Off-Season Hyper-gravity Training
Hyper-gravity Training? What’s that. Well, it’s just a silly term applied to training of any sort whilst carrying extra weight. The idea being that the extra weight and therefore extra work you are doing by carrying that weight whilst, running, cycling, or even doing household chores means that you burn more calories per hour whilst doing that activity.
It’s sometimes used as an excuse by triathletes such as myself for putting on a few extra kilograms in the off-season. Many coaches seem to agree that it doesn’t do much harm to gain a little bit of weight whilst not racing, usually in the 5-8% of body weight range. The extra weight increases the effectiveness of training during this time. Then, when race season comes around you reduce back down to race-weight and suddenly everything feels a little easier. Your body is used to moving a few extra kilos around, carrying that extra weight with every step and pulling it up every hill. Now that you’ve lost it, things feel easier and you should be able to go faster.
Of course, you could say that it would be easier and more healthy to remain at a constant weight and simply wear a weighted vest, some ankle weights or even a camel bak with some water in it in order to carry some extra weight around whilst training during the off-season. That would of course have the same hyper-gravity training effect and wouldn’t require you to go through the process of losing the weight again ready for race season. We do of course have some answers for this that gives us excuses to gain the weight. ‘Racing Weight’ isn’t necessarily a healthy weight, in order to race at your maximum potential then you need to be fairly lean with low levels of body fat. This stresses the body in its own ways and can make you more susceptible to infections, affects sleep and generally wears you down. Not what you want to be putting your body through in the off-season when you should be allowing your body to repair and rebuild. So, gaining those few extra kilos in weight can not only produce a hyper-gravity training effect but can help protect you against coughs and colds during the winter, can help you sleep and recover better and can help with your general health and well-being.
Now, you know me, if I’m doing something then I like to do it properly and take things to the extreme. It may not be by design, but it looks as though I shall be doing some hyper-gravity training of my own over the next few months. December has taken its toll, a few trips away, lots of good food and some relaxing followed by a week or so off training due to a cold and then family Christmas at home have all piled on the weight. My ‘racing-weight’ is around 63kg. I’m currently hovering around the 70kg mark. That’s an 11% weight gain. A fair bit more than recommended for off-season hyper-gravity training! I’m just hoping that taking it to extremes will result in increased training gains once I get back into a routine come the New year.
To be honest, it’s not ideal, I feel fat and unfit and would much rather be looking lean and mean like I did in the summer, but it is what it is. This fancy talk of hyper-gravity training is just an excuse to justify it to myself, but at least I’m looking at the positive sides of it rather than dwelling on the downsides. It may take a while to get back down to weight though, especially seeing as there are still plenty of mince pies, biscuits and bars of marzipan chocolate in the cupboard, not to mention plenty of cheeses in the fridge and I haven’t even started eating the biggest of the Christmas Cakes yet!
Question is do I just go mad and eat them ALL now, or slow down with the eating and gradually get through them over the next few weeks?