True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are united
~ Alexander von Humboldt
George Church (Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School) argues, in this Big Think piece, that the age-old divide between science and religion is solvable. “We can bring them together,” he says, “but it requires less extreme views, or what would benefit from less extreme views.”
And it’s my belief that the same idea holds true for Physical Culture’s role in taming the beast that is the American healthcare crisis.
As it currently stands, there is no credible entity that acts as a non-dogmatic, “non-partisan” clearing house, of sorts, in which the various tools and techniques of Physical Culture can be explored in relation to the seeker’s desired outcome (along the health-performance continuum) — especially for those who’s desire it is to use a Paleo-like diet, coupled with resistance exercise, as a tools for achieving superior overall health. My hope is that this summer’s Ancestral Health Symposium (and the symposium’s parent organization, the Ancestral Health Society) will become just that entity. I am at the same time thrilled — and humbled! — to be one of the presenters at the symposium, where I will discuss resistance training’s role in achieving optimum health, the difference between “superior health” and “superior performance”, and the emergence of the Physical Culturalist (i.e., the new breed of personal trainer) and his role as “swim coach” as opposed to the healthcare professional’s role as “lifeguard”. Hat tip to Greg Glassman, of CrossFit, for that fine analogy. As medicine’s role in this new paradigm must change, so must the Physical Culturalist’s.
Of Autoregulation and overtraining
TTP reader Jeff Erno asks the following (via Facebook), in reference to EETV, episode 6:
Really enjoyed the episode, thanks for recording. The auto regulation stuff sounds interesting. Is there somewhere I can go to read more about it? Also, my experience is with HIT the last 2+ years and if I only workout once per week I have steadily gained week over week. At twice a week I can have what can look like a stall or retrogression. Do you think it is possible that my situation is more common and most people don’t know it since they never tried backing off? Curious what your take is. Love the episodes, please keep then coming.
And here’s my answer — expanded a bit, from my original Facebook response:
I’ve written about Autoregulation a few times in Theory to Practice, Jeff — see, especially, this post — and actually the subject is in our EETV bucketlist of topics to cover in more detail. As well (and as I alluded to in this post), I’ll be talking more about the tenants of Autoregulation and it’s practical applications at the Orlando 21 Convention this summer — so stay tuned for that! 😉
As for the second question: a regression/stall at 2x/week is certainly not unheard of *if you are engaged in the same “type” of workout (rep tempo, exercise selection, rep/TUL scheme, etc…), workout to workout* This is one reason why I shift things up in a conjugate-like fashion, both in my own workouts and in those of my clients. You simply have to give the body a reason to overcompensate, otherwise, homeostasis will rule the day. I really don’t want to get into a flame war over what I consider to be the (substantial) drawbacks of single-set-to-failure routines for performance enhancement, but let’s just say that it’s my humble opinion that these routines just don’t give the body much (or enough) stimulus to have to fight against. Why should the body continue to adapt when it is not up against novel angles, cadences, tempos, volumes, intensities, etc.? Ask any strength and conditioning coach what happens to 40 times when all you have your athletes do for speed/conditioning work is to run repeat 40’s — they digress — and not insubstantially, either. This is similar to the problem you’re running up against here.
I really wish you could have been in Wimberley, Texas this weekend, at the home of Ken O’Neill, where Dr. Frank Wyatt spoke to us of “the Body Chaotic”, pushing physiological threshold limits, the nature of physiological fatigue/failure, and what it takes to force the body to overcompensate. I’ll just say this: the early stages of training are relatively easy going, as just about any stimulus will force the body to overcompensate. The longer one stays in the game, however, the harder it becomes to push up to and beyond the fatigue threshold required to elicit an overcompensation response. In laymen’s terms, it’s friggin’ hard work. It’s painful, even. It requires a mental toughness that most trainees are simply not prepared for, or willing to offer-up, in exchange for results.
Now I’m by all means not an advocate of training unintelligently or in a shotgun, willy-nilly manner. I do believe, though that doggedness, intensity, and the ability to repeatedly push beyond the brain’s “shut ‘er down” response are crucial for achieving optimal gains (note: striving for optimal health is another issue — related, but certainly not the same). I do believe, as well, that the body’s ability to recover (another topic discussed by Dr. Wyatt) can be “trained” as well via periodic forays into an overtrained state. Chronic overtraining ought to be avoided, of course; acute bouts though are, in my opinion, necessary if one’s quest is enhanced performance. Remember, performance enhancement (which includes the chase for hypertrophy) is an emergent phenomena — akin to the study cloud formation, weather patterns even — not a more easily described, step-by-step process, akin to the operations of a clock, say.
If at all possible, get your hands on Brad Schoenfel’d study “The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and Their Application to Resistance Training” (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Vol 24, #10; Oct 2010). The chase for hypertrophy and/or realizing one’s ultimate genetic potential is not nearly as easy as simply tracking linear load/TUL progressions in a handful of exercises.
Workouts? Oh yeah, you know it! Here we go –
(A1) Dips: bw/10; 45/10; 55/6; 90/4, 5; 45/11
(A2) ARX neutral-grip pull-down: HR/3, 3, 3
(A1) BTN push-press: 135/10; 155/6; 185/5, 7 (slight spot); 155/6
(A2) chins: bw/12; 45/7; 65/6, 6, bw/whoops!
(A3) RLC: bw/10, each of 4 rounds
then, 2 rounds of :
(B1) ARX negative only chin x 2
(B2) ARX negative only overhead press x 2
Sprints! Bars! Ropes!
GVT volume work, 10 rounds
(A1) high bar squats: 165/10
(A2) seated DB clean & press: 40/10
Prior fixie riding made 10 rounds of squats a real bi-atch for sure!
(A1) ARX close-grip bench: HR/3, 3, 3
(A2) dips: BW/15, 15, 15
(A3) T-Bar row: 125/10; 200/10; 245/8, 8 (Autoreg)
(A1) Powermax 360 Tabata intervals (30 seconds on, 15 seconds off), 8 different movements.
(B1) long, fast, fixie ride
(C1) ARX RDL: HR x 3; 3 sets
Sprints and jumps