It can get a little confusing for students when I lay out the prescription for the day’s class. I’ll explain what’s behind that.
The first thing I talk about is what phase we are in. We have four phases that we move through: Power, Strength, Endurance and Mobility. Power is about explosive speed. Strength is where we build our muscles. Endurance is where we work on keeping our strength up for a longer period of time. The Mobility phase is where we take all that strength and learn to preserve it through our whole range of motion. We also take a short recovery phase, as well as the odd single day recovery, where we just give our bodies a chance to catch up.
The type of exercise we do is determined by what phase we are in. The intensity of the exercise will vary from class to class. We have Light, Medium, and Heavy days. These phrases describe the quality of the exercises we are going to do, as opposed to the amount of exercise we will do.
It’s easier to explain the difference with weights. If I’m doing a bench press, on a heavy day I will lift my heaviest possible weight. Let’s say I can bench 250lbs. On a heavy day, I will try to lift 250lbs two or three times. I’ll probably have to rest for a few moments after each single lift. So, if I lift the weight three times, I might be ten or fifteen minutes doing my workout. I will have lifted a total of 750lbs during my workout.
On a medium day, I will lift 215lbs. It’s easier for me to lift, so I can lift the weight more often. Let’s say I can manage six lifts…I can do two in a row before resting. In my workout I will have lifted 1275lbs total. On a light day, I drop to 175lbs. To keep the math simple, we’ll say I can lift that ten times for a total of 1750lbs. Maybe I lift five times in a row for the first set, three for the second, and two for the last. The total amount lifted in a light workout is 1000lbs over the weight lifted in a heavy workout. And it’s still just a ten or fifteen minute workout.
As intensity goes down, volume goes up. Which is why when I say we are having a “light” workout, you are probably going to sweat and breath heavier than you would during a “heavy” workout. You will be moving more and doing more in the same time, but each exercise will be less difficult than during the more intense phase. We go through the different phases with the idea that each time we repeat a phase, we will be lifting a heavier weight for each exercise. Over time our volume will go up through a combination of heavier weight and more reps. In at least my opinion, athleticism increases as the ability to handle more volume increases.
Why don’t we just go for lighter weights and more volume all the time? Because your muscles respond better to more challenging work. The more intense the effort required for a single action, the more effort your body puts into adapting to that action. If we do just intense single actions though…Our body may break down under the strain. We’ll get sick and injured from the metabolic toll. So we mix it up. Do the hard work for a bit, then some lighter work. We keep changing in a rhythm calculated to get the best overall response from our body.
Our training cycle is based on three days of exercise a week. Most students just take one day of classes a week (Monday being the most popular choice.) The training calendar is set up so that a Monday student will get a blend a LMH workouts appropriate to each phase. Following this, each week has it’s own intensity, which mostly follows the Monday rating. A Light week will have three workouts, and each workout in sequence will be light, medium, and light. If it’s a Heavy week, they might be medium, heavy, medium.
Our technical martial arts training (boxing, wrestling and fencing) is scheduled to match these workouts and complement them. A light workout might have a heavy wrestling class following it. Or a heavy workout might be followed by a intense bouting drill with swords. It’s all been planned and scheduled ahead of time, with room to tweak if the overall class development calls for it.
For the sport science geeks out there, the actual program is close to MxS, Hyper, P/E and Agility with a wave progression for a power sport, and I choose wave over linear as I’ve consistently seen better results from it with our type of training.