Showing posts from 2013

Strength Training: Practical Application, Sample Workouts

First, let's review some key components of strength training. In my last post, I summarized the findings of a recent review from Ronnestad and Mujika . The take-home message: strength training is generally beneficial for runners and cyclists and "...there are no reports of negative impacts of concurrent training on endurance performance" (  Ronnestad & Mujika, 2013). There are many ways to approach strength training. By varying exercise, load, volume and recovery time the athlete can change the focus of the workout. In the table below, I've tried to summarize what we know about volume and load manipulation for different adaptations. Focus Volume Load Recovery Strength (Neural) Low (1-6 reps) High (≥80% 1RM) Long (5+ minutes) Power Low (3-6 reps) Varied (30-90% 1RM) Long (5+ minutes) Hypertrophy Moderate (8-12 reps) Moderate (60-80% 1RM) Short (1-2 min

Strength Training for Distance Runners and Cyclists: A Look at a New Review

A recent review from Ronnestad and Mujika has evaluated the effects of strength training programs on performance and the components of performance in runners and cyclists. An abstract can be found here . As I found with my literature review for hill sprint training ( here and here ) this review notes that strength training, either heavy-weight and slow or light-weight and explosive, improves running economy. Interestingly, this review states that it may also improve cycling economy, especially as an athlete becomes fatigued. Ronnestad and Mujika also evaluated the effects of strength training on VO2max, lactate threshold/anaerobic capacity, and performance measures. I have written on concurrent strength and endurance training in the past , questioning what effect(s) endurance training might have on strength for the strength and power athlete. While this review is concerned with concurrent training, it is strength training for the endurance athlete - and it appears that there i

Tips from the Top - Where'd you hear that?

I recently defended the student of sport science on a message board. It wasn't pretty. Vern Gambetta nailed it here , in a much more peaceful way. "All that being said remember the immortal words of Gertrude Stein 'the answer is there [is] no answer.'" Much like my mentor's saying, "the answer in exercise physiology will always be 'it depends.'" Where do you get your information from?

Marathon Periodization and Taper

I came across  this case study of 3 professional  distance runners (Reid  Coolsaet , Rob Watson, and Dylan  Wykes ), following them through a 16 week build towards a marathon, where they would run personal bests of 2:11:23, 2:12:39, and 2:16:17. There is some discussion of their training on  pg . 396. "The 3-week  premarathon  taper featured a 52% reduction in volume with no appreciable change in training frequency. This taper is congruent with the recommendations from a recent meta-analysis on the effects of tapering on performance, which found the ideal length of taper to be ~2–3 weeks, where training volume was decreased 41–60%, without any modification of training intensity or frequency ( Bosquet ,  Montpetit ,  Arvisais , &  Mujika , 2007)." These guys went from running 142, 165, and 124 miles/wk to an average of 71 miles/wk in the last week including the race. Talk about a taper. If you're running 70/wk that would mean dropping down to ~35 miles (includi

"Burnt Cookies" - Overtraining from the Perspective and Experiences of an Exercise Physiologist

I stumbled upon a good read today. The excerpt from  Overtraining Athletes: Personal Journeys in Sport,  can be found at this link . The interview with Dr. David Martin, a physiologist with the Australian Institute of Sport, highlights the importance of monitoring athletes' physiological and psychological well being, as well as the value of interpersonal coach-athlete relationships. All around, a good read and sound advice from an experienced professional.

Current Research: Pacing Strategies for Multisport

A constant workrate in the cycling portion enabled athletes to cover the 9.3km run 42s faster on average than a variable workrate. Abstract here . "Training to lower physiological and perceptual responses during cycling should limit the negative effects on triathlon running."

USATF Level 2

I'm looking forward to the USATF Level 2 Youth Specialization Clinic this week! To all my coaches as a youth -- thank you for sharing the wonderful world of athletics with me.

Supplements -- You Should Know

You've probably seen the ridiculous claims on supplements packaging before. Stuff like, "Improves Endurance 45%" or "Accelerates Recovery!" I've been training and racing for the better part of 12 years. I've seen a lot of garbage, even used it myself when I was younger. But now, I take a multivitamin and an iron supplement -- that's it. Of course, I might consume carbohydrate before, during, and after exercise. And I occasionally use whey protein with a carbohydrate source for a quick and easy recovery shake. I also enjoy a good cup of coffee. But while supplement companies keep trying to pump you full of their dishonesty and products, I urge you to take the time to evaluate their claims and the research as a whole. The first source I use when I consider a supplement is the Australian Institute of Sport's website. Here  you can find their fact sheets on popular supplements as well as their classifications. You'll notice all the Group A su

Beta-alanine with a Meal may enhance Carnosine Synthesis in Soleus Muscles

Abtract here. Beta-alanine is an interesting one. More on it later...

Concurrent Training - Effects on Strength and Power

I got an email last week with a link to this article from the NSCA's Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. It caught my attention because I've done "concurrent training" in the past and I'm currently tinkering in the weight room 2-3x a week while running and cycling. Further, it seems as though resistance training for runners is a hot topic as of late. In my post from March on concurrent training, I essentially concluded that through a number of possible mechanisms, same session strength and endurance training may limit the adaptations that you would get from resistance training alone or in a separate session. For example, if you go for a 2 hour long run then completing plyometrics or a weight workout -- you may not get the benefits from that second workout to the same extent as you would if you had separated those workouts. Cellular signaling, fatigue/overtraining, decreased glycogen conten t may all be part of the reason. Think about it -- how many

Cheap Homebrew Sports Drink

I drink a lot of carbohydrate and electrolyte beverages. Why? 1. They taste good, so I want to drink them; and drinking more keeps me hydrated. 2. Carbohydrates are a very important energy source for active people -- before, during and after exercise. 3. Glucose promotes water absorption from the small intestine. 4. They also provide electrolytes - promoting water retention and electrolyte balance. I've tried a lot of them, sometimes forking out more than a dollar per serving for products like Gatorade, Hammer's Heed, PowerBar's Perform, First Endurance's EFS, and so on... But I've recently started experimenting with making some of my own drinks for performance and recovery. The best thing about making your own drinks is that you can customize it to be any flavor, any concentration (though the consensus is generally that ~6% CHO is the best concentration for gastric emptying and intestinal absorption), and you know and can control exactly which ingredient

The Female Athlete Triad

I recently presented a short piece on the female athlete triad at school. While it wasn't a particularly thrilling topic to me, I did come across some concerning information. The problem being that there is a lack of knowledge on the issue. From doctors and coaches to the affected women themselves, they need to be made aware of the symptoms and consequences of the triad. What is the Female Athlete Triad?  The triad refers to the interrelationships between energy availability, bone mineral density, and menstrual function (ACSM, 2007). Triad, referring to the three aforementioned components exists as a condition when energy availability is insufficient to supply adequate energy for normal physiological processes like menstruation and subsequently maintenance of bone mineral density (BMD). The diagram below from the American College of Sports Medicine's position stance describes the relationship of the three components of the triad. When energy availability is kept high,


Vern Gambetta posted last week on ELITETRACK Blogs about how athletes are taught to do drills, but they often go through the motions completing them without purpose, without proper form, or without the power required to get any benefits from the movements. If you're performing work; whether it's a drill, a hill sprint, or a long run, do it with purpose and set yourself up to nail the purpose of the workout. Recognize that hard work for the sake of working hard is not always good work, but hard work with a specific purpose is the way to winning.

More on Hills

Scott Douglas of Runner's World  wrote here last month about a new study investigating the effects of various uphill intervals on 5k time trial performance. As a student that has spent some time writing about hill sprints and running economy (RE) and planning a research project on the topic, this little blurb peaked my interest and I've been on the look-out for the publication ever since. Well, it has been accepted for publication but hasn't published just yet. Nevertheless, I have accessed the submitted, unedited version. Barnes, K. R., Hopkins, W. G., McGuigan, M. R., & Kilding, A. E. (2013). Effects of Different Uphill Interval-Training Programs on Running Economy and Performance. Int J Sports Physiol Perform .  An abstract can be found  here on PubMed . To summarize, 15 male and 5 female trained distance runners were evaluated for VO2max, RE, countermovement-jump peak force, and 5k time.  The 20 subjects were then assigned to 1 of 5 groups. Each group comp

Fructose, Sucrose, or Glucose?

While I am sidelined with an angry low back today (more on that later), I thought I'd take the time to write a bit about carbohydrates (CHO). Specifically, the different types of CHO and their effects on blood glucose and glycogen replenishment. CHO ingestion has been found time and time again to aid in intense and prolonged endurance performances. Why? Because  two of the mechanisms behind fatigue are decreased blood [glucose] and muscle glycogen content.  The two go hand in hand, such that when muscle glycogen is depleted, blood glucose will be metabolized -- and when blood glucose is metabolized and not maintained through ingestion of CHO, blood glucose will drop. Remember  glycolysis ? Then you remember glucose is necessary to run glycolysis. And there are two sources of glucose for working muscle cells -  glycogen  and  blood glucose . When an athlete has low glycogen and low blood glucose, his ability to run glycolysis will be limited by CHO availability and exercise inte

Concurrent Strength and Endurance Training

     You  know exercise can change your body. Through exercise, one can change parameters such as body composition, endurance capacity, maximal strength, efficiency, etc. The basis behind these changes is that the stress of exercise causes adaptations to occur in the body. The rule of specificity tell us these adaptations are specific to the training stimulus (Hickson).  For example, the most effective way to increase a muscle’s maximum strength would be to specifically train that muscle through short-duration, high intensity resistance training, not through prolonged, low resistance repetitive contractions. Conversely, endurance based athletes like marathon runners or long distance cyclists, should train specifically for their endurance events by training over prolonged amounts of time with a lower sustainable resistance or work rate. With this said, how should athletes in events that require a mixture of strength and endurance train? Employing a training regime combining strength and

An Athlete's Pantry - Supporting Ingredients

I'm taking a step away from exercise performance and physiology this week to talk about another love in my life: Food. I often find myself in the grocery store grabbing the most essential of the essentials: Milk, bread, eggs, meat, cereal... For me, it's usually easy to pick the main entrees for the week -- Say... curry, chicken breasts, chili, steak, pasta, etc. The hardest thing is deciding on what sides items to cook, and remembering what supporting ingredients you need. For those times it helps to have a few things stockpiled in your fridge and pantry. That way, if you forgot an ingredient, you might already have it. And if you don't -- maybe you can still throw something together with those stockpiled ingredients. I think my girlfriend Courtney and I do a pretty good job managing our fridge and pantry. What do we keep on hand? Rice - An excellent carbohydrate source, easy to cook, stores well Beans - black, pinto, chickpea, lentils - pair well with rice

Physiology of Lactate Threshold and Practical Applications to Training

All right, now that we've briefly covered the basics of lactate metabolism, let’s move on to training for lactate production, transportation and oxidation. Production, of course, refers to the creation of lactate through glycolysis. And remember, to be able to create lactate, glucose must be present (from blood glucose or cleaved from glycogen) to run glycolysis. So to create lactate, an athlete needs to engage in training that relies on glycolysis for ATP production, in turn creating H+ and lactate. Again, lactate is not the molecule we need to buffer or transport out of the cell. It is the H+ that accompanies lactate that disrupts glycolysis and muscle contraction. H+ must be transported out of the muscle cells by monocarboxylate transporters (MCTs). These are H+-Lactate co-transporters, meaning H+ and lactate must be present before they are both pumped out of the cell together into extracellular space. Then the lactate and H+ may diffuse into the bloodstream. When the