Enter the Locker – Sometimes!

“Nothing in life comes easy” – a true saying for everything I’ve ever done and even more so when trying to push through fitness boundaries.

Sometimes, the act of doing something isn’t always enough. You can wash your car, and still leave dirt marks if you don’t do a good job. Just because you spent 30 minutes washing your car doesn’t mean your car is clean.

It’s the same with training and improving your fitness. How many times have you been happy to get the workout done? Spending the 30-60mins doing the workout doesn’t mean you got better or fitter. You just spent time doing workout things.

Intention is everything. If you’re training strength movements, you need to connect your brain to the muscles you want to use so you get maximum benefit. You need to think about your positions to load the correct patterns. If you want to work your aerobic conditioning, you need to run/bike/move at specific intensities for different durations to build your capacity up. And some times…

You need to enter the Locker – the Hurt Locker that is.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been a buzz word for many years now. The problem is, hardly anyone does it properly. It’s become a gimmick, a marketing idea and it’s become less effective. Why? Because people don’t enter the Hurt Locker. This is mostly not their fault and other times it’s because they can’t get past their brain telling them to stop.

I’ve seen “HIIT” programs that have 3mins work : 15s rest, done multiple times. Very few people can actually maintain High Intensity in this format, especially when you have complex movements that aren’t engraved movement patterns. It would take a long time to build up the kind of muscular endurance needed to be able to maintain high enough intensities.

To enter the Hurt Locker you have to shock your body. Your heart needs to pump blood around your body to try to move the crazy burning sensation that is building up in your muscles. Air is hard to come by and all you’re thinking about is quitting. If you had a HR device on – it would be well over 80% and you’d feel the beating through your chest. To make this kind of training work, you can’t stop, you have to push through the barrier and build up your tolerance over time.

The best way to make progress in this kind of training is to do it on a cyclical machine (rowing, bike) or by running. The less technique needed the better. Rowing requires the most technique of the three. I find having a screen that shows you your pace really helps too. Once you know what you’re capable of, you then have targets that become harder over time but also distract you from the discomfort.

Why do you need to push yourself so hard into the Hurt Lockyer? Because it hurts! Everything that hurts leads to change. Put your hand on a hot stove and you will change your hand position because it hurts.

This should be done with caution though. You don’t need to go there every workout. The design of the workout should determine if you can enter the locker and get full benefit from it. Less experienced people will get lots of benefit from going there once per week. As you understand this type of training you can explore further.

Always look to have an intent for your workout. The time spent and sweat accumulated aren’t always good indicators that the car is clean. You’re putting in the time anyway, you may as well take full rewards.

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