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25 comments written by Al Coleman


While it may be true that there isn’t a single biological stimulus (That there is only one is just a theory. That there is not only one is also just a theory.), the objective of espousing inroad is not to use it as a descriptive theory of the biological process.

Inroad is actually far more practical than a mere theory. It is what we do in practice as a committed course of action to achieve health enhancements.

Inroad is a measure of a subject’s intent and engagement of the appropriate structures. It reveals what these muscles no longer possess in terms of momentary strength.

Therefore, inroad serves to qualitatively measure performance. The higher the quality we possess, the less the global expense. This permits greater and faster recovery in preparation for the next workout.

Most in the HIT community confuse inroad with global fatigue. Global fatigue (outroad) is one of many causes in mechanical failure, and its confusion often spawns the need for protracted recovery periods between workouts.

Inroad includes all of the multi-factorial ingredients of the yet-undefined biological stimulus. Our faithful study of inroad represents our quest to discover how quickly we can safely stimulate strengthening without wasting resources.

Can anyone offer what endeavor doesn’t improve qualitatively with more concentration?

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar jim February 2, 2012 at 1:52 pm

The answer is meditation . Meditation requires attention but not concentration . In our pioneering work , words mean everything . Meditation requires attention to the goal of letting go of all holdings , all ” concentrations ” . Meditation is the opposite of concentration .

Stoicism in its purest form is a letting go of concentration , a state of attentional acceptance , ” a listening for ” real limits . This act in itself signals the essence mind to allow entrance and thereby , inroad . Remember , the essence is ” something else ” that is not ours to own and impossible to control no matter how much we “concentrate ” on it . It is owned by nature herself , and nature’s intentions are so far from personal achievement criteria vis % muscle mass that she laughs at those who would impose their puny will on her for those ends .

Breaking stoicism is the the act of being drawn back into holdings / concentrations of personal will and the reactions that ensue therefrom in the form of breaking form .

This is relevant to exercise as it is now being defined here as somthing different .


avatar Craig February 2, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I’m curious about this: If you improve inroad (fatigue of muscles being specifically targeted), while reducing outroad (global fatigue associated with collateral damage from the workout), what does this do to cardiovascular load? It seems like a very tightly focused effort might reduce the total demand on the heart (because less musculature is being impacted), which might take something away from the cardiovascular conditioning that you have seen in prior research studies.

I’m not a fan of CrossFit, but one comment I’ve heard about those “MetCon” routines is that they pick exercises that force movement of a lot of weight through a long movement, using a lot of muscles. That is done intentionally, to maximize the cardiovascular conditioning impact.

Have you seen any evidence of less CV demand when the routine is done in a more recoverable fashion?


avatar Al Coleman February 2, 2012 at 6:17 pm


Good question. I have seen an almost direct correlation between an individuals ability to “empty the tank” and their level of post exercise oxygen debt.

It seems that the better the direct inroading, the better the vascular effect.



avatar Al Coleman February 2, 2012 at 4:25 pm


Interesting insights.

I agree with your comments. Meditation proper is the letting go of willful concentration on anything, but paradoxically the means to that is repetitious letting go, which requires willful concentration initially.

I see inroading as an ever evolving practice that requires constant questioning. By that I mean inter set questioning such as,”am I doing everything possible this very moment to get rid of all of my gas?” If the answer is no, I’ve got work to do.


avatar Luke O'Rourke February 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm

The name of the game here is efficiency, that game being exercise. A definition of efficiency in this case would be “investing the least amount of bodily resources in return for the greatest amount of benefits that come from exercise.” This would naturally mean that injury risk must be all but eliminated being that a damaged machine is a very inefficient thing. Further more, it means that our investment of effort must be very high. This investment of effort is only minimally physical, as true exercise is much more of a thinking game than any form of recreation could ever be. In this, our attention must be highly focused to maintain our form, especially when the going gets tough, because this is where the majority of any benefit will be attained…when things start to get ugly. This puts RenEx at odds with any idea of meditation, and makes it the hardest of all tasks as one must be simultaneously be completely under control, while seeking out complete exhaustion. Name me a harder thing that we do by choice?

On another note, my understanding would be that a theory is a well established, accepted and proven explanation, whereas a hypothesis is an attempt to explain and may be one of many such attempts. Perhaps the first paragraph would be better served by the more specific use of hypothesis over theory. I may be barking up a tree…


avatar jim February 2, 2012 at 6:10 pm

We are in the stage where , as been stated previously that words mean everything . I’ve studied and taught Tai Chi Chuan for 35 years and know all to well what a problem words can be , how wrong assumptions can prevent actualization or rather how assumed definitions can lead in 180 degrees of error . Then when a master explains by giving you the real experience you see that your words lead to futility , you see that acting on these wrong apprehensions would lead nowhere while at the same time being convinced by their power ( sic) that you were without a doubt on the right track . This is why one is ALWAYS starting over in that art . ALWAYS wrong , until aha ! My God how easy this way , how stupid the other way , no wonder I go nowhere .

No , I am sure that ” concentration ” is the wrong word entirely for what is being attempted vis inroad and even at the beginning it is wrong . Attention is the word that you are looking for . Concentration can only lead to ” double weighting ” i.e. excess and one must always and in everything bring balanced realtionship to force and that requires attending to the unweighted side ( the weighted side contains another word : intention / gravity ) . If arms are the weighted side then feet is where the attention must be in the bottoms of the feet ,the unweighted side . Then there will be inroad because the essence will be opened to it . Concentrate all you want , she will just hide .


avatar Al Coleman February 3, 2012 at 9:17 am


I do understand what you are getting at and have personal experience with what you are trying to relay, but I don’t think this is the appropriate venue to discuss such topics.

I’d be more than happy to have an email conversation about it.



avatar Doug McGuff, MD February 2, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Provocative post. That there is not just one stimulus has been proven. Just look at the myriad studies that look at different stimuli. Load stimulates mTor (mammalian target of rapamycin) which stimulates protein synthesis and growth. Vascular occlusion studies show growth is stimulated by hypoxia and acidosis even at much lower loads. Yet other studies show initiation of mRNA when the basement membrane is torn/leaks by damage. I think inroad my be useful because it describes the overlap of these multiple stimuli.

Muscle tissue is the most plastic tissue in the body, it can adapt to many different stimuli over the course of time. Also, Craig is right. Crossfit has successfully built an entire philosophy on nothing but outroading. Not only has this produced significant MetCon (as well as injuries), you can hop over to their website and watch some videos to see it has produced some impressive physiques as well. Until pure inroading is showing these kind of bodies, you will be stuck with just us geeks.

The thing we still need in your diagram is the arrow that leads to objective results. I think you are the just the guys to do it. Keep up the good work.


avatar Mario. Di Leonardo, MD February 2, 2012 at 6:46 pm

I personally believe the “stimulus” is directly related to the degree of ATP depletion/ intracellular oxygen depletion/intracellular acidosis with calcium influx with the secondary formation of lactic acid buffering. This leads to a metabolic acidosis in the blood which is compensated by the respiratory system/hyperventilation that happens to be a phenomenal aerobic workout.
The latter has been already proven even by Arthur Jones.
In short, INROAD/TIME is essential if one is to maximize the stimulus and the RESPONSE , given that recovery ability is variable but certainly limited.

So, I believe RenEx is onto the most important principle in productive exercise: profound inroad in the least amount of time followed by rest which must be tailored to the individual’s capacity for recuperation.


avatar Tiffanie February 2, 2012 at 8:58 pm

To the average person who does not regularly study exercise science, inroads is a little confusing for me. Could you provide an example at all?


avatar Joshua Trentine February 2, 2012 at 9:30 pm

If you show up fresh in the gym and could produce 100# of force, then did a set of exercise and could only produce 70# of force you would have achieved a 30% inroad. The reduction in muscular capacity sets forth a cascade of biological events that could stimulate adaptation.



avatar Al Coleman February 3, 2012 at 9:19 am

I’d like to stress that the major point of this post was to express inroad as a verb. It is the course of action during exercise and what one works on improving to cover all the bases.



avatar Drew Baye February 3, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Doug wrote, “I think inroad my be useful because it describes the overlap of these multiple stimuli.”

Inroad is multifactorial. Efficient and thorough inroad requires meaningful muscular loading (tension) which will result in both an increased metabolic demand and microtrauma.


avatar Scott February 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Answer to Closing Question: Sleep.


avatar Scott February 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm

P.S. Interesting Abstract you have there. It will be interesting to read the entire article when it’s completed.


avatar Brian Liebler February 4, 2012 at 6:42 am

Ken Hutchins,
The best part of RoE is where you point out how we used to use a step ladder and ride the weight stack down. I used to think I was the only crazy one doing this.



avatar Mario. Di Leonardo, MD February 4, 2012 at 6:49 pm

I know this is off topic.
I would really appreciate a discussion regarding recovery, especially as it pertains to studies concerning altered protein muscle metabolism after a bout of HIT.

Tx in advance, Mario


avatar Joshua Trentine February 4, 2012 at 11:30 pm


Thank You for the suggestion, I will discuss this with the guys.



avatar Jonas Olofsson February 6, 2012 at 8:19 am

A bit of topic but would it be possible to describe the protocoll for TSC a bit more specific then what is described in RoE?

Im still not sure (maybe because english isent my first language) how to exact do them with a leg extension machine for an example.

Example: do you push against the weight (same weight) without lifting it up at all or do you lift it first to (maybe) half way up and there you contract?

Would like to understand it better, RoE dosent really tell you “all about it” IMO. Or is this more for an telephone consultation? Anyway, curious I am!



avatar Simon Shawcross February 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Stopping by to congratulate Ken, Brenda and the whole RenEx team in producing a fantastic book in TRoE.

There is one question I have with regard to TRoE and connects with potentially quicker recovery times from refined inroading (and of course less outroading):

From TRoE: “Train two days the second week with a minimum of three days rest between those days, and continue with this schedule slowly adding exercises until the intermediate level is attained.”

Am I correct in thinking you are suggesting a 96 hour minimal gap (eg Monday-Friday) between workouts for a trainee at this point in the learning curve rather than a 72 hour gap (eg Monday-Thursday)?



avatar Scott Springston February 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm

How does one get a copy of the Vintage Nautilus sub protocols manual as seen at the top of this page? I click on it and it goes nowhere?


avatar Joshua Trentine February 6, 2012 at 11:30 pm

enter first name, last name and email address


avatar Sonny February 25, 2012 at 9:48 pm

I’ve seen the term “global fatigue” a few times and also “outroad” but I’m not sure what they mean..can anyone explain?


avatar Bradley April 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Wouldnt it be interesting to really see whether a cross fit exercise session with only five exercises performed one rev each to failure take longer to recover from compared to five exercises with one set performed to failure on renex machines. As Ken wrote ‘The higher the quality we possess, the less the global expense. This permits greater and faster recovery in preparation for the next workout ‘-


avatar Bradley April 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Wouldnt it be interesting to really see whether a cross fit exercise session with only five exercises performed one set each to muscular failure take longer to recover from than compared to five exercises with one set performed to failure on the renex machines.! As Ken wrote ‘The higher the quality we possess, the less the global expense. This permits greater and faster recovery in preparation for the next workout ‘-


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