Low Versus High Intensities
Our cells are capable of altering their activity. At a certain activity level, the cells are actually recovering at the same rate they are working. At that intensity level, they can continue to work indefinitely. Likewise, if you were to take a class in school, and if the teacher explains things at a certain rate, you can understand and make sense of what he or she is saying at the same rate that he or she is speaking. This represents the line between the two basic training intensities.
In the real world, the baseline doesn’t really exist. As soon as you are awake, the sum total of your cells are already working harder than what they can recover from. That is why eventually you cannot survive without sleep, which is a physiological state in which the sum total of work the cells has to do drops low enough that they can actually recover. In the same way, if you take a class that is a little harder, the teacher is giving information that you don’t immediately grasp. The only way to actually make sense of all that information would be to go somewhere quiet where no new information is coming in, and organize/make sense of all those things circulating in your head.
It is so fundamentally important to understand the interaction between these two basic intensities that if it took you a year to get only this basic part of your training schedule right it would be worth it. There are some people who are good at generating the high intensity, but have a hard time functioning at the low intensity. This person absorbs tremendous amounts of information and at the same time are incapable of organizing or making sense of it. They are overwhelmed, and so are their cells, which are capable of working hard and incapable of recovering. There is a smaller group of people who have a hard time generating intensity. This type of person doesn’t really learn or grow and ends up weak. The simple formula for success in any field or physiology is the act of training the different intensities.
Five General Intensities
Bracing is the first intensity. Deadlifts are an example when you tighten up your whole body and lift as hard as you can. The second intensity is when the one big movement is broken down into a sequence of movements. The third intensity requires more refined control in which the movement can be done backwards. Control sets the stage for the next two intensities, the fourth being endurance and the fifth being explosiveness. Those are the five intensities we have to develop for each movement. We could call sleep the sixth intensity, but training is like learning a yo-yo. If you do the five intensities, sleep happens automatically. There are no sleep drills, and on the other hand proper training is what causes sleep to happen.