This question comes up all the time and it needs to be answered. My apologies to the reader who might perceive this piece more as an advertisement than an article.
Russian coach, Andrey Kozhurkin, made a 50,000-foot observation on the two diametrically opposed philosophies of stimulating adaptation.
The traditional one is pushing to the limit: “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”
The alternative is to train to “avoid (or at least delay) the unfavorable internal conditions…that lead to failure,” or reduced performance.
Let us use strength training as an example. The majority of bodybuilders and recreational athletes use the first approach. They train to failure.
In contrast, strength athletes such as Olympic weightlifters and powerlifters follow the second approach. 1,000-pound squatter, Dr. Fred Hatfield, famously proclaimed that one ought to “train to success,” as opposed to failure. The differences between the American and Russian powerlifting methodologies notwithstanding, both countries’ strength elites share the same conviction that failure is not an option.
In endurance training, the first philosophy represents the consensus. Coaches expose athletes to acid baths to improve buffering. This is what Arthur Jones from Nautilus called “metabolic conditioning” back in 1975.
We shall go the other way: anti-glycolytic training (AGT).
The creator of AGT, Prof. Yuri Verkhoshansky, summed it up back in the 1980s (his emphasis):
“The central methodological idea of movement endurance training can be expressed briefly: increasing muscles’ aerobic power as a condition for effective utilization of lipid metabolism. To be even more laconic, training must have an “anti-glycolytic” direction, that is lower glycolysis involvement to an absolute possible minimum.”
This revolutionary methodology has delivered performance breakthroughs on a number of Russian national teams in a mind-numbingly diverse array of sports: judo, cross country skiing, rowing, bicycle racing, full-contact karate…
Broadly, there are three categories of AGT methods: Classic AGT, Slow Twitch Muscle Fiber Hypertrophy, and Q&D.
Classic AGT (Verkhoshansky)
It maximizes the aerobic metabolism in fast twitch fibers while minimizing glycolysis.
The good professor explained: “The exercises are organized in a way which allows the loading of the CP mechanism during each set and the stimulation of the aerobic mechanism for its recovery between sets and series.” Thus, the training is predominantly alactic and aerobic. “A+A,” as Al Ciampa, SFG has snappily compressed it.
One of Verkhoshansky’s original protocols involved ~8sec sprints separated by enough rest to stay below the anaerobic threshold, but it only scratches the surface of AGT. The science of biochemistry with its insights into the timing and interaction of various metabolic events has enabled the professor himself and those who followed him to develop a great variety of sophisticated anti-glycolytic methods and tactics.
Some templates aim at explosive repeat effort sports like rugby and others at less intense but more prolonged events like OCR.
Some maximize high speed or power endurance while others build endurance in “grinds” for wrestling, high rep pull-ups, etc.
Slow Twitch Muscle Fiber Hypertrophy Method (Selouyanov)
It works because type I fibers come densely preinstalled with mitochondria: building the former nets more of the latter.
In addition to developing this original method, Prof. Victor Selouyanov was a tireless advocate of Verkhoshansky’s AGT and made many contributions to it.
Q&D Protocol (StrongFirst)
It optimizes the metabolic conditions for upregulating the master regulator of mitochondrial growth, PGC-1α. It was designed to do what many HIIT protocols tried—but better and without collateral damage to the body.
Q&D and A+A (e.g., in its simplest form, 5 high power swings or snatches OTM, or on the minute) are highly complementary. Q&D builds more and bigger mitochondria and A+A makes them function better. (The technical terms are “mitochondrial biogenesis” and “mitochondrial respiration,” respectively.)
Enter Strong Endurance™
Strong Endurance is an umbrella term for a wealth of anti-glycolytic training methods listed above.
Plus select glycolytic methods, chosen for their effectiveness and a minimum of side effects. A precise dose of acid taken several times before a competition in a sport that makes the legs and the lungs burn is a must to make the athlete reach peak performance. This is called “glycolytic peaking.” It also comes bearing a whole package of WTHE (“what the heck effects”).
In summary, The Quick and the Dead protocol is one of the eighteen AGT training templates presented at the Strong Endurance™ seminar:
Templates #1-7: Fast and Intermediate Fibers’ Aerobic Training
Make your fast fibers aerobic—without sacrificing power and strength—for games and combat sports.
Templates #8-11: Intermediate Fibers’ Aerobic Training
For military, law enforcement, first responders.
Templates #12-13: Intermediate and Slow Fibers’ Aerobic Training
March or die. Lose fat.
Templates #14-16: Fast and Intermediate Fibers’ Hypertrophy
Build more muscle—while improving your acid buffering.
Templates #17-18: Slow Fibers’ Hypertrophy
A game-changer for wrestling and for training around injuries.
To give you an idea of what else you will learn, here is the table of contents of the dense, heavily referenced Strong Endurance™ seminar manual:
The seminar is taught both in plain English and in biochemistry terms.
I will wrap up with a quote from Prof. Verkhoshansky:
Endurance traditionally has been associated with the necessity to fight fatigue and with increasing the athlete’s organism’s tolerance to unfavorable changes in the internal environment. It was thought that endurance is developed only when athletes reached the desired degrees of fatigue…Such views linked endurance to a fatalistically inevitable decrease in work capacity…and lead to a passive attitude towards endurance development…“tolerate” and put up with the unavoidable unpleasant sensations rather than actively search for training means that reduce fatigue, postpone it, and make it less severe…
[Yet] the goal is not taking the athlete to exhaustion to accustom him to metabolic acidosis, as it is often understood in athletic practice, but just the opposite…to develop alactic power and to increase the muscles’ oxidative qualities…
So another training principle was proposed to improve endurance: improving the capacity in avoiding the factors which provoke fatigue instead of improving the capacity in tolerating it. This training principle was named “anti-glycolytic”…
Learn more about Strong Endurance™