One of the most underappreciated elements of good program design is variation of intensity. In layman’s terms, most days you want to train hard, some days you want to take it easy, and some days you want to leave a pancreas on the floor.
If you’ll indulge me and allow me to get slightly science-y on you… When pursuing a health and hotness goal, we must always be aware that the training is not an end in and of itself; we’re providing a stimulus that we hope will encourage the body to create an adaptation. If you’re untrained, and you lift heavy weights, you will get stronger. If you live your life at a desk and start doing a lot more activity, you will probably get a little leaner. If you buy me enough drinks, I will probably start doing flea hops at the bar to win over the ladies (for the record, to date, this last tactic hasn’t worked. I’m pretty sure it’s just bad timing, as we all know ladies canNOT resist a flea hop).
Nothings Says SEX Like a Well Executed Flea Hop
(Am I Right Ladies?)
Simple right? Well… for a while.
When you haven’t lifted anything heavier than a bag of Doritos in the last five years, yes, you will get stronger doing just about anything. BUT…the body craves homeostasis. In a short time, it will resist further adaptation, and more complicated training strategies will be necessary to illicit further gains.
When your most vigorous activity is walking to and from the subway to work, you will probably see some fat loss if you start to work out a few times week (though…to be honest, even this can be undone pretty easily if you start “rewarding” yourself with nutritional indulgences). But after a few weeks of treadmill jogging, you will probably see your fat loss slow to a crawl.
This is where fluctuating training stress comes in. In the fancy-pantsy strength and conditioning world of athletes, this is known as periodization. For our purposes, we can keep it simpler – once you’re an intermediate trainee, you don’t want to train at the same intensity every time you go to the gym. If you hit it so hard you’re borderline nauseous every session, you won’t get what you’re looking for. Your body won’t be able to recover, and you won’t create your desired adaptation. Conversely (and perhaps more obviously), sandbagging it every time will get you no where fast. You’ve got to purposefully cycle your intensity.
As far as how best to do that, the specific answer not only lies outside the scope of this article, but requires a thorough assessment of the individual trainee’s background, goals, and experience. For now, in my never ending attempt to keep it “as simple as possible but not any simpler,” try this: 25% of the time go easy, 50% of the time go hard, and 25% of the time go to crazytown.
This cycling of intensity is built into all of our programming at MFF. As a progressive center for health and hotness, we of course use periodization in our individualized program design. This includes reeeeeal sexy science-y shit like UNDULATING PERIODIZATION… you guys, you guys!! It’s actually called… UNDULATING!!! LOL! Seriously though, that’s actually a thing, and we use it in our more advanced templates.
One of the things that makes MFF special (beyond our quirky style and “colorful” teaching metaphors) is that we’ve even implemented this concept into our group classes. Although nothing beats an individualized program, we realize some people just prefer and/or only have the discretionary income for classes. Since we want to take world class care of our beloved ninjas, our classes run on a four week cycle that varies the volume and intensity of the classes. This allows us to avoid overuse injuries, keep classes mentally fresh and engaging, and get the best possible health and hotness results.
So whether you’re pursuing glory under our careful supervision or all by your lonesome, make sure you’re not just banging your head against the wall workout after workout. Vary your intensity and avoid plateauing!
Also, don’t think that buying me more drinks will result in more intense flea hops. I only know how to do flea hops one way: FULL OUT!!!