Building mitochondria

Harald Motz

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Certified Instructor
I am trying to improve overall conditioning and specifically gunning for the 200 snatches in 10 minutes with 24kg/ trying to improve my TSC snatch score while doing it in a sustainable and healthy way. I am considering doing a half marathon in the future for fun, but I would start 2-3 LSD runs a week and complement it with 2 A+A sessions likely (or something along those lines).
- My preparation for the SFG 24kg snatch test was lots of heavy s&s
- I hit the SSST 24kg after the first round of Al's "lazy endurance" swing protocol

heavy swings with adequate rest gave me some results.
building up and accumulating heavy snatches should make it even easier to perform decently in the snatch tests not the least, because the hands are better accustomed.

I also feel that too many people think of A+A as "easy". It's not easy, when properly done. It is intense and difficult work... for 10-12 seconds.
... for 10-40 repeats. Not easy, but heavy.
 

305pelusa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Point taken, but by the same token, I also feel that too many people think of A+A as "easy". It's not easy, when properly done. It is intense and difficult work... for 10-12 seconds. Then recovery.
Never done S&S so correct me if I'm wrong.

It's not that it's easy. But the average intensity is much less. That's why it leads to aerobic results. So maybe you're going full force during those swings (100% for 10 secs) but if your rest are 60 seconds (at which you're just resting, so let's call that 10%), the average intensity is simply (100*10+10*60)/70 = 22%. And people on S&S rest more than 60 seconds, so I'm overestimating.

And now compare that to glycolytic, HIIT. Say 15 secs of hard work (80% of intensity), but you're only allowed just as much rest (15 secs of 10% intensity). That's an average intensity of (80*15+10*15)/30 = 45%. That's double.

So to get a similar training effect, you have to give twice as much of a time commitment to A+A work than to HIIT work. This is pretty consistent @NoahMarek 's observation. In fact, that's the whole point of HIIT. That you get similar training effect than aerobic work, in much less time, by pushing the average intensity higher.

While the conditioning (heart/lung) effect might be similar, considering the training zones @ali has shown, I think A+A has its advantages as you've said before (it has to develop much better strength and power, no doubt). But, as far as I'm aware, it does come at the cost of requiring more training time. A trade off I'll gladly do, but maybe not everyone can you know?
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
Yes that kind of makes sense, and I like the approximations -- I think the examples are probably close in terms of calories burned, or total hearbeats for the session, or other measures of total work performed.

As far as the time, I'll go back to my earlier statement that if I'm going to do true HIIT session, I need a warm-up first and a cool-down after, which negates the time commitment difference. But that might just be me.

Then there are the other considerations such as stress response, muscle fiber type usage, and training the body's ability to recover (which I suppose HIIT may do too, but IMO not as well)... things which tend to fall in favor of A+A to me.
 

NoahMarek

More than 500 posts
@Harald Motz I have decided to follow ROP by the book and to the letter for my first cycle on it. I am pretty sure I will be able to reach the 200 snatches goal in that time but either way, I want to do heavy snatch repeats in the near future after this program. As for now, my focus is on ROP by the book.
 

305pelusa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
As far as the time, I'll go back to my earlier statement that if I'm going to do true HIIT session, I need a warm-up first and a cool-down after, which negates the time commitment difference. But that might just be me.
The sessions themselves might take the same. But the weekly time you're devoting is still larger for A+A (6, 45 min sessions vs the frequent suggestion of 3, 45 min sessions of HIIT) in order to get similar training effects. HIIT is more intense, so you can make good progress on 2-3 sessions a week. A+A is purposely easier on recovery so you can hit it for 4-6 a week. So everything is still consistent no? Warm-up/cool-down included, HIIT is sort of the lifter's option for conditioning when most of their training is devoted to strength training.

Most who hit the sled/metacon/w.e. else they choose as their HIIT of choice, probably will do it at the end of their strength training too so they can usually skip warm-ups. And if they are people who cool down in general, the same cool down they were going to use for their session also doubles as cooldown for the HIIT, further cutting the time requirements. It's not uncommon for a lifter to improve his conditioning greatly on HIIT protocols with a quarter of the time he would've needed with aerobic work (be it A+A, or Steady-State).

I mean that's why it's become so damn popular in my understanding. By pushing average intensity higher, you can obtain similar results with less sessions/training time a week.

So it's not that A+A is "easy". But, on average (per unit time), it's "easier". This is a blessing and a curse. It allows people to hit it daily and make progress and feel good. But it means you have to spend more time on it as well. Would you agree with that in general?
 
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Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
So it's not that A+A is "easy". But, on average (per unit time), it's "easier". This is a blessing and a curse. It allows people to hit it daily and make progress and feel good. But it means you have to spend more time on it as well. Would you agree with that in general?
In a way, yes.... I would say it would depend on how broad of a look you are taking within the statement "in order to get similar training effects". They would probably do a similar job in preparing one to do a bout of hard labor or something, which is a good thing to be able to do. But looking more broadly, I believe (can't prove, but believe based on my experience with it and my intermediate understanding of the theory) that A+A develops the aerobic system better, the alactic capacity better, and is less stressful on a daily basis and over time, leading to better health effects and better "feeling good" results with a lot less risk of burnout.
 

pet'

More than 5000 posts
Hello,

Would you agree with that in general?
I agree.

Something I noticed: even if the weekly volume for S&S is higher, as you mentioned, you recover from it quite fast. Plus, gains are very persistent. You can stop training S&S for 2 or 3 weeks and start where you were without any issue. I tested that. On the long run, this submaximal effort is sustainale.

However, doing HIIT 3 times a week can be maintained as "peak performance" but you have to manage other sport session timing to get enough rest. For a while, I did 3 - 4 HIITs a week. In a few months (4 - 5) I started to feel global fatigue.

Related to aerobic training, I swam a lot while S&S. Both activities had mutual carryover. Then, once Simple achieved, I went a bit heavier for a while, until reaching Solid (40kg) then stopped S&S in itself, and started doing HIIT. My swimming pools session were not altered at all, neither my hiking abilities.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Kettlebelephant

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Comparing HIIT and A+A is like comparing apples and oranges IMO.
Both have positive metabolic adaptions (aerobic & anaerobic), but are very different in nature. Like always it comes down to goals.
Let's take sprinting for example. You can sprint for 10sec, rest for 10-20sec and repeat that for a couple of rounds. In the later rounds your sprints turn into light joggs. You will burn a lot of calories and increase your aerobic and anaerobic capability, so if your goals are that (better conditioning and/or fat loss) you can achieve it with a couple of minutes per week.
Don't expect to be faster or a better sprinter though.
The A+A version would be short 5sec sprints followed by ~60sec of rest. You can do a lot of those before your speed starts to slow down. This is much, much better if you want to be a faster sprinter and you still get the benefits of improved aerobic and anaerobic conditioning and calories burned.
In general HIIT improves your ability to handle lactate, A+A makes you more explosive. Choose the one more in line with your goals.

IMO it's like comparing strength and hypertrophy training. Both look kind of the same to an outsider and yield overlapping adaptions, but are different in nature.
You can e.g. do 8x3 or 3x8. Same amount of reps. 8x3 is much better for max strength, 3x8 will in general give better hypertrophy, both will in the long run make you stronger and more muscular. 8x3 will take significantly more time to complete though.
Anyone sees the similarities here?
 
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Harald Motz

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Certified Instructor
The sessions themselves might take the same. But the weekly time you're devoting is still larger for A+A (6, 45 min sessions vs the frequent suggestion of 3, 45 min sessions of HIIT) in order to get similar training effects. HIIT is more intense, so you can make good progress on 2-3 sessions a week. A+A is purposely easier on recovery so you can hit it for 4-6 a week. So everything is still consistent no? Warm-up/cool-down included, HIIT is sort of the lifter's option for conditioning when most of their training is devoted to strength training.
as a rough rule of thumb A+A is about 3 (+-1) sessions a week may last around 30min (+-15min).
A+A is HIIT, actually but a bit different than "traditional" HIIT. A+A is high intensity, as the weight is considerably high. Instead of interval (a fixed timeframe) Al uses the term repeat, to make a distinction, that the intervals change according to... weather, time of the session, duration of the session...

So it's not that A+A is "easy". But, on average (per unit time), it's "easier". This is a blessing and a curse. It allows people to hit it daily and make progress and feel good. But it means you have to spend more time on it as well. Would you agree with that in general?
A+A is heavy volume work. Yes a session may feel refreshing and looks so by the hr-graph. But doing heavy volume to frequently...builds up quickly. Currently I am doing some deal of A+A work and make sure, to keep other strength training on the lower side of volume. A+A could stand well as a stand alone training.

HIIT as a short finisher to a reasonable strength routine is definitely a great option. A traditional strength routine + serious A+A would be to much.

Personally I would not exchange A+A work to metcon training of the same timeframe.

So it's not that A+A is "easy". But, on average (per unit time), it's "easier". This is a blessing
it's not about putting more work in a time frame, but to forget about it and staying calm.
 
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305pelusa

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I would say it would depend on how broad of a look you are taking within the statement "in order to get similar training effects"..
Solely in the context of fat loss, faster metabolism and health benefits to your hearts/lungs/blood pressure. Which I would say are the reasons most people consider conditioning work no? I'm not talking about speed, or power, or which one builds more lactate tolerance, or whatever else. Those are specific to each so, like @Kettlebelephant, it's silly to compare them in those terms and that's not what I'm doing anyways.

Sorry if that wasn't clear.
 

305pelusa

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
A+A is heavy volume work. Yes a session may feel refreshing and looks so by the hr-graph. But doing heavy volume to frequently...builds up quickly.
Ok nevermind. This is clearly going nowhere.

My point was merely that I simply do not believe that you can get away with a much lower average intensity, spend the same amount of training time a week as with a higher average intensity protocol (like HIIT) and still somehow get the same effect. It doesn't make sense to me from a stress-adaptation perspective.

Nobody is doing HIIT 6 times a week, yet many, many here do S&S 6 times a week. So I don't buy for a second that, on a time basis, they're similarly stressful. And hence, I don't believe they produce the same amount of adaptation, on the same time basis. I think S+S is less stressful per time unit, which allows you to do more frequently, so you can get the optimal training effect. It's what makes sense to me anyways. That's what people mean when they say it's "easier". I was just trying to put it into context.

That's all.
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
fat loss, faster metabolism and health benefits to your hearts/lungs/blood pressure
My guess would be yes, in that case they are about the same. HIIT may come out slightly ahead on fat loss and faster metabolism in the short term (as I understand some of the studies have documented) ... but A+A might then "catch up" because it's more sustainable for the long term.

Blood pressure... now that's an interesting area, particularly for me as an older person whose father and sister are both on meds for high blood pressure. Mine has always been pretty good as 120 or less/70 or less, but 6 months or so I noticed it was often up a bit, to maybe 135/70.... I started checking again recently because I had done the 12 weeks of barbell with less aerobic and A+A training, thought that might have an effect in the wrong direction. To my surprise, it has been back to 115/65 or so. I don't understand it, but I won't complain! Could be something unrelated to training, too... I recently started breathing practice, and diet has been better.
 

Kettlebelephant

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
My point was merely that I simply do not believe that you can get away with a much lower average intensity, spend the same amount of training time a week as with a higher average intensity protocol (like HIIT) and still somehow get the same effect. It doesn't make sense to me from a stress-adaptation perspective.
Ok, now I understand better what you're saying :)

Nobody is doing HIIT 6 times a week
I did.
Crossfit 5x per week. Monday through friday with rest on weekends.
I came in earlier and did mobility, then 15min on the rower and 531 for my strength training (Mon, Tue, Thu, Fr, nothing on Wed).
After that the complete hour of crossfit which usually was 10min warm-up, 10-15min strength work (I skipped this, because it was unstructured compared to SS, 531 etc. and did some skill-work instead), followed by the met-con of the day and finished with cooldown + stretching.
I went 100% on every metcon, because we had a very competitive enviroment in our box.
I had some minor issues from poor exercise execution under fatigue, but I did this schedule for a year without any signs of overtraining. I felt beat down for 20-30min after the met-con, but afterwards I felt great and energetic.
Without any running, besides the occasional 400m, 800m or 2k build into a met-con my 5K went from ~25min to a 19min within 7 months.
After I quit crossfit, because I had to move cities I went to a new gym (non-crossfit) and they did a test at the beginning, which was done on a stationary bike. I scored a 10/10 on their chart and this is the gym that's responsible for the S&C for the local volleyball team that plays in the highest national league and is good enough to compete for the championship.
Yes, I was 23 back then and could recover from much more than e.g. a 40 or 50 year old, but it still shows that you can handle tremendous loads of work and high intensities without breaking down.
You don't have to do strength training followed by intense met-cons 5x per week, but even at 50+ you can still recover fine from 3-4x HIIT per week.
To give an example, I think @Bill Been is over 50, trains HIIT + strength and is doing fine.

@305pelusa to support your point, I did 5x HIIT met-cons per week for a year and S&S (by the book) 5-6x per week for more than 6 months. S&S beats HIIT in several areas (at least for me and my body), but when we just talk about the cardiovascular improvements (aerobic + anaerobic, e.g. 5K time, resting HR) S&S doesn't even come close to HIIT (again in my case, YMMV).
Of course I can't tell you whether my mitochondria were doing better on one or the other method.

I'm still young and already see that I can't handle the same amount of punishment like I could do 5-10 years ago. I believe in people like Al Ciampa, who tell me that in the long run something like A+A is better for me and my health, because he trains people for several decades now and has seen first hand what effect X type of training methodology has on people over time.


As a sidenote, I wouldn't recommend crossfit because of their exercise selection. High rep olys, boxjumps etc. under fatigue are simply stupid. It was things like that which lead to my minor injuries. The mentality is good though. If you were to do all that high intensity stuff e.g. on a stationary bike, the chances of injury via poor exercise execution would be minimized. Also your fitness (endurance) improves a lot, but you aren't really getting stronger, but all of that crossfit pros/cons is a different topic...
 
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NoahMarek

More than 500 posts
@Kettlebelephant Yet again, an extreme and poorly programmed case of HIIT is contrasted with S&S. Why not meet in the middle for more time efficient conditioning than S&S but a less stressful and more sustainable model than HIIT?

I guess I feel that with the rise of anti-glycolytic conditioning, people are unnecessarily worrying that they will overtrain if they push a little too hard (overtraining does not happen easily unless you are truly working out arduously over and over again) and resorting to thinking they must do A+A as the only sustainable model. I think a time efficient alternative would be to meet in the middle for most sessions (50-85% effort) for shorter durations (around 5-15 minutes) about 3 times a week. Again, this sounds close to what ROP prescribes the more I think about it. What do you guys think of that?
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Senior Certified Instructor
@305pelusa, stress adaptation, to use your phrase, isn't simple. We have different energy systems, and different ways of training stress them in different ways. If you look at one of my favorite running resources, "Running Formula" by Dr. Jack Daniels, he'll tell you that certain training paces aren't good for anything, and that's just one example. I remember from my running days that if I took my 1/4 mile repeat times down by 5 seconds per lap, he wanted me to triple the rest periods. It's not just "go harder for less time for the same results" - would that it were that simple but it's not.

And I hasten to add that those who know much, much more about how this all works than me will be the first to tell you that no one claims a full understanding of these things, but we understand enough and have enough empirical knowledge to have formulated theories about how these things work.

-S-
 

Kettlebelephant

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I guess I feel that with the rise of anti-glycolytic conditioning, people are unnecessarily worrying that they will overtrain if they push a little too hard (overtraining does not happen easily unless you are truly working out arduously over and over again) and resorting to thinking they must do A+A as the only sustainable model.
I feel you.
Like I said before, nowadays I'm using mostly LSD and A+A or similar routines like S&S with a bit HIIT in there once every 1-2 weeks, but when you come to the forum, especially as a newcomer, you can get the impression that everything else than A+A and LSD is not that effective, detrimental to your performance or even outright dangerous. I did my part in that with some of my posts.
That's why I wrote that post with the detailed description of my crossfit "career", to show people that HIIT is nothing to be afraid off, even when taking to the extreme like I did.
The fact that people are second guessing even routines like RoP (which IMO you're right falls in that in-between range), because they realize that it's not in line with the A+A principles and fear that it e.g. damages their mitochondria, is really bad.
We're talking about THE kettlebell routine here. It has, does and will produce stronger, better conditioned and more capable people. After reading through the forum you should be thrilled to try it and not be afraid that it might do you harm in any way...
 

NoahMarek

More than 500 posts
@Kettlebelephant Yes, yes, and yes! It is refreshing to hear that. ROP conditioning won't hurt you, it will make most stronger and healthier when done correctly, as will S&S.
 

offwidth

More than 5000 posts
HIIT is nothing to be afraid off,
Based on personal experience I would have to agree. While I mostly train in an easy endurance style, there are several times per year when I might be gearing up for an OCR, or a big alpine climb. During those phases I do HIIT for sure. Because I need to. And I am 60...
 
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