Intensity of training: depends on what?

The intensity of the training does not depend only on the exercises

It is true that there are more / less tiring exercises but the same martial workout, depending on how we handle it, may turn in a normal, heavy or light one.

The discriminant is the way we deal with the exercises we propose ourselves to perform and if we have not already developed a good self-discipline (read Having discipline: do not contradict ourselves), the way we decide to face the practice could easily be determined, in turn, by external factors like:

It is for this reason that 6 Dragons Kung Fu stresses the constant research of discipline, concentration and preparation (read How to train with perseverance).

What makes a training session more or less tiring?

The intensity of a training session depends physically on:

  • The variety of exercises – Performing every day (or worse on the same day) always and only the same exercises, in the same way, is absolutely wrong; in fact, our body automatically forms a resistance and an attitude / habit that allows it to optimize the use of our energies in favor of a lower waste of resources; the problem is that if we want to increase our capabilities (and our muscle memory) this kind of practice will only limit our growth (read Same exercises, different execution)
  • The order of the exercise – If the muscles involved and the level of effort is not well alternated and distributed we risk to concentrate all the fatigue on a single body element, leaving the other ones completely inerts; we always have to calibrate recovery and work sequences in a balanced manner with an increment and progressive decrement (read 6 Dragons Kung Fu training sessions’ structure)
  • The type of repetition count – While exercises with fixed repetitions (eg. 25 times, 10 turns, etc.) can be run in a wider elastic range (thus distributing effort), exercises that provide the maximum number of repetitions in a given time, instead, force us to always reach our limit (the effort is therefore much higher); there is a big difference between doing 100 kicks in 5 minutes and executing the highest number of kicks in the same time (in the second case we have a variable, in the first a constant); the best method is to fix a basic (but increasing) number of repetition leaving the remaining time to everything that we can give in excess
  • The pauses and the recovery times – If we “lose” a lot of time (eg. 5 minutes every 10) between the exercises (moving, organizing the material, following distractions, studying, relaxing us, thinking, etc.) it is inevitable that the consequent effort and therefore the training activity will be lower; if we correctly prepare our training before its start (modes, spaces, necessary tools, etc.), we will make everything work more efficiently (even and especially recovery times have to be planned and not to be random); the same reasoning can be applied in terms of days of practice and recovery, if we do not give the time to our organism to strengthen our body (strengthening of muscle fibers, etc.) our effort will be always bigger and we will limit our growth
  • The training equipment – Apart from the obvious factor linked to weight, dimensions (etc.), the difference in effort can be accentuated by more or less professional tools / wearings, able to hinder or facilitate the execution of the exercises (read The basic equipment for training in 6DKF); generally it is preferable to use everything that makes the practice more effective and reasonable rather than extreme or bland; in any case, in the interests of misunderstandings, the most professional equipment is not automatically the most appropriate choice
  • Our state of health – If we are even slightly victim of any kind of malaise (illnesses, injuries, etc.) our performances are reduced proportionally to what we suffer but it is important to carefully evaluate the risks / benefits involved with martial practice; in some case it can help by heating / reinvigorating the body, in other cases it can simply mean worsening and / or speeding up our physical decay; in many situations it is better to skip a training session rather than forcing us to remain in bed for 3-7 days (it is up to us to be in confidence with our immune system and to know its limits and merits)

On the mental point of view, the workout effort depends on:

  • The importance we want to give to the practice – If we decide to strive to give everything that our body is reasonably able to give (speed, power, etc.), we will train in a very profitable way but if we look at the practice as a countdown we want to end, the weight of our training will severely increase (damaging our athletic education); for example, running on a tapis roulant, could become frustrating 10 times before the real end of our energies; the key is to focus on the idea to execute a better movement each time
  • Our concentration level – If our thought is completely focused on the idea of getting an improvement (giving the most and of comprehending the sense of the practice), we will not experience much of the physical fatigue of our actions and we will be able to perform the exercises infinitely better than having a bored / frayed / dispersed state of mind (a classic example is the practice of the forms, in the most cases we get tired much earlier mentally rather than physically)
  • The type of goal to be achieved – Without a concrete goal to achieve our workout will be focused (at best) on a slight improvement but if we have a real and specific result we want to reach, we will get there by constantly giving the maximum; this is the difference between jumping for jumping and jumping to dodge an obstacle, or to prepare legs to do an acrobatic technique
  • Our passion – In the context of a serious life-long training path, passion is surely not enough strong to replace self-discipline (it is inconsistent and scarce in terms of endurance) but when it is with us, we can do things that no one could do and without feeling any kind of effort; it is similar to concentration but taken to an extremely superior level (time pass at the speed of light); on the other side, when it is totally absent (or worse there is directly aversion) the fatigue increases exponentially

Same times, same exercises, different results.

Final notes

Let’s conclude the topic with a few tips and considerations:

  • It is natural that we can not always give 100% of what we can do but if we tackle the ways and attitudes with which we deal with martial (and / or sport) practice, it is certain that our yield will be drastically and exponentially increased
  • One of the most effective ways we use to evaluate the real difference between the felt effort and the physical one is to simply use calories consumption (if we do not want to make complex calculations we can simply buy a portable heart rate monitor with calorie consumption indicator)

In the next article of this series, we will see how to set the intensity of our workout in relation to our: level of preparation, psychophysical conditions and medium / long-term goals.

In-depth articles


Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Have you ever found large differences in terms of effort by practicing the same exercises?

Author: Master Kongling

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