Updated: Nov 29, 2022
This newsletter is not just an opportunity for me to touch base with my dear patrons and show my gratitude for your monthly support, but also to offer you a 5 minute, easily-digestible read around the world of health, fitness and exercise. Here I will troubleshoot many common difficulties my clients experience, offer practical, actionable solutions for you to put to work in your life immediately, and of course provide my weekly motivation in the form of a favourite quote, and a takeaway lesson from it.
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Edition 39 - Training Principles 10: Hot, Fresh & Consistent
You cannot succeed at anything unless you understand the rules that govern it. This is especially true when it comes to training and recovery. These two areas must be approached with a strategic plan which, executed correctly, will help you to consistent long-term training success as long as you live.
Yes, with a top notch training programme, you can reach new peaks in your desired aspect of performance. But without the effective recovery methods in place, these gains will not last. Whether you’re a professional athlete or just a newbie setting foot in the gym for the first time, there are certain universal truths that govern successful training and recovery. Here we’ll discuss my 10th and final principle of training, inspired by ‘The Little Black Book of Training Wisdom’, written by Dr. Dan Cleather, who taught me at St. Mary’s University, and has inspired me (like the many other S&C coaches he will have mentored) to continue learning and growing as a coach. I’ve gone corny as hell here, but I have decided to summarise this principle as ‘hot, fresh and consistent’. But no, I am not talking about Paris Fashion Week, or Drake and Beyonce music videos. So what am I on about?
‘Hot’ refers to the intensity of a particular type of training session.
‘Fresh’ refers to the state you need to be in, in order to perform them well.
While ‘consistent’ refers to your ability to regularly perform your hot sessions with maximum freshness.
To quote directly from ‘The Little Black Book of Training Wisdom’ we can define this principle in the following way:
Corollary 1: Make sure you perform the hot sessions, and that they are completed with the most optimal quality.
Corollary 2: Don’t do things that affect your ability to perform the hot sessions with optimal quality.
Part 1: “Above all else, be consistent.”
Part 2: “Don’t do things that might negatively affect your consistency.”
What is a ‘hot’ session?
A ‘hot’ session, as you can probably tell by now, is a workout in your weekly schedule which is significantly more taxing than the others. It may take a bigger toll on your respiratory system (sprint/high speed running interval sessions), or the nervous system (heavy lifting) or have a combination of high volume and intensity which really takes it out of you.
The key to understanding this principle is that the hot sessions are the game changers. Heard of the 80/20 rule or Pareto’s Law? That 80% of what we do contributes to 20% of results, while 20% of what we do contributes to 80%? Well that is exactly the case with training, and the hot sessions are the ones which are going to give you the biggest adaptations in strength, speed, fitness etc.
But here’s the problem - Most of you aren’t doing them.
‘Make sure you perform the hot sessions…’
So let’s go back to part 1 of Dan’s rule. It’s as simple as this - if you are not performing these sessions you will almost certainly stagnate. Very often I work with clients presenting with injury problems, and I can usually ask ‘how often have you been lifting lately?’ - the answer is almost always ‘not much, but I’ve been doing loads of walking and cycling’.
Don’t get me wrong, regular low intensity exercise is extremely important, but way too often people are neglecting the one thing that is going to make an actual significant difference to their lives (mainly because it’s hard and uncomfortable).
Whether it is your weekly dose of heavy deadlift/squatting, or a bout of sprint intervals - these sessions need to get done.
‘…Completed with the most optimal quality’
In order to carry out these sessions with optimal quality we need to ensure a few things:
Structure - The session should be well planned, taking my other principles into account.
Technical focus - We should strive for perfect repetitions as well as heavy load.
Freshness - Ensure nothing too intense is done the day before and the session is scheduled at the right time.
‘Don’t do things that affect your ability to perform them’
When you train, you are imposing physical stress on your body. This stress signals to your body to adapt and get stronger. However your body cannot actualise these physiological adaptations without the appropriate recovery methods in place - we discussed all of this in ‘Principle 1 - General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS)’.
When you recover, your body is restoring its energy and strength levels back to normal after a period of intense training. There are four important aspects of recovery that you need to pay attention to: mental, physical, nutritional, and sleep.
Mental recovery may just mean taking time to decompress and unwind after a training session, rather than going into something mentally taxing or stressful for your brain. If you don’t take time to decompress and unwind, your body won’t fully recover from your workouts.
Physical recovery is about applying logical separations to your training. If you carried out a ‘hot’ session today - doing another one tomorrow isn’t a good idea. It will probably be more of a ‘luke-warm session’. Following a high intensity day with a lower intensity recovery day makes the most sense and allows your body to regain freshness quicker.
Nutritional recovery means replenishing your body with the macronutrients it needs to rebuild itself after a training session. Meanwhile, sleep is the most important aspect of recovery. Your body grows and repairs itself during sleep, so it is crucial to get at least seven hours of sleep every night. Each of these aspects of recovery is vital for you to achieve maximal freshness for your hot sessions.
If you neglect one of these four aspects, it’s going to take longer for your body to recover and result in sub-optimal performance of your hot sessions.
Examples of Quality Recovery in Action
Eating enough calories: Diet culture has taught people to shy away from calories. To recover from your workouts and maintain a high level of energy, you have to eat enough calories each day. If you do not eat enough calories, your body will not have the energy it needs to fully recover from your workouts.
Eating the right foods: If you want to recover and grow stronger faster, you have to eat the right foods at the right times. You need protein-rich foods before and after every workout, as well as slow and fast acting carbohydrates to replenish muscle glycogen and prevent your energy levels dipping too low.
Sleep enough hours: Sleep is one of the most important aspects of recovery. The more sleep you get, the quicker you will recover from your workouts and the stronger you will grow. But you need to be consistent with your sleep times so that your body can get into a consistent sleep schedule. This can be difficult, but it’s the only way to make it happen.
Drink plenty of water (2-3 litres).
Create lower intensity ‘active recovery’ sessions (the red sessions are ‘hot’):
(Note: the Wednesday night football session is lower intensity and 40 mins, the Saturday is high intensity and 90 mins)
4 days involving my lower body (lifting, running etc.) / 3 lower recovery days
3 days involving my upper body / 4 upper recovery days
2 low intensity/active recovery days
1 total rest day
Why is the Combination of Training and Recovery Important?
Your body was not designed to be overworked. It was also certainly not designed to do nothing all day long, Our body’s design is to be cyclical, maintaining a constant balance between appropriate levels of work and rest. And the best way to maintain health and vitality throughout your life is to approach training and recovery with a cyclical approach. You should be consistently training (balancing easy sessions and hot sessions) and recovering fully between each session.
You need to create an effective schedule for when you are going to exercise and when you are going to rest. If you don’t have a schedule, you will not see consistent progress. When you create a schedule for your workouts, you will be much less likely to skip a session.
A simple way to upset a human is to create doubt, uncertainty and remove predictability - a solid routine will give you comfort, help you adjust to regular exercise, and give you something to look forward to.
You can then attack your HOT sessions, be FRESH for them, and be CONSISTENT in maintaining this balance.
“You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs” ― Anon
Don’t skip the hard shit.
Movement of the Week: Arabesque
2 x 6 each leg
A great movement for those low intensity active recovery days! Balancing on one leg should be done on a daily basis in various ways, and the arabesque is just one example. The main area of focus should be on maintaining integrity throughout your posture during the movement as you hinge at the hip.
That’s all for this week! Please spread the word about my Patreon channel so more people can enjoy the videos and newsletters!