Saturday, January 26, 2008
High Intensity Volume Training.
Saw this picture of Eric on Furmans website and it brought back many memories. I was lucky enough to meet, get to know and train with Eric in the early eighties just as he was starting his pro cycling career. I got to ride with him as part of the Palo Alto Cycling club group rides and work with him with weight training for the class I gave for the same group of cyclists. We were using High Intensity Interval training as per the trend of the day( thanks Arthur Jones!) and it was truly amazing and an honor to see the type of focus and intensity this Olympic athlete brought to bear on even the most simple of his training movements.
What was even better was to hear Eric regale us with stories about the truly insane training that he did for speed skating. Talk about dealing with pain! How about duck walking for 10 km? 600 rep leg press sets or 300 rep squat sets with bodyweight on his back? Crazy, crazy, crazy pain endurance training. Talk about mental toughness? And that stuff was just the supplemental training! His actual speed skate workouts were even more nutso. How they built up to be able to recover from this is amazing. Talk about adaptation!
What about a 60 minute wall sit he did on a bet? One look at his legs and you could tell that nothing he said he could do you would doubt. I have never seen more perfectly developed legs and that includes Tom Platz. The unique thing was although when he contracted them they split into gagillions of striated fibers when they were relaxed they were quite soft looking.The ability to relax the muscles in between high force contactions is key for endurance athletes. He sure had that ability.And you could witness it very easily.
What this picture reminded me of beside what a great guy Dr Eric( now an orthopedic surgeon)
was was that high intensity volume training is the base of nearly every type of sport/training I have done for most of my life.With the exception of my marathon/ultra phase the rest of the training has been done with numerous high intensity work bouts broken up by rest intervals of various length.
Gymnastics was like this.30-60 second work bouts followed by long rests and repeated for 4-5 hours.Cycling was as well, with a brutal mix of anaerobic and aerobic work overlaid with huge volume( 400 plus miles/week). Bodybuilding was the same.Short work bouts( 5-15 reps) followed by rest intervals of at least the same time or more. Powerlifting was even more of the same,even with the dynamic effort days with their(relatively) short rest periods. Short, high intensity work bouts, decent rest periods and repeated for very high total volume levels.
Is it any wonder then this is the style I fell into as I began my kettlebell training? When one uses short work bouts( which, of course is relative) with an appropriate rest, then the work bouts can be a much higher intensity level than if one tried to keep going without any rest. This is true across the board of physical activity.
If one runs and breaks up the work into short bouts then the individual pieces can be of much higher intensity( read force output) for longer periods of time.Think 20 intervals of 440 yds at race pace versus 5miles at a pace you can maintain for that. The 20 intervals will be much harder effort and the total volume done with STILL build solid endurance and work capacity. .
Which would be harder? 20 440's at a 6 min/mile pace or 5 miles at 8 min/mile pace? I know what would be harder for me.Plus, you get the added benefit of much more muscle development from using more white fibers than red.Think sprinter v marathoner.This is even more true when you are training kettlebells and not running.
One thing I hear consistently from my clients who do max vo2 training is that they hate having to put it down, stop and restart.It's harder, they say, than just going continuously. Breaking up the rythym and trying to keep the speed ( and thereby force) up makes it much tougher they report.
I of course prefer it as it is how I've trained, in one way or another, for the last 36 years.It's just a solid way to get a lot of volume in without having to slog through low intensity sets. A nice combination of intensity and endurance. One just has to channel Eric Heiden once in awhile to get through all the sets; not a bad thing at all :))