If what you’re looking for is gigantic, bulging biceps, you’re going to have to isolate the biceps and train for maximal hypertrophy. If what you want to do is run a marathon, you’re going to need to put in some serious mileage. That being said, both the marathoner and the bodybuilder can benefit from doing a couple of sessions at Ritual a week. For the bodybuilder, training at Ritual would be a great way to maintain efficient mechanics (because a lot of time is spent on isolation work) and to promote fat oxidation without having to sacrifice muscle mass. For the marathon runner, training at Ritual would be a great way to work on overall alignment (because running and sitting down for 8 hours a day don’t go well together) and overall work capacity (research shows that HIIT is a smart way to increase your VO2max).
But what if you’re just looking to get generally fit? Well, I’d say choose the most efficient method. When you combine your strength training with your ‘cardio’ training properly, you can get in damn good shape by simply eating well most of the time and training a few times a week for 20 minutes each time. You won’t get big and bulky because, well, the training isn’t designed to get you big and bulky, but there’s a really, really high chance you’ll lose body fat and put on some lean, dense muscle.
Maybe that’s what you’re looking for, and that’s great because you’ll get that here. But if you dig into it, there’s a lot more to the training at Ritual than that.
You’ve probably seen this quote at your local Ritual – train your body as the machine, not with machines. It’s catchy, but what do we mean by this?
How well does your body serve you? How much can you get out of it, performance-wise? And I’m not talking about the ‘how many pushups’ type of performance here. I’m talking about the ‘how efficient can my body be’, ‘how well can my brain function’, ‘how deep can I dig when I need to’ type performance. If managed right, it’s been shown that your training can enhance your productivity and boost your mood, and that’s just scraping the surface of it. I get that sometimes it’s annoying when a coach repeatedly tells you to straighten out your back or keep your elbows in – but there’s a larger purpose here. It’s about what you’ll be able to get out of your body outside of the gym. It’s about building a resilient body that defaults to good form ‘in the wild’, and that can handle the structural stress when you’re in a situation where you can’t implement perfect technique.
With the right kind of training and nutrition, you can build a body that won’t cry and whine when you’re so busy that you have to skip lunch. Yeah, skipping lunch is probably a bad idea, but, come on, if you have to skip lunch every now and then, your body should be able to handle it without crashing, right?
You can also build a body that has the agility and alignment to catch itself when you accidentally side-step off a curb (although I do hear that it’s a lot of fun to be the big dude who has tree trunks for legs, who cracks the sidewalk as he walks down the street!).
Training at Ritual also enables you to build a body that has the capacity to sustain high intensity activity for long periods of time. Personally, I’d choose this over a massive body that can lift a super heavy thing once. Don’t get me wrong – I have a lot of respect for people who train hard and heavy to earn their maximal strength. I know people who can deadlift 3x their body weight – that’s an insane physical feat that requires years of dedicated practice. But personally, I’d rather spend my time earning a body that isn’t afraid of breathing hard and dripping sweat, that has the grit and capacity to last through a really tough situation, like a natural disaster or a fight.
I want to be able to keep my sh*t together and keep pushing on even when my heart rate is at a level that would make normal people panic. It’s weird that I used the phrase “normal people” right there, and even weirder that everyone reading this probably knows exactly what I mean by “normal people”. The physical experience of vigour, tenacity, and resilience shouldn’t be foreign and scary to us. It’s kind of supposed to be part of the human experience, don’t you think? We seem to have lost touch with the wildness inside us. It’s not hard to find fit people who tell you that good training makes them more resilient in life in general. Sure, that’s all anecdotal, but I like to think that if your training pushes you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and to be brave enough to finish a session you’ve committed to, that grit will carry over to other aspects of life.