Fission Fusion Training

A Radical Re-Perception Of Fitness Science

Can Art Save Fitness? And More Tidbits

 I never did get into this profession to “help” people, I should admit. I took to the field because I wanted to KNOW everything there is to know about the human body and the infinite interior of the human mind. To feed the most powerful craving of all – the craving for knowledge. And as far as helping people. That is a beautiful side effect that I am glad comes with the territory.


We Are All The Same AND We Are All Different, At Once
There is no exact right or wrong when it comes to the interpretation and methodological application of the observed principles of human functionality and response. This mathomechanical thinking, flimsily hid behind the veil of reason and logic, is the foundation upon which the boring, mundane, grey and dead fitness industry, IS that way. Averse to creativity, shielding itself from criticism using the imaginary powers of lab-coat worshipping “evidence based” thinkers. We humans are all as different from one another, as we are the same. Each person is a unique expression of the human project. The human project being a unique expression of the biological engine of creativity itself.

All the same essentially, but different at the same time fundamentally.

And the DIFFERENCES create the rules of individualization. Taking the essential block of human function and response, and carving it with the specific and uniquely sharpened chisel of individual need.

There is no mathematical formula that can predict the future functional state of a living biological being. And when linear mathomechanical thinking and thus logic and reason fail us, we see how biology, art and creative initiative can save us.

The Greatest Exercise Of All Time
If I had to pick just ONE. One only. Only one? I wouldn’t pick.

An exercise itself is nothing without considering its place in a workout. A workout is nothing without considering its place in a program. A program is nothing without considering where she, the trainee is coming from, where she is and where she wants to go. The key is context and nuance. They give relevance. And relevance explicates meaning. Context wipes the eyes of the haze of uncertainty and sharpens the solution finding apparatus of the coach. His mind, experience and foresight.

Each person is unique, though we are all the same. And that means each exercise means something for everyone, but that it also means something unique for that person. But it will not have the same magnitude of meaningful effect for two people in exactly the same way. BOTH situations need to be accounted for. The specific and the general.

Low Volume Training VS High Volume Training
Probably the most childish debate in the fitness world. And to imagine entire coaching niches have been built around both concepts just makes it all that much sillier. But lets move the entire situation into the realm of no context. Where we can see that BOTH are useful if cycled correctly. BOTH can provide their own unique stress signatures and BOTH can thus be beneficial for the trainee. So let’s end this adolescent bickering. Maintaining volume over time is to create stagnation. Playing with its highs and lows will add more cumulative benefit than sticking with either alone. As I’ve explained before, your body is adept at recognizing stress patterns. And any stress pattern maintained long enough will result in the creation of it’s own poison.

Result Do Not Happen At The Rate Your Mind Desires, They Happen At The Rate Your Body Allows
There is no clean linearity in biology. Your physical fitness progress will be a slow, heavy, drudging process. Testing the endurance of your patience. It will have micro-periods of linearly accelerative progress, punctuated with phases of near absolute stasis. A limbo of change. The stasis does NOT necessarily mean something needs to change in your program, because even when we interpret the body to be in stasis, it never is. As I’ve said before, you never train in the same body twice. The need to “change”  is a massively common misconception based on a very average understanding of cause and effect in complex adaptive bio-systems like you and I.

One common theme? That stasis usually seems to be followed by another period of accelerated change. Why? I’m still working out the exact description in my head, so you’re going to have to wait on that. But till then, stasis is better than regression. But to be honest, sometimes regression is best of all. My friend Kerry Hayes, an exceptionally intelligent Engineer, forged the thought into a beautiful metaphor. With some editing from myself, he put it this way, “Like driving a fast car, the greatest acceleration is measured from the point of origin. As you go faster and faster the acceleration decreases. With the phases of stasis, I am guessing your body needs to change gear to reach a higher top speed. Each gear change invokes moments of deceleration.”

The biology of fitness is everything you never expected.

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Flip The Script

One day during his tenure as a professor, Albert Einstein was visited by a student. “The questions on this year’s exam are the same as last year’s!” the young man exclaimed. “Yes,” Einstein answered, “but this year all the answers are different.”

Metabolism Optimization Isn’t Just About Eating Better
Since life began, metabolism has been the never ending struggle between anabolic processes and catabolic processes, of energy intakes versus energy outputs. Both processes of a self-generating, self-healing, self-correcting and adapting system. Without one, there is no other. Therefore metabolic up-regulation is not and cannot be only about getting people to eat more, as the popular underground Ray Peat inspired metabolism-gurus have been persuading us to believe. And rightly so. But it has to ALSO be about training and exerting MORE. The energy IN verses energy OUT conduits must work in sync to heal and reestablish optimal metabolic functionality. Anabolism and catabolism are connected at the hip of metabolism, in the never ending dance of biological life.

Screw Sustainability It’s Hogwash
A training and feeding program needs to be sustainable to allow compliance? Something a client can actually do? Forever? Not so fast. When designing a program I consider what I can get my client to do, yes. AND what I can get them to eat. BUT that does NOT mean, you only give them what they LIKE to do and LIKE to eat or only what they can do or can eat. I’m looking for compliance. But compliance of what it will take to produce an alteration, not to sustain the comfort zone state. It is obviously what got them to have to need my help in the first place. I truly admire the modern fitness pros intention of  diet sustainability, but to be fair, the entire concept is hogwash. The fear of people not complying to protocol. A diet, like a training program has to be CHALLENGING – just not IMPOSSIBLE. The idea is that the challenge be, at the very least, slightly outside the clients comfort zone. You can’t aesthetically alter your physique without intellectually altering your mind. Take into account where they stand and where they WANT to go by doing what they NEED to do. When it comes to physique alteration, challenge, disturbance, instability creation and jolting the system is the very mechanism of change. Embrace it, use it and steer it.

Your Training Pattern Determines Your Adaptation Pattern
What your body does with your food depends on what you do with your body. The workout carves the path the calories must take. The path forged displays the obstacles, puzzles and challenges you faced during your sessions of  stress, strain and pain. In the gym and in life. And since the very “mechanism” of biological adaptation is stress, strain, pain, disturbance and instability inducement, realize that the type, pattern and nature of the challenge contains the exact and precise instruction set for the nature of the adaptation to come. Strain for duration and the adaptation is the endurance gestalt. Strain for power expression, mechanical tension or a mix of something in between and the adaptation is the power production gestalt. Each gestalt comes with it’s own set of positives and negatives. Now, you are free to choose the positives but only so long as you accept the negatives.

Everything comes with a price. But one expense may be more desirable than the other.

Tailor Made Physicality: Can You Direct Your Biological Expression?

How The Diet World Has Failed And Why We Must Put Our Faith Back Into The Training Universe

The diet industry has failed us. Skewed, distorted and completely turned upside down, inside out and set in motion backwards the functional relationship between diet (your energy ingestion plan) and training (your energy expenditure plan).

Modern societies incredible surge in available calories, what I call the food bonanza, and the technological advances that have taken physical work needs down so substantially, what I call the physical activity famine, have made us misinterpret the problem and create a solution that has led to a new problem. One we didn’t expect at all. Food psychosis and its effects on personality disturbance.

Now you can have the perfect diet, sort of, but without a physical exertion plan of an equally high quality, you will still not have health. Or any semblance of a reproductively attractive physique. And if we’ve learned anything from the science of complex bio-dynamical systems, processes of trillions of living cells like me and you and every other living being on this planet, we have learned that we need to be stressed, strained and disturbed for optimized health. Our bodies feed on this disturbance – hard exercise – as much as they do on calories.

What am I asserting here then? That your optimal physical self has as much, if not more, to do with your energy expenditure (your training) plan, than with your energy ingestion plan (your diet).

The problem first is inactivity, and second is over-consumption, which leads to more inactivity and so on.

If people took the mental and physical focus and energy they put into dieting and instead put it into training, they’d have a lot more success with getting what they want from their dieting. And without the harmful negatives of caloric restriction. Negatives that include metabolic down-regulation and dramatic, powerful, permanent alterations in mood and behavior. This combined creates a perpetual cycle of frustration; the more you diet, the more you need to diet. 

Training Correctly Will Get You There, Eating Correctly Will Allow It
Your diet and training fitting like lock and key will allow a better, faster, smoother physique enhancement and health journey. The Diet-focus fitness industry ideology has failed. And in it’s grand failure we’ve been given a message, that “dieting” alone will always fail. It has only resulted in people with psycho-metabolic issues without ever delivering the long term positive results that diet-focused fitness pros of lore had promised with all the fervor of mighty saviors and the confidence of corrupt politicians. Making ridiculous arbitrary, nonsensical claims such as 80% diet, 20% exercise, you are what you eat and an entire assortment of such cliche statements of delusion and reality contempt.

What You Do With Your Body Tells Your Body What To Do With Food

The message of strain is what will create your bodies need for food. And will carve the path of phenotypic expression your physiology will take and determine what that food is used for and how. Now does that mean that food type, quality and quantity doesn’t matter? Of course not. And here is a metaphor for why:

If you body is a car, and physique enhancement is the journey, then hard effort training is giving the car acceleration. Not eating in a way specific for the training pursuit is like having your other foot on the brake at the same.

The Internal Is Influenced By The External: A Little Epigenetics
People need to get the training program right FIRST and foremost. Then decide on how to feed the demands of the training to allow the body to express the work physically through remodeling, modification and enhancement. Both the training and the proper feeding for that training can create the right environment for the expression of your best genomic self. The modern term for this plasticity and potential for adaptability is being called “genetic vulnerability”.

In his book Epigenetics, Richard Francis explains how it is NOT the gene that controls its expression. It is the cell that regulates gene expression. This de-centralizes control of which trait is phenotypically expressed. These epigenetic  mechanisms allow for genomic and phenotypic expression according to how and to what degree we can alter cellular environment.

You are not your genes. You are a battle between nature and nurture. Sometimes you are a co-operation between them. As Robert Sapolsky recently said, “Genetic determinism, my tuchus.”

How To Do It?
To create the ultimate expression of human physiology, the healthfully lean and an-aerobic power expressing humanoid, we must stimulate a change in full body environment that allows for this phenotype to realize by training primarily the short term energy systems and feeding the body primarily carbohydrates for the glucose to power those energy systems. To meet the needs only forceful exertion generates.

The stimulation of the dynamic duo of metabolism, the expenditure and ingestion systems energy conduits must both congeal upon one purpose and one goal, to birth a synergy of precise result.

Stimulate in this way and allow the teeter-totter between genetic and epigenetic expression to use your specific plasticity of expression to it’s fullest extent. In time. And with patient appreciation for process.

BlackListed: Little Fitness Heresies

The Art Of Compromise: What Not To Do
So I might not add vegetables or fruits in someones diet. I might not even let them squat for 3 months. Fitness blasphemy the main-stream fitness “pros” would call it… but let me explain.
In training (working out and diet planning), the other side of the programming coin is what you do NOT do. Which gives meaning to what we HAVE to do. Progress isn’t about what you must, but also about what you must not. Not about what you’ve learned. But what you’ve maybe un-learned. Excellence isn’t always about accepting, its also about rejecting. Moving forward isn’t only about looking ahead, it’s also about not looking back. This negative space and phase space teeter-totter. Tensioned in dynamic struggle. A non-constraint that behaves AS the constraint that guides process. The sculptor chisels off, the painter leaves blank and the musician goes silent. A great coach does something similar with program design. And sometimes that is exactly what defines the masterpiece.

Re-Express Yourself: Training Is The Big Key
To achieve the power athlete look (swimmer, sprinter, tennis player, soccer player etc), stimulating the short term energy systems primarily to use glucose as a fuel is a fundamental key. It can help you re-express yourself physically. But you must have the power athletes basic training structure down as well. Not their routine, not their diet. But their training methodology and how they feed it. Yes, there is a real and appreciable degree of “phenotypic re-expression” that your physique has the plasticity for. Cell environment can be altered through training and this can direct how your genetic gestalt is expressed phenotypically. But know that it takes TIME. I’d speculate 3 to 10 years for full potential to express itself according to the “type” of training you do.

Metabolic Memories – Do You Remember?
Every hard diet and every extreme training program will change you. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes for the worst. But you will NOT go back to original factory settings, mark my words. The interaction leaves a metabolic memory. You ingrain and condition yourself to those specific/general conditions with general/specific psycho-physiological “reactions”. The more “extreme” the interaction, the more severe the response. The deeper the scars, the darker the bruises and longer lasting the hurt. Stay close to the extreme, because you need to push yourself to points of discomfort to benefit at all. Dance on it’s periphery. But certainly not any longer than is essential. All interactions over time, eventually, poison. UNLESS you change your expectations as the interactions change you.

Constraints Lead To Freedom – The Shackles Of Independence
There are many reasons I don’t allow for too much auto-regulation of training and diet. I believe in structure. I believe in regimentation. The regimented training and diet life-style, besides providing obvious aesthetic and CONSEQUENTIALLY, health benefits, is also a temporal regulator. My fancy schmancy way of saying that it gives your day and routine DISCIPLINE and structure. It’s the constraint that allows you to get more done, not less. Guiding you to specific results from your efforts. My 3 R’s work well here: Regimentation + Repetition + Ritualization = Results

At War With Your Body: How To Have Your Cheesecake And Eat It Too
A workout is about you figuring out how to compete AND co-operate with your body at the same time. All competition or All co-operation, will lead nowhere. Your body will react with injury or sloth to decay. Find the right balance and you can eat more donuts and cheesecake in life.

And that is always a good thing.

Stretching Things

Stretching Or Not Stretching – Is This The Question?

And is it the wrong one? This isnt about stretching. What the debate is really about is how to train so that the athlete can move into and out of end ranges of multiple motion planes simultaneously and/or singularly, while expressing speed and strength.

 So Let’s Ask A Different Question

Does the dead-lift stretch the hamstring? Yes. Does the Chest press stretch the pectoral musculature? Yes, indeed. And do you become what you train for? Yes again. Most extremely strong men, with very large dead-lifts for example, may not be able to touch their toes, because they stay within a plane and range of motion that does not require it; dictated by the height of the plate.

But if they were to train the dead-lift off of a platform so that the bar would be at toe-level or below, what do you think would happen over time? Would they become more adept at the coveted toe touch? Without a doubt. But there is more! They additionally would STRENGTHEN that range of motion through CONTRACTION out of that positional end point.

 So Do You Need To Stretch? Still A Firm, No

If you want improved range of motion, then simply improve the range of motion of the loaded exercises you use. You accrue the added benefit of actually “strengthening” those end ranges, instead of just lengthening. Lengthening without avoiding strengthening. The holy grail.

Addendum

The one thing to keep in mind is to not consider ANY exercise as axiomatic or essential. You can literally “create” odd exercises that seem to mimic the patterns in the sport (without exact duplication attempt) and load them (safely) to be able to apply the concept above. Additionally, the sport ITSELF could (and maybe should?) serve the purpose of providing flexibility enough. And if it isn’t, then are you practicing incorrectly? There is much more to this debate than stretching. The word itself may be limiting our thinking and creative solution finding to the problem of how to combine range of motion with strength and speed. More soon…

Biased Biofeedback

Auto-regulation Is A Bias

Using heuristics for deciding we produce errors due to biases in thinking.
– Daniel Kahneman

To me auto-regulation and feedback self-assessment has real value and real problems. I’m prone to the boredom-bias, the novelty-drive and the shiny-new program syndrome myself. So I write today to not down-play the value of auto-regulating training AND diet, but to realize it is very, very easy to miss the target, mis-judge and mis-fire. To be completely and utterly wrong about the signals of bio-feedback such as fatigue, irritability and strength decrease.

You see, if the ideas of confirmation bias and the biological fallibility of our intuitions and our psychology are correct, and we are easily led to believe things that we should not, due to problems in our ability to analyze critically, then how can we assume trusting our own bio-feedback is ever going to be truly accurate?

You Can’t Use Your Mind To Understand Your Mind?
The heuristics of bio-feedback assessment can only be interpreted in context of the entire socio-pyschological thinking pattern at the moment of interpretation – meaning your thinking and feeling system is trying to understand your thoughts and feelings. The ease with which this can lead to a misinterpretation is astounding once you realize that the perception of feedback is a pattern drawn out on the background of our emotional experience. The more you analyze it, the more the background takes over and the more fuzzy the feedback pattern becomes, until it actually blends into the background itself as a smudge mark, instead of a sharply informative outline.

Then What Should Be Done? Hire An Eye In The Sky
The value of getting coaching is that the coach does not have to view the feedback from the same background of emotion and experience that has birthed the feedback in the first place. He can help you sharpen the lens of perception so the fuzzy pattern becomes clear enough for the message to be read with more accuracy and precision. All so that the proper “response” to the feedback can be planned, mapped and executed for an optimized continuation of progress in all forms quantitative and qualitative.

Aesthetics To Strength

The purpose of this blog is to look at established ideas with new eyes, under a new light and from a different vantage point, at the risk of becoming a heretic. And now, time to tear apart, deconstruct and re-assemble yet another classic fitness world paradigm.

Train For Strength And Expect An Equivalent Aesthetic Improvement?

The idea seems harmless enough. Even almost makes linear sense. But is simply not true. I first learned of this concept from my mentor Scott Abel. Looking further back in time, many great coaches understood this intuitively/tacitly, especially Vince Gironda.

In time I hope the argument I present adds to the case against strength focus for aesthetic improvement.

But It Makes Sense?

What can seem perfectly logical can sometimes be perfectly not. Two things to consider, before we move on:

1- Just about everyone would “prefer” to look better, than be stronger. The myth, though, is that they must be stronger to look better. There is a grain of truth to that. But it is NOT the full story. And the half-truth leads to more misery than joy.

2- That strength is assessed via barbell movements is a problem. The barbell is no axiom. It is no fundamental. It IS a metaphor for a status drive – it says, “who can use ME to lift the most”. A vulgar display of barbarism, nothing more.

But moving on…

The consequences of focusing on the pursuit of strength are more negative than positive for your physiology AND psychology in terms of wear and tear and mental stress (knowing you have to lift a certain amount of load on a certain day, rather than fatigue the musculature  is an enormous mental stressor). The most important consideration? That risk of injury is higher. Much higher. Because the focus is on an external variable, the quantity of contractions under high load rather than an internal variable, the quality of contractions under ANY load.

Strength is important to develop, but silly to chase.

The truth? Training for strength will generate aesthetic physique improvement as a mild side effect of straining against loads. This holds true for the general population, which includes everyone reading this; the gifted could be bothered less by my assertions. If you are going to focus on strength and all the physical and psychological pitfalls of this pursuit FOR THE PURPOSE of aesthetic enhancement, then a mild side-effect, (rather than an actual magnitudinally equivalent effect), is not and should not be good enough.

Is Increased Load More Progress?
To use strength gain as a yard-stick, rule of thumb or as a measuring rod of progress, is to be duped by this Joker of the physical quality world. Not only is strength nearly always in flux, and unpredictable even by experts of the strength game, but it is sometimes in stasis. While the body never is.

Anyone who has touched the ceiling of the Strength and Speed cathedral in our collective minds, the imagined peaks of physical expression perfection, the ones who have come closest to “world record” strength and speed levels, will tell you the price they pay in injury management is not worth it. As early as in their mid-thirties, the aches begin, the joints limit and the muscles fear load. Anyone with any wisdom, who has truly been there, done that, will tell you that living in pain for the rest of your life is too high a price to pay for something as artificial as loads lifted in perfectly controlled environments, for reasons that are as immature as they are selfish.

But I digress.

The Path of Least Effort
Moreover, strength enhancement is about LEVERAGE, and how to create it within the limitations of your own biomechanical milieu. If you focus on load lifted, you must find the path of least effort per unit of load. This leveraged path to push maximal weights is usually always going to mean, your weakest link muscle-chain remains under-loaded and under-developed. Accumulate enough wear and tear, and your strong link eventually breaks down. Combine this break-down with developmental imbalance and joint centration issues (which are probably leading contributors/factors in joint degeneration) due to the imbalance, and you realize you’re laying the foundation for destruction.

Strength As A Mild Side Effect? Aesthetic Enhancement As The Strong Effect

The best way to approach fitness is to focus on aesthetic enhancement FIRST, and to stimulate a strengthening side effect consequentially. To create a recursive loop that initiates from the focus of contraction quality rather than load quantity.

You do NOT need great strength levels for optimal physical development. Not at all. I made this mistake for 10 years myself. As a matter of fact, I completely gave up on the idea of maximal load lifting 3 years ago and have focused exclusively on contraction quality since then.

Moving on, a training program that focuses on muscle contraction quality over load quantity is basically a program that is focused on aesthetics. A program that is focused on multiple and weak plane of movement patterns, over the few and strong movement patterns is focused on aesthetics. A program that is focused on mild rest periods, rather than maximal recovery between sets. A program focused on medium repetition numbers, rather than low numbers to hit high weights. A program not restricted to barbells as some sort of essential, but rather on any tool that will stimulate the muscle in the plane of movement chosen. A program that appreciates the qualitative assessments the mirror provides instead of the quantitative assessment your log book hides. A program that “realizes” the fluctuating nature of maximal strength and provides freedoms within to adapt your stressors to your day to day state.

Once you focus on these things, the stimulation of your physiology will automatically accrue strength over time. As a side-effect of your drive to chisel the best physique possible using natures ultimate canvas, your body. And with NONE of the deleterious  side effects.

A biological win win, in every sense of the term.

Training Or Diet: Where Should Your Focus Be?

What Your Body Does With Food Depends On What You Do With Your Body

 The Time Before Time

Researchers Frank W. Booth and P.Darrel Neufer have written, “Many of the metabolic characteristics of moderns humans evolved to support high levels of work efficiency and physical activity, a fact that undoubtedly contributes to the health problems facing sedentary 21st century societies.”

The fitness world has forgotten its roots and renounced its past. That it was birthed from the PHYSICAL CULTURE of a by-gone era. A time when people like you and I, engaged in and believed in the benefits of exertion, such as aesthetic enhancement, strength and robust health. When people like you and I, tacitly understood that the body needed caloric expenditure along with ingestion. A time when people like you and I, took responsibility for the caring of our bodies into our own hands. Literally.  Today the fitness industry does not understand or recall that it was NOT birthed by the modern DIET culture. Where instead of figuring out how to expend calories through physical work, we are more worried about how to avoid ingesting calories so as to avoid any physical work at all.

Today: The Forgotten Importance of Physical Work

Taking in the very best of foods in absentia of vital activity essentially accomplishes nothing short of wasting vital dietary resources. Physical activity, not silver bullet diets, prompt signalling for DNA sequencing of appropriate, healthy proteins – and a healthy nutrient dense diet backs that up. — Ken O’Neill 

We live in an age where we are experiencing a food bonanza and a physical activity famine. The illogical focus of the fitness industry has been the opposite – they focus on the bonanza and disregard the famine. Every physical trainer is a pretend-nutritionist. Why? Because the reductionist science-mind focuses on nutrients, minerals, vitamins and different fats which then allows for the birth of mountain-heaps worth of potential marketing material in the form of articles and blogs. This promotes the “expertise” of said nutrition guru and convinces you, the consumer,  of the one thing you want to hear more than anything else – that an easy dietary fix is required instead of straining, stressing and suffering for real physical change through exercise.

Your Diet Plan Must Be Dictated By Your Training Plan

The diet should NEVER be designed a priori to the program. The food plan must fuel the training plan because it is the training plan that will create the physique; a physique that REQUIRES good amounts of the “right” foods to meet it’s physical exertion needs. The training shovels the fuel in the right direction for complete aesthetic enhancement  strength and health. Your food plan, of course, must follow for the best expression of your physical self, but there is no dramatic phenotypic re-expression without high-stress, high-volatility generating stimulus. The internal environment needs to be de-stablized with applied stress for a transitional shift to a specifically adapted state. Note I said, SPECIFIC. The type of training you do is CRITICAL.

Only the correct training program can deliver your aesthetic destination to you. The diet helps clear the path, but it does not forge it.

More on what type of program does what soon…

The Basic Axiom: The Fission Fusion Training Model

Biology Feeds On Instability

 Biology can turn piss to wine. Poison to elixir. Threat to strength. Instability to stability. So long as the dose doesn’t exceed today’s capabilities, the system will return ready for greater challenges tomorrow.

The basis of my Fission Fusion Training Model works on acute and large magnitude stressors applied in micro-cycles and macro-cycles…

Now your biology, can only do two things essentially:

– Ingest energy
– Expend energy

These two energy conduits are the dynamic duo of your metabolism. Your metabolism being a struggle between anabolism and catabolism.

And it is around these two that we shall design our intentions of physiological manipulation around for the betterment of the system, your body and mine.

I use very high volume and high intensity (a qualitative measure, not a percent of max) training to stress the systems energy expenditure conduit. And very low calorie eating on these same days to ADD to the total stress per day, stressing the energy ingestion conduit.

The stability of an organism lies in resilience, the homeostatic capacity to reestablish itself. – Carl Woese

Away from the iron, I will release the pressure valves and allow for no training and increase the calorie counts to push the body towards a state of healing and recovery.

There are multiple ways to stress the binary relation of the energy conduits, depending on the client’s objective, long term and short. The principle to be applied can only be extracted from WITHIN the clients psycho-physiological gestalt. But the above should serve to elucidate the point; that training, is playing chess with stress.

Adaptation To Training: How Long Does It Really Take?

You never train in the same body twice

Each dose of straining stimulus that your body absorbs, alters your physiology in subtle ways acutely, and in exponential ways chronically. This alteration is adaptation.

And what is adaptation? A shift to a functional state that can oppose your stressors. 

Discussions with philosopher-coach Matt Perryman, suggests we can think of adaptation in positive and negative terms. A strengthening of the leg muscles is a positive adaptation to squatting while a slouched posture is a negative adaptation to endurance sitting. Of course  the squatting takes less time and is of higher magnitude and the sitting adaptation takes much more time at lower magnitude (creep sets in as well). Both are adaptations, albeit not both are beneficial, though seemingly purposeful and functional.

But I digress.

Now you think that when I titled this blog, it seemed to suggest that I was going to give you a temporally quantitative “frame” for you to understand when and why you need to change a program. But I lied. I’m going to rather ask you to assess qualitatively when to change, by understanding the 3 layers of program adaptation; concepts from my Fission Fusion Training Model:

– Shock:
The break in phase of a new program. You’re learning how to handle the volume, the intensity and the loading. You’re learning how to co-ordinate through the sequence. What to expect and how to mentally handle the beginning, middle and end of the workout. Learning how long it should take. How much rest you will need. How this program stimulates or not, your appetite. How fatiguing it may be. Strategizing, understanding and learning for future performance optimization.

– Auto Amplification: 
The trainee will experience that week by week, as they master the program and learn to dance to it’s rhythm, that they can derive MORE as time goes on, rather than less from the same training. This, of course, does not happen indefinitely. But it happens BECAUSE you never train in the same body twice. Your neuromuscular and psychological apparatus almost fine-tunes itself. You become better at the program as you understand and master the program. Until…

– Fixed Action Pattern: (the regression/fatigue/boredom link)
No matter what program, boredom and fatigue will eventually rear their heavy two faced head around and stare you down. This is unalterable fact. But is boredom a way of sensing fatigue? Is boredom the neurobiological correlate of fatigue? Either way, burnout is inevitable and essential. You’ve extracted from the program what you could. Time to recuperate from it’s specific fatigue effects.

Long enough, and a good thing becomes not so good.

Qualitative Indicators
The point to realize is that there is no 4, 6 or 12 week time frame (in terms of absolute certainty) in which the positive adaptions can be expected to seep into negative adaptation (regression) categories. And that sometimes boredom is a signal to either tweak a minor or to change a major. Yet other times, boredom is you just not being patient enough, in which case, you are not fit for fitness.

But generally you should be assessing the following qualitative biofeedback cues to get a feel for how close you are to regression (note – I do not believe you can avoid cognitive psycholigical biases when assessing your own feedback – the value of coach is critical for helping discern the validity and course to take once feedback is assessed. A blog on this topic soon):

a) A loss or reduction in strength over a handful of sessions
b) A loss or reduction in power and speed over a handful of sessions
c) Boredom
d) Aching Joints
e) Inability to generate intensity (usually you will not be able to create much oxygen debt) from power endurance movements
f) In extreme cases, your sleep quality will deteriorate

If you feel no combination  of the above, then you do not need to change your program. But it has to be assessed over a handful of sessions. I prefer an entire week.

Your Body In Flux
Your body is constant adaptation mode. Constantly adapting, changing and shifting to a state that can absorb, oppose and tackle the stressors you impose – it does not WAIT to begin – this happens in cyclical fashion and each cycle changes the system just a bit. But like any complex system, there is a ceiling effect. A limit to the adaptation ability. But I don’t think this is an “adaptation energy” depletion, but rather the system becoming more capable of going beyond the limits of its own buffers, eventually becoming ABLE to break down its stress absorbing mechanisms due to it’s altered nature. As you accumulate positives, you bring along negatives. Repeated enough times, the systems (your body) ability to destabilize (create intensity of effort) itself seems to exceed it’s ability to re-stabilize (recover from the effort) itself.

Super-Compensation 
The body may begin adaptation immedietly, but it takes time for the completion of this adaptation before it regresses again — this DELAY is why we have the concept of over-shoot, sling-shot or supercompensation in the first place. It may not be an OVER-shoot at all – but rather a misunderstanding of the adaptation time frame. This of course shall be a complete blog on its own, but in my Fission Fusion Training Model, I explain how the accumulation of any positive is accompanied by a negative. Though in biological systems, it seems that the negative is followed by a positive when dealing with volatility. The nature of complex biological systems allows us to push ourselves to our outer limits knowing we will experience the adaptation of resilience (anti-fragility by Taleb) once the stressor is removed (for whatever reason we may back off training). The question to ask then, is the fitness-fatigue duality a false one?

Circular Causality?
Training thus seems the ultimate contradiction. That you can train yourself to be able to out-train yourself.

Of being able to stress your limit beyond your limit. Physically and mentally.