Keys to Fitness: Specificity, Intensity, Frequency, Consistency

The keys to fitness are these:

The SPECIFICITY of your work
The specific TYPE of work you do will generate the specific RESULT.

The young Pyrros Dimas

The young Pyrros Dimas

The INTENSITY of your work

The FREQUENCY of your work

The CONSISTENCY of your work


Not getting sore from your workouts? Try these…

It’s normal not to experience soreness from your workouts after a certain point, and it’s okay to remain at that level if you don’t want to progress any further.

Soreness isn’t essential for growth/change. In fact, a lack of soreness might mean you’re getting adequate nutrition and rest between sessions. You can still grow/change without getting sore.

If you want to feel some soreness, you can experiment with changing one of the following:
1. The order in which you do your exercises – if you start with bench first, do it last, etc.
2. The specific movement/exercises you’re doing – if you’ve been doing bench as your primary upper body pressing movement, switch to cable flys, etc.
3. The tempo of the movement – do explosive or ballistic movements, or change your lifting tempo to 1 second concentric (pressing), 1 second pause, 5 seconds eccentric (lowering), 1 second pause (as one example).
4. Change the load/reps – altering the load you usually use will change the number of reps you’re capable of performing. Just don’t load beyond where you can maintain safe form.

5. Intensity – your mental intensity/drive when performing a workout. Usually this is the single thing that makes ore breaks training routines. You can experiment with music and/or coffee to attempt to increase your training drive, but you should be able to get psyched up without it.

- Go beyond what you think is possible for yourself.

Aside from 5. Intensity, try not to change more than one of the variables at a time. That way:
1. Your body can adapt to the new stimulus, and
2. You will be able to tell whether or not that specific change has any effect.

Holistic training…

Aaron Schwenzfeier posted a GREAT post on training the other day (among several recently…you’re getting GOOD Aaron!):

Which prompted an “offline” conversation about training. Here’s the summary:

With well-designed programming it isn’t necessary to separate “therapy” “stretching” “power” “strength” etc. as much as most folks think it is nowadays – particularly for the non-professional athlete (which includes high school and college athletes and amateur competitors).

Those things – and the people who specialize in them – become necessary when the athlete breaks down. And that happens because they’re in a “separationist” training paradigm to begin with.

My statement assumes that the athlete is training holistically to begin with. The progression of science over the past 90 years has been down increasingly narrow alleys (specialization and reduction), so most athletes aren’t training holistically, and most coaches aren’t thinking holistically.

Pete Egoscue’s “tomato patch” was a great example of part of the holistic training concept, but that old B&W film of the Polish Weightlifting team training is even better (and Pete E borrowed the idea of the Patch from that film). Here it is:

How does a weightlifter train (in that day)? – running up hills, jumping up steps (or hills), rolling and tumbling, “cross-training” (enjoying other sports casually), and…practicing weightlifting.

What they didn’t show in that video was the rest of the weightlifter’s day (which I can only guess at for that team specifically, but this is what most of the Eastern Bloc camps I’ve read about did) – classes in A&P, sessions with the sports psychologist, massage, sauna, active stretching, eating, resting and sleeping.

A lot of that training was outdoors and in the “elements” outdoors. Rain, snow, etc. Poland is home to one of the last primeval forests in the world (or vice versa). So add to that list all of the benefits (“physiological” or “psychological”) of training in the outdoors and of training in a forest.

But I think this type of thing is lost on most modern S&C coaches – even the most progressive among them.

Some hint at a pathway to the holistic concept – stick to the physiology – but I don’t think this scope is broad enough.

The physiology is extremely simple. There are a few very simple things that offer significantly greater results/effects (the old 80/20 rule) in any given area (stretching, therapy, strength/power/speed, etc.). Stick to those things.

All well and good, but what is the limit of the physiology? When you train with Mick Dodge you learn that “The trees are your external organs…” And, certain movements provide more benefits than other movements do. Brachiation provides grip and shoulder strength, flexibility, and patterning.

I think this is the real genius of “great” coaches (S&C or otherwise). They stick to simple fundamental principles that were proven (or known through experience) to produce the desired result and consider the whole ecology of their habitat.

Bill Bowerman is one good example – Hard/Easy training…sprints and long slow distance…if the athlete shows up to practice with a weird physiology (back then he just would take their pulse and look at their features) send them home to sleep or rest.

Here’s another:

16-minute hill runs would be unheard of today in this world of “sport-specific” and “energy-system” training. But Rice (and his coach) knew something that others still simply can’t grasp (because they’re holding onto their graphs and charts so tightly) – train the whole animal and succeed.