Just a few days ago I was sitting at the doctor’s office (waiting to get feedback on how it could be possible that I’ve obtained such super human strength?) and I picked up a fitness magazine of sorts and began reading a section on High Intensity Training (HIT), as it was referred to in this instance, and I thought, cool. Training with some intensity, probably needed for a lot of people. Likely far superior to sitting on a machine and “exercising”. This type of training is certainly gaining popularity with P90X and Insanity, etc. Anyway, the article talked about doing kettlebell swings with some 10 or 15 lb ‘bells. For a minute at a time!! Now, I could think of worse things for sure but if you find yourself embarking on a new fitness regimen, be honest with yourself. I know from coaching plenty of people that it takes precisely 15 seconds to do 10 swings. (So, plus one, carry the two, divide by the force of gravity…..) That would be 40 swings in a minute I think. That’s a lot of swings to do in a row! Especially for a beginner, whom I would assume is the person using such a light kettlebell. Otherwise a bell that light is basically useless. It’s difficult to keep good form for 40 reps of ANYTHING in a row. Now, you could argue that just using a light weight for such a duration would make it feasible. That may be true, but now ask yourself, is this still High Intensity Training? Debatable at best. And, if you are in fact able to perform such a duration with a moderate amount of weight, is this repeatable for multiple sets or just a couple? Just a couple is fine. There is nothing wrong with that. Just understand that training with or at this intensity won’t take you an hour. More like 5 minutes, so plan accordingly. Another example of this that I commonly see uses push ups. Push ups are awesome (see here). I highly recommend them in fact. These days it’s popular for people to use them in circuits or something like P90X. Maybe even for 1 minute at a time as in the previous example. But honestly, who the hell can do push ups for one minute straight? I know I can’t. And again, if you could, would there actually be a second set? Certainly someone not as strong could use the proverbial “girl push up” from the knees. But in either example, be honest with yourself, and ask, is this even possible? And, does this get me closer to my goals? Now, you may not be a fitness expert of any kind but consider your goals. What are they? Does “this” exercise or “this” crazy time frame and short rest period like in the photo above seem like something that will benefit me. I often wonder if 31 push ups is really better than 28. The answer is clearly yes numerically but at some point simply adding strength as opposed to endurance is the answer and I believe that cut-off is much lower than 31. Maybe closer to 15. Add weight and repeat.
So for any coaches or fitness enthusiasts out there, when programming, be honest with yourself and ask why you doing what you’re doing. Does it make sense? And perhaps even more simply, is it even possible? Is it training to get better or simply surviving?
– Mike Baltren
I could not agree more sir. Very well said thank you!