Archive | Strength and Conditioning RSS feed for this section

Aerobic/Anaerobic Combination Training Implications

24 Feb

Tire%20flipping[1]When aerobic training is added to the training of anaerobic athletes (those who participate in sports whose demands are primarily anaerobic), the resulting process can be termed combination training.

And, although lots of athletes who participate in strength and power sports also engage in some type of aerobic training, they may want to reconsider (please refer to, Why Are You Still Jogging?).

Certainly, some sports have more of an aerobic component than others, but virtually all sports integrate alternating intervals — short bursts — of high-intensity and (relatively) lower-intensity activity.  Characteristics of anaerobic training include:

  • Absence of oxygen
  • High intensity
  • Short duration
  • Develops force
  • Burns calories even when the body is at rest

Aerobic training may reduce anaerobic performance capabilities, particularly high-strength, high-power performance (Hickson, R.C. Interference of strength development by simultaneously training for strength and endurance. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 215:255-263. 1980).  High-strength, high-power performance incorporates explosive, “all-or-nothing” movements, including sprinting, jumping, hitting, throwing, kicking, blocking, and tackling.

Not only has aerobic training been shown to reduce anaerobic energy production capabilities; combined anaerobic and aerobic training can reduce the gain in muscle girth, maximum strength, and especially speed- and power-related performance (Dudley, G.A., and R. Djamil. Incompatibility of endurance- and strength-training modes of exercise. J. Appl. Physiol. 59(5); 1446-1451. 1985).

Apparently, it does not appear that the opposite holds true; several studies and reviews suggest that anaerobic training (strength training) can improve low-intensity exercise endurance (Hickson, R.C., et.al. Potential for strength and endurance training to amplify endurance performance. J. Appl. Physiol. 65(5):2285-2290. 1988. Strength training effects on aerobic power and short-term endurance. Med.Sci. Sports. Exerc. 12:336-339, 1980. Stone, M.H., et.al. Health and performance related adaptations to resistive training. Sports Med. 11(4):210-231. 1991).  In other words, endurance athletes can benefit from and improve performance by strength training.

As strength and conditioning professionals, we should be careful about prescribing aerobic training for anaerobic athletes/sports.  An athlete’s training should be designed to reflect and support the demands and movement patterns of his or her sport.  Aerobic training may be counterproductive in most strength and power sports.

Your thoughts?

WE WILL HELP YOU BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE!

We provide motivated athletes with a simple, customized training plan to help them improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Stand Up (more) and Exercise

10 Feb

sitting.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterbox[1]We sit too much.  We sit at work.  We sit when we drive.  We sit when we watch TV.  And, of course, we sit when we eat.

Don’t go to the gym and do more sitting.

Spend more time exercising at the gym on your feet (and don’t sit between sets, either).  You’ll burn more calories, increase core activation, and stay more focused and engaged in your workout.

Sure, there will always be a place for exercises like the bench press.  But you’ll find that you can perform virtually any exercise or movement — and work any muscle group — while standing, instead of sitting or lying down.

As an alternative to barbells and dumbbells, incorporate bands, kettlebells and medicine balls into your workout.  You can push, pull, lift, swing and throw them — and get a great workout in the process.

Push or pull a weighted sled.

Try suspension training (we like the TRX), and anti-rotational training, using equipment like the TRX Rip Trainer.

When you’re upright, the muscles that keep you balanced and stabilized work twice as hard, compared with sitting or lying down.  This strategy will also create a more efficient, effective workout… and produce results.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Performance With This Training Strategy

3 Feb

hex-bar-girl[1]One of the goals of athletic performance training should be to increase athletes’ work capacity while improving (reducing) their recovery time. Contrast training is a highly effective method for improving many physical attributes involved in athletic performance, including strength, power, speed (acceleration) and agility — if implemented properly.  Contrast training involves performing a set of a heavy resistance exercise, immediately followed by a set of a biomechanically similar power exercise (for example, a barbell back squat, immediately followed by a squat jump).  Complex training is a similar approach, which involves performing 3-4 sets of heavy resistance training followed by 3-4 sets of the biomechanically similar power exercise.

The benefits of contrast training include:

  • Effective in producing results
  • Highly efficient
  • Allows for high work density
  • Time effective
  • Allows athletes to complete fewer training sessions in order to yield the same or greater results
  • May have implications for injury prevention

Here’s an example of a simple contrast model for athletes to build explosive power:

  • Barbell Back Squat — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Box Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Barbell Back Squat — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Box Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Barbell Back Squat — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Box Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Barbell Back Squat — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Box Jump — 1 rep
  • Rest 2-3 minutes, then repeat for a total of 2-4 sets

Incorporate this superset into your workout for speed development:

  • Hex Deadlift — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Hurdle Hop — 1 rep; rest 20 seconds
  • Hex Deadlift — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Hurdle Hop — 1 rep; rest 20 seconds
  • Hex Deadlift — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Hurdle Hop — 1 rep; rest 20 seconds
  • Hex Deadlift — 1 rep 65-80% 1RM + Hurdle Hop — 1 rep
  • Rest 2-3 minutes, then repeat for a total of 2-4 sets

And finally, a superset using two explosive/plyometric exercises:

  • Squat Jump — 25-30% (body weight) load + Depth Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Squat Jump — 25-30% (body weight) load + Depth Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Squat Jump — 25-30% (body weight) load + Depth Jump — 1 rep; rest 15-20 seconds
  • Squat Jump — 25-30% (body weight) load + Depth Jump — 1 rep
  • Rest 2-3 minutes, then repeat for a total of 1-3 sets

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Spend More Time Working Big Muscles

13 Jan

the-barbell-squat-620x330[1]I spend a fair amount of time in high school and college weight rooms, working with a variety of athletes and teams.  This past September and October, I worked with an area high school girls basketball team, in their weight room, helping them prepare for the upcoming season.

As is the case in most schools, there are multiple teams sharing the weight room at any given time, and the girls shared the weight room with the freshman football team.

As I observed them, I could have sworn that these young men did more sets of biceps curls and triceps extensions than all other exercises, combined.  It was comical and — ultimately — ridiculous (35-40 of them were being “supervised” by one coach).

If you’re like these guys, investing a significant portion of your gym time working on your biceps and triceps, you’ve got it backward.  It’s not that those muscles aren’t important, but your biceps is the size of an orange for a reason.

Your smaller muscles exist to assist larger muscles with the important stuff — pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying, and throwing.

The next time you’re in the weight room (and every time thereafter), do your heavy lifts first and focus the majority of your strength training efforts on exercises that work the big muscles, like squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, chinups, and pullups.

Exercises that target your legs, chest, and back  — working multiple joints and muscle groups — provide the greatest return on your workout investment.  And your smaller muscles will get plenty of work in the process.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Happy New Year! (it’s resolution time)

6 Jan

Happy New Year, once again, and welcome to the end of the first full week of 2020.  Although I’m not a big proponent of annual resolutions, this time of year certainly lends itself to that process for lots of people.  If you’re one of them, here are some considerations in your quest for self-improvement:

  • Upgrade your pantry and fridge.  Replace the high-sugar, refined, processed, and fried foods and snacks with healthier options like nuts, fruits, and veggies.
  • Schedule your workout.  You’re more likely to commit to a regular workout if you schedule it as part of your day/week as you would any other appointment or obligation.
  • Train with a buddy to keep you motivated and accountable.  Research shows that you’re more likely to stay on task if you workout with a partner, especially if he or she is more fit than you.
  • Try new foods.  Experiment with new recipes and try to avoid stuff that comes out of a bag, package, or box.
  • Get your sleep.  You’ll feel and perform better when you are well-rested.  Aim for 7-8 hours of shuteye per night.
  • Try a new activity.  If your current routine is getting stale, move on.  Finding an activity you enjoy increases the likelihood that you’ll make it a priority.
  • Take a break.  Set aside time in your daily calendar for two 15-minute breaks — one in the morning and another in the afternoon.  Go for a walk, listen to music, or grab a healthy snack to improve productivity.
  • Get more color in your diet.  Try to include at least three colorful fruits and vegetables on your plate at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Colorful meals are packed with antioxidants and nutrients to help fight illness and decrease inflammation.

Best wishes for a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2020.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Lift Heavier Weights to Get Stronger

2 Dec

bench-press[1]If you want to build strength, you’ve got to tax your muscles, connective tissue, and bones.  Incrementally challenging yourself in the weight room is the most important stimulus for building muscle and strength.

Lifting the same amount of weight, every workout, won’t make you stronger.  It’s necessary to gradually increase your loads, as you progress, in order to strengthen your muscles and prepare them to handle heavier weights, over time.

You shouldn’t be able to complete the last few repetitions of your final set as easily as the first few reps.  It should be difficult to finish those last few reps, while maintaining good form and technique.

As you adapt to the training load and repetitions, it’s important to have a progression strategy.  Advancing exercise loads ensures that improvements will continue over time.  It’s also important for you to keep track of your progress and chart each workout.

A conservative method that can be used to increase your training load is called the 2-for-2 rule.  If you can perform two or more repetitions over your assigned repetition goal in the last set in two consecutive workouts for a certain exercise, weight should be added to that exercise for the next training session.  (Baechle, T. and Earle, R.; Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning)

The quantity of load increases, when progression is warranted, should generally be about 2.5-10%.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

What’s the Best Time to Exercise?

30 Nov

gym-weight-plate-clock[1]Generally, the best time to exercise is anytime you can drag yourself to the gym.  Life can be hectic, and most of us have to coordinate and manage schedules that include family, work, school, and other responsibilities and obligations.

However, depending on your training goal(s), there may be some logic to scheduling your workout based on the benefits you wish to achieve:

  • If you have a stressful event scheduled, like a test or meeting, exercising just before it can lessen your body’s physiological reaction to stress by helping your brain turn off its stress response.
  • If you have trouble sleeping, try exercising before bed.  Although some believe exercising before bed makes it harder to fall asleep, new research shows that people who exercise at any time of day or night sleep better than those who don’t (yoga seems to work best).
  • For injury prevention, exercise in the early evening.  If you’re prone to strained muscles and soreness, your “cold” muscles may not be ready to jump out of bed and workout.  Try exercising between 4 PM and 8 PM, when your core temperature is generally at its highest level.
  • If you want to lose weight, get your workout in before breakfast.  People who exercised before breakfast burned about 20 percent more fat compared with a group who ate breakfast first, according to a recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
  • If you want to improve your muscle tone, try exercising after dinner.  The increase in core body temperature later in the day can translate to an improvement in exercise performance.  Muscle strength increases slightly, coordination is better, and your VO2 max (the amount of oxygen delivered to muscles) rises.  It’s a small improvement, but these factors my enable you to work a bit longer and harder.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Strengthen Your Core With This Workout

18 Nov

mqdefault[1]

Swiss Ball Plank

A good core workout should work your entire core (and not just your abs) — front, sides, and back; shoulders through hips — and improve core strength and stability.

Here’s a core workout that’s a favorite of many of the athletes that train at our facility:

You can incorporate this circuit into your workout, or make it a “stand alone” workout by performing each exercise multiple times.  Increase the difficulty/intensity of the workout by adding resistance (bands, weight plates, etc.) to body-weight exercises; progressively increasing weight and/or repetitions; or adding time to the plank.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Challenge Yourself with the Uneven Plank Exercise

4 Nov

Want to work your entire core and triceps with one exercise? Check out this plank exercise from strength and fitness guru, BJ Gaddour, and Men’s Health.

The Uneven Plank is “a core exercise that does double duty as a triceps builder.” To perform this exercise, assume a standard 4-point (low) plank position, with forearms on the floor. Lift one forearm off the floor and hold it in the bottom position of a pushup. This activates the triceps and requires core strength and stability. Hold for 30-60 seconds, then repeat on your other side by switching arm positions.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Fuel Your Body After Your Workout

21 Oct

pGNC1-13512491dt[1]Your muscles do not grow during exercise, regardless of the intensity of your workout.  Exercise is important, but it’s only the stimulus — or trigger — for growth.

You’ve got to rest and refuel your body, following a workout, in order to strengthen your muscles, and post-workout nutrition is essential for growth.

When you eat protein after your workout, your body breaks it down into amino acids, which are used to repair and rebuild muscle fibers, a process known as protein synthesis.  One amino acid, in particular, warrants special mention.

Leucine is a natural amino acid that is found in your body. Leucine and the branched-chain amino acids, isoleucine and valine, make up almost one-third of your muscle protein. Simply stated, leucine triggers muscle growth.  Leucine breaks down faster than other amino acids, and works to stimulate the production of protein and energy molecules in your muscles.  For this reason, synthetic leucine is often used as a food supplement to help athletes rebuild muscle and increase their physical endurance and strength.

When you’re buying a protein supplement, check the label to make sure it has a full complement of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).

Aim for 30 grams of protein per meal, including post-workout.  As long as you’re eating enough calories overall, you’ll get enough leucine to optimize muscle growth.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

%d bloggers like this: