AMA July 2023 - How To Train All Year Round

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I promised to explore how to best train all year round, what the science shows about making this habit stick, how the seasons affects us (because they do) and what we, as smart humans, can do about it all so that we do what we want as opposed to allowing the environment we live in dictate to us how we should behave (which is a little plant-like). As always there are no silly questions here and feel free each time I reply to come back with anything my reply sparked off or if something I said could benefit from additional material to provide clarity. As always, again, I will answer each question in the order it has come in and I will acknowledge it before replying so if it has been acknowledged you should expect a reply within the hour. If I do not acknowledge it, I have not seen it and it will not be replied to (I am far from infallible :) ) so feel free to give me a nudge if you see your question having been missed. I will try to get to each question within 24 hours (coz, dayjob Grrrrrr). Having covered all the necessary rules feel free to open this up by bringing in your questions, thoughts and general queries on how to make training an all-year round thing (which, basically means a lifetime thing).
 

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Fremen

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"“Keep an eye on the staircases. They like to change.” Percy Weasley, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone."
I have two questions:
1) Is there a possible correlation between training and seasons? A sort of natural way to take advantage of the seasons to do an "optimal" workout.
2) If there is no goal to achieve throughout the year, such as important competitions for athletes, does it still make sense to plan an "annual" training?
Thank you :)
 

Damer

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@Fremen the moment I started this thread I knew there would be no simple questions to answer. :LOL: You're on point in what you asked. The immediate answer to your questions is to say "Yes" to the first (on both counts) and "Yes" to the second. But in order to better understand why the answer is yes and why we have so much difficulty, usually, to optimize training throughout the year if there is no specific goal to drive us.

To answer all this more comprehensively we need to start with your second question, first.

2) If there is no goal to achieve throughout the year, such as important competitions for athletes, does it still make sense to plan an "annual" training?

Everything we do physically has a connected, hidden and absolutely necessary mental component. Bridging the two involves complex neurotransmitter exchange between the brain and the body (which many times involves the gut and our microbiome). The brain becomes engaged when it is performing a task that arouses it and this arousal, in turn, is reflected in a host of changes in the bloodstream and gut that produce chemicals which make the task we engage in (such as exercise) relevant through a range of signals which lead to physical adaptations in the body (we become stronger, more agile or faster - depending on the specific stimulus we apply tot he body). Boredom is described as a mismatch between an individual’s needed intellectual arousal (which will engage the brain) and the availability of external stimulation without which we are left with, “the aversive experience of wanting, but being unable, to engage in satisfying activity” (the relevant study on this is here).

When there is no external stimulus that gives a practical achievable target to aim for (such as a competition season for athletes) there is a real danger that we slip into an "always-on" mentality where we do the same things or largely the same things or attend the same routine every day. This, in turn, affects the dopamine response in the brain and dopamine is the central ingredient in the chemical cocktail mix that affects our motivation. How motivated we feel, in turn, affects how the brain perceives our sense of effort and our sense of pain which means that training intensity is affected. That affects the results we achieve and the reward we feel we get, afterwards.

A study on athletes exercising (found here) showed that those who were bored experienced stronger signals of pain during training than those who were deeply engaged in their training and felt they were working towards a goal. That study's findings have been backed up by a more recent one (found here) which shows that boredom affects both physical adaptations after training and overall performance during physical exertion.

When even competition athletes can get bored the chances that non-competitive individuals can find themselves 'getting stale' and wanting to take a break are pretty high. Now, let's start to solve this by saying that stopping is not an option. If we exercise regularly we exist in what is called "a trained state" during which the body's dynamic responses adapt for demands that involve the repair of muscle and the building and strengthening of muscle, bone and connective tissue. This is a high-energy demand state which controls how our body uses what we eat and drink and what cycles it prepares for during the day. Stopping training takes it to a "detrained state" where our body's fundamental energy needs undergo a change which also affects its energy apportioning strategy. Muscles become weaker and, at some point, shrink as the body decides to break down excess muscle mass. Bones become weaker and our body's preparatory neurochemical systems that allow us to feel energetic throughout the day, also undergo fundamental changes.

Once the body becomes accustomed to this state it finds it harder to then gear up again making any "stop and start" tactic to fitness harder than it already is. Its cardiovascular and aerobic adaptations are the ones to go first (sometimes even within two weeks of rest) with muscle mass, body composition and finally, tendon and bone strength following suit, in that order.

So stopping (which may naturally reset our mental excitation levels and help us find our lost motivation) is not a strategy that can work for us. But neither is an "always-on" approach where we need to constantly chase short-term gains of speed, muscle mass and/or strength the answer. As a matter of fact a 2015 study showed that even elite athletes need to ease-off their training in order to maintain their long-term fitness goals.

The answer lies in a mix of three strategies we can adapt to help us be better in what we do.

  • Long-term goals - It's important to fully feel (as well as understand) what we are training for. For instance, in my case I had to re-examine why I trained hard when I no longer competed. My current long-term goal lies in a fully-imagined future-me who is strong, healthy and physically autonomous and in control at an age much greater than the one I am currently at. So I workout for that future. Because I understand this is a cumulative-effort approach I see each day as a necessary step to it.
  • Short-term aims - Despite our long-term goals it is good to have seasonal aims. For example, during summer when we tend to wear more revealing clothes and be on the beach more a "lean, strong, look" in whatever form works for you, is perfect to help get you through a day's session when you may not feel like it. I tend to use visualizations in my case, when I think of the zombie apocalypse. On days when I really don't feel like training I think that there is no way I will be zombie food. That works for me and gets me through a session at an acceptable level of intensity. I also use summer to do more watersports (upper body work), running outside (aerobic) and hiking (cardiovascular).
  • Variety to help us get there - We become bored sometimes because we do the exact same thing, in the exact same way every day and that deadens our mind. Worse than that it fails to prepare us for the effort involved with the net result being that as the time fr the workout approaches we feel an increased sense of resistance building up in us. Mixing thing sup creates spice. If the problem is purely motivational going from a resistance-training regime to an HIIT one, one day, may just rekindle how we feel. Having things we can do on a 'low day' also helps. Again, drawing from my own example, there are days when I'd rather be anywhere than at home, training. On those days I grab my Tablet and Netfix and work on the floor on my flexibility for an hour or hour plus. Whatever I am watching takes the edge off the pain of stretching and spending 90 minutes working on hamstrings, adductors and lower back does me a world of good.
The "annual training" plan then (and we all should be keeping track of what we do and when) is the one that is made up of my long-term goal (always-on), my short-term one (which changes with the seasons) and a variety of exercise routines of mixed intensity that let me take advantage of how I feel for maximum benefits.

All of which now lead us to your first question. :LOL:

Is there a possible correlation between training and seasons? A sort of natural way to take advantage of the seasons to do an "optimal" workout.

Whether we like it or not we are hardwired to respond to our environment. Sunlight and warmth make us feel good, too much heat or cold make us feel bad. Rain and sleet make us want to hide.

There are four seasons in the year and while some training may be season-agnostic (such as learning to perform specific combat moves) everything else works around the seasonality we experience that links our body's mood (and neurochemical preparation) with the amount of light, heat and/or cold it is exposed to. A study on elite soccer athletes showed that those that ignored seasonality and either trained too much or too little experienced more stress and more injuries as they prepared for their normal competitive circuit.

Warmer weather places an additional heat load to every form of exercise. But while that excess heat load makes resistance training harder to perform and may result in slower physical strength adaptations as a result, it works the opposite way when it comes to heat efficiency in the body and improved cardiovascular and aerobic fitness. So summer, for example, may be reserved for working on training routines that favor aerobic and cardiovascular fitness and less on strength (in maybe a 60/40 split?). Similarly autumn and winter, depending on where you live, expose us to less sunlight and more cold and resistance training and HIIT may be more beneficial then.

This is always subject to personal experimentation, the ability to understand, truly, what your long-term fitness goals are what your life goals are (and long-tern life and fitness are intimately intertwined) and what you are capable of. I hope all this helped answer what you asked.
 
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Fremen

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Shaman from Italy
Posts: 3,527
"“Keep an eye on the staircases. They like to change.” Percy Weasley, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone."
Thanks for the replies, I have to dwell on it a bit but they definitely gave me very interesting food for thought :)
Anyway... now I imagine @Damer that centenary runs away from zombies, successfully :LOL:
 

Damer

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@PETERMORRIS966 that is an interesting question. What we know by way of data comes from athletes who use periodization in their training. Periodization is a training concept whereby specific variables in training (usually strength training) are locked-in (like load, repetition, rest time, etc) and this is repeated over a specific period of time (ranging from 4 - 12 weeks) in order to produce the maximal benefits. Or, at least that what was traditional wisdom expected. Studies have shown that when we compare linear periodization (where the variables are locked-in throughout the training period and remain unchanged) with non-linear periodization (where the variables have a range of values which can be adapted according to perceived fatigue) the non-linear periodization training delivers better results in terms of strength gains.

The rationale (and there is a study on this here) is that the better results delivered by non-linear periodization are owed to the variation in training variables which then allow the neuronal system to recover, muscles to repair and grow and the body to better adjust to what is demanded of it.

This brings us back to your question. Is variety good? It appears to be so. It helps maintain our focus (which is important as it affects both the results we get and our motivation as we saw in the question brought in by @Fremen) and it allows the body to recover sufficiently as there are no two workouts exactly the same. So, as an overall long-term fitness strategy it is sound. You do the latest workout, for instance, and keep on doing it. There is always a small overlap in terms of what part of the body or which system of the body bears the heaviest load of it and that means that you are making small, steady steps forward.

The only note of caution I would add here is on those days when you are tired, either physically drained or mentally and emotionally exhausted by other factors and the workout happens to be a particularly demanding one. You should have the presence of mind to say "no" to that one and a back-up plan to replace it with something you can still do but which will not empty you completely (note my go-to Netflix and stretching option in my first answer above :LOL: ). I hope this helps.
 

LionAlpha

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I guess my question will be more straight-forward and personal, I guess? You obviously have a very impressive physique. So I'd like to ask what kind of training you follow throughout the year in order to maintain it or even build it up more. What did you notice working effectively for you, in a sense?
 

Damer

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@LionAlpha I will preface everything I say with the reminder that each of us is different. I know a lot more about training, physiology and exercise than when I was competing and I experiment on myself. Not everything applies equally. My core training is Darebee. I do the workout of the day three days a week. (There is a practical element to this as I am no longer able to be actively involved in every workout that goes through the pipeline so this gives me a direct sense of what we are doing). I do one HIIT workout once a month (also Darebee) and I do all of the combat moves workouts (I was directly involved in all of them) as that gives me a sense of gaps or variations we need to plug with fresh workouts or new ones we need to bring out.

So, I train seven days a week. But I am 58 so I need to have variation in the intensity so I can recover. We know from research that as we age the body tends to lose muscle mass and muscle is an organ. It produces a host of neurotransmitters that affect mental health as well other organs of the body (like bones) so I will do strength training as a component of my training after a Darebee workout, at least three times a week and then do two full strength training sessions using a Darebee dumbbells workout. I prefer free weights as opposed to stations because they work more than one joint at a time and activate the body's kinetic chain even if we're doing something like standing bicep curls.

I use kicks and punches (in the air) as my warm-up, every time, starting gradually and building up in intensity. I will always finish with a few minutes of stretching and, on days when I feel I am too tired to workout, I will do up to 90 minutes floor stretching.

In Summer I do a lot of water sports (kayaking, snorkelling) and outside running and I make it a social thing (I go out with friends and do it) in winter I tend to do more heavy bag workouts where I start with a Darebee workout and then I do a heavy bag session focusing on two-three techniques max that involve power-punches and power kicks in punch/kick combos.

Now here's the thing (which I hope is the best takeaway from all this) three, maybe four times out of seven each week I will not feel like training at all. I tell myself I am pretty fit, it's too hot, I am too busy - the excuses can be endless and easy to come by. I change into training clothes, block off the time and show up. What has helped me maintain the momentum which has then benefited my fitness is the fact that I have a ready-made plan. I don't need to sit down and workout what I need to do that day. Once I get going, ten-fifteen minutes later I am mentally back on track and wondering why I didn't feel like training in the first instance.

The second thing I do is document everything I do every day. That way I have a written record of what I did a year ago, two years ago which gives me a sense of my capabilities and the progress I am making.

Finally, I have added an extra hour of sleep at night. I used to get by on four-five hours sleep because of the pressure of everything. I have gradually increased this to the point I get a full seven hours of rest. That has worked miracles for my recovery and also for muscle tone. We know now that we only put on muscle when we sleep. As we age the number of mitochondria in our cells declines. Resistance training and endurance activity helps reverse that decline so we maintain youthful cell function as we get older.

All of these factors have benefited me. As I get older I understand I need to workout smarter, watch my nutrition, make sure my hydration is on-point, get plenty of rest for recovery and workout every day with the odd flat-out session when I need to get it out of my system. What has made the biggest difference of late is my attitude. Because I have made it impossible for myself to miss a workout session (if work makes it impossible to get a workout in I will do microworkouts throughout the day, getting some squats, or push-ups in here and there) I have stopped stressing about seeing progress every single day. Some days are excellent and I will breeze a heavy workout and still feel I can do it again, others I struggle with the easiest stuff. I stopped worrying why. I always think to myself that long-term I am gaining so each day I just need to show up and do what I can. :LOL: I hope this helps you in your fitness journey.
 

guibo94

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@Damer I have a question for you. Let's say I did 100 pushups every day for an entire year or 700 split up consistently and evenly throughout the week (for recovery), at some point months or even years down the road would my body stop adapting and changing and actually experience a regression due to efficiency? This is more of a hypothetical question as I was thinking that at first I would see major positive changes physically and mentally in the first month or two, but if I did not change the routine, would my body actually adapt back to its form before due to the efficiency built up over months or years of doing the same thing over and over? I'm just curious if I can I look like a never exercise, but still crank out 100 pushups in a day without much effort.
 

Damer

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@guibo94 this is such a deep question! There is not a ton of direct research on this though there is a sizeable corpus of indirect studies so answering it fully requires exploring several different avenues. But let's start with your hypothetical. To answer that we need to ask the question of "what is the body designed to do?" - The answer is it's designed to help us adapt to our environment so we can do what we want (or the body can do what we ask of it) at the lowest possible energetic cost (because high energy demand in action depletes its resources and diminishes its chances of survival in a potentially hostile environment). So, if you did the push ups you suggest (and I actually did experiment on myself last year where I finished each day with 100 push ups before bed) what happens is that initially you get some pretty amazing adaptations. You get stronger, tendons grow stiffer (so they can take more load) you have an increase in shoulder muscle strength. Then, as you continue to exert the same force (in my experiment I did 100 push ups in two lots of fifty each night regardless of what I did during the day by way of training) the repetitive strain begins to tell. Muscles and tendons destrengthen as there is insufficient recovery time plus the repetitive strain increases local inflammation. In my experiment six months in I found I could pull off the first set of 50 faster than before but then I would have to complete the second set of 50 in two lots of 20 and 30). By the end of the year (last December) I had done 36,500 push ups but struggled to do fifty in a row. I could however, in a physically demanding martial arts training session where I also do push ups pull off 200 - 300 push ups in lots of 20 without feeling the strain.

I am a single point of data so my direct experience applies only to me but this is what I learnt from it: 100 push - ups night after night was too much of a repetitive load for me to see gains beyond the initial adaptation period. If I'd staggered them throughout the day with perhaps increasing the load at night I would have seen different results. Tendons and secondary muscle groups learnt to take the load better so muscles don't have to. This means that after a while they deflate a little despite the fact that from a strength point of view there are gains.

The hardest elements were psychological and mental. I found it hard to contemplate the end of the day. Because I made it a condition for me to do 100 push ups, hit the shower and go to bed (end of the day stuff) I found I had to force myself to get to the end of the day. By September I was trying to think of a decent excuse to give up. We know that self-determination theory suggests motivation is a key component to getting optimal results from physical activity. So a varying exercise routine (even if that means keeping the exercises the same but varying the load each time or the number of reps) keeps the brain engaged. And engaged brain spikes dopamine and noradrenaline two neurotransmitters that are key to how motivated we feel and motivation, in turn, keeps us focused on what we are doing and makes us determined to do it. These components also alter how we do what we do and how the body perceives it and treats it.

The magic then is when all three components of fitness come together: physical, mental and psychological and for that to happen we need variety. I hope this helps answer your question.
 

guibo94

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@Damer thanks for the answer and you actually answered several other questions that I didn't know to ask yet, haha! Very helpful information and although my yearly approach is a little different from the Dr. Galpin model (thank you for posting links to that podcast too!), this does help me tremendously with my goals and motivation. Seeing fitness from a year-to-year perspective as helped me tremendously and it is much easier to stick to a plan compared to day-to-day, week-to-week, or even month-to-month scale.

Here is the link to the March 2023 AMA with the podcast links for anyone else that is interested. Since I don't know how to link to actual posts, it's post #20 on the thread. They are long conversations, but really good information.
 

BravoLimaPoppa

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Thank you for this fascinating AMA! Changing things up is how I've managed to keep at it. And I've got a goal these days (get better at fencing, be able to run faster).

How do you deal with illness interrupting? Asking from my own experience, because all I know to do is to heal up for however long it takes. If I'm lucky, it's a day or two and I just increment the program those days. If not, I restart the 30 day program I was working on and go on.
Right now Power HIIT seems favored by Papa Nurgle for me. Twice I've caught something during it, something that meant I had to heal up.

Another question is extreme environments. I'm in Houston, bluntly, it's hotter than Hell and humid as a swamp. Yes, I train, but outside of hydration, training in the morning or evening, inside (bleh - boring) anything else to make it bearable?

And finally pollution. We've had more ozone action days this summer than any other time I've lived here. And while pollution isn't a season, any training tips under those conditions?
 

Damer

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@BravoLimaPoppa three excellent questions (and apologies for the delay in acknowledging them, life got a little more crazy than usual). Let's start with the first one. Illness is, essemtially, a dysfunction in out body that is caused by, usually, external agents that create internal effects. It helps to think of the body here as a machine. To run it needs energy and it starts each day with the same finite amount of energy. That energy then needs to be apportioned for living, thinking, internal functions and repair and (in our case) exercising. Exercising is an additional energetic demand we make of the body in order to help it change physically and become stronger than the environment we live in would normally demand us to be. When we get ill the body needs goes into high alert through its immune response. It then apportions a sizeable amount of energy to power the immune response, fight the illness and repair the damage. As a result not much, if any, is left to run the day-to-day functions of strength and muscle repair. Muscles, as a result, become de-strengthened (we become weaker) and our cardiovascular and aerobic responses may also weaken (our heart and lungs have to work harder for us to do the same amount of physical work we did before we got ill).

The smart thing to do is to ease back in like we would if we were off training for quite some time. We have a guide which details a lot of this. If that means restarting training slowly, cutting back on reps or intensity, then that is what is needed. The Covid-19 pandemic provided us with an excellent opportunity to gather data on post-illness training protocols and as a recent study shows. Easing back into training over a couple of weeks is exactly the right approach.

Now hot weather is a challenge. But handled right it can be an excellent opportunity to level up. The additional heat load increases the perceived load on the muscles and there is increased energy expenditure so training in hot weather makes you fitter, faster. Of course, it is not as simple as that which is why we have another guide on the benefits of training in hot weather and the safeguards you must take. Basically you need to watch two things: intensity of what you do and hydration. This means you need to be aware of what you are doing. There is no point in going on a 20km run, deciding to cut it in half because halfway you feel you're running out of steam and now having to return another 10km. So, plan carefully what you will do. Make sure the rest of the day you're not experiencing additional heat load (which may be an issue if you're already tired) and factor in adequate rest and plenty of hydration. I tend to go for 10km runs at midday when it's about 100 - 101 Farheneit and I don't bother with water (I make sure I drink tons beforehand). At the same time I have no issue walking back the distance if the return leg feels truly unbearable and a 'there and back' run with walking factored in is no more than an hour or an hour and ten minutes tops. No matter how hard that gets I know it's not going to kill me so I just chill and flow with it. Mindset on this is important, so try short duration training or shorter runs just so you feel in control. For instance, when it's hot like that I never run in isolated areas and I always have my cell with me.

Your final question is particularly important given the recent low-air quality events we've seen this year. The quality of the air we breathe is important for cardiovascular and aerobic health. If there are particulates or other pollutants in the air then training outside is bad for us. Physical exercise increases the amount of air we take in with each breath. The body can deal with atmospheric pollutants and other irritants, up to a point but after that point is reached, it is overwhelmed and suffers damage. There is a 20121 study on this here. So, really, on those days you have no choice you need to exercise indoors.

I hope all this has helped answer your questions.
 

J_o_h_n

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Posts: 134
@Damer

Fitness goals. So important, yet it has been so difficult for me to quantify them into smaller more specific pieces. Broadly: I want to be “strong,” fast, healthy, flexible, look and feel good, and have fun.

In re-listening to the Galpin/Huberman podcast on optimizing your training program for fitness and longevity for at least the 5th or 6th time now, I think I am coalescing on what has probably been my goal without realizing it: maintain (and within reason, improve) my proprioceptive ability, which I guess is another way of saying I want to keep the athleticism I have and improve it where possible given “life choices and limitations” while acknowledging at age 52, it doesn't get easier.

I really liked how Dr. Galpin outlined a way of training year-round that considers the seasons (winter, spring, summer, fall) and for how our lives adapt seasonally. It seems so logical: more weight training in the winter when it is dark/cold outside; lean down in the spring to look/feel good for the warm summer months; build short duration / long duration cardio as the year closes. With the focus of each 12 week period being different, it seems ideal for keeping the body well-rounded, preventing overuse injuries, and staving off program boredom.

Below is more/less what Dr. Galpin said in words during the podcast. I just layed it out in a table for easier reference.

JAN-MAR
(12 weeks)
APR-JUN
(12 weeks)
JUL-SEP
(12 weeks)
OCT-DEC
(12 weeks)
FocusHypertrophy/ Strength
(build some mass)


↑ work 3-5%/wk


Deload wk 6
Deload/off wk 12
Lean down
(get ready for warm season)






Deload wk 6
Deload/off wk 12
Cardio (HIIT)
(speed/interval)




Less structured


Deload wk 6
Deload/off wk 12
Cardio
(long duration)

2x day activity


VO2 max


Deload wk 6
Deload/off wk 12
CaloriesSlight excess
+ 10-15%
Slight deficit
- 10-15%
MaintenanceSlight excess
+ 10-15%
(will happen with season/life)
Sport1x/week
indoor
1x/week
outdoor
1x/week
outdoor
1x/week
indoor
Weights3-4x/week2x/week2x/week2x/week
Walk/run1-2x/week (outside if possible)1x/week

(outside)
1-2x track/hills

(outside)
1x/week
(outside if possible)
Group ex class1-2x/week

(social, break solitary routine, cross-train)
1-2x cardio (machines)
Sleep More
Dark outside
averageaverageMore
Dark outside
Fitness assessment
Wk 12
Fitness assessment
Wk 12

Now the “hard” part. Selecting the activities to fill it in! This is where I’d like to get some feedback.

The pandemic forced the closure of the gym my wife and I belong to for years. We pivoted and setup a ‘garage’ gym that during the last 3 years has become decently well equipped with dumbbells to 50lb and a few kettlebells up to 32Kg. Plus we have a good assortment of ‘body weight’ accessories: pullup bar, TRX, plyobox, bands, step bench, slam balls, and a few other toys. It is so convenient to workout at home, neither of us really ‘want’ to go back to a regular gym.

1st quarter weight program: would it be better to select 6-8 Darebee strength workouts for an Assassin or Amazon program and rotate through them, or try to complete two (or three) of the 30 day strength programs instead?

2nd quarter: Dr. Galpin suggests group exercise and gamification as a change up. My wife and I share a Peloton membership. It is group exercise ‘like’ but obviously lacks the social interaction of being together with a group of people. Even now, I mix in Peloton, YouTube and other sources of streamed content. Sometimes I like the self-directed, self-paced style of Darebee and other times I want to be directed and pushed by someone else. I think virtual classes give me a benchmark of how well I push myself when working out on my own.

3rd quarter: there are a lot of HIIT workouts in the Darbee arsenal. No questions here.

4th quarter: Long duration cardio. I know there are a number of Darebee programs for running a 5k, 10k, runner prime, etc. Would Hard Reset Cardio be a good option here for a long duration cardio activity for this quarter? When I think of long duration cardio, I think of running, rowing, biking, swimming for a specified time and in a heart rate zone. While there are a number of other Darebee cardio programs, many seem to be multiple exercises versus one exercise. Not sure if it makes a big difference, but it seems simpler to wrap my head around rowing for a constant 45 mins at a specific pace versus trying to achieve a similar consistent heart rate while alternating between jacks, climbers and burpees. I don’t have a good idea how to develop a 12 week, long duration cardio program and would love some suggestions to consider.



As always, thank you for your advice!
John
 

Damer

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@J_o_h_n I am really glad Dr Galpin's suggestions helped you. Needless to say the information he and Dr Huberman provide is mind-blowing and it does take some digesting. Before going into a more detailed answer I will make three quick suggestions of which at least one and maybe two, I suspect you're already doing. So: record what you do each day. You have a home gym, like I do, I have a chalk wall where I keep track of the day's workout(s), what I did, how long for, etc. Then I photograph it and store it in a Google Album (for convenience) rather than going into the trouble of re-writing it somewhere else. And then erase it, ready for the next day. So, suggestion one: record your daily workouts in a way that adds to your motivation. Suggestion two: have a means of keeping track of everything long-term so you can go back and check what you did same time last year to see where you are at in terms of overall progress. Now, suggestion three: have a long-term goal that has a strong element of gamification. All of Dr Galpin's clients have a powerful motivation that stems from their immediate goal which is their time in the octagon and the level of competition they will face there which, given the nature of their sport, involved the probability of serious injury. You and I do not. So it's easier for us to focus on how we feel on a particular day and say "it's hard to get going" and provide all the excuses our brain needs to disengage from what we do, which then makes our body disengage and then, in a cascade of connected neurobiological events, leads to diminished returns even if we do put in the time and do the work.

Gamification gets past that obstacle. In my case (and I've tried several scenarios) I imagine being a warrior. It doesn't matter what day of the week it is or how I feel or what else has happened, the moment I go into that mental imagery I am in the moment. I can really get behind what I do because warriors (I imagine) simply do not have the luxury to not to. It works for me and I came across the right mental/emotional imagery to employ after some experimentation. I suggest you try and do that for yourself. Discover what gets you fired up and employ it pretty much every time you train but especially on he days when you don't feel like it.

Now more specific answers. For the first quarter training you'd be better served in terms of strength and hypertrophy you would need something like Hard Reset, Push Pull Legs, Strength Protocol or Ironborn.

For the fourth quarter Hard Reset Cardio is perfect. Designing cardio for a 12-week duration requires some creativity. Do what you find easier as a basis and then add to it. I follow roughly the same periodical year-round training that follows the seasons. My outside time in winter is walks with my dogs so all my winter training is indoors. I have a treadmill so I try to improve my long-distance running time by doing the Half Marathon Training as my core training. I then add bag work and weights training around it as time allows. Because the Half Marathon program has so many other components and it is primarily distance-based instead of time based it gives me the flexibility of doing it around everything else I do. I find running easy because I always used it as part of my fitness so it is not something that overloads me. It is that principle you need to keep in mind as you put together what you will do. Winter is hard on us because of the changing weather. We get easily distracted and depressed and our motivation is depleted more easily. By using something I can do without too much effort I make sure that my fitness activities are not overwhelming me.

With a little planning you can turn anything into a cardio activity that delivers endurance but because the length of time you put in matters now it needs to be something you can already do.

I hope this helps you.
 

BravoLimaPoppa

Well-known member
Viking from Houston TX
Pronouns: He/him
Posts: 51
@BravoLimaPoppa three excellent questions (and apologies for the delay in acknowledging them, life got a little more crazy than usual). Let's start with the first one. Illness is, essemtially, a dysfunction in out body that is caused by, usually, external agents that create internal effects. It helps to think of the body here as a machine. To run it needs energy and it starts each day with the same finite amount of energy. That energy then needs to be apportioned for living, thinking, internal functions and repair and (in our case) exercising. Exercising is an additional energetic demand we make of the body in order to help it change physically and become stronger than the environment we live in would normally demand us to be. When we get ill the body needs goes into high alert through its immune response. It then apportions a sizeable amount of energy to power the immune response, fight the illness and repair the damage. As a result not much, if any, is left to run the day-to-day functions of strength and muscle repair. Muscles, as a result, become de-strengthened (we become weaker) and our cardiovascular and aerobic responses may also weaken (our heart and lungs have to work harder for us to do the same amount of physical work we did before we got ill).

The smart thing to do is to ease back in like we would if we were off training for quite some time. We have a guide which details a lot of this. If that means restarting training slowly, cutting back on reps or intensity, then that is what is needed. The Covid-19 pandemic provided us with an excellent opportunity to gather data on post-illness training protocols and as a recent study shows. Easing back into training over a couple of weeks is exactly the right approach.

Now hot weather is a challenge. But handled right it can be an excellent opportunity to level up. The additional heat load increases the perceived load on the muscles and there is increased energy expenditure so training in hot weather makes you fitter, faster. Of course, it is not as simple as that which is why we have another guide on the benefits of training in hot weather and the safeguards you must take. Basically you need to watch two things: intensity of what you do and hydration. This means you need to be aware of what you are doing. There is no point in going on a 20km run, deciding to cut it in half because halfway you feel you're running out of steam and now having to return another 10km. So, plan carefully what you will do. Make sure the rest of the day you're not experiencing additional heat load (which may be an issue if you're already tired) and factor in adequate rest and plenty of hydration. I tend to go for 10km runs at midday when it's about 100 - 101 Farheneit and I don't bother with water (I make sure I drink tons beforehand). At the same time I have no issue walking back the distance if the return leg feels truly unbearable and a 'there and back' run with walking factored in is no more than an hour or an hour and ten minutes tops. No matter how hard that gets I know it's not going to kill me so I just chill and flow with it. Mindset on this is important, so try short duration training or shorter runs just so you feel in control. For instance, when it's hot like that I never run in isolated areas and I always have my cell with me.

Your final question is particularly important given the recent low-air quality events we've seen this year. The quality of the air we breathe is important for cardiovascular and aerobic health. If there are particulates or other pollutants in the air then training outside is bad for us. Physical exercise increases the amount of air we take in with each breath. The body can deal with atmospheric pollutants and other irritants, up to a point but after point it is overwhelmed and suffers damage. There is a 20121 study on this here. So, really, on those days you have no choice you need to exercise indoors.

I hope all this has helped answer your questions.
That did help.
Illness. I'm going to change my tendency to drop to no activity while ill, to yoga, walking and light clubs, maybe only 3 sets of what I'm working on, but not just stopping.
Heat - I like the guide. Thank you. In the meantime, I'll keep to short runs in the neighborhood, have the cell with me and not be afraid to say enough.
Pollution - Not the answer I wanted, but it's true and what I'll need to do when we get another air quality warning.

Thank you @Damer this helped.
 

J_o_h_n

Well-known member
from Dallas, TX
Posts: 134
@J_o_h_n I am really glad Dr Galpin's suggestions helped you. Needless to say the information he and Dr Huberman provide is mind-blowing and it does take some digesting. Before going into a more detailed answer I will make three quick suggestions of which at least one and maybe two, I suspect you're already doing. So: record what you do each day. You have a home gym, like I do, I have a chalk wall where I keep track of the day's workout(s), what I did, how long for, etc. Then I photograph it and store it in a Google Album (for convenience) rather than going into the trouble of re-writing it somewhere else. And then erase it, ready for the next day. So, suggestion one: record your daily workouts in a way that adds to your motivation. Suggestion two: have a means of keeping track of everything long-term so you can go back and check what you did same time last year to see where you are at in terms of overall progress. Now, suggestion three: have a long-term goal that has a strong element of gamification. All of Dr Galpin's clients have a powerful motivation that stems from their immediate goal which is their time in the octagon and the level of competition they will face there which, given the nature of their sport, involved the probability of serious injury. You and I do not. So it's easier for us to focus on how we feel on a particular day and say "it's hard to get going" and provide all the excuses our brain needs to disengage from what we do, which then makes our body disengage and then, in a cascade of connected neurobiological events, leads to diminished returns even if we do put in the time and do the work.

Gamification gets past that obstacle. In my case (and I've tried several scenarios) I imagine being a warrior. It doesn't matter what day of the week it is or how I feel or what else has happened, the moment I go into that mental imagery I am in the moment. I can really get behind what I do because warriors (I imagine) simply do not have the luxury to not to. It works for me and I came across the right mental/emotional imagery to employ after some experimentation. I suggest you try and do that for yourself. Discover what gets you fired up and employ it pretty much every time you train but especially on he days when you don't feel like it.

Now more specific answers. For the first quarter training you'd be better served in terms of strength and hypertrophy you would need something like Hard Reset, Push Pull Legs, Strength Protocol or Ironborn.

For the fourth quarter Hard Reset Cardio is perfect. Designing cardio for a 12-week duration requires some creativity. Do what you find easier as a basis and then add to it. I follow roughly the same periodical year-round training that follows the seasons. My outside time in winter is walks with my dogs so all my winter training is indoors. I have a treadmill so I try to improve my long-distance running time by doing the Half Marathon Training as my core training. I then add bag work and weights training around it as time allows. Because the Half Marathon program has so many other components and it is primarily distance-based instead of time based it gives me the flexibility of doing it around everything else I do. I find running easy because I always used it as part of my fitness so it is not something that overloads me. It is that principle you need to keep in mind as you put together what you will do. Winter is hard on us because of the changing weather. We get easily distracted and depressed and our motivation is depleted more easily. By using something I can do without too much effort I make sure that my fitness activities are not overwhelming me.

With a little planning you can turn anything into a cardio activity that delivers endurance but because the length of time you put in matters now it needs to be something you can already do.

I hope this helps you.
@Damer
Thank you for the thoughtful reply. As usual...you have given me more things to think about

Maybe this question is better suited for a future AMA, but here goes.

Strength vs hypertrophy.
I understand it is impossible to focus on one and get no adaptations in the other. Guidance for strength workouts tends to be low reps at a >85% of a person's one rep maximum. Without a fully equipped gym with 'infinite' weight combinations, I don't really know what my ORM of a given exercise is. Even if I did know it, my present home gym doesn't have the equipment or weights to let me work on it.
Do you have any thoughts on if it is possible to get a more strength dominated adaptation when the available equipment is limited to body weight up to medium dumbbells (which is more/less darebee.com :)? I am not really interested in bulking up to be 'bigger'. Adding some size is okay, but I'd rather get a more strength dominated outcome from the work even if it takes longer to see the progression because I cannot lift 'heavy' to optimize the adaptation 🙂.

As I am typing this, the answer seems to be in front of me when I look back at my training log for 2023. Over the months, I do see that I have increased weight (with same 8-12 rep range) for exercises I perform regularly over these months. So anecdotally, it seems I have been getting stronger, though it is hard to know how much without having a ORM baseline or way to test my ORM regularly.

Thank you,
John
 

Damer

Administrator
DAREBEE Team
Warrior Monk from Terra
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 650
@J_o_h_n this is also a deep question. The strength vs hypertrophy debate is only a debate if we're talking Power Lifters vs Bodybuilders. Or in cases where weight divisions are involved and there is a direct trade-off between size and endurance but strength is still required (boxing, martial arts and bob sledding are classic examples). For anything else the task is simplified significantly and so is the approach you could take albeit there are still a lot of questions surrounding the issue.

Traditionally single-joint exercise tends to increase muscle size while multi-joint exercise (i.e. dynamic) favors strength but not bulk. Recent studies suggest this is not settled however. Both single-joint and multi-joint exercises result in muscle growth and strength increase. As you say this is to be expected. You cannot, logically, have one without the other. However which is best for each type of outcome? A very recent study confirmed that single-joint exercise (think isolated bicep curls) delivers greater hypertrophy. From a purely adaptations triggered point of view this makes sense. The body senses a particular muscle group requires to grow in size so it can get stronger. Repetitive action triggers the changes that lead to that outcome. This, incidentally, happens to be the fundamental basis of bodybuilding.

We know that strength has a strong neural component so it is not reliant just on muscle size. The strength of the signal that gets through from the brain to the muscles determines the engagement of myosin heavy chain (MHC) which delivers mechanical force as the muscles contract. If you're interested in developing strength over size (primarily) then your workouts overall should be dynamic on a 60/40 split. So you're doing 60% dynamic workouts where you're using multi-joint exercises in your resistance training and multi-joint exercises in your bodyweight training and, roughly, 40% where you focus on shifting either numbers or weight.

Over time that would give you the best strength increase response without bulking up and, as a bonus, you maintain high-level functionality so you can jump, kick and punch without difficulty or excessive fatigue.

I hope this helps.
 

Damer

Administrator
DAREBEE Team
Warrior Monk from Terra
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 650
We're now, roughly six days away before I close this thread. Your questions, so far, have been incredible and they have helped me bring in information and studies that would have required several guides to bring in, all in one place. If you have any more on how to train all year round, now's the time to start thinking about them as the next AMA we hold is likely to be some distance away.
 

mavie

Well-known member
from germany
Pronouns: she/her
Posts: 658
Thanks a lot for the always interesting AMAs. I learn a lot from those.

I have a question from personal experience. I am very aware of the impact of the seasons to my personal well-being. I've been out of here for month now and struggled and failed a lot to get back into some exercise routine, even in summer although that's my high energy season. I am still thinking about what made it so difficult this time.

I tend to blame hormones or better to say the change of hormone levels and wanted to ask if there are known connections and even more important, good ways to deal with it.

It's probably a bit of a special situation in my case because my hormone levels went from normal to post-menopause in a couple of weeks. I had tested the status because i was close to insanity during that time. I believe chemotherapy probably just "switched me off" but doctors hesitate to make clear statements on this theory. Anyway, things more or less normalized again except the usual menopausal heatwaves and body deformations (i have a fat belly now, arrgh) and accepting the somewhat different me but else i guess i am done with this and i guess my hormones are probably a bit more in balance again.

Besides my situation, that's mentioned rather to give some background where the question comes from, i am interested how hormones in general play a role in staying consistent and maybe how one can have some influence or at least awareness. There are many other issues that mess with those little suckers, like the thyroid or else, so it's maybe interesting on a more general level. Thanks in advance.

:)
 

Damer

Administrator
DAREBEE Team
Warrior Monk from Terra
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 650
@Damer The above chart suggests a fitness assessment during Week 12 in Q2 & Q4. What would you suggest for this? Do you think the Fitness Test on our homepage, under “Cool & Useful” is sufficient for this purpose?
@PETERMORRIS966 The fitness assessment we have is excellent for helping you decide how to best pick DAREBEE workouts that suit your current level of fitness it is also useful as a measure of progress you have made which, in turn, allows you to adjust your workouts moving forward. The only caveat I will add here is that sometimes we can, for a variety of reasons, have a bad day. It can happen to any of us because the body is a complex system (i.e. a system made up of systems that interact with each other and affect each other's performance) and our internal world is dynamic (i.e. always in motion). So it can be possible to go through 12 weeks of training, test yourself and feel you've lost ground. Should that happen arrange to do the test again on a different day. In all likelihood the results then will be different. I hope this helps. :LOL:
 

Damer

Administrator
DAREBEE Team
Warrior Monk from Terra
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 650
@mavie this is an excellent question and thank you so much for bringing it up. Also apologies for answering a little later than I anticipated. As you will see this is a question that needs a fairly detailed answer and as luck would have it the external world severely impacted on my available time. However, lets get started. :LOL:

Motivation, as we experience it in its most common form, is a neurochemical reaction that is facilitated, predominantly by three neurotransmitters: Dopamine (predominantly), serotonin and noradrenaline. Menopause brings a number of hormonal changes to the female body with a noticeable reduction in estrogen levels and testosterone. So, theoretically menopause should not affect motivation and certainly it should not affect your motivation to exercise. But this is not what the scientific literature shows and I am going to use your question to not only help you better understand what is happening and how to deal with it but also showcase just how complex we are as neurobiomechanical constructs.

A science-backed article on Global Women's Health focused on the psychological effects of menopause and cited lack of motivation at work as well as in exercise, as a commonly reported (and observed) symptom of the menopause. This has been backed by other, very recent studies that consistently show lack of motivation as an associative symptom (or side-effect) of the menopause. So, what is going on here?

There are studies that cite a number of reasons (which I will link to here) but my guess is that the reason it has been so hard to identify why entering the menopause affects motivation is because there is a multiplicity of factors at work. The dominance of one particular factor or another is contextual: i.e. it depends on each person's history, environment, support network, social ties and so on. A 2016 study, found evidence that links changes to ovarian hormones and the brain's pleasure centers. Pleasure is a main motivator in virtually all life forms so the moment we do not feel pleasure in what we do (and in this case the study cited physical activity specifically) we are less inclined to do it and certainly we will find difficulty sticking with it. An earlier study drew more direct parallels between the reduction in testosterone that happens during menopause and something psycologists (and neuroscientists) call Implicit Power Motivation. Implicit Power Motivation as cited by scientific literature is "an unconsciously held motivational disposition to derive pleasure from having impact on others" so a reduction in this affects our sense of self-worth, changes how we think others see us, in turn it affects our behavior (and motivation) and alters our sense of self-esteem (not for the better).

More recent studies, still, have linked the reduction in estrogen levels and decreased dopaminergic functioning. Dopaminergic functioning "plays important roles in neuromodulation, such as motor control, motivation, reward, cognitive function, maternal, and reproductive behaviors." so a decreased function in that regard will, inevitably, affect motivation which, another study shows, affect the amount of physical exercise that post-menopausal women engage in.

Pretty much all of the above, admittedly complex picture, can be summed up in your sentence: "I tend to blame hormones or better to say the change of hormone levels". So your experience is fairly textbook.

Luckily we, as beings that have a certain amount of self-awareness, can intervene in our own functioning to some extent and this is where it gets interesting. A 2022 study showed that resistance training was an effective strategy towards combating the vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause. But in order to maintain the initial commitment to exercise that resulted in lasting, positive impact they needed a structured strategy that is no different to any of us who suffer from a loss of motivation:

  • Planning - try to set things up so the potential obstacles to exercising are removed. Try, if possible, to fix the date, time and place and also plan in advance what you will do.
  • Accountability - Make yourself accountable. Keep a diary, start a thread in The Hive, write a blog post. Maintain the mental and emotional commitment that is most likely to translate into physical commitment.
  • Support - Don't be afraid to ask for support when you're low or when you stumble. Try, each time, to identify the factors that contributed to, (let's say) not exercising and remove them or lessen their effect.
  • Engagement - Make your journey an example for others. Every woman will eventually experience the menopause. There used to be a stigma associated with it (and thankfully this is not the case any more) but a lot of men still don't quite understand it and a lot of women will not talk about it. Try and be the one who does because that helps many other women better understand what is happening to them and also encourages them to talk about it and, hopefully, this also educates the men around them.
  • Experimentation - Ultimately, each of us is fairly unique. Experiment to see what works best for you so you get the results you want. Try to better understand why. And, don't forget to tell us about it. :)
I hope this helps answer your questions and if there is anything you think I can clarify more please just let me know.
 

mavie

Well-known member
from germany
Pronouns: she/her
Posts: 658
Thanks a lot for this extensive answer @Damer! And thanks for carving out the time for it. :tu:
So i am basically on the right path (again) and the struggle continues. I was secretly hoping for some kind of magic, to be honest, but like always that's not gonna happen. Anyway, i intend to keep using the magic of darebee and the Hive and that is truly a lot.
:rstar::rstar::rstar:
 

Damer

Administrator
DAREBEE Team
Warrior Monk from Terra
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 650
I am now closing this thread and will move it to our Knowledge Base alongside other AMAs and posts. As always I start with high expectations but you guys absolutely rocked it with your questions! If this thread has value it is precisely because of each of you who participated here. As always I am grateful to you all.
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