Tag Archives: exercise recovery

You Can’t Train a Skill to Fatigue

8 Jan

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” – Vince Lombardi

Whether you’re practicing a sport-specific skill or performing speed and agility drills, fatigue will adversely affect your performance.  Adequate rest and recovery are necessary to perform at 100% effort (or close to it) and with optimal technique.

In short, optimal performance requires adequate rest.

“Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.” – Unknown

Success results from the ability to repeat maximum effort many times.  In order to perform with maximum effort and technically correct form and mechanics, you must allow adequate rest intervals between repetitions and/or sets.  As a general rule, there should be a correlation between the intensity level of the activity and the associated rest interval, with higher intensity exercises and drills followed by longer rest intervals.

I’ve seen drills at basketball practices where players run high-intensity sprints or shuttles followed by free-throw shooting, to simulate game conditions, when they must be able to make foul shots when fatigued late in games.  While there is merit to these drills, players must master the skill —  in this case, free-throw shooting — and develop appropriate muscle-memory before progressing to game-like situations.  Same goes for any other sport-specific skill.

Please note that this strategy does not apply to conditioning, which is another activity, altogether.  If you are performing high-intensity exercises and drills without allowing adequate rest between repetitions and sets, you are not doing skill development or speed and agility training.  There’s nothing wrong with conditioning, as long as conditioning is your goal.

Remember, fatigue prevents skill development.  Learn the skill. Practice the skill with technically correct form and mechanics. Develop the appropriate muscle-memory. Master the skill. Once you’ve accomplished this, then it’s time to progress to game-like simulations and situations.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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You’ve Got to Practice at Game Speed

6 Mar

12307967-standard[1]As the AAU basketball season is upon us, I am reminded of watching our high school girls team — including my daughter — play their first tournament games of the season.  They did some things well and, of course, there were some areas that required improvement.

Invariably, the areas for improvement must start at practice.  At times, much of what the players did, especially offensively, looked hurried to the point that it adversely affected their execution.  It looked like the speed of the game made the players (think they had to) rush their shooting — jump shots and layups — as well as their offense in general.

My point is this: Finishing a layup, when you’re moving at full-speed, in “traffic,” is a tough thing to do.  If, when you practice layups, your drives to the basket are done at about 75% speed and uncontested, it’s unlikely you’ll develop the focus and muscle memory to control your body and shoot with the proper “touch” when you’re driving to the basket, full-speed, in a game situation.  It’s essential to practice like you play… at game speed.

The same principle applies to your speed and agility training.  When you perform your exercises and drills, it’s important to get yourself moving at full speed.  If you practice and train at less than full speed, what do you expect to happen in game situations?

If you’re a coach or trainer, here’s a speed and agility training tip:  You must allow adequate time for full recovery between exercises and drills.  If we want athletes to perform these drills at 100% effort, allowing for full recovery is necessary.  Otherwise, what we’re doing is conditioning.  There’s nothing wrong with conditioning, if that’s your goal, but it’s different from speed and agility training.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Can Stretching Help Postexercise Recovery?

1 Feb

429_2[1]Stretching has been a part of most athletes’ training — as a warm-up activity — for as long as I can remember, and certainly well before that.  As stated in previous blog posts, current research does not support a rationale for pre-activity (workout, practice, game) stretching, as it loosens and elongates muscles and does not adequately or effectively prepare them for force generation (in fact, pre-activity stretching reduces strength and power output in the short-term).

Studies have shown that pre-exercise stretching is not effective in reducing postexercise soreness, but what about postexercise stretching?  Can it be considered a valid recovery strategy?

In short, maybe not.  A new study in the Strength and Conditioning Journal concluded that “The emphasis on dynamic movements rather than static stretch positions is important for recovery…”  The authors also determined that “Stretching before or after exercising does not confer protection from muscle soreness.”

Light, low-intensity activity that assimilates the movements of the activity, itself — a gradual, dynamic, movement-oriented cool-down — may be preferable for postexercise recovery.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

What Are You Doing Outside the Gym?

27 Jan

M_Id_122832_Walking_the_dog[1]OK, so you’ve hit the gym a few times this week, and you’re feeling pretty good about it (as well you should).  And, since the effects of your workout are both cumulative and residual (studies show that the metabolic impact of resistance training persists in your musculature for up to 48 hours), you’re getting a good return on your exercise investment.

Keep doing what you’re doing and, additionally, consider this:  There are 168 hours in a week.  If you’re working out 2-3 days a week, for an hour each day, that leaves a lot of time spent outside the gym or weight room.  Are your efforts outside the gym complementing your time spent exercising?

Diet & Nutrition

There’s no need to be extreme or fanatical about what you eat, but your diet may be the single-most important aspect of your strength and fitness regimen.  You can drive a Ferrari but it won’t perform optimally on crappy fuel.  Same goes for your body.  The quantity of your dietary intake is important — you need an adequate and appropriate number of calories to consistently be at your best.  The quality of the foods you eat is equally important.  Your meals and snacks should be well-balanced, each incorporating clean carbs, healthy fats, and lean protein.  Check out my blog posts on pre- and post-workout nutrition.

Rest & Sleep

If you’re working hard in the weight room, your muscles need time to adequately recover and regenerate.  Always allow a day of rest between workouts, especially if the workouts involve similar muscle groups and movements.  And get a good night’s sleep on a consistent basis.  For most of us, 7-8 hours a night should help to ensure that we are ready to face the challenges of the day — mentally and physically.

Stay Active

Engage in outside activities and interests that require you to move around.  Cut the grass, work in your garden, walk the dog, take a hike or bike ride, go bowling.  Avoid excessive periods of inactivity.  Limit your time in front of the television and/or computer.  Don’t allow yourself to be sedentary.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Compression Garments and Their Effects on Exercise Performance and Recovery

4 Apr

2012_Under_Armour_ColdGear_Mens_Ventilated_Compression_Shorts[1]Companies like Under Armour have revolutionized the compression garment industry.  And it has gone way beyond functionality, as this attire has become interwoven into our fashion culture.  Over the past several years, researchers have studied the use of compression garments to determine their potential effects on exercise performance and recovery.

The theory behind these products is that the compression they provide improves/increases circulation, which, in turn, enhances performance and recovery (keep in mind medical compression stockings have been used in the treatment of poor venous blood flow for more than 50 years).

Compression garments speed recovery through direct compression and improved muscle oxygenation. Wearing these garments after exercise has been shown to virtually eliminate delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and has shown real improvements in muscle recovery.

Recent research with athletes has shown that compression garments may provide ergogenic benefits (enhancing physical performance) for athletes during exercise by positively influencing psychological factors. Research has also shown that compression garments may promote enhanced recovery during periods following strenuous exercise.  Other investigations have suggested that the use of compression garments during recovery periods may reduce the symptoms associated with delayed onset muscle soreness.

Although there have been limited investigations linking the influence of compression garments on athletic performance, it appears the use of compression garments may have a positive effect on athletes during exercise and during recovery periods following exercise. To date, no studies have reported negative effects on exercise performance, and so the use of compression garments may provide a useful training tool for athletes across a wide variety of sports.

Ultimately, it appears that compression clothing is an effective recovery strategy following exercise-induced muscle damage.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

How to Improve Force Production

4 Feb

revwads18cut-1[1]There are many factors that affect force production (the amount of force produced in a muscle, or muscles).  Improvements in force production can optimize sport-specific skill performance, including running, jumping, throwing, and hitting/striking.

Lift Heavy

Lifting heavy weight (e.g, 65-80% 1RM) produces greater tension in the muscle which, in turn, leads to greater motor unit (neuromuscular) recruitment, which affects force production.  The number of active motor units is directly proportional to the amount of force production.  (It should also be noted that heavy lifting and explosive concentric training [see below] have the potential to activate more fast-twitch muscle fibers)

Preloading

Preloading is the tension developed in the muscle before you move the weight.  When you bench press, deadlift, or squat, you can’t move the bar off the rack or floor until sufficient force is developed in the muscle to overcome the inertia of the barbell.

Overload Eccentric Training

Use very heavy resistance (≥ 100% 1RM) to perform “negatives,” which emphasize the lowering phase/movement of a lift.  For safety reasons, it may be advisable to use a spotter (or spotters) for certain exercises, such as the bench press, to assist in returning the weight to the original (up) position.

Explosive Concentric Training

When training for explosive concentric movements — where the goal is generating velocity — use relatively light resistance.

Plyometrics

Plyometric exercises exploit the stretch-shortening cycle to generate maximum force in minimum time.  This involves “prestretching” a muscle immediately before a concentric action to enhance force production during the subsequent muscle action.

Rest

It’s important to incorporate rest days into your training regimen in order to allow muscles time to recover and repair.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

3 Essential Steps to Build Muscle Strength, Size, and Endurance

31 Mar

61855_super_deadlift_bar[1]The fastest way to build muscle strength, size. and endurance is good old-fashioned strength training, done right. Over time, strength training challenges your muscles by breaking them down so they repair and recover bigger and stronger than before.

To be optimally effective, strength training must be combined with proper nutrition and rest. Although there are some strategies to accelerate the process, there are no shortcuts. You have to do the work and follow the plan.

Nutrition

Without proper nutrition, you will compromise any muscle strength, size, and endurance gains you hope to achieve. Simply stated, your body needs the nutrients that food provides for growth.

It’s essential to eat sufficient calories, as well as carbs and protein, 30 to 90 minutes before and after working out. Aim for 0.8 grams of lean protein per pound; whole grain and high fiber carbs; and healthy fats, like those found in olive oil, nuts, and salmon.

Strength Training

You’ll need to work out three or four days per week to reach your goal. Here are some guidelines to get you on your way:

Favor compound movements over single-joint movements: Compound exercises, like Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Press, and Inverted Rows, involve more than one joint and engage multiple muscle groups. Triceps Extensions and Biceps Curls are single-joint isolation exercises. Compound exercises require greater muscle activation, recruit larger muscle groups, and stimulate strength and size gains.

Lift heavy weights: if you want to build muscle fast, you need to push your body to use as many muscle fibers as possible during exercise. Lifting heavy weights allows you to challenge your muscles, which is the key to making strength and size gains.

For any given exercise, your training goal will determine the weight you use:

  • To build strength and power, 4-6 repetitions per set
  • For hypertrophy (to get bigger), 8-10 reps per set
  • To improve muscle endurance, 12-15 reps per set

If you can perform more repetitions than that, the weight is too light and you will fail to make gains.

Try supersets: we emphasize supersets at Athletic Performance Training Center. By pairing push and pull exercises (a.k.a., agonist-antagonist paired sets), you are able to work twice as many muscles in a time-efficient manner to help build overall muscle strength, size, and endurance.

Rest

Several different rest factors must be considered in your training:

  • Get a good night’s sleep; seven to eight hours each night
  • Do not rework a muscle group until it has the chance to recover for 48 hours
  • Rest between sets to allow your muscles to recover and get the most out of each set. If you are building strength and size, it’s best to rest between 90 seconds to 3 minutes between sets (except with supersets), depending on the intensity (higher intensity = more rest)

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

You’ve Got to Practice at Game Speed

13 Nov

12307967-standard[1]This past weekend, I watched our high school girls varsity basketball team — including my daughter — play their first scrimmage of the season.  We did some things well and, of course, there were some areas that will require improvement.

One of our areas for improvement must start at practice.  Much of what we did, especially offensively, looked hurried to the point that it adversely affected our execution.  It looked like the speed of the game made us (think we had to) rush our shooting — jump shots and layups — as well as our offense in general.

My point is this: Finishing a layup, when you’re moving at full-speed, in “traffic,” is a tough thing to do.  If, when you practice layups, your drives to the basket are done at about 75% speed and uncontested, it’s unlikely you’ll develop the focus and muscle memory to control your body and shoot with the proper “touch” when you’re driving to the basket, full-speed, in a game situation.  It’s essential to practice like you play… at game speed.

The same principle applies to your speed and agility training.  When you perform your exercises and drills, it’s important to get yourself moving at full speed.  If you practice and train at less than full speed, what do you expect to happen in game situations?

If you’re a coach or trainer, here’s a speed and agility training tip:  You must allow adequate time for full recovery between exercises and drills.  If we want athletes to perform these drills at 100% effort, allowing for full recovery is necessary.  Otherwise, what we’re doing is conditioning.  There’s nothing wrong with conditioning, if that’s your goal, but it’s different from speed and agility training.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Can Stretching Help Postexercise Recovery?

16 Oct

429_2[1]Stretching has been a part of most athletes’ training — as a warm-up activity — for as long as I can remember, and certainly well before that.  As stated in previous blog posts, current research does not support a rationale for pre-activity (workout, practice, game) stretching, as it loosens and elongates muscles and does not adequately or effectively prepare them for force generation (in fact, pre-activity stretching reduces strength and power output in the short-term).

Studies have shown that pre-exercise stretching is not effective in reducing postexercise soreness, but what about postexercise stretching?  Can it be considered a valid recovery strategy?

In short, maybe not.  A new study in the Strength and Conditioning Journal concluded that “The emphasis on dynamic movements rather than static stretch positions is important for recovery…”  The authors also determined that “Stretching before or after exercising does not confer protection from muscle soreness.”

Light, low-intensity activity that assimilates the movements of the activity, itself — a gradual, dynamic, movement-oriented cool-down — may be preferable for postexercise recovery.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

What Are You Doing Outside the Gym?

9 Oct

M_Id_122832_Walking_the_dog[1]OK, so you’ve hit the gym a few times this week, and you’re feeling pretty good about it (as well you should).  And, since the effects of your workout are both cumulative and residual (studies show that the metabolic impact of resistance training persists in your musculature for up to 48 hours), you’re getting a good return on your exercise investment.

Keep doing what you’re doing and, additionally, consider this:  There are 168 hours in a week.  If you’re working out 2-3 days a week, for an hour each day, that leaves a lot of time spent outside the gym or weight room.  Are your efforts outside the gym complementing your time spent exercising?

Diet & Nutrition

There’s no need to be extreme or fanatical about what you eat, but your diet may be the single-most important aspect of your strength and fitness regimen.  You can drive a Ferrari but it won’t perform optimally on crappy fuel.  Same goes for your body.  The quantity of your dietary intake is important — you need an adequate and appropriate number of calories to consistently be at your best.  The quality of the foods you eat is equally important.  Your meals and snacks should be well-balanced, each incorporating clean carbs, healthy fats, and lean protein.  Check out my blog posts on pre- and post-workout nutrition.

Rest & Sleep

If you’re working hard in the weight room, your muscles need time to adequately recover and regenerate.  Always allow a day of rest between workouts, especially if the workouts involve similar muscle groups and movements.  And get a good night’s sleep on a consistent basis.  For most of us, 7-8 hours a night should help to ensure that we are ready to face the challenges of the day — mentally and physically.

Stay Active

Engage in outside activities and interests that require you to move around.  Cut the grass, work in your garden, walk the dog, take a hike or bike ride, go bowling.  Avoid excessive periods of inactivity.  Limit your time in front of the television and/or computer.  Don’t allow yourself to be sedentary.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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