AMA March 2023

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Hey Bees, last time we did this you asked such great questions on strength, fitness and endurance that the post went straight to our Knowledge Base of which, yours truly is the keeper at the gate. :LOL: I am hoping we can repeat the success of that post. A lot of new research has been published over the last three-four years that is gradually changing our understanding of fitness. The only real way for that research to have a positive, practical impact in our lives and our own approach is to talk it out and see what we can un-learn in order to learn.

As always, there are no limits to what you can ask and there are no 'stupid' questions. I will keep this thread open until the 23rd to give you time to think, time to read other people's questions and time to process the answers and come back with fresh questions, as necessary.
 

TopNotch

Well-known member
Ranger from Australia
Posts: 1,610
"Motivation is temporary. Discipline is forever."
Lovely! I have a question. About slow reps. Recently, I came across something that said, yes, slow reps are good, but you can go too slow which actually results in less muscle activation, and the optimal time for, say, a bicep curl, would be no longer than three seconds eccentric and three second concentric. Going slower than that would serve no purpose at all. Is this so, and if it is, why?
 

Damer

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Warrior Monk from Terra
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@TopNotch that's an awesome question to start this thread with, especially given the fact that "slow training" has been making the news so much. First of all let's establish a couple of baseline facts:

  • First, when engaged in resistance training the part of the exercise that most contributes to the strengthening of the muscle fibers is the eccentric phase (i.e. when we lower a weight).
  • Second, every time there is perceived effort in a movement there is a force that is experienced by the body which then contributes to triggering the adaptation response that results in strength gains (when lifting weights, as in your example).
So, to give a very immediate answer to your question: the only time an exercise will produce no result is when there is no perceived effort in it. As far back as 2001 we knew from studies that intensity in resistance training increases when the speed of execution is slowed down. Slowing down the eccentric part of resistance training and, even, the concentric one will result in greater perceived effort which means more muscle fibers will be recruited which, in turn, will lead to adaptations taking place within those muscle fibers.

Where the confusion arises, I think, is when we train our muscles for something specific like size, instead of strength (and we saw in the last thread that the two are not the same). In that case the effort perceived has to be sufficient to trigger hypertrophy. A meta-analysis of a large number of studies bears out that lowering speed really doesn't matter, in the studies great results were reported within a lowering speed range that started at 0.5 seconds and went all the way up to eight seconds!

More modern studies such as this one carried out in 2021 replicated the results in terms of strength gained and slow eccentric speed but added the component of cognition. A large part of strength is the brain/body signal that is sent to a particular muscle in order to contract and that is activated better when the movement is slow. So there are additional brain-health related benefits to going slow.

Finally, I will add here something that may help explain what you came across. There are specific instances when we adjust for physiology, fitness goals, age and sports-specific tasks where we may want to keep the concentric and eccentric movement of a muscle within a particularly narrow frame of time. But those instances are exceptional, not the rule, and they should be treated as such. The rest of us want to experience a better sense of control over our body and its capabilities. Having better control over our muscles and how they are activated is a great way to do this and lifting weights slowly is a good start to get there. I hope this clarified things for you but, as always, do come back with anything you feel could use more analysis or better examples.
 

Fremen

Well-known member
Shaman from Italy
Posts: 3,070
"“Keep an eye on the staircases. They like to change.” Percy Weasley, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone."
The question @TopNotch asked got me thinking about the program I'm running right now: Power HIIT.
I've always thought of HIIT workouts as exercises to be done at maximum speed, maximum effort in the time allotted to be effective.
Can you really do such a thing in weight training? Even though they are light they still "slow down".
 

Damer

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Warrior Monk from Terra
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@Fremen what a cool question! :LOL: First of all I am thrilled you asked it because you're thinking about what we know and how it factors into fitness. So, now let's get into the nitty-gritty of your question. We do HIIT workouts, as you said "at maximum speed, maximum effort in the time allotted". Why do we do that? In order to benefit from cardiometabolic adaptations that affect the aerobic system, metabolic health, the cardiovascular system and the cycle through which the body breaks down carbohydrate to replenish ATP stores which, in turn, affects endurance. A 2012 study on the subject shows as much and a 2016 meta-analysis of several studies, supplies further evidence that supports these claims. A more recent 2021 meta-analysis of a number of clinical trials shows that with everything we know HIIT training continues to be the means available to provide a shortcut to adaptations that, again, deliver: increased power, explosiveness, speed, cardiovascular health and aerobic endurance.

By adding light weights to HIIT training we basically add the load the muscles, tendons and ligaments have to carry at speed. All HIIT movements are multi-joint ones which means more than a single pair of agonist/antagonist muscles are involved each time (which is why HIIT is a shortcut to better fitness). Multi-joint movements activate the body's kinetic chains and increase both our sense of control and our sense of power. Additional load in the time-space available is virtually equivalent in doing, say, the HIIT session without a load, twice; which would be too much.

We're not really training for strength, when strength is defined as the capacity of a muscle fiber to move a particular load, though HIIT does deliver strength increases because of better mind/body neuronal connections.

So, to answer in plain English now, adding light weights makes the results you'd get from traditional HIIT a little better and a little faster.
 

Fremen

Well-known member
Shaman from Italy
Posts: 3,070
"“Keep an eye on the staircases. They like to change.” Percy Weasley, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone."
So, to answer in plain English now, adding light weights makes the results you'd get from traditional HIIT a little better and a little faster.
So if I understand correctly, adding light weights improves the adaptive capacity of a HIIT workout even more as long as the weights are light and you always go fast?
 

guibo94

Well-known member
Gladiator from New Asgard
Posts: 74
"Silent but deadly."
Hi @Damer and thank you again for another AMA!

I have a few questions about rest and recovery times for strength and stretching workouts. What is the optimal recovery time after a high intensity strength workout and for a stretching workout? Example: if I did an intense upper body strength workout on day 1, how long to do I need to wait for my muscles to recover before I can do another intense upper body strength or stretching workout (more than a cool-down routine)? How would that change for an intense full body workout? And to make things more complicated, how does active rest fit into the picture? Is it a good idea to trade out active rest days for full stretching workouts? Since the last AMA I have managed to add stretching workouts into my routine, but I am still not sure how to mix strength and stretching workouts together efficiently. Long story short, I want to know the right way to balance of stretching, strength, and recovery in my routine so that I can focus my energy on the workouts and not on the planning, haha! My primary focus and goal is to increasing my flexibility and strength/endurance come second, FYI.

I hope that makes sense and thank you in advance!
 

Damer

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DAREBEE Team
Warrior Monk from Terra
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 533
I want to know the right way to balance of stretching, strength, and recovery in my routine so that I can focus my energy on the workouts and not on the planning
That's an awesome way to approach fitness @guibo94 and it is what we should all be looking for. Unfortunately there is no prescriptive answer I can give you that will work for you without first running a whole lot of fitness tests on you and then checking your age, body composition and physiology. What you're really getting at is how to best optimize your training routine to give you the best possible results for the time you have available to you. The moment you talk optimization you also need to define what it is you're optimizing for. That is going to be different for everybody even if the general direction is the same.

To illustrate what I mean here, suppose you and I both optimized for strength. We have X available hours in the week to devote to this. Those hours now must be apportioned between training for strength and recovery. But the way you and I build muscle depends upon our past history, age, general fitness level, rest time, hydration levels and nutrition and I have not even exhausted all the variables available to me.

So, really you need a rule of thumb here that will apply to everyone and then some means of tailoring it to your needs. The rule of thumb comes down to the performance level and perceived effort required in your primary training sessions. In your case it is strength so you need to be able to ascertain, as accurately as you can, how intense your workouts are (are they rep-driven, do you look at the maximum load shifted at the end of the session? etc) then decide why you're stretching and factor it in and monitor your recovery by listening to your body so you know when you can repeat your primary training session at full intensity.

This also brings in your active rest time. Active rest significantly reduces intensity and helps recovery by simply reducing the energetic load the body would use to train so now it has surplus energy it can put towards breaking down tissue and rebuilding it (which is what recovery actually is). If, after active rest, you find that you need to tone down your primary training that's a good indicator that you need more recovery time. Same with stretching. If stretching leaves you feeling as tired and drained as your primary training session then you need to work out how to fit everything in with adequate breaks in between so you recover.

I am not sure just how much help this is but, as always, please let me know if anything needs more clarification or examples.
 

J_o_h_n

Well-known member
from Dallas, TX
Posts: 134
@Damer, I have some questions.

I am trying to balance these three things:
1) build strength and lean muscle mass
2) build cardiovascular endurance
3) increase muscle/tendon flexibility


Context
I work in an office and spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer (sedentary at work). On average, I exercise 3-5 times per week. The (%) below are approximately how I allocate my workout time to the three. This year I have been trying to reduce my body fat percentage. My workouts concentrate on building muscle and/or burning calories. My diet is good (lean meats, fresh vegetables/fruit, nuts/whole fiber, minimize processed food) and tends toward high protein and low-to-moderate carbohydrates. I cut down on alcohol (though my mouth waters thinking about drinking my favorite ale right now, but it was counter productive, so out at this time).
I check my weight 2-3 times/week, but only log it around the 1st day of the month. I don’t care that much about my actual weight, but more about shrinking my waist to look and feel better in some of my clothes.
I am 6’1”. On 01 January 2023, I weighed 207#. Today I am 198# and my loose goal is to get to ~190# and drop another 1-2” (or (1) trouser size). Once I get there, I will reassess if I want to go further or if I should go into maintenance mode.

(45%) Strength: I am pleased with my progress on this. I set some goals and created a plan to help me get there. So far, so good.

(40%) Cardio: Could be better, but not bad at all. I do HIIT, treadmill running, and rowing. I don’t get out of breath doing any normal daily activity nor most not normal ones, but if I had to do sprint sets 8 x 100m with 30s rest I don’t think it would go so well. That said, I haven’t identified a cardio goal, so holding where I am at is okay for now.

(15%) Flexibility (the real subject of my questions below): I have been consistent for many years at warming up before exercise. Until last year, I was terrible about post exercise stretching. (The workout is over. Let’s eat!). Assuming most days I have an hour for exercise, adding post workout stretching takes away from the others. My flexibility is meh. I recently started using the 30 Days of Yoga program for my post exercise cooldown. I am not terrible at every pose, but anything with hips or feet flexibility is a challenge.

Example: pigeon is tough and unpleasant but doable, bow pose is a no go without a towel, reclining hero is NFW.
EF9LyTFRcIGnWZBvnQVYGNPp-sjf2KLYKAZpavjijd7acbHTTPWlbVuzsUAkDgaaqDc9YuSFg8zBoxGZR7KMRJspH75hxxCjK-U8MnjSbMzgfs0g4khkxheqPWpEofxoEYrl2bPk6QPymtVSMiBRsGQ


I am interested in learning martial arts and taking some formal parkour classes, but I would like to be more flexible first. Unlike strength or cardio, I don't know how to set goals or design a flexibility program to get me where I want to be. And assuming I can’t dedicate more exercise minutes per week, how will stretching more affect my strength/cardio fat loss progress? My gut feeling is it will be a lot - changing to something like (20% strength, 20% cardio, 60% flexibility) and take at least 3-6 months, but I don't really know.

So…
  • What does it take to become significantly more flexible?
  • How can I assess where I am now, ie, are there 3-4 fundamental stretches I can take measurements on to note my starting points?
  • How do I create a program/plan to get there? Example, if I can touch only the top of my toes today:
    • What static & dynamic stretches should I do to target being better specifically at this? Hypothetical goal: palms on floor
    • How long to hold or perform each?
    • How many times to repeat in a session?
    • How many sessions to repeat in a day?

I am sorry for throwing a lot on here. Any advice is appreciated.

John
 

TopNotch

Well-known member
Ranger from Australia
Posts: 1,610
"Motivation is temporary. Discipline is forever."
Hello, me again. :hi:
I have two questions but as they are very different, I'll ask one at a time.
So, Question One:
Running programmes all seem to advise something along the lines of one day running, one day off. As a beginner runner (if I can still count how long I've been doing it in months, I'm a beginner!), I'm happy to go with that, but it gives me a day between to do something with. And I like hiking. So I go out for a bit of a hike. Generally nothing too long - 5-12k - and there's generally 100-200m elevation involved.
The question then is, am I nullifying the running 'rest' days by hiking in between? Or, as it's a (slightly) different movement - running vs walking - does it make no difference?
Is it a case of, if it feels okay, do what you want, or am I contravening some sort of 'rule' that leads to increased gains?
 
Last edited:

bbybear712

Member
Fae Posts: 17
Hey Damer!
I have a question. I obviouslybused to be really active here but depression was a bitch and took away a lot from me. Even though I was overweight, let's be hobest obese, I always had great flexibility and my core was ok. Now my back and core stregth are just gone and my flexibility took a nose dive. I can work on the flexibility myself since that's second nature, the back and core I'm struggling with. I fond veing in the ground doing ab work or having to be on the floor in my back is practically impossible. Not exaggerating either, i know my limits and pain. Are there good standing moves i can do regularly to help increase the strength in my back and core to get to a good place to be able to do floor work again?
 

Damer

Administrator
DAREBEE Team
Warrior Monk from Terra
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 533
I am trying to balance these three things:
1) build strength and lean muscle mass
2) build cardiovascular endurance
3) increase muscle/tendon flexibility
@J_o_h_n just that, right there, is most probably the hardest thing to do for reasons that I will explain in a minute. The fact that you have made gains regardless deserves enormous praise for your dedication and focus. I will get to your real question about stretching but let's examine how the body actually works first.

There is a finite amount of energy the body has to allocate each day for:

  • Living and carrying out everyday tasks
  • Repairing tissue
  • Destroying tissue
  • Building tissue
Assuming you did nothing each day you'd still need between 2,200 - 3,200 calories to just stay alive. When we exercise we increase that energy expenditure somewhat (but by a relatively small amount that ranges, on average, between 180 and 320 calories per hour of exercise. But where the real change happens is in how, afterwards the body reallocates the energy it has left.

To illustrate this better, suppose the body has just 10 units of energy to use each day. And 5 of those units get 'eaten up' by the daily tasks of breathing, moving about, carrying out chores, digesting food and maintaining normal body temperature. That leaves just 5 units for everything else. Now, building strength and lean muscle mass, building cardiovascular endurance and increasing muscle/tendon flexibility are wildly different activities each of which necessitates similar tasks for the body to carry out:

  • Repairing tissue
  • Destroying tissue
  • Building tissue
But in a different way, to different parts of the body and at a different energetic cost. When you exercise as you do, progress is made, especially when you are starting from a relatively low base line, but it is made incrementally so seeing improvements is always slower. By far this explains the best why you have not seen a lot of improvement in flexibility.

As you probably appreciate getting you over this hump you experience in flexibility while you are doing all the other things you're doing would require a personalized, tailored workout with a specific diet and, most important of all, specific rest times and adequate quality sleep. Lacking all that what you need is a more accessible solution to your training. I would advise cutting out the aerobic component right now, no HIIT, no running or rowing, but instead using that time to do walking (like treadmill walking for an hour at a pace that is at the very limit of comfortable, you will need to experiment with this a little) and then adding 10 - 15 minutes of stretching to the end of every workout.

You will find that you get to your overall fitness goals faster this way for reasons which I could explain but would need to write a small book in order to do the explanation justice :LOL:.

Think how you can change what you do to do this and, as you make progress it'd be awesome if you could share it in a progress log, with The Hive. I suspect it will motivate and inspire Hive members further plus it will give you a handy way to mark progress over time. I hope my answer above is useful but please come back with any follow-up question you need.
 

Damer

Administrator
DAREBEE Team
Warrior Monk from Terra
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 533
if it feels okay, do what you want, or am I contravening some sort of 'rule' that leads to increased gains?
@TopNotch you mostly answered your own question. The biomechanics of running and walking are similar but not the same and, similarly, the body treats each one differently from a metabolic point of view (i.e. energy used and energy sources utilized) and from an adaptations point of view. Walking (and hiking) tend to lead to changes in body composition but not the building of muscles so provided you're not walking/hiking at a pace that exhausts you (both of which are quite capable of doing) then you should be OK. :LOL:
 

Damer

Administrator
DAREBEE Team
Warrior Monk from Terra
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 533
Hey Damer!
I have a question. I obviouslybused to be really active here but depression was a bitch and took away a lot from me. Even though I was overweight, let's be hobest obese, I always had great flexibility and my core was ok. Now my back and core stregth are just gone and my flexibility took a nose dive. I can work on the flexibility myself since that's second nature, the back and core I'm struggling with. I fond veing in the ground doing ab work or having to be on the floor in my back is practically impossible. Not exaggerating either, i know my limits and pain. Are there good standing moves i can do regularly to help increase the strength in my back and core to get to a good place to be able to do floor work again?
Depression is a mountain to overcome, not least because it is a complex psychophysical issue that requires patience and persistence, two attributes it effectively undermines! This article here will help provide some perspective. The reason I am linking to it is to highlight the many different ways in which it can affect us physically.

You sound like you're on a good path here so some exercises for core strength and back flexibility that do not require floor work can be found in these four workouts I have linked to here:

  1. Supercut Abs (you need a fitness ball)
  2. Anywhere Abs
  3. Chair Abs
  4. Standing Abs
Each time we're recovering from something/anything that has affected our fitness the key is to be patient and persistent and give exercise sufficient time to work. You sound mentally tough and it'd be awesome if you could perhaps chart some of your journey in a daily log in the checking-in/training logs section of the Hive. It will allow you to track your progress over time (it is really hard for us, as individuals, to see daily gains) and it would also help others in their own journey.

I hope this has helped a little but please feel free to ask any follow-up as necessary.
 

TopNotch

Well-known member
Ranger from Australia
Posts: 1,610
"Motivation is temporary. Discipline is forever."
@TopNotch you mostly answered your own question. The biomechanics of running and walking are similar but not the same and, similarly, the body treats each one differently from a metabolic point of view (i.e. energy used and energy sources utilized) and from an adaptations point of view. Walking (and hiking) tend to lead to changes in body composition but not the building of muscles so provided you're not walking/hiking at a pace that exhausts you (both of which are quite capable of doing) then you should be OK. :LOL:
What I instinctively think becomes validated by the confirmation of someone whose opinion I respect. :worship:
 

J_o_h_n

Well-known member
from Dallas, TX
Posts: 134
@J_o_h_n just that, right there, is most probably the hardest thing to do for reasons that I will explain in a minute. The fact that you have made gains regardless deserves enormous praise for your dedication and focus. I will get to your real question about stretching but let's examine how the body actually works first.

There is a finite amount of energy the body has to allocate each day for:

  • Living and carrying out everyday tasks
  • Repairing tissue
  • Destroying tissue
  • Building tissue
Assuming you did nothing each day you'd still need between 2,200 - 3,200 calories to just stay alive. When we exercise we increase that energy expenditure somewhat (but by a relatively small amount that ranges, on average, between 180 and 320 calories per hour of exercise. But where the real change happens is in how, afterwards the body reallocates the energy it has left.

To illustrate this better, suppose the body has just 10 units of energy to use each day. And 5 of those units get 'eaten up' by the daily tasks of breathing, moving about, carrying out chores, digesting food and maintaining normal body temperature. That leaves just 5 units for everything else. Now, building strength and lean muscle mass, building cardiovascular endurance and increasing muscle/tendon flexibility are wildly different activities each of which necessitates similar tasks for the body to carry out:

  • Repairing tissue
  • Destroying tissue
  • Building tissue
But in a different way, to different parts of the body and at a different energetic cost. When you exercise as you do, progress is made, especially when you are starting from a relatively low base line, but it is made incrementally so seeing improvements is always slower. By far this explains the best why you have not seen a lot of improvement in flexibility.

As you probably appreciate getting you over this hump you experience in flexibility while you are doing all the other things you're doing would require a personalized, tailored workout with a specific diet and, most important of all, specific rest times and adequate quality sleep. Lacking all that what you need is a more accessible solution to your training. I would advise cutting out the aerobic component right now, no HIIT, no running or rowing, but instead using that time to do walking (like treadmill walking for an hour at a pace that is at the very limit of comfortable, you will need to experiment with this a little) and then adding 10 - 15 minutes of stretching to the end of every workout.

You will find that you get to your overall fitness goals faster this way for reasons which I could explain but would need to write a small book in order to do the explanation justice :LOL:.

Think how you can change what you do to do this and, as you make progress it'd be awesome if you could share it in a progress log, with The Hive. I suspect it will motivate and inspire Hive members further plus it will give you a handy way to mark progress over time. I hope my answer above is useful but please come back with any follow-up question you need.
@Damer
I just recently started posting my detailed exercise logs here (link).

Yeah, I knew the questions didn't have simple answers without a lot more background. Thank you for taking the time to reply. I must admit, at first, I was surprised by your advice to trade aerobic activity for walking, but after considering it for a while I think I see the reasoning:

Strength + intense aerobic as I have been doing it, is a kind of a continuous breakdown that needs adequate diet/rest/etc to repair.
Changing the aerobic piece to "walking" (and the kind you describe "a pace that is at the very limit of comfortable" is actually a lot more physically demanding than it sounds - more like what is done in cardiac stress tests, right?) decreases the breakdown by trading those brief, intense HIIT/cardio movements for a much longer, sustained one ' almost uncomfortable' walking. With addition of longer periods of flexibility training on muscles that are less broken down, I should see better results in flexibility.

Is that kind of it?

If you know of any books on the subject that might be useful, that would be appreciated too! The WWW is a great thing, but there is so much pseudo science out there, it takes a lot of time to sift through the junk to find truth.

- John
 

Damer

Administrator
DAREBEE Team
Warrior Monk from Terra
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 533
Strength + intense aerobic as I have been doing it, is a kind of a continuous breakdown that needs adequate diet/rest/etc to repair.
Changing the aerobic piece to "walking" (and the kind you describe "a pace that is at the very limit of comfortable" is actually a lot more physically demanding than it sounds - more like what is done in cardiac stress tests, right?) decreases the breakdown by trading those brief, intense HIIT/cardio movements for a much longer, sustained one ' almost uncomfortable' walking. With addition of longer periods of flexibility training on muscles that are less broken down, I should see better results in flexibility.

Is that kind of it?
@J_o_h_n That's spot on!

Unfortunately there's no book I can recommend. I tend to get a lot of the information we use here from studies through my university connections. However I can wholeheartedly recommend these podcasts by Dr. Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist, who featured Dr. Andrew Galpin (a kinesiologist). - They're each between 2 - 3 hrs in length and the material they cover in a very accessible, conversational style is nothing less than stellar.





I hope this is of help.
 

guibo94

Well-known member
Gladiator from New Asgard
Posts: 74
"Silent but deadly."
That's an awesome way to approach fitness @guibo94 and it is what we should all be looking for. Unfortunately there is no prescriptive answer I can give you that will work for you without first running a whole lot of fitness tests on you and then checking your age, body composition and physiology. What you're really getting at is how to best optimize your training routine to give you the best possible results for the time you have available to you. The moment you talk optimization you also need to define what it is you're optimizing for. That is going to be different for everybody even if the general direction is the same.

To illustrate what I mean here, suppose you and I both optimized for strength. We have X available hours in the week to devote to this. Those hours now must be apportioned between training for strength and recovery. But the way you and I build muscle depends upon our past history, age, general fitness level, rest time, hydration levels and nutrition and I have not even exhausted all the variables available to me.

So, really you need a rule of thumb here that will apply to everyone and then some means of tailoring it to your needs. The rule of thumb comes down to the performance level and perceived effort required in your primary training sessions. In your case it is strength so you need to be able to ascertain, as accurately as you can, how intense your workouts are (are they rep-driven, do you look at the maximum load shifted at the end of the session? etc) then decide why you're stretching and factor it in and monitor your recovery by listening to your body so you know when you can repeat your primary training session at full intensity.

This also brings in your active rest time. Active rest significantly reduces intensity and helps recovery by simply reducing the energetic load the body would use to train so now it has surplus energy it can put towards breaking down tissue and rebuilding it (which is what recovery actually is). If, after active rest, you find that you need to tone down your primary training that's a good indicator that you need more recovery time. Same with stretching. If stretching leaves you feeling as tired and drained as your primary training session then you need to work out how to fit everything in with adequate breaks in between so you recover.

I am not sure just how much help this is but, as always, please let me know if anything needs more clarification or examples.
Thanks @Damer ! I would love to do all of the testing and assessments, but that sounds expensive! Maybe someday if y'all need a lab rat in Texas, haha!

I guess my next question is what are some of the signs or symptoms of over-stretching? I have done a pretty decent job of being consistent with my stretching workouts since your previous AMA, but I rarely feel "sore" after a workout so I don't know how much is too much? I am definitely noticing some gains in range of motion, specifically in my hips and my knee strikes are much higher lately so I am headed in the right direction, but it doesn't feel like I am doing enough. Since I am transitioning up in intensity to the intermediate phase of my stretching program, what are some general guidelines for good and bad post stretching workout body sensations? I fell like I can go full intensity, at least at this intermediate level, everyday and not feel any soreness or injury sensations, but that just feels "wrong".

On the other hand, I feel like I am neglecting my other workouts and starting to get "soft" so I am itching to increase my strength training. Assuming I have an 30 minutes a day, what should my intensity level be for strength training workouts that will help me get a little stronger, but not interfere with my stretching program? Or should I be doing HIIT or aerobic workouts? Time is not a big deal for me and I typically do something fitness everyday and right now I am doing 45-60 minutes of stretching workouts (full body) x3-4 each week with lighter (30 minutes) sprinkled in here and there. I am about to finish up Hard Reset by the end of the week, but I have been just doing level 1 - bare minimum each day. I was thinking of starting a pull-up, pushup, and squat challenge or something, but I'm afraid that will slow down my stretching progress. Maybe not, I don't know, haha!

I feel kind of weird adding this, but I am just under 6'1" and weigh 200 lbs and according to my Fitbit scale, my body fat % is about 22.3% and I am male (despite my profile picture). I weigh myself everyday just for the data as I am not trying to gain or lose weight, my focus is to increase my range of motion everywhere, and still have enough strength to maneuver around. I am tired of range of motion holding me back physically (especially with punching and kicking) so that is where I am at right now. I am in a good place and am very grateful to be here and to have Darebee!

Thanks again for this thread and all of your wisdom!
 

J_o_h_n

Well-known member
from Dallas, TX
Posts: 134
@J_o_h_n That's spot on!

Unfortunately there's no book I can recommend. I tend to get a lot of the information we use here from studies through my university connections. However I can wholeheartedly recommend these podcasts by Dr. Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist, who featured Dr. Andrew Galpin (a kinesiologist). - They're each between 2 - 3 hrs in length and the material they cover in a very accessible, conversational style is nothing less than stellar.





I hope this is of help.

@Damer

Thank you for pointing me to these. MIND. BLOWN.

I started listening to listening to ""How to Build Strength, Muscle Size & Endurance" at lunch yesterday. I am about an hour into it. Really, really interesting. I need to replay it so I can make some notes - it is that good. Can't wait to give the others a listen.

This definitely has me thinking about my fitness goals versus how my approach may be holding me back. Should be fun to experiment with some new concepts!

Thank you!

John
 

Damer

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DAREBEE Team
Warrior Monk from Terra
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I guess my next question is what are some of the signs or symptoms of over-stretching?

@guibo94 this is such a complex question to answer now :LOL: The best sign of over-stretching, obviously, is injury which really comes down to the muscle fibers and/or tendon experiencing so much mechanical tension that they suffer a structural breakdown (i.e. tears) which then impairs their normal mechanical function. You're not in that zone so we're good.

As you're beginning to realize everything that has to do with the human body and fitness is complex because it is dynamic. Stretching is no exception. We traditionally think of stretching as the application of mechanical tension on muscles and tendons (which is exactly what stretching is) in order to elongate them (which is not entirely accurate) so that they move more efficiently through a particular range of motion which means that the movement decreases the energetic cost to us.

The thing is that tendons and muscles, with few exceptions, are immediately capable of stretching at least 50% of their length at rest. If they can always do that why are we then so 'stiff' and why do we need to work at stretching? Without a doubt some changes do happen to the muscle fibers and tendons at a cellular level when we stretch them. Some of these are strength gains as they respond to the mechanical tension of the stretching motion, but others are evident in increased elasticity. That increased elasticity which is what gives us the "range of motion gains" is the result of a change in sensitivity in a group of proprioceptors called muscle spindles. Muscle spindles are stretch detectors. Their job s to report to the brain the amount and speed at which a muscle fiber stretches. This is a protection mechanism for the body. Stretch too fast, too soon and your body has an injury to deal with that impairs its function.

The stiffness we experience in muscles then, when we are not flexible, is due to the the muscle spindles detecting a stretching of the muscles that is beyond their everyday range and sending a signal to the brain which in turn responds by making the muscles tighten up.

When we stretch, what really happens is that we change the sensitivity of these muscle spindles so we can stretch the muscles further without activating the brain's protection mechanism. This change in sensitivity can only happen with persistence, over time. This then answers your question: as long as you keep, gradually forcing your muscles to stretch then your body will change the settings of the muscle spindles and you will become more flexible (there is a study on this here.)

Now, you mentioned kicking and punching and in such complex, multi-joint movements there is no simple fitness attribute that automatically makes them better. This happens as an aggregate of a lot of other physical attributes such as speed, tendon strength, muscle strength, joint stability and so on. So, will getting more flexible help your kicking and punching, to a degree yes, it will, but you also need to simply do enough kicks and punches for all the other attributes to begin to do their work. Given your height and weight you automatically face some difficulty here when compared to someone who is a little shorter and a little lighter because you're moving greater mass (i.e. the weight of your legs) through greater space (because of your height). In my martial arts competition days we did have 6ft competitors in the team and they had to work twice as hard as the rest of us for speed and flexibility simply because they were physically bigger.

I hope all this helps add some perspective and is of help.
 

guibo94

Well-known member
Gladiator from New Asgard
Posts: 74
"Silent but deadly."
@guibo94 this is such a complex question to answer now :LOL: The best sign of over-stretching, obviously, is injury which really comes down to the muscle fibers and/or tendon experiencing so much mechanical tension that they suffer a structural breakdown (i.e. tears) which then impairs their normal mechanical function. You're not in that zone so we're good.

As you're beginning to realize everything that has to do with the human body and fitness is complex because it is dynamic. Stretching is no exception. We traditionally think of stretching as the application of mechanical tension on muscles and tendons (which is exactly what stretching is) in order to elongate them (which is not entirely accurate) so that they move more efficiently through a particular range of motion which means that the movement decreases the energetic cost to us.

The thing is that tendons and muscles, with few exceptions, are immediately capable of stretching at least 50% of their length at rest. If they can always do that why are we then so 'stiff' and why do we need to work at stretching? Without a doubt some changes do happen to the muscle fibers and tendons at a cellular level when we stretch them. Some of these are strength gains as they respond to the mechanical tension of the stretching motion, but others are evident in increased elasticity. That increased elasticity which is what gives us the "range of motion gains" is the result of a change in sensitivity in a group of proprioceptors called muscle spindles. Muscle spindles are stretch detectors. Their job s to report to the brain the amount and speed at which a muscle fiber stretches. This is a protection mechanism for the body. Stretch too fast, too soon and your body has an injury to deal with that impairs its function.

The stiffness we experience in muscles then, when we are not flexible, is due to the the muscle spindles detecting a stretching of the muscles that is beyond their everyday range and sending a signal to the brain which in turn responds by making the muscles tighten up.

When we stretch, what really happens is that we change the sensitivity of these muscle spindles so we can stretch the muscles further without activating the brain's protection mechanism. This change in sensitivity can only happen with persistence, over time. This then answers your question: as long as you keep, gradually forcing your muscles to stretch then your body will change the settings of the muscle spindles and you will become more flexible (there is a study on this here.)

Now, you mentioned kicking and punching and in such complex, multi-joint movements there is no simple fitness attribute that automatically makes them better. This happens as an aggregate of a lot of other physical attributes such as speed, tendon strength, muscle strength, joint stability and so on. So, will getting more flexible help your kicking and punching, to a degree yes, it will, but you also need to simply do enough kicks and punches for all the other attributes to begin to do their work. Given your height and weight you automatically face some difficulty here when compared to someone who is a little shorter and a little lighter because you're moving greater mass (i.e. the weight of your legs) through greater space (because of your height). In my martial arts competition days we did have 6ft competitors in the team and they had to work twice as hard as the rest of us for speed and flexibility simply because they were physically bigger.

I hope all this helps add some perspective and is of help.
Yes, that makes perfect sense and better sense than I what I had in my head. Thank you again.

I do have another follow-up question regarding stretching routine and does changing the workouts and routine every so often help with stretching workouts as it does for strength and conditioning? I assume so, but I am not sure. And lastly just to satisfy my own curiosity, and I can attest to the work twice as hard for speed and flexibility being on the tall end of the spectrum, when you had taller competitors in martial arts how did they compensate from the general lack of speed and flexibility? I suspect that the head was a little more difficult to hit with it being higher, but that sounds like a nightmare to have to fight with a speed and felxibility handicap, haha!
 

TopNotch

Well-known member
Ranger from Australia
Posts: 1,610
"Motivation is temporary. Discipline is forever."
@guibo94 Taller people just have to be faster. Don't forget that taller people have an advantage of reach, and if you're a decent sparrer, you can prevent a shorter opponent from contacting you simply by keeping them at a distance where you can reach them, but they can't reach you. I've recently had the experience of sparring with a woman who barely comes up to my chest. She's nippy, and has the advantage of a lower centre of gravity, and once she comes in close, I'm lost. But if I can keep her at leg length away, I can kick her but she can't touch me at all.
And just because you're tall, doesn't mean you're not flexible - or able to be so. When it comes to speed, because a taller person has to move a limb further than a shorter person, they simply have to work harder to become that little bit faster so that the limb is fully extended in the same time as a shorter person's. Essentially, it comes down to effective practice and yeah, working twice as hard :LOL:
 

Damer

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Yes, that makes perfect sense and better sense than I what I had in my head. Thank you again.

I do have another follow-up question regarding stretching routine and does changing the workouts and routine every so often help with stretching workouts as it does for strength and conditioning? I assume so, but I am not sure. And lastly just to satisfy my own curiosity, and I can attest to the work twice as hard for speed and flexibility being on the tall end of the spectrum, when you had taller competitors in martial arts how did they compensate from the general lack of speed and flexibility? I suspect that the head was a little more difficult to hit with it being higher, but that sounds like a nightmare to have to fight with a speed and felxibility handicap, haha!

@guibo94 you keep throwing some amazing questions in here and stretching is complex enough to warrant an entire thread on its own. To my knowledge, there is no study that looks at the effects on flexibility of a varied stretching routine but, what you do comes down to what you expect to achieve. Stretching, like all other forms of exercise, produces the same results when the same routine is performed, on a law of diminishing returns that are directly proportional to improvement.

So, if your goal, for instance was to get to kick at head-height and your stretching routine has got you almost to that point, in order to get where you need to be, you need to do something differently. But that something, in stretching, translates to incremental increase rather than something different, usually. Suppose, for argument's sake you held your legs apart as far as you can go in the horizontal splits position for five minutes. And that has improved your flexibility but it is now at a plateau. To improve further you don't need to switch to let's say, vertical splits (i.e. your hamstrings) - instead you need to either change the position of your feet so you have a far wider stance than you did for those five minutes or increase the time you hold the splits for - whichever delivers the most perceived effort.

The reasoning we wouldn't change the stretching routine with variety if we have a very specific goal is exactly the same why we have to do the exact opposite and add variety when we train for strength or speed: habituation and homeostasis. The point at which the body becomes comfortable with adaptations it has put in place and stops developing. For strength, coordination, speed and endurance we need constant challenges and they are provided by variety in exercise. For flexibility we need an ever increasing range of motion and this necessitates constant pressure of an almost identical nature every time we train.

In my own direct experience (though I am a single point of data) I used to be able to drop into the splits from standing with barely a warm-up but when I did that I was in the habit of watching 30 minutes plus of TV at home in the splits position every day. These days I need a warm-up and it will take me 15-20 minutes before I can get into the splits. I still do a lot of flexibility work but of a various nature as opposed to focused on just the splits. I don't do competitions any more so the loss of immediate flexibility to kick super-high, irksome as it may be to me personally, doesn't affect fitness.

This fits in with the 're-setting' of muscle spindle limits. After a stretching session they are increased and an increased number of stretching sessions addressing the exact same degree of flexibility only delivers better results.

To address your size vs speed question. Martial arts competitions are weight-graded. The heavyweights in our team fought against other heavyweights so their 'handicap' as such was equalized. Now when we sparred in-club we didn't have such options because of a more limited number of people to draw from. The difference in speed then became evident, but as @TopNotch says you have greater reach. Speed of execution in martial arts is not just pure speed. It depends on experience (which primes you to react to a technique), positioning (so the effort of execution is minimized) and distance. These are attributes which can only improve with sparring. Pure speed of execution of a particular technique however can improve with 'dumb' repetition because the body optimized for the effort involved. If you want fast side-kicks do 1,000 each day (as an example) and you will get that exactly.

I've trained with Henk Meyer for a while and he is 6ft 1 about 200lbs and he was as fast as any lightweight. But he put us through his own training sessions and we were all throwing up with the intensity. :LOL: So, yeah, hard work, but for a specific purpose obviously. Competition fighting sharpens your focus. My guess is you want to feel inc control of your body and its capabilities so you don't need to go to such extreme lengths. I hope all this has helped you even more.
 

Damer

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@Damer thanks for having another one of these!
What are good training programs for explosive strength? Any equipment that can help?
And increasing my speed in running a mile - what do you suggest? Trying to get my 52 year old carcass down to a 10 minute mile.

@BravoLimaPoppa aaarghhh, the question of age over speed!!! :LOL: Let's take your questions one at a time (and they're both excellent). For explosive strength you need two things: any HIIT workout or any of our HIIT programs some of which are with equipment. And for workouts and/or exercises anything that takes you to failure or helps you lift to your one or two reps maximum. In both these situations the logic is the same: push the body to its perceived limit, force it to adapt by growing more fast-twitch action fiber in the muscles. Fast-twitch action fibers develop as a result of such high loads experienced by the muscles because the muscles need to recruit fibers that react fast to the load experienced and need to work, mostly, with the on-board adenosine triphosphate (ATP) stored in the muscles so the effort perceived during the exercise is your best indicator on how effective it is at helping to develop explosiveness.

To better address your question on speed as you get older I need to bring in a quick overview of the topic. We know, for instance, that even elite athletes experience a decrease in speed as they age (and a 2018 meta-analysis of some studies on the subject is here.) At the same time we have evidence from athletes like Hidekichi Miyazaki who at age 105 has improved on his previous performance so getting faster as we get older is possible.

If that's the case then why do we lose speed? Reduction in muscle strength (because we no longer train as much or as hard) is part of the answer. But a 2010 study showed that the brain, which is also an organ, undergoes cellular and vascular changes with age that affect processing speed. So an older, slower brain, uses a fit body a little bit slower because it is no longer working to the same capacity as it used to. A more recent, 2021 study, underscored this by studying reaction times in healthy and fit older and younger subjects. It showed that before we react the brain models the action we are about to perform and prepares us for it, physically. Older brains are a tad slower and this is then expressed as slower reaction time even though the muscles were of similar or identical strength between older and younger subjects.

Depressing as this may be for those of us still playing dodgeball :LOL: it is good news for you. You want to bring down your running speed for a mile and the improvement time you're looking for is super-realistic. So you basically need to improve cardiovascular health and fitness, endurance and biomechanical efficiency.Putting in distance at a slower speed (so you run, say 2-3 miles at a comfortable for you pace) will improve the first two. Biomechanical efficiency however, your personal running style, will only improve once you start getting a feel for how you run a mile. Do you land too heavily on your feet? Are your arms swinging wildly tiring you out faster? These are finer points that will come only after you start putting in the distance and time to improve the first two. You need to make sure you're giving your body sufficient rest time to make the cardiovascular adjustments necessary in between.

I hope this helps.
 
Last edited:

guibo94

Well-known member
Gladiator from New Asgard
Posts: 74
"Silent but deadly."
@guibo94 you keep throwing some amazing questions in here and stretching is complex enough to warrant an entire thread on its own. To my knowledge, there is no study that looks at the effects on flexibility of a varied stretching routine but, what you do comes down to what you expect to achieve. Stretching, like all other forms of exercise, produces the same results when the same routine is performed, on a law of diminishing returns that are directly proportional to improvement.

So, if your goal, for instance was to get to kick at head-height and your stretching routine has got you almost to that point, in order to get where you need to be you need to do something differently. But that something in stretching translates to incremental increase rather than something different, usually. Suppose, for argument's sake you held your legs apart as far as you can go in the horizontal splits position for five minutes. And that has improved your flexibility but it is now at a plateau. To improve further you don't need to switch to let's vertical splits (i.e. your hamstrings) - instead you need to either change the position of your feet so you have a far wider stance than you did for those five minutes or increase the time you hold the splits for - whichever delivers the most perceived effort.

The reasoning we wouldn't change the stretching routine with variety if we have a very specific goal is exactly the same why we have to do the exact opposite and add variety when we train for strength or speed: habituation and homeostasis. The point at which the body becomes comfortable with adaptations it has put in place and stops developing. For strength, coordination, speed and endurance we need constant challenges and they are provided by variety in exercise. For flexibility we need an ever increasing range if motion and this necessitates constant pressure of an almost identical nature every time we train.

In my own direct experience (though I am a single point of data) I used to be able to drop into the splits from standing with barely a warm-up but when I did that I was in the habit of watching 30 minutes plus of TV at home in the splits position every day. These days I need a warm-up and it will take me 15-20 minutes before I can get into the splits. I still do a lot of flexibility work but of a various nature as opposed to focused on just the splits. I don't do competitions any more so the loss of immediate flexibility to kick super-high, irksome as it may be to me personally, doesn't affect fitness.

This fits in with the 're-setting' of muscle spindle limits. After a stretching session they are increased and an increased number of stretching sessions addressing the exact same degree of flexibility only delivers better results.

To address your size vs peed question. Martial arts competitions are weight-graded. The heavyweights in our team fought against other heavyweights so their 'handicap' as such was equalized. Now when we sparred in-club we didn't have such options because of a more limited number of people to draw from. The difference in speed then became evident, but as @TopNotch says you have greater reach. Speed of execution in martial arts is not just pure speed. It depends on experience (which primes you to react to a technique), positioning (so the effort of execution is minimized) and distance. These are attributes which can only improve with sparring. Pure speed of execution of a particular technique however can improve with 'dumb' repetition because the body optimized for the effort involved. If you want fast side-kicks do 1,000 each day (as an example) and you will get that exactly.

I've trained with Henk Meyer for a while and he is 6ft 1 about 200lbs and he was as fast as any lightweight. But he put us through his own training sessions and we were all throwing up with the intensity. :LOL: So, yeah, hard work, but for a specific purpose obviously. Competition fighting sharpens your focus. My guess is you want to feel inc control of your body and its capabilities so you don't need to go to such extreme lengths. I hope all this has helped you even more.
Thank you again! I know this may not seem like a big deal, but I have really turned a corner with my stretching, flexibility, and range of motion thanks to you and these threads. You are truly a god among men! :u:
 

BravoLimaPoppa

Well-known member
Viking from Houston TX
Pronouns: He/him
Posts: 50
@BravoLimaPoppa aaarghhh, the question of age over speed!!! :LOL: Let's take your questions one at a time (and they're both excellent). For explosive strength you need two things: any HIIT workout or any of our HIIT programs some of which are with equipment. And for workouts and/or exercises anything that takes you to failure or helps you lift to your one or two reps maximum. In both these situations the logic is the same: push the body to its perceived limit, force it to adapt by growing more fast-twitch action fiber in the muscles. Fast-twitch action fibers develop as a result of such high loads experienced by the muscles because the muscles need to recruit fibers that react fast to the load experienced and need to work, mostly, with the on-board adenosine triphosphate (ATP) stored in the muscles so the effort perceived during the exercise is your best indicator on how effective it is at helping to develop explosiveness.

To better address your question on speed as you get older I need to bring in a quick overview of the topic. We know, for instance, that even elite athletes experience a decrease in speed as they age (and a 2018 meta-analysis of some studies on the subject is here.) At the same time we have evidence from athletes like Hidekichi Miyazaki who at age 105 has improved on his previous performance so getting faster as we get older is possible.

If that's the case then why do we lose speed? Reduction in muscle strength (because we no longer train as much or as hard) is part of the answer. But a 2010 study showed that the brain, which is also an organ, undergoes cellular and vascular changes with age that affect processing speed. So an older, slower brain, uses a fit body a little bit slower because it is no longer working to the same capacity as it used to. A more recent, 2021 study, underscored this by studying reaction times in healthy and fit older and younger subjects. It showed that before we react the brain models the action we are about to perform and prepares us for it, physically. Older brains are a tad slower and this is then expressed as slower reaction time even though the muscles were of similar or identical strength between older and younger subjects.

Depressing as this may be for those of us still playing dodgeball :LOL: it is good news for you. You want to bring down your running speed for a mile and the improvement time you're looking for is super-realistic. So you basically need to improve cardiovascular health and fitness, endurance and biomechanical efficiency.Putting in distance at a slower speed (so you run, say 2-3 miles at a comfortable for you pace) will improve the first two. Biomechanical efficiency however, your personal running style, will only improve once you start getting a feel for how you run a mile. Do you land too heavily on your feet? Are your arms swinging wildly tiring you out faster? These are finer points that will come only after you start putting in the distance and time to improve the first two. You need to make sure you're giving your body sufficient rest time to make the cardiovascular adjustments necessary in between.

I hope this helps.
I can see kettlebell HIIT workouts in my future. Sandbags too.
A lot of HIIT workouts and programs in conjunction with running over the next 9 months or so.
So it sounds like 1 day of running at a training pace, 1 day of sprints and 1 day of a long run over a week is about the way to spend my running time.
Intersperse the running days with HIIT and push to failure on at least one of those days.
Well, I know what I'm doing this Sunday...
 

aerochic

Active member
None from Maryland
Posts: 39
"Doing some introspection"
I have an odd one and I'm not sure if it's more of a physical or a mental thing. I go through seemingly random periods of clumsiness (more bumps, bruises, scrapes, cuts; missing steps, running into things, etc). My weight while high is basically stable and I have no underlying conditions. Once I start noticing it. I realize there is some observation/confirmation bias. Trying to be more attention to stop the clumsiness inevitably causes more. Any ideas what would be starting the initial bouts?
 

Damer

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DAREBEE Team
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@aerochic I see no one on this thread knows how to do easy questions any more! :LOL: :LOL: Obviously my obvious answer to your question:

Any ideas what would be starting the initial bouts

is to say "No, none". The brain is the most complex thing we've ever encountered. We have begun, this century, to understand its workings a little better but we've barely scratched the surface. The brain/body interaction can be disrupted (which is what clumsiness is) by a gazillion factors.

At the same time I will point out that "random" is the definition we ascribe to things whose cause is not immediately obvious to us. The fact that you noticed it means that it is more than just a one-off so there is a periodicity to it and that periodicity however loose it may be has to have a definite cause, so you need to find that cause. Medically, clumsiness is defined as poor coordination, action and/or movement. When we experience it, it is always the result of a complex interaction between the brain and the body and, to be more precise, a complex interaction in the signals the body passes to the brain and vice versa. The more common expression of this is the clumsiness associated with the female menstrual cycle, where hormonal changes in the body, affect the way the brain parses information which is then expressed in sub-optimal physiological actions (we stumble, we drop things, etc). A 2001 study refers to this and a more current one also alludes to it. It also appears, for very similar reasons, during pregnancy.

Other causes of clumsiness range from fatigue (there is a study referring on that here), poor sleep (a study on that is here), stress, emotional distress (a study on it can be found here) and anxiety so there is no shortage of potential stimuli as you can see, particularly given the state of the external world we are currently experiencing which has made all of us more susceptible to strong reactions, than before. At the most serious end of the spectrum clumsiness can be diagnosed as dyspraxia, whose more common medical name is developmental coordination disorder. Despite the name, it can appear, suddenly in adults (a little more information on that can be found here).

I know all this sounds alarming but it needn't be. The cause could be as simple as physical fatigue from something you do on a periodic basis. If you really want to get to the bottom of it I would suggest you keep a diary of when what you'd perceive as clumsiness occurs and then try and trace back to see if something preceded it: a particularly physically or mentally tiring event, something physically or emotionally stressful, even something you eat or drink that makes your system go on overdrive which then produces signals that your brain will translate as anxiety. Then work from there. That should give you a better sense of control and a clearer understanding.

I really hope this helps.
 

Damer

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Hahahahahaha! @TopNotch I see if this was a competition on question difficulty on this thread you'd already be ahead! :LOL:

OK, let's tackle this. First of all, for the sake of everyone reading this, let's explain, briefly what each term actually means.

Periodization, as the name suggests, is "the planned manipulation of training variables (load, sets, and repetitions) in order to maximize training adaptations and to prevent the onset of overtraining syndrome." Overtraining syndrome occurs when persistent, repetitive training that affects the same muscle groups results in persistent inflammation in the muscles, possible glycogen depletion in the body and lack of adaptations due to insufficient recovery time. An interesting study on this is here. Periodization then is introduced to avoid this by changing specific variables in our training in a planned way.

Linear periodization has a limited number of variables that are affected each time (and really we're only talking about volume or intensity) and non-linear periodization has a much larger number of variables. This results in actually implementing different training protocols each time we train with a different focus, so, for instance, we may start with a focus on strength training on day one and then work on speed or endurance on day two.

This so very different approach to training should also point the answer to your question. More specifically you asked:

is one method better than the other, or doesn't it matter?

Well, yeah it does matter. But let's start by stressing that there is no "better" in training, there is only "what are you actually training for". Your goals determine the training protocol you will apply. A 2015 study that compared linear vs non-linear periodization for strength building saw no appreciable difference between the two methods. This is further corroborated by another study from that same year which is here.

Seeing how there are no appreciable differences in strength training and hypertrophy in a linear periodization vs a non-linear periodization approach why do I then say the approach matters? Well, basically because each approach has specific strengths and weaknesses which depend, specifically, on your own fitness goals and capabilities. If time, for instance, is a problem so you can't always train for the same length of time or at the same time each day then a linear periodization protocol is easier to apply and easier to adapt without losing its efficacy. Similarly, if recovery is an issue, and you cannot always find time to sleep enough to sufficiently recover from each training session, a linear periodization protocol makes chronic fatigue and over-training less likely to happen whereas a non-linear periodization protocol is harder to manage because of the many variables involved.

A 2012 study that compared the two protocol highlighted the same issues.

To simplify all this complexity: training for strength and hypertrophy using resistance training produces strength and hypertrophy no matter what you do because there is more than one path that leads to strength and hypertrophy. So "the best" protocol is always the one that works for you because you can make it work most easily due to your own particular set of circumstances.

I hope this has covered your question.
 

Damer

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My time in the hot seat, on this thread, has come to an end. Your questions, Bees, as ever; were amazing and allowed us to cover quite a few tricky subjects that often trip people up or are associated with all sorts of misinformation across the webz. You truly made this thread awesome. So awesome, in fact, that we will be adding it to the knowledge library. Big Thank You! from me.
 
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