Friday, November 5, 2010

So you say you want to win! But have you done the following?

So you say you want to win! But have you done the following?:
Jamie Croly

1. Find a good WHY. Decide why you are training. What is your goal or objective at the end of the training/racing? The importance of the Why will be critical in the motivation that you have for your training/racing and therefore how much you commit to it. This has to be a something that is important otherwise when the weather is bad, the training is uncomfortable or the racing gets hard you will back off and not achieve success.

Exercise in the Heat

Exercise in the heat: Fundamentals of Thermal Physiology, Performance Implications and Dehydration

By Douglas J. Casa, PhD, ATC, CSCS
From Journal of Athletic Training 1999;34(3):246-252
Objective: To present the critical issue of exercise in the heat in a format that provides physiologic foundations (Part I) and then applies the established literature to substantial, usable guidelines that athletic trainers can implement on a daily basis when working with athletes who exercise in the heat (Part 11). Data Sources: The databases MEDLINE and SPORT Discus were searched from 1980 to 1999, with the terms "hydration," "heat," "dehydration," "cardiovascular," "thermoregulatory," "physiology," and "exercise," among others. The remaining citations are knowledge base. Data Synthesis: Part I introduces athletic trainers to some of the basic physiologic and performance responses to exercise in the heat. Conclusions/Recommendations: The medical supervision of athletes who exercise in hot environments requires an in-depth understanding of basic physiologic responses and performance considerations. Part I of this article aims to lay the scientific foundation for efficient implementation of the guidelines for monitoring athletic performance in the heat provided in Part II.

Key Words: cardiovascular, heat stress, thermoregulatory

Friday, October 1, 2010

Training for Intense Exercise Performance

Training for Intense Exercise Performance: High Intensity or High Volume Training

By Paul Laursen
New Zealand Academy of Sport North Island

Performance in intense exercise events, such as Olympic rowing, kayak, track running and track cycling events, involves a mix of energy system contributions from aerobic and anaerobic sources. Aerobic energy supply however dominates the total energy requirements of these events after ~75 s of near maximal effort. As the aerobic energy system has the greatest potential for improvement with training, and intense exercise events generally persist for longer than 75 s, training methods for these events are generally aimed at increasing aerobic metabolic capacity. A short-term period (2-4 wk) of high-intensity interval training (HIT; consisting of repeated exercise bouts ranging in intensity from 80-175% of peak power) can elicit increases in intense exercise performance of 2-4% in well trained athletes. While the influence of high volume training (HVT) is less discussed, its importance should not be downplayed, as it may develop the aerobic base needed to support recovery and adaptation from HIT by promoting autonomic balance and athlete health. Indeed, when HIT is performed without a background of HVT, performance can be maintained, but is generally not improved. While the aerobic metabolic adaptations that occur with HVT and HIT are similar, the molecular events that signal for these adaptations may be different. The high levels of intramuscular calcium associated with HVT may signal for metabolic adaptations that improve muscle efficiency through the calcium-calmodulin pathway, while the brief low energy state created with HIT may elicit its effects through the adenosine monophosphate kinase pathway. These distinct molecular signaling pathways, which have similar downstream targets (i.e., mitochondrial biogenesis), may help to explain the potent effect that combined HVT and HIT has on aerobic energy system upregulation and intense exercise performance.

Rigging for the Adaptive Rower

By Volker Nolte & Allison Sheard

Now What?

Now What?

By Vern Gambetta
You have max heart rate, resting heart rate, and heart rate variability. You have total distance moved in a practice. You have blood lactate during and post workout. So you have pages of spreadsheets filled with numbers, now what do you do with this data? How can you translate all these random numbers into useable information? This is the million-dollar question. It is not a matter of what you can monitor, it is what you can use and interpret. There is an explosion of technologies available today that enable us to monitor virtually any parameter we want to, but before we go further down this path we need to take a step back and ask why? On one level it is very straightforward 1) We need to get accurate feedback to guide and shape the training process and 2) We need to understand individual response and adaptation to various types, volumes and intensities of training.

On the next level we need to determine the absolute need to know information that will help us accomplish those two objectives. Monitoring more parameters is not the answer, just because it measureable does not mean it is meaningful. You need to ask yourself is the data helping to make your athletes better? Can you translate the numbers into actions that will significantly impact the athletes training? If you find yourself inundated with random numbers without context then you need to step back and ask yourself why?

I love data, it is interesting and challenging to find meaning in data you gather. But and there is a big but here – have you lost sight of the forest for the trees. You can get caught up in generating random numbers that you take your eye off the ball. You need to watch the athlete as a person, as an individual, how they handle the stress of training and competition. Closely observe body language. Ask them how they feel. Educate them to read their bodies and how they react to training stress. Put the focus squarely back on Hu, the human element, not the technologies and the subsequent numbers.

Don't be a mad scientist, be a coach. Use technology to measure what is meaningful and appropriate. Less is more. Focus on the need to know and stop there. Look closely at the tools available to help you do this. How much time do you have? How much help do you have? Then carefully choose how and what you are going to monitor. Then have a plan to turn that data into information that you can use to modify or change your training. Remember just because it is measurable does not mean it is meaningful.

Exploring the Mysteries of Exercise

Exploring the Mysteries of Exercise 12

By Len Kravitz, Ph.D.
Although the benefits of exercise are espoused daily in classes, newspapers, journals and on TV, less information has been dispersed regarding the underlying mechanisms causing these physiological changes. The responsibility of fitness instructors and personal trainers to their clients has grown vastly in the last few years. Being able to explain why and how certain physiological phenomena occur, from the regular participation in exercise, has become more of a daily necessity. This article will examine and explain some of the mechanisms how exercise may influence several bodily processes.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Training Methods and Intensity Distribution of Young World Class Rowers

Training Methods and Intensity Distribution of Young World Class Rowers

By Arne Guellich, Stephen Seiler, and Eike Emrich
From International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2009, 4, 448-460
Arne Guellich1, Stephen Seiler2, and Eike Emrich3

1 Department of Sports Sciences, University of Kaiserslautern, GERMANY
2 Faculty of Health and Sport, University of Agder, Kristiansand, NORWAY
3 Institute of Sports Sciences, University of the Saarland, Saarbruecken, GERMANY


Purpose: To describe the distribution of exercise types and rowing intensity in successful junior rowers and its relation to later senior success. Methods: 36 young German male rowers (31 international, 5 national junior finalists, 19.2 ± 1.4 yr, 10.9 ± 1.6 training sessions.wk-1) reported the volumes of defined exercise and intensity categories in a diary over 37 weeks. Training categories were analysed as aggregates over the whole season and also broken down to defined training periods. Training organisation was compared between juniors who attained national and international senior success three years later. Results: Total training time consisted of 52% rowing, 23% resistance exercise, 17% alternative training, and 8% warm-up programs. Based on heart rate control, 95% of total rowing was performed at intensities corresponding to <2 mmol.L-1, 2% at 2-4 mmol.L-1, and 3% at >4 mmol.L-1 blood lactate. Low-intensity work remained widely unchanged at ~95% throughout the season. In the competition period the athletes exhibited a shift within <2mmol-exercise towards lower intensity and within the remaining ~5% of total rowing towards more training near maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) intensity. Retrospectively, among subjects going on to international success three years later had their training differed significantly from their peers only in slightly higher volumes at both margins of the intensity scope. Conclusion: The young world-class rowers monitored here exhibit a constant emphasis on low intensity steady-state rowing exercise, and a progressive polarization in the competition period. Possible mechanisms underlying a potential association between intensity polarization and later success require further investigation.

Keep It Simple and You Are Brilliant

Keep It Simple and You Are Brilliant

How many times have we heard coaches evoke the KISS principle, that is not what I am talking about. When I hear KISS I almost take it as an insult, KISS is dumbing down. I have believed for years that simplicity yields complexity. Start simple and basic and build complexity as needed. If it is not needed then don’t go to more complexity. Simple is not necessarily simplistic. I also strongly believe that if I can’t explain the science to my athletes in terms that they can understand then I probably should not be doing it. Why? Because If I can’t explain it then I probably don’t understand it and if I don’t understand it then it is not worth doing because it is going to be half-baked. It is just monkey see monkey do activities. I have found that the most brilliant people I know can make abstract concepts totally comprehensible, that is a gift of great teachers and coaches. I end with a quote from Winnie - the – Pooh “It’s more fun to talk to someone who doesn’t use long difficult words but rather short easy words like ”What about lunch?”

Basic Training Assumptions

Basic Training Assumptions

1. Training must be physically stressful. The whole purpose of training is to physically and appropriately challenge the body. From this challenge the body adapts and becomes more capable of handling a given level of stress. To be effective the training challenge should be specific to the stress anticipated in the goal event for which you are training.

2. Adaptation to a specific physical stress is called "fitness." This puts to rest old arguments about who is more fit - a golfer, weight lifter or marathoner. Each is equally fit for the unique physical demands of their sports. For example, if you want to define fitness as the physical skill required to hit a ball a long way with a stick then the golfer is the fittest.

3. Another product of stress is fatigue. If you challenge the body many physiological changes other than fitness can occur. You may have depleted carbohydrate stores, damaged muscle cells, altered body chemistry, etc. Taken as a whole these changes are called “fatigue.”

4. Fitness and fatigue trend similarly. You may not have thought about this before, but it is important to understand. There is a strong link between fitness and fatigue. If you are fatigued from training then you stressed the body adequately enough to create the potential for fitness. If the workout did not cause any fatigue at all then it also did not produce the potential for fitness. So, when fatigue is rising you can expect the same thing from fitness.

5. In order to race well one must reduce fatigue. This is what tapering before a big race is all about – reducing fatigue. You don’t want to go into important races tired. There is no benefit from doing that. Racing when tired most assuredly will produce less-than-stellar performances.

6. Reducing fatigue is called "coming into form." The term “form” came from late-nineteenth-century horse racing. Before placing a bet you would check the form (sheet of paper) provided by the bookie which showed how each horse had been racing recently. When a horse was racing well it was said to be “on form.” Bike racing which started in the late nineteenth century adopted this term early on. In recent years other endurance sports have begun using it.

7. Coming into form requires losing fitness. This is where I was taking you with the above assumptions. Don’t believe me? Then go back to #4. The bottom line is that you must give up some fitness in order to shed fatigue and therefore race at the highest levels. The trick is to limit and control how much fitness is lost in the tapering process. I’ve probably put more time and thought into this single aspect of race preparation than any other. But what I do is far from perfect. Peaking is as much an art as a science. The protocol I use isn’t 100%. This is described in my books. It may work for a given athlete for one race but not as well for the next. That’s because we are humans and not machines. There are many variables in our lives. Actually, I’m glad it’s that way.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Some features of the anatomy and exercise physiology of children, relating to training

By Professor Craig Sharp

Although children between 11 and 16 are the fittest section of the community their activity patterns are continuously frilling. One important cause of this is that, at least in Great Britain, school sport is declining. With this background of falling activity the health of the future adults will depend increasingly on coaches to instill an enthusiasm for lifelong adherence to health-related activity patterns.

As children show considerable and important differences in their bodily responses to exercise, compared to adults, it is important that coaches are aware of the more important differences to avoid imposing undue physical stress on their young charges.

Emotional Preparation for the Olympic Games

Emotional Preparation for the Olympic Games

By Cal Botterill, Ph.D.
Is it possible to emotionally prepare for the Olympic Games? My initial reaction is that it is not easy, and although there are important things an athlete can do, it is probably impossible to totally prepare emotionally for such an experience. There is no denying how special the Olympic Games have become. The fact that they only occur every four years means that even top athletes often only get one shot at them in their prime; for many others, the cycle of "peaking" in their careers just doesn’t work out for an Olympic opportunity.

The history of the Olympic Games going back to early civilizations, the gallant ideals of the Olympic Movement, and the public and media interest in the agony and ecstasy of Olympic striving have created an almost irrational and irreverent mystique and aura around the Games.

The heartbreak, the exhilaration, the breakthrough accomplishments, and the team effort, even in relatively unknown sports, have captured the hearts and attention of people around the world in a very personal and emotional way. Most medal ceremonies bring tears to the eyes of those watching and listening, and we feel the emotions involved.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

VO2 Max: What do we know, and what do we still need to know

VO2 Max: What do we know, and what do we still need to know
By Benjamin D. Levine
Institute For Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas,TX, USA
From J Physiol 586.1 (2008) pp 25–34
Maximal oxygen uptake ( ˙VO2,max) is a physiological characteristic bounded by the parametric limits of the Fick equation: (left ventricular (LV) end-diastolic volume−LV end-systolic volume)×heart rate×arterio-venous oxygen difference. ‘Classical’ views of ˙VO2,max emphasize its critical dependence on convective oxygen transport to working skeletal muscle, and recent data are dispositive, proving convincingly that such limits must and do exist. ‘Contemporary’ investigations into the mechanisms underlying peripheral muscle fatigue due to energetic supply/demand mismatch are clarifying the local mediators of fatigue at the skeletalmuscle level, though the afferent signalling pathways that communicate these environmental conditions to the brain and the sites of central integration of cardiovascular and neuromotor control are still being worked out. Elite endurance athletes have a high ˙VO2,max due primarily to a high cardiac output from a large compliant cardiac chamber (including the myocardium and pericardium) which relaxes quickly and fills to a large end-diastolic volume. This large capacity for LV filling and ejection allows preservation of blood pressure during extraordinary rates of muscle blood flow and oxygen transport which support high rates of sustained oxidative metabolism. The magnitude and mechanisms of cardiac phenotype plasticity remain uncertain and probably involve underlying genetic factors, as well as the length, duration, type, intensity and age of initiation of the training stimulus

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
(J. R. R. Tolkein, 1955)

A piece of string is twice as long as it is from one end to the middle

A piece of string is twice as long as it is from one end to the middle
By Wayne Goldsmith
Have you ever asked someone an open question and had them answer, “how long is a piece of string?”

Guess what?

There is an answer to this question….

And that answer is “A Piece of String is Twice as Long as it is from one end to the middle”.

And so it goes with coaching.

Experienced coaches are often asked “piece of string” questions by young coaches desperate to learn the secrets of the sport and the mysteries of the “masters”.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Adaptations to Prolonged Intense Endurance Training

Adaptations to Prolonged Intense Endurance Training
John A Hawley
Exercise Metabolism Group, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences, RMIT University,
Melbourne, Victoria , Australia.
Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology (2002) 29, 218–222
1. Endurance exercise induces a variety of metabolic and morphological responses/adaptations in skeletal muscle that function to minimize cellular disturbances during subsequent training sessions.
1. Chronic adaptations in skeletal muscle are likely to be the result of the cumulative effect of repeated bouts of exercise, with the initial signalling responses leading to such adaptations occurring after each training session.
2. Recently, activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase signalling cascade has been proposed as a possible mechanism involved in the regulation of many of the exerciseinduced adaptations in skeletal muscle.
3. The protein targets of AMP-activated protein kinase also appear to be involved in both the regulation of acute metabolic responses and chronic adaptations to exercise.
4. Endurance training is associated with an increase in the activities of key enzymes of the mitochondrial electron transport chain and a concomitant increase in mitochondrial protein concentration. These morphological changes, along with increased capillary supply, result in a shift in trained muscle to a greater reliance on fat as a fuel with a concomitant reduction in glycolytic flux and tighter control of acid–base status. Taken collectively, these adaptations result in an enhanced performance capacity.

Key words: AMP-activated protein kinase, carbohydrate, fat, mitogen-activated protein kinase.

Evaluating a Training Program

Evaluating a Training Program
By Vern Gambetta
Basic Principles
The following are commonly accepted principles of training. A sound training program should address each of these principles. You should be able to identify these principles clearly and quickly. I maintain that if all of these principles is not observed then the training program is fundamentally unsound.

Training Design: A Road Map to Success

Training Design: A Road Map to Success
By Dave Shrock, Modesto Junior College
Coaching has been described as the science of total preparation (Plisk & Stone 2003). Effective coaches of all levels rely on systematic training design, or periodization, as a road map to optimal individual or team success (Bompa 1999)..

Following these assertions, coaches should be guided by the knowledge of what the crucial tasks are that must be accomplished in the demands of the athlete’s event/position and of the sport. Tudor Bompa, an authority on periodization, states ‘a coach is only as efficient as his or her organization and planning’ (150). Bompa continues by stating that periodization is one of the most important concepts of training and planning, as structured phases of training lead to the highest level of preparation and performance. Training design, or periodization, provides guidance, direction and scope to training; yet needs to be simple, suggestive, and flexible so it can be modified to meet individual circumstances or changing environments.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Coaching Thoughts
By Vern Gambetta
I overheard someone the other day when he was asked what he did for a living he answered: “I am only a coach.” I wanted to scream, no your not, you are so much more than that. Being a coach is special, more special than we can ever imagine. As coaches we have the opportunity to reach and influence young men and young women in situations of stress and pressure that they might not experience anywhere else in their life. We can teach and change behavior. Being a coach is not a job it is a special calling, it is an opportunity to make the world a better place for that short time we interact with those athletes each day. Your not only a coach, you’re special, your make a difference everyday in those athletes lives! We owe to our athletes and ourselves to make it the best part of the day.

The Biomechanics of Squat Depth

The Biomechanics of Squat Depth
By Brad Schoenfeld
From NSCA Hot Topics Series
The squat is widely employed as a staple exercise in exercise programs, both for athletic and recreational populations. However, significant controversy exists as to optimal squat depth, both in terms of safety and muscular activity. This paper will seek to clarify these issues, and provide recommendations for performance.

Squatting safety continues to be a concern amongst some practitioners, particularly as it relates to performance at high knee flexion angles. The theory that deep squats heighten injury risk can be traced to studies conducted by Karl Klein at the University of Texas. Using a self-developed measuring device, Klein noted that weightlifters who frequently performed deep squats displayed an increased incidence of laxity in the collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments compared to a control group that did not (8). Klein concluded that squatting below parallel had a detrimental effect on ligamentous stability and should therefore be discouraged. Soon thereafter, the AMA came out with a position statement cautioning against the performance of deep knee exercises because of their potential for severe injury to the internal and supporting structures of the knee joint.

How the best of the best get better and better

How the best of the best get better and better
By Graham Jones
From Harvard Business Review June 2008
Compete only with yourself, demand relentless feedback, and don’t forget to celebrate.

Until 1954, most people believed that a human being was incapable of running a mile in less than four minutes. But that very year, English miler Roger Bannister proved them wrong.

“Doctors and scientists said that breaking the four-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt,” Bannister is reported to have said afterward. “Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead.” Which goes to show that in sports, as in business, the main obstacle to achieving “the impossible” may be a self-limiting mind-set.

Talent Identification

Talent Identification
By R Burgess
It could be argued that competition itself might very well be the best form of talent identification, with competition seeing the best or most talented athletes rise to the top in their chosen sport (Peltola 1992). However the many athletes that do not succeed in the particular sport they have chosen, along with many that do achieve a degree of success, may be better suited to a different sport and never realise it (Peltola 1992). With this in mind and considering that without talent development talent identification would be a waste of time and resources (Jarver 1982), it is easy to see why talent identification is a term that is often confused with the term talent development (Peltola 1992, Hoare 1995). Therefore it is vital, for the purposes of this review, that talent identification is clearly defined before discussing the topic further.

Peltola along with Thomson and Beavis define talent identification as "that process by which children are encouraged to participate in the sports at which they are most likely to succeed, based on results of testing selected parameters. These parameters are designed to predict performance capacity, taking into account the child's current level of fitness and maturity. "1

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Future of Swimming: Myths and Science

The Future of Swimming: Myths and Science
By Brent Rushall
Swimming Science Bulletin No 36. August 6th 2009
A brief description of what are and are not acceptable knowledge criteria for swimming coaches is offered. Concern is expressed about the growing magnitude of belief-based coaching principles and advice which have the potential to depreciate coaching quality further. When information is limited to evidence-based research, a rich source of valid and reliable coaching knowledge is available. A sample of the implications of that knowledge is presented and covers the following topics: A physiological emphasis, altitude, lactate, pacing, whole-arm propulsion, and stretching/flexibility.

Because of the dissonance between established opinions and the implications of data-based research, mixed reactions in the audience are expected.

Proper Nutrition for Athletes: The Missing Link

Proper Nutrition for Athletes: The Missing Link
By Nancy Clark

From J Exerc Sci Fit, Vol 6, No 2, 130–134, 2008


Nutrition should be an integral part of an athlete’s training program. Yet, in the United States, American athletes and fitness exercisers alike commonly report that they do not eat as well as they should; they admit that nutrition is their missing link. Consequently, they may fail to attain the most benefits from their training programs and their competitive efforts.

The purpose of this paper is to highlight the sports nutrition errors commonly made by American athletes who live in a culture where food is considered “fattening”, eating-on-the-run is the norm, and fast foods are a common alternative to home-cooked meals. Given the rapidly changing food culture in China, this information may help Chinese athletes avoid making the same nutritional mistakes.