By Harold Gibbons, Trainer & Certified Fitness Nerd
The turning of the leaves is bittersweet, yet we know that another season will come. There are few things in nature, or life, that are linear, and training in the Ninja Clubhouse or Dragon Lair follows the same laws of nature.
When we put on our exercise physiology fancy pants, we find that following a natural cycle can actually improve the results of our training. This means more health, more hotness, and more opportunity to get 1% better.
The Circle of Life Lifting
Just as life comes in waves, so does our training. Each of our classes follows a 4-week sequence during which the intensity and demands of the class increase. Work periods grow in length while rest periods shrink. We may do more sets. You may elect to use a heavier ‘bell, or do more reps.
We ride the same wave in the Dragon Lair, where we strive to progress for each 6-workout program Ninjas follow. As we learn new exercises, we focus on quality of movement and training with integrity. Here’s how we progress in Ratings of Perceived Exertion, which give us an idea of how hard we’re working during a training session:
Take it easy (60%) » Push harder (70%) » Get after it! (80%) » FULL OUT! (90%) » Ballz Fucking Deep, baby! (110%)
Just as we experience a natural ebb and flow of life, we encourage this cycle at the Enchanted Ninja Clubhouse of Glory and Dreams.
Striking the balance betwixt movement integrity and intensity is essential, and we Ninjas know that working smarter is better than working harder. Ninja Army, I ask you to reflect; how well do you follow this?
We are each on our own journey, and at times we speed up, at times we slow down. The change of pace is part of moving forward, and a focus on a singular pace, either too fast or too slow, can hinder our results.
To PR or Not to PR?
Steady progress is closely linked to – but not the same as – constantprogress. (Tweet that SHIT!) “Constant” implies that we are always doing more, always working harder. The “PR Every Day” mindset can be empowering, but it can promote the fallacy that maximal intensity training is necessary for improvement.
Our general impression of a Personal Record is to do more weight, more reps, or more sets. Yes, this is what we commonly consider, but there are also other options, including refined technique, improved recovery, and lower perceived exertion. These are an important part of progress, and provide a framework for judging your progress while learning new programs.
Slow Down to Speed Up: Here’s How It Works
The first day or two of a semi-private program, or the first week of classes, are not made for setting personal records, or finding the balancing point between searching for a garbage can and wanting to puke in it. These are moments when we practice new movements or strive to master the implement that we’re using. These are moments when we focus on the control of our breath, improving on elements of our technique, and calming down while training. These moments provide us with extra recovery time, both physically and mentally. This not only improves how we learn new exercises, but can help us better prepare for increased intensity in the coming weeks.
As we progress through our program, we have a better idea of where we stand with each exercise; which elements we succeed at and which ones we strive to improve on. This is when master our technique with the challenge of heavier loads, more reps, or more sets. We develop physical capacity, and more importantly we develop confidence.
When we entertain the closing workouts of a program or challenge ourselves with Week 4 classes, we apply this confidence to our training. Confidence is sexy as all hell, and we can push ourselves harder towards our goals. We are at the peak of ridiculousness, and are very serious about our fitness.
The notion that training is always aggressive is old-fashioned and misguided. We should follow a natural progression that allows for periods of hard work balanced with periods of recovery and learning. This is exactly what Rafiki meant when he spoke of the Circle of Life.
Week 1 is mellow yellow, with more focus on nailing the shit out of technique. Week 4 is when we fucking go to CHURCH! We experience a slow build to glory! Semi-private training should follow the same focused build, first mastering movement then building strength.
This isn’t about being perfect. This is about working smarter before working harder. (Tweet that SHIT!) This is about finding the balance for continual progress.
The Force requires balance, and so does our training. Fluctuating our training focus helps ensure that we train with integrity as well as train with intensity. When you find the happy medium between the two, may all the Glory be Yours.