Before learning about progressive training methods, I was exposed to the concept from one of my favorite childhood shows, Dragon Ball Z. In the world of DBZ, the characters were constantly trying to get stronger and level-up, and when they weren’t testing their strength by fighting opponents, they spent their time training. One of the tools they used to train was the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, where one day outside equaled a year inside, gravity was 10x greater, and temperatures fluctuated to the extremes.
The Hyperbolic Time Chamber gave me a few insights:
- Time: Training time/volume is one of the most valuable factors in growing strength. You can’t buy time, you just have to put it in.
- Gravity: All we are is an adaptation to stressors. From the time we first crawl to the time we take our first steps, we always require something to overcome in order to rise up and become stronger.
- Temperature: Comfortability can be trained. As we push the borders of our comfort zone and spend time there we will expand our tolerance and grow. The opposite can be said for narrowing our limits of comfort to only the most optimal.
Although these seem self-evident, let’s take a look at how the Fitness Industry tends to sell training:
- Time: Burn fat while without working out with our weight loss wraps! Get a toned 6-pack in just 10 minutes a day with the Ab-Blaster! These top 3 exercises are all you need to reach your goals! Drop 30 lbs in just one month without changing your diet with this revolutionary supplement!
- Gravity: Enjoy our convenient, easy to use workout machines. Our version 2 lifting shoes with an extra 10″ heel will allow you to squat ass-to-grass! With the Boomerang Band and Grip-Lock straps, you can increase the amount you can lift by 80%!
- Temperature: Our new luxury fitness center is set at a comfortable 76 degrees year round and has televisions placed in every piece of cardio equipment. We also offer complimentary Rage Bomb energy drinks that will provide you with the power of a Greek God, giving you the best workout of your life! *Disclaimer: Statement is only valid for the first dose taken.
As a teenager, I was caught between the Hyperbolic Time Chamber and the Fitness Industry. I would work as intensely as I could in the gym but also used as many shortcuts and efficiency-boosting tools from the industry as I could. Then one episode of DBZ caught me by surprise, and even though I never fully understood its implications, it stuck with me to this day. One of the main protagonists, Piccolo, was just manhandled in a major battle but did something unexpected. He threw off his clothing which crashed down to the ground with immense weight. Had he been wearing these weighted clothes the whole time?! Not just in training but daily life, even battle?? This was his way of going Super-Saiyan! Of course, he easily destroyed the enemy but it got me questioning things. Why didn’t he take it off at other times he was losing? Were the clothes a challenge for him to move in or was it just a new normal?
I now see that Piccolo willingly placed this burden on his back. He made it so that everyday life became the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. In the modern world we have the opposite problem and one of our biggest enemies is the disease of affluence. We are hurt by the same things that were created to help us and make life easier. We need Piccolo’s method more than ever. We need to realize it’s not all about efficiency and peaking performance, it’s about becoming stronger versions of ourselves. Can we push our boundaries of comfort and at the same time accumulate growth throughout our lives, not just the hour we spend in the gym?
Here are 3 ways to enter the Hyperbolic Time Chamber:
- Don’t make your training a performance. Use the tools available to stress the body and cause adaptation. If you find a limiter, like your grip or ankle dorsiflexion, then you just found a perfect opportunity to get stronger! Don’t supplement it, train it!
- Don’t rely on limited data measures to determine a movements worth. You may go a further distance at a greater speed running on a treadmill than hiking barefoot outside but that doesn’t make it better. You might squat 150lbs more with a barbell on your back than a sandbag in your arms but it doesn’t make one feel less any less heavy.
- Create an environment rich in movement opportunities. Try not to always rely on movement saving technology like dishwashers or strollers. Don’t always rely on comfort enhancing technologies like chairs and beds. Why not fold your laundry in a squat position or opt for a cold shower? Reframe physical challenges in life as opportunities to grow.
Next time you find a shortcut, a “hack”, or something promised to make your life easier, remember DBZ. Don’t let convenience take you out of the Hyperbolic Time Chamber!