“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” – unknown
Read that and ask yourself if you agree with it. If you believe there is no need to change up your training, then you need only stop reading now. There is a dangerous possibly this article will get you thinking about trying some different things
“Pain is temporary, glory is forever”
“Sweat more in practice, bleed less in war”
“More Pain, More Gain”
All of these statements are related to the beliefs of effort. More effort = Better Results, this is the deal offered. It is sold by zealots, fools, the lazy, and the blind. Working harder to achieve better results is one of the best sells in fitness. If someone fails to get what they paid for, the trainer/coach/guru can always back out with a simple sentence “you didn’t work hard enough, you need to try again but this time focus and put more effort in to it!”
If you have been on the receiving end of this advice, you may have wondered how much harder do you need to try? Come one, this person/product said I would get “X” by following their instructions. I did, now they say I need to try harder?
Years ago was someone who told people they needed to try harder. When they were unable to get whatever “it” was, I labeled them lazy. A quitter. A sissy. A day came when I found myself surrounded by “lazy quiting sissies” and I wondered if perhaps that was not the real problem.
By the way, if you look around and think every person you see is an asshole/stupid/insert problem or shitty title, you are likely the actual problem. I’ll save that one for another day….
Two legs of the productive training cycle with the Gym Movement Protocol.
The first leg is a method of training in which you minimize effort, test various factors, and depend on internal governing factors to guide training. We call this “Eu-Stress Training”
The second leg is where you do the same, but you add in external governing factors. This is known as “Distress Training”
This is the what this article is about, distress training. The above is a simplification, but it is accurate.
Distress training – when do you need it?
If you are a competitive athlete, you probably need it. If you are preparing for a particular challenge, you may need it. If you know you need to do it (whatever the task is) then you need an amount of distress training.
How much do you need?
Not much. In 10 training days some people may need 1 or 2 sets on just one of those days. Some others may need 3 days out of 10.
Like everything else, it is highly individual. My challenge for others is to place the requirement on the feedback of the body, not the social or bullshit egotistical drives to “be hardcore” or appear tough. Said very plainly – your bodies feedback is how you know.
Over the last few years some erroneous beliefs have emerged concerning the stance of The Movement and distress training. I don’t care for these misunderstanding because they are highly risky behaviors with very low pay off. These points remain topics open for debate, but I will need some bigger jelly beans put on the table before I change my mind.
#1 Distress training day equals total disregard for minimizing effort in training.
Some have taken a stance that their training can only be low effort/very easy or soul crushingly hard levels of effort. This is a common discussion I have with people the first time we speak for my coaching program. Surprise, surprise, many people harm themselves doing dumb shit on their “distress day” and the reasoning behind it was bad assumptions. When they explain to me exactly what and how this distress day was conducted it is plainly obvious it was not a distress training day. It was a beat down.
For the record, I do not see a need for any person to completely disregard the sensations of their body for exercise training. It simply is not worth it. Ever.
A Fire Fighter who runs in to a burning building to save lives is doing the exact opposite best move for his personal safety and health. He (or she) does this because of a duty to protect life, even at the cost of their own. Often the only way for the fire fighter to do their job is to put every sensation they have in the back of their mind and take action which could have lethal consequences. If they get hurt in the life of duty, it likely was doing something that had to be done.
Some dumb ass going for rep #18 on a mission to squat 20 reps and tearing a tendon in their knee is neither heroic, intelligent, or brave. That was simply dumb. Their body said stop that, but they continued. Reps 9,10,11 were very hard. 12,13,and 14 were marked with terrible depth, very slow speed, and shit posture. On reps 15 and 16 that whole body were shaking so hard, so read faced, but they kept going….
“But what if the fire fighter was doing the 20 rep squats to be better at saving lives and got hurt?”
Well great job ass hole, now your knee is fucked up. I suppose you are not going to be running anywhere will you?
Stop hurting yourself in the gym.
#2 Distress training means ignoring the testing process for movements.
This is the second misconception, a distress day means ignore all testing perimeters.
Increased safety and performance has been observed over and over through a wide population sample by addition of the testing protocol. Tell me a good reason why in training you would ignore this?
My favorite answer is “well on game day I have to do it even if it doesn’t test well”
Maybe true, and maybe on that day you will get fucked up. Tell me, are you interested in cashing out on game day or in the preparation?
Here is a better question for all of you lame ass people who are claiming your sport doesn’t test well – WHY are you playing a sport if it tests shitty for you?
I am grip athlete and strongman. Guess what tests good for me 5-6 days out of 7 each week? Deadlifting. Guess what the sport of grip has lots of? Deadlifting.
If you find you’re unable to play baseball because your shoulders have been injured, is baseball the best sport for you? Are you so fucking broke that you can’t figure out another sport to try?
There are hundreds of sports, go try some new ones. I will guess that a sport which doesn’t hurt you to play will be more enjoyable in the long run. Cue the limp dicks complaining how “golf sucks, I played high school football! That’s a real sport!”
Yeah, a “real sport” your fat broke down ass can’t play any more. Maybe go cart racing will be more appropriate for you now?
I digress, let me address the topic
If you are going to add an external governing perimeter to your training, you still will likely benefit from testing the movements before selecting them.
An example- testing repetitions in the one arm kettlebell snatch. Among us bone heads in the fitness industry it has become an accepted mark of bragging rights to achieve certain numbers with certain weights in 5 and 10 minute tests snatching the kettlebell. All of the macho bullshit aside, it is a pretty serious test of the heart, lungs, hips, and grip.
For many people snatching for 10 minutes at maximum cadence will not test very great, BUT snatching a KB did test good that day.
Testing the movement before doing the rep test, and doing it when it tests good can drastically improve your chances of better numbers and safer performance. I can say this with certainty from the experience I have gathered over 3 years of teaching and using this system of training.
The distress element is “I am going to snatch X weight bell for ten minutes, to get maximum reps”
The sensations of your body are still honored.
Once again this is how I use it and how I teach it. I am always interested in learning how other competitive athletes are using it, but if they are mediocre or worse in their sport of choice I doubt I will pay much attention.
#3 Distress training is the excuse to do all sorts of retarded shit.
This maybe more of a movement centric part. Often when people who know Gym Movement (IE: Know better) are discovered in the middle of some buffoonery, they throw out the distress training card to explain themselves.
The core error is no one needs to explain anything about what they are doing in the gym (probably in life but that’s not the point here). If you like to do stupid shit, or shit that doesn’t work – hey that’s cool. Well technically it’s not cool, but I don’t care too much about your lack of progress after I have taught you the right way to get it.
Distress training is not the correct term when you are doing the opposite of the gym movement protocol. Distress is a component of the GMP. If you are out fucking things up for yourself, do not label it distress training.
Words matter by the way.
How you define something is a demonstration of how well you understand it. It is your attempt to convey not only information, but how you feel about it, and how you want others to feel about it.
In the spirit of the above statement: don’t be a fucking retard, ok Bro?
So is it something you need more of?
If you are someone after more muscle, less fat, or general health centered goals you really have little need for these extra modifiers to your training.
If you are someone playing a sport, and you have an aspect you are not able to train often but must preform then at some point maybe. A fine example is one Frankie brings up with competitive mixed martial artists. At some point you have to take a groin shot in training, because that WILL happen to you in a match. It is not going to test well, and it is not something that you would want in the usual mix of your training. At some point you need a liver punch.
What most people call the distress model is not actually a distress model. They are doing goofy ass nonspecific shit with arbitrary conditions for success.
A recent discussion was with someone who wanted to improve his batting for softball. Pretty straight forward goal right?
He claimed he was familiar with Gym Movement, and he recently began using it to help with his game. He then detailed how he was using burpees in timed sets as a “distress training” for his softball batting practice….he contacted me specifically because he had some concerns that this practice was not working.
Please draw me a picture to clearly explain how a timed set of burpees will improve batting performance.
So what would be a useful example of distress for the softball player? What about a trip to the batting cage when you are dead ass tired from a 12 hour work day? What about working on hitting when you are fasted, or some what dehydrated?
Do those situations sound more realistic to the problems faced by an inter-mural amateur athlete? Sounds pretty accurate to me.
Making this work for you is very simple. Identify the problems you face, and address according to the “real world” specifics you must over come.
Another example – Chuck trains competitive pistol shooters. The sport involves traveling courses while shooting targets of various sizes. The fastest time is what separates winners from losers. All of these guys can shoot. The training needed is their movement across the course.
So we need to get them better at moving while shooting?
That was pretty straight forward, as was the problem. For the most part these shooting competitions are more of a middle age/older man sporting event. There are not many 20 year old men who can compete with 42 year old in terms of shooting ability. It’s not common to find “kids” who out shoot men who literally have been handling weapons longer than the young bucks have been alive. Shooting skills tend to improve with age, this is not basketball where the younger players eat up the older players.
Introducing lateral foot work at speed to a middle aged man is typically met with some problems. You can bet they had/currently have ankle/knee/hip/back pain or injury. That pain is not going to stop most of these guys from showing up to shoot on a game day. It likely can derail sustained training.
If you only get to see your athlete 1 day out of 10, and you have a shooting meet in 6 weeks, you have a problem if you “only” work off positive feedback.
Lateral work tested shitty. Maybe because it was too much stress? Maybe it was too stressful for the new movement? Maybe too harsh on that old rigid tissues? Maybe it was too distracting for them to learn new shit while doing the hard shit?
It didn’t test well, but they could do it. They could learn it and drill it. They paid a higher cost. More soreness, more risk. In this case however, the risk was out weighed by the reward. IF the shooters could sort out how to make these new speed patterns work, they would destroy their previous best times. I must reiterate these shooters he was working with were not newbies. These were already great shooters.
Game day arrived, and guess what happened? The shooters who worked with Chuck shaved off a full second on their times. This took them from 3-5 place to 1-2. They didn’t do what tested well, but they did what worked better. That is a great example, a true one too, of how distress training can be used for training.
To wrap this all together, distress training is a tool for competitive athletes and of skill acquisition for essential tasks. It is not (as taught by The Movement) a nod to do dumb shit. It is not an encouragement to get hurt. It is not an excuse for a trainer to be abusive to their clients, or for the client to be abusive to themselves.
I specifically created this piece for Darryl and his advancement as a trainer and athlete. If this helps you that is an added bonus.
If after reading this you find none of this makes much sense to you, then you likely have no need to worry about it. If after reading this you want to know more, raise your hand and ask your question. All that you must agree to is acceptance of being answered with another question. At the end of the day you must be the one to figure things out. Other will help you, but only you can decide what is appropriate for your body.
Adam didn’t really create a bio, so I’m doing one for him. Full blown badass that hunts Great White Sharks and T-Rexes, he’s most known for being a World Record Holder in several Grip Feats including the 2′ Vertical Bar. Hire him if you want to get fucking better. It’s that serious.
To Find Out More, check out his website at: http://www.adamtglass.com
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