Daniel Craig has brought a whole new level to James Bond. Who can forget the parkour death match in Casino Royale, or the bell-tower swing/scaffold of doom in Quantum of Solace?
It got me thinking: What kind of training program does it take to do stuff like that?
Reality check first: The laws of gravity got suspended in those scenes. Also, it’s a fact of life that you’re far more likely to go out with a Bond girl than get into a multi-story fight to the death, but still, it’s cool to imagine how you would train for that kind of save-the-world action.
The main thing that strikes me about those scenes is that it’s all about power.
OK, I know you’re still thinking about Bond girls, but bear with me. This involves physics. All sports involve acceleration, so here are some basic formulas:
Force = Mass x Acceleration (so now you know what force is, and not the Jedi kind)
Work = Force x Distance (and now you know what work is, and not the kind you’re probably supposed to be doing instead of reading this article)
Power = Work / Time
There is a lot of “power” displayed in those scenes, where the combatants are accelerating mass across a certain distance in a short period of time. Get it?
How to develop power? Well, it’s not by lifting weights slow.
It’s ironic that competitions for things like the bench press, deadlift and squat are called “power lifting,” because in reality, they are more a display of slow-speed strength. Power involves moving things rapidly, such as in Olympic lifting (like “clean and jerk” and the “snatch”).
I’m not eschewing regular old bodybuilding exercises; I love that type of workout. It can also give you a good base to work from. However, I recently interviewed an Olympic heptathlete who favors Olympic-style lifting for competing in sports such as hurdles, long jump, high jump, shot put and javelin -- all of which are power-based sports.
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This is another sport that involves the development of ballistic power because kettlebells are swung quickly rather than lifted slowly.
You know the drill, but use a variety of grips and integrate some more ballistic movement into them on the way up. This isn’t a slow-speed pull-up or chin-up, but more of a rapid acceleration to build that power to rapidly scale that under-construction building so you can track down your foe and shoot him in the face.
Never heard of them? It’s like a pull-up on steroids, in which you just keep going past the top.
Interval Training and Sprinting
It’s not all just short-burst power in those scenes. There is some anaerobic activity that involves sustained pain for a couple of minutes, and that is where interval training comes in. It’s been touted as a miracle calorie burner, but that’s a crock. Interval training is about getting faster, plain and simple. Integration of short bursts of maximum speed for anywhere from 30 seconds to three minutes does amazing things for training the middle range of the body’s energy spectrum. And, let’s face it, when you’re chasing some bad guy through a construction zone, you’re not going at a marathon pace.
An added benefit of interval training is that it helps your heart recover from intense effort quickly. At the end of the bell-tower scene Bond is able to grab his pistol and dispatch his enemy with one well-placed, steady shot. If you’ve been in heart-racing combat for several minutes, being able to calm your heart rate and nerves quickly to make that shot is a valuable skill. Interval training will help with that.
This can be any kind of climbing: rock, rope, poles, ladders, etc. All of it will not only build up the sport-specific muscles, but give you better kinesthetic awareness of your body so you can move more accurately and fluidly in space and time.
This more power-focused training includes box drills, jumps, bounds and throws. All of these build up the body in ways that would be useful for saving the world.
Ease Off Aerobic Training
Long-distance aerobic training changes the body’s fast-twitch (strength- and power-focused) muscle fibers so they’re not quite as powerful. It’s not uncommon for marathoners to have a lousy vertical jump, for example. If you need power, then lots of long-distance running or other steady-state aerobic activity isn’t a good idea.
So there you go. What are you waiting for? Go save the world already.