Heavy Supports and "Normal" Training
Here's an interesting question from the mail bag:

Hey JW, I was curious as to how you would integrate bone strength training into a normal training program.Seeing as it's a long term project to do it right I'm presuming you would need to keep training strength, cardio etc.

Dan Crockett

Dan, an excellent query, thanks for sending it my way. Initially -- I'm talking for the first year or so of heavy supports workouts -- I did no other full range movements.

Part of this was due to practicality, since I didn't want to extend my workouts any longer but the other part of it was that I wanted to isolate this type of training to see if it by itself did what I thought it would do.

I figured that once I had the medical tests to back up that it did I could start to reintroduce "normal" training back into the fold with the idea that since I had made more "room" by increasing bone mass, I would now be able to fill it readily.

I resumed *some* normal training just before my last DEXA scan, which occurred last fall.

Just as I had hoped, it indicated that I had not only reduced my bodyfat percentage by 3%, I had also gained three pounds of solid muscle mass -- which is a lot.

My protocol clearly works, but it also created a lot of questions and other interesting directions to take this discussion...

* What exactly is the mitigating factor here. mechanical load... or frequency?

* Is there a minimum (or maximum) threshhold for either (or both)?

* How heavy is too heavy?

* ...and what about the influence of "normal" training once that becomes more a part of the schedule?

* Does heavy supports translate to "functional ability?" If so, how?

These are the kinds of things that I'm still wondering myself. I don't necessarily have all the answers, but I can certainly tell you how things have been so far for me.

I'm still doing two heavy support workouts a week, although the reason is pretty elemental, -- things have been so busy lately that it is just easier to do them since I don't have to think as much.

When things slow down a bit, perhaps later this month, I intend to keep with the supports, but to devote only one session a week to them, with the other being "normal" full range movements.

Is that enough of a "dose" to work?

I think so.-- which is one very simple way to answer Dan's question but I'll be able to tell you a lot more in a few months once I get a bunch of workouts under my belt with that particular scheme.

Now, how about "cardio" and "functional ability?"

What I can tell you is that in addition to the heavy supports, I have been on a regular diet of using the rowing machine, in fact, in 2016, my goal has been to get in a session every day, something which I have stuck to nearly without fail.

These are my current seasonal bests -- notice that they have all been set recently.  Yes, I know I'm a little soft in the middle "third," but that's only because I haven't gotten around to going for those records yet, I still have two months left in the season to do so. Several of those scores are all-time PRs, and on several others I am within 10 seconds or so.

The more importantpoint which I think this data illustrates is that it is not often that you find someone who is 90+ percential across the board, from sprints all the way to long distances, which counts for something. For the last year and a half, I have done no other leg work but heavy supports and a set of bodyweight squats once in a while. Interestingly, my legs are just as sore the day after a heavy support session as they are after doing a heavy squat workout. I dont know what that means exactly but I certainly can't argue with the results.

It should be noted that I have made a recent change in my initial protocol which I discuss in the video on support training which we recently posted in The Iron League:


And also, in case you are interested, we just posted this extremely rare course which offers even more grist for the mill on this subject:

If you want to learn all you can about this intensely fascinating topic, it would be a great idea to join us.

Otherwise, the only way to find out the answer to all those questions which are bouncing around in my head is to do exactly what I'm doing: stick with it. My next DEXA scan will be in a month or two and I have little doubt that the results will be even more eye opening...

Stay tuned.

Train hard,
John Wood

Heavy Supports and "Normal" Training