Most people are specialists in their professions. Whether you’re an immigration lawyer, a chef or a coder, part of your daily grind is keeping up with everything that’s going on in your industry and learning new ways to do things better. It’s the same for us. We specialize in efficient, comprehensive training, and we keep up with the research so you don’t have to.

We intentionally try to take away all the hassles that come with ‘exercise’ so you literally just have to find 30 minutes to fit us in at some point in your day.


New research comes out all the time on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and in exercise science in general. We’ve extracted and implemented some great ideas from the research and will continue to do so. The thing is, as exciting as all the science is, we also have to continually remind ourselves that good research is conducted in a controlled environment. It’s not really like real life with real people and real problems.

What I’m trying to say is this: A key component of expertise is discernment, and discernment comes with knowledge and experience. You have to put in the time.

It’s irresponsible to draw definitive conclusions from one single study or opinion, write a captivating article on it, and simply consider it as cold hard truth. After a session at Ritual, am I going to be able to tell you that your metabolic rate is going to stay elevated for exactly 18 hours and 6 minutes? No, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to. I don’t know if anyone will ever be able to tell you that for sure. I also think that anyone who claims to understand this topic with 100% certainty probably doesn’t appreciate the human body for the beautiful, unpredictable, infinitely complex system of systems that it is. Researchers at the top of their game are always excited because we’re still discovering new things about the human body all the time.

Just to give you a couple of examples on how complicated the equation can get:

People talk about the Afterburn Effect all the time (we do, too), and usually the discussion revolves around some version of disruption or oxygen debt, just like I’ve talked about in previous posts. However, people hardly ever discuss how the type of activity performed during high-intensity exercise might have an impact on things. Why don’t people talk about this? Well, it’s hard to sound 100% certain of what’s going on if you include the “exercise type” variable. Look up the research on EPOC and HIIT and look at the types of exercise used in each study. Bodyweight training. Cycling. Weightlifting. Judo. Sprints on a track. The list goes on. And since you’re already looking at the studies, read a little closer. Trained athletes. Overweight individuals. Youth athletes. Untrained individuals. Competitive triathletes. Amateur athletes. Basketball players. Students. Judo players. Uh oh.

What about food intake? Sometimes studies will talk about subjects training in a fasted state, sometimes they will mention the time of the last meal. A lot of times they don’t say anything. Shouldn’t what you eat before and/or after the training session make a difference on the afterburn effect you get? Surely I won’t get the same effects from donuts and ice cream as i do from chicken and broccoli.

What about lifestyle habits like how much sleep you get, how often you travel, and how stressed out you are at work? There’s research on how all of these factors affect insulin sensitivity/glucose tolerance. Surely your training effects will be affected by these variables, too, right? On top of that, how the hell is someone going to accurately measure the hormonal repercussions of all of these factors combined? And since we’ve committed to this tangent (sorry), what about how that hormonal environment is going to affect the way your body deals with the next meal you have? And then we should probably measure how that sequence of events will affect your next training session, right? And if you perform poorly at that training session, how would we measure the psychological impact it will have on your next session? What if I meditate? What if there’s a freakin’ full moon outside?!

It’s easy for a popular fitness magazines (and gyms, for that matter) to write polarizing articles on a single study and make definitive blanket statements about something. The people writing fitness and health articles probably have great intentions, but the truth is, the bigger picture is always much more complex than that “The Only Exercise You Need For Toned Abs” article.

Think about the hidden complexity I’ve mentioned in this article, and throw in other variables like exercise selection, work and rest ratios, overall volume, frequency, exercise sequence, appropriate progressions and regressions, and balanced overall development, amongst other things, and you’ll start to see why we put so much effort into crafting the appropriate training stimulus for our clients. On a system level, we balance the programs based on up-to-date research, and on a personal level, we have a comprehensive coach training program to ensure that our coaches can help individuals tweak the programs to fit their specific requirements if necessary. If taken seriously, your training shouldn’t be completely random with the sole intention of getting the heart rate up.

The human body is ridiculous. Your training can involve more than one variable (e.g. burn as much fat as possible because I want to look good when I go to the beach). Unfortunately, it’s really challenging to try to look at the complicated larger picture of how all the little parts talk to each other and affect each other, and how to manipulate those variables to your advantage. The truth is, nobody has it down perfectly. Nobody. The right thing to do is to look at it all as a continuous learning process, and adapt where appropriate. The industry doesn’t like to talk about this because, well, that would leave us with very few ‘fitness experts’ and gurus, wouldn’t it?

Be Brave!

Ian Tan