Micro vs. Macro Balance

Training is a stressor. Whether or not we turn training into a eustress (positive stress) that creates favorable adaptation or a distress (negative stress) that creates destruction depends entirely on frequency and intensity dosing. It’s why you can’t flatten yourself everyday and expect to keep moving forward. Programs that yield strength and performance improvements are a function of progressive overload stress doses matched with recovery.

The human body is naturally constructed to desire homeostasis. It wants balance in our muscles, movement, and even our energy systems. It’s why we get hurt, reach plateaus, and fatigue. It’s our body’s attempt at neutralizing us when we’re overdosing on either a micro or macro scale. Knowing this, it presents a huge opportunity to examine dosing and take programming aim at combining elements at the right dose range so that your body accepts the benefits of each without receiving too much of the stimuli, and ultimately rejecting further input.

Macro program balance. That’s step one.

However, following a balanced program doesn’t keep you out of dangerous waters. It’s a start, but it’s not a total insurance policy as you can still overdo balance on a micro level. Before you start scratching your head, let’s conceptualize training from both a macro (zoomed out) and micro (zoomed in) viewpoint on balance. Think about the boxes on representing your body’s total capacity for input, and think about the dots within them as individual effort levels. When those effort levels get too big from too much intensity, or too many from too much frequency, you begin to break your body’s capacity and go outside its structural limits. In both scenarios, the macro program is balanced (input) but too much daily hammering has caused destruction on the micro level (output).

The Real Purpose of Mixed Modal Training

It is only during the return to homeostasis during CNS recovery that physiological adaptations, aka #gainz, are made.

Without breaks in the action, we don’t progress. Training needs to be stressful enough to create adaptation. We want training to be a eustress, so we must create struggle on the days we train, but we must balance it by backing off the gas when called for, and giving your body recovery opportunities.

  • Macro Balance – A program that balances energy systems, movements, and intensities.
  • Micro Balance – An athlete and coach that follow daily guidelines and include enough rest to make training a eustress, not a distress.

We don’t believe those with squat goals need to squat more than once per week. We don’t believe the distance runner needs to pound the pavement everyday (both scenarios provided there is movement reciprocity in the rest of the program). We don’t believe you must chug the entire bottle to cop a buzz. Do not confuse the contrasting aim of becoming one of the best in the world at something (specialization required) versus being really good, and healthy fitness (specialization not required).

The idea is not to fatten a particular skill or system, but rather, keep it fed and hungry. Fed, not stuffed.

A program foundation of mixed modal fitness is not necessarily to force everyone to want to develop all systems, but to keep them balanced so the body doesn’t trade human movement for robotics. While German volume programs and 40 mile per week programs might work extremely well for some, we find great effectiveness in undulating periodization, where we progressively train multiple systems and pull the strings on intensity throughout the days, weeks, and months with the finished product being an athlete that reaches their goals while staying out of chronic fatigue and imbalance.

Balanced Training Input + Balanced Frequency Output = Fitness Longevity

At least for my dollar.

Dave Thomas Performance360 Coach Trainer-Dave Thomas