Despite what you hear on the infomercials trying to sell you DVDs with pictures of abs on the front, there’s no such thing as a “complete” workout.
So it makes sense that lots of people eventually come to the realization that they need more than what they’re getting. Like martial artists who want to be more flexible, or runners who also want to build upper body strength.
You’d probably be surprised how often we’re asked if it’s even possible to combine different programs or methods.
Short answer: Yes, it’s possible, and often really, really helpful.
We give you the long answer about how to do it in this episode, including frameworks to help you figure out what to add and what to subtract, and how to combine programs without just doubling your training time.
Transcript of Combining Different Types of Training Episode
Andy: All right, all right, all right. Welcome to the Glowing Manatee Barbecue Podcast.
Ryan: Mmm. Nothing like some manatee barbecue. Scrumptious.
Andy: It is good, isn’t it?
Ryan: It’s the fat that does it. It’s the fat.
Andy: It really is. It really is.
Ryan: Ah, so good.
Andy: Today, we’re going to be talking about all kinds of endangered species that make wonderful barbecue.
Ryan: Absolutely, because that’s what we’re about in GMB, supporting the slaughter of endangered species.
Andy: I mean, the apocalypse is coming.
Ryan: I have to say-
Andy: We may as well just urge it forth, in my opinion.
Ryan: Absolutely, yeah. And I think-
Andy: I’m an accelerationist.
Ryan: Accelerationist, yes. We can combine, though. We can combine those species into the ultimate burger, though.
Andy: We can.
Ryan: That would be pretty good. That would be good.
Andy: Yeah, there used to be a burger … I think Square Barrels in Honolulu still does this. I always enjoyed it. They had … It was the Inception Burger. It was pork inside beef inside venison or something like that. I don’t even remember. It was like three layers of meat, and it was incredible. You need-
Ryan: That’s a great name for it, though. I like that.
Andy: You need that in your life.
Ryan: Yes, you do.
Andy: All right. But, anyway, let’s get into this because this is a good topic. This is something requested by our community here. We have a lot of people ask about this. How to combine different things, different kinds of training, different goals. How to put these things together in a way that’s actually going to work. This is something that, we all have different interests and things that we want to do so it’s almost never as simple as just start a program and do the things on that list because we all have schedules, we all have things that are going to conflict with the way most programs are written. So we need to make adjustments, and this is something that almost all of our clients have dealt with. It’s not new. Our coaching team has adjusted programs for many thousands of clients.
Andy: This is something that we’re good at, something that we’ve done a lot. We’ve had questions, how do I make integral strength fit around doing BJJ three times a week? How do I work elements in around my crossfit sessions? How do I do R1 while I’m training for-
Ryan: Climbing. Yeah, yeah.
Andy: So this is not unique; it’s built into all of our programming, how to make things adaptable. It might not always be obvious, but it’s something that’s really core to the things that we make and so we’re really good at this thing. So today, we’re going to share some basic guidelines about this and some of our tricks for making things fit and how to think about it so that you can take your main training program, any supplemental training you’re trying to do, pivoty stuff, and you can do all of them 100%.
Ryan: Absolutely. Just put it all together and just make it into the ultimate kitchen sink program.
Andy: Right. So yeah, before we get into the specifics, I do want to say that, because the way some people ask this, we’ve had so many people ask us before for this. How do I combine all the programs together and make well-rounded workouts? Well, one, if you have a program that isn’t giving you well-rounded workouts, it’s not a good program. Just because you look at a program and you don’t see a pulling exercise or something doesn’t mean that you’re not working those kinds of movements, right? So most good programs are well-rounded. You don’t need to add anything to them to make them well-rounded, right? If you don’t trust the person you’re buying the program from to make a good program and if you think you can make a better program, then save your money and make a better program. But if you’re asking people on the internet, “How do I make a better program?” Well, here’s a hint. You don’t know what you’re fucking doing. Just buy a program and follow it.
Ryan: Trust in the process. That’s a big thing. Yeah.
Ryan: No, that’s very good. That also goes back to the fact that a lot of people will start a program and, like you said, maybe there’s not a pulling exercise in there and after two weeks they decide that they’re going to jump to another program, and then they jump to another program, and they don’t give that program enough time to actually see what’s going on. Really, it comes down to the goal and looking at cycling … We’ve talked about this before. Cycling your sessions, your workouts, your themes, your goals, as well as focusing really on just one thing at a time and trusting in that process and giving it due diligence and taking the time and spending the time to work through that program and get to see results, then moving on to the next thing. And this is kind of what we’re also going to be talking about a little bit today, but we have done other podcasts specifically tackling cycling as well as specific training for particular skillsets. So go through those podcasts and check those out.
Ryan: So, short stop, just like Andy said. We’ve all got different interests and different hobbies, and so the thing really we want to take a look at is, why do you really want to combine these certain training protocols? Maybe it’s the fact that you’re just interested in a lot of different stuff, and that’s not a bad thing. That can be a great thing, and later on in the program here I want to give you some examples of how I actually combine things.
Ryan: But really, just need to take a look at the real reason behind you wanting to combine things. Is it going to help the type of training that you’re doing right now, your main focus? For example, let’s say that you’re doing running, that you’re a runner, and you want to combine … Or let’s say you’re a marathon runner but you just feel it’d be good to add in sprints, it’d be good to add in rowing, it’d be good to add in all these other different things just because you think it’s going to help your running, when, in fact, maybe just focusing a bit more on your running is what you really need.
Ryan: But if it’s a matter of just looking at you want to do some other things, I get that. That’s totally cool. But like Andy said, simply trying to combine programs together honestly is not going to be your best bet. The reason for that is it’s going to take away the purpose of why that program was created. It’s going to just really muddy up the waters, and there will be no clarity in terms of where you’re really going when you’re working all the time.
Andy: You mentioned something really good. If you are doing something and you see something you want to try and you just want to try it for fun, if you’re a martial artist and it’s summer and you have access to a pool and you want to do some swimming, that’s great. That’s something that’s enjoyable. You don’t have to devote training time to swimming or really worry about that. That’s just an activity that you can do that is, yes, active and it’s exercise, but it’s something that you can make fun. If you’re a marathoner and you just want to do a little bit of weight training because you feel better if you’re stronger, that’s absolutely cool.
Andy: But don’t get yourself caught thinking that you need to do everything that you see in an Instagram post, whether or not it’s related to the actual goals you have. The problem starts when people are like, “Well, my main goal is to really build up my back strength, but I also want to be explosive and it’s super important to me that I be able to do the splits, and I’m concerned about my endurance. Also, I’m training for a spartan race and my doctor told me that I need to reduce my cholesterol so I’m really concerned with cardiovascular health at the same time. So how do I fit that into my power lifting program?” The answer is you just need to step back, son.
Ryan: Yeah, you need to sit down on the sofa and ponder a little bit about what’s going on-
Andy: Think about your life.
Ryan: Yes, basically. This is the thing. We’re joking about this, but these are actual emails that we get, a person saying, “Listen, I really want to focus on the planche, but I also want to get my one-arm chin up. I also want to get my dragon squat at the same time,” whatever. And I’m just, “Okay, great?” And on top of that you’re doing heavy deadlifts and stuff like that. Thing is, really, like we said, taking a step back, sitting down on the sofa, and doing some pondering. Think about what is your main thing? What is your main focus?
Ryan: Now, the main focus, to be honest, can actually be your activity. Let’s say you’re a crossfitter or you do martial arts, or that running example we did where you’re looking at the marathon. Cool. That’s your main thing. That’s really your main thing, and so make your main thing your main thing. The other stuff that you’re going to combine to it, look at it simply as supplemental exercises. It’s like food. What is the main thing you’re eating? Make sure that you’re doing that and getting enough nutrients from that before you start taking additional supplements like creatine or whatever else that you think you just need because you saw an advertisement, as they say in the Europeans, in the Europas. Focus on the stuff that you really need to be focusing on first.
Andy: Right. If you go to a burger place and you ask for a burger, and they bring out a plate and you get like a slider-size burger and the plate is completely covered in fries, you’ve got like two pickle slices, and like a little side salad-
Ryan: Well, you’re in the wrong burger place.
Andy: … how [crosstalk 00:10:27] are you going to be? But this is what everyone tries to do with their training, is they say, “I’m going to order a burger. My main focus is getting stronger,” and then they cover the place up in all these fucking side dishes. There ain’t no room for a burger left anymore.
Ryan: That’s absolutely right. It’s like going to your favorite Mexican place and you’re looking forward to that burrito but you end up getting full on the chips. You know? We’ve never done that before.
Andy: I’m a sucker for some good salsa, man. I just can’t stop.
Ryan: I’m right there with you, brother. Yeah. So let’s come back to this. Again, what is your main focus? That’s really what we’re talking about here. Once you have that main focus, decide what you need to be working on. Now, again, we’re not … Now we’re moving beyond talking about simply doing something because, oh, maybe I just want to do it for fun. We’re beyond that. We’re now looking at your main focus thing, whether-
Andy: Start with the essentials.
Ryan: Yeah, the essentials. Now we’re looking at, okay, what do you need on top of that, if anything? But let’s say you do need something. Okay, great. What is that going to do to help you with your main goal and your main skill? Now, here at GMB we like to keep it pretty simple. So we’re looking at three things. We’re looking at strength, we’re looking at flexibility, and we’re looking at control. So what we want to do, then, is we’re simply going to say, “Okay, what are one of those things, those themes, that we can choose in order to help us for that thing that we need?” So if we’re doing martial art, we can look at, okay, do we need better strength for that, do we need better flexibility, or do we need better control? Later on we’re going to give specific examples of what you can look at with that.
Ryan: But the thing is, usually that doesn’t mean adding a full program on top of that. It could, and an example would be let’s say you’re doing your martial art and you’re doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and you’re not doing any other training outside of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. You could use a program that we have, Elements, to help you with that. But the thing is, it’s not just trying to cram a bunch of stuff on the top. But generally, if you’re looking at focusing on just one of those different things, it’s not going to be a full program on top of a full program. It’s going to be pieces of that program or standalone supplemental movements or components of that that are going to be able to help you with that.
Andy: Right, and this sounds simplistic, and that’s because it is; it’s by design. Like we said, first we’re talking about main and supplemental. So first, you have to decide what is important for your main stuff, right? A lot of times, people say, “Well, it’s just general fitness, right?” That’s great. General fitness means different things to different people, and for you at this point in your life, what does that mean? Does that mean working on your endurance? Does that mean losing some weight? Does that mean getting stronger? Does that mean trying to improve your movement quality, your mobility? What does general fitness mean to you? And make that your main thing, and let that be your main core program. Then what we’re saying is for supplemental stuff you look for what main theme will help you accelerate that program the most, right?
Ryan: Absolutely, yeah, yeah, yeah. And that’s a good point that you brought up about the general fitness. Yes.
Andy: Right, and so that’s why, for supplemental stuff, yes, it can be very simplistic because you’re only trying to add the minimum necessary thing to add a little bit of traction to your main theme.
Ryan: Absolutely. One of the questions that we got was a person looking … They’re doing a particular program and that program for them wasn’t as intense as they thought it could be, and so how can they intensify that by adding other things to it? Sometimes it could be simply … Actually, this is a lot of times. It’s as simple as just saying, okay, let’s reframe the way that we look at the current thing we’re doing. So it’s not that we’re going to add other things into it. It’s at different points in that program we reframe it.
Ryan: So it could be, for example, when you’re performing your conditioning component of that particular program, you simply work on taking the intensity up higher. Or, for example, spending more time going through the mobility portion of that particular program that you’re doing. So it’s not that you’re adding other things in there; you change the way that you’re viewing that particular program in order to address the issues that you feel that you need.
Andy: Right, and I’ll be honest, man. My idea of intensity is that when I go to Mister Donut, I get the old-fashioned with cinnamon instead of the regular old-fashioned donut.
Ryan: That’s pretty hardcore.
Andy: I know, I know. But with that said, though, some days I go to the gym and I’m feeling really good, and I understand the feeling. You just want to put in more effort, right?
Ryan: Oh, yeah.
Andy: What I do on those days is I basically, I just go from one thing … I cut my rest times down a lot and I go from one thing right into the next.
Andy: Just keep going, and then if you’re doing three sets of something, like I’ll do my specified reps on the first couple of sets, and then on the third set I’ll just do as many reps as I can. [inaudible 00:15:54] the last set or something. And these are easy ways. You don’t have to add anything.
Ryan: Absolutely. Again, it’s that reframe. This is something, of course, we talk a lot about in GMB, and a lot of people think that we’re always telling people to back off and relax. I’m like, “No, if you’re feeling good that day you should hit it harder. You should.” How do you do that? Just like what you said. It could be during that period of time that you’re performing a particular exercise, you either go up a progression to make it harder, make the load more difficult, whatever you might be doing, adding in more repetitions, or decrease the amount of rest time that you’re doing in order to focus on that endurance, stamina, conditioning component of that strength portion. So many different ways to do that without adding other things in there.
Andy: Yeah, and this is just really important, just the end of this little part of the discussion, is just to remember that, yes, we’re talking about making tradeoffs and I know that this is antithetical to the mindset of someone that’s saying, “How can I combine five programs in one?” But I’m just going to go on and straight out tell you your mindset is wrong. That’s what you’re trying to do. You need to know what is important to you, and this is the advice that makes people hate GMB because telling people that you have to think and you have to be responsible, but this is, again, another adulting 101 lesson here, is that life is tradeoffs. If you cannot make the tradeoff that in order to build my base strength and increase my general fitness in that dimension for the next six months, I’m willing to spend a little bit less energy on something else. If you are not a grown up enough person to decide that for yourself, then you deserve what you get when you try to put everything together and fail.
Ryan: Yeah. Word.
Andy: That’s not nice, but it’s true.
Ryan: No, but it’s the truth. It’s the truth. When you’re looking at anything, money, you can look at money,
you can look at … it doesn’t matter. It’s just across the board. That’s what it is. It’s a matter of balance. Yeah. That’s it, man. That’s good.
Andy: Yeah. You have to make trade offs. Before we get into the specifics here, I just want to say again that this is a question that came out of our community of people that are really following the podcast and helping us kind of choose the topics that we cover. We had a lot of people that voted for this topic and asked really specific things, and I think we’re going to answer most of them in the next section. But if this is something that’s interesting to you and if you have different topics or questions you want us to answer, then find our Facebook group. You can go to gmb.io/podcast, and there’s a big link to it there, and you can join it. And I just want to say, PSA here, we ask you questions when you try to join it. If you don’t answer them, we assume that you are either illiterate or a bot and we don’t let you in.
Ryan: Bye bye.
Andy: So yeah, this is a participatory group. It’s for people that are going to tell us what they want, not for people that are just going to be tourists. So if that sounds like you, or if it sounds like you wanting to participate, please join us because we really want to answer your questions and make all of this stuff work for you. Right? Right.
Ryan: Heck yeah.
Andy: So let’s go into some examples.
Ryan: Some examples. Okay. We already mentioned this before, but really, sometimes it’s not just a matter of following a particular program. Usually, it’s actually not. So if you truly are at a point where you’re looking at combining other things, you have adulted, you have taken a step back, you really understand what your main focus is, you understand what you need looking at strength, flexibility, control, and you say, “All right, this thing that I’m going to add is going to help me for the thing that I need.”
Ryan: Once again, I want to say, pick one major thing that you’re going to work on, okay? The other stuff that you’re still doing goes into maintenance mode. We’ve talked about this in other podcasts. Go back, look at this. But basically, what we’re talking about is making the goal the goal and sticking with that. The other stuff, it’s like … Andy likes to say if you’re cooking, you got a pot that’s on that front burner, you’re focused on that. You’ve still got other stuff on the back burners, but that’s on simmer and you can kind of leave those back there and let them do their thing. Focus on the thing that’s right in front of you.
Ryan: Let’s go into examples of what we’re talking about. First thing we’re going to talk about is martial arts. There’s many different martial arts out there. You can be looking at Taekwondo, which is leg-focused, kicking. You could be looking at karate, which is, of course, going to be a little bit different, some high kicks but usually not so high, also a lot of different striking arts in there. You can also be looking at Brazilian jiu-jitsu, looking at the grappling portion of it. Basically, what you need to do is take a look at your martial art and say, “All right, what is going on in my martial art, and what do I need to focus on? Do I need to focus on strength? Do I need to focus on flexibility? Do I need to focus on control?” Now, let’s talk a little bit about what that can mean, okay?
Andy: Yeah. How do you know?
Ryan: How do you know what you need? All right, so as an example, let’s look at Taekwondo. Now, Taekwondo, leg-based in terms of high kicks, a lot of balance involved in that. Of course, there’s some striking, but basically you’re looking at the legs. Flexibility’s obviously going to be a big thing. You’re obviously going to be working on flexibility during your Taekwondo class because that’s what you have to do in order to do these kicks.
Ryan: But, the thing is, do you have the necessary flexibility in order to allow you to participate in class? This is a big difference between looking at pure performance versus having the general fitness needs to be able to participate. This is a big one, and so this is really taking a step back, being realistic. It’s not, “Oh, I want to be world champion.” It might just be the fact, like, okay, I’m only going to class twice a week. I need to make sure that I can function during class so I can do the cool shit. So therefore, I’m going to focus on my flexibility outside of class.
Andy: Right, and so this is super important because we ask this question to people all the time. Well, what is the main thing you need to improve your Taekwondo, for example? And they’ll say, “Well, Taekwondo’s really demanding. I need strength, I need flexibility, and I need control. I need all of those. You can’t ask me to choose; I have to have all of those things.” And yeah, we get it. If you want to be the best at Taekwondo in the world, yes, of course you need all of those things. But, what we’re trying to find out isn’t what attributes does Taekwondo use? We get it. Everything uses everything. But what is the thing that is most limiting you in your practice right now?
Ryan: That’s the key point. What is limiting you? And that’s really what this comes down to. That is what a supplement simply is. That is when you combine something, you’re looking at what are you missing? What do you need? That goes into the other stuff that you’re doing. It doesn’t mean that it’s the … Go ahead. What were you going to say?
Andy: Oh, I was just going to say for Taekwondo, flexibility’s an obvious example. But if you’ve been doing it for 10 years and your flexibility’s great, well, then, you don’t need supplemental flexibility work. You might decide that you need to work on your accuracy, and that control is the main thing, and you want to spend your supplemental time doing really, really slow kicks at targets, ironing out all the little details, making it smooth. Or you might decide that you need to work on your explosive power and you’re going to do some jump training and stuff like that. It really depends on what is the thing that’s going to take you to the next level at that point. It’s not that Taekwondo people only need flexibility. We’re not saying that. We’re saying that, wherever you are in whatever martial art, whatever activity, what is the thing that’s going to take you to the next level? Is another way to look at it.
Ryan: Yeah, absolutely.
Andy: It could be anything.
Ryan: Yeah. Along those lines, too, I want to throw this out there as well, looking at where your body currently is. This is going to change, and so it might not just be simply for you to be able to participate in the class or whatnot. It might actually be a truly limiting thing where you’re coming off of an injury, where you’re going to have to focus. Even though let’s say your range of motion isn’t quite there yet, it might not be a matter of flexibility and mobility, simply of strength because you had an injury where your muscle has atrophied, and so you actually need to focus on strength training for that particular place in your body so that you can get back to flexibility work. So yeah. Let’s move on.
Ryan: Another example could be for running. This might seem obvious, just like, okay, for running, yeah, I need to stretch and whatnot. But here’s something to throw out at you. Where is your limiting factor in your stride, or for example, in your endurance? For example, just because I mentioned ankles, it could be actually you looking at that ankle strength. What does that mean for you in that particular point? For running, I’m mainly looking at, for example, endurance running, long distance running, things like that.
Ryan: That strength for the ankle, the flexibility for the ankle, or even ankle control, which is something, again, people might know about it but they don’t practice that control component of it. And this is a big thing, and it doesn’t mean running more. It might be stepping back. For example, walking on your toes, walking on your toes very slowly. That is a great example of control, but also strength for the ankle. So sometimes, it will be a combination of a few things. But the focus really should just be on a single thing.
Ryan: That’s why, for example, with this running thing I was talking about the ankle because that can be a truly limiting factor because as you go over long distance, obviously you’re going to get tired, which means that your form is going to start to break down, which is where you’re going to have to be more aware of how you are running. And if you don’t have that strength, if you don’t have that control, that’s what can lead to injuries. That’s really across the board what we’re looking at, is looking at that limiting factor. What is going to help you to be able to continue to do whatever you want to do for longer periods of time, whether that be longer periods of time for an extra 30 minutes or an extra hour or over the course of your life? Cool.
Ryan: The next one, too, if we’re looking at crossfit, people who do crossfit. Now, majority of people out there are like, “Oh, you do crossfit. You just must be really tight.” Sure, you can throw that out there, but I’m going to throw this out there, looking at actual strength. What do I mean by this? A common thing that we see, especially in GMB, is when I go teach a seminar, it’s typically at a crossfit gym. The crossfit athletes that come to a GMB seminar, there are a couple of things that they’re looking at, besides flexibility, and that is how to do better muscle ups and chin ups.
Ryan: It’s kind of a strength thing, but it’s more of a control issue here. So how can they actually get better with that particular technique with the way that they’re using their body in order to do more? Now, in GMB, obviously, we don’t encourage performing tons and tons of reps, but the thing is, for us by focusing on what we’re teaching with the muscle up and how we do it with the chin up, it actually is going to allow you to perform more repetitions when you’re performing your crossfit, and so that’s a matter of-
Andy: Because it teaches an efficient-
Ryan: An efficient movement pattern. Exactly.
Andy: … use of body mechanics to make everything work. Right.
Ryan: And that’s control, and that’s what we’re after with that. So these can just be a couple examples of
some of the things that you can focus on. You can also look at some other things, like, for example, if it was flexibility, so better shoulder mobility for being able to perform your snatch better, or maybe another thing with control is handstand walking. So you focus on getting a better handstand in order to help you to have better control when you’re actually walking in a handstand. Again, it’s looking at specific things and targeting those things, the strength, the flexibility, or the control, in order to help you for your main activity.
Andy: Right. So you have your main thing that you’re doing, and then you’re looking for the themes. Crossfit’s an interesting example because you don’t tend to do the same program every day. Right?
Ryan: Right, right. Yeah.
Andy: And so you can’t say, “Well, I want to work on my handstand for this one workout that comes up every two months.” That’s not really a good use of your time. But you might notice that your shoulders are a little tight, and sometimes you might be tight in your snatch, or when you do have handstands you have trouble with that. Or in your muscle up, that transition part is really causing you trouble and you’re starting to think that maybe something in your shoulders is part of what’s doing that. So maybe a little bit of handstand work where you’re working on that mobility and control and strength in that, that might be something that does address all of those things, if that’s the theme that’s coming up for you.
Ryan: Absolutely, and that theme is important.
Andy: And that’s what you have to look for.
Ryan: Right, that theme is really important, and again, it can hit multiple things across the board, which is a very cool thing and if you get that right, then you’re going to see increased performance in everything, which is cool. The one thing also to make sure that you’re looking at is when you do decide to combine things and add in these supplement movements is that look at the intensity over the period of a week. For example, let’s say you’re doing your martial art practice a couple days a week, you’re doing it like three days a week. You wouldn’t want to add in an intense session on those days that you’re performing your martial art. You want to make sure that your martial art is, well, let’s say you’re fresh for your martial art. The opposite days, the other days that you’re not doing your martial art, should be the days that you’re training and adding in some of your supplement work.
Ryan: Now, with that being said, I do realize there are some people who perform their activity every single day. If that’s the case and you do need to do your particular supplemental work combining programs on the same day, just understand that the intensity should be different, especially in the beginning when you first start adding things in. You don’t want to go gung ho into this thing. You want to start off slow. You want to understand also that anything that you add is going to affect the thing that you’re currently doing. So there’s going to have to be a balance. For example, if you do add in a session on the days that you do your martial art, understand that that day’s martial art, if you do it after your training, isn’t going to be at a very high level compared to the other days. So just have that understanding and work up to being able to bring that back to that level slowly.
Andy: Right, and you can get as granular as you want with things. In general, the body responds best to technique before speed, speed before power, power before strength, strength before endurance.
Andy: And this is both within a session over the course of a week and over the course of macro cycles too. Now, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t do any endurance early in the week. But if you do a really intense endurance workout on Monday, don’t expect to do your very best technical work on Tuesday.
Ryan: Absolutely, absolutely.
Andy: That’s just something that you need to take into account, and it’s just the way it is. You do your best technical work, your best speed work, when you’re well-rested, when your nervous system is sort of re-set. So this can also help you if you have different things you’re trying to do within the week. Even if you do go to a martial arts class six times a week and you don’t get to control what’s on the agenda, you can still try to focus on doing things smoothly earlier in the week.
Andy: Work on trying to add a little more power after that, then later in the week you might work on just your breathing and your endurance and that kind of thing towards the end of the week. You can do that. You can focus within these activities, too, and that’s something that you can keep in mind. But you do have to monitor your intensity overall as well. Most people cannot handle more than two hard days a week, especially if you have a life outside of that. Now, we’re not saying it’s impossible. We’re not saying people don’t. Ryan and I, and most of our coaches have.
Ryan: Yeah, hit it really hard.
Andy: We’ve had times when we did hard every day.
Ryan: Yeah, literally every day.
Andy: But we didn’t just start doing that. We worked up to that over years of training three and four hours a day, and then we got to the point where we could hit it hard every night in the dojo because that was what we had taught ourselves to be able to handle. And even then-
Ryan: Yeah, along with the recovery.
Andy: Yeah, and even then it took a lot of dedicated recovery work that night and the next morning to be able to make it work. So it’s not something that you … Don’t look at examples of people that are doing incredible amounts of high-intensity work and say, “Well, they can do it. Obviously it’s possible. I want to do that.” It takes a long time of training to be able to do that without hurting yourself.
Ryan: Yeah, that’s a great example of what you’re talking about on a macro level of looking at throughout the week. You also look at that on a micro level, and that’s exactly what we do in GMB, is when we use with the five Ps, and so kind of a good lead-in to our next topic and how it relates to what we’re doing. As I’m looking at balancing these skills, skill development while maintaining the other things we’ve already talked about, a little bit of that, and so again, making the skill the main thing.
Ryan: Now, in terms of how we can do that and look at making sure that we’re programming the way that we work out based on making sure that the skill is the focus, making sure that we have the proper energy devoted to that skill, we use what we call the five Ps. The first thing is our prep phase, and so this is where we’re looking at the warm-up, if you will, where we’re preparing the body to be able to do the work that we’re going to do throughout the session. This could be your mobility and your flexibility.
Ryan: Now, if we’re looking at this and we’re wanting to combine things into a current program, as I go through this, think about, for example, the flexibility, think about the strength, think about the control and the places within the five Ps that you can actually add things in there, and I’m talking like that one little thing, in order to help you for whatever current program you’re doing. I’m going to give some other examples down the line here of specific programming how that works, but basically, once again, looking at the mobility for that particular skill.
Ryan: Then the next thing you’re going to do is practice that skill. Again, we practice this skill at the very beginning because we want to practice at the highest level possible when we’re fresh. Similar to what Andy was saying, at the beginning of the week is when you want to focus on when you have the most energy and you’re going to be able to do those things very well, at a high level, and to gradually work down the line.
Ryan: And so the next thing for us could be play, and this could be where you’re trying out new things, and then moving us to push. And push, this is really where you hit it hard, for example, implementing other training protocols within there. Then, the final thing, of course, is ponder and we can get to ponder here in a little bit, but ponder goes beyond just simply thinking about your session. It could also be where you’re doing your breath work, it could be your meditation, things like that.
Ryan: Looking at some examples, let’s go back to a person who does crossfit and see how this could work. Let’s say that this particular person, their main goal right now, their focus to help their crossfit, is looking at the muscle up. They want to be able to do more muscle ups, and they understand that they’re having trouble with the transition component of that muscle up. This is a control issue, and so obviously because this is a control issue, they want to spend time focusing purely on that transition and performing it at a very, very high level. So that’s going to be their practice component of it.
Ryan: This is shoulder-based, and so what we’re going to do is during the prep portion focus just on that shoulder mobility, add in some exercises to help open up the shoulders. That’s obviously going to help as well with the snatches and some of the other overhead movements that they might be doing. Now, during that practice, when they’re working on the muscle up, they’re not just cranking things out. They’re doing one transition, focusing on a level that’s going to allow them to do this as beautifully as possible, because the better they can focus on doing that, the better off they’re going to be down the road when they’re cranking out muscle ups. So they’ll practice that a bit, making sure they take longer breaks in between so that they’re fresh to practice that.
Ryan: Their play can then be maybe handstand walking. Now, it might seem a little random in there, but the thing, again, is they’re not just trying to practice so much on. They’re just doing a little bit and having fun with it. This actually is kind of a way of practicing, but not quite the intensity that they’re going to be focusing on when they’re practicing the transition for the muscle up.
Ryan: Now, they can do all of this before the WOD, before that day’s workout of the day. So what is that WOD going to be? Well, it’s going to be different every day, but that’s their push for that particular day. This is how they can combine other components within that single day’s session and include that particular workout that they’re going to be doing, so they do their particular crossfit workout of the day during the push section.
Ryan: In ponder, they think about, “Okay, how was that? How did I feel? How are the shoulders going?” Then they can do, like I mentioned before, they can maybe add in some breath work, maybe do some meditation or whatnot. Now, that’s kind of an example of a specific single session, and using the crossfitter I think is a pretty good example because there’s a lot of different stuff going on in there.
Ryan: Now, I’m going to give you an example of me real quick, about how I’m doing things, because I’ve got GMB, I’ve got my Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and I’ve got my hiking that’s going on. Now, I don’t have separate sessions for each of those things. Years ago, the only thing I did was GMB. That was my job. I needed to be Mr. GMB, so that was my focus. The cool thing is now is that the GMB that I used, the way that I use GMB, is to help for the activities that I’m doing in my life. So it’s basically helping me for BJJ and for hiking. The thing is, I’m not trying to cram a bunch of stuff in there. I’m focusing on one theme, and I cycle it.
Ryan: For example, right now, my main theme is strength. For example, on the days that I’m not out hiking, I’m focusing on my leg strength. But that doesn’t mean that I’m only doing leg stuff. I’m also looking at upper body, but that’s maintenance mode. So I’m focusing on specific strength-building in my legs to be able to handle the load that I need when I’m hiking. It’s a very broad way of looking at it, but it actually simplifies things very … Makes it easier, because I don’t have to worry about a bunch of other stuff. I go and I know exactly what I do. I hit it hard on the days that I need to hit it, and then I go do my activities, and it’s actually pretty refreshing because it allows me both mentally and physically to enjoy it more. So by adding more stuff-
Andy: Right. This is really important.
Ryan: Yeah. Adding more stuff doesn’t equate to better. In my world, to be perfectly honest, I want to do less but have a better result. I want to be more efficient in everything that I’m doing. This is what programming really is about. A good coach is not going to throw everything into the mix. They should look at exactly what you need right now and make it as easy as possible for you to get the desired result. That’s really what we’re talking about, is when you combine things, you’re looking at exactly what you need and only adding in that single spice that’s going to make that dish taste even better. That’s really what we’re after when we’re doing this.
Andy: Right, and that’s something, like you said, is really important in programming. Yes, it’s what exercises are included in the programs, but equally important is which ones are not included in the program. Right?
Ryan: Right, right, right. Yes, yes. Very good, yes. Yeah.
Andy: Now, it’s really important to know what you’re not going to do. That’s going to allow you to focus on stuff that’s more important and is going to be better for you. That’s great if you can go into your strength session and you know you don’t have to work on stepping mechanics, you don’t have to work on your endurance. You don’t need to worry about any of that stuff. You don’t need to work on your ankle mobility because you’re doing those on different times. This is just a strength session. Just do your deadlifts, do your other things, and that’s it.
Ryan: Yeah. And again, for those of you listening, remember, it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to do those other things. It’s how you’re organizing these things in order to be able to continue doing it, and you’re looking at it on a macro and a micro scale. The macro of this, again, is cycles. During this particular block of time, by time in this case, we’re talking weeks, possibly months, but as a specific theme.
Ryan: Then later you can come back to that other theme and focus on that. But trying to cram everything in at the same time is really not going to give you the desired results. It’s a matter of being very focused on what you want to do, trusting in that process, and then just simply doing the work. That’s what’s really going to happen and help you with that. Be an adult and just accept that the tradeoffs are necessary. You’ve got to do that. That’s what it really comes down to.
Ryan: Again, like I just said, sometimes trying to combine a full program on top of another … In fact, let me rephrase that. Don’t combine multiple programs. I’m just going to say that. It’s going to take away the purpose of why each program was created. It’s going to muddy the waters. I say that a lot, and you don’t want to do that. You want to have a specific focus, and then on top of that you might add in one or two little supplement things, focusing on either strength, flexibility, or control.
Ryan: Yeah. So to wrap things up, remember, I gave you an example of how you can use the five Ps to help you organize things. We do have a full article. Look up the GMB method. Just type in GMB Fitness method. There’s a big article that goes over the five Ps, AAA framework, auto-regulation, a lot of other things that we cover. But the thing is, really it just comes down to being very focused, and then if you don’t know, ask. That’s another thing. That’s really important.
Andy: So if you’re still not convinced, after all of listening to us talk, that combining everything is a bad idea, I want you to try an experiment. I want you to go into your kitchen and get the biggest bowl you have, and put it on your stove. Then I want you to open your refrigerator and take out each item in your refrigerator and put just a little bit of it into that bowl. Everything. No excuses. I want an egg, I want some ketchup, I want some butter, I want some tomatoes, some mushrooms, a little bit of beef, a little bit of chicken, a little bit of that leftover stroganoff from last week-
Ryan: Oh yeah.
Andy: … a little bit of your leftovers from lunch yesterday. Take a little bit of everything. All of this is important. All of this is food, right? All of this is sustenance. All of it is good for you. You should be eating all of these things. So I want you to take a little bit of everything and put it in that bowl, heat it up, let it simmer. Get all the flavors just mixing around in there, right? And tell me if you want to put that in your mouth. Anytime you’re talking about combining programs, look at it like recipes. I always see it as a program is like a recipe. So if you take a lasagna recipe, great. If you have a oatmeal raisin cookie recipe, great. Now, don’t try to take the ingredients in both of those recipes, put them together, and make oatmeal raisin damn lasagna. Just don’t ever do this.
Andy: Right? This is what is happening when you try to combine multiple programs. Just don’t do it. I can’t stress this enough. It’s a bad idea.
Ryan: That is a horrible idea. Ugh. We’re going to leave you with a bonus tip. Now, this bonus tip is just really, the main goal here is just simply to help you to keep from trying to combine a whole lot of different stuff. So this bonus tip is just simply to let you know, if you feel that there’s something that you need to work on, let’s say … And we’re going to keep it simple. It’s just like a mobility. That’s it, mobility. Think about one place in your body, a specific, specific body part that you feel that you need better flexibility or mobility in.
Ryan: Go into the Google, type in GMB Fitness, and then after that put in a body part. Ankles, knee, shoulder, hips. Now, there’s going to be an article that’s going to pop up, GMB hip mobility. Great. Add in one of those movements from that article, which there’s going to be a video, tons of videos in there, big article explaining everything. Pick one single movement, that’s it, and just add that in there. If you want to supplement, that’s how you do it, and add it to your current session, do it on a different day just as a standalone thing, but that’s it. See how that goes. Just do that. That’s probably going to be good enough.
Andy: Yep. Absolutely. Remember, keep supplemental training supplemental. Keep your main thing your main thing, and yeah. All right, that’s it.
Ryan: Oatmeal lasagna for the win.
Andy: All right. Thanks for listening.
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