As the guys at GMB state, the early stage of Integral Strength (IS) is low-intensity and designed to give you a good gauge of an appropriate starting point.
The week commences with an assessment involving a collection of movements, which will form the backbone of the IS program. I’m still unsure as to how the results of the assessment will be used. My initial impression was that the findings of the assessment, such as chin-up competency, would then be used to dictate future training sessions. However, this doesn’t appear to be the case.
The following two sessions of the week are ‘Practice Circuits’. These sessions involve regressed versions of the main exercises performed in short bouts. This confused me somewhat given the assessment protocol.
If, for example, you demonstrate good chin-up competency, what is the benefit in taking the exercise right back to a ‘jump to controlled lower’? In my opinion, based on how one fairs with the assessment, this should give the individual a starting point. This would cater for both complete novices, and others with some experience.
The allocated time to perform each exercise is 20 seconds. I understand the rationale of selecting a time limit rather than specific reps and sets, as this allows one to focus on optimal form. Though 20 seconds is incredibly short!
My other major qualms with the IS program thus far include:
- Working through the videos while performing the circuit is a slow and disjointed process. This is necessary and unavoidable in the earlier phases. My issue stands with the drawn out nature with which exercises are described. Ryan Hurst, the presenter, comes across as an amiable character, though it is at the detriment of creating concise videos.
- The assessment guidelines are not 100% clear, in terms of the desired outcome. The print out asks for a subjective rating, “At what level can you perform the chin-up with good form?”, while the video asks for the number of reps completed with near-perfect form
The positives which I have taken away from week one include:
- Forgot sets and reps – focus on quality. This is a nice step away from the traditional approach. I had to regularly remind myself to focus on good body posture and breathing, rather than making it to the 8th rep any which way.
- The movements selected provide excellent balance in terms of overall development. Furthermore, the deconstructed exercises make this applicable for green thumbs.
- Unfamiliarity. IS includes movements which I wouldn’t consider and thus has me moving out of my comfort zone. This is important for all-round strength development.
I’m interested to see how week two ramps up. I wouldn’t consider myself particularly well-versed in bodyweight training and thus suspect this week may provide a bit more of a challenge.