Watch the face of the power lifter in the image above. Watch especially his eyes as he strains to hold the weight for the time needed in order for the lift to meet qualification standards. Do you see how his eyes glaze over… as blood pours out of his nose indicating that he is holding his breathe to such a degree that he has skyrocketed his blood pressure to the point he is literally blowing blood vessel walls (lucky it wasn’t an artery in his brain, lungs, heart, abdomen or anywhere else). Not only do his eyes glaze over, but like someone suffering a TIA (transient ischemic attack, as in a small stroke) his eyes roll back a bit, but he strains to retain focus on the judges hand, waiting for it to come down signalling a qualifying lift and allowing the effort to end. As the seconds go by, you can count the brains cells he has killed as a result of asphyxiating (i.e. depriving of oxygen) his brain, (not to mention the damage to his other vital organs).
In addition to irreparable damage to his heart, arteries and brain, Rich Piana’s autospy report also identified abdominal swelling. This swelling is the result of the breathe holding during the effort which skyrockets blood pressure within the abdominal cavity literally squeezing the blood vessels to the point that it wrings out – like wringing out a wet towel – the plasma from the blood vessels into the abdominal cavity. Do you train HiiT and… have a “beer belly”, a few pounds in the middle area that you want to lose but can’t seem to, a gut that doesn’t disappear no matter how much you train, perhaps grows larger after training sessions, especially hard training sessions. Think about it…
Think about how much pressure you would have to cause in order to literally squeeze fluid out of your blood vessels. Now think about the fact that the same pressure squeezing blood vessels is also squeezing each and every one of your vital organs… your kidneys, your liver, your pancreas, your spleen, your reproductive/internal sex organs… squeezing the life out of your organs, organs you need to live every single second beyond your beast-mode effort.
But, but… HiiT is heralded as the short cut to fitness, as the short cut to peak performance, as the short cut to losing weight, to improving as an athlete, to qualifying for every major event. Heralded by whom? Surely not by health focused professionals. Its heralded by profit hungry companies, by ego driven and ignorant trainers, coaches, and teams who need athletes to sacrifice themselves to the point of nearly committing suicide hoping that the athlete will triumph by standing on a podium, by winning a championship bringing fame and fortune to those who mentored them. Its heralded by those who are willing to monetize hopes, goals, dreams of aspiring athletes for their own profit and popularity.
It took us how long and how many football players to finally admit that concussions are more than just a little bump on the brain. How many football players after stellar careers in the CFL and NFL in their 20s, now in their 30s cannot remember where they left their keys, cannot remember who they are, who the other people living in their multi million dollar mansions are.
The number of casualties in all sports are piling up… but HiiT continues to be celebrated as the means to an end. It is, just not the end anyone is told about.
I hope that triathlon pro Daniel Clarke reconsiders his training, reconsiders whether dizziness, headaches, and blurred vision (he is only missing slurred speech to have ALL the symptoms of a stroke) is the means to the end that he truly wants. That other pros, namely pros like Lionel Sanders who seem sold on “beast-mode” wake up and realize that the only short cut they are training is one that leads to toe tags and body bags.
I hope that triathletes, swimmers, cyclists, that all athletes, all parents of athletes, and all coaches & trainers start wake up and realize that asking athletes to train based on HiiT is asking athletes to believe that self harm leads to peak performance when all self harm can lead to is death.
Consistent peak performers – at least those who refuse to compromise on their core values & beliefs – do not train using HiiT, they do not train inflicting self harm, believing in a no pain-no gain philosophy, they do not train to lose; they train to win. Training technique, capacity, and skill acquisition is the path, the only path to health and consistent peak performance and most importantly to your fullest potential.
As a varsity level athlete I trained HiiT, I trained it and was instructed to train it and I did because I didn’t know better, and because I trusted that those training and coaching me did know better. They didn’t. The outcome… I have done serious damage to my body, damage that I am training now to repair, damage that I hope I will be able to undo partially, perhaps fully. But like most athletes I didn’t realize at the time what I was doing to myself, so I didn’t stop at injuring myself, when my kids grew up I signed them up in programs that trained them in the exact same way I was trained. Luckily, when they ran into challenges in competition I made the right decision. I didn’t, I couldn’t believe that my children were incapable… incapable of keeping up, incapable of improving, incapable of progressing further; so I had to find a different narrative, a narrative which believed in the potential of my children, all children, and by default a narrative that also believes in the potential of myself despite being older, a narrative that believes in the potential of everyone no matter their age and starting ability.
I decided to believe that the problem isn’t my children, it wasn’t me, it isn’t everyone who wants to lose weight, learn to swim efficiently, develop power on the bike, speed on the run, strength and endurance in the gym… what was wrong was the mindset, the concepts of training, the philosophy of how do we become our fullest potential. Today, I know that HiiT offers nothing more than fake fitness, fake/cosmetic health… look at Rich Piana… an appearance of ability on the outside, but on the inside a brutally damaged, scarred, wounded body and brain which likely was barely surviving between ‘workouts’ and thats just a reflection on Piana’s physical health. I cannot imagine his mental and emotional state when Piana was willing to torture and beat his physical self to a pulp.
I don’t want to read about anymore dead athletes, especially children athletes coached into early graves due to egotiscal parents or trainers.
I don’t want to read about anymore swimmers, cyclists, or runners with arrythmias, with congestive heart failure, with enlarged hearts.
I don’t want to read about anymore triathletes, especially tween and teen triathletes who have been pushed to the point of having to retire early because their coaching and training has resulted in injuries, illness, burn out.
If you are a coach, a trainer, a team manager and after reading this post are realizing that you may be in fact training athletes in a manner which brings nothing but harm to them, a manner which risks not just their well-being but their life… then I ask you to sincerely ask yourself… are you qualified to coach, to train, to mentor an athlete, or for that matter anyone? You may be passionate about sport, but all the passion in the world doesn’t make up for a lack of knowledge, a lack of experience, a lack of skill; passion does not and cannot overcome ignorance and incompetence.
Today the average person is un-healthy… they are at least overweight if not obese, they are suffering from at least one if not a handful of chronic/lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, osteoporosis, depression they are likely at some if not high risk for a stroke or an heart attack and if your plan is a regular dose of Hi Intensity Interval Training (HiiT) I ask you to consider whether you are going to do anything remotely right for them, and perhaps the risk is for you to do more wrong. Consider that the risk is that you will inflict more damage upon them, setting them even further back in life, in their health, and that you risk not only their physical health, but failing to improve, you risk damaging their mental and emotional states as HiiT only reinforces anxieties.
If you are what you claim… concerned about the well-being and health of others, then become a student before you pronounce yourself a teacher.