Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Why those 6-week transformations don't work

I'm trying not to link to the source of these ads because I don't want to promote them. You may be sick of seeing these ads, but I get special attention because my profile is that I'm a gym owner too.  When people try to sell me on buying one of these 6-week programs to market to you, I like to dig in a bit and see what they are.

Every single one of them is a mixture of a "nutrition program" (secret, so I can't tell you what it is) and a HIIT-based workout program. If it's a smart nutrition program, I can't complain, but I bet it's some weird calorie-restricted diet which is dangerous.

I'll skip the nutrition rant (for now). What I really want to rant about is the use of HIIT for these transformation challenges. Lately I've been ranting about the dangers doing high intensity work day in and day out. I've long been against going all out at every workout, but it's become even more clear now that Randy and I are digging into the details of the StrongEndurance protocol from StrongFirst. Pavel et al. weren't the first to notice this, but they did dig back into the lost Soviet literature to start collecting the information into one place.

The idea behind antiglycolytic training (anti-HIIT) is that you want to train to become stronger without breaking yourself, which is what happens with sustained high intensity training (we even wrote about it here years ago).

But what if my sport is glycolytic? (The poster child here is all of the folks who think they have a chance at making the Crossfit Games.) Well it turns out that the benefits of high intensity (glycolytic) training come on fast (and decay fast), so you only need to train just before you need it.  I quote from our StrongEndurance manual:
Intense glycolytic speed work in the preparatory period temporarily improves the athletic results but does not create conditions for further progress...a significant accumulation of lactate in blood and a high level of strain on the cardio-vascular and endocrine systems are justified only in the competition period and unacceptable in the preparatory period...[the glycolytic peak] phase is short, <4 weeks, with no more than 4-5 specialized glycolytic sessions...
This is a quote from a quote of the Soviet research on making world-class athletes (think
Rocky IV).  HIIT-based workouts are only justifiable for professional athletes just before the competition season, otherwise the toll it takes on the body is too much - including damage of the cardio-vascular and endocrine systems.

So what do you think throwing a random person into a 6-week transformation challenge is going to do? Especially someone who's untrained and wants a kickstart into fitness? It's the perfect way to damage them. Unless you are a professional athlete (and really even if you are - Randy's runners do the same AGT work as everyone else), you don't need to be killing yourself every day. You need to slowly get stronger and slowly build your "cardio" base without destroying your mitochondria.

HIIT will break you in the long run - even if you take "rest days". What you need to do is make every day a rest day and once in a while take a glycolytic day. Or, just do our Strength+AGT work.

You should offer a 6-year transformation challenge. - Mark

I see training here as an AMRAP 20 years. - Rich


row 500 / run 400
crawling lunge
10 KB swings or snatches
double KB overhead lunge
10 TGUs or windmills
10 goblet squats
5 pull-ups or push-ups or dips


squat 8-5-3x5


5 pull-ups between sets

Group Workout

Squat 1RM
*Benchmark day!

then (if you still have anything after the 1RM)

5 rounds:
10 pull ups - scaled as needed
10 push ups
10 air squats


2 minute bar hang


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