January 3, 2011

Monday “Did you know…” Slow your roll,

Get out of your Black Hole!

In space, the Black Hole refers to an object with such powerful gravitational pull, that nothing, not even light, can escape.

In fitness, the Black Hole refers to a belief about working out so powerfully inaccurate, that very few, even the most reasonable, can escape. More = Better.

Happy New Year everyone! The CF theme for 2011 is Achievement. This Black Hole concept is interesting and can be interpreted/extended to your fitness experience at CF or applied to your fitness goals in general.

 “The black hole” is Stephen Seiler’s term for a nightmare training zone that can be hard to resist—an enjoyable, moderately taxing workout intensity that falls somewhere between a piece-of-cake recovery pace and a hellishly intense interval session. It’s vigorous but not aerobically painful—which is why so many athletes are sucked into its vortex. When most people go for, say, a brisk 30-minute run, they’re often in this zone. These moderate-intensity workouts are fine for beginners who are just interested in building their fitness foundation, but not if you’re serious about improving: middle-of-the-dial efforts just produce middle-of-the-pack results. “To get better, you have to go really hard and really easy—but not in between,” Seiler says. (Outside Magazine, 12/2010)

“Amateurs buy the same stuff at the supermarket, but they produce slop, not stew. The problem? They toss the right ingredients into the pot, but they haven’t mastered the proportions, spices, and cooking time. Smart training is part recipe. But it’s mostly art.”

Other pertinent quotes about the Black Hole:
“It’s simple. If you want to be your best, go hard and go easy,” says Foster, “and don’t go in the middle.”
Foster summarized this compelling and relevant point for CFers…”In a 2001 study, Foster, et al found that most recreational athletes tend to train too hard on easy days and not hard enough on hard days.”

Too much work and not enough recovery…too little results.
Too little intensity and not enough stress to require adaptation…too little results.

If you haven’t gotten the results you expect, maybe you are in the Black Hole. Doing, doing, doing, going, going, going…but only half speed.

So, to be Achievement focused:
Rest. Rest alot. Rest well. Rest so you can work.
Then work. Work with wild-eyed rage. Work so you crawl off the mats. Work so you can rest.

  • Avatar
    Natalie January 3, 2011 Reply

    So for a guide, would you recommend going to CF hard every other day. What would one do on their “off” day?

  • Avatar
    Matt January 3, 2011 Reply

    Unless we want to be responsible for alot of 400s…I recommend going hard at CF all the time:)

    Go to CF as much as possible…assuming your body is recovered to go 100% high intensity.


    Anyone else chime in re: their conditioning?

  • Avatar
    Jan January 3, 2011 Reply

    There isn’t one ‘best-fit’ model for those who attend CF. Goals and fitness levels are so varied amongst all of us that you’d have to take your own personal situ into consideration to determine if you are getting what you want from the time you spend working out. If so, keep it up! If not, why? Too few days off and not enough muscle recovery? Too little intensity and not enough muscle building?

    I think the Black Hole concept described here assumes that a person is working out to make gains of power, endurance, strength, and/or weight loss of some sort. In which case, a mediocre, comfortable pace day-in and day-out will do nothing, nada, zilch toward ACHIEVING those goals. A person would need to hit the extremes of their comfortable continuum to see gains. It’s the same as taking days off or building in ultra-light days before any taxing athletic competition – replenish your glycogen, heal your muscle fibers and hydrate – then go balls to the wall.

    Over the years, I’ve talked to a lot of folks (both CFers and non-CFers alike) who want different results but aren’t willing to change habits to get there b/c it requires work, dedication and pain. Pain in the form of increased intensity when you’re “on” and pain in the form of enjoying a sacred day off when you’re “off.” Going for a walk isn’t easy when you’re desperate to jog, but it might be just what we need to be able to workout with ‘wild-eyed rage’ on other days.

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