Another installment of my hormone-based training series (posts here), testing John Romaniello’s assertion that different training modalities can elicit a certain hormonal response, the results in fat loss in a certain area of the body (see here for an overview).
After having started with density training – which I stopped because of some health issues – I decided I would look at dynamic training next. This is a somewhat more traditional training modality in that it is more of a continuous effort with big movements, whereas density training is more about peak intensities. As an aside: I am not sure that those two modalities are completely separable. I would think that a certain workout can be say 70% density / 30% dynamic or vice versa, but I dont think that a workout purely focussing on one hormonal response is possible.
Structure and Rhythm
Probably more important for the hormonal response than the actual exercises used (provided they fit into the general blueprint, ie they are “big” movements that involve as many kilograms of muscle as possible) is the rhythm of how they are performed. The basic structure of a dynamic workout is as follows
- Every workout consists of three (highly similar) sections A, B, and C
- Each section is a superset of 4-5 exercises, generally with 3 sets per exercise
- The exercises are generally in the 10-15 reps-per-set / 20-30 secs-per-set range
- There is a 10-15s break between exercises in the superset, a 1min break at a new round within the superset, and a 2min break between sections*
- The load (eg, weights) is such that the overall routing can be executed without going to failure, but without many reps left “in the tank” either
It is worth looking at this workout in a standard load/recovery framework for programming interval training. At the most granular level, the workout is structured similar to a Tabata (which has 20 sec load, 2:1 load / recovery). On top of this, additional recovery is added. For every 2min under load (which already comes with 1min of recovery), another 1min of recovery is added, giving a 1:1 load/recovery ratio within each section. After each section (the total load of which is generally about 6min), an additional 1min of recovery is added, pushing the load/recovery ratio slightly lower and 1:1, but not much (to 6:7 ~ 0.85 using the above numbers).
Based on my own “n=1” experience I would slightly alter the structure of those workouts, in that I would allow for 3-5min recovery between the sections. This would bring the overall load/recovery ratio down to 1:2, which allows me to go harder on the exercises. At a net load time of about 15min, a load/recovery ratio of 1:1 means that the athlete will operate close to the aerobic/anaerobic border (ie close to the VO2 max) most of the time, as the recovery will not be enough to allow for venturing deep into anaerobic territory in the next set.
There is one caveat with this change: maybe a “dynamic workout” is really meant to be a 1:1-long-duration (and therefore lower intensity) workout, and by reducing the load/recovery ratio (and jacking the intensity up) one might find oneself more in “density workout” territory. I will have to try this out.
After we got into the structure and rhythm of a “dynamic” workout (which I believe is the core of the methodology) I want to briefly discuss what kind of exercises should be used. In fact there is plenty of choice: the goal is to bring as many muscles – or muscle groups – as possible into play, and of course the bigger the muscles that are used the better.
So generally the exercises will be “big” multi-joint movements, and often even a combo. Clearly most of the movement will have a leg / posterior chain component, eg incorporate some kind of lunge, or squat, or deadlift, or any other movement around the hips. The other component – if any – will often be based around arms and shoulders.
So typical exercises would be CrossFit Fran’s beloved Thrusters (a squat / push-press combo), or lunges with some weight component (eg an overhead press), or kettlebell swings / snatches / cleans & presses. Really anything that gets a big part of your body moving. I am currently working on a list of suitable exercises which I will publish once it is ready.
*In fact, John’s timings are a bit more complicated. I personally believe though that this is a bit over-engineered unless you design a training for a specific person