with people screaming at you and cheering you on, you won’t know that level of intensity.
If you don’t time yourself, measure yourself, or even record your workouts, you won’t even know where there is room for improvement. Once people create, or are given specific goals, they tap into a higher level of intensity to reach them.
2. All Out Intensity Isn’t Always Good
Be wary of overtraining/under-recovering; it can have a negative impact on your performance, your body, and your mind.
Not every workout calls for your max intensity. It is the quality of your intensity and focus that will drive the effectiveness of your training. Imagine that your intensity is a stoplight. Red is resting, yellow is moving comfortably, and green is going all out. Optimal training requires you to spend time at red, yellow and green. You can not be on green all the time. You will burn out, and be unable to finish longer bouts. It is physically impossible, and you will mentally wear yourself out (and those around you).
3. Intensity Should Be Dependent On Your Goals
The better you are at controlling your thoughts, the better you’ll be at pushing your intensity. Do you want to do give every rep your max effort because you are determined to be the best you that you can be? Are you fine cutting corners and stopping early because you just kinda want to be in a little better shape?….If you want to be your best, feel awesome, and reach specific goals, then you better be ready to get to that place where you are panting for breath with wobbly legs, barely able to go another second.
4. You Can Almost Always Give More
The impact of positive self-talk is not a myth. You can dig out one more rep or add a few more pounds to that bar if you tell yourself it is possible.
Our bodies are amazing and capable of unbelievable feats. When a workout or game gets tough, your mind may begin telling you to stop or that you can’t do anymore. You can listen to negative thoughts or you can repeat positive mantras and push through. The better you are at controlling your thoughts, the better you’ll be at pushing your intensity. You may even surprise yourself with what you are capable of when you use your thoughts to work for you instead of against you.
5. Your Training Intensity Inside The Gym Affects Your Life Outside The Gym.
When you work your ass off, break your old records and give a drill everything you have…you will feel on fire. It may take you a few minutes to recover, but you will leave feeling like you are ready to take on anything. You will work harder at your job, you will want to take on other challenges, and your mood will be contagious. A lot of other stuff in your life will just start feeling easy and manageable.