Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What's Old is New

Today, like in most cases, we see new names attached to old concepts, eloquently spun by marketers and self-proclaimed gurus to make them seem they just stumbled upon the Holy Grail. Some are cognizant of their deliberate antics while others unknowingly and aimlessly merely regurgitate what they’ve heard or read as being new. It reminds me of one day when my daughter and her friend were singing along in the car one day to a remake of an old song that was popular when I was growing up. She and her friend were astonished that my wife and I knew the words and were floored to find out the song was 30 years old. What was new to them was simply renewed and repackaged.

New packaging: HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training.

The concept of performing interval training to improve one’s conditioning has been around for ever. Back when I was in school, most athlete’s, especially those involved in sports like football, basketball and soccer, would run “wind sprints” to improve their, well, wind. You know, their lung capacity, their breathing, their overall conditioning – having little regard or concern for the “fat burning effect” - unlike that of the focus of today’s fitness crowd. How can anyone jump on the HIIT bandwagon or recommend such a protocol without taking into account what an individual’s strength training regimen is. If you were to train at my facility there would be a good chance that performing additional interval work would be counterproductive to your health since our strength sessions have a conditioning component to it due to the level of intensity. I’m not saying not to do some additional aerobic activity – I’m saying the intensity of the activity should be lower so as not to over train the body. I’ll get back to my initial point now.

New packaging: Complexes

I recently read where “complexes” are the new thing. Man, I just hate buzz words. Back in my day I had to deal with words like “bulk”, “ripped”, “buff” and “max-out”, now a days it’s “functional”, “stability”, “core” and now “complexes”. Complexes, for those of you who haven’t yet been exposed to the concept, are a series of exercises; generally performing anywhere from 4-6 movements’ one right after the other. Sometimes the sets are performed by achieving a certain number of repetitions or time element and can have you use movements that involve only the upper body or have you alternate the upper and lower body from movement to movement. There are many scenarios, but you get the idea. Once the series is complete a short rest may be involved and the “complex” is repeated or another series of exercise are performed in the same fashion. Again, I’ll date myself here but in my day I knew these concepts as circuit training or P.H.A. (Peripheral Heart Action) – both of which have been around since at least the 1960’s – and in a lot of cases, it sounds exactly what Arthur Jones had conceptualized when he established The Nautilus Principles over 35 years ago.

In most cases, depending on the intensity of the effort and how the exercises are performed, these “intervals” and “complexes” seem like the very essence of the way I started training 30 years ago and continue to do today. In fact, I train my clients this way, but my new buzz word for it is “hard work”. – Fred Fornicola