I may finally have arrived at a way to concisely and effectively communicate why I hate HiiT (hi intensity interval training)? And when I say hate, I use the word unemotionally, its an authentic expression to the depth at which it hurts when I hear athletes/parents/coaches talk of it.
If movement is a language, then how we study movement should be comparable to the manner in which we study language, to the manner we use language… be it in poetry, in speech, in song.
Imagine if a teacher of language encouraged you to learn only a handful of sounds, not even words, just sounds, and then suggested that effective communication was the mere repetition of those sounds. If the goal of communication is not achieved thru these sounds, the teacher then suggests that the alternative approach is to escalate the intensity of the sounds until a zenith of screaming, screeching, yelling is reached, because effective communication can be achieved if sufficient decibels are put behind the sounds.
Sound familiar? This is identical to that of a coach prescribing HiiT: workouts focused around targets of wattage, speed, or split times (i.e. decibel level), with sport specific technique dumbed-down to a handful of universal principles (i.e. sounds).
There is nothing more moronic, idiotic, ignorant, even evil for a teacher of language to do then to massacre language by dumbing-it-down to a handful of grunts and groans with intensity made the centre piece of communication. It is equally as moronic for a coach to dumb-down peak performance in sport to hi intensity interval training (HiiT).
As caveman grunting is to Shakespeare…
HiiT is to athletic training, to sport, to peak performance.
Those who teach that sport is nothing more than HiiT – i.e. caveman like activities of suffering in a pain-cave (no coincidence that a caveman approach wants a cave to hide in to train), via a “no pain no gain” mindset, where hurting oneself to the point of self harm or self mutilation is believed to be the source of strength, endurance or speed – are morons, idiots, ignorami who should be kept as far as possible from sport, especially from children who are experiencing sport for the first time.
Like language, movement is supposed to be beautiful, inspiring, captivating, intriguing, a creative outlet of self-expression, where an athlete – one who studies the language of movement – arrives to competition commanding such presence, attention, awareness that all eagerly wait to witness what awe-someness they will undoubtedly experience.
What does language have?
- It has an alphabet which represents all the basic sounds of the language.
- Those sounds, represented by letters are tied together in syllables, and syllables tied together to form words.
- There are different types of words: nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs and every word has a specific meaning, sometimes multiple meanings.
- There are rules on how words are linked together to form sentences, how sentences are united to create paragraphs, and paragraphs linked to create essays, short stories, novels, and so forth.
- There is complexity to language… there is figurative language: simile, metaphor, personificaiton, symbolism, and hyperbole.
- There is more complexity when language uses literary devices: anachornisms, analogies, foreshadowing, imagery, irony, satire, understatements, etc…
The palette may consist of only 26 colours (letters in the case of our alphabet), but the number of paintings an artist can render from those simple starting points is infinite. Hence movement is limitless, hence sport is limitless.
Why is HiiT the training tool of the ignorant? Because it is the equivalent of stripping language of all its complexity… dumbing-it-down to grunts and groans, teaching that communication is a simple matter of intensifying the grunts and groans to exchange concepts, ideas, to negotiate, to interact. Its the training tool of the ignorant because you don’t need to have any background in any field, you don’t need any expertise… anyone can call themselves ‘coach’ with HiiT.
Why is HiiT the cornerstone of many coaches training philosophies? Because they don’t know more than how to grunt or groan, so that is what they teach. With HiiT, a coach doesn’t need to be a student, they just need to write up workouts. The harder, the more anxiety provoking the workout, especially if its one that leaves athletes with pounding headaches, tingly or numb hands and feet, struggling to breathe are touted as “good” or “real” training.
What sort of individual would dumb-down the beauty, the sweetness, the creativity, the white canvas that is language into grunts and groans? They would have to be the moron of morons.
Any coach who relies on HiiT… is just such a moron.
A moron you must avoid at all costs.
Because the risk is that their ignorance will get all over you, and that ignorance will take you down… in injury, in illness, in blow out, burn out, or meltdown; far short of your potential, far short of you experiencing peak performance.
Find a coach who has invested into becoming a student of human movement, a coach who has studied human movement… anatomy, neuro-anatomy, physiology, electro and/or neuro physiology, pathology, biomechanics, psychology/sport-psychology, and has learnt how these fields apply to sport.
Find a coach who has invested the time to gain the experience with a wide range of athletes to learn not only how to train them, but to be able to evaluate how athletes respond to training, how different athletes respond differently, what different athletes need. If not, then you will be their guinea pig… the athlete they will experiment on as they learn what not to do, how not to coach.
Find a coach whose love for sport is no different than that of a teacher whose love of language compels their students to inhale book after book, to fall in love with verse. A teacher whose excitement for learning spills over into their students, turning the students into avid seekers of knowledge.
Find a coach whose appreciation of movement leads athletes to fall in love with the complexity of the language that is movement. A coach who inspires athletes to explore, to play, to engage in movement encouraging not only self expression, but self discovery so that the potential of the athlete can and will be truly experienced.
To become the highest performing version of you… you need to find a coach who is willing to take the time to teach movement as a language so that as an athlete – a student of movement – you can start to learn how to write creatively, and then to write essays, then short stories, perhaps a novel, maybe an entire series.
When movement is seen as a language, then you will come to appreciate that there truly is no limit to pursuing your potential. If this was not the case, then long ago we would have decided as a civilization that there are no more combinations of words possible… that every book, song, story, play, movie that could be written has been written and we have reached the pinnacle of our existence, of our creativity. It hasn’t happened with words, it hasn’t happened with music, it has not happened in movement, thus not in sport.
Every World Record that stands today is a single chapter in a novel of that sport… its waiting for you to come along and write the next chapter in the history of the sport. But to be able to write that chapter… you will need more than grunts and groans, you will need a full vocabulary, a thorough understanding of the rules, the patterns, the process to writing and sharing ideas.