Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sustained Heavy Breathing Training™

In my younger years, among other things, I was a competitive swimmer. During peak training periods, it wasn't unusual to be swimming 10 miles or more a day. Intervals constituted the bulk of our training, but fartlek-type training, and 30 minute swims for distance (aka "T-30s") were fairly commonplace. When I was 19 or 20, I swam a mile of butterfly nonstop with a teammate. It wasn't fun but, because I was in great shape, it wasn't bad.

second from right = a much younger me

Cardiovascular conditioning was not an issue for many years afterward, even with minimal training. 10 years of next to zero aerobic work of any sort eventually caught up with me however, and while high rep squats (20-30 reps) are certainly better than nothing, thinking that they are adequate heart and lung conditioning for anything beyond a very short sprint is foolishness. These days, I make sure to do enough sustained-heavy-breathing-training™ sessions that a flight of stairs, or an occasional long day of yard work or moving doesn't completely wipe me out.

In addition to the pulling harness, kettlebell snatches are an exercise I enjoy and lend themselves to sustained-heavy-breathing-training™ . At least once a week, I do something along the lines of Kenneth Jay's VO2Max protocol (Viking Warrior Conditioning), or longer timed sets. Once in a while, I'll just snatch for 20-30 minutes without setting the bell down.

Today, I did about 23 minutes of continuous kettlebell snatches with the 1.5 pood (24kg). Nothing special - hand switches every 5-10 reps and pretty slow paced (10-15 reps/minute), but I was plenty winded by the end of it.

I find it interesting that people (who spend far more time on keyboards than at the weight room or on the field) get all bent out of shape arguing the merits of "high intensity interval training" over slower paced aerobic work. I think it's commonsense to assume that HIIT and steady state aerobic work will NOT have the same cardiovascular adaptations. In my opinion, any reasonable person would conclude that some of both would be better than rigid adherence to one to the exclusion of all others. The bottom line is that if you are someone who's sedentary/detrained/untrained, then ANY kind of training is going to be better than nothing, and if your VO2Max is poor, ANY kind of exercise that gets you breathing hard is going to improve it... but what the hell do I know? Lyle McDonald is a much smarter man than I, and he has a series of blog posts concerning the interval training vs. steady state training issue. They are certainly worth your time if you want to learn more on the subject. The following is a summary of his series that contains links to more detailed posts: Steady State Versus Intervals - Finally A Conclusion


Bryce said...

20 minutes of snatches without setting the bell down is no joke.

I haven't done them in months, but 20 minutes of KJs VO2 max protocol at 8 reps left me . . . special.

I saw the 'tm' after your blog post and wondered, is S-H-B-T a protocol you or someone else trademarked? Where can I read more about it?

Boris said...

Thanks. I made it up - the "TM" is supposed to be funny, but I imagine if I could market it there would probably be money to be made.

Bryce said...

It certainly is catchier than Long Slow Duration, or 'cardio.' Heh.

What's your best SSST? I assume you've broken 200?

Boris said...

193 in April. I will try it again in the coming months and break 200.

Bryce said...

Nice job, Borris.

I remember topping out at around 160 in early '08. I have been lacking in my snatch training recently though. You're motivating me to get back into it.


Christine said...


This post is very timely. I am tired of the hype of trainers exclusively promoting HIIT when most of their fat loss clients are not even capable of it. It is all about attracting clients who want to do little for a lot. Not to mention you are right on that both is really essential - particularly for obese individuals with little daily sustained activity - I think if they have a cholesterol problem to increase HDL they likely have to have some sustained cardio activity. I think setting these people up for more of the same - as little activity as possible is a mistake. Thanks for the link - I look forward to reading more about it.


Boris said...

Thanks Bryce - I look forward to hearing about your progress.

Thank you Christine - I agree completely w. your assessment of the situation.

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