Monday, June 08, 2020

Fighting Fit Part 2 - The Seven Essentials by Badger Johnson

This essay is about the seven essential abilities (plus intangibles) of being fighting fit. It is a follow-up to Not Martial Trained, But Fighting Fit.

Consistency, Frequency, Duration, Intensity, Sustainability, Specificity, Adaptability plus Intangibles 

Including the ability to have enough interest and ease that it can be done as a daily activity and not lose appeal.

Including the ability to recover and do active recovery such that taking days off is not really necessary. In addition the ability to do it twice a day (such as riding to work, or doing two-a-day workouts) is easy and interesting.

Within a range duration can be as low as 30 minutes, and as long as 90 minutes but after about 45 minutes, there are diminishing returns with regard to training effect and recovery, as well as risking becoming a chore or onerous.

It’s well known among bikers and joggers that there is a ’no-man’s-land’ in training intensity where you are working too hard to allow good recovery and enjoyment or progress that isn’t available through frequency and duration (long, steady distance), and an optimal point for improving VO2max or burst which only needs to be done at infrequent (but consistent) intervals. In addition there is a ‘pacing’ component where intensity and recovery are modulated. Burst, recover, burst, recover while trying to decrease rest and increase tempo or intensity or speed. Various tricks you can do on a bike are things like moto-pacing where you ride behind a car and then break out and try to keep up that speed. This is something you can’t really do while jogging and it allows you to adapt to the higher workload by gaining experience and increasing expectations.

"One of the most important things ... is that an activity has to be sustainable." 

One of the most important things that allows the above attributes especially consistency and frequency is that an activity has to be sustainable. There is the short term sustainability of an activity often perceived as fun, and the long-term sustainability which includes the ease and enjoyment and lack of injury periods.

Some people have good sustainability in jogging but if they are not biomechanically able to do that over a long period without breakdown of joints and connective tissues, and the pounding of the feet take in this medium impact activity, it can’t be sustained well into advanced age as well as cycling or circuit training or even swimming. Interestingly swimming, though of high value in many areas has some downsides with repetitive injury and various issues with swimmer’s ear and problems with chlorine eye problems. In an ideal setup, a routine which included an indoor private pool without other people using it, a jogging track with high tech materials and a bike riding course without the problems of cars or other foot traffic, one could do 30-40 on the bike, 30 minutes of light jogging or maybe repeat intervals for 15 minutes followed by a swim of 300 meters and have a great sustainable routine that might not take more than an hour a day, where the intervals and swimming are only done 3x a week with biking being the mainstay.

Just like cardio-dancing an activity with high sustainability in the short term, it draws you back in so that you're eager to sweat and get over the burn and keep doing it. So Sustainability has two or more components. Short term, means compelling, joy producing and long term means you can recover and do it again every day. I talk abut how you should measure your activity in terms of 'sessions'. So I could do 330 sessions per year easily which is 26 days a month plus three weeks of two a day and barring weather, get almost twice as many sessions than a 3x a week faithful weight trainer, and weight training day after day is boring over 10 years.

One of the important things about sustainability might be that it be tied to a sport or a fun activity such that they interconnect and support each other. If you have a favorite sport such as martial arts, tennis, handball, basketball, skiing, horseback riding or even group games, and you find it is improved and enhanced with some base training it adds to the ability to sustain it over a lifetime.

Photo credit:  Shutterstock/Active Stock

The activity has to be something that can adapt to your lifestyle, your time constraints, availability of the activity (good roads or good skiing slopes or good running areas) and have that important element of safety. It’s important to consider that not all people thrive at the same level at an activity or at base training in general. Some people live to surf and will do everything and anything to get out there on that wave. Similarly some will find that downhill skiing gives a similar impulse or drive. Some of that might be due to biochemical differences or genetic gifts. (See the essay, The Safecracker and the Fighter, on high risk activities and being dopamine-based receptors vs serotonin-based receptors.)

Intangibles and essentials - by intangibles I don’t mean hard to define but things which are part of a support system, helping recovery and defining motivation and mental aspects.

Motivation - training partners. Drive, energy, urgency, payoff, high risk/low risk individuals.

Diet and tracking - diet requires good food selection, a purpose and plan and that requires some tracking of foods and bodyweight. Along with this comes intelligent use of vitamins and supplements.

Belief in your system and yourself - part of stress reduction and also motivation is that you have a belief in the efficacy and value of your training systems, while at the same time being able to move and transition as required. Obviously going out and doing someone else’s system is not as beneficial as being able to design and understand your own system. Part of this and of motivation is learning how to self-coach, learning what motivates you and what is de-motivating.

Mental aspects - moving meditation, breathing and self-affirmations.

Non-injurious - one of the most important parts of an activity has to be a low potential for injury.

Low, high and no-impact activities - due to the importance of maintaining bone density, we must include some medium impact activities and not focus only on low impact, like cycling and swimming and rowing and doing an elliptical. Sometimes one’s sport serves this purpose sometimes a fun activity can help, and sometimes you have to be creative or just find it in walking or stair climbing.

Photo credit:  Shutterstock/BigFootSLV

Rest and sleep - we improve with rest and the output of human growth hormone comes during periods of 45 minute naps in a dark room.

Research and development - keeping up on the research available to allow improvements in routine, rest, nutrition or equipment. It’s important to know when you should replace your equipment (shoes) and have the right fit in things (bike fit).

Cost - the best activities have low cost or one time costs. Some, such as gym memberships, fees, lift tickets, expensive gear can have an impact.

Breathing - one of the crucial aspects is the ability to breathe. You can use nose only breathing to center yourself and improve positive affirmations, you can use breath-hold methods to rapidly improve and test cardiovascular ability.

Testing - testing would include having an event, such as timed course, a fun run, a race, or an activity (such as swimming underwater for distance). It’s important to explore periodic testing as well as learning how to taper an activity so you can experience supercompensation.

Photo credit:  Shutterstock/Rey Borlaza

An aside about cardio, when I was in my late teens and was in good cardio shape, and worked at a pool, I would test my ability to swim laps underwater. The best I could do without training it (just tried it a few times) was 2.2 laps in a 25 yard pool. Olympic pools are 50 meters or 162 feet, versus about 165 feet with two turnarounds (which uses up energy). In my 60s I did another test, coming off of a lot of biking and elliptical work, and I did repeats of two laps in a pool or one lap of an Olympic pool we have here in Westmoreland. I was happy to see I could meet the kind of aerobic ability I had (relatively) as a kid. Of course aerobic and anaerobic and burst are used in fighting/rolling/sparring, so on the bike, with hills and sprints you get both types.

Base-building - why? - Base training gives you the energy, the biochemical traits, the drive and motivation to pursue all other activities. It gives a sense of well-being partly due to reduction of rumination and use of moving meditation and partly due to the release of good neurohormones. The best way to assure motivation is to have the energy to get up and go train and that comes with base building.

© Badger Johnson

Please check out Badger Johnson's other essays:



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