Don't Drive on Bald Tires: Patience in Training

When people get excited about getting fitter, faster, stronger, leaner they want to see the improvement fast.  Unfortunately, they underestimate the work that has to be done on the overall foundation of their fitness first and get impatient. 

Mobility, stability, balance, body control, strength, absolute power, cardio, sustainable power, maximum sustainable power.  The first four don't sound as impressive as the latter. Everybody wants to skip the “boring stuff” and get right to the big lifts.  They do not know what a mistake that is.  It is my job as a coach to make sure my clients progress in these basics and build a solid foundation first, so they have the ability to increase the intensity when ready.  You DO NOT want to drive a high performance super-car on bald tires. 

You have to build a strong foundation of mobility, stability, body control, and core strength, , before you can move forward.  The wonderful thing is once you start to shore up these weakness you will make great leaps forward, and decrease the risk for injury.  

 

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

"Truth in Fitness"

Exercise Variation is Overrated

It is so crazy when clients come in and state that they did same exercise the last time and think that somehow it won’t help them if they do the same exercise over again. 

I think this myth came from the term “muscle confusion” and P90x.  The belief is that you have to confuse your muscles with a variety of exercises to make change.

I tell people that I can take one movement and without ever changing the movement have hundreds of variation. 

Let’s take the hex bar dead-lift, for example, as it is a great overall complex lift. 

1.     I could do the traditional 3 sets of 10.

2.     I could do a long rep count with lighter weight for 3 sets

3.     I could do a short rep count with higher weight for 6 sets.

4.     I could do the same long rep count with very little rest between the sets for 4 sets.

5.     I could do the short rep count with long rests and add more weight

6.     I could do 6 sets of 3 really heavy weight and a ton of rest.

7.     I could do jumping bar lifts for power

8.     I could do a moderate amount of weight for 8 sets, limit the rest to 40 to 60 seconds and                then do another set same weight same reps.  I could do this for 4 sets if I want to add size               and strength. 

The reps and sets all have a design to deliver a particular result.  Some of the sets above will improve strength, some muscle size, power, power endurance, muscle endurance, metabolic load, etc. 

So you can do the same exercises daily and have a completely different workout.  The key to the variation is not the exercise as much as how the muscle is working in the movement pattern.  

Personally I am all about power to weight so I like to lift heavy for my strength on my lower body coupled with power exercises on the Versa-pulley.  My upper-body I like to have some size and strength so I add these into my workout to super-set and save time, alternating from one lower body to upper body pulling or pushing or some dynamic core exercises. 

Truth in Fitness:

Jacques DeVore , CSCS 

Stretch Shortening Cycle

Want to get bigger overloads in your power training?  Then you better understand the stretch shortening cycle. 

I remember when I was in high school trying to drop weight for wrestling. Our heavy weight would sit in the front seat of the car. Another wrestler and I would push the car in neutral for a couple of blocks, work up a sweat, and then jump into the car with the heater on wearing rubber sweats. Sitting here today this sounds crazy, but wrestlers are a little crazy.

When we were getting the car moving I remember leaning back as far as possible and then pushing into the car. What I did not realize at the time is why we would do this. By leaning back I was loading the opposing muscle group (antagonist) so that I would take advantage of the elastic effect of the muscle stretching and then subsequently shortening so that we could get the car moving from a dead stop. The farther I could lean back, the greater the pre-load stretch of the muscle.

This is called the Stretch Shortening Cycle. Your body will produce more power by pre-loading (stretch/shortening) those opposing muscles so that more power can be produced. As you train more the ability to load becomes greater and greater. I call this getting fit enough to get really fit. So be patient and take advantage of this natural choreography of muscles to get better and better at moving your body through space.

Truth in Fitness:
Jacques DeVore CSCS

The Importance of Magnesium

Magnesium.  If your hard intervals or training efforts seem to be lacking you may be low!

 

Most coaches and fitness enthusiasts are aware of the importance of magnesium in energy production.  However, more recent research is showing that the amount of magnesium required for optimum health and performance has been underestimated.  Research has also shown that it does not take a large deficiency to have a big impact on performance.  Research has demonstrated that magnesium deficiency reduced metabolic efficiency, increased heart rate and oxygen consumption to complete a given workload.

Pure magnesium is the second most abundant mineral in cells after potassium.  Most is found in muscle tissue and bone.  Less than 1% is found in the blood.  This is typically the amount measured.  Magnesium is used in the synthesis of fat, protein, muscular contraction, cardiac activity, bone metabolism and neurological activity. 

Magnesium has an important role for human performance in ATP metabolism both in aerobic and anaerobic energy production.  ATP is called the energy currency of the body.  During strenuous exercise the rate of turnover of ATP is extremely high, and magnesium is a big part of satisfying this need.  There is also a link to magnesium in reducing oxidative stress and the production of testosterone which can help promote strength gains in athletes. 

Recommended Magnesium levels in the US are about 400mgs per day for men and about 300mgs for women.  However research in athletes has led many to believe that this is too low.   Levels in the range of 450 to 500 may produce better performance.  A rule of thumb is 3mg per pound of body weight. 

The impact of a deficiency of magnesium is so great that this should be one of the first checks on a list of dietary needs for optimum performance.  Especially if your sport is a power to weight sport, where you are trying to watch your diet and may trying to reduce your body weight. 

Some dietary sources highest in magnesium are almonds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, walnuts, and sesame seeds.  If you are an athlete or actively training, make sure you are consuming magnesium rich foods or take a magnesium supplement.  They are cheap and safe. 

 

Truth in Fitness

 

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

Sirens and Titans Fitness, LA

 

Do You Have a Primary Training Objective in Your Workouts? If you want fast gains, you better!

At Sirens and Titans Fitness , we not only look at the long term strategy of the training based on a well-developed evaluation of the athlete. We also spend a lot of time on the tactics of each training session.  The long term or grand strategy evaluates the long term objective of the athlete for the off season training and beyond.  If someone is not an athlete we like to create seasons for them.  This allows them to “peak” at different points in the year and give them psychological breaks from training year round. 

Each individual training session is another rung in the fitness ladder.  In order to make the next step up in fitness each of these sessions must be developed in a thoughtful manner.  At Sirens and Titans we have primary objectives for each training session.  The Primary Objective may be lower body strength, power, stability etc.  The Primary Objective may be active recovery.  The point is that if you do not have a primary objective you may want to look at incorporating this concept into your workout.  The Primary Objective of a workout allows our training staff to focus on one area of training that is the most important part of the grand strategy for that day. This will improve performance and move the athlete forward at the most rapid rate possible.   The Primary Objective must be dynamic.  In other words if the Primary Objective was to obtain an overload in lower body power utilizing plyometric exercises and the athlete was not able to perform at a level that produced the overloads necessary we would change the session and revisit the primary objective after the athlete has had enough recovery time to perform at the appropriate level to attain the output necessary to meet our objective.

Time is the real enemy of an athlete who wants to compete at the highest level.  Establishing Primary Objectives for each workout insures that workouts are not wasted or contributing to overtraining. 

 

Truth in Fitness

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

www.sirensandtitansfitness.com 

Maximum Overload For Cyclists. What the is book about in a short video and why you should buy the book.

  • What wins in almost all endurance events lasting longer than 20 seconds is the ability to sustain the highest percentage of your Absolute Power Output the longest! (APO)
  • You do this without thinking when you are searching for the perfect gear (Maximum Sustainable Power) on a climb or the flats. 
  • ·Power= Force x Velocity.  You have to understand this concept!!
  • ·Strength is your ability to generate a force.  This is different than power.
  • Add increased velocity and you have more Power!
  • Increasing you strength takes mobility, stability and improved force production.
  • Increasing Velocity is a product of training in high speed low resistance exercises.  Plyos, Olympic lifts, walking explosive lunges. These are NOT strength exercises they have velocity and are typically about 30 to 40 percent of your max strength!!
  • Step 1 in the book:  Self-Assessment
  • Step 2 Work on any mobility, stability, or biomechanical issues. 
  • Step 3 Work on the force production or strength in the basic lifts
  • Step 4 Work on establishing your Absolute Power Output, (APO)
  • Step 5 Start the Maximum Sustained Power workouts.  In the book this is exampled with an explosive walking lunge for one minute.
  •  Step 6 Continue to improve all of the above, but continue to add more time to the MSP workouts.   I have cyclists doing the MSP efforts for over 7 mins in duration!  You start with one min and then keep adding more time as long as you can keep up the speed in the movement.
  • Your body makes and adaptation ( change) in being able to hold a higher percentage of your APO longer because the MSP workouts are asking the body to hold APO for long durations of time.  The rest between the short mini sets allows you to train close to your APO much longer than traditional training methods for power that do all the reps at once.
  • This type of training focuses on what you need to go faster longer.  Power and Maximum Sustainable Power.  This is how you win a bike race!

Are you performing high force activity on legs prior to training for lower body power? If not you should be!

You will find a lot of discussion in my book Maximum Overload for Cyclists by Rodale Press.  https://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Maximum-Overload-Cyclists-Strength-Based/dp/1623367743/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493769471&sr=8-1&keywords=jacques+devore about developing power. It discusses the strategy of power and also focuses on the tactics. 

One of the tactics in the book is how your order exercises to maximize a training result. 

There is a training  principle called  Post activation Potentiation Principle or PAP.  As athletes become fitter and fitter it becomes harder to get overloads when training.  PAP helps to increase the ability of an athlete to produce greater amounts of power in exercises subsequently to a high force activity.  Greater amounts of power is of great importance in sport today. 

Most of the research has revolved around jumping.  The act of jumping is a good measurement of absolute power production in an athlete’s lower body.   The research looked at performing hack squats at 90% of the athlete’s one repetition prior to jumping.  Subsequent ability to jump was increased when the intervention was utilized. This also has validity in a number of other power exercises. The optimum time between the heavy lift and the power exercise seemed to be around 12 minutes (Andy V. Kambui, MS, CSCS, Edward Jo, MS, CSCS,and Lee E. Brown, EdD, CSCS,*D, FNSCA ). At Sirens and Titans Fitness we utilize this science in training the body for many different vectors of power production.

Keep this idea in mind the next time you perform your plyometric workouts both for upper body and lower body exercises. The practical application of the science allows a strength coach to experiment with different types of loads and rest dependent on the athlete and the part of the body you are training.  This can also be reversed to improve maximum strength exercise.  When the  order is reversed the power exercise  is executed on the front end to elicit a bigger lift on the strength side.. Just remember too much volume of either will negate the effect if too much fatigue is produced or the athlete is not fit enough. 

Truth in Fitness

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

Character: Why is it important for training success?

Character: Why is it important for training success?  

Honesty:

BE MORE CONCERNED WTH YOUR CHARACTER THAN YOUR REPUTATION, BECAUSE YOUR CHARACTER IS WHAT YOU REALLY ARE, WHILE YOUR REPUTATION IS MERELY WHAT OTHERS THINK YOU ARE.

John Wooden

THE MEASURE OF A MAN’S REAL CHARACTER IS WHAT HE WOULD DO IF HE KNEW HE WOULD NEVER BE FOUND OUT

Thomas Macaulay

Loyalty:

Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice.

Woodrow Wilson/Twenty-Eighth President

Respect/Unselfishness:

A Philosophy of Life by Thomas Jefferson—

In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current.  Give up money, give up fame, give up science, and give up earth itself and all it contains, rather than do an immoral act.  And never suppose that in any possible situation, or under any circumstances, it is best for you to do a dishonorable thing.  Whenever you are to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, ask; yourself how you would act were all the world looking at you, and act accordingly.

He who permits himself to tell a lie once finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells a lie without attending to it, and truths without the world believing him. 

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE  CHALLENGES DESIGNED IN A WORKOUT TO BUILD ONE’S CHARACTER AND DELIVER CHANGE?  

In today’s world of gossip and news at the speed of light, character in sport, health, and wellness are closely linked.   I believe that just as animals play fight to learn about how to survive as adults in the wild, sports or physical challenges ( workouts)  for humans is a way to develop character for the future at any age.  Class, honesty, respect, teamwork, and loyalty through sport and training can be developed in an environment that is safe and controlled.   Character is not so much learned as developed.  It is developed through experiences that test an individual.   It is easy not to steal when one has pockets full of money.

Unfortunately many of us seek out only the things we do well or are easy

Character is tested and developed at crossroads in sport and in life.  Creating challenges at any age will further remind us of what we are capable of overcoming.  However, the challenges have to be legitimate, not fabricated to make us just feel like a ” winner” The great thing about sport and well-designed training is that it allows one to have numerous occasions to develop character on a regular basis.   Great lessons are learned through these experiences.  Program design in workouts can create reasonable challenges and progressions on a regular basis. 

Unfortunately  today  environments to improve  character have been hollowed out:

We  develop character effectively  through legitimate challenges.      The idea that we should create challenges that are not really challenges does not allow an individual  to experience what failure feels like and how to understand that failure is nothing more than a reward for having the guts to compete in the first place.  We need to reframe the narrative.  The win comes from truly “leaning in” on the challenge.    It is  a disservice to not allow the athlete or individual  to fail.  It is through this failure that one finds their true gifts. 

Regular Failures ( real challenges) are the best thing that can happen to everyone!

Building character does not come by only winning.  It comes by learning how to fail.  Understanding that taking risk may result in failure, but the act of taking risk allows both  young  and old athlete to learn that failure is not the end of the world and that the lessons you take away is where the true value exists.   Time training and the subsequent improvement is where the lessons start.   Coaches tell me all the time that most young athletes today wantonly toplay in the games.  They donot want to do the training necessary to play well. 

I think the idea of character is best described in the following quotes above.   Needless to say character and integrity is the difference between a good athlete and a great athlete and a good person and a great person.  Sometimes things are not fair sometimes we are let down.  How we deal with this is the true value of sport and also found in the  training for sport.

In training athletes at Sirens and Titans Fitness we are demanding of our athletes and clients and it is our job as coaches to help them develop their bodies.  It is also our job to coach them through things that are difficult.  We develop this character through training and the sacrifices, failures and successes that come with training.  We are demanding of the athletes and clients we train. We want them  to be the best they can be physically, but we also want to reward them with the opportunity to build  character that today is oftentimes given little importance.  

 My hope is that through sport and training we give more than just a great body.  

The last quote by Thomas Jefferson is very appropriate today.  When I was in high school after a wrestling meet we could not wait to see our name in the paper, because wrestling was pretty much an anonymous sport.  However, in today’s world of technology the internet allows any public action to be recorded for the whole world to witness.  It can be a wonderful  medium because someday you will be able to show your children and grandchildren what a stud you were.   Just remember that bad actions are also now a permanent record in cyberspace for all to see forever, so character is more important than it ever has been.  

TRUTH IN FITNESS:

JACQUES DEVORE, CSCS

Do You Have a Power Meter on Your Bike? Do you know how the number is generated?

Do You Have a Power Meter on Your Bike?  Do you know how the number is generated?  

I recently asked a large group of cyclists that use a power meter to tell me how the number is calculated on the readout.  No one knew the answer. People know what 500 watts or 1000 watts feels like on the bike, but if you want to see the number improve you should understand how that number is derived or else how can you design a training program that improves this number?

  Power requires force and velocity. Strength is your ability to generate a force and velocity is the speed of work being done.  What are you lacking and how do you improve them?

 You need to figure out where in that equation you have the biggest opportunity for improvement.  If you really want to dig deep check out my book. 

Truth in Fitness,

Jacques Devore

You want to improve your times on the Versaclimber?

You better understand how to measure your Absolute Power Output and your Maximum Sustainable Power on the Versaclimber. Give this workout a try.  It is a tough one!

 

APO (Absolute Power Output) x Time= MSP (Maximum Sustainable Power) this is the highest percentage of your APO that you can hold in longer efforts.  Is it 50%, 60%, 20%?  Holding a higher percentage of your APOis a big contributing factor to winning in most sporting events that last longer than 10 seconds.   

So let’s look at the Versaclimber.  A 30 second effort would be a good indicator of your APO.   My 30 second effort is right at 190 feet total.  That means the pace is right at 380 feet in the sprint for 30 Seconds.  One of my coaches Donte Hall is a professional high jumper and has clocked 202 in 30 seconds.  He has great power production for short time periods, because his sport depends on this type of Absolute Power Output. 

Now let’s take a look at my 15 minute time from my last workout.  I set a tempo of 200 feet per min which is approximately 50% of my APO of 380.  My 5 min effort pace was 233 in my last workout.  That is 61.4% of my APO.  So this is my starting point.  You need to have this or you will not be able to effectively design your training to meet your goal.   I want to move the needle in the direction I want to go.  In other words if I am training for shorter or longer durations I would adjust.  If shorter is my goal  I would want to focus on fewer efforts with a higher percentage of my APO.  If longer then I would reduce the power output and lengthen the time. 

Where do I want to go?

I am hoping to complete the mile in 25 mins.  This would be a pace of 211.2 for 25 mins.  A mile is 5280 feet.  So I would need to hold MSP at 55% of my APO of 380. 

So I need an improvement in MSP from where I am now byabout 5% based on my current 15 minute time.  I am not going to get much faster in my 30 second efforts so now I need to design workouts that will bump my MSP by 5%. 

So my focus moving forward is to work on my glycolytic energy system.   This is where I can make the biggest gains based on my current APO and Aerobic base.  My short game is pretty good, and I have a good aerobic base for my long game.  I will still include efforts in these energy systems because they support the primary objective, but most of my intervals right now will be shorter than 5 mins but longer than 3.  Spending time here will give me the biggest improvement in my future mile pacing based on my current strengths and weakness on the climber.  This is one of the hardest energy systems to train because the pain is higher for longer and nobody likes that much.  These also make you mentally tough.  I start with 3 min efforts and then progress to 4 and longer as my fitness improves. 

With that in mind here is my next Versaclimber workout.  Try it as it is a tough one. 

Warm Up: 2 min or more of warm up before first effort.

30x30x 3 min workout:

You follow each 3 min effort with 1.5 min of rest until the 3rd or 4th effort which has 2 min of rest or complete recovery.  After every 3 min effort you record your total output.  Do not take more than 1.5 minutes as you do not want to be fully recovered before the next interval.  Try to keep total output within 10 percent of your best output.  If you fade too much then reduce the number of total efforts and extend the time a little between efforts as you are not recovering quick enough. 

The goal is to set a tempo close to the pace I want to maintain in my mile effort.  In my case a 211 feet per min pace.  Then follow with a 30 second effort at a higher pace.  I will do three tempo efforts and 3 pickups for a total of 3 min in each effort.   I try to shoot for 10 to 20 percent higher in the pickups.  That would be a pace of 230 to 240.  Without any break I go back to the tempo pace of 211. This is where it gets tough.  I have to jump right back to the 211 pace after the pickup.  UGH!! This forces me to maintain my goal pace with my body starving for oxygen before having to pick it up again.  The body adapts by delivering more oxygen and also becoming better at utilizing the oxygen that is being delivered.  I do 3 to four of these before I give myself a complete recovery of 2 min or more and then do another 3 or 4 more for a total number of efforts of 6 to 8.    The complete recovery allows me to not diminish my pace too much in the second half of the workout.  If you get too tired you can reduce the total number of efforts.  

Give this a go.  It takes about 30 min total time to do 6 efforts  including the rest.    It will bump your fitness quickly.  Remember figure out what your APO is,  and then what your current MSP looks like.  Then you can start to toy with the workouts to shore up your weaknesses and reach your goal output. 

You can read all about training for Maximum Sustained Power in my upcoming book for cyclists. 

 

How do you maximize your overloads to get the biggest returns the quickest?  You better understand the math.   

Training, both tactically and strategically, must be specific to the sport or individuals objective.  This statement is obvious but becomes much more complicated and tricky as the athlete becomes fitter. 

 

A good example would be in training a 100 meter sprinter.  It makes sense anecdotally that having a really strong grip is not going to make you a great sprinter.  So spending large amounts of time exercising one’s grip would not be the best use of training time for a sprinter.  Now a wrestler would look at his grip as an important part of the sport and a weak grip would be something that would need to be addressed.  The correlation of grip to wrestling has a much higher relationship than the correlation of grip to sprinting.  You need to start thinking about correlations.  Your best 100 meter sprinters are typically your best vertical jumpers, not your best squatters.  However, squatting will help your vertical jump? 

 

The above example demonstrates the concept of correlation and how it relates to training.   If one had the time and the inclination, correlation coefficients could be measured on different performance measures to rank the value of training exercises relative to a sport.

 

The Math: The correlation coefficient is a number between -1 and 1.  If there is no relationship between the predicted values and the actual values the correlation coefficient is 0 or lower (the predicted values are no better than random numbers this would be the example of grip strength to sprinting).  As the strength of the relationship between the predicted values and actual values increases so does the correlation coefficient.  A perfect fit gives a coefficient of 1.0.  Thus the higher the correlation coefficient of an exercise to the specific needs of the sport the greater the value of the exercise.   A negative correlation number would be actions or exercises that actually take away from the performance of a specific sport.  These correlations are really determined by the experience of the coach or through trial and error of an athlete and also in some research. 

 

Strength and conditioning coaches must think through this idea of correlation and determine what aspects of a training strategy have the most impact on the performance of the athlete in a sport.  If this is not being evaluated then precious training time is being wasted on areas that have little impact on the performance of the athlete.  Random does not work if you want to speed gains.  Unfortunately this is often a random process and the athlete suffers. 

 

At Sirens & Titans we look for “tipping point” fitness gains.  These tipping points are areas of fitness that with small gains can produce huge changes in the performance of the athlete during the game.  The correlation coefficient is very high.   In most cases the tipping points present themselves after evaluating an athlete for functional fitness.  Many tipping point fitness issues can be identified in this evaluation.  Another area that has this type of fitness leverage is found is in movements where power  is being scrubbed or needs to be maintained for longer durations of time.  There are a lot of athletes that have great vertical jumps; however they can only execute a handful of jumps at a high output level.  Training the athlete so they can maintain 90-100% of this output for a longer duration creates champions and changes the performance dramatically in competition.  

 

In summary, think about the correlation of your training to your performance in sport.  Constantly be evaluating where this concept can help your performance.  In addition, if you want faster results look for areas of weakness that would provide you with that “tipping point” performance progression.  These are both game changers. 

 

TRUTH IN FITNESS

Genetics and Sport

Genetics and Sport: Exercising is a random method to hopefully catch a lightening in a bottle result.  If you train you can create an environment to maximize your genetic potential. 

 

Diamonds are created under great stress for long periods of time.  Changing your body requires managing stress correctly to create the diamond result.  The key word is managing.  Type of exercise, nutrition, sleep, regeneration, fasting, light days, heavy days, light weights, heavy weight, cardio, mobility, stability, functional, isolated, HIIT, long cardio, all are just some of the stressors that need to be looked at when developing your own program design.  Your genetics will respond differently to each of these stressors.  Everyone is different.     

Understanding the difference of these stressors and the subsequent change in the body is the difference between training and exercise.  My latest blog entry talks about why designing and managing the type of exercise stress is so important to deliver the result you want.                         

I think the most overused and one of the most dangerous terms in the athletic vernacular is “gifted”.   Of course there are certain body types that are much more appropriate to certain sports and movements than others, however the term gifted is often overused and in many cases discourages individuals from the recognition that hard work and diligent training will overcome most gifts.  Genetic athletic gifts are like a glass.  It is true that some people are born with bigger glasses (DNA/Genome).   However, the size of the glass is only a measurement of potential; training is the act of filling a glass (Epigenetics /Phenome).  Athlete A is born with a glass that is 25% larger than athlete B.  The athlete with the smaller glass fills his to the top and the “gifted “athlete only fills his half way.  The non-gifted athlete will prevail on the field.  My point is that we are all born with different DNA which we have no control over.  There is a whole body of research which has identified different athletic genes.   We all know individuals who are just natural at a given sport.   However it is the expression of the gene (epigenetic) that we have the ability to influence through smart training.  This is one area that we have a great ability to influence.  The picture above is of two identical twins, one was an endurance runner and one a weightlifter.  Identical DNA but the expression of the genes was different based on the different stresses of exercise. 

The best way to understand this is by thinking about identical twins.  Identical twins have the exact same DNA or genome.  In many cases it is almost impossible to tell them apart.  However, if one of the twins pursued long distance running and the other twin was a power lifter the differences in their physiques would be very pronounced.  Why is this difference so pronounced if their genetics are identical?  The expression of the genes is seen in the phenome of the twins.    If both twins have identical genomes what causes the differences in the body types of the marathoner vs. the weight lifter?  See the photo above!  The different forms of training have expressed the identical genes differently in the physiques of the twins.   It seems obvious from this example, but how do you influence your own genes?

The word epigenetic means over the gene.  In other words the expression of the gene over the underlying DNA that you are born with is the epigenetic of the gene.  The study of epigenetics is one of the leading areas of genetic research today.   What the research is finding is that different stresses on your body (training would be one stress) will mark your genes to behave in a particular way.   Much of the research has revolved around mapping the markers that result in negative expressions of the genes that subsequently express themselves through diseases of the body.  Researchers are trying to determine how to remark your genes to block particular diseases.   The same principle of gene expression is also evidenced on the training side.   In fact the scientific community is finding that a lot of the training adaptation of an athlete is more a result of the epigenetic marker than the training itself. 

 

Now I come back to the”non-gifted” athlete and how the concept of DNA and Epigenetics plays into training.  By the way, I do not think there are any non-gifted athletes.  These are just athletes who have not found a sport that supports their gifts.  I will discuss the subject about the disservice that is done to youth today in the interest of self-esteem and sport in a future entry.  Many youth athletes do not discover their gifts because they never “fail” at a sport. 

Genetics are important for certain types of sports.  Height can be very important in the game of basketball.    However, I believe that epigenetics are the bigger determinant of performance in sport today.  The science is finally catching up and showing that through training an athlete can change the expression of the gene to produce a result that supports performance in a particular sport.  This concept is far reaching to curing disease.  It will also have huge impact on an athlete’s ability to perform through a better understanding of what specific stresses result in a particular gene expression that improves sports performance.  In the past this gene expression has usually happened by default.

A great strength coach has a better understanding of what types of stresses result in different physiological results.  Measuring the athlete’s performance data and understanding what it means coupled with an understanding of the physiology will speed the increases in performance. 

So the moral to the story is that there is hope for individuals who do not believe they have the gifts to perform at the highest level of a particular sport or someone who just wants to lean down.   Of course there are limitations, but it is amazing what can be done with the proper training strategy.   With proper motivation, desire, and the most effective training an individual can produce the most effective genetic expression to match a particular sport!

Is there a secret way to train to accomplish this gene expression?  What are the strategies and tactics necessary to mark your genes and develop the desired result? 

Come in and talk to us to find out more. 

Truth in Fitness:

 

 

"Fatigue makes cowards of as all,” but how do you measure it ?"

"Fatigue makes cowards of as all,” but how do you measure it"?
 
The quote is from famed football coach Vince Lombardi, and it is so applicable to training and sport. But if you want to get maximum overloads in your workouts, the real question is how you measure the fatigue more effectively?

When you are performing your deadlifts, you can feel the burn in the muscle. Once you stop the burning stops and your body begins to recover. This is called peripheral fatigue. But is there more going on?


Your body makes changes based on stimulus or stress to a particular energy system. What we know is that when performing deadlifts your body becomes overloaded by a stimulus that is out of the normal range of work. This overload can typically come in the form of higher intensity of the exercise or greater volume, less rest, more reps, etc. We also know that volume decreases as intensity increases. Remember, small incremental overloads undertaken on a regular basis will result in an adaptation that will increase your performance. The modulations of these overloads are of great importance. As the athlete matures and reaches a higher level of fitness it is my responsibility as a coach to determine what overload will be most effective in eliciting the desired response in his or her body. As higher levels of fitness are achieved, determining and obtaining an overload becomes much more complicated.

We know that a greater stimulus will result in fatigue, followed by the body compensating for this fatigue, followed by super compensation, and a resulting improvement in performance. But if the stimulus is always the same this cycle does not result in improved performance.
On the surface this seems simple. Where it gets tricky is that most athletes have a “Type A” approach to training. More is better and much more is even better than that!  If an athlete does not measure fatigue effectively, the slippery slope of overtraining is only a step away.
What is harder to measure well within this cycle of adaptation is how you measure the fatigue. Beyond the muscle soreness there is also another fatigue at play.

Fatigue is generally classified as the direct mechanical fatigue on muscle contraction capability during an exercise. This fatigue is peripheral. In other words, when do you reach the point where you are unable to execute a particular exercise? But there is also a great level of Central Nervous System (CNS) fatigue, which is very important to monitor in training. This type of fatigue is insidious and can lead to a lack of enthusiasm, burnout, sleep issues, etc. It is typically the type of fatigue that creeps up on an athlete over time. You just feel tired and burned out all the time. Performance drops off, and it becomes harder and harder to obtain the type of outputs you were easily accomplishing in the past. Athletes will say they “feel flat”. The problem is that if an athlete accumulates too much of this type of fatigue, it takes some time to recover and can lead to major setbacks in training. Therefore it is very important to monitor this closely.
Exercise scientists are still trying to determine how to better monitor this type of fatigue. BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids) have been shown to help, but the jury is still out on their long-term effectiveness. Sleep and proper nutrition will always be a part of the process and should be monitored. Different athletes respond to different levels of intensity and volume in exercise differently. Serotonin levels are at play in this overall fatigue. Many endurance athletes are now using pulse oximeters to measure O2 in their blood to see if recovery has taken place. Healthy humans typically carry 97 to 98 percent oxygen in their blood. If you wake up and see 97 or lower, that’s a strong indicator that your body has not recovered.
As a coach, I monitor a core group of exercises for each athlete dependingon the sport. If an athlete begins to drop off 15 percent or more on a regular basis, we pay close attention and reevaluate the training to determine how to taper the workload down and incorporate longer recovery times and rest. Since we cannot look into the body and see the level of fatigue on the central nervous system we have to look for markers outside of the body. As an athlete becomes fitter, these markers become much more important to observe. I am constantly asking my athletes how they feel in an overall sense as well as observing the performance markers we have established.

One of the most important contributions a coach can make to his or her athletes is to tell them to rest. If the coach tells the athlete to rest there is no sense of guilt on the part of the Type A athlete. I also incorporate play into the equation. This reduces the mental stress associated with high levels of training. Weekend warriors generally do not realize the impact of daily stress on their performance.
So the takeaway is that you should give yourself markers of performance and measurements of feel to help you monitor the impact of overall fatigue on your body. Be aware that fatigue is not just your inability to perform an exercise in the moment.

Truth in fitness,
Jacques

 

Are You Performing Your Intervals Correctly?

 There is a ton of research in the last few years that has lead everyone to believe that intervals are the cure of everything.  They definitely should be a regular part of your training.  The hormonal response and gene expression that comes from intense efforts for short periods of time have proven that they have a roll for all clients.  The problem in fitness is that the industry takes a small amount of science and markets it to create programs that are just shorter, but not necessarily better. 

Many programs claim that only doing intervals is all you need for long duration cardio events.  This is not true although some of what you read would lead you to believe that intervals will solve all the problems of any fitness program. 

Intervals can definitely improve a cardio competitor’s maximum sustained power but the longer duration energy system still needs to be taxed on a regular basis and properly developed.  However, in tandem one could achieve improved results.  

The other problem with many interval training sessions is that they are no longer intervals but just harder than normal cardio for short periods.  This is because of inadequate output levels and poorly timed rest between intervals.  We are in a fitness world where harder is always considered better.  This is so wrong!   As you get fitter you need to increase intensity, but you have to build in greater rest in order to increase intensity.  If done correctly 6 to 10, 30 second intervals completed in a half hour can be brutal.  However, many would look at this as too short of a workout.  This is because they are not measuring the output to make sure there is an overload in the efforts.  5 min of total work time can be one of the hardest workouts of the week. 

Our FUBAR Versaclimber workouts have utilized the science behind intervals very effectively and the Versaclimber as a machine is perfect for these types of overloads. 

When starting interval training spend time on developing baselines so that you know what type of output you are capable of in a maximum effort.  These baselines are dynamic, so as you get fitter they change.  Pay attention to these changes and make adjustments.   If you want the most sophisticated measure you may find lactate testing and VO2 max testing helpful in determining these baselines.  I find that power is the easier and most effective way to measure output.  You spend time identifying power outputs at different levels of intensity.    You have to have a good understanding of your capabilities before you can determine the interval time and intensity.   

This leads me to one of the most important parts of utilizing intervals.  Measurement of output!  Typically this is where the wheels come off the workout.  You must measure the amount of output!   If you do not, then the intensity of an interval late in a workout will diminish in output to such a point that there is little value.  I call this no man’s land.  It is not hard enough for overload, but leads to overtraining and valueless fatigue.  Without measuring output you cannot determine if the time of the interval and rest period is adequate.   Utilize power as your primary measurement tool.  This eliminates most other issues that may be impacting performance.  In our Fubar classes we put output on the board and look at pacing to help the client determine appropriate outputs based on their fitness level. 

How do you measure output of an interval?  Time and distance is the poor athlete’s power meter.  For example you are doing sprint intervals for 20 seconds on the track.  You want to measure the distance you are covering during these intervals. This will tell you whether you are producing more power than the previous interval.  On the Versaclimber we look at time and distance.  If in a 30 sec interval the total feet increases more power needed to be produced if all else is equal.   On a slide board we use number of touches in the time of the interval and record it.  More touches mean more power produced and now you have a way to measure improvement.  It also allows us as coaches to determine if the interval should be shorter/longer, or should there be more rest between the intervals and also how many total intervals to perform.

The quality of the interval is of great importance. Poor output in your interval sessions will just make you fatigued with little performance value.  This can lead to the start of overtraining.  This is typically the problem with poorly coached group cardio workouts.   Intervals are also an excellent window into your fitness.  If you have in the past been performing much greater power outputs than the interval currently being performed then maybe you have not had enough rest since your last workout.  If we observe this lack of output we would skip these intervals and pick them up again after the athlete has had adequate rest to perform at the desired output.  The interval is a great barometer of how rested you are and the speed of your regeneration and health.

If you are going to perform intervals in your training one of the first things you need to think about is determining your baselines and then coming up with a method for recording the output on an ongoing basis.  This will allow you to see what type of training outside of your intervals is adding or subtracting from your performance in an interval and also what type of intervals are adding to your performance outside of the intervals.

TRUTH IN FITNESS:

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

 

If you want to get lean, you better know about Fat Set Point.

Over the last 7 years I have successfully coached hundreds of women and men on weight loss and how to change body composition and seen hundreds of food journals.  I hear the following comments with regularity. “ I don’t agree with your diet,  the food journal is hard, nothing works for me, I don’t want to get big, if I lift heavy I get huge, why am I not losing weight faster, why can’t I have cheat days, you are trying to do (x) to me.” 

With this in mind I thought it would be good to discuss how we coach our clients on food.

First let’s talk about association, observation, correlation, and causation.  The rooster crows and the sun comes up.  Does that mean the rooster causes the sunrise?  Of course not.  However many people look at changes in their bodies and use the same reasoning.  They use observations and associations and leap to causation.  This is a flaw of our brains.  We try to seek the most readily available answer based on the information.  We all want clean easy answers to complex questions.  However, fitness and weight loss may seem simple, but they are extremely complex and requires some critical thinking to figure out how our bodies respond to different environments. 

Without completely isolating someone in a lab and measuring every gram of food on both a micronutrient and macronutrient basis it is very difficult to determine how your body responds to food.  In our program at Sirens and Titans Fitness we use an online food journal to give us a better understanding of how food impacts an individual’s health, energy, and body comp.   With enough data and monitoring of body comp and energy level one can have a better understanding of the impact of food on a body.  Most people realize that body composition is impacted more from food than exercise, but everyone spends all their time quantifying the exercise and very little time quantifying food intake.   Without any measurement at all it is almost impossible to identify what foods cause you to gain or lose weight. 

Let’s discuss Fat set point and how this ties into weight loss and gain and why weight loss can be so difficult for so many people. I always counsel clients that we have to first find what changes in your eating trigger weight loss or body composition changes and then determine how to make it sustainable.  It is usually easier to know what does not work than what does work. 

What is the Fat Set point theory

Let me start by explaining this internal thermostat that regulates how much body fat is stored.   Much of weight loss, and believe it or not, weight gain is impacted by this concept. This thermostat for body size is in your brain. 

Our bodies are very clever at trying to maintain an equilibrium based on external environments.  The easiest to see example of this is body temperature.  When we get too warm we start to sweat to cool our bodies, and when we get cold we begin to shiver to try to increase the body temperature.  Why do some of us do better in heat and some in cold?  Our genetics have an impact on our ability to adjust to changes in our environment.  It does not say that we cannot get better at adjusting, however some of us just feel more comfortable than others in different environments. 

“Fat set point theory” is similar. In the simplest form we all have a particular range of weight that our bodies will hover around.  This range may change over time.  Most of the science points to a range of plus or minus 10% of body weight.  Movement within the range is considered normal, but once we start getting beyond the range the body will start to make changes.  The body will start to shiver or sweat in a weight loss manner.  This is the body’s way of taking you back to homeostasis.  This applies to weight gain as well as loss.  There are a lot of factors that can disrupt this homeostasis.  In today’s crazy world the list is long and can make weight loss very difficult for some.  Disease, diabetes, thyroid issues, adrenal burnout, depression, medication and yoyo dieting, stress etc. can all impact body composition.  Some people gain weight when stressed and some lose weight.  

So this brings me back to why understanding this theory is important.  Most people have great difficulty losing weight and keeping it off.  How are people successful at overcoming this fat set point?

When coaching someone on weight loss, I first have them fill out a food journal and we can see what type of food is currently maintaining their homeostasis.  It is similar to developing a strategy for athletic performance in a sport.  We establish the starting point and then identify strengths and weaknesses.   From a great deal of science of sport, our experience training other athletes, understanding the needs of the particular sport, we identify strengths and weakness of the athlete and then create an overarching strategy that is tactically dynamic so that, dependent on individual responses, it will give the athlete the greatest amount of improvement in the time we have to train with them.  All of these strategies must be dynamic.  We may try squats with one athlete and find that deadlifts are more appropriate with another athlete based on biomechanical individualities. 

Our coaching methodology with eating is not dissimilar.  We understand that everyone is different so we do not recommend a specific diet to anyone.  What we do is establish their start point and initially just try to eliminate as much of the processed food and refined sugars and flours.  Most of this food is nutrient vacant and typically promotes weight gain dependent on activity level and age.  Once we begin to make these changes we try to establish where the tipping point for weight loss occurs.  In some cases these initial changes will result in body comp changes.   Our goal is sustainability so we initially do not focus so much on calories.  We also try to incorporate foods that the client is already comfortable eating.  This helps in making the changes sustainable.   We look at calories to make sure the client is eating enough based on BMR and activity level.   We cannot determine this tipping point and what changes caused this without a food journal.  Weight loss is very elusive for most because they think they know what may cause changes in their weight based on changes in how much they eat.  These changes may have an impact but not be the cause of the weight loss.  In other words if you eat 3000 calories a day and you cut your calories to 1500 calories and all else is equal you have not only cut your calories, but all of your micro and macro nutrients as well.  So the loss of weight may have been a result of the calories but also were impacted by the macronutrients and how a body responds to the food.  The sticking point with calorie restriction is that in a short amount of time your internal thermostat will slow metabolism based on the lower amount of calories.   Through a process of making changes and seeing how an individual responds to these changes we are usually able to see where this weight loss tipping point exists, based more on causation not on just observations or associations. 

The issues with clients typically arise with filling out the food journal.  They think they can just “pay attention to what I eat” and that will tell them everything they need to know.  The clients who are successful at weight loss are the ones who make the commitment to diligently record their food for 6-8 weeks.  After recording food for this time clients have usually figured out how they lose or gain weight based on the amount of food and types of food. 

Once this first step is established we then have to come up with tactics to make it sustainable.  This is typically where people run into problems with most weight loss programs.  They have the initial success and then cannot sustain the diet.   We try to create a way of eating that coupled with exercise, is sustainable and fits into one’s lifestyle and also deals with your internal fat set point more effectively.   It typically means that it is a slower process for some, but we believe it is a much more sustainable approach.  The client really learns how their body metabolizes food and how this translates into health, energy level, and body composition. 

Now back to the Fat Set point.  The irony of weight loss is it gets harder as you lose more weight.  Part of this is every pound of weight lost is a greater percentage of your body weight and your internal thermostat begins to work against you.     We try to get our client’s to focus on body composition.  This aids on two fronts.  One is that you will look better which everyone wants.  Your clothes will fit better, you are healthier with more lean body mass, you are physically stronger and more powerful, and because your body’s thermostat is trying to keep your weight in a certain range it is easier to accommodate your genetics. 

When we lose weight your body will accommodate this loss to a point and then it will start making changes to get you back to your fat set point range or previous homeostasis.  It does this by slowing metabolism, changing your desire for certain foods and in some instances changing the overall set point.  There are also hormonal changes in leptin (the hormone that makes you hungry) and ghrelin (the hormone that makes you feel full). This is why some people get even heavier after a diet. 

So Fat Set Point Theory can be an issue, but one that can be addressed best by not starving yourself, determining foods that cause you to gain weight, adding exercise to maintain a higher metabolism, adding lean body mass, and focusing on body composition instead of weight, and staying consistent.  These tactics can create an environment for sustainable weight loss.   Patience, patience, patience is key when overcoming your bodies desire to maintain homeostasis.  I always remind clients that if they have been this weight for some time, it will take some consistency in your changes for their body to recognize that the changes in eating and exercise will be the new homeostasis. 

In summary: A good strategy for weight loss and improvement in body composition is to journal your food and determine a weight loss tipping point.  Once this is accomplished develop eating habits that can fit into your lifestyle and allow you to maintain this tipping point.  Both of these require tracking food for about 8 weeks.  Some people are able to figure this out quicker than others.  If you do not account for the food your odds for success drop dramatically. 

Combat your Fat Set Point by not restricting calories and semi starvation, focusing on adding lean body mass through exercise, focus on body composition and not weight.  All of these will help you maintain the highest possible metabolic rate which will help you to overcome your current fat set point.

When you are really ready to start training let us know. 

Truth in Fitness

 

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

What You Need to Know about Overload/Adaptation if you want Success in Fitness and Weight Loss:

I recently saw a post that said something about Usain Bolt working for 4 years to produce an effort of less than 10 seconds on the track.  It said something like it took 4 years for the 10 seconds and you are wondering why after a few workouts you do not have a six pack yet?  We are in a culture that wants instant results.  Unfortunately, our bodies do not cooperate and cannot be controlled like an Instagram post.   People have a distorted understanding of how the body makes change. 

We have regular educational meetings for the trainers at Sirens & Titans.  The objective is to bring new ideas and further the education of the staff.  One of our recent meetings discussed overload and adaptation and how to optimize this concept for maximum sustained power.  We were focused on the concept as it applies during a workout, but it warrants a further review of the entire concept of overload and how the body adapts. 

Most people’s perception of training is very simplistic.  For example: People think if they start training for a marathon that their heart and lungs get stronger because they are performing more work and this mechanical work results in the cardio system getting physically stronger.  In other words the adaptation (improvement) in running comes because of the heavy breathing and increased beating of the heart.  What really occurs is that once you have an overload in work output over and above the norm your homeostasis is disturbed.  This results in messages being sent to the DNA in the cell.  In many cases this results in an immediate change at the genetic level.  If this disruption is repeated over and over again then eventually the adaptation becomes the new norm.  So in simple terms, going back to my first example of marathon training, the adaptation (improvement) is a result of the stress on the body which results in a message being sent through a signaling pathway to your genes.  This signal is what results in a change in your ability to better deliver and carry oxygen to your legs and run faster. 

At Sirens and Titans I coach many members on body composition and weight loss.  What most people do not realize is that what goes in your mouth will result in an adaptation as well.  If you have been nutritionally stressing your body by poor choices for a number of years then in order to make change you have to have a change in your homeostasis.  It is no different than the change in homeostasis that exercise places on the body.   So if you look at nutrition in a similar fashion you will realize that eating can be a stimulus (good or bad) which sends a message through a pathway to your DNA and results in an adaptation.  Gaining weight is the body’s adaptation to a stimulus that is a result of what and how much you eat.  The problem is that most people realize that to train for a marathon will take many months and to become really proficient will take years.  Unfortunately, most people do not look at weight loss in a similar fashion.  If your current homeostasis has been in place for years, then making a change in your body that is permanent will take some regular and consistent attention to your eating. 

So let’s go back to exercise and see what we can do to shape the resulting adaptations.  I will come back to the weight loss side of the equation.

As a coach it is important to determine what adaptation you are trying to achieve.

At Sirens and Titans we start this process by determining what are the strengths and weaknesses of our athlete and how they apply to their particular sport.  We are determining the athlete’s current homeostasis across the spectrum of fitness.   In the weight loss industry most would refer to this homeostasis as a fat set point.  This fat set point is the composition your body has most comfortably established.   In other words what is the current homeostasis?    As an athlete and coach it is important to revisit this idea because it is a dynamic concept that is constantly changing.  This change takes place on both an inter and intra seasonal level.  In other words, season to season changes as well as changes during the season training. 

So this brings me back to the in service we recently had with our trainers.  At Sirens and Titans we establish primary objectives for each of our workouts.  I instruct the trainers that we have a primary objective so we know what is most important for the athlete to walk away with from this particular workout.  In other words what is the most important training stimulus we are attempting to generate during the workout?   I consider the workout a success if we are able to generate a training stimulus that perfectly matches the adaptation we have determined is most important to this athlete at this point in time.

Here is where it gets tricky.  What if your stimulus objective in a workout is the heaviest 3 rep dead lift the athlete can execute?  The athlete starts the workout feeling kind of crappy and the performance is not where we want it.  If the trainer continues the workout at a suboptimal performance level then the stimulus being produced is not enough to send a message through the pathway to the gene that results in an increase in strength. This is what I call no man’s land training.  The stimulus is not hard enough for an overload or disruption of homeostasis but hard enough to tax the athlete so that subsequent workouts are impacted negatively.  The better decision would have been to change the current training stimulus in the workout that would have allowed the athlete to revisit the initial overload objective in the shortest period of time in the future.  This is typically where the start of overtraining an athlete begins.  Most athletes and individuals spend way too much time in no man’s land training. 

I always say that what a great strength coach really gives an athlete is time.  In other words the athlete is fitter sooner in their careers so the diminishing asset of age has less impact on their reaching their highest levels of performance when they are chronologically most capable of great performance.

So now you have the simple version of overload/adaptation. It is important to identify the appropriate stressors for performance gain it is also important to look at how to speed the adaptation.

Nutrition is a huge contributor, not only from a long term perspective but also in accomplishing appropriate stimulus during a workout.  Try to understand where your body performs optimally and what you eat before during and after a workout.  Athletes can easily articulate to you max lifts for most exercises in the gym, 100 meter times, 40 yds. etc.  However, try asking them the macro and micro nutrient composition of breakfast and most will have a blank stare.  POOR NUTRITION IS A STRESS.  You should keep a food journal until you know how it impacts your performance. 

Knowing your primary objective helps you to create a workout environment that best reflects the desired adaptation.  Is today a strength day, anaerobic fitness day, aerobic day, and how do those different workouts impact your adaptation objectives.  Is the workout conflicting with your performance goals both short term and long term?  What is the specific sport and how does your program design impact the performance objectives of the sport.

In addition more and more science both in weight loss and sports performance is looking at sleep, daily life stress, arousal before and after a workout, and of course nutrition.  All of these stresses send messages to your genes that will impact or shape the adaptation. 

So if you want the most effective and fastest adaptation for both fitness and weight loss, understand that everything you do impacts this process.

Remember:

Stimulus > Message Sent>Signaling Pathway>Genetic Expression>Adaptation.

You can control a large part of this equation to give you the quickest and most desirable result.

 

When you are finally ready to start training let us know. 

 Truth in Fitness

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

 

 

“Why are we so good at training for Strength and so Poor for Training for Power? If sustaining maximum power is so important to winning why do so many focus only on absolute power? “

I was just watching the NBA finals and watched the game come down to the final minute all tied up. Two great teams come back to the start of the game score of zero to zero at the end of the game. Winning at this point comes down to execution. Both mentally and physically. Who has the most left in the tank to pull down the rebounds, stay explosive, really dig mentally to execute effectively after a brutal contest? The risk of mistakes are high when fatigue sets in.

I ask players in all sports this question. “If you could be as fresh at the end of the game as you were in the beginning of the game how much more would you win?” The answer is always that they would a much greater percentage of contests. So what does that mean for training and are we getting it wrong?

Let me explain. What are the physical components of success in sport? Success in most endurance sports are not who is the fastest in the short term, but who can sustain the highest percentage of that speed in the longer term.

For example, basketball requires the ability to be able to jump high or else be really tall so you can control the ball more effectively than your opponents. The hoop is 10 feet high and so taller players or the ability to jump really high is a big component to success. Lots of money and time is spent on how to increase vertical jump if you are not 7 feet tall.

How do you jump higher, run faster, better lateral movement, better forward and backward? All of these movements for winning in a sport go back to the ability to generate power in these planes of motion. Of course bio-mechanics technique, etc. all play a role, but if all else is equal. Power is the component you as an athlete have a lot of influence to change. So if it is so important why do we not spend time trying to train our bodies to hold the greatest amount of power the longest?

I am amazed at how good the sports performance industry is at delivering improvements in strength. There are a ton of programs and coaches that will help you get stronger. “Improve your Squat” “Dead-lift 2 x your body weight”, “Improve your bench”. Don’t get sand kicked in your face and be a weakling. This type of training can readily be found today. Some of it is good and some not so good. Remember strength is your ability to generate a force. That coupled with velocity is what translates into moving your body through space at rapid rates of speed. This is power! Even though strength is of great importance in all sport and human movement, at what point does adding greater strength add to more winning performances? With power to weight sports the increase in strength past a point will require more muscle and body weight to be added. This is something that cyclists and elite runners do not want. In most sports strength, mobility and stability are the foundation of the movement, and power movements are the end result. If I was to ask most athletes and coaches how they train for power, they would say they use kettle-bells, Olympic lifts, plyo jumps etc. These are your typical go to power exercises. All are great exercises for developing absolute power for athletes. But how do you develop greater amounts of maximum power longer. In other words if winning is about producing power at the highest level the longest why do we not spend more time training for this result. Misunderstanding power. Program design is the real reason. The most common program design for absolute power development is a few sets of absolute power work of 6 to 8 repetitions at maximum power output followed by some form of endurance repetitions. The endurance repetitions have to be executed at a lower power output in order to execute the greater volume of repetitions in a row. The problem with this model is that you are not training your body to hold higher percentages of maximum power. You are training your body to produce sub-maximal power for longer periods of time. So if your ability to produce the highest percentage of your maximum power late in a game, why do you train for sub-maximal power in your training? The big problem is that most program design does not do a good job at measuring power output. How do you measure maximum power output in a kettle-bell swing, Power Clean, Box Jump? It is difficult to measure power in these efforts so a lot of time is wasted training endurance and not maximum sustainable power.

Time and distance or time and repetitions at a particular weight is the poor man’s power meter. Track coaches are always measuring power because they are measuring time and distance. If an athlete covers the distance as a greater speed and nothing has changed in body weight or wind then the power has improved. In our center we use the Versapulley. The Versapulley utilizes inertial flywheel technology and measures the output so I can see what the power output is rep by rep. This is invaluable in me developing maximum sustained power.

Maximum Overload’s goal is to produce Maximum Sustained Power. We improve force production, improve velocity and improve the absolute power of the athlete. Then we have athletes perform the exercise at maximum power for 3-6 reps. This is followed with a rest between the reps designed to provide enough rest so that we can continue with another effort (typically a 5-10 second rest) at maximum power again.We keep extending the time so that the body adapts to producing maximum power for large amounts of time not sub-maximal power for longer periods.

So if power is the Holy Grail, and being able to sustain it wins games, why not focus on a training program that produces maximum power the longest.

You will find a lot of people who are training for absolute power and then some form of power endurance at sub-maximal efforts. We focus on what wins. Developing maximum power the longest. It will change your game.

More to come....

If everything we know about fitness and nutrition today was wrong, how would you eat and train?

Woman in her 30s comes in to my center and wants to change body composition and get fit.  The fitness of her 20s is harder to maintain and she wants to get on back on track.  She exercises a lot, but does not seem to be making any changes.  She hears that we are good at coaching clients for change.   The first thing she tells me is she want to get toned.   She is open minded about resistance training for women until we get to the evaluation.  I am evaluating her pulling movement capability so start with a light dumbbell row of 15 pounds.  She rips off 15 reps with no problem.   I am trying to establish a baseline of strength and so based on how light the 15lb dumbbell was I bump her to 20.  She immediately says “that is way too heavy”!  Now I just watched her easily move the 15 pounder with great form and no distress.   So she can easily lift a much greater amount of weight.  However in her mind she still believes that by lifting heavy she will get bigger.  She wants to be “toned”.  Toned is muscle!  You want to get stronger if you want to get toned.  However, she is still wedded to an old ideal of women and weights and that if she just lifts lights and eats zero fat, and less than 1200 calories a day she will get skinny.  She will fight me tooth and nail to stay true to this old belief.  So like a parent trying to get their kids to eat their veggies I will cleverly figure out how to get her to come around.   

Old myths die hard. 

The exciting thing about strength and conditioning, weight loss, medicine etc. is that it is constantly changing.  It is a never ending multidimensional jigsaw puzzle that changes shape over time.  Probably half of what we believe today will be outdated or wrong 5-10 years from now.  This issue of relevancy also means that much of what we believed 10 years ago is open for review today or may be wrong.

Too much of what is done with clients in training today is often times based on myth and rumor.  If you were in medical school 20 years ago, much of what you were taught has been modified or completely changed.  The analysis of cholesterol is a great example. They continue to figure out better ways to understand how your body produces plaque in your arteries and doctors have modified or completely changed what they believe is good cholesterol today.   Studies in weight loss and obesity have changed dramatically as well over the last 10 years.

So how do you manage your health and fitness and training knowing that what you are doing today may be wrong tomorrow?  You must find a coach who is constantly questioning the efficacy of training protocols and find someone who is willing to ask why, and if changes should be considered.

As a Strength Coach I am regularly reviewing research and then try to bridge the gap between science and application.  Sometimes the science may point one direction and the application is just too difficult to make it usable.    I am also regularly playing Dr. Frankenstein and spending a ton of my own training time thinking about and experimenting on my own body to see ways to better apply science that comes to my attention.  I also take my experience with one athlete and carry that knowledge into the future to broaden my understanding of future athletes and clients.  I am constantly trying to broaden my database of training knowledge.   I do this to better understand how to marriage the science with the practical application.  In addition to the practicality of new research, one must also consider the risk reward of trying to apply new research that may be impactful.  The risk of time spent, potential injury, cost of implementation, and return on the exercise all need to be weighed and considered.

The other way to deal with this constant change is to never stray too far away from the fundamentals of exercise science that have passed the test of time.  Multi Joint exercises that are functional in nature will always be the foundation of good training.  Squats, dead-lifts, Olympic lifts where appropriate, power movements, and a good understanding of the energy systems most important to your particular sport will be part of this foundation.  How you incorporate these exercises will change but the fundamentals are always there as touchstones to reference. We all have two arms and two legs and move in different planes of motion.  Volume and intensity and our understanding of how to gain greater gains faster will continue to evolve.  The role of aerobic fitness in non-cyclic sports is evolving. Resistance training for the aerobic athlete has also changed considerably.  

One thing that will not change is that we walk upright ergo hip extension is a major part of all human movement.  Most sport is based on this basic human movement so these multi joint hip exercises will always be part of any great training.

This type of training has passed the test of time.  Many people stray from these fundamentals because something comes along that they think makes them look innovative.  Trends in fitness need to be analyzed and evaluated not just copied. Ask why and then understand if a change to something new should be adopted.  On the other side of the coin traditions in training can be restrictive and have to be regularly analyzed and improved. 

Our eating is even more difficult to understand.  Low carb, high carb, high protein, vegan, vegetarian and every other diet that comes to our attention makes the choices difficult.  This discussion is almost worse than politics today.  People are so wedded to one belief or another that discussion can often times become heated.

I try to advise people that the no label diet seems to make the most sense.  Of course you can focus in on recovery and pre workout meals to move your training along faster.  However, if the foundation of your eating is that you try to eat real food that has no label you are 95% of the way to a very healthy diet.  I have my clients keep a food journal for a month to 6 weeks at minimum so they can better understand energy levels and the impact of food on performance.  Most coaches keep close track of training benchmarks, why would you not do the same with what you eat.   In addition, for many sports and weight loss, this food journal is extremely important as we all have different reactions to food and how we metabolize what we eat.  Food can be a stress just like exercise.  Our bodies adapt to this stress.  So you need to pay attention!

Plenty of color with veggies, organic meats and fish, fruits in moderation or seasonally. Stay away from the processed sugars and flours.  These processed foods can add to the inflammation in your body.  This is the opposite of what you want after exercise.   This no label eating typically results in a much lower amount of refined carbohydrates in your diet.  Eat healthy natural fats and stay away from the Trans -fats.  All that is fried and brown is not to be eaten if possible.  However, you want to make eating sustainable.  A few French fries are not the end of the world.  Just do not make these choices the majority of your calories. 

The lesson here is to open your mind to any intellectual possibility. This open mindedness is even more important with something as dynamic as the human body and exercise science.  Start with the fundamentals and then customize the training based on your individual response and relevant science.  However do not lose sight of the fundamentals. These will always serve you well.

When you are finally ready to start training, give us a call. 

Truth in Fitness!

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

 

The Holy Grail of Fitness. How is your search going?

 

SIRENS & TITANS FITNESS·FRIDAY, JULY 15, 2016

What is Sirens and Titans Fitness? It is a 20, 30, 40, 50+ person who is in search of a result. Athlete and non-athlete alike. They are looking for a major change in fitness or body. Most want better strength to weight and power to weight. They want to be fit without adding size. Better movement and athletic performance. They sweat it out in a Spin Class, Boot Camp, Met Con workouts, group X workouts, and personal training sessions. They are in search of the answer to why they are not seeing a result and hope that by trying something new they will find it. So they bounce from thing to thing thinking that if they just do more it is better. They do not realize that most of the time they are doing the same thing, just in a new wrapper. We have never had more fitness available to the public in the history of mankind with lesser results. Why? Are these people lazy or undisciplined? In most cases no. They are just unaware and think that solving this riddle is a simple equation of exercise more and eat less. They will find the Holy Grail of Fitness! Of course as humans we always look for the simplest answer. People will come in and want a trial workout to see what we are about.

They are asking the wrong question. We are happy to provide a trial. But if your problem is mobility and we perform a trial, the workout may be so easy that you go home thinking that it was a poor workout or worse yet if we do not pay attention to your mobility issues, you may injure yourself. . People equate hard with greater value. The right question is what type of strategy will we develop to get me to my goal and why that is the strategy that we think will work for you! A trial workout really is a tactical view of what we do. A snapshot of a much bigger album. If you were driving from LA to NYC and had 3 days to get there, you would not stop at every gas station along the way and ask for directions. You would pull out a map and plan out a route. This route would be dynamic and would have to deal with potential setbacks along the way. Now let’s make it even more interesting and start you without even knowing where you are starting from? You do not even know you are in Los Angeles. This would be difficult to plan, however this is how people determine their strategy for obtaining a result in health and fitness. So new clients come into my office depressed, frustrated, unfit, over trained, overweight, biomechanically unsound, unsuccessful at obtaining the result they want and hear we are good at getting these results. I then let them know that we can really help them but the first thing we have to do is an evaluation. It is 1.5 hours with me to determine goals, gaps in their current strategy, and establish a baseline of fitness, nutrition, and health. In most cases these same people tell me they do not need an evaluation. They are very fit and this is a waste of their time and money. They eat well and know how to train well. This may be true, but this strategy may be good, but not good for their goal. They want me to not even know what city we are starting from on this trek.

I then tell them that the fitter they are the more important the evaluation. As you get fitter the strategy and tactics to obtain a gain is more difficult. It is much more difficult to get Usain Bolt to run faster than it is to get someone who has never really trained that much. It is much harder to get body composition down when it is already below the average.

So if you do not want to be the 20, 30, 40, 50+ person who is endlessly trying to search for this elusive level of fitness, start by doing it different. Be smart and determine where you are starting from and lay out a plan for where you want to go. If your time is valuable then look at fitness as an investment and not a cost and be wise about developing something that is different from just a random approach. Most people would not do this in their professional life, but when it comes to fitness they think that they got it. The fitness industry is counting on this type of mentality and count on it to build their business. Who is Sirens and Titans Fitness? We want to get you a result, and will stay with the ideal of “Truth in Fitness” So when you are finally ready to really train, come and see us.

Truth in Fitness

Jacques DeVore

Coaches Corner:

“It’s training, not just exercise.” 

That’s what I always have to keep reminding my staff and my clients. It’s the reason why I got into this business, and why people from pro athletes to 68-year-old grandmas seek out my services. Because training and exercise are not the same thing. 

I want to train people — for performance and for life. I want to make them better — now and a year from now. You want mere exercise?  Go to a Group-X class at your local gym and jump aup and down for 50 minutes. Work up a good sweat. But do you want learn a system that’ll make you faster, fitter, better — and teach you how to stay that way long after you stop paying me?  That’s training — and that’s what I always wanted to do, starting with myself and my friends nearly two decades ago. 

Maximum Overload is the end result of all my years oftinkering and strategizing about training, of objectively evaluating the body’s strengths and weaknesses, assessing progress from one point in time to another. It came about because I dared to ask the question “why?” Why, I wondered, are we just doing what has been done in the past? Why do people in the gym do 3-sets- -of-10? Why do cyclists train the same way cyclists did 30 years ago — and never touch a weight? Why do aerobic athletes only do aerobic training? Why do athletes add strength but ignore power, the thing that they really need to win the race?  

Because they don’t ask why.

Knowledge gets passed down from generation to generation — but how sensible and effective is that knowledge to start with?   The “why” is often times never really understood. So I insist that my coaches and clients understand the “why.”

Maximum Overload is a work in progress that I’m hoping will spur knockoffs and improvements. But I think its big idea— that weight training is essential for building an endurance athlete’s maximum sustainable power — is undeniable. Here’s why

Endurance athletes, and particularly cyclists, require a high power-to-weight ratio.  Most endurance coaches focus on the aerobic engine and how to sustain the highest percentage of an athletes Vo2max (absolute aerobic power) for the longest period of time.  Little attention is spent on how to produce more sustainable power in the muscles, particularly the legs.  If you can train your legs to produce greater amounts of power on over long periods of time, you don’t deteriorate as fast. That, in a nutshell, is the goal of the Maximum Overload program. 

Again, why look only at Aerobic Power?  Why not see if our bodies with proper training design will be able to produce greater and greater amounts of power?  Could you train less? Could you be a better version of your current highly-fit self?  Could you take power outputs to a level you never thought possible?  This book, the Maximum Overload philosophy and the relentless pursuit of maximum sustainable power are based on these“whys.”

Ultimately, There’s no compelling reason to ask why if all you want is exercise. Just lace up your shoes and go for a run or do a boot camp.  But if you want to be a better bike racer, a better masters athlete, a fitter, more functional, more robust grandparent who lives life to the fullest while your peers are locking themselves in prisons of inactivity, you must be trained. Maximum Overload is your training.