Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Base of the Pyramid


High intensity training is all the rage these days, and it seems like most of my active friends are talking about the high intensity interval training they’re exploring. And it’s clear to see why high intensity training is all the rage: it promises great fitness gains in very short periods of time.

I’ve had many people ask about my low to moderate intensity training routines. If high intensity, or Tabata, training is proven to be so effective, then why do I not advocate this high intensity approach?
The answer is simple – the turtle generally gets to the destination before the hare. While high intensity training does deliver quick results, how many people can maintain this kind of activity for the long haul?

I advocate building a strong fitness base. By investing a few months in low to moderate intensity training, the body is better adapted to handle higher intensity activities. We can maintain low to moderate intensity training for the long haul, and then, if the proper base has been built, we are free to explore mixing in higher intensity training.

Fitness can be viewed like a pyramid. The base of the pyramid needs to be broad and strong to support the apex of the pyramid. High intensity training is like the tippy top of the pyramid, while the hours, weeks and months spent in low to moderate intensity training form the base of the pyramid.

Building the base of the pyramid helps to strengthen the joints. Strong joints are a foundation for our active lives, and particularly for those pursuing higher intensity training loads. The joints need to be strong enough to withstand the natural stresses that are part of staying active for the long haul.

Particularly for yoga practitioners, it’s essential to spend time building the base of the pyramid and strengthening the joints. While yoga has many benefits, strengthening joints isn’t among the long list of benefits. Especially those who enjoy holding poses for a long time in supported, Yin or Restorative sessions, the joints commonly get overstretched and become less resilient over time.

Some stress (pounding) seems to be good for the joints, and this New York Times articles provides a good summary of the latest research. For those of us looking to be fit for the long haul, building the base of the pyramid with weight bearing low to mid intensity aerobic exercise is sure to pay dividends!


1 comment:

Bren Murphy said...

Great insight - there's a lot of noise about high intensity but I've always been reticent due to injury worries - I am not very patient with recovery and do not like risking everything for short term gains. Great post - thanks.