Q&A: Anaerobic Threshold & High/Low

Hi Mike I’ve been following your work for at least 6 years now and I’m a huge fan of your work. I’m always learning something new about athletic development. Your recent post on instagram with you going through an aerobic circuit on a Lo day inspired some questions in me. Sorry if this is too much but whatever you feel like sharing will be greatly appreciated!
What method do you use to find out your anaerobic threshold?
What does your progression look like in regards to doing 21 minutes in the aerobic circuit? Did you start with low total overall time and/or more rest time than work time?
Do you recommend using a hi/lo program at all times of year?
Thanks for your time!
Best regards,
Keith Kirwan


Sorry for the delay in regards to answering this question.  As you probably have noticed I haven’t answered questions in a while – reason being, I’ve been busy coaching and learning haha.  Selfish, but – c’est la vi.  I am currently on a mission to put more out there for guys now… we’ll see how long it lasts before I’m once again over booked and put writing on the back burner.  So filtering through a lot of questions I came across this one and I thought it was a good one.

Finding the anaerobic threshold – there’s a few different ways we can go about this but in our setting, some are pretty impractical.  So what we do is estimate and then auto-regulate.  We need to do a lot of auto-regulating for a multitude of reasons:

  1. Maximal Outputs (strength, power, aerobic, etc) vary on a day by day basis
    1. Cumulative effects of stress are ever changing
    2. Weather (Very few people PR on rainy days)
    3. Sleep
    4. Nutrition

The list of why we auto-regulate can go on and on – but you get the point.  So, circling back to the question of anaerobic threshold.  We’ll typically go through a basic formula of 220-age x 85% and then we’ll gauge it from there.  Some days it could be higher, some days it could be lower pending on the athletes interpretation of the stimuli which is based off of RPE.  In which case, we’ll build a baseline of how they’re “supposed” to feel in certain ranges, and then won’t even use a HR monitor because they’re usually pretty on point with where they’re supposed to be.

The beauty of performing the aerobic strength work is that the athlete will not want to go past the anaerobic threshold because it will be too uncomfortable and form will diminish.  The only problem with it is when you get a lazy athlete that doesn’t want to work.  However, we don’t typically have that problem at our facility, we’re fortunate to have very driven clients.  I will occasionally run into this problem in a team setting, but not frequently.

The progression of this is not only dictated by the level of physical preparation of the athlete, but the frequency in which the athlete trains.  It’s not unusual for us not to progress in some instances, others will progress by 1minute each session, week, some may increase by 2 minutes, it’s pretty individualized.  And unfortunately, I’m not clever enough to come up with a scale to quantify standards as to why and why not.

We’ll typically stick within the 2:1 work:rest (Tabata method) but keep it monitored because we don’t want form to diminish.  Though the research supports the high intensity for both aerobic & anaerobic benefits (Tabata method), it’s not conducive for the exercises we’ve selected as loading movements + high fatigue usually = poor form which results in an increased risk of injury.

The schematic of alternating intensities or High/Low can be applied in concept within each workout at all times of the year.  However, the intensity of high/low must be monitored.  Always keep in mind, that not every athlete deserves to utilize high/low.  High/low is used for recovery purposes; and not all athletes physical preparation call for that.  In fact, it’s useful to spread out the intensity to intentionally avoid high/low in early stages of GPP.

You can check out Chris Hogan’s program to see how we utilize high/low method.  


Ground Based Hip Series

Here’s a variation of a basic hip circuit that we utilize in our facility.  We’ll typically go 1-3 sets of 10-30 reps with no weight.  However, performing these under variant resistances can be applicable to different situations.


  1. Manual concentric
  2. Manual eccentric
  3. Manual isometric
  4. Weighted
  5. Weighted concentric
  6. Weighted eccentric
  7. Weighted isometric

In healthy athletes we perform this preworkout.  For athletes that are not healthy, it’s not unusual for this to be part of the main movement of the workout.

Good Luck Trigs!

Today marks a very exciting, yet sad day in my life as a coach.

9 years ago today, I was fortunate enough to have met this guy:

Over the years I was able to watch him grow and develop. We even posted his 8th grade highlight tape:

The kid beasted it as an 8th grader. After we posted this video, we got a lot of awesome feedback and support. But also got a few negative ones – we had to delete a few nasty ones. As most of you know, people on the internet can be dicks. We didn’t think it was necessary for a kid to get ripped on publicly like that.

But we left one up there –
Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 5.56.10 PM

Well Cyberpump! & everyone else hating on the kid, here’s some news – This kid just left for college on a football scholarship.

So on behalf of him, myself, Freak Strength & Defranco’s Gym:Middle_finger

This past offseason he’s been with me for 30ish weeks. We’ve performed very little actual weight lifting & very little max effort work.

During his summer, like many high school seniors, he took an internship.  Prior to his summer internship, at 180lbs he was able to trapbar deadlift 575lbs, floor press 295lbs & ran a fully electric 4.83 40y dash. For those of you that don’t know, a fully electric 40 is roughly .2-.25sec slower than hand time. Which converts to 4.5-4.6 40y dash. Which is pretty good.

Now, because of his internship, his only chance to workout was at 5am. I can honestly count on 1 hand how many times this unbelievably dedicated kid missed a workout. And it wasn’t because he was hungover, it was because he was dead tired from working all day and accidentally slept through his alarm. Not once did he show up hung-over or whiney because he didn’t want to be there. He came in and worked his ass off at 5am Monday-Friday. And most days, he beat me to the gym!

Due to his time constraint, we were barely able to perform much, if any weight work. Most days we had to skip weights because he had to haul ass home to shower and change before work. All we did was speed work, jumps & explosive throws.

By the end of it, he was able to run a fully electric 4.8 40y for 10 reps! Keep in mind, I cut it after any form deterioration, & that day, I actually had to cut it because he had to leave for work!

The other day we decided to hit some heavy floor presses as well & at a bodyweight of 182lbs he hit 310lbs with ease! He PR’d by 15lbs (with more in the tank) with minimal weight lifting for 2 months! I didn’t test his deadlift, because frankly, I didn’t care enough to. However, I doubt he can’t PR in that also.

Fortunately/unfortunately, now it’s time to say goodbye. Though I don’t need to, I’d just like to wish this kid good luck. I love you bro and I’m so unbelievably proud of you. We all know you’re going to kill it on and off the field. Keep making all of us proud!


Training Log

Starting new…

I realize how dogshit my form is with my cleans.  Originally I didn’t care I just wanted to move some heavy shit but then I got tired of my friends making fun of me.  So I decided to start over and do it right.

So here’s my new programming.  I’m too lazy to post all of it so I’ll post bits and pieces here and there weekly.


1. Warmup
A. Groin pulses 1min
B. Glute pulses 1min
C. 3-D Hip flexor stretch pulses -30 ea.
D. 3-D glute stretch pulses -30 ea.
E. Groin mobs
F. -shoulder act/posture circuit 3x
Chin Tuck (CT) 10
CT + ext. Rot. 10
CT + shoulder flexion 10
Lower trap act. 10
G. Neck half moon Rot. 20 ea
H. Trap/stern stretch 3x20sec ea
I. Lat rot stretch 30ea
2. Aerobic Strength Work and Motor Reeducation 20% 3x10ish

  • RDL
  • Upright Row
  • Front Squat

3. Skill Work 40%

Skill work @40% preceded by aerobic work @20% & after everything GPP #WuTang #taytay #FreakStrength #FreakFam

A video posted by Mike Guadango (@guadango) on

  • 10ish Mid-thigh Cleans
  • 10ish Low Knee Cleans

4.  GPP

  • Circuit 1 (2x)
    • Butt Squeezes 10 (Weighted)
    • SL Leg Press 10 (Weighted)
  • Specific Strength
    • Front Squat (quasi-heavy singles ~75-85%)
  • Circuit 1 (2x)
    • Butt Squeezes 6 (Heavier Weighted)
    • SL Leg Press 6 (Heavier Weighted)
  • Circuit 2 (2x)
    • Weighted Handstand Pushups 6
    • Weighted Rock Climber Pullups 10


Starting Back Up From Zero

Hey Mike,
I have become obese in the past 5 years with a depression (over it now) but the eating disorder remains as well as the very low level of fitness. Having been a semi pro athlete for a big part of my life, I still have some strength left in me but basically zero “fitness” or shape and very limited motivation or willpower.

yesterday I went walk jogging for very short intervals, found a great half pipe type hill/valley (very steep) so I decided to run in it up and down, rest and repeat. I watched myself to not overdo it. I felt better for the next 3-4 hours than I had felt after any of the past 2 years weight or gym ring training sessions.

So my question is, how would you approach starting out with basically zero shape, ok flexibility and ok strength levels.
I bought your 52 week GPP when it came out and am wondering whether to do that, do some HIIT type kettlebell drills or my hill running. I have this feeling that, now is the time to do something or else I might get some health problems that I let build up over the past years.
I am wondering what the right order in which to approach things is. Start with the heart, gpp, strength… weightloss… My goal is health first and maybe in time be a little athletic again.
PS: I go for a regular 20-60 minute walks
Thanks a lot



Props to you for wanting to get your shit back in order.  The toughest thing for guys in your position to do is actually getting your ass up and doing something about it.  I see tons of people all the time telling me that they want to do better and want to win, but no one is willing to do what it takes and is willing to WORK to WIN!  So, kudos to you bro!

My first order of attack with you would 100% be to get all your stabilizers functioning properly.  It’s obvious that the big muscles are functioning just fine, they’re able to move your appropriate bodyweight and then some.  But we need to make sure your stabilizers are functioning properly so they can take the stress of work without fatiguing excessively.  This problem is very common.  There’s a lot of people that get that bug and want to change their lives and then can’t figure out a way to stay healthy while they try to climb that mountain.  Which is why a lot of them come tumbling down.

So, I always have people start off with a ton of daily low intensity activity that improves work capacity and a very low level.  This keeps things extremely submaximal and easy to recover from, which will enable them to perform movements daily, which will keep soreness and negative association of pain away from exercise, which in turn will help make movement and exercise part of the daily routine.

I think incorporating the 52-week GPP program will be extremely beneficial to your program.  It will make sure you develop a proper foundation in motor patterns and movements, as well as slowly and steadily increase your work capacity of both small and large muscles.  I’d stay away from HIIT until your comfortably moving efficiently, otherwise you’re going to derail your process.

The most important thing I can tell people about succeeding is that there’s nothing sexy about it.  It’s a f***in’ grind! It’s doing something little every single day to work towards your goal.  It doesn’t happen in 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, 1 year or 1 decade.  It’s a lifelong process.  Embrace your process and accomplish anything!


Check out the 52-Week GPP Program – Click Here to Buy!