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.


Monday, February 19, 2007


As I expected - my return to Lisses was just what I needed to refresh my mind, body and understanding of Parkour.

We were lucky enough to spend a great deal of time with Thomas-Des-Bois throughout the week and getting to know him, his training and his motivations has been one of the most defining moments in my training to date. It has changed my views on physical training once again and reminded me that to be useful able to use our ability in a 'real' situation, we need to broaden our training methods and imagine more extreme scenarios when we practice. I also picked up some very useful psychological techniques for overcoming fear and progressed more technically in that week, that I think I could do in 3 months at home.

It was also cool to catch up and train with other friends such as Jerome, Gouda, Bruce and Alex. I'm forever grateful for the 'always welcome' reception in Lisses and it's a true testament to their attitudes that they're still so open to visitors even after seeing their discipline exploited by various worldwide associations.

We trained every single day and night and having just done a quick count, I've worked out that we trained for just under 60 hours of a possible 154! Take into account the hour or so we spent eating per day and the 8 we did sleeping each night, and it truly was a case of doing nothing but eating, sleeping and training our asses off.

One of the most important parts of the trip for me was getting to know the guys I regularly train with week in, week out. I've known one of them for over 2 years and the others for over a year but you don't really know someone when you only spend two days per week with them so living with these guys for a week was truly a test of our friendship and I can happily say we all grew much closer during the week. I've not laughed that much in a LONG time.

So despite having written a long article on a training plan I was trying just before going to Lisses, I've decided to abandon that plan and train on a more day to day basis depending on what parts of my body are tired and what parts are feeling fresh. I've learnt in the past week that learning how to listen to your body and adapt your days' training around that is more productive and less likely to result in overuse injuries than sticking to a strict regime. Although regimes have worked very well for me in the past, I think that it's only now with that experience that I can trust my body to tell me what needs work rather than plan equal amounts of exercise for each body part during the week. If however you feel your training is lacking structure and it's what you might need more of until you can trust your body, then check out my article on Periodised Training for an alternate method of progression I researched over the past couple of months.

Having realised my strength level and ability in Lisses, my goal for now is to develop serious leg power and resistance by training repetitions of landings from a height (I'll carefully discover the height I'm comfortable landing from without a roll). Once per week I plan to do 50-100 repetitions of landings from this height then over time I'll very slowly increase the height until I notice my leg power improving significantly. Having spoken to Thomas about this in detail he advised me of how to do this in a safe manner and how to land and 'resist' the shock properly using muscles rather than trying to absorb it and risk damaging joints.

I am also going to work on my one-armed strength techniques such as pullups, chinups, hanging at different lock angles and of course pushups.

I'll let you all know how this training plan is working out for me and list the advantages and any disadvantages I come across.


Friday, February 09, 2007

'Snow Doubt I'll Be Back...

...but it won't be for a week. :P (Terrible play on words and the current weather, I know).

So I'm off to Lisses with 6 of my good friends to train, learn, recollect my thoughts and just ground myself again by realising how weak I really am compared to the French.

See you all when I get back, take care and train hard.