Friday, February 23, 2007

The Evolution of Hell Night

With time, it's now obvious to me that Hell Night needs to evolve into something else. A more personal battle.

It's been over 20 weeks since the first Hell Night in Leicester and on Wednesday of this weeek we tried something different. The idea I had was to take each individual's personal weaknesses in to account and suggest that each person focus on that weakness.

Hell Night was an essential programme to condition my body and mind to a higher standard. I'm stronger and faster than I've ever been and my body fat percentage has dropped. But I have to admit I was perhaps being a little selfish by shaping the exercises around my personal goals of increased upper body strength and power.

Since most people have much stronger legs than they have arms anyway, everyone was happy with the program and saw results. Fast.

But after 20 weeks of conditioning, all of the people who weren't mentally tough enough to push through the pain barriers, keep going when they could hardly breathe and do that one final rep when it felt like their heads would explode have stopped coming. We're now left with the hardcore warriors who know what it means to work hard to achieve results and have a great mindset to make the most of those 4 hours.

So I think it's only now with almost 6 months of experience that we're all ready to step away from the group element and focus on training in the areas we each need to improve on individually. For example, on Wednesday I spent 4 hours doing pushups, muscle ups, dips, cat crawling, climbups, shimmying across sharp ledges and running on my own because at the time my upper body felt strong and I wanted to break it down and test it's ability to heal. The next day I had only minor stiffness in my shoulders and today I'll be training one armed negative chin ups and pull ups. Next Wednesday I'll work the various leg muscles for 4 hours.

I think in the old programme, a major motivator to keep going was to see the man in front and the man behind sweating and suffering the same pain as you so it was a test to push myself just as hard when I knew it was just me suffering in that particular exercise. But afterwards we all got together again and agreed it was a brilliant session and people were happy they could work on their weaknesses. Nobody had trouble driving themselves as hard as usual.

We had tested the idea of not using the group for support before when on a couple of occassions we completed the 4 hours in total silence without bellowing "COME ON, KEEP PUSHING" or "AAAAAAAAARGH!" every few minutes (hahahaha) but this was a bigger step.

I think it takes a very disciplined person to exercise and push themselves for 4 hours with no encouragement so if you've recently started your own Hell Nights in your area then I would suggest continuing with the group training and supporting each other in a general body strengthening programme until the minds and bodies are collectively strong enough and just need some refinement in certain areas. When you get to that stage (I would recommend 20 weeks as it seemed like a natural time for us) then look into what your weaknesses are and focus on them without relying on your unit for support.

Hope you all have a great weekend, I'm in the mood to train arm jumps galore! I'm hoping there's gale force winds and heavy rain so I can drill the jumps I'm comfortable with in harsh conditions.



Anonymous said...

Sounds cool chris, well done. i do have a problem with one of the things you said though. leaving people behind was a tad harsh. some people aren't as good at pushing themselves as others. but yeah. keep training. keep working hard. your an inspiration man :)

Chris 'Blane' Rowat said...

Yo Sims, reading that over it did come across a little negatively which wasn't my intention.

I provide full support to people who want to do strength training of any kind. I get a lot of people come to me and ask for advice on training and building strength and I spend a lot of time helping them, designing personal training plans for them to suit their needs, offer nutritional advice, recovery from injury methods etc.

Anyone is welcome to come to Hell Night but if they're struggling and I think they're pushing themselves TOO hard and risking injury or health problems then I suggest they take a few weeks out in their own time to get fitter. It's not like they're abandoned, I'll help them to get stronger. :D

Just wanted to clear that up so you don't think I'm harsh towards less fitter people.

Hell Night has always been for people ready to take their strength training to the next level, rather than provide a beginner's guide to strength training and I do all I can to help people get to that level where they're confident to complete 4 hours of hard work.


Jak Sheen said...

Sounds mint. I have just got a pullup bar in my room and i have got muscle ups going aswell, so i think i am going to start doing hell nights on my own in cheadle hulme, if thats a good idea to do them on your own :-|

Any tips?

Chris 'Blane' Rowat said...

Nice one on getting the bar Jak, I truly think mine is the best £5 I've ever spent, I use it so more than I use my bed (which is quite a claim)!

You could no doubt start Hell Nights on your own but as I mentioned in this post, it may be difficult to motivate yourself to REALLY push it every week.
I read a book on the Navy SEAL BUD/S training (widely recognised as the toughest military training course in the world) and they did scientific tests to find out about the relationship between the body and the brain during exercise. They found that your body is capable of 10x more than the brain lets you believe. The reason for this is that the brain likes to keep enough energy for the body so that you still have the ability to function in a life threatening situation... so when you think you are at your limit, take comfort in knowing you are NOWHERE NEAR IT! They also found that the group suffering as a whole made the students come together and form a really strong bond and united front. They all agreed that the only thing that made them work so hard and never give up, was the men around them giving 110%. So it would take an iron will to push yourself as hard as you could in a group Jak but give it a go and let us know how you get on bro.

Another point worth mentioning about the BUD/S training is that they don't have a Hell Day, or a Hell Night - they have a Hell WEEK! Five days of constant exercise and drills with less than a few moments sleep in the entire week. It's designed to break people and truly test the will of the soldiers. Hell Week at BUD/S was actually the inspiration for Hell Night and what we do by comparison is mild. It teaches you to just relentlessly put one foot in front of the other, do one more repetition, crawl one more inch etc.


Jak Sheen said...

Thanks man, i got a new thingy today where you have to try and hop down a rail 10 time on one leg and then 10 on the toher until you have moved down the hole rail. Gonna try and use it in my enw hell night thingymawatsit.

Jak Sheen said...

Woops, forgot to ask, any things that you could suggest doing?

Anonymous said...

Talking about evolution, where is the boundary between pushing yourself TOO hard for your body and pushing just enough for you to progress? I'm interested in this because, as I have previously mentioned I'm recovering from a muscle injury of the back... erector spinae, lattismus dorsi, something like that is still giving me discomfort when trying to really push myself harder... and that is why my recovery process is delayed. So how to know where your abilities end?

Badonkajunky said...

Hey Blane, this is Severmine who tried to contact you through TT contacts about your workout article. After noticing you had a blog and skimming through I realized I could conact you here and ask you to please disregard that "enquiry". I was an hour into my workout and it was stupid of me to even bother, I was kind of out of it. Very inspiring blog though, even started my own fitness blog as well. Cant wait to see whats in store in the future, good luck

antiggo said...

Hey Blane, very nice post.
I think you have a very good balance in your training. Your posts have really motivated me. :)

Ben Nuttall said...

I was glad to read your response to Sims' comments about you sounding harsh in the original post, as that's how I felt, like you were taking 5 steps ahead of everyone else and kinda leaving them struggling with little motivation with nothing to work towards, but I think you've cleared it up now.

Our Sheffield conditioning sessions are going well (2 per week now), there are only a few of us who attend, due to the gym being open that day and the majority of our lot would prefer to pay £6 to do flips, but we seem to be improving and enduring more each session.

I never saw myself prioritising conditioning over actual parkour, but that's how it's been recently, which is a change for the better, I'm sure.

Keep it all up, mate. Good luck to all the Leicester Hell Night participants!


Chris 'Blane' Rowat said...

Sorry for the late reply...

Jak - Focus on bodyweight exercises that you can do around your area. Although it depends on the specifics of your training area, all you really need for a complete upper body workout would be:

-A tree or bar for pullups, chinups, deadhangs, leg raises etc.

-A staircase to crawl up and down backwards.

-A long wall or low roof to traverse in the arm jump position or shimmy across. This will also be great for climbups.

If you use your imagination with those there are many different variations you can do to challenge your body and push it hard.


crysiss - Although this will differ from person to person, the general thing to remember is you can do more than you think. Push yourself up to the point where you would normally stop then try and do a little more. Whether that's another metre, another 2 repetitions or another 10 seconds, just give it that extra effort. It's important to first let your injuries heal however so I wouldn't recommend trying to increase your strength in those areas until they are 100%. Rest, slowly rehabilitate then when you're fit, focus on regaining the strength you had and building more.

If in doubt as to whether your injuries are taking too long to heal, get to a doctor!


Severmine - Hello! Well feel free to email me or contact me through here, I check both regularly for messages. If you have any questions about my workout regime or anything you read on here then just ask and I'll do my best to help.


Antiggo - Cool, keep up the training!


Ben - Glad to hear you're focusing more on conditioning. In my opinion conditioning and preparing your body is 50% of the whole. It's no less important than practicing techniques as without a strong body, all of the technical ability in the world will only get you so far.
To progress to our potential we really need to focus on developing our physical side. The great thing about it is you notice the difference quickly and all of your movements feel easy and effortless.

Good luck with your Sheffield conditioning sessions, keep me informed of how it's going and perhaps I'll come along to one some day. =)

Ben Nuttall said...

Cheers Blane, you're definitely right about the overall importance of body conditioning in addition to techniques and such practise.
Jin taught me a useful manoeuvre for double-arm climb-ups, which I seemed to get immediately and I can now do them comfortably every time, provided my arms are not dead from the previous exercise lol.

It would be great to have you over for a conditioning session some time, see if you can sort something out with Jin some time.
We were thinking of tripping it to Leicester for one of yours soon, as Jin proposed.

Keep it all up, you beast.


Anonymous said...

Here in Canada, Montreal he have a thing called the training crew. It is every saturday. It starts at 9:30 A.M. then physical training non-stop until noon. At noon we eat then head out for the technical training until 4 - 5 P.M. .It is very fun and it helped me to progress a lot.