In this post i'm going to summarize the 20 minute section of the interview where he talks about training. It doesn't matter whether you are a layman or enthusiast with fitness and movement, there is some wisdom to be soaked up from the talk.
I won't go through the interview chronologically, because i'll be dissecting the conversation from the Movement Training perspective. So i'm going to talk about the points relating to that first.
For Firas, Wrestling, Grappling, Muay Thai and sparring are activities that evoke such feelings of timelessness. He then continues onto say that he can only handle between 5 to 20 minutes of fitness conditioning e.g. jumping hurdles and lifting weights, before getting bored.
He finishes with the fact that when he goes to the training room, he goes to have fun. Which means he has already pin pointed the physical activities that he connects with, that fulfill him and put him in a state of timelessness. Lo and behold - they are all movement laden disciplines with a range of unpredictable patterns, improvisation, reactions and the use of a variety of different skills. What a coincidence.
So Fitness according to Firas's personal preference, is a supplement to the main physical activities that are genuinely engaging. Namely, your sport or movement practice. Personally, I couldn't agree more.
This is important because it seems like a lot of people have got this concept backwards. Some people are still stuck in this "General Fitness" mindset, where the reason they go to the gym is to run on treadmills or wave some ropes across a room. They go and grind out exercises that incrementally chip away at their souls and leave them with a glazed look in their eyes on the way out.
There is a time and place for that, but in my opinion if that's the bulk of your training - you are completely missing the boat.
There is another way.
The problem is that no one likes to suck at anything. So, we tend to gravitate towards things that aren't going to make us look too bad or dent our egos. Generally speaking, you don't need to worry about whether you are flexing and extending your arms the wrong way during a bicep curl. Specially if you are sat at the machine that doesn't even let you go out of pattern. So even if the weight is extremely low, when a Gym Bro asks you why you're not going heavier, you can tell him your training for hypertrophy. Your ego remains intact from the outside, and you can just get on with the lifting.
You do get great hormonal effects from lifting weights. But just imagine being able to simultaneously compound those hormonal tonic effects with something that makes the laws of time stop before you. How much more do you think you're going to want to get yourself to move, train, explore and express your physicality in the long run?
A Movement Practice is initially more likely to humble you, expose you and make you realize where your weaknesses are in many different ways. There's no way around that. But once you start increasing in competence inside a movement context, the level of gratification you feel will multiply in magnitude. Likely to the point where you won't be able to wait for the next time you can practice.
Why? Because unlike with linear lifting patterns, the more movement you learn and perform, the more options you are giving your body to express itself. It opens up outlets for creativity outside of the restrictions of a barbell, cable machine or treadmill.
The point being, If you haven't experienced that, you have no idea what you are missing. So find a practice, get over that initial hurdle and you will never look back.
Consistency Over Intensity:
Next up, Firas touches on some concepts found in Pavel Tsatsouines books about different approaches to training. He talks of cleverly structuring your training sessions in order to compound the volume overtime as opposed to reap immediate gains.
He compares American wrestlers to Russian wrestlers and how their different training styles affect the practice. You might be thinking - Well Farid, i'm not a professional wrestler let alone athlete. But bear with me, because these concepts apply to the regular gym goer and movement enthusiast too.
Firas says the American style is to go into the gym hard and fast 3x per week. You come out of there feeling exhausted and sore for the next 3 days. This means that you will have put your body in a state of anxiety and will need full rest days in between to recover. Your capacity for movement will be limited during this period.
Russians, Cubans and Thais on the other hand have a different approach. A more playful approach. They tend to go in everyday, but leave a little something in the tank for later so that they still feel good and refreshed over the long run. Their training is slightly less brutal and leaves a little room to want more.
This is important because by doing this, you are avoiding a state of anxiety and you're more likely to create a positive feedback loop between you and your training. If you constantly go to your max all the time and burn out, you will have to work harder at convincing yourself to get to the gym next time. So think about doing a little bit less today but compound more total hours of training over the long run.
Constantly doing fatigue seeking activities and putting your body in a state of anxiety will eventually have a huge cost, despite how good it might feel now to have worked hard.
Firas makes some really interesting points throughout the training section of the interview which is at the start of the Podcast. If you consider yourself to be open minded, have a listen and digest what this man talks about. He's certainly not a novice in his field and his track record speaks for itself.
I leave you with all of his thoughts.
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Writing by @farid_herrera - 2018
Movement Teacher and practitioner.