Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Inverse Saw Tooth

Yesterday I performed a total of about 15s in a planche position, 15s in a lever position and about 15 pistols on each leg and 15 supported headstand press ups.

These are cumulative figures, totals for the workout. These exercises constituted a couple of minutes 'under tension' for the whole session!

I felt I had more to give on leaving the gym. But this morning I am sore all over (called delayed on-set of muscle soreness or DOMS for short). On paper, what I did above looks trivial, but in reality this was one hell of a workout - and here is why.

If you imagine a predator such as a lion stalking its prey, you will see it crawl or canter along. At some point there is an intense burst of speed. The lion then mounts its prey and grips on fiercely as the victim bucks for its life.

Now imagine you are walking through town at night. Someone lurches at you from the shadows. Immediately you put in a burst of maximal speed. Once a safe distance away, you progressively slow your speed.

Welcome to the world of inverse saw tooth intensity (ISTI), which for me is THE intensity profile for a productive paleo workout. You can see the regular saw-tooth profile in the picture above (nicked from Wiki). The inverse saw-tooth simply has the tail at the other end (i.e. in mirror image).

The are plenty of training modes that fit this profile from High Intensity (Interval) Training to Fartlek ('speed play'). The key is to quickly take yourself way up near you maximal effort (unlike other exercises, I almost always perform sprinting at a maximal level given that it is such a fundamental movement), for a BRIEF period of time and then ease way off on the intensity.

You can simply target another muscle group or walk around between each activity to allow recovery. A typical activity might involve around 10s of activity with 30s to 1min of recovery - or if you switch body parts, any particular bodypart may get several minutes recovery time.

Science-y Bits
With an ISTI paleo-centric workout, you are working anaerobically (using the ATP-CP energy system), and with the correct choice of exercise you are targeting and thus developing the Type IIb muscle fibers.

Type IIb muscle fibers have a low resistance to fatigue but are capable of extremely fast contractions and of generating very high forces.

It is worth noting that you can perform a saw-tooth workout which should fatigue the other muscle fiber types and encourage them to 'drop out'. Thus enabling you to fire the Type IIb fibers. This is a technique endorsed by legendary paleo guru Art Devany.

Done correctly you get increased recruitment and some hypertrophy. But, be sure not to push yourself to failure. Think quality NOT quantity!

Increased power! Speed! Strength! All in less time! What's not to like? Less is more.


Chris said...

you inspired me...

I did 60 seconds total of frog stands last night as a start of my quest for a planche.

Sore this morning, specially in the abs.

Good post by the way

Asclepius said...

Good stuff! I am glad to be of service. :)

If you can nail 60s total, and are up to 3x25s then move on to the next variation.

Chris Sommer recommends finding your max and then halving it. This gives you your starting time for the next progression. I normally don't start any less than a 5s variation.

Are your frog planches straight arm of bent arm? If the former then try straight arms. The tuck planch is another planet!!

I normally work the planche and lever about three times a week. Sommer reckons you can train them four times a week - but due to other activities I am wary of doing too much.


Chris said...

arms are bent at the moment....just starting with the progression in that first Sommer article.

Asclepius said...

My advice is stick with it. Don't expect results overnight and go for quality!

When I started I couldn't tuck-planche for toffee. After a year or so on staight arm frog planches (which I could hold up to 30s), I suddenly found I could do the tuck!

It is also worth working the planche with a body-lever.

C U at London 2012! ;)

John said...

Nice post, my training is very much like this.

Full planche, nice!
Think I need to improve my wrist flexibility a bit for that!

I do like to do a tuck planche to handstand, then lower down to tuck again and see how many I can get (not many!) - going up is the easy bit

Another nice link for you:

old school

Asclepius said...

John - I just want to clarify - I don't/can't do a full planche! I just file such moves under the generic term 'planche'.

I do easier variations. Much easier variations.