Interval Weight Training

Garage Gym Athlete
Interval Weight Training

Hey, Athletes! Interval Weight Training  Episode of The Garage Gym Athlete Podcast is up!

Interval Weight Training


  • Jerred discusses interval weight training
  • He goes through a scientific paper written in the 1980's that discusses the training method
  • Jerred gives his own thoughts on interval weight training
  • And A LOT MORE!!

Diving Deeper…

If you want to go a little bit deeper on this episode, here is a link to the study for you: 

Garage Gym Athlete Workout of the Week 

Don't forget to watch today's podcast!

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To becoming better!

- Jerred

Podcast Transcript

Jerred: Today we're going to be discussing a paper from 1987 called Interval Weight Training, A Scientific Approach to Cross Training for Athletic Strength Fitness. I think it's a phenomenal paper. We're going to talk about its application today, how you can get a hell of a lot fitter following this protocol, and how I plan to update Into the year 2024.

This is the garage gym athlete podcast. And we're here to build autonomous athletes and put phenomenal programming into every garage basement and spare bedroom out there. I'm Jared moon. And with Joe Courtney, we are strength and conditioning coaches who have turned over 20, 000 people into garage gym athletes over the last decade.

And we're here to reduce the information overload that exists in the health and fitness industry today. We're going to do that by covering relevant science and give actionable takeaways, not only from the data, but from our years of experience. So let's dive in.

All right, let's dive right into this. I'm going to be reading a good amount of this paper. It's a short paper. If you want access to it, you can go to garagegymathlete. com. You can go to our blog and read the show notes for any podcast. And I'll link this paper. It's only a few pages. I'm not going to read it word for word.

This is a paper. It is not a scientific study. It is from the NSCA Journal, Volume 9, Number 2, 1987. The author is Pat O'Shea. So he came up with the method, Interval Weight Training. And if you've been around Garage Gym Athlete for any amount of time, you've seen it. We IWTs or it'll be called Interval Weight Training.

We've programmed it. Even though I knew how to program it, I had not been, I had not been into the literature as much. I didn't realize Pat O'Shea had been working on this system, this method for 25 years. I was just aware of how to program it at a broad level. But again, I didn't, had no idea how much research he had put into it in the time, effort and energy.

And as I have been crafting my own programming, my own training, I don't like to reinvent the wheel. We have a lot of our own methodologies, but I'd say every method that we have, we're really standing on the shoulders of giants, right? So we're making their systems better. And that's what I think I can help bring to the garage gym athlete community.

With interval weight training and some of the additions that I have to it, which I'll talk about at the end of the podcast, but I want to talk about what interval weight training is so you get a better understanding of it. I'm going to start by reading the introduction to this paper. It says the training of athletes for sports, which demands varying combinations of strength, muscular endurance, power, and cardiovascular fitness is a formidable challenge.

In general, the traditional approach is to isolate. One variable at a time and focus attention on its development. While this method is effective in terms of maximizing improvement of a single variable, it is time consuming and inefficient when attempting to simultaneously train multiple variables, which is needed.

What is needed is a method of athletic type weight training that utilizes the multivariable cross training concept. So this is something that he was looking to develop. Started it all the way back in 1969. First proposed in 1969 by Pat O'Shea. This is written in 1987. He could tell that there was just something missing when you get into this concurrent training modality.

And how some people are viewing concurrent training is what I'm calling just the straight line approach. And that's where one day is conditioning. One day is, weightlifting either hypertrophy or strength based, power based lifting. And you can do that and you can see some results, but like he said, it's incredibly time consuming, all the programs.

Other than our own, who I, when I see people trying to do concurrent training, it's adding hours and hours which I really think is inefficient. Hours having two hour training sessions for the aerobic side, two hour, two hour sessions for the strength side. And he decided that he was just going to combine them.

And, really he's calling it his own thing, interval weight training, but to me, it's a profound approach to concurrent training where we're not training anything in isolation, we're actually training everything differently. And you could be thinking CrossFit, right? CrossFit does this.

They'll have a strength component and an aerobic component in the same workout. But it's, I've talked about this way too much on the podcast, in all honesty. It's inefficient. They didn't get it right either. And so where I want to pick up is where Pat O'Shea left it. And here's what he says about conventional strength training.

And he points to some studies. He says a further review of research, and he's talking about conventional strength training. Seems to support the finding that it's just overall ineffective. So he says, 16 weeks of weight training did not produce any improvement in cardiovascular function. Faye and Brown reported a decrease in VO2 max after 9 weeks of strength training.

Hickson, who's like concurrent training, God, if you will, he studied strength training effects on both aerobic and anaerobic power. No significant improvement was observed after 10 weeks of training based on the reviewed literature. Conventional strength training is limited in developing total athletic strength fitness.

So he's Hey, conventional strength training is great if you want to get stronger, but it does crap for your VO two max. It doesn't make you any fitter. And then he also looked at circuit weight training, which I feel like isn't as big these days. It was definitely in the eighties and early nineties.

So circuit weight training is where you're doing several movements back to back several strength movements back to back. So you can have a leg press bicep curl, lat pull down. Like it was big with machines in the eighties and nineties and some people even do it today. So you're just going back to back, whatever, anywhere from five to 12 exercises.

You also are doing higher repetitions, typically 10 to 15 reps. And there was some there was some literature on this as well. And he said Alan, which is, another author of a study, looked at the effects of circuit weight training on cardiovascular function following a 12 week training program.

No significant changes occurred in VO2max. Maximum cardiac output or stroke value, volume. Wilmore found that after 10 weeks of circuit weight training program, 12 men, 12 women improved 11 percent in VO2max, but 16 men showed no improvement. He concluded that women were working at a greater percentage of their maximum heart rate over the men.

Let's see, he goes on to say Getaman conducted a 20 week study on circuit weight training using 20 men based on the premise that better aerobic training effects would be achieved with a longer training period, however, only a 3. 5 percent improvement in VO2 max was realized. And he said overall in like circuit weight training, none addressed the cross training problem of simultaneously developing dynamic strength, muscular endurance, and power.

And in my opinion, those are the things that you want. Exactly what he said. How do we get, how do we simultaneously develop dynamic strength, muscular endurance, and power? How do we do these things? Because another thing with the straight line method of concurrent training that I'm not in love with is everything's literally in a straight line.

Like you are running in a straight line. You are cycling in a straight line. You are lifting in a straight line. Everything's done in a straight line. You might be asking, why does that matter? When there's no rotational, there's no power, there's no dynamic efforts. You're increasing the chance of injury and you're losing all athleticism.

You're gaining fitness, so don't confuse the two. You're gaining a ton of fitness. Your VO two max could be off the charts. You could run a marathon. You could be pretty strong, but you are not athletic. Those are different things. An athlete can move dynamically. An athlete can move left to they can turn, they can rotate, they can jump, they can do all sorts of things, and I think that's where the deline delineation needs to happen.

Now, continuing into the paper. He then proposes interval weight training. So you're like, okay what is it? It's not conventional strength training. It's not circuit weight training. It's not CrossFit. What is it? There's an IWT formula in the IWT formula is anaerobic work interval plus active rest interval.

And so what it looks like, I'm just going to give you an example. And this is also in the paper you would there are essentially four parts to it. So the first part is a warmup. You're going to do like a five minutes five minutes of aerobic activity is his suggestion. And then you go to part two and part two is where you're going to select like your strength movement.

So you can like very common movements and interval weight training are, is going to be some sort of pressing. So incline bench press. overhead strict press, bench press push press. You could add power movements in there. Olympic lifts, like clean and jerk snatch. Also lower body squat, front squat.

I don't know if I've seen it done with deadlift. I'm sure you could program it in there, but he predominantly seems to like front squat front squat, back squat, and I think weighted lunges. So anyway, you select one of those exercises as your first thing. And. I'm, this is an endurance endurance athlete example.

So the first set, you do 50 percent of your one rep max for 15 reps. And then as soon as you were done with those 15 reps, you'd hop on the treadmill for instance. So you go from your strength activity immediately to your monostructural activity. So monostructural being, it could be rowing, it could be skier, it could be biker, it could be running, it could be jump rope, something like that.

So what you're going to do, you do 50 percent of your one rep max, 15 reps. As soon as you set the bar down, you would then go to three minutes of your target heart rate, which is typically like 90%, it's really high heart rate stuff for three minutes. Okay. So just picture that real quick. You do 15 reps of the bench press at 50 percent of your one rep max.

You hop off the bench, you hop on the treadmill, you run for three minutes, pretty damn hard. This would be a pretty hard interval, three minutes, 90 percent heart rate. Let's just say high heart rate. And then you rest 90 seconds. And he was very adamant about not letting your heart rate drop too low.

And he had the number one 10 that he was looking at. So if you finish those three minutes and your heart rate jump drops below one 10, so you just like fully recover, you weren't going hard enough is what he says. And then if it. If it doesn't recover, say it's at 140 after all that, you're probably taxing yourself too hard.

So the recovery is very important here. And I'll have a, I'll have more to say about that as we dive into the paper a little bit more, but you do that four times. So the first set would be 50 percent of your one rep max. Three minutes of running. The second set will be 60%, three minutes. Third set would be 70%, three minutes.

And then the fourth set would be 70 percent and three minutes. All of those being a percentage of your one rep max and shooting for 12 to 15 reps. And you do rest 90 seconds between all four of those sets. Having done a lot of interval weight training and I'm currently experimenting with a lot of it now.

It is incredibly taxing. It is very taxing. And so that would just, that was the pressing movement. So that's part two of the workout. Then you do a lower body. So then you could do back squat or front squat, and it follows the same exact movement pattern. So four sets, you go 50, 60, 70%. You rest a minute and a half to two minutes between sets.

You're going for 15 reps. And he does drop the treadmill running to two minutes in this example, instead of three minutes, because it, you will There will be some accumulated fatigue as you go through this. So we've got the warmup, we've got the pressing with the treadmill, and then we have the back squat or front squat with a treadmill, very taxing.

And then you finish with what he calls interval circuit weight training. And this is where it's more like circuit training. So in his example, you do 15 curls. You did do dead hang power, clean, or snatch eight to 10 reps. Dumbbell flies, 15 reps. An abdominal exercise for 20 reps. And then you do treadmill running for three minutes, rest two minutes.

And you repeat that circuit two to three times. That's it. So that's the entire interval weight training workout. Now we've never actually programmed this in its entirety at Garage Gym Athlete. What we've always programmed is one singular bout of interval weight training. So we'd have the pressing with the aerobic activity with the rest, right?

That's what we do. And we do that for three to four sets. We'd have that, but the full workout is going to take you an hour possibly an hour, 15 minutes. My, in my testing, this is taking me about right at an hour each time I've done a similar workout. So you've got the warmup, you got interval weight training one, which is a press interval weight training two, which is lower body.

And then you have interval circuit weight training, which is then again, more demanding. So pretty. Overall, like I said, very taxing very beneficial. In the limited time that I've been doing it, my, my VO2 max on my garment has been just stuck in one spot for months and months. I, a couple weeks of this in my Garmin when I run now is already reporting higher VO2 max.

And it's because a lot of my training is way more intense than it was previously. I'm actually getting fitter, but interval weight training so far, I actually love it as someone who has, who's moving away from a little bit more of that focused barbell work. And wanting to just be athletic and ready for anything and everything.

I'm really falling in love with interval weight training. The only cons that I'm running into is it is really taxing, and where this is different than like CrossFit, CrossFit never had any kind of structure to their programming that I could find that anyone could point out unless the programmer decided to put structure to it.

That was the first biggest problem. Second. There was never recovery periods built in. So in this you rest 90 seconds to two minutes in between every set. And then in between pressing and squatting, you're going to rest for another three minutes of five minutes rest. So there's just a lot of rest built into all this.

And that's really how interval training should be done. Even if you're doing stuff like CrossFit. CrossFit on the other hand could have a 30 minute workout for time. You're just supposed to do it. It's supposed to make it as hard as you can, but you're not actually training anything when you go through that, you might be training your aerobic system to some degree, but you're not getting high heart rate enough because you're too taxed.

There's no recovery. So you're not able to, your body's not able to truly practice anaerobic recovery. And so you're not able to improve in that capacity either. So all those flaws of CrossFit, that's not what this is. It's specifically its own thing. And it's called interval weight training. Now what I went through 12 to 15 reps, all that was the endurance protocol.

There's a power protocol where you're just doing three to six reps. Things are a lot heavier and that's all in the paper. If you want to dive in and program this stuff for yourself again, check out our show notes. And he has all the examples of that kind of stuff in here. And he does have some really good descriptions.

Now I want to read his general conclusions. And then I want to talk about how I'm adapting it to some degree. He says, Interval weight training may very well be one of the most important athletic training concepts advanced in the past 25 years. The use of interval weight training requires determination, motivation, and a positive self image.

That physiologically all systems say go, the body is strong, powerful, and capable of coping with the intense training demands placed on it. When properly applied, IWT has the capacity to prove to produce a more powerful athlete possessing a high degree of recovery fitness. One of the main keys to achieving maximum athletic performance is the athlete's ability to make a complete recovery as soon as possible between training sessions.

Faster recovery rate allows for greater training intensity more frequently, which translates into optimal and more consistent competitive performance. In Athletic Strength Training and Conditioning, the name of the game is Optimizing Performance Through the Application of Scientific Principles.

This is what IWT is all about. So overall, I'm really in love with the methodology. I think it's awesome. And something that, like my biggest takeaway in this, like I said, is let's make something that somebody already spent 25 years on. Let's make it better. How can we improve this? And what I'm experimenting with is the thing I don't love about the interval weight training protocol.

Is when I don't have a, when I don't have a system to apply it longterm, for example, he has an example of the training interval, weight training protocol, and then he talks about how to cycle that through probably, it looks like six weeks worth of training, but then it loses any kind of structure beyond that, but what I've been doing, and I think is a really solid approach to this.

Is he really has the three main parts? He has the interval weight training, one interval weight training two, and then the interval circuit weight training and what we have at garage gym athlete and what I spent a lot of time developing is body geometry, which is our strength system. And all of our athletes who are going through the program right now have been experiencing body geometry, and we've gotten some amazing feedback.

This cycle, as we've done more body geometry than ever in the past. So what I am doing is I am taking that methodology and putting it into interval weight training protocols. And this is what you can see in the next cycle of 2024 at garage gym athlete on the hard to kill track. So it's not going to be every single day that we're doing interval weight trainings, but it will be more frequently a couple of times per week.

Maybe one to two times per week, we'll be doing some interval weight training protocols. But it's going to have the flavor of a body geometry. So not like a repeat of anything that we've done by any means. The beauty in body geometry, aside from the movements themselves, is it seeks to balance out everything.

It seeks to balance out a horizontal push, horizontal pull, rotational movements, push, pull, overall, squat, all these things. It's really taking into account all of these. So if you follow the full checklist for body geometry, You become very well rounded. You're not leaving anything out.

You have power movements, you have isolation movements, you have isometric contractions, you have regular muscle contractions, and like I said, all the different planes of movement are being balanced out as well. And that's across three days. That's how body geometry works. Like Pat O'Shea, this is his contribution to the fitness industry.

Body geometry is what I see as my contribution to the fitness industry. And now what I want to do is combine the two. Combine 25 years worth of work or more by Pat O'Shea in interval weight training and add body geometry to it. Now we're getting the same protocols that he's talking about. We're building athletic individuals.

We are getting everything that he's talking about, dynamic power, athletic development, strength, we're getting all of those things, but we're now putting more structure behind exactly which movements you program and where, and I think that this is going to be awesome. Now, I'm not trying to say all this as a super early like a tease, teaser to the next cycle, because we have I dunno, another couple of weeks before the next cycle would be published.

For anybody who's interested, that's not the main reason I'm doing this. I just wanted to update everybody because I've been doing a lot of interval weight training. I've been mentioning it. And people have been asking questions and I want to talk about how I'm blending these two things in.

And Hey, if you don't want to do garage gym athlete and do my version of interval weight training, at least you listened to this podcast, you now understand interval weight training a little bit more, and you also know where you can go to, to learn more about this and program it overall. I think interval weight training is awesome for anybody.

I do think as a human being, not only do I love concurrent training. But I also love being more athletic in nature as someone who's been running a lot and doing a lot of straight line movements. So just I just went through several cycles of just more hypertrophy based body geometry work and running in a straight line.

And while that was fun, fine, I've talked about on the podcast a lot, I felt very Unathletic, I just did not feel great. And that's because I was coming from an athletic background. I'm sure if I had never had the ability to jump, run, throw all the things that I have been able to do with a more athletic more athletic training and build that I've had over the years, I'm sure it'd be fine.

But someone who came from that to this very monostructural running straight lines, lifting straight lines is one very boring, but two, I feel like I lost a lot of edge. I feel like I was not near as athletic. I felt like I couldn't jump as well. I couldn't play sports as well. All of those things. And now that I've been adding this type of training back, I feel so much better.

I feel like I'm gaining my athleticism back and I, that might not be everybody's goal. Look, like I said, you can get fitter. You can run in a straight line and you can lift weights and you will improve your fitness. It will be great for your health. There's nothing wrong with that. Again, that's concurrent training.

I think everyone should be doing concurrent training. And if that's what you're doing, do it, just do it that way. And that will be awesome for you. It'd be so good for you. But if you're looking for that plus You want to be an athletic human, a human, who's ready for anything more like an operator, more like a firefighter, more law enforcement, something like that.

If you're more interested in someone who's being ready for anything at any time, you want the athleticism. You want the aerobic power, the VO two max and the strength. This interval weight training protocol, plus what we're doing with body geometry is an amazing way to go about it. So hopefully you learned something new about interval weight training and something that you can apply.

Again, go to garagegymathlete. com. Check out the blog and the show notes on interval weight training. And you can click on this paper by Pat O'Shea and you can learn all about it. Program it for yourself. If you want, if you don't want to program it for yourself and you want to see what we're doing, you can go to garagegymathlete.

com. The next cycle on the hard to kill track, we'll have plenty of this. On it. And it's going to be a lot of fun. All right. That's it for this one for all of our athletes, sticking around, doing the training, I really do appreciate each and every single one of you for sticking around, doing it, trying out my, all my crazy methods and getting fitter in the process.

Now, for anyone who is interested, go to garagegymathlete. com sign up for a free trial, and we would love to have you. That's it for this one. Remember if you don't kill comfort will kill you.

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