We believe that fitness should be a concrete and measurable quantity in both improvement and evaluation. We use a method of high intensity training, using functional movements in as much variety as possible to build a broad base of general fitness; fitness that is applicable in every aspect of your life, whether you’re a cage fighter seeking to improve your performance in your next match or just looking to ensure that you remain capable, healthy, and independent throughout your life.
Here, we’ll explore that methodology a bit. We employ it, frankly, because it’s been proven to work very effectively for most people in most situations. If you’d like to know more about the various aspects in greater detail, check out the other articles in this section.
First, we’ll look at “functional movements.” “Functional” is a word which is thrown around quite a bit these days, especially in the fitness industry. In fact, it’s used so much it’s become a bit of a buzzword, and buzzwords tend to lose real meaning; you hear them enough, they become fillers in sentences. So let’s define it.
Functional movements are the movements of life, based upon the natural mechanics of the human body. These are the movements and ranges of motion your body is not only designed to, but frequently obliged to perform in daily life. Have you ever had to pick something up off of the ground? Guess what, that’s a dead lift. Ever had to put something up on a high shelf? Well, that’s an overhead press. If you’ve ever had to get something heavy from the ground and load it into the back of a truck, say a big bag of dog food, then you probably executed a lift called a clean, without even realizing it. We use these movements for training for these very reasons; not only are they movement mechanics which your body is already built to execute, but using them for training purposes will allow you to translate the fitness you build into these activities of daily life more easily, so that you can safely pick up heavier things, more easily put them onto high shelves, and load something like a bag of cement mix into a truck as easily as you would that bag of dog food.
This brings us to the second defining characteristic of functional movements; they’re safe. Executed with a dose of common sense, especially under the supervision of a qualified trainer, these movements provide just about the safest way to train. Imagine you’re doing dead lifts (a lift in which you grasp a barbell resting on the ground and stand up with it), and you decide to lift the heaviest load you ever have in your life. You put 100lbs more on the bar than you’ve ever lifted, and try to pick it up. How dangerous do you suppose trying to do a dead lift well beyond your capacity is? That’s right, it’s extremely safe; if the weight is too heavy for you to move, it just lays there.
The last key element of functional movements we’ll mention here is their unique capacity to move large loads quickly over long distances. When we say “long distances” in this context, we don’t mean carrying heavy things for a mile, though training with us will certainly improve your capacity in that regard. What we’re talking about is average power production, that is; how much power output (as in horsepower) can you generate in a given amount of time by moving a heavy load through a particular range of motion? Again, this goes back to the fact that these movements are based upon natural body mechanics.
The next portion of our method we’ll examine is “high intensity.” In terms of physics, the amount of work done per unit time is defined as power. Taking that measure over a length of time and then averaging gives us the average power output of the system. This is what we’re after with our fitness training, the Holy Grail; increasing our average power production during workouts. While it is not properly a term in physics; in the realm of human performance, we shorthand this relationship between work and average power production as “intensity.” (If you’re interested, in physics intensity has to do with transfer of energy through a surface).
When we talk about absolute intensity, we’re discussing this mathematical relationship. What’s more important to consider when we’re trying to build and improve our fitness is “relative intensity.” At the highest relative intensity, a person is pushing through their workout as hard as they can while trying to maintain good form; they could not run any faster nor move the weight any more quickly. They are working at the limits of their physical and mental capacity. If an Army Ranger and a 60 year old grandmother perform the same workout (scaled to their physical capabilities), then the Ranger would, one assumes, have a much higher intensity. However, if grandma is pushing as hard as she safely can, then we would say that their relative intensities are equal, and the workout was just as effective and the results just as valuable for each athlete.
The final portion of our method left to discuss, “as much variety as possible,” is mostly self-explanatory; it means exactly what it sounds like, that the particular movement of which each day-to-day workout is comprised are varied widely from day to day, as much as is possible and sensible with consideration to fitness goals and recovery time.
It is important to note that “variety” doesn’t mean “random.” It would make very little sense for an athlete to do heavy back squats for two days in a row, let alone five days in a row, but in a situation of random training programming such things could happen. Or more likely, heavily taxing workloads on the same muscle group over several consecutive days, such as a doing 50 push-presses one day, one-rep max of overhead press the next, and then heavy clean and jerks on the third.
Within the bounds of sensible programming, however, the more widely we vary the stimulus presented to the body, the more quickly it must adapt to the new stresses training puts upon it, and the faster you’ll build improvements to your overall fitness.
So, there you have it. High intensity training, using functional movements in as much variety as possible… one of, if not the, most powerful and effective training methodologies around contained in twelve simple words.
What is “Fitness?”
We’ve talked a bit about how we approach fitness in our methodology; that we employ high intensity training, using functional movements in as much variety as possible. The next logical question is, does this make us fit? To answer it, we first have to define “fitness,” which oddly enough isn’t usually defined very well, especially considering how important it is not only to our general health as individuals, but also to countless vocations and recreational pursuits.
If you look online to find a definiton of “fitness,” you come up with several results. Webster’s Dictionary defines fitness in terms of natural selection; the ability to pass on genes and “be healthy.” Generally true, granted, but no use in grading the value of a training program. Googling “what is fitness?” gets you a few other similarly non-quantifiable definitions among the top hits, starting with Google’s web-definition search.
To judge a training program in quantifiable terms, you have to first select a performance-related variable to track, and as human physical performance is firmly in the field of motion mechanics, physics presents us with the perfect choice: power production. Power production refers to the amount of mechanical work an athlete can perform as defined by Newtonian physics (it’s very unlikely that any athlete will become so fast and powerful that we have to bring Relativity into the picture, but you never know. 🙂 ).
Power production alone is not sufficient to define human performance, of course, because another essential (and equally quantifiable) element is the temporal interval during which that power is produced. “Temporal interval” just means the interval of time over which you’re performing a given amount of work. For instance, a single rep of a very heavy lift, say a heavy back squat, is a work interval of a couple of seconds, but in those seconds you’re moving a very heavy weight. In the middle of the spectrum, you have the execution of 50 pull-ups or push-ups, where you’re moving (presumably) less weight per rep, but doing many reps over several minutes. Finally, there is much less intense work, for instance running, which you can sustain over many minutes. So now our question becomes, over how long a temporal interval, or more importantly how many ranges of temporal intervals, can a fit person sustain maximum power production? In our view, the answer is that the wider the range of intervals in which you can be effective, the more fit you are.
Since we’re talking about applying our definition to actual human activity and not pure mathematics, there is one more element to consider; the continuum of activities in which you can engage to produce mechanical power. “Continuum of activities” simply refers to the particular movements and combinations of physical skills which describe all the things we do; are you rock climbing? Rowing? Grappling? Swimming? Working as a police officer or firefighter? All of these things are intensely physical, and the greater number of different activities which you can perform competently, the more complete your fitness is by our definition. Someone who trains exclusively with very heavy weights will excel at any physical task which demands only that skill, whereas one of our athletes, with a more complete training program, might not be able to lift quite as heavy a load, but could lift and move 30% of his maximum possible load more times in several minutes.
Now, we have a working definition of fitness; in how many arbitrarily defined temporal intervals, and in how wide a continuum of activity, can a person maximize their mechanical power production? While that’s a bit of a mouthful, it’s pretty straightforward to apply, all we need are some yardsticks, some models against which our definition of fitness can be measured as a standard in our training. There are three excellent models which exist independently of our methodology, and they’re the ones we choose to judge our performance against. We’ll cover these one by one.
Firstly, there are the ten domains of fitness. In simplest terms, these are the ten elements of which all physical activity is composed. While a great many activities heavily involve only one or two domains (for instance powerlifting is all about strength and power), all activity includes some aspect of all ten. These ten domains are:
- Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance: The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
- Stamina: The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
- Strength: The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.
- Flexibility: The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.
- Power: The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
- Speed: The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.
- Coordination: The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
- Agility: The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
- Balance: The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base.
- Accuracy: The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.
Consider any physical movement, any at all, and you’ll be able to identify the above domains as part of that movement. Throwing a baseball, for instance, involves Strength, Power, Coordination, Accuracy and Balance very heavily, while Speed (in terms of these definitions, Speed does not refer to the speed of the pitch, that’s a function of Power and Coordination, Speed as we define it here would only apply if one were attempting to throw multiple pitches in quick succession), Endurance, Agility, Stamina, and Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance are very minimal.
Because every activity involves at least one of these domains, and because most activities involve several domains, maximizing power production within our definition of fitness inherently means that you must be competent in all of these domains of fitness in order to be fit by our standards; if you are limited in your competency in the domains of fitness, you are limited in the continuum of activities in which you can effectively engage. Any fitness training program which does not incorporate and work to improve all ten domains of fitness will fail to develop and widen your continuum.
That’s a core philosophy of our methodology; we seek to make people as capable as possible in all the elements of any physical activity, so that faced with any conceivable physical task, they will be better equipped to handle it, in terms of their fitness, than anyone not so physically prepared.
This brings us to the second model which can be used as a standard for this definition of fitness. Imagine a computer program loaded with thousands and thousands of different tasks, which randomly selects and displays these tasks on the screen. What you essentially have is a vast pool of different physical activities, and you are randomly picking from this pool and executing each selected task. The better a person can perform at each randomly selected task, with its different demands in different domains of fitness, the more fit they are by our definition. That is, the better prepared they are not just for any general but familiar physical task, but for any unknown and unfamiliar task, the better off (the more “fit”) they are. This is another of our core philosophies; it is more valuable to be a generalist, rather than a specialist, when it comes to fitness.
Obviously, activity-specific training is something which is factored in as an assumed equality in this definition. That is, clearly a race-car driver who is not as fit by our standards will be a much better driver than someone who is extremely fit by our standards but who has never driven a race-car. However, because of their higher level of general fitness in reflexes, strength, endurance, and coordination, someone fit by our standards will be better prepared to drive a race-car than someone else who is equally inexperienced but is unfit. Similarly, a highly experienced race-car driver who is also fit by our standards has an edge over an equally experienced but less fit driver.
The final model against which we may judge fitness are the three metabolic pathways of the human body. These are the three chemical processing chains through which any and all nutrients destined to become fuel are processed, stored, and delivered to our cells. The ultimate product of these three pathways are the same; they produce the molecule our bodies use for fuel in all cellular activity, which is adenosine-5-triphosphate (or ATP for short). In human metabolism, ATP is synonymous with energy. The difference in the three pathways is the time interval over which they deliver energy, and the percentage of total energy being delivered.
The first pathway is the phosphagen/creatine pathway. This pathway provides the vast majority of “short burst” energy, and when we say short burst here we’re speaking of only a few seconds. Heavy weightlifting, and other very brief, powerful, explosive activities are fueled by the phosphagen/creatine pathway.
The second pathway is the glycolytic pathway, and this delivers energy for moderately-powerful activity, sustained over several minutes. Activities such as a 400m run or a 500m row would be powered by the glycolytic pathway.
The final pathway is the oxidative pathway. This pathway never stops, and never runs out, but provides the least amount of energy per unit time of the three; very low-power activities such as walking or jogging are powered by the oxidative pathway. Presuming that you had access to reliable and accessible source of fuel as you sustained these activities, you could continue executing them for very very long periods of time; if you could eliminate the need for sleep you could sustain them indefinitely, metabolically speaking.
As you can probably see, then, this standard evaluates the portion of our definition of fitness which requires that we can maximize power production not just across a wide continuum of activity, but in as many arbitrarily defined temporal intervals as possible. Like nearly all the body’s systems, it’s ability to process and deliver energy can be improved and refined by placing increasing demands upon those systems. Any training program which neglects one of these energy delivery pathways, for instance someone who regularly runs long distances but never does any heavy weightlifting, will leave a person with a very diminished capacity in the neglected metabolic pathway and therefore in the time domain it is responsible for powering.
These are the basics of our definition of fitness, and the standards by which we judge that definition. It has the distinct advantage of being not only quantifiable, but of applying to more situations more frequently encountered in everyday life than almost any other definition of which I’m aware. That is to say, the general level of fitness which we strive to improve is more often useful than a more narrowly defined fitness one might build with a weightlifting-only or a cardio-only program. It is my hope that, upon sampling the degree and type of fitness you build with us and seeing its impact upon your daily life, you’ll agree.
In our training (and if and when you start to use resources like the internet to research our method on your own), you’re going to encounter quite a few terms, especially in the forms of initializations and acronyms, which will be unfamiliar to you. There are also, of course, all the various lifts and movements which might be new to you. I thought it would be helpful to list some of them here. This way, when you go and look at the workout blog, more of what you see there should make sense. 🙂
3-3-3, 5-5-5 –
“Three across” or “three by three,” and “five across” or “three by five.” This notation in a workout means that the goal is to complete the specified number of reps for the specified number of sets for the assigned lift. In the case of three across, it’s three sets of three reps, and would be three sets of five for five across. Similarly, a workout which is structured 3-3-3-3-3 would be “five by three.” (though five sets or higher is usually written as Sets x Reps, as in “5×3”)
1RM, 3RM, 5RM –
“One Rep Max,” “Three Rep Max,” and “Five Rep Max,” this notation in a workout means the goal is to reach the maximum weight for the specified lift which you can complete for the specified number of reps.
An acroym for “as many rounds as possible.” This term is applied to workouts which are constructed with a set amount of time (usually 20 minutes), during which you attempt to complete as many cycles of a given set of movements as you can. For example, a workout which is AMRAP in 20 minutes of 5 Pull-Ups, 10 Push-Ups, and 15 Squats, means you complete as many complete rounds of that set of 5,10,and 15 of each movement as you can in the alloted time.
There are also a couple of instances where AMRAP is short for “As Many Reps As Possible,” but the intention is the same, simply referring to reps of a single movement rather than a round composed of several movements.
One of the Olympic lifts. The Clean involves moving a weight (usually a barbell) from the ground to the shoulders (known as the rack position) in one explosive movement. Setting up like a deadlift, the Clean is begun with the “1st pull,” identical to the Deadlift. As the barbell reaches mid-thigh, the lifter explosively drives his hips open and shrugs his shoulders upward, giving the bar upward momentum (this is known as the “2nd pull”). The lifter then drops under the bar, shifting his feet to the squat stance and dropping into the bottom of the squat, catching the barbell in the rack position. This is often referred to as the “3rd Pull,” as in the athlete pulling himself under the bar. The lift is completed by standing back upright. A good example of the Clean can be found in this video, though the initial lift has some flaws (mainly, the 2nd pull occurring too early in the lift). They are clearly corrected in the second lift shown, and this is a very good example of a well-executed clean.
There are several variations of the Clean, including the Hang Clean and the Power Clean.
The Deadlift moves a load (usually a barbell) from the ground to hip height, and is driven entirely by the lower body. The spine is kept in extension, and the arms hang neutrally, serving only to transfer the energy from the drive of the lower body to the load. Usually representative of the heaviest weight an athlete can move, proper form can allow an athlete to move three times their bodyweight, often more. This video is an excellent example of the deadlift.
Metcon is short for “Metabolic Conditioning.” This term describes workouts which are designed not to improve maximal strength (though like most of our workouts they are multi-dimensional and can certainly have that effect), but to improve the body’s oxygen- and energy-delivery systems. Because of the second component, taxing energy-delivery and storage systems along all three metabolic pathways, we use the term “metcon” rather than “cardio” to describe these workouts.
PR is short for “Personal Record.” The best you’ve ever performed for any particular lift, or for any particular workout. This is the short-term goal we always chase in our program; striving for a new PR for all the workouts and lifts which we do not only shows our rapid short-term progress, but helps us strive over the long term to achieve an elite level of fitness. Attaining a new PR i always a fantastic feeling!
Short for “Paleolithic Diet.” The concept of the Paleolithic Diet is this: the amount of time which has passed since the advent of agriculture, which brought high-density carbohydrate food items like grains and starchy tubers, as well as dairy items, into our diets is insignificant on an evolutionary scale. In other words, our body’s systems, and our digestive system in particular, are better suited to processing the foods and nutrient composition of a diet more like that of pre-agricultural humans; more lean meats, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and fruits. Those who strictly follow the paleo diet forego grains and all grain products, dairy, and any processed foods.
Short for “as prescribed.” This term is used to note, in your workout results, that you completed a the workout as written with no scaling or substitutions.
Short for “repetition.” One rep is one complete cycle of any given movement. For instance, one rep of a squat is starting from the standing position, descending into the bottom of the squat, and standing back up into the starting position.
Scaling refers to adjusting a workout such that it is possible, though still challenging, for people at different relative levels of fitness to complete it. A long-time athlete might complete a workout as Rx’d, while a person with no fitness background might reduce the number of rounds, reduce the weight of the weighted movements, substitute movements, or all three to bring the workout into the range of their capability while retaining the desired fitness-building stimuli.
Describes one cycle of a specified number of repetitions for a movement or a combination of movements. For example, a workout which is written as “Back Squat 5-5-5-5-5,” is 5 sets of Back Squats, each set comprised of 5 reps. Similarly, a workout written as “21-15-9 of Thrusters and Pull-Ups” means the first set is 21 reps of Thrusters followed by 21 reps of Pull-Ups, the second set is 15 of each, and the third set is 9 of each.
Vibram Five Fingers (“VFFs”) are a type of shoe which are designed to offer the performance advantages of being barefoot, while still offering protection for the feet. Much as with the Paleo diet, the premise of VFFs is that humans performed the activities of daily life, including all athletic endeavors, for far longer being barefooted or with very thin and simple shoes than with the highly cushioned shoes of today, and that our feet are healthier and our balance, speed, coordination and strength are superior when we train in this way, and that the joints, tendons, and muscles of the feet remain healthier for it. With pockets for each toe, and with a very thin and uncushioned sole, VFFs are an excellent choice for anyone who prescribes to this view of fitness training.
Acronym for “Workout Of The Day.” The WOD is the workout which is assigned each day.
Short for “The Zone Diet.” Developed by Dr. Barry Sears, the Zone Diet is a method of controlling calorie intake and, more importantly, macro-nutrient ratios. It divides all food items into “blocks,” block quantities being defined for the macro-nutrients of protein, carbohydrates, and fats as 7 grams, 9 grams, and 1.5 grams respectively. Using these values, people who follow the Zone Diet build their meal plans using a calculated number of blocks each day; a person on a 15-block plan would eat 15 blocks of each macro-nutrient over the course of the day, divided however they choose, but always in equal proportion at each meal. The specific quantity of a block for any given item might be different; for example a block of roasted chicken is 23 grams, and a block of cheddar cheese is 29 grams, though both foods are in the protein category. That quantity of each food represents 7 grams of useable protein.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is This For Me?
The short answer is almost definitely “yes,” with very few exceptions.
As you learned from reading above, the aim of our program is to build a strong, broad base of very high-level fitness. At QuantumFit we don’t specialize; all ten domains of fitness are pursued. Building this type of fitness has the most overall impact on a person’s daily life; broadly speaking, their abilities to work longer and harder, to move larger loads, and to face the physical demands of everyday life (and here “everyday life” includes not only regular physical tasks, but the pursuit of intensely physical activities, whether for sport, recreation, or as a vocation) will be improved.
Since we’re “fitness generalists,” you could say, our athletes won’t be the best in any one field of fitness. This isn’t to say that our athletes won’t be able to excel in a particular domain and meet their personal goals, they certainly will. But anyone who trains for some specific goal to the exclusion of other capacities will usually perform better. For example, someone who trains exclusively as a powerlifter will almost certainly be able to out-lift our athletes, but the price the powerlifter pays is being unable to run for any significant distance, or perform any other task which requires intense, metabolically-demanding activity sustained over several minutes.
So, unless you’re training as an elite-level competitor in some sport which requires capacity in one domain of fitness to the exclusion of most others, then our program is for you. Not just for the improvement of the average person’s well-being, but also for any athlete or professional whose sport or job requires dynamic, broad, multi-dimensional fitness, our program is ideal for meeting your goals!
Is It Safe?
While any physically demanding endeavor inherently carries some potential risk, our program is one of the safest to be found anywhere, despite its intensity. Why is that?
Firstly, it is literally a matter of form. Our program is based around movements which are designed around natural and proper body mechanics. Properly executed, movements like push-ups, pull-ups, and even our weighted movements like squats and overhead presses mimic movements our bodies are built around executing. We encounter them all the time in everyday life, and as such they are natural motions for our joints, muscles, and connective tissue to move through. By contrast, a movement like a lateral dumbbell raise, being a motion we do not encounter in life and are not built to execute, can be hazardous even when done “correctly,” because with heavy loads our bodies are simply not designed around moving in that way.
Secondly, and just as important, it is a matter of supervision. As a certified trainer, it is my job to ensure that you master good form in your movements before we proceed to execute them with intensity, and to ensure that nothing beyond your physical limits is undertaken. Will we push those limits? Yes. Are the workouts tough? Absolutely. Will you be sore the next day? You bet. However, we’ll never let you tackle something which is so far beyond your capacity that it becomes dangerous. We always scale the workouts to the abilities of our athletes.
Am I Ready?
Yes. Simply put, there is no better way to learn something new than by doing it. You may not be ready to dive right in to doing triathlons or Olympic lifting competitions. But training specifically within the field of what you’re attempting to learn, with the guidance of skilled teachers, is always the most efficient and most complete way to build new skills.
I’ve heard people say they need to “get in shape” to tackle a program like ours; this is simply untrue. Since our program can be scaled to an individual’s current physical capacity, and any new skill required to execute a workout is first taught in-training as a bodyweight-only movement before weight or intensity is added (what we call “skill work”), there is no need to get “in shape” first.
The best way to master the squat, is to practice squatting. The best way to master the deadlift, is to deadlift (or, if there are sticking points, progressively work through the set of skills needed to produce a good deadlift). The best way to utilize our program to maximize your fitness is to come in and train with us!
How Does It Work?
No, it’s not like a typical gym experience. You’re not just dumped into a room full of machines and weights and left to muddle through. We’re here to help make you fit. Our goal is to teach you the fundamental movements and their progressions and extrapolations, help you master them, and integrate them into your training with increasing intensity, pushing the envelope of your physical capacity in all ten domains of fitness.
We do this by increasing the demands of each workout as you progress, helping you strive to reach the ultimate goal of the program: maximizing your work capacity across broad time and modal domains.
Each training session usually begins with the “standard” warm-up, though occasionally we’ll use a warm-up planned specifically in accordance with that day’s workout.
After the warm-up, we’ll go through the skill work for the movements required for that day’s workout, teaching them to new clients, and helping experienced athletes review and refine their form.
We proceed then to the workout, and all of our workouts are:
- Designed to express power output in terms of mechanical work (so that your progress is quantifiable).
- Executed for one of three goals: completing a set amount of work as fast as possible (so time is the variable), completing as many repetitions of a task as possible in a set amount of time (so work is a variable), or to lift as heavy a weight in a set amount of reps as possible (so the load is a variable).
After taking our athletes through the workout, offering supervision of form, support, and encouragement, we generally have another skill work portion, time permitting.
Our sessions close with a standard “cool-down,” which includes stretching and other elements.