Going All Out! Good or Evil?

by Joe Adamson

Super high intensity training has become very popular. Without a doubt it has merit. It gets results - that's what you want, right? You'll often see it called HIIT training which stands for high intensity interval training. High intensity training tends to get quick results, save on time (because the workouts are shorter), create EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption - calories keep burning long after the exercise session is over), burn a truckload of calories during the exercise session which helps with fat loss, and increase aerobic capacity (the ability to perform at a high level of exertion - think running up a mountain at 10,000 feet!).

I love the concept. Going really hard feels so good but it can't be at the expense of form and control. If you're training so hard that you're out of control, you're asking for trouble. An expert mountain biker can literally pedal down a mountain side, flying over rocks and roots, yet remain in total control of his bike and body - absolutely amazing! For a novice, this would be disastrous, possibly fatal. Remember the progression principle? I like to progress intensity over a period of 4-6 weeks, finishing a training cycle with the highest intensity.

Some movements could probably be done all-out almost any time while you may never want to do other movements all-out. I doubt if all-out jumping jacks are going to hurt many of us, while an all-out barbell squat would likely land most of us at the chiropractor. I can safely say that I will never again do an all-out set of barbell squats, and I'm not even sad about it!

I could ramble on for pages but I'll leave it with this thought which I recently heard expressed by Todd Durkin, a super-trainer dude that I follow: As we get older, every workout can't just crush it. How many all-out workouts you can do will depend on your age and how well that you're recovering between workouts. It may be that you can safely do only 1-2 all-out workouts each week, and the rest need to be ratcheted back a few points on the intensity scale - possibly several points, like a yoga class, a hike, an easy run on the treadmill, or a Basic Training class. Sleep, diet, protein, foam rolling, omega-3s, glutamine, branch-chain amino acids, massage, and many other factors influence recovery. If you don't put out the extra effort to recover, you won't be able to successfully do as much all-out training.  

We're all individuals.  Learn your body.  Listen to your body.  Have fun.  KILL IT!  Now drop and give me 20 burpees!  FAST!  Now, maggot!  DO IT!  FASTER!  HARDER!  I said ALL-OUT!