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Challenges and Game-Related Solutions
to Metabolic Conditioning for Team Sports
Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
The intricacies of team sports competition pose unique challenges for metabolic conditioning.The unpredictability and intermittent nature of competitive matches leads to great variability in the order, duration, and intensity of the various modes of locomotion and game-related activities players are required to perform.This article describes novel sport-specific solutions to metabolic conditioning for team sports players. The practicalities of implementing these game-related approaches are examined.
Preparation for Youth
Paul Gamble, PhD, CSCS
Heriot Watt University, Sport and Exercise Science and Medicine Centre, Sports Academy, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
The benefits of physical preparation in young athletes are becoming widely accepted. This article examines the need for different aspects of physical preparation for young athletes competing in organized team sports. It further attempts to define what constitutes appropriate strength training, metabolic conditioning, and neuromuscular training for young team-sports players at different phases of growth and maturation.
Of all the supplements that I recommend to my clients (athletes and non-athletes) the first choice is always Fish Oil. Fish oil is the panacea of life - there’s not much it can’t or won’t do in the body to regulate and enhance all aspects of cellular function. The reason it does this is because the cells or rather cell walls are made from fat. So the health of the cell membrane depends on the fat that you eat. You need cells to be built from a good mix of fatty acids, but if you have too many of one type over another then cell membrane health will be compromised and cell communication will be less efficient.
Many of us like a cuppa through the day. Apart from knowing that you should try to limit your sugar consumption, and, arguably, use skimmed-milk in your tea, many of us give no more thought as to whether the tea we drink has any consequences for our health. Read on my friends and be enlightened...
Green Tea comes in many guises, mainly from the East. Chinese and Japanese green teas have similar benefits. Green tea is just black tea without the fermentation process. Black tea (what most Brit’s normally consume) contains many benefits too just not as many as green tea, plus milk blocks the flavanoids (active health promoting components in green tea). You’ll see later the same milk in milk chocolate blocks similar active polyphenols from working properly in the body.
The interaction between exercise and immunity is a complex one and a professional athlete cannot afford to be ill often as it interferes with the training and recovery process. Supporting a healthy immune system boils down to a careful balance between the highest volume of quality training that an athlete can afford versus the bank of immune and recovery reserves upon which they draw. Drawing too hard on these resources or for too long results in this bank becoming overdrawn and the result is often illness or over-training.
Following on from my first article Stretching A Point, I am going to discuss the evidence for stretching protocols.The first thing to consider when stretching is the time at which the stretches are to be carried out. Stretching prior to athletic activity could have different effects to stretching carried out between athletic activities.
What happens when we stretch
The problem with nutrition is that there always seems to be a lot of conflicting information available. Much of my time is spent sifting through this so that I can give coherent answers to my clients. To make an individual’s nutrition support programme as effective as I can, I use knowledge of a client’s preferences, lifestyle, training and work demands, level of cooking skill, appetite and specific phases of support to build an holistic nutritional support system around them. In this sense it is highly individualised. It is highly tailored to their individual needs. These needs though are all superficial when we consider how a person might be functioning at a cellular level.
One of the most commonly used methods for recuperation by eastern-bloc athletes is the Sauna. Use of the sauna used to be compulsory twice-weekly with Russian national level athletes in the 80's. As well as helping you to relax, it is used to help recovery of the Central Nervous System (CNS) after intense training sessions. Your CNS needs to operate with optimal efficiency or you will not produce your maximum power output in any movement that you choose to make. In addition, a recent study at the University of Otago has shown that the sauna can have a beneficial effect on endurance performance in trained athletes.
Flexibility is assumed to be an essential component of athletic activity. There are a vast number of reports within literature venerating the benefits of stretching. These include; improved athletic performance, reduced risk of injury, prevention and reduction of DOMS, and improved co-ordination.
However, recent research has challenged some of these claims. This is because of the 'mixed populations' utilized in some studies. We all know of people who never stretch who have a good range of movement at joints and who never "pull muscles" We also know of people who persistently stretch, have limited joint motion and who also never get injured.
Many athletes concentrate on improving their strength at some stage of their yearly preparation period. For many athletes where strength, power and body mass are important factors within their sport, strength gain is a lifetime pursuit. In this short article I'll provide some of my thoughts on this very important element of fitness.
With the New Year under way lots of people are trying to make up for Christmas and December excesses.
Detoxing is one of the methods people use, and different people have different methods and personal detoxing plans.
Some people simply avoid their poisons of choice for a period – February being best as it’s the shortest month! Alcohol and caffeine being top of common pollutants (you don’t still smoke do you)? That’s so 1990’s… Plus its performance suicide for athletes.
Although the idea is not new (17), strength-power potentiating complexes (SPPC) have recently been the focus of considerable discussion and study (6, 8, 14, 18). SPPCs have, in some cases (6, 8, 18), but not all (7, 11), been shown to acutely increase performance. SPCCs can employ a high force (8) or high power (13) movement to potentiate subsequent high power or high velocity movements. For example, heavy ¼ squats might be used to potentiate subsequent vertical jumps. The appropriate use of SPCCs as a training method or as an acute performance enhancing factor immediately pre- competition might be beneficial
BACK TO BASICS GUIDE TO SURVING XMAS WITHOUT NEEDING TO START AS IF IT WAS PRE-SEASON IN THE NEW YEAR
With the year coming to an end, tiredness and fatigue are often present. There is a clear benefit for your body by taking 1-2 weeks full rest allowing the neuromuscular system to recover from the year’s training and controlled diet. However, too much absolute rest will generate muscle loss and poor diet will lead to fat gain. So you need to be careful not to neglect some important nutritional elements of your programme as now is the time they will help with these end of the year lows. Below are 8 reminders to ensure proper recovery continues so you can enter the next phase of your competition refreshed.
Make way for Xmas excess
I figured that with many people choosing to ski or snowboard during the next few weeks that it was time to post some workouts on the site that will help you overcome the leg pain associated with traversing the slopes. In fact the workouts listed here are suitable for anybody who trains with stationary bikes and who wants to increase their training intensity for a little while. The great thing about training at a higher intensity is that the workout will be relatively short (25-30 mins). Furthermore, higher intensity training is also good for fat burning as the body’s metabolic rate stays higher than normal after the workout is completed – perfect for this ‘mince pie’ time of year. These workouts are not just for expert athletes either. In each session you can push yourself as hard as you want, so all weekend warriors out there can get stuck in to these too. Two to three workouts a week will really help to improve your anaerobic, high-intensity, endurance.
Even the highest level athletes like to enjoy Christmas with family and friends, and like to enjoy the treats that come with this time of year. Listed below are 10 thoughts for anyone who likes to train and play sport, and who wants to get stuck into their Christmas fun, but not waste the good work that they’ve put in up to this point. Every tip might not be for you, but there might be one that strikes a chord. Read on ….
This article is an extension of the series on technical change and details a specific training programme that was put together for an elite Australian sprinter. Coach and sport scientist Dean Benton summarises the results of this successful sport science intervention. While the report is technical in nature, what should be clear to all readers is the logic that Dean uses throughout the report. Technical problems are identified, an intervention is put together, and then an evaluation of the success of the intervention is made. This 3 stage process is at the heart of good coaching. With best wishes in your coaching…..
During this lesson you will learn how to cook an omelette and prepare 3 meals for your day ahead all in around half an hour. I’ll also give you some great ideas for snacks and smoothies through the day.
Equipment wise you will need;
An omelette pan
A no fat grill
A handheld blender
Knives and chopping boards
Plastic or glass containers to put food into once it’s prepared
A cool bag plus cooling packs
Normal kitchen utensils tin openers, garlic press and so on
Leg strength is incredibly important in sport – there are many articles in this site that explain why. Rather than posting another article on the same topic in this issue, I thought I’d put a training schedule on the site that users can download for their own use, or for that of their athletes, to improve their leg strength. This schedule has been posted elsewhere many times, and is not new. However, it has been shown to be very effective at producing gains in strength over a 6 week period, even with experienced athletes. This schedule is known as the Russian Squat Programme and is born out of training methods past-used by Weightlifters. The accompanying excel programme contains the bit that you need to produce your own schedule. To use it you just need to know your 1 rep max (1RM) for the exercise that you are going to train. Enter this load (in kg) in the (1RM) box and the loads for every training day are calculated for you. Allow your cursor to drift over the red corners of each box – these contain comments to help you to use the sheet.
In parts 1 and 2 of this series of papers we looked at the link between proprioceptive ability (skill level) and technique, and physical fitness and technique. The underlying message in these two papers was that good technique is the product of many things. Moving well depends upon physical abilities such as strength, power, flexibility and endurance but also depends upon one’s mental capacity because effective body coordination in training and when under competitive pressure are other essential ingredients. Realising this fact is a very useful step. Addressing a physical limitation such as gross strength, may be all that is needed for a coach to aid an athlete that is struggling technically. Making a technical change really could be as simple as making sure the athlete has all the right ingredients to find the correct mix. It’s when all the elements all appear to be there and the technical change is still not made, that we have to get a little more devisive in our methods. Making lasting effective technical change is precisely the issue we will cover in this paper.
In part one of this series of papers we looked at how an athlete’s ability to coordinate his body will affect his technique. The link between these two factors is fairly obvious: A person who performs countless ‘airshots’ on a golf driving range is hardly likely to win the British Open. But what about other physical factors that affect performance such as strength, power, and flexibility? How do these relate to technique and its development?
By definition technique means “Style of execution,”. Technique is a description of a person’s movements. Anything which affects the way an athlete moves will affect his technique. Because of this inextricable link, physical factors like strength and power must be related to athletic technique. This raises a number of issues in technique training:
Sometimes we get bugged down in technical thoughts about grams of this and that and when to have the latest optimizing, muscle enhancing booster and we forget that good food is about being able to cook and choosing the right things to cook for yourself and your family.
Here follows a collection of recipes and tit-bits of information to reinforce what you have already learnt and know. I’m especially fond of the fish dish at the end of the article which I poached from my mum - a source of inspiration over the years.
Ok so you’ve done the 14 day Hollywood diet plan and you are leaner and lighter. You’ll be feeling a little tired in the legs and probably ready for some of the things you’ve been craving. You should also feel a new boost to your overall energy levels and clearer thought processes as you’ve eaten clean foods and no wheat or grains for this time.
The trick is how you return to normal life and eating patterns as well as being able to crank up the intensity of your workouts without gaining fat.
This is the first of a series of articles that I wrote back in the late 90’s when Steve Backley was still at the very top of his game, and concerned the methods that he’d used to develop his excellent throwing technique. While these articles were written with throws coaches in mind, the principles behind the coaching points hold for just about any sport. I thought I’d post the articles to see if they’d provoke a little discussion regarding technical training for athletes.
Biomechanics is the science which helps explain the way people move. Often coaches and athletes, through no fault of their own, are led to believe that biomechanics is a science rich in complex mathematics and physics, and of little benefit to their sport. This is simply not true. In this series of short papers I will endeavour to show how even a limited understanding of the principles of movement and human anatomy (biomechanics) can empower the coach to better design training programmes and prepare athletes for competition.
The best assessment of the performance improvements that athletes make as a result of their training are the improvements that are seen in the sport itself. So, extra cm jumped for a long jumper, a couple of tenths for a sprinter or more goals scored for a centre forward would all be obvious examples. These sorts of improvements are easy for everyone to see and are the most important for the athlete to make.
Not all training improvements are so easy to assess and their link to the sporting performance are more difficult to quantify. For example, does an improvement in a tennis player’s 1 rep max in the Bench Press ensure that they’ll hit a tennis ball any harder? It might and it might not. It might mean that this player has an improved capacity to produce force and in time can ‘transfer’ this ability into their tennis serve. On the contrary, it might mean that this player has improved their performance in a totally unrelated movement that has no relevance to their sport at all. Both of these views are held by coaches with whom I have spoken, and worse still, both might be right with specific athletes and specific movements.
I write this article as an accompaniment to Matt Lovell’s article on fat loss. Matt does a great job of showing how someone can get closer to a 6-pack if they have the will-power to take on a fairly drastic, albeit short-term, diet strategy. Rather than concentrating on appearance, in this article I’ll concentrate on the function of the torso and its relationship with good sporting performance. Here’s my list of training methods that I often employ for training the torso (read ‘core’ here if you prefer, I just want to take attention away from the 6-pack, and traditional ‘core stability’ methods) and while some of these are obvious and often used, some methods involve hard work for the torso in a less conspicuous way.
Testing is an incredibly important part of your preparation. Doing appropriate objective testing at regular intervals has a number of benefits.
There are five main times in the preparation cycle where tests become useful.
Many would argue that the role of the modern coach has evolved and that the easy transfer of information in the current era has forced this to happen. Gone are the days of the athlete being in the dark. The internet has opened up the information available to coaches and athletes with regard to preparation and as a result athletes expect more now from the support services available to them.
The role of the coach is now more important than ever. The reason for this is that the information athletes can access is complex, confusing and in many cases inappropriate.
Disclaimer loud and clear:
This diet is not something I’d usually recommend until a client was stable and grounded in their eating habits. The reason being that if your lifestyle and eating habits are pushing you in the wrong direction (getting fat and losing muscle) then doing quick fix diets (of which this is one) mean you’ll make progress only to rebound weight gain after you finish the diet.
It’s a bit like comparing your life and lifestyle habits to a place where; if you go there everything goes mad, nothing gets done, its disorganised and mayhem. OK it might be fun but in a short time you end up in the garbage heap of despair. Get your ‘place’ (lifestyle and eating habits) in order first so when you go back there it’s still fun at times but you can get things done and there is some sense of order and consistency.
Hamstring injuries are becoming more prevalent in many field sports around the world. The Field sports most affected are Australian Rules, Soccer, Rugby League, Rugby Union and American Football. This is continuing to occur despite a plethora of hamstring strengthening exercises designed to prevent these injuries. As practitioners we suggest an eclectic approach and offer some practical coaching applications based on published research and our experience. The problem of hamstring injuries can appear quite complex, but in reality we must look at the causes from a different view point. The hamstring injuries when approached from a different perspective offer possible solutions. It is important to emphasize that there is no one solution.
In part 1 of this 3 part series, I gave you some guidelines around which to base your diet to maximise the potential for fat burning.
In part 2 I go on to describe how this works during a training week and daily schedule. These principles can then be adopted to allow peak performance for weekly team-based events, or drawn out for longer periods to peak for other competitive events.
The article describes strategies you can apply to your own diet or to the diet of your athletes if you are a nutrition coach.
I write this article to stimulate your thoughts on how athletes can be appropriately trained to avoid hamstring injury, particularly those athletes involved in running-based sports.
Mechanics of the Injury
I have heard various respected authorities in the fitness and scientific communities comment on the ways on which the Hamstrings are injured when athletes are running. Recurring explanations are that the Hamstrings are hurt either (a) at the point when the knee of the swing leg contracts hard eccentrically to stop the forward swing of the shank, or (b) at the instant of ground contact of the swing leg when the ground reaction force increases rapidly. My thoughts are that these are very plausible explanations but that no-one really knows exactly when an injury takes place during the running stride. If you think about it, finding out exactly how and why an injury occurs is a very difficult thing to do.
Everybody knows that vitamins and minerals are essential for good health, but many people probably don’t know what to eat to get a good supply of both. The following is a list of common nutrients and their best food sources. When considering this list one can see the importance of variety in the diet.
Eating foods in season, organic and as fresh as possible will improve the vitamin content of your foods.
If your warm-ups are getting stale and you’d like to try something new, then have a look at this routine by Vern Gambetta. It is based on lunging movements and also incorporates medicine ball throws. Follow Vern’s lead and finds out how you can prepare yourself or your athlete’s for your sport without the traditional lap of the track or training field.
Note that for each of the lunging variations it is 3 directional lunges per leg – forwards, sideways and a ¾ rotation to the rear.
For the medicine ball exercises, you need a bouncy ball and do not be tempted to go above 3 kg - it’s a warm-up after all.
For many track and field athletes, their season is now complete and they are either resting or putting a start to their off-season training plan. What follows is a 5-point checklist of those things that are worth re-considering before the off-season starts in earnest. Every athlete wants to improve on their last season’s performance. Repeating any of last year’s training mistakes is something that no athlete wants to do:
1) Individual needs
Nearly every athlete carries a certain amount of injuries throughout the course of the season. Most athletes are fully aware of their chronic problems, and are also fully aware of how they should be managing them and rehabilitating them too. Physiotherapist advice is available at some clubs on at least one night of the week, and if your club has been able to get one in, you should always take heed of the rehabilitation programme that they recommend. Naturally some athletes will let the advice go in one ear and out of the other, but at this stage of the season, laziness is the biggest enemy.
Just like checking your engine oil or car tyre pressure, it's vital that any little niggles get attended to on a regular basis and this is where a pro-active coach becomes invaluable to encourage and cajole athletes into looking after their individual needs.
There is little doubt that in contact sports like rugby league and rugby union that systematic strength training is both useful for helping sports performance and for avoiding injury. However there still appears to be a lack of uptake of this type of training for athletes in other team sports, with professional football being a prime example. In this article, I’ll explore some of the reasons why I believe that strength training is vital for peak performance in this and other sports and not just ‘of benefit’.
1. Reducing the risk of injury.
Every Head Coach of a sports team wants to be able to select his best players for games as often as he is able. Players also want to work on their sports skills as often as possible as, arguably, this is the factor that will most strongly influence their sporting performance. In both cases, avoiding injury is key. Strength training can help in this regard.
“The medium is the message.” (Marshall McLuhan)
Marshall McLuhan got it right, commenting on our collective gullibility. We are often prepared to swallow almostanything if we trust the messenger.
The Madison Avenue folks have understood this for years, of course. (That is why they dress actors up in lab-coats when they set out to sell us medications.) Coaches seem to be particularly vulnerable to huckster-ism. The pursuit of ever-higher levels of human performance is fertile ground for those who choose to take advantage of the phenomenon Mr. McLuhan spoke to when he noted that if you can sell the messenger . . . selling the message is a cinch.
This is part 1 of a 3 Part Article Series.
1. General Tips for fat loss for athletes; food choices and minor adjustments to maximise fat loss
2. Flex; Maximising Performance whilst reducing body fat; eating in phases enhances anabolism and promotes fat loss, at the same time - learn how to achieve this and peak for competition
3. Hardcore fat loss; rapid fat loss strategies for stubborn long term fatties or to get ahead during periods of injury
General Tips for fat loss for athletes;
In an earlier article on carbohydrates and diet we looked at keeping a diary as a base line measurement.
1. Train for speed first, endurance second.
The body adapts much better to an endurance stimulus than one where speed is the focus. Athletes should train to get as quick as they can first, and then look to add endurance later.
2. Training should focus on producing powerful movement as opposed to strong muscle groups.
Too many athletes train like body builders, doing one isolating movement after another. Effective exercise programme are those that consist of compound, whole-body exercises that emphasise powerful movements.
In this article we explore the topic of 'organic' food. Most of us have at least heard the term, but most of us also probably don’t know exactly what the term means. Furthermore, the vast majority of us probably don't know whether the extra money that it costs to eat organic food is actually worth it or not. What follows is a fairly detailed account of why I think that organic food is worth the extra pennies, and also some further thoughts on other aspects of kitchen hygeine that might affect the way that you prepare your food, once you’ve decided what food to buy. So, without further ado ….
In my 'do you know squat?' article from a couple of weeks ago, I looked at common postural problems that people suffer from when they try to squat. In this follow-up article, I've tried to provide remedial exercises that will help athletes improve their squatting posture and control.
Check back with the 'do you know squat?' article here to remind you of the tests.
As a physiotherapist working with sportsmen and women I spend a great deal of time treating self-inflicted injuries from training. Many of these injuries are lower limb injuries; ankles and knees, due to improper training technique.
Any quality training programme should emphasise lower body functional strength. A good place to begin is with a body weight squat. This is because such a simple action can be utilized to assess flexibility around the ankle, knee and hip joints.
We do not coach in a vacuum. At the same time we are striving for athletic excellence, we are (always) contending with obstacles resulting from our contemporary (and changing) social order. And while advances in technology may cause the stock market to move, they, generally, have the opposite effect on people.
Consider: mere generations, ago, you worked on a farm, or you worked in a factory; but you worked, and it was physically exhausting.We have become a sit-in-front-of-the-box culture. Televisions, computers and video games all compete for our attention and contribute to our increasingly passive physical existence. Our current generation may prove to be the first in recorded history with a shorter life expectancy than that of its parents.
Building strength and supporting the muscle recovery as well as actually building muscle is crucial to all sports. The more muscle you've got the more you need to eat just to maintain it, especially when you're weight training with real intensity. Building muscle requires building blocks and these come directly from protein. You can’t build muscle directly out of fat or carbohydrate.
Next you need to ensure adequate calories in order that you maintain a growth environment for muscle. The trick here is not to over-eat as then you may gain muscle but you’ll also gain fat too. Eating plenty of calories directly after working out and for 2-3 hours after, sets up processes that keeps the muscle growing following your training session. All you need to do then is keep regular meals containing protein essential fats and slow release carbos to ensure you continue to recover.
In the previous two articles “Should bench press be banned?” and “Towards a better bench” I, tongue in cheek, had a go at the bench press as an “unsuitable” exercise.
It is a good exercise, as stated by Calvin, but I feel that in such a “simple” compound exercise for the upper body, there are many hidden technique failures that will predispose athletes to shoulder injury. I have tried to point these out in the previous article.
In this final article on the bench press, I will try and provide some advice regarding obtaining muscle balance and control around the shoulder joint (glenohumeral) and the shoulder girdle (scapulothoracic and glenohumeral).
Do other coaches out there ever get the situation when you are struggling to find new ideas for your training programmes? A kind of writer’s block for fitness coaches? I have to say that I’ve had a few of these moments of late. At first I thought that I simply suffered from uncreativity and that lateral thinking was something reserved only for millionaire entrepreneurs, and crabs. I’d been reading as much as I could, and adding 1-arm, 1-leg, eyes-closed variations to countless exercises, but still felt like my training programmes were missing a certain special ingredient. Finally, I realised what was truly missing in the programmes – overload. I had been making all forms of chilli con carne and forgetting to put the chilli’s in. Simple as that. The athletes that I were coaching were all working hard, but only as hard as the programme would allow them. That simply wasn’t hard enough.
Many athletes undertake strength training with a view to improve performance. An important consideration for athletes when strength training is the extent to which the strength developed from the training program is used in the subsequent sporting performance. The success of this is strongly dependant on the training specificity, which refers to the association between key characteristics of the training exercise and the sporting performance. The more similar certain aspects of a training exercise are to the sporting performance the greater the probabilities of transfer (Sale, 1992). These include movement pattern characteristics, force production, rate of force production and power outputs.
For a given sport, similar exercises are used across many athletes’ strength training programs but the amount of transfer to performance is extremely variable. This means that, in a sport when the same exercise is used by different athletes requiring the same physical improvements, the exercise satisfies the training specificity criteria for some athletes, but not for others. Often athletes will perform a particular exercise with proper technique, so it is assumed that the movement specificity is satisfied. But, if varying degrees of success are seen from the exercise there will be distinct differences in the application of force, the rate of force development and power output, and thus its specificity. Consequently, where specificity is low these variables need to change in order for successful application of the exercise to be seen. This is a very involved process and is often discussed in strength and conditioning literature. However, one aspect that strongly influences the outcome of an exercise, and hence its specificity, and that is rarely discussed, is the application of an athlete’s mental effort and the cognitive factors that relate to this.
Following Calvin’s response to my article in Issue 005 on the value of the bench press to athletes, I’ll try and clarify how, as a musculo-skeletal physiotherapist I feel that the bench press can be “improved” upon – i.e. make it less likely to predispose an athlete to injury.
The shoulder joint (humerus articulating with scapula) is inherently unstable, exhibiting the greatest amount of motion of all the joints in the body: stability has been sacrificed for mobility. Indeed, the glenohumeral (shoulders) joint is often likened to a seal balancing a ball on its nose.
This is a tabular representation of body weight lost as sweat and the detrimental Performance effects that can be caused.
The foundation of performance is hydration, run out of water and you run out of the ability to perform. Your body can’t cool itself and as exercise continues and core temperature rises, problems such as heat stroke may result.
Hydration is a crucial part of life itself, and water losses of a mere one or two percent of your body weight can impair function both mentally and physically. 1
In Issue 005 I wrote an article about the bench press, its uses as an exercise for developing basic pushing strength, and some alternatives exercises that might be of interest to those of us wanting to add variety to a training programme. In this article I’m going to expand upon this topic and provide my opinions on training the entire shoulder area. While I would rarely base the content of training programmes on the following, I’m going to use these six categories to help me keep my thoughts streamlined:
"What do you bench?" is a common question asked within gyms throughout the world. The answer is often used as a measure of the athlete's prowess. But, to paraphrase Monty Python, "What has the bench press ever done for us?"
Sure, it's a compound movement at both the shoulder and the elbow, and it has several alternatives such as incline, decline, narrow grip, wide grip and can be carried out with either a barbell or dumbbells. But what benefits, FUNCTIONALLY, does having a good bench-press confer on the athlete?
I write in response to Ian's excellent article in this issue that focuses on the bench press, from the perspective of the fitness coach.
I have, and would continue to use the bench press as an exercise to enhance basic upper body pushing strength for athletes. It is an excellent exercise for this purpose, and probably provides the greatest test of pushing strength, and therefore, method of overload for the pushing movement. Owing to its simplicity, it is not surprising that it has become one of the three powerlifting events and possibly the most popular gym training exercise the world over.
It is well documented that sound nutritional intake is a necessity, not only for long term health and vitality, but also for reaching peak athletic performance.
Despite the abundance of fresh food available to us, a “well balanced” diet has become somewhat unreachable for those people with busy, active lifestyles. Furthermore, our knowledge of nutrition is a combination of science and folklore, generating many misconceptions about the correct way to eat and confuses our understanding of the nutritional value of various foods and supplements.
Part of my new life having retired is motivational speaking. This offers a great way of packaging and delivering all of the useful tools that I found effective within the sporting world that apply to business.
There is one resounding message that I continually try to get across when I speak to people about success management and that is have a plan. This is what all successful people do whether in sport, business or life in general.
As a sportsman you must plan well.
Calvin turned the tables on Steve to get a fascinating insight into his experiences and the reasons behind the establishment of PAC Training.
With a pedigree in sports fitness and respected world wide, Calvin has been an essential part of the PAC team. Steve interviewed Calvin to find out a little more about his thoughts on modern training methods.
The following is the step by step process to design and implement a functional strength training program.
The link between lower body strength and sports-speed is well established. The quickest athletes are always the strongest. We also all know that athletes who progress their strength levels in basic exercises such as squats, cleans and deadlifts also get stronger, and, providing they’re also doing some running work, get quicker too. For athletes with healthy backs, the inclusion of exercises such as these in a strength programme is wholly sensible and very productive. But what should the athlete do if they have a history of low back pain, or poor lumbar-pelvic control? What leg strength training exercises are effective in performance terms yet spare the back a degree of loading? The remainder of this article will attempt to answer this question.
THINGS YOU COULD EAT BASED ON DISCUSSION
Amounts and recipes are not included, for a full list of recipes aimed at a muscle building diet please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’ll have to use your own preferences and cooking skills to find your way around these suggestions but it give you a picture of the type of things to choose at various times of the day.
UPDATED: A carbohydrate crib sheet has been uploaded for reference for this article.
Good and bad foods
When discussing food, how often do we say these are “good for you” or “bad for you,” or we say this food is “better than that one.” In fact there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” foods there are just some foods which are better to some at some times and others which are better at other times.
We should never feel that any food is banned and be aware that food is there as part of a fulfilled and balanced life, after all we don’t eat 25g of protein – or just protein, what we eat is a piece of chicken or fish.
How you perform on the day of an important event is your choice, it is NOT just chance.
Whilst we can learn from all the champions of sport as to what to do, we can also learn from the guys who consistently under perform as to what not to do.
The one thing that frustrates me more than any other statement post performance, is,
‘I just had a bad day… It all went wrong and there was nothing I could do about it'
Champions take responsibility. Champions make decisions on what outcome they want and meticulously plan them in immense detail. If you don’t reach the proposed outcome, then your plan was unrealistic or there was a lack of attention to detail in the execution.
How do you turn a devastating knee injury into a positive? By treating it as an opportunity to take an athlete to new heights.
For the past 16 years I have been designing and implementing rehabilitation, re-conditioning, and strength training programs for world-class and Olympic-level alpine ski racers, freestyle mogul skiers, and snowboarders. Moving at speeds of up to 80 mph and performing flat landings from 20 feet, my athletes see their share of knee injuries. But they get back to the slopes quickly and, in most cases, in stronger competitive condition than before.
The reason, I believe, is a program that integrates performance training with rehab every step of the way. In my mind, rehab and strength training are one in the same—you just need to modify the application. Thus I’ve developed an ACL rehab program that more resembles a strength and conditioning periodized plan than a rehab protocol. By treating rehab as a chance to improve performance, my approach addresses the entire athlete—the neuromuscular systems affected by the injury and the emotional and mental challenge of returning to high-level competition.
I recently spoke with an Orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in shoulder injuries. He told me that nearly all of the sports people on whom he performed arthroscopy had instable joints. By this, he meant that the Humeral head could glide around its socket by too great an extent instead of rotating smoothly during movement of the arm. It is this instability that led to the problem for which the patient was being treated (normally an impingement, labral tear, SLAP lesion etc.). For athletes involved in contact sports, instability is often caused by direct trauma. For athletes involved in sports with repeated movements (racquet sports, or swimmers for example) instability is often created through an overuse injury that then develops into a poor mechanical movement of the shoulder girdle.
A basic understanding of mechanics will enable the Strength and Conditioning Coach to better understand the physical requirements of a sport and of a particular individual in relation to their sport. For example, jumping ability is very important to a basketball player. Figure 1 is a theoretical model that helps a coach decide which mechanical factors are responsible for jump height, and therefore, which physical attributes need analysing so that a bespoke training programme could be written for a basketball player wishing to improve their jump. It is a conceptual model that is based on known mechanical relationships.
Figure 1 provides an overview of the mechanical factors that are responsible for the height jumped by an athlete. We can see that our performance criterion (PC), jump height, is dictated by two factors: body mass, and the vertical velocity of the athlete at take off. That jump height is related to body mass is instructive in itself. Vertical velocity is related to the force-impulse produced as the athlete pushes against the ground. Impulse is the product of the force produced and the time of force application. We can see that by lengthening the time of force application (this can be altered through jumping technique) or by the increasing the force produced, impulse is increased and, subsequently, the athlete jumps higher. Contact time is generally short for all jump types, hence we will pay more attention to the force that is produced against the ground.
Practioners and athletes often equate trunk control with “core stability” and the ability to activate and utilise the deep abdominal group (rotatores & intertransversarii). In fact numerous hours of core stability work have been introduced to world class athletes via classes with physiotherapists or one to one sessions via their conditioning coach. The main aim of these classes has been education and recruitment of these muscles at 30 – 40% of their maximal voluntary contraction capacity (mvc).The monitoring of these athletes and their ability to recruit the core muscles has been able to demonstrate the success of some of this work in lowering pressure and shearing forces on the back. Indeed, there are also many anecdotal cases, one in a premiership football club that educating the players to “click on” and work the core has decreased the reported incidence of lower back pain.
In a glittering career that has spanned some 15 years there are few titles that Jonathan did not win. However it was not until Sydney 2000 that Jonathan achieved his ultimate goal of winning Gold at the Olympics. He jumped 17.77 at the glittering event in Sydney and captured the heart of the nation to return home to a hero's welcome.
In 2002 Jonathan made the record books again and joined athletics' most elite club when he added the Commonwealth Gold to his medal collection, meaning that he became one of only of four athletes in the world who have held all four major titles (Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth) at one time.
If one considers all of the time that an athlete spends upon their sport, probably only 10% of it will be competing. With such a bias on time spent preparing for competition, we should always be concerned about the methods we use to condition our bodies. After all, wouldn’t it be great to know that every rep of every set, or every stride of a 6 x 400 m session, was worth it.
Even without access to the latest coaching information, or sport science research findings, coaches can still ask themselves whether their athletes are getting as much out of their training as possible. By following this simple, seven-step procedure, coaches can check whether their conditioning programme is founded on the right principles:
1. Decide on the main goal of the competitive season.
2. Identify your athlete’s strengths and weaknesses.
E.g. Very strong but poor technique, or, technically good but poor flexibility
3. Decide on a cyclic mode of training that will enable the athlete to arrive at the main event in ‘peak’ condition.
4. Decide on a goal for each phase of the conditioning programme
5. Decide on the best methods for achieving goals of training cycles and how one is to test that athletes are achieving these goals.
6. Decide on the strengths of each training activity and how you think use of that activity will enable achievement of training goals.
7. Decide how to put together the ‘recipe’ of training exercises so that athletes get the right blend of intensity, rest, motivation and enjoyment to achieve training goals.
This article is a compliment to Matts article on Blood Sugar control, it is advised that you read that first before using this table for reference.
In the first of a series of articles nutritionist Matt Lovell will be taking you through the process of becoming diet and supplement aware. This first article explores the relationship between carbohydrate and insulin. It’s fairly detailed reading but the messages are really important to athletes, so concentrate!
Never before have there been as many low fat or fat free products available and yet Western society is more obese than ever. Much of this has to do with people not understanding the link between carbohydrate and insulin, and how these two things relate to body composition. Frequently very fit and talented athletes struggle with poor body composition due to misinformation about carbohydrate consumption.
Gambetta Sports Training Systems
As a young coach it was always stressed to me to be sure to cross the T’s and dot the I’s. At first I thought they were kidding me, but the longer I coached the more I realized that was much truth attached to that time worn cliché’. Here are some T’s to cross and I’s to dot that I have found to be important in my own coaching and through observation of successful coaches and athletes the past thirty six years.
The Inter-rep and Inter-set Intervals
While anyone can understand what recovery actually is, far too few athletes realise its importance. It is during recovery periods that the body has a chance to prepare itself for the next exercise bout, whether this is between exercise sessions, or between sets within a session.
Watch any elite sprint race and you will notice that all athletes are able to run with a large range of motion at the hip – the knee is drawn up so that the thigh is parallel to the ground in the swing phase and is then extended fully and powerfully during the ground contact phase. Running quickly and a large hip range of motion does not appear coincidental. In a theoretical study, Farley and Gonzalez (J Biomech. 1996 Feb;29(2):181-6) have shown that running speed is limited by the stiffness of the leg (loosely interpreted as how well the leg can act like a spring) and by the angle through which the leg is swung during the running cycle. The latter factor is limited primarily by the dynamic range of motion at the hip.
Very little introduction is needed for Michael Johnson. In this interview with Steve we learn more about Michael's training philosophy and get an insight into what took him to some of the greatest performances of all time.
Tony is a former international sprinter and now one of the most respected sprints coaches in the world. I met up with Tony whilst on a training camp in Italy to find out his views on the specifics of sprint training and how to prepare effectively.
The goal of this article is to stimulate your thoughts with regard to the performance improvements that are possible for speed athletes through systematic strength training. Although the belief is less common, some still believe that strength training, primarily performed through lifting weights, will slow athletes down rather than speed them up. The aim of this article is to convince you otherwise; strength training really can impact positively on performance in speed sports, and there is much research evidence in support of this viewpoint.
Benefits of strength training?
Running quickly, accelerating hard, stopping quickly and changing direction abruptly are all movements that depend upon the production of large ground reaction forces. Put another way, if you can't push hard against the floor, you can't expect to go anywhere quickly – Newtonian physics tells us such.
The goal of this article is to stimulate your thoughts with regard to the performance improvements that are possible through systematic strength training, even for those athletes involved in endurance sports. Many people believe that training methods commonly employed by athletes in the power-based sports, such as strength training, have no baring on endurance performance. The aim of this article is to suggest otherwise; strength training really can impact positively on endurance performance, and there is growing research evidence in support of this viewpoint.
Benefits of strength training?
For any athlete, the primary benefit of progressive strength training is a reduction in injury. Improved strength of muscles and connective tissue helps maintain the integrity of the body even given the repetitive loading on the lower extremities that is a pre-requisite of endurance training. In short, strength training enables the endurance athlete to benefit more from their endurance training, by training with greater intensity and, possibly, frequency.
In sport, the athlete who wins the most is often the one who is injured the least rather than the one who trains the hardest. Of course, training ‘smart’ can help an athlete do both, train hard and stay injury-free. In an effort to create this situation many athletes are performing a number of prehabilitation (prehab) exercises as part of their normal training programme, with the aim of enabling them to train with full commitment to their sport without an impending threat of injury. Adding prehab exercises to your training routine might well be of benefit to you too.
Consider sports people who depend upon a high degree of technical proficiency in their sport, such as a golfer, javelin thrower or even a team sport athlete such as the goal kicker in rugby. There athletes will all need to give a proportion of their training time to hone their technical skills and the repetition of these movements will consequently place a repetitive strain on their bodies. At certain stages of their athletic development, reducing their technical training volume might be wholly undesirable so to avoid chronic problems developing they should add some prehab activities to their daily routine.
Fuzz's high jumping career was ruined by serious injury aged twenty one. He spent the rest of his international athlete career studying methods from Coaches to some of the Worlds Greatest Athletes. After retiring from athletics he attended The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for three years. As a successful actor, he also explains how you can benefit from preparation techniques from another industry.
The ability to be at your best is the mark of any champion. Despite serious injury problems, Trecia found a way of bringing her best on the most important day of the year. Trecia Smith…World triple jump Champion.
The 'Big Man' has been increasingly recognised in the coaching world. As an athlete Bob knew how to deliver the goods. He proved with successes on the world stage for over 20 years. Now as a coach, Bob’s infectious character and his abundance of knowledge on preparation methods make him one of the best coaches in the world. I am delighted he gave us the time to share some of his thoughts on physical preparation.
The order of the types of training that you do within a year will have a big impact on the effectiveness of your work. Blocking a style of training and then moving on to another style, eventually ending up with a performance potential that you desire, is known as periodisation. It has a number of benefits. Periodisation helps your body to make specific gains and therefore progress towards its goal in a controlled manner, it helps avoids staleness due to over-repetition and makes planning your year a lot easier. Essentially periodisation depends upon two things:
An explanation of the training principles behind PAC Training and the major concepts.
During my entire international career I was on a constant quest to find the secret to success. Now, as a coach, my desire to find the ultimate formula for achievement in sport has not diminished. Hard work and dedication is consistent in champions. I have seen similarities in attitude and preparation methods of the world’s elite sports people. A desire and passion to reach goals is certainly a factor. Combine this with a tenacious self-belief in pursuit of your goals, and you have the making of a future champion.
The first thing is to know what you want. Then go get it. That’s it! Of course, reality makes things a little more difficult because there are often distractions and hurdles along the way!
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