Archive for November 9, 2009

Let’s Look Closely at Training Intensity and Diversity, and the PARALLEL we can draw Between FOOD and EXERCISE!!!


No doubt everyone understands what training diversity and intensity means? You’ve all no doubt seeing the TV adverts for P90X and heard the words ‘MUSCLE CONFUSION’ uttered over and over.

Now I am all for diversity within the training program, but there’s a problem with changing things too much and it goes against what you’ve been told on theP90X adverts. P90X I think is a fairly good looking program. Lots of free weight and body weight exercises… I’m all for that and circuit type and metabolic type work… ANOTHER THUMBS UP from me.

BUT… I am not for anyone training 90 days straight and if you can’t get it done in 60 minutes or less, don’t do it. INTENSITY is KEY, but high intensity can’t be maintained too long, so keep workout session duration to 60 minutes or less.

The BIG Problem I Have With The P90X ‘MUSCLE CONFUSION’

I agree 100% that diversity is a good thing… BUT problems arise and results SLOW when there’s too much diversity and not enough allowance for PROGRESSION! Here’s a section I have taken from our ‘Athletic Body System’ Ebook in which we addressed this very topic ina  little detail.

Too Much Variety and Not Enough Progression

One BIG PROBLEM we see with trainees today is that they want to do EVERYTHING! They see some big clown in the corner doing a single hand overhead extension and think to themselves ‘that’s it! That’s the exercise I was missing, if I do that one exercise I’ll get huge and look great naked!’

Do you really think THAT PARTICULAR exercise is the key to your success? We seriously doubt it!

 Now one of two things happens in this instance.

1. The person does ALL the exercises he/she picks up along the way AND the ones he was doing before. Ultimately they end up with a truck load of exercises and this leads to WAY too much volume and very time consuming workouts.

2. The Person swaps between every exercise they see and never stay with any one exercise or combination of exercises long enough to adapt to them?!

SORRY. It doesn’t work like that! REMEMBER; You must be consistent with your training! Not only training frequency but also training type!

The old FITT Principle will go a long way to explaining this

Frequency: In order to make progress you must train frequently, right? Well if you change the session CONSTANTLY you will not attack that specific movement pattern often enough. Even if you are training 5 days per week you could still not be training with enough frequency if there is TOO much variability in your programme.

Intensity: Whether you’re training for fat loss, to gain muscle or to simply improve conditioning levels, intensity is the KEY! Since when did high reps with light weights and running at low to moderate speed for long durations become part of training for fat loss and developing a lean body? These are endurance training methods and should not be utilized by those seeking real world fat loss results or anyone who wants to develop a lean athletic physique. The body needs to be stressed if you want to see progress and we achieve this via INTENSITY, not by performing low intensity work for longer durations. So you must remember, regardless of what your goals are, you must LIFT HEAVY and MOVE FAST!

Time: Time economy. . you can train for an hour and a half but how many minute of that hour were you WORKING for? Seriously . . a set of bench presses takes all of 15 seconds. You rest for two minutes then another 15 seconds work. . hmm I’d say people work on average 6/7 minutes in their entire 90 minute session!? I think we can be a little bit more economical than that and fit 30 minutes work into a 45 minute session!

Type: If the type of exercise is changing too much or varying too much (slot in cant get stronger on an endurance programme) also training for ONE WEEK on strength and lifting heavy and the next week trying to burn ‘some fat’ and then the week after working on ‘your fitness’ is NOT the way to go! The type of training is changing too much! Stick to something for a reasonable amount of time! PLEASE!

Do NOT be under the misconception that if you stop doing you flat benching for 6 weeks that you are going to lose ALL of the progress made! Once you are doing a variation of a horizontal push for that time period (close grip benching or dips for example) you will ‘not lose it all’ I will reiterate a small point. . your body does not know you are ‘benching’ it only detects a big ass weight falling on you and will do its best to get it off! Think of REPLACING a big movement such a s a bench press with dips for a few weeks NOT adding to the session volume! It will however be taxing the body from a different angle and add to the greater good! Don’t be surprised if when you return to benching your numbers add up!

KEY Take Home Point!!! Do you really have to ADD that exercise instead of replacing it with something? Do you really think THAT PARTICULAR exercise is the key to your success? Get REAL! And Get REAL Results!


I want to draw a parallel between food and exercise so you can visually see the importance of training intensity and where training diversity comes into play. Let’s look at nutrition first.

With your nutrition you want to consume a ‘VARIETY’ of foods, but there are certain foods that are what I refer to as ‘STAPLE’ foods in your diet. The MUST HAVE foods and the foods you should eat daily… foods like green veggies, berries, fresh fruit, lean proteins, eggs, nuts and other sources of healthy fat.

Then there are ‘additional’ or supplementary foods you will consume. Foods such as low fat-low sugar (or sugar free) dairy produce , beef, seeds, sweet poatato, wholegrain bread, oats, salt free seasoning and so on. These foods please your pallette and help add variety and spice up your nutritional plan. They are not the staple foods, but the supplementary ones… they are the foods you occassionally consume throughout the course of the week.

When it comes to training you want to be on a STAPLE DIET of compound movements like presses, pulls, squats, deadlifts, push ups, chin ups and dips. Those are your money maker exercises… the exercises that give you most bang for your buck so to speak… and the ones you want to always be working on improving.

Supplemental exercises would be stuff like core work and smaller, isolated movements such as curl and extension movements. STILL very important stuff, but they should not make up the bulk of your program… 25% at most I would suggest! AND if you don’t have the STAPLE exercises in place, you have NO RIGHT to be performing these supplementary type exercises in the first place!

INTENSITY… Think of intensity in reference to quality. The foods you consume, need to be of great quality. Don’t just buy broccoli and spinach, but good quality broccoli and spinach. The same is true with exercise. You may be using the right selection of exercises, but not using appropraite levels of intensity when performing them.

Maybe you are using too much load or maybe you are using too little load and too performing too much low volume work…

High reps + Light weights DOES NOT = INTENSITY, even if you do experience fatigue and feel the BURN! Don’t be a fatigue seeker and don’t always be chasing, and basing your workout on,  the BURN!









Ian Graham, ABS Co-Author and BEST Body Award Winner
Sculpt Your WHOLE Life, Not Just Your BODY