Category Archives: Fitness

Still HIT

My HIT training is coming along nicely. I am growing in strength all the time and this is reflected in the notes I keep of my workouts and what I am capable of doing during my daily life.

I regularly lift up the two smaller children while playing games at home. The smallest loves being a bird high above my head, safe in my outstretched hands. Big son is a challenge at 170cm and 45kg. I suspect the weight is doable but he is gangly mass

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I do an exclusive HIT workout, the Big Five, on Sunday mornings at my local gym. I now train myself and for me it is my meditation time. I have not invited anyone to work with me at this time and have no plans to. This is the workout that I track closely in a notebook. The aim at the moment is to work one weight for a total of two minutes. If I have to rest, I take five intakes of the breath and go again, adding five seconds to the count until the two minutes are done. I judge progress by being able to go without a rest and then I up the weight.

This is a slow approach to strength training but I am building a foundation to last many years. I focus on technique exclusively and there is no peer pressure to achieve rapid gains. I am also training my brain to endure that level of stress for two minutes. There is a lot of thinking that takes place during that time. I am trying all kinds of tricks to keep the fear at bay and it is a glorious feeling when you achieve the two minutes under a heavy load and the accompanying pain.

On Wednesday evenings I work out with a buddy at the same gym and we have a three week rota of (a) bodyweight to failure, (b) bodyweight time under load and (c) drop sets on machines. They are all very concise because we do not rest any more than it takes to move from one exercise to another. We are generally done within forty minutes whatever the workout. There is some randomness in that rota too because we are often making changes to the sequences and the equipment we use.

I also use a morning and evening bodyweight rota that takes me through from Monday to Saturday. Each workout takes between five and ten minutes. The schedule goes like this:
Monday /am – abdominals /pm – forearms and push ups
Tuesday /am – pull ups /pm – forearms and push ups
Wednesday /am – hips /pm – forearms and push ups
Thursday /am – abdominals /pm – forearms and push ups
Saturday /am – hips

These are automatic exercises for me. I never think twice and find that I can now achieve them under all sort of conditions. Guests in the house, dinner almost ready, have to take a call; whatever is happening around me is never enough to present an obstacle to what I have to do. It is a great feeling and adds to my confidence that I can set goals and achieve them without falling short with excuses.

“Wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire, likewise with randomness, uncertainty, chaos: you want to use them, not hide from them. You want to be the fire and wish for the wind.” – Nassim Taleb

Why I HIT

20140329 FTF Why I HITI did track and field in high school and the way to get ahead was always considered to be through the weights room. I dodged that activity as much as I could until my coach insisted it was a must.

My first gym experience was memorable. The owner set me up to an inclined pushup which on the first down led to my face being planted to the floor, sputtering out “Help!” through the free corner of my mouth. From that time, I took up almost every other muscle training regime I could find. I enjoyed calisthenics, yoga, self-resistance, shovelglove and others before life got too busy to sustain the time each one took.

A couple years into my Paleo journey I came across Dr Doug McGuff’s work at Body By Science which explained how much can be done for the body in a weekly 15 minute workout. I was already accepting unorthodox theories in taking care of myself so this came at what I considered the right time. I was ready.

I found the only UK practitioner of High Intensity Training, HITUni, and fortunately he lived in North London, a 30 minute drive from me. Normally that will be considered too much of an effort but the synchronicity of it all was too hard to ignore.

“I want to be strong!” was my reply when I was asked what my goals were. In the start I was full of fear. The leg press stood there waiting each week, so solid, so permanent, so unhelpful. I stuck to it beyond my expectations but I could have quickly seen I was getting stronger. My dodgy back would no longer spasm and lock for days. I also found my posture improving. So there was progress.

HIT gets the muscle to use all its glycogen stores through the slow continuous movement where the momentum is very low and there is constant stress to exhaustion in a single set. The full workout of about six exercises leaves you knackered! My sleep on the night is never easy because my body is running high on adrenaline for at least 24 hours after.

Besides the improvements I accrued over the last three years, I found a new purpose in the discipline. HIT to me is a personal conversation I have with myself when that clock starts. The focus I am striving for is absolute and as you can imagine, the days I judge as high 90s in percentage concentration are still not the epitome of what I believe I am capable of. With HIT, you can give your max and it will always ask more of you.

For me, there is no physical goal in HIT, no weight to accomplish, no amount of reps to complete and no more do I measure muscle growth and fat loss. I go to a HIT session aware I am about to face an extraordinary challenge that I will either come away from feeling that I have been as focused, disciplined and determined as I can be or I can slink off that machine thinking that I at some point, I tricked myself  into accepting an out.

With HIT I can’t hide. As I master the technique of each exercise, I am finding more time within those two minutes that previously was not there. The mind is amazing! I have moved from someone who was fearful of a movement to being able to minutely analyse how an escalating stress affects my thoughts and how I am able to cope. HIT is very Yoda, “There is no try…”