Yesterday, I finished Ross Enamit's 50 day Infinite Intensity conditioning program. Wow. It was a challenge at times. Actually a lot of the time. I really like the philosophy behind Ross's methods and the movements and workouts he espouses.
His conditioning methods are geared towards combat athletes and this is a good thing for someone training for low tech combat proficiency. The best conditioning methods for low tech combat are those that are practised in the combat
sports world as its the competition environment that demands results. It is very Darwin.
Fighter Oriented Conditioning
Basically, the program is about doing full body movements at speed. This is generally the activity involved in combat. Ross talks about a fighters tools (his techniques and tactics) and his conditioning or work capacity. A fighter can only use his tools effectively when fresh.
It is not possible to use all your tools when fatigued.
What his conditioning regime does, is aim to delay the onset of fatigue.
Delaying fatigue will allow a fighter to use his tools.
This is what it all boils down to. It is very practical. This is real conditioning.
His Infinite Intensity program basically splits the conditioning sessions up into a 25 day program which repeats itself. The strength and core sessions are periodised over the full 50 days. I found that repeating the conditioning workouts was a good thing for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, when going through the program I would inevitably come across a really hard smash session where I would start off by going hard (which you are supposed to) and be totally destroyed less then a quarter of the way through it where it would just turn into a major slog.
The next time I came across what looked like another really tough session, I would in the back of my head, go a little easier than I normally would, remembering the pain of that last session. I know this is weakness and I should still go hard from the beginning but I guess I am only human. I am just being honest.
Sometimes, these sessions wouldn't be so hard after all for me and I realised after, that I could have put in more. So when that session came around again in the second part of the program, I could just throw myself into that workout and get more out of it. I knew where I could really go hard and didn't have to pace myself at all, not being sure what was coming.
Now I know I shouldn't pace at all, but honestly, everyone does it to an extent. Do you run 400m the same speed as 100m? I know I don't. So by repeating the conditioning sessions, I knew what 'pace' I could go and smash it out at the appropriate level.
it was good to do the same sessions twice to see what my improvements were. Was I finding it easier second time through? What were the differences in general?
One thing I noticed was that it definitely was not easier the second time through. I was kind of expecting gains between the first time through and the second time or some type of adaptation to the conditioning stimulus.
I was initially slightly disappointed.
Take for example Burpees. Initially, I found these to be very challenging. Any workout these were in, I had to work hard through. In the second half of the program, I expected to find Burpees easier, but they definitely were not.
But then I realised something. I was jumping much higher than at the start. I was pumping out more reps. But doing this made me hurt just as hard as when I first began them as I was actually working harder and had more ability second time through.
Even though I was hurting just as much as I was as the start, I had developed more work capacity. I could do more per session than when I started but still hurt just as much, so initially I could not see gains as I was expecting to not hurt as much.
Workouts that 'Flood' the Body
The program is four days on, one day off. Day One is what I think of as a 'flood' session. This was generally a session where I was using strength and cardio at high Intensity. This type of activity, for me, flooded my system with hormone rich blood and high heart rates. Day Two was running intervals between 800m an 50m. Day Three was a strength session using lots of single dumbbell movements such as the snatch as well as other excellent movements and Day Four was generally another 'flood' session.
Ross also includes numerous 'finisher' activities after a session just to finish up which generally involved carrying or swinging something. It is good mental training.There is also two core sessions every four days which I found to be very good. The core sessions work the entire core from the front, rear, sides and rotational. Rather than just pump out high rep movements, he includes some low rep, high strength core movements as well which I thought really made these session unique. My core definitely feels a lot tighter and stronger in a range of different angles.
-RossTraining compilation video-
The one area I thought was lacking in the program was heaves. Whatever you want to call them, pull ups chin ups whatever. I found my strength in this movement was waning, so the second time through, I would do some extra heaves after a session. I know Ross is big on heaves and can do one armed heaves no problem. Inside the book it goes into rope heaves and rope climbing and advanced heave variations, but that specific 50 day Infinite Intensity program just lacks them a bit I felt. As a reference note I can generally pump out about 16 or so overgrasp (palm out) heaves at any one time with no kipping.
Saying that, the program is just a guide. Ross does encourage and offer advice on creating your own program specifically for you inside Infinite Intensity. If I had put more thought into it, and I will go back to it at a later date, I would have sat down and really worked out what it is I want to acheive in a conditioning regime. This time through, I just liked what I saw and did the program almost exactly as written.
I didn't eat anything different or change anything else about my lifestyle except the program. I ate mostly Paleo which is basically only food you could find in the wild which consists of any meat, fruit, vegetables, salads, nuts and eggs and water. I also didn't take any supplements at all, not even a multi vitamin. I think this may have contributed to soreness, some lethargy and stiffness to a certain degree but I'm not sure. I can only compare myself to mates who would join in on these sessions.
So yes, I was sore regularly but I should also mention I was doing boxing and bjj throughout the week as well. These sessions didn't include any specific conditioning or fitness activity, only skills and sparring but this is still quite arduous on the body so it would have contributed to moments of some overtraining I would say.
It is really hard to think of any measurement I can say I definitely gained other to say I feel more able and I believe my work capacity for these Intense type of activities has increased. I feel that it greatly improved my boxing and punching and generally all upper body pushing movements as well as general all round lactate threshold, intense training capacity.
Its not the type of training where I can say I gained an inch on my bicep or lost 5kg of fat. 100 burpees for time won't cut it either as I now jump much higher which makes it harder and slower at the same time...
I would recommend checking his site out by clicking here if you train in any aspect of low tech combat such as the combat sports (MMA, bjj, Muay Thai, boxing or wrestling etc), RBSD or just want to develop functional conditioning. There is heaps of videos, articles, sample training sessions and a very active forum.
I guess it comes down to that I feel I can work harder for longer, delaying the onset of fatigue. And that is what Ross says it's all about. I give it two thumbs up!