If you want to Win in sport why is efficiency of energy output important to understand?

Doing something efficiently.  What does that mean?  It means you produce work with the least amount of energy expended.  When you look at a company’s ability to efficiently produce a product, it means that the investment of capital, both human and dollars is lower.  Henry Ford developed the concept of the assembly line to mass produce cars efficiently. 

How does this concept apply to program design and training for sport?  You see the result of needs for efficiency in the bodies of world class athletes in different sports.  Take a marathoner vs a sprinter.  The marathon runner has to produce an average power over 26 miles that is greater than his competitors.  The runner must be able to hit the gas and surge at different points in the race and still be able to recover and maintain a pace faster than the other runners.  This means that the energy output of the surges and the pacing in between must be produced with the lowest amount of energy expenditure.  If the runner is inefficient in producing a surge the subsequent pace would diminish greatly and the race would be lost.  In other words, it is not the fastest sprinter that wins a marathon.  It is the runner that can maintain the highest percentage of their sprint output throughout the race.  This is an example of the efficient production of power in the body. 

Marathoner: The body of the marathoner reflects the need for long durations of power produced with the lowest amount of energy expended so that the pace can be maintained over the entire race.  That is why the body of a marathoner carries much less muscle mass than a sprinter.  The need for efficiency will result in a body that is more efficient.

The Sprinter:  Sprinting is an absolute power sport.  In other words the need for efficiency is much less.  The sport is considered an anaerobic effort.  It other words the need to efficiently utilize oxygen is not needed.  It is one big burst of power and then it is over. 

Now if you start stretching the duration of time past the 10-15 second mark the need for efficiency of power production becomes more important.   The 200 meter winner is not always the fastest 100 meter runner.  It is the runner that can more efficiently produce the highest percentage of their 100 meter speed. 

The body of the sprinter reflects the needs of the sport.  Much more muscle.  The body of the sprinter reflects the need for short needs of maximum power. 

The program design for different sports should reflect this need for efficiency.  This applies to all sports. The training needs to be designed accordingly.   The differences would be in the movement patterns.  Soccer would look different than tennis even though there are some areas of crossover. 

So when designing programs look at both the absolute need for power in a movement and the efficiency needed to win.  Then look at the athlete and identify the gaps.  If your athlete already has incredible absolute power then design should focus on how to improve the efficiency of the power output.   This is often overlooked and a lot of time is wasted in the training.  Typically the winner of a match is the athlete that can most efficiently produce power for longer periods of time. 

Truth in Fitness

Jacques DeVore

How is Technology Destroying Your Gains in the Gym? The Death of the Perfect Set

Even though I am a strength coach and own a gym, I like to go to other gyms and have always had multiple memberships. It is educational for me to see what is going on in the big box gyms and I also have lifting buddies that I have been training with for years. 

It used to be much more fun, before the “smart phone” arrived. I observe people in the gym going from a lift to the phone non-stop. I am sure we could all list the annoying people who sit on a bench texting or talking or taking selfies and not exercising while you wait for them to move. Anecdotally I can see a direct correlation of fitness level to phone usage. The least fit are typically the heavy phone users. 

So if you just look at the time it takes to do both it is easy to understand the impact. However, I think the impact is much greater than just time lost in the workout.

The Death of the Perfect Set:

I have stated in the past that what great strength coaches really provide to their clients is time. Their skill accelerates the performance of an athlete. Hence they are fitter earlier in their career and the coach has given them time. We all have a limited amount of time, so this applies to all, but more so to the competitive athlete, as careers are short. What if the phone is diminishing the impact of the coach? 

If you are wondering why you are not seeing change in your body or performance you may want to look at the impact of your phone more closely. I have been training for a long time, and I realize the importance of focus when training. Fitness bumps come randomly. One day you go to the gym and feel like a monster when you lift the weight. You did not know it was going to be this way until you got deep in the workout. This is an opportunity that will present itself less and less as you get fitter and fitter. In addition age will also impact how quickly these bumps occur.  For performance improvements these are the day’s strength coaches wait patiently to capitalize on for improvements and big overloads. 

Multi-tasking does not work! EX: You are doing a heavy deadlift day and you are feeling great on your early lifts. So far you are having the perfect set! You are going for a 3 rep PR and you get a text. You are in the zone. You look at your phone and it is something that is going to be a distraction and irritation later in the day. Now you go back to your lift. You have lost the focus and the perfect set disappears before your eyes. No matter how hard you try your mind can not get you back to where you were. You fail at the lift and you wasted the opportunity for improvement until the next time you have that rhythm. The window of opportunity is lost. Time is lost. It adds up quickly. This is the death of the perfect set. 

Our minds prioritize information as it comes in. If the phone beeps with a text it draws your attention to the phone. This in itself may or may not take you out of the zone, but once you look at it, you are gone. Lost to another world. 

PUT THE PHONE DOWN! Focus on your lifts. Connect your mind and your body like never before and truly understand how much better you can be without technology for a short time during the day. 

You devote the time to training, but you may not be getting the result you want because you think you can multi-task your workouts. 

I know in today’s world the phone is connected to most people. However, if you can figure out a way to detach during your workouts you will for the first time experience the meditative effects of a great workout, and you will have much greater improvements. Those of you that have had the Perfect Set know what I am talking about. 

Truth in Fitness,

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

If you want to increase your chances of winning more you better understand how to improve your power efficiency.

Understanding this concept is crucial in training athletes.  Examples of absolute power are a vertical jump, shot put, short sprint, broad jump etc.  They combine force and velocity to overcome gravity.   These are one shot efforts.  However, in most sport you need more than one shot.  What wins is who is jumping the highest or running the fastest at the end of the game.  This is Power Efficiency.  In other words how fuel efficient are you at producing power so that you can produce the highest percentage of your absolute power longer?

 

You do not jump higher, you just jump higher longer!

 

Below is a good example of how to train for improvement of your power efficiency using box jumps. In my center we utilize the Kbox and the Versapulley for these workouts.  However, there are a lot of DIY substitutes.   The objective of the workout is to produce as close to your absolute power for long periods of time.  When you keep requiring the body to jump at close to maximum for long periods of time it adapts by recruiting more muscle fiber.  You spread the workload out so that you can produce the same efforts with less fatigue.  It is like carrying a log on your shoulders.  Carrying it yourself you will soon fatigue.  If you can spread the load out by recruiting friends to help you can carry the log much farther.  With that in mind, you are not jumping higher on each jump you are just jumping at close to your highest output longer.  The rest of 20 seconds allows this to occur for long periods of time in the workout.  These are power cluster sets.  You can adjust the number of jumps and the time to match the sport you are competing in. 

 

#1.  Establish a box height that is about 90% of your maximum jump height.

 

#2. Execute 4 jumps in a row, stepping down after each jump. Rest for 20 seconds, then do 4 more.  Keep executing these jumps for as many rounds as possible without compromising form or reducing the height.  Stop, when you start to question your ability to make the jump.  You want to jump as close to maximum as possible or you will just be executing an endurance exercise. 

 

#3.  Mark how many rounds you were able to execute.  Have complete recovery between sets and then go again.   The rest between the 4 jumps allows you to replace ATP in the muscles.  If you tried doing them all in a row you would quickly fatigue.   As your efficiency improves you will be able to go for more and more rounds.  Be careful as these are taxing, both metabolically and they will make you sore.  In this example it is primarily a concentric load (jumping up).  You have much less eccentric load as you are stepping down in between jumps. 

 

Using the Versapulley and Kbox we add a much bigger eccentric load and are able to accurately measure the output. 

 

After a few weeks of this type of training you will see huge gains in your ability to produce big power longer.  Enjoy!

 

Truth in Fitness

 

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

Sirens and Titans Fitness

What is Power Efficiency and Why You Should Know?

In the past I have talked about Maximum Sustainable Power (MSP). This is a term I came up with for what is really power efficiency. I have developed a number of training methods to improve power efficiency you can find in the book I co-authored titled Bicycling-Maximum-Overload-Cyclists. But what is power efficiency and why is it important to understand?

Power is F x Distance/Time. This is the physics behind power development. The best examples of maximum athletic power would be a vertical jump, shot put, snatch, power clean, broad jump, 100 meter sprint. You get the idea. It is force with velocity. However, what is most important in sports lasting longer than 10 seconds in length is the athlete’s ability to keep producing big power outputs longer and later in a game. 

Power Efficiency: If have two athletes of equal fitness, both with 40 inch vertical jumps and I had the athletes jump every 15 seconds what percentage of the 40 inches are they able to keep producing after numerous jumps? This is an example of Power Efficiency. The athlete that completed a greater number of jumps would have greater efficiency because they were able to maintain a higher level of performance longer. They both jumped the same maximum height, so their ability to produce absolute power was the same. However, one athlete was able to maintain more maximum jumps. This athlete had better efficiency. So let’s say you had the athletes keep jumping until they dropped to 35 inches in jump height. How many jumps could they execute before dropping below 35 inches? This would be another measurement of power efficiency. In other words, if you were to compare the two athletes and one could execute 30 jumps before dropping down to 35 inches and the other athlete could only complete 20 jumps then the athlete with 30 jumps completed would have a 33% greater efficiency in power production. The athlete with 30 jumps completed has better athletic gas mileage for higher power production. So, you may design a program that produces a higher vertical jump, but what makes for better performance in a game if the efficiency of the athlete is so low that in the fourth quarter of the game a much lesser jumper is able to out jump your high performing athlete? Who is the better player?

Something to think about, more to come.

If you wanted to look at the Versaclimber as a Sport How Would You Design a Program?

The Versaclimber is becoming more and more popular and I think will eventually be something that athletes will compete on as a sport.  Kind of like the Concept 2 Erg.  When it first came out it was for athletes that rowed on the water to train indoors.  Now there are world records and it is a competitive sport outside of rowing on the water.

LeBron James, Andy Murray, Lady Gaga, and a large number of UFC fighters have recognized the advantage of the Versaclimber equipment as a wonderful training tool.  The Versaclimber has been around since the eighties, but is finally getting the respect it deserves.   We were the first center to offer group cardio classes on the climber over 2 years ago and have become really familiar with the climber.  Our group workouts are fitness game changers for so many clients.  The problem with the workouts is if you truly embrace the science of HIIT then these 30 min classes are very difficult.  It can be intimidating at first, but then once you get past the initial shock you want to see how fast you can go.

Recently I heard about the unofficial mile record on the Versaclimber and thought I would make a run at this effort.  5280 feet on the climber in 24:47 was the previous unofficial record for the mile.  About 10 years ago, I completed a mile in 27:30 which is a 192 feet per average pace on the climber.  I thought this was a pretty good time and was curious how I would do now.  So we had a little mile high challenge at our center and I wanted to see if I could break the “unofficial” record.  I am a cyclist as well as a weightlifter so I carry a descent aerobic base of fitness.  I gave it a go and I was able to come in at 23:13.  Then of course the next thing I thought was if I really focused on getting faster and trained on this with some purpose how would I design a training program for this event? 

Knowing what I know as a cycling coach and strength coach could I design a program that would bring me in around 21 minutes? This would be an eyeball bleeding pace of 250 feet per minute.  If you have not tried the Versaclimber this is a fast pace to hold for longer than a few minutes.

After my last attempt I now have a baseline and can better design what I will need to attempt 21 min.   

I believe that all efforts lasting longer than about 20 seconds should be looked at from a percentage of your absolute power output.  In other words a 200 meter runner needs to look at what percentage of their 100 meter time they have to maintain to win.  This helps to see where the biggest areas for improvement can be realized.  Are you really fast on the short end or vice versa and where you should put your training focus.   It is not always the fastest 100 meter runner that wins the 200 meter race.  It is the runner that can hold the highest percentage of their 100 meter speed longer.  It is the highest sustainable power or power efficiency that wins most events lasting longer than about 30 seconds yet too many athletes focus little time on how to improve this efficiency.

So the key to these long efforts is to keep the highest percentage of your maximum power output the longest.  I am no longer actively a bike racer, but I still ride enough to keep my fitness at a pretty good level for a noncompetitive cyclist.  However, the Versaclimber is a different animal. 

So this will be the first of a series of blogs on how I see the program design for a mile on the climber.

Strategy Development:

So when evaluating a sport and developing a strategy to improve performance to the highest level I look at the goal of performing at a world class level and work backwards.  In other words what are the components of the greatest performers?

I thought it would be fun to do this with the Versaclimber even though it is not a competitive sport it would give insight into how to look at designing programs for any discipline and be a fun exercise. 

So first what are the needs of the Versaclimber from a physiological and psychological perspective?  If I was to look at this as a sport what are the requirements?  I am only going to look at the physiological needs at this time. 

In general it is a power to weight effort,  the bigger you are the more difficult it can be as you have to carry the weight on the climber. However similar to rowing taller people have an advantage biomechanically as the longer stroke at the same pace covers more ground and also provides a longer lever for movement.  Similar to rowing there is a tipping point where more bodyweight is detrimental unless it can produce power at a higher percentage of others.  So there will be a sweet spot of height and weight that will produce the greatest speed.  Think of a tall light runner as more of the optimum size.    This is also what makes this machine so difficult for both short and longer efforts.  There is nowhere to hide and you cannot really rest.  If you are resting you are climbing slower or else you do not cover any ground.  In addition you have to have the ability to transfer power unilaterally.  In addition, your arms are working as well and for the most part they are above your heart so the blood has to be pumped to them and this has a greater metabolic load. 

So what are the basic needs of the sport of Versaclimbing?

·         Arm and leg length matter and impacts the leverage on the down stroke.  Taller lighter athletes will have a biomechanical advantage, however there is a limit on the total stroke length attainable at 21 inches.  Shorter people can excel if they have long legs and long arms and a shorter torso.  This can allow them to get a long stroke length even though they are not as tall.  Hip flexion and knee flexion can impact stroke length.

·         A power to weight sport.  There will be an optimum power to weight for longer efforts.  Shorter efforts are more determined by absolute power output, so body weight is not as impactful as it is on longer efforts.  

·         For longer duration efforts it is sustainable power that is most important not absolute power output like a short sprint.  It is similar to an uphill time trial in cycling or running up a hill. 

·         Short sprints need high absolute power output. 

·         Lower body centric, similar to rowing, but upper body pulling and stabilization is a component and can add to the speed.  There is minimum limit requirement of output while moving because of body weight being carried.  There is nowhere to hide below the minimum level!

·         Quad dominant, although with altered position hips can be highly engaged, as well as upper body, biceps, forearms, and upper and lower back. 

·         Linear vector of movement limited to up and down movement.

·         Cross crawl movement, so body is more stable with the points of contact being balanced.  Some core engagement, but not overly taxing on core, however lower back is highly engaged on longer efforts.   

·         Different handles can change load on upper body and wrists.

·         Foot positon on the platform can transfer load from quads to more hips or vice versa.

·         Metabolically very taxing, as the athlete has to carry body weight at all times if moving.  The only time there is not load is when foot platforms are even. 

·         There has to be a good aerobic engine for long efforts as there are a lot of muscle groups working in tandem.  This is why the heart rate can get so elevated and it is so metabolically taxing. 

So the list above establishes the basic physiological needs to perform on the climber.  The next thing I would look at is establishing the athletes’ current abilities to compete in this discipline and what are their specific strengths and weaknesses and where are the gaps between the list above and the current fitness of the athlete.  I am looking for tipping points where I can make big gains with small improvements.  In these discussions I will be discussing attempting to do the mile on the Versaclimber at a 250 pace and 21 minutes of time.

So looking at myself as the athlete I am coaching, I have to develop a program designed to accomplish this pace for the mile.  I can see from my last effort on the mile I have a baseline speed of 230 feet per minute currently.  I have to improve my speed from 230 to 250 per minute.  That is an 8.7 percent improvement.  The next step is to try to see where I can pick up this speed. 

I will start this process by looking at my maximum power output on the climber.  I consider that my best 30 seconds to one minute time.  Currently my best one minute time is 327 feet, and my best 30 seconds is 198 feet or a 396 pace.  My last mile effort was 230 feet average or 58% of my 30 second absolute power output.  So the first thing I have to ask is where am I going to get the speed.  I do not think that I can go much faster in a 30 second sprint, so I have to look at increasing the percentage of my absolute from 58 to 63 percent.  

So where do we start?  The first thing I will do is see how long I can maintain a 250 pace.  If I had to guess I would say currently it is only 8 minutes.  That is only 38% of the total time needed. 

So this is a starting point that will allow me to start developing a program designed to support these data points and the current gaps.  You could go through the same exercise for your training, but just apply this thought process to your own personal goals. 

I will be looking at how I can increase my sustainable power longer.  I will be looking for areas that need work.  I will be designing tactics that will allow me to hold higher percentages of my maximum power longer.   I already know that I have some issues with my right knee that could be a tipping point.  It has to do with a lot of old injuries and knee flexion.  I need to address this issue and that will help quite a bit.  In addition I need to start adding more efficiency at higher outputs.  This will include both long runs at a steady state and also longer intense short efforts.    I will slowly start to merge these types of efforts together so that the tempo is steadily increasing and that I am increasing the duration of the higher output runs until they merge to the pace I need to maintain to hit the goal.   

Recent Tactics:

The first workout I did with this in mind I focused on my pacing at the new level of output.  I call this getting weight on the bar to get the feel of the weight.    I climbed one minute at a 240 pace (this is higher than my current mile pace) and then followed with one minute at a 260 pace which is above my goal pace. I did this for 4 mins straight.   I then recovered and did again.  This design forces me to elevate to a higher level of output than needed for my goal and then partially recover and then go up again.  This is very taxing.     I will keep adding time all the while working on the shorter end of the range of 45 secs to 1.5 minutes at a pace closer to 300. 

In the next post I will focus on my evaluation of my current strengths and weakness and how that will impact the program design moving ahead.  

 

Truth in Fitness,

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

Progressions. How much? How Fast? And why it is probably the most important contribution a coach can make.

Overload/Adaptation.  We all know what it means, but I do not think that there is enough attention paid to both.  Today I am going to talk about the overload part of the relationship and how to manage progressions to optimize time and performance improvements. 

The myth of Milo was that as a small child he would go out every day and, at first, lift a calf and then as the calf grew Milo was lifting a larger and larger animal until as a grown man he was lifting a bull.  This is the lesson of small incremental overloads over a long periods of time that can lead to great strength gains. 

My experience has shown me that properly timed progressions are the quickest way to make gains for my athletes.  I believe that all the fancy exercises and technology in the world cannot compete with a great understanding of how to progress an athlete. 

I believe that a great coach’s real value is in the gift of time to their athletes.  Most think it is injury prevention, athletic performance, sport specific performance etc.  However all of these things provide the athlete with more TIME.  It is a gift of more productive years of the highest level of performance.    If an athlete is injured they cannot train, poor program design wastes an athletes productive years (even if there are gains made).  Could the gains have been greater?  I see my role as a coach to realize the greatest amount of sustainable genetic potential of the athletes I am charged with training without injury.  My understanding of the science and the athlete’s body allow me to give the athlete much greater performance in their most productive years of play.  Athletes are dynamic, that is why the monitoring of how you are progressing is so important.  I have a hard time understanding a coach that does not write things down.  I am always writing notes to myself and even though there are a ton of spreadsheets available to use, I still rely on my notes to help me understand the dynamic nature of training.  These notes allow me to learn better ways to make progressions. 

I am looking for incremental changes in my design to produce greater and faster marginal gains that when added together create what I call “tipping point” fitness. 

Years ago when the Raiders were in the Superbowl I was lucky and got to train Regan Upshaw that off season.  He was one of my first high profile elite football players.  When I trained him he had been 11 years in the NFL.  I had never worked with a defensive end at the time so in my evaluation of him the first thing I did was look at what was my primary objective if I was to improve him as a player in the gym.  If I could create an athlete that when the ball was snapped was immediately in the quarterback’s face I would be a tremendous coach.  Now that is an impossible task, however I have to look at what percentage of that objective I could achieve and work backwards.   With that mandate in mind I began to tear apart everything he did once the ball was snapped.  What did he require physically to perform at his best based on the needs of the position?  I would use the tools of exercise science and training to reduce the time it took him to get to the ball.    It started with looking at his stance to determine how I could reduce the time of his first movements in any direction.  We found that he had a very long rear foot stance.  This was comfortable, but slow.  His time off the ball was about 30% faster if we brought his rear foot up closer.   I then looked at what I needed to do from an exercise physiology standpoint to better accommodate this new foot position as it was initially awkward.  Adding more hip flexor mobility made this new stance more comfortable for him.   This was my first incremental gain and it was a tipping point for him.  The time immediately after the snap has much greater value to a lineman.  During the Superbowl, as I watched the game I saw him line up on the ball and then move his back leg forward and it put me on the field.   I was elated.   Of course we then moved forward to evaluate all the other physical needs of his position.  With great athletes marginal gains add up to big performance gains. 

With that in mind what have I seen as one of the greatest influencers to really fast results without injury?   Is it a better understanding of technology, pre-hab, program design, exercise science, mobility, stability, exercise selection, Olympic lifting skill, coaching capabilities etc?  The list goes on and on.   I am not discounting the importance of having a basic understanding of all these tools.  However, with a decent understanding of these tools the greatest impact I have found is determining when and where to progress athletes.   The great thing about this skill is it relies more on your ability to pay attention, listen and observe than all the science in the world.  Without regular incremental overloads you will dramatically slow progress!!  I will say that again.  Without incremental overloads on a regular basis you will see little change!! Milo would have been puny if the calf did not grow. 

After High School, athletes today have short off seasons when you may get blocks of training time that are big enough to have an impact.  Let’s say an athlete is 19 when he starts college.  According to the NFL Players Association the average career length is about 3.3 years. The NFL claims that the average career is about 6 years (for players who make a club's opening day roster in their rookie season).  If this is the case, and each player has about 8 weeks (I am being generous) when they can train consistently in the off season the time disappears fast.   That is a total of 4 years in college and about 6 years in the pros.  So about 80 weeks of total off season training time when gains can really be made.  So if you believe that adding 2.5 lbs to a lift is insignificant you are really missing the boat.  I tell my athletes that proper progressions are like compounding interest for retirement.  At first it does not seem like it is doing much.  Then all of a sudden you look at the account and there is significant money in the account.  Building an athlete is similar.  Sensible regular progressions compound and appreciate in value over time.

If there is unproductive time it is costly.  One week a year of lost gains in fitness is 12.5% of the total time the average player has in a NFL career after high school to make gains.  2 weeks lost is 25 percent of potential that is lost to the athlete.  This is devastating when you know that the difference between franchise player and getting cut can be very small percentages in performance at that level. 

The problems that arise in progressions are because the human body is a dynamic mechanism. 

This attention on progression needs to be devoted to strength, but even more so to power and any metabolic conditioning you may be performing with your athletes because there is a bigger risk of overtraining these metabolically taxing exercises.  Progressions are even more important as the athlete becomes better and better.  This is because overloads need to be bigger or more intense to get a change in performance as the athlete gets fitter and fitter. 

What are the factors that need to be considered when progressing an athlete? 

Time:  How much time do I have to train the athlete?

Maturity:  How long has the athlete been training at this level?

Chronological Age: This will have an impact on recovery time.  It does not mean an older athlete cannot recover quickly, but age needs to be taken into account.

Recovery and adaptation time: This is more of an individualized evaluation. 

Fatigue:  CNS(central nervous system )/Peripheral (muscle specific)

Current level of relative fitness:  What level of fitness are you starting with?  The fitter the athlete the more important the progression.  An unfit athlete will make gains quickly with most types of stimulus.  However, the fitter athlete has to have a more focused design.  

Biomechanical issues and impediments: This may limit your ability to make big progressions until this is remedied.  However, I have found that from injury I become a much better coach at figuring out ways to improve the athlete in areas that have been neglected for long periods of time. 

Past or recent injuries: Athletes have injuries.  How far away from the injury is your training and always remember it can impact your progressions.  It is equivalent to driving a high performance car fast on bald tires. 

Baselines to establish overloads:  Poor baseline analysis wastes a great amount of time as you do not get to an overload level fast enough.

Mental toughness:  Some athletes hate to train at things they are not good at.  No one does.  However, it is like getting a kid to eat their veggies.  Sometimes you have to figure out how to make them think it is dessert. 

Winning a workout:  Athletes want to win.  If you are not creating little victories in each workout, morale diminishes and progressions are more difficult as you will see breaks in training. 

Monitoring:

Type of progressions: Periodization

So what is the most effective method of progressing an athlete?  When how much, how often is the science of periodization.  The Eastern Bloc in the 1960s were employing 10 year periodization.  They would identify a candidate in their early youth and then start the process.  They would look at progressions over a very long period of time.  Tudor Bompa is considered a pioneer in the study of periodization and brought much of the eastern bloc training methods to the West. 

Overload/progression: A simple definition of a progressive overload is anything over the normal that creates a stress large enough for the body to make an adaptation. 

Examples of Overloads:

Load/Intensity:  More weight. More power output. Higher Velocity, Higher percentages of maximum output. 

Volume:  Time of output.  More reps.  More total sets. 

Rest/Density: Rest between the sets, Rest between the reps.  Most do not think about rest between reps.  I utilize this method very effectively in training for efficiency of producing power. 

Tempo: Speed of a movement

Metabolic load:  Anaerobic, glycolytic, and aerobic.  What are the fuels needed and rest to recover ratios?

Periodization is just the design of the overloads and rest to elicit a desired outcome. This design will impact progressions in your training.   Typically it is organized in blocks.  The blocks cover different energy system needs or physiological objectives. .  Strength, Hypertrophy, Strength Endurance, Power, Power Endurance, etc.  You typically have a micro cycle, mesocycle, and macrocycle.  The micorcycle is the individual objective of a workout, mesocycles may be 3 weeks and the macrocycle is the overarching longer term strategy.  I have studied Vershonsky and Siff’s and Bompa’s work on the subject.  The problem with most of the original periodization models is that they are develop for weightlifters or competitive Olympic lifters who sport is their training. As a strength coach, and a competitive cyclist I have learned much about how periodization impacts aerobic performance on the bike.   How do you take the lessons of these progressive overloads  and apply it to a particular sport for power and strength?  You are not trying to build weightlifters most of the time, but you are trying to improve movement and power by way of the weight room. 

Endurance athletes are much better at periodization than most team sports.  The endurance athlete’s seasons are long and there is often times a need to peak for particular events and this lends itself to an effective periodization.  With a field athlete or team sport there is more of an overall need for fitness and then some peaks throughout the season that are dictated more by the coaches of the sport itself, not the Strength Coach. Once the season starts it is more play and rest with lots of maintenance to minimize de-training.    However, the principle behind periodization is really just a physiological management tool for overloads and adaptation so that the athlete is at their peak when it of most valuable. 

I think the take away from all of these periodization programs is that you need to build a solid foundation of fitness that addresses the need for the sport.  This allows the athlete to progress from this foundation with higher and higher intensities and overloads that have a low risk for injury or overtraining, and then build on this fitness throughout the season through maintenance workouts and competition.   

There are a number of different types of periodization and I will not go into detail on all of them in this post.  The two most common I see in use are a linear periodization and an undulating periodization.  Linear, would break out blocks of time with objectives in each block.  Hypertrophy, strength, strength endurance etc.  Each block would have a focus and you would progress through the blocks.  Undulating periodization has multiple objectives and peaks and troughs more often within each of the objectives.    Personally I like Louie Simmons Conjugated system for my strength and power training (much more undulating in nature) the best as the principals can be applied much easier to different sports and level of athletes and fit well into a commercial center.  Collegiate athletes have mandatory practice which makes some aspects easier.  The undulating system more easily allows me to better address the unpredictability of an athletes time and more rapidly progress athletes that progress at a greater rate of speed and may have faster recovery times.

My personal system I label Training with Windows:  I am a visual guy so I like to visualize my overall training design for an athlete as if I was looking at a wall of windows.  Each window represents a particular physiological requirement for that particular sport.  Remember, most athletes we train are not competitive weightlifters, so the ability to have multiple physical qualities is very important.    The windows reflect the needs of the sport at the highest level of performance.  During the year some of the windows are wide open and some just slightly open.  The only time they are all wide open is during competition.  I spend a lot of time identifying the needs of the sport and what skills the athlete comes to me with and then determine the gaps for gains. 

So let’s look at a couple of examples.  Let’s say I have a competitive high jumper.  Some of the primary physiological windows for the sport would be the following:  Lower body strength, lower body power, mobility in hips, mobility in back and shoulders, dynamic core, stability and power, t spine mobility, drive leg power and strength, high rate of force development, hamstring strength and eccentric loading capabilities, strength endurance, speed strength, knee stability.  These are some of the primary windows I would be evaluating.  Most of these are pretty obvious, but what is the current physiological infrastructure of the athlete that I need to improve to address these needs and how do I progress the athlete?  We need the athlete to have the ability to perform a large number of strength exercises with large amounts of weight.  In addition we will also need to make sure there is enough mobility to handle the upcoming training for power.  I am looking for correlation coefficients to the act of jumping.  A correlation coefficient is the amount of influence one variable has on another variable.   Your best squatters are typically not be your best vertical jumpers, but squats will help improve a vertical jump.  So therefore squats are part of the program that will help support the power training to improve vertical jumps.  An extreme example of this concept would be forearm strength and high jumping.  I would say there is a very low or nonexistent relationship (correlation coefficient) to high jumping.  In fact if your forearms got to big they would add unnecessary body weight which would negatively impact the athlete’s jumping height.    However without good wrist mobility and forearm strength power cleans are difficult to execute.  So there has to be a window opened to this skill of wrist mobility and shoulder integrity even though it is not a primary window. 

So the size of the window I utilize is determined by the relationship it has directly or indirectly in supporting the final requirements of the athlete for the sport. 

So with the idea of these windows how do we design and monitor progressions?

As is said when it comes to strength and power I like the Conjugated training system, because it is regularly addressing all the needs of the particular lifts, but with emphasis on particular areas at different points in time.  This also supports my idea of little victories and keeping the athlete engaged.  Remember, athletes do not like doing things poorly.   So you need to balance these skills.  My high school athletes want their biceps to look good when on the field.  The need for biceps may be very low in their respective position, but I have no problem killing their arms and sending them out of the gym with a big pump from time to time to give them a win.  

So following through with my windows metaphor, I never completely close the window on any required skill, however I may just crack the window open at one time and have another window wide open.  All the while changing the focus so that I am marrying the individual’s progressions to the needs and weaknesses in their performance skill set that may already exist.   If an athlete is monster strong on deadlifts and squats what is the added value of adding more squats if the position or sport they play does not require greater lower body strength than they already possess.  Therefore, the window may be cracked to maintain the lower body strength but allows me to shift my focus and time elsewhere.   I may skip ahead and go to maintenance on these exercises and jump right to improving the athlete’s power.  This saves me valuable training time that I can gift to the athlete.   This is also why I am not as fond of systems of training with elite athletes.

I believe in sport that all roads lead to power.  Now in some cases it is a high output of power for a few efforts. (High Jump, Shot Put etc.)  However, most sports require multiple efforts of power in different planes of movement.  It is not the highest output of power that wins, but the ability to hold the highest percentage of that power the longest in a competition.

So once you have established the Windows (needs of a particular sport and position) and established what baseline skill set you athlete possesses (How big are their current windows?), the next step is designing the program that will best address these needs and gaps that the athlete may have and also which are most important to change.   This is your overarching program design to address the improvement necessary to bring your athlete to their highest level of output in the time you have.  I call this inter-workout design. 

Now, within the workouts we have intra-workout design.  This is where I most often see time being wasted with poor progressions.

My goal is to progress the athlete to the greatest overload the fastest without any risk of injury.  So, I do not want to waste sets, reps, or a workout, because I did not get the overload I wanted.  Time is where the value exists.  Every coach will say if I had more time with the athlete I could make bigger gains.  This type of analysis can give you more time. 

The first thing I do is set a primary objective of my workout.  Ex:  I am going to get a max in the deadlift or bench, or bump absolute power.  The primary objective can also be to reign in the athlete so that later in the week I get the big lift.   This primary objective is the win of the workout.  Then if you have a hiccup, which you always get, you can still see if you can accomplish your primary objective.  Sometimes you just can’t get an overload, but by going in with the objective you know what direction you want to be heading.  You also know that maybe today is best suited for active recovery, because if you try to force the overload at a subpar output you just dig the athlete into a hole and risk overtraining. 

Intra-workout progressions can be set up a number of different ways.  They can be arbitrary from week to week.  You just set an increase in weight that is fixed from week to week or a percentage increase week to week.  I think this may work better for individuals that are new to lifting or have not been in the weight room for a number of months.  The progressions will usually be bigger jumps as the athlete gets back into the lifts and the body makes a more rapid adaptation back to the previous normal.  The athlete has been here before, and you are just working on technique and seeing if there are any biomechanical issues that need to be addressed so this transition time is not real improvement over where they were at the start of last season.    

You can also progress week to week and make changes based on the performance the week before.  I like this with more mature athletes and it may work well in a bigger groups.  This can be on a fixed percentage or perceived exertion by the athlete.  If you use perceived exertion you have to educate your athletes on what this means or you will not get the output you desire. 

My goal is to reduce what I call wasted reps and sets and workouts.  I want training not exercise.  Exercise is a component of training but may not contribute to moving the needle forward. 

I use a rep scheme that allows for the dynamic nature of how an athlete feels.   It is based on past lifts, but not wedded completely to the past lifts.  The past lifts act as a guide.    I overlay this with trying to have max lifts in one or two exercises in each workout.  I monitor the type of lifts so that I do not do a squat max and deadlift max in the same workout or back to back on days.  I am careful about designing the workouts so that recovery time is adequate.    These could be an upperbody and lowerbody, pulling or pushing maxes on the same days of the week.  It is also dictated by how many days in the week I get to train the athlete.  If you get the athlete more often you can be more creative with the maxes.    This would be similar to the conjugated system.     I or one of my coaches will observe the lift and try to progress the athlete based on a previous weeks lift, but at the same time take into account the possibility of a fitness bump during that workout.  As we know as athletes get fitter jumps in fitness come slower and less often and I want to take advantage of a bump as soon as it takes place. Not a week later!! This is really important and why I like notes.  I can immediately go back and see what the last max lift was and the date executed.  You will also start to see patterns in the time between max lifts for different athletes. 

The Workout:

So I start with a check in set.  It is typically 10-12 reps.  I want to see how the athlete feels.  It also is a way to reduce injuries.  The more days of the week the athlete is training the lower the rep count can be on this set as the athlete is more in tune with how they feel.  If you have bigger gaps between workouts 

I may do 2 of these sets.    You could look at this as a warm up to the bigger lift to follow.   If I see any issues with form or if the athlete just feels weak, we progress accordingly.  If my objective is to get an overload with a heavy lift then I want to get there as soon as possible so I do not hinder my ability to overload by too many prior sets and volume.  Some athletes are more comfortable with bigger jumps in weight.   The next set will typically be 6 to 8 reps.  I like the range of two reps as it allows me and my coaches and the athlete to have some flexibility and still feel success.  I always tell my athletes I want to target the lower rep range if possible.  What this means is that the 6th rep should be about all that can be accomplished.  If you see that it is to light do not do more reps.  Just make a bigger jump on the next set so as not to add unnecessary fatigue that may compromise you getting an overload.    My next set is typically 3-5 reps and the last set is 2-3 reps.  Each set will have a bump in weight with the target in mind.  The range of the reps allow us some flexibility in targeting.  If I can get a 2.5lb increase in weight I am going to get it.  Do not discount the smaller increases as having little value. On endurance days the smaller increase are also of great importance and are sometimes overlooked.  You want the increase in total volume on these days.   You must allow the body to get the weight on the bar.  This method requires the coach to be more observant of the athlete in the lift or educate the athlete on the goal of the rep scheme and progression if the coach is not there to add value and monitor. 

I also am very cognizant of taking into account the level of athletic maturity in the athlete and typically I will look at “max” lifts for a novice differently than a seasoned lifter.   A less mature lifter I may have 6 to 8 reps “max” as the top end and an elite lifter 1 to 3 reps. 

I have seen great technical coaches get poor performance results from their athletes because of poor progressions.  Less Instagram moments and more focus on what really adds value and cannot be seen in a photo.  My belief is that with a few solid exercises and great progressions you will make much greater improvement faster than any other form of training.  It is a dynamic process that requires a coach to pay attention and figure out ways to lead the athlete to obtain the greatest overloads without injury or overtraining. 

Truth in Fitness,

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

  

Goals vs. Outcomes Both in Training and Life

Goals, most athletes make them; winning my next competition;  win the State Championship, etc.   There is an art to Goal setting and it takes some thought to make the experience useful. 

We utilize goals on a regular basis at www.sirensandtitansfitness.com .   We set goals on a particular workout, exercise, week of exercises, months etc. .  Goals are built into the periodization calendar we create for the athlete.  Utilizing and monitoring these goals is of great importance in making rapid progress in strength and conditioning. 

However, many athletes confuse goals with outcomes.  Especially younger athletes who are oftentimes trying to figure out what sport they really like to compete in.  This is where the difference between goals and outcomes becomes clearer and more important.

As stated in the example above a goal has a particular hard measurement of achievement.   A win, a PR, etc.  Whereas an outcome typically has an emotional component to the individual involved.  I want to be happy.  I want to enjoy the camaraderie of a team.  I want to experience the joy of competition, training, pushing myself harder than I ever have etc.  It has a feeling attached to the experience.

The outcome will dictate how you feel.  You could win all your competitions and still not have a positive outcome.  You could also lose all your competitions and be the happiest competitor on the field of play.

So remember to look at both.  Goals are important, but Outcomes will make you feel better about your sport and in most cases are of greater importance.

You are typically happier by focusing on outcomes first and goals support the outcome you desire. 

Truth in Fitness,

Jacques DeVore, CSCS, Primal Health Coach Certified.

Exercise vs. Training: What is the Difference and why you should know!

In one of my past blog entries I discussed the primary components of fitness and how many people are very one dimensional in their approach to fitness.  They may be strong at endurance only, strength only etc.  This is many times a symptom of poor program design. 

In this entry I want to discuss the difference between exercise and training.  I am often asked what differentiates Sirens and Titans www.sirensandtitansfitness.com  from other programs.  We are often lumped in with all the different circuit programs, Crossfit studios, etc. I believe our primary differentiator is our focus on results and the reason we get great results is because we are not just providing exercise.  We  integrate a complete program design that begins with a thorough evaluation of the client.  I know this may sound confusing but read on and it will make more sense.  The easiest to understand real world example would be mapping out a trip across the country before you started driving.  This is even more important if the trip has a time element and you have to be at your destination in a certain amount of time.  Imagine stopping at random gas stations along the way to ask for directions.  This would not be the most effective method to get to your destination within the time.  Fitness is no different.  You have a limited amount of time to get to your destination.   Most approaches to fitness are based on this inefficient methodology.   

Strategy, strategy, strategy!!  This is worth taking the time to look at closely.

 

Exercise:  The generally accepted definition is a  physical activity to become stronger or healthier.  Walking, yoga, Crossfit, Zumba, spinning, etc.  All of these are exercise.  You go to a class and with minimal regard to your goal you perform movements that are physically demanding.  Think about a spinning class.  You do not know what type of class you get until the instructor walks in the door.  In addition the level of intensity is determined by you.  You can go hard or easy or moderately it is not prescriptive exercise based on a primary goal of improvement.  Unless you dictate an overload in an energy system you are targeting you are pretty much just getting exercise.  You are letting luck and your understanding of the science to dictate the result.  You are moving and that is good, but quickly your body will adapt and you will see little change in your body or fitness.  This is the “No Man’s Land” of training.  You will be in good company as most people that workout regularly end up here.  Even some elite athletes with poor coaching end up here as well.  This is why the fitness industry is poor at delivering results to the clients. 

Is your time valuable?  Training/Coaching:  A strength and conditioning coach’s responsibility to the athlete is to design a program that results in the highest level of improvement possible within the time allocated to train with the coach.    One is coached with an overarching strategy to improve the athlete to the highest level of fitness in the shortest amount of time based on an evaluation of their current strengths and weaknesses and what are the particular needs of the sport. 

The technical term for this in the world of strength and conditioning is a periodization.  A periodization can be long or short.  The objective is to move the athlete as far to optimum with their conditioning as possible in the time devoted to this training.   The Eastern Bloc athletes were utilizing 10 year periodization for some of their athletes.  Every workout builds on the next.  There are a number of different approaches to the periodization.  Undulating, and linear are the two most common. 

Most of the time strength coaches do not have 10 years of training time with an athlete.  I have always believed that the real product of a great strength coach is time.  An athlete has a depreciating asset with a limited window for greatness. With good coaches the athlete can have much greater production in their sport within their window of productive years.  In other words they are much fitter earlier in their career with great strength and conditioning coaching. 

If all you had to do was exercise to get really fit then all pro athletes would just play their sport and do nothing else but their respective sport for improvements in fitness and then rely on their genetic gifts.  This would be an ineffective method to realize peak performance in elite athletes.     The difference between what the average person does to improve fitness and what we provide our client’s  as strength coaches is prescribed exercise. Typically the average person randomly determines the exercise prescription.  Or they take a class that prescribes only one type of exercise without any consideration to what would be the most effective training for their desired result.

The problem with this approach is that the average person spends countless hours of wasted time with little or no improvement.  It would be like a doctor prescribing hemorrhoid cream for bi-polar disorder.  The person may see some result but very unlikely.    Dependent on what the diagnosis is for the athlete’s current level of capability, maturity, strengths and weaknesses, and what the specific sport requires, we will prescribe the appropriate activity to fit the overarching strategy we have developed for that particular athlete.  There are a number of components that go into designing this strategy. In order to obtain the greatest result in the shortest time each workout is a link in a bigger chain.    I have discussed this in previous blog entries.  It is what is typically lacking in most training programs.  Most people focus only on the exercise component and not the training and coaching part of the equation. Exercise is better than nothing, however I think most people would like to see positive results in the shortest time and ongoing improvement in their level of fitness and body composition for the effort.  Without considerable thought put into the prescription of exercise there is typically failure which is exemplified in slow or no change in body composition and fitness.   If you are struggling with your training this is typically the problem.  Unfortunately, it is not always so easy to solve unless you find someone who can effectively design a program.  Program design is a dynamic process.  How the individual adapts to the exercise determines progressions, rest, intensity, volume, and type of exercises.  This is typically where the wheels come off in the process.

So think about the difference between exercise and training and you will have a much better chance for success in your fitness and body composition. 

 

Truth in Fitness!

Jacques DeVore, CSCS Primal Health Coach Certified

Versa-Climber / Versa-Pulley Workout Today: 12/6/2017

I am continuing my training to make a run at 1000 feet on the 20x10 Tabata 4 min interval on the Versa-Climber.  That is a 20 sec sprint with a 10 sec rest for 7 efforts and the 8th effort is 30 seconds to end at 4 min of time.  In order to break 1000 ft I have to average close to 353 feet per minute.  That is about 13 feet per minute faster than my current Personal Best.

When I did my last effort I finished at 961ft, my legs were really starting to fade in the last few efforts so I have been experimenting with the Versapulley as a way to allow my body to adapt to better lactate buffering so that I can alleviate some of the late fading in my legs in the efforts.

So today I am going to do 4 x 45 second efforts on the Versapulley followed by 4 x 45 second efforts on the Versaclimber.  I will have a complete recovery of approximately 2-3 minutes between efforts as I want to keep the power at the highest possible level.  I usually give myself more recovery in the latter intervals as you start to see oxygen being depleted at a greater rate as I fatigue.  In addition the 45 second interval is over twice as long as the efforts for 1000 feet so it puts me in the pain cave longer, which mentally is advantageous.   

Utilizing the Versapulley first will allow me to get a great amount of muscle activation before my efforts on the Versaclimber.  I will be alternating from one to the other so I can benchmark my outputs and have some targets to hit. 

Go to our Facebook at Sirens and Titans Fitness to see the video showing part of one of my 45 second runs on the Versa-Pulley and part of my 45 sec on the Versa-Climber.  I am paying attention to the power being produced on each pull on the Versa-Pulley and also trying to keep my feet per minute over 300 on the Versa-Climber.  This forces me to produce the highest average output during both intervals.  This is important so that the total overload is greater as opposed to blowing up in the first 20 seconds and then dropping off dramatically.  This is an example of designing a workout to target a particular overload by combining two types of efforts.  Individually they are not as valuable as combined together. 

 

Truth in Fitness,

Jacques DeVore, CSCS , Primal Health Coach Certified.

Do you understand your physics? You'd Better if you want to Speed Results.

·        Power = Force x Distance/Time =Force/Velocity

·        Force = Mass x Acceleration +Weight of Mass

·        Rate of Force Development= ∆ (force)/∆ (time)

·        Maximum Sustained Power =The ability to hold the highest percentage of your absolute power the longest.

 

Strava bike records, Map my Run, CrossFit Games. All of these roads lead back to the laws of physics. How does a body move through space? They say that you cannot defy the laws of physics, and that’s true. But sometimes, when you watch athletes perform, you can’t help but wonder if it’s always true. The three equations above are of great importance in training your body for improvement on the bike in the Maximum Overload program outlined in my book.

Cycling is a sport that requires thousands of revolutions and the ability to produce maximum sustainable power over long periods of time. This sustainable power is what makes the final climbs of your ride much more enjoyable. By understanding the physics you can better understand how your body works as well.

Let’s start by looking at the first equation. People confuse power with strength on a regular basis. This drives me crazy. Strength is the ability to generate a force. If you were pushing against a wall with your hands you would be creating a force. The force could be measured using a force plate to determine how many units of force you are creating. Force is a measurement of Mass x Acceleration plus the weight of the mass. It is typically measured in Newtons. If you look at the equation for power it takes Force (strength) and incorporates the time it takes to generate the force over a particular distance (velocity).

Think about getting out of a chair. You rise up and generate enough force and velocity to overcome both the weight of your body and gravity to lift you out of the chair. If you continue to increase the speed at which you go from sitting to standing, eventually you would increase the speed to such a point that your body would leave the ground. In each subsequent time out of the chair you are producing more power as you increase the speed (velocity) of rising up. So it is one thing to have the ability to produce enough force (strength) to rise from your chair and overcome the weight of your body and gravity. However, once velocity is increased you will rise higher and higher as you rise from your chair, generating greater and greater amounts of power as the velocity increases.

Ever watch an old person rise from a chair? Usually the hands move to the knees and then with a grunt they rise up. The hands are changing the biomechanics and un-weighting the hips by moving the body forward and incorporating the arms. When force production is low and velocity cannot be achieved, the body will look for biomechanical tricks to execute the movement successfully. In sport this can lead to injury. Stay away from the old person get-up if you can.

Rate of force development equals the change in force and the amount of time it takes to make that change. Rate of force development is what influences your velocity greatly and, subsequently, your power.

If you have ever played the game Slaps, in which one person stands with their hands clasped in front of them and their opponent faces them with their hands to their sides and then tries to slap the other person’s hands, you have a little idea about rate of force development. If you are slow at rate of  force production in this game, you are in for some pain. We used to play this game as kids and usually someone ended up walking away with red, sore hands. If you were the hitter, you would stand there and concentrate to try to increase the speed at which your body moved your hands. The faster you were able to fire the muscles and produce a force, the faster your hands would cover the distance and deliver a resounding slap. In boxing they call this beating your opponent to the punch. 

 

Why are these physics equations important to training?

When I am evaluating an athlete, I look at all of the components in these equations to determine where the athlete has the biggest gaps. Many of the short term gains made in strength training are neuromuscular (muscle firing) in nature. In other words we always will see strength gains neuromuscularly in an athlete before we begin to see size gains. If you were to focus on nothing but strength gains, there would be gains in strength but not necessarily in rate of force production. Rate of force production improvement is seen more readily in explosive types of exercises where high levels of power are being produced. (Hakkinen et al., 1985) This type of evaluation is ongoing with the athletes I am training. I am reevaluating areas of fitness that need the most attention. For example, an athlete may come to us with a good base of absolute strength, but be lacking in the velocity side of the equation. In many cases I can identify this lack of velocity just by observing the athlete’s movements. With more highly trained athletes we utilize measurements of power to get specific measurements of our starting point and subsequent progress. The faster an athlete gets to peak force, the faster the rate of force production. With this information we can develop a better training program that will improve the athlete’s ability to generate a force and, subsequently, more power for their specific sport. The D.I.Y. version is measuring distance over time in an exercise requiring power. Start by measuring your time to that mailbox at the top of the hill.

Utilizing the equations above in the evaluation of your fitness can oftentimes lead you to an area of training that could result in a big improvement in your performance in much less time. Understand the physics and you will be able to better utilize the training time you have available.

 

Truth in fitness,

Jacques DeVore, CSCS and Certified Primal Health Coach

 

Absolute Power vs Maximum Sustainable Power

Do you know the difference?

Power is an interesting concept and often mistaken for strength. Strength is a component of power. If you throw a bullet at someone it is harmless, however once velocity is added to the bullet it becomes lethal. Power has velocity! Strength without velocity is good for some things but for movement at high speed we need velocity. This is what makes for great athletes and athletic performances. The combination of both strength (force production) and velocity are both needed to develop great power. 
Examples of Absolute Power are High Jumpers, Shot-put, a broad jump, a one time vertical jump, a short sprint, a one punch knockout. All of these have one thing in common they are short maximally explosive efforts. Maximum Sustainable Power is the ability to hold the highest percentage of your absolute power longer. 
Why does it matter to know the difference? Well although a one punch knockout in the first round is impressive, typically what wins the fight is the fighter that can hit the hardest in the latter rounds. In basketball winners are those who can still be explosive in the fourth quarter. The ability to sustain power, rounding the curve in a 400 meter sprint, and still maintaining speed is the ability of the athlete to continue to produce higher percentages of absolute power. 
So if Maximum sustainable power is what wins more events that last longer than about 10 seconds how do you train to sustain your power longer? 
You can have a big impact on your absolute power, but a much bigger impact on your ability to sustain a higher percentage of power longer. This impact is greater as one matures as an athlete. 
That is what MSP (Maximum Sustainable Power) training is all about. We accomplish this in our facility by measuring Absolute power output (APO) and then creating training protocols that allow the athlete to spend the most amount of time at this highest level of power output. 
The body adapts by being more efficient at producing APO for longer. If you want to find out more DM me, stop by , or read my book which explains how we accomplish this type of overload. Bicycling’s Maximum Overload for Cyclists.

Truth in Fitness,
Jacques DeVore, CSCS /Primal Health Coach Certified.

Goal: Complete 1000 Feet on the Versa-Climber in a 20x10x4 min session

Training Design:

Sometimes I have to ask myself why I do these things as you can see the pain in the video above.  About 9 months ago I broke 900 feet in a 20 sec effort/ 10 sec rest with the last effort at 30 seconds over 4 minutes on the Versa-Climber.  I completed 961 feet (see video).  I now want to beat that and cover 1000 feet in the same workout. (Same pain faster pace J )

So, I am spending more time on the Versa-Climber and will be sharing my workouts leading up to my attempt at this new record on the climber so you can try the workouts on your own. 

The first thing I did was to look at the pacing necessary to accomplish this goal.  7- 20 second efforts and one 30 second effort is 170 seconds of total time.  Divide this by 60 and you get 2.833 minutes of total effort.  Divide 1000ft by 2.83 and you get an average pace of 353.35 ft. per minute for each of the efforts.  The last time I did this effort I paced at 340 feet for a total of 961 feet.  I need a 4% increase in average speed per minute.  It does not sound like a lot but it will be tough.  This is where precise program design comes into play. 

So how do I design a program to accomplish this 4% increase?   In most sports 4% can be huge! The efforts are close to all out on each effort with only a 10 second recovery between bouts.  The pacing is important.  There are all three energy systems involved.   The ATP-PC system is fueling the engine in the first 10 seconds of the effort and then we see the glycolytic diesel picking up the load as the effort gets longer.    The total time of the effort is over 4 min which requires the long running aerobic engine to support the recovery between efforts.  That is why this effort is so difficult.  The primary requirement is the ability to deliver oxygen in large quantities to support the sprinting on the climber.  This Tabata interval is really a VO2 max interval magnified.  So the speed that I am moving the steps at are greater than what my maximum oxygen delivery would be pegged at.  So in layman’s terms my eyeballs are bleeding. 

With that in mind I am focusing most of my training on the first two energy systems.   ATP-PC and Glycolytic.  So this week I did one workout of 5, 4 min efforts.  The efforts were 30 secs at a high tempo, and then 30 seconds at a sprint or elevated effort.  This is focused on improving my oxygen delivery capabilities or my V02 maximum.  The tempo effort at a pace of 215ft per minute to 220ft partially depletes the oxygen stored in my body, and then the sprint effort at 240ft to 250ft following forces my body to get better at delivering more oxygen as I ask my body to match the output on each effort.  That is the important part of these efforts.  I want the same tempo pace and sprint pace in each of the four minutes.  This forces my body to step up my ability to deliver oxygen to the muscles.    If I cannot accomplish this level of output I reduce the number of total efforts or lower the pace for now.  Most people make the mistake of just finishing the intervals instead of measuring the quality of the overload. 

The second effort in the week will be all ATP-PC/Glycolytic or all out sprints.  I like 30 to 45 second sprints as these are both longer than the 20 seconds in the record attempt and also the 45 second ones help with lactate buffering as my legs start to burn after 3 or four of these.  I get full recovery between efforts of 2-4 min and I try to do a minimum of 6 and no more than 8 total efforts.  If I can easily do 8, I am not going hard enough.  I also monitor the output and want to be within 10% of my best output.  If I start falling off more than 10% I stop the session or else shorten the time of the effort and stay at the same pace. 

So I am focusing my workouts to support both of these energy systems.  My weekend training on the bicycle supports my overall aerobic training. 

This is what program design is all about.  Looking at the physiological requirements of a sport or effort and then building a program that best supports the needs of that effort.  This is what we do for all of our athletes and clients at Sirens and Titans Fitness.

 

‘Truth in Fitness’

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

Take a look at how we develop training for our athletes and clients: American Football

As a strength and conditioning coach you must develop a strategy for an athlete first then determine tactics based on the sport and the player’s current fitness level. The fitness requirements of the sport need to be evaluated first, then the requirements of the position, as well as developing an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the athlete. An effective training program can only be developed after this type of evaluation takes place.

Let’s look at American Football. 
The game consists of 2 halves lasting about 24-30 minutes dependent on the level of play. (College, NFL. High school). Halves are separated by 15 minutes of halftime where no play takes place.
Each quarter lasts about 15 minutes and there is 1-2 minutes between the quarters.
There is typically 45 seconds between plays and each play last on average 3-6 seconds. There are a number of other clock stopping events such as penalties, time outs, moving chains, first downs etc.
Evaluating the work/rest ratio shows that there are multiple bouts of high intensity work for very short durations with brief recovery in between most plays and then some intermittent longer duration rest.
The high intensity efforts vary from position to position. Some players are not even in the play and some are in a high majority of the plays with a 100% effort. There is a high requirement for anaerobic capacity and the ability to recover quickly from these high intensity efforts. As a result of the short recovery time between efforts the athlete is often times in oxygen debt. Recovery from these types of efforts is improved (speed of recovery) with a stronger aerobic capacity. In addition some of the positions are more of a battle with an opposing player. These positions have a high strength and power component. 
Training for American Football would require training that would focus on high intensity efforts with short rest. All positions require a minimum amount of strength and power. However some positions may rely more on speed, acceleration, lateral movement and change of direction. Other positions may require movement in a very short distance, with great amounts of strength and power production. 
So if you are trying to improve your ability to play football, or any other sport, you must evaluate the sport, the position, and the player in order to develop an effective training program. Break down the movements and energy systems necessary to support the highest levels of output and then train accordingly. The strategy becomes very clear after performing this type of evaluation. 
At Sirens and Titans Fitness we go through this process with every player or client, every sport, and every position. Also remember that training is dynamic and must reflect increases or decreases in fitness and level of play. 
All roads will eventually lead to some type of power need to be produced in a movement. Power is different than strength. Strength is the force component of power, it must then be married to velocity. Bio-mechanics, balance, rate of force development plus a number of other metabolic needs go into producing the power. Once we establish the need then we have to evaluate the level of sustainability. Most programs often just focus on the need of absolute power and neglect the need to sustain the highest percentage of this power the longest. That is what wins a game! Are you accurately evaluating your strategy and tactics?


Truth in Fitness,

Jacques DeVore, CSCS, Primal Health Coach

Flywheel Training: Iso-Inertial Training. What the heck is it?

Flywheel Training: Iso-Inertial training. What the heck is it?

You may have seen our videos utilizing the Versa-Pulley; You may have seen the K-box as well. A rope goes inside a machine and then the athlete pulls back on the rope. It all seems simple, but it is not so simple. 
How does it work? I think the easiest way to understand it is to think of a yoyo. The harder you throw the yo-yo down the quicker it comes back up. A yo-yo is just a smaller version of a flywheel that is inside the Versa-pulley. Imagine a really big yo-yo.
So let’s discuss the physiology of how this works and why I like it so much for training power.
There are primarily two muscle actions in a movement when trying to generate power. The first is an eccentric (stretching of the muscle or a pre-load) and then a subsequent concentric action (shortening of the muscle) after you pre-load to produce a powerful following movement. 
The best example of this is a diver on a springboard. They approach the end of the board, then jump up and land on the end of the board to pre-load it with elastic energy so the subsequent jump off of the board launches them high into the air. This is the same idea with your body when you want to get maximum power. Think of the pre-load when you are dropping down to jump for a basketball like the diving board as it stores the elastic energy. You load up the muscle by stretching it during the pre-load and then the subsequent power produced in the opposite direction is like the springboard rebounding and launching the diver into the air. 
So how does a yo-yo have anything to do with all of this? The principle of a yo-yo is the same as how the flywheel spins, creating resistance to the user. 
Iso-inertial flywheel training is like a springboard in any range of motion. Imagine the diving board in a sideways position. The rope attached to a flywheel is like you using a diving board sideways or in any other movement angle. 
I will be discussing the advantages to this type of training more in future posts, but what I like most is the ability to measure the output of power and also determine at what velocity the athlete produces the greatest amount of power in any direction. With the Versa-Pulley I can create a pre-load in any range of motion which gives me lots of ways of training for different sports. DM me if you want to find out more.

Truth in Fitness,
Jacques DeVore, CSCS

Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Minimus, Hips, Butt, Ass!!!

It sounds like a name for a gladiator in Rome.  Glutes, butt, hips, ass, booty, whatever you want to call them they are probably one of the most important muscle group for any athlete in any sport.  Some sports hips are more important than others.  It is the foundation of the power plant of sport and you should spend plenty of time thinking about the power plant that you are walking around with and what you are doing to improve the output. 

In the past I have written about power and the X factor of power.  In other words is the X factor 3 throws of a shot put or thousands of pedal strokes to complete the Tour de France.  This X factor will help to determine what output you want from your glutes.    The value of the glutes is undeniable in producing power in athletes regardless of the X factor.   So glute strength and power is a component of all sport and human locomotion.  Most sports have evolved around our ability to walk upright, and this is why the gluteus is maximus not only in size, but importance to sports performance.  The size of this muscle is necessary for our mobility for walking upright. 

If I had to choose one muscle group as being the most important to train for sport it would be the hip complex.  When training athletes at Sirens and Titans Fitness, I spend a lot of time working on this power plant.  The ability to produce force and also velocity through the hips and how to transfer that into all planes of movement is where we spend a large percentage of our time with our athletes.  If the hips are the horsepower of the engine, then the core and other stabilizing muscles are the transmission. 

From the warm up to the heavy lifts, to the explosion of hips we are constantly focused upon hips.   The ability to more effectively transfer the force from the ground up through the body is where great gains are made in an athlete.  It is also a large component of a healthy back and knees. 

There is a reason to take a look at your own hips from more than an aesthetic perspective.  If you have great performing hip function you will typically have great looking hips.  So if you are wondering if you should be spending time doing squats, deadlifts, lunges, explosive hip work, think about keeping your power plant firing on all cylinders, and how good your butt will look after, then grab a heavy bar and engage your hips. 

Truth in Fitness

Jacques DeVore, CSCS,  Certified Primal Health Coach

Muscle Fiber Type/Recruitment and the Implications for Strength Training: You Need to Understand the Difference!

In past blog entries I have talked about overload and adaptation.  Most people are familiar with the principle.  You work a muscle or energy system above and beyond the normal workload and it will adapt.  The time for it to adapt is different with individuals and varies widely.  Some individuals adapt much faster than others.  Part of this adaptation is based on the type of muscle fiber you are given at birth.  Some individuals have a higher percentage of Fast Twitch muscle fiber and some have more Slow Twitch fiber.   So be patient, because the type of overload and what you have been given genetically will influence your individual adaptation. 

Overloads can come in different forms.  You can increase resistance or needed force production necessary to move an object.  You can overload the number of repetitions per set.  You can also increase the number of sets.  Overloads can also come with contraction velocity.  Movement velocity can also be where overloads occur.    Understanding these overloads and muscle fiber recruitment is important to determine how to most effectively impact a particular athlete (athletic maturity) and is used in supporting a strategy that addresses the particular needs of a sport.  Muscles will adapt differently based on the type of overload.

These overloads require an understanding of muscle fiber and muscle fiber recruitment to better design a strength and conditioning strategy.

Types of Muscle Fibers:

Slow Twitch Fiber:  A simple definition is muscle fibers that have slow contraction time and a high resistance to fatigue.  They have a smaller structure with higher mitochondria and capillary density.  They have much of the enzymes to support oxidative (endurance) pathways and are used for low force/high aerobic activities.  Most of your daily movement is supported by these types of fibers. This would be a 24 hours of Le Mans car.  Made to go long but will not be the quickest in the quarter mile.

Fast Twitch Fiber:   Quick contraction time, and low resistance to fatigue.  Increase in the speed of release of calcium and breakdown of ATP.  Fast Twitch can be broken down again to Fast Twitch A or IIA and Fast Twitch B or IIB fibers.

Fast twitch A fibers would be seen as a long sprint motor and Type B as a top fuel dragster, one run and done. 

There is a condition known as the size principle.   It is an efficient way your body has evolved in the recruitment of muscle fiber.  If the demand for force production is large then your body will increasingly recruit larger motor units to satisfy the need.  The largest motor units (Fast Twitch Fiber B) are recruited last and have the highest threshold.   Have you ever lifted something thinking it was heavy and then are surprised when the weight is much lighter?  This is a good way of seeing your body recruiting an unnecessary amount of muscle fiber for a perceived needed production of force.  Your brain was prepared for the higher perceived effort and therefore higher force production.  If we did not recruit in an order of force production needed, we would constantly be unable to regulate the amount of force being produced.   It makes a lot of evolutionary sense.

So the order of recruitment is Slow Twitch, followed by Type A fast twitch, and Type B fast twitch when needed.

With this understanding you can start to see how the strategy and tactics of program design is very important when creating a workout to support the muscle fiber needs of a particular sport.

So many athletes wonder if they can change the percentage of fast twitch to slow twitch.  Most of the research shows that this cannot really change.  However, you can match training to more effectively increase the performance of the fibers you are born with.  Through training, the cross sectional area of the muscle fiber will change.  This will help athletes in sports where rapid production of force is of great importance.  Conversely, selective training can add to capillary and mitochondria density.   See my recent blog entry Strength vs Endurance Training: How do you mix oil and water?   

Strength and Power training will result in increased glycolytic enzymes and hypertrophy of IIB Fibers.  It will not add more IIB fibers but they will become larger.  Also you will see better speed of muscle contraction. 

Aerobic training will add hypertrophy to Type 1 and increased capabilities of IIB fibers (Long sprints).  Also, increase in capillary density, aerobic enzymes, and mitochondria.  These adaptations support the need for less force and greater endurance.  

Now how does this translate into training?  At Sirens and Titans we focus on the value or return on and exercise and the risk associated with this return.  Most of our athletes are not competitive weight lifters so some exercises may incrementally increase strength, but are just not worth the risk of the potential injury.  An example of this would be with many overhead lifts and throwing athletes.  There are some exercises we use and some we are more reluctant to use.    If you are not looking at this risk/return you may eventually come up short.

Next focus on effort of the exercise in the particular area you are trying to stress and not just the force being produced.   Your goal should be to get overloads to improve performance in the muscle fibers that will most effectively increase the performance in a particular sport.  This matched with the type of athlete you are training is the optimum strategy.   There is a sweet spot of training where you are getting the greatest effort with the lowest amount of risk and the highest specificity to your sport.  One thing to remember is that there are legitimate correlations in training that may enhance your primary objective.   Pay attention to ways of supporting these positive correlations.  When evaluating sprinters the best sprinters are usually the best vertical jumpers not the best squatters.  However squatting will improve your vertical jump.  So look for correlations that will enhance your primary objective.  Allocate your time accordingly.

We rarely do one rep max lifts with any athlete.  We try to find a weight where the effort increases dramatically at 3-6 reps and motor recruitment is still maximized.   Remember, the last 2 reps are of great importance because the effort becomes the greatest and the overload is maximized. A good example of the importance of effort and the last reps can be demonstrated in a plank.  When you first start a plank the force production is X to hold your body up.  When you first establish the plank the effort is not hard.  However, as you hold the plank longer and longer your effort starts to increase dramatically even though the force produced is the same to hold your body up.   Greater amounts of muscle fiber are being recruited to support the same force production to maintain the integrity of the plank.  The initial hold was supported by a greater percentage of slow twitch fibers, but as fatigue increases a larger number of muscle fibers are recruited to pick up the load and effort increases.   The greatest amount of recruitment is in the last seconds of the hold before you drop.  That is why it is important to challenge yourself in your lifts and pay attention to effort and weight.  

The sweet spot is a lift where effort is highest and risk of injury is low.  So find your sweet spot and focus on effort as well as weight being lifted.

I have spoken in the past about Power times an X factor.  Each sport has a particular requirement for sport and position.  Once this has been established then the requirements for absolute force, power, maximum sustained power, and average power all come into play.  Understanding strength is a great place to start in developing a strategy that matches the needs of your sport.   

 

Truth in Fitness

Jacques DeVore, CSCS, Certified Primal Health Coach    

Is time valuable to you? Then you better understand this concept if you want faster results in your fitness and body.

Periodization

 

       Periodization is a concept that can be viewed in a very simple fashion or at a very complex level.  In theory it is the management of work, stress, volume, and intensity versus rest in a systematic fashion.    The objective is to create a strategy for the training that produces the maximum amount of improvement allowing athletes and non-athletes to reap the greatest benefit from training in the least amount of time without suffering an injury.  It also integrates training into the competitive calendar of an athlete during their competitive season.  

       As mentioned before one of the most important parts of a successful training program is the strategy developed around the training to reach a particular goal. The tactics are the day to day training modalities that support this strategy.  If the strategy is weak then the tactics do not have as much of the intended effect and the athlete’s progression is slowed or reversed.   Therefore, periodization should be a large part of the strategy for an athlete.  From my experience you see endurance athletes or cyclic sports paying the most attention to periodization.  I think that is because the volume of training time is typically greater.  Also with cyclic sports, the training and the sport are often times the same.  Think of cycling.  In other sports or non-cyclic sports the strength and conditioning is usually much different than the sport;  think tennis.  However, non-cyclic sports would be well served to look closer at periodization to maximize training results.  At Sirens and Titans Fitness www.sirensandtitansfitness.com  we utilize periodization principles in the training of our athletes in both cyclic and non-cyclic sports as well as with personal training clients.  

       So in principal periodization is a well-planned, systematic, methodical training plan that maximizes the concept of overload and adaptation.  This periodization should address the neuromuscular requirements of a sport, the metabolic requirements, and the cardio respiratory requirements. 

       I have found the most effective method to creating an effective periodization is to work backwards.  The training should be based on an evaluation of the current fitness level and how these relate to the goal of training.  The eastern bloc countries during the 1960s and 70s were structuring 10 year periodizations...  I think the periodization should be long.  Today’s fast food mentality makes this difficult for many and increases the risk for overloads that are too great and subsequently injure or over train the athlete.  It is important that the long term perspective is evaluated even though many would state that 10 years from now is not that important today.  That is a naive perspective that will hurt the progression of the athlete in the long run.   By working backward and understanding the starting point, coupled with a goal, a periodization can be developed.

       Overloads and regeneration must be monitored and managed through the periodization.  This progression and regeneration both in the short run and long run must be monitored and measured.  This also allows the strength coach to better understand total stress on the body, plus how athletes and individuals adapt and respond to training stress.  Training stress is cumulative and must be measured both on a macro basis and a micro basis. 

       There are different periodization methods.  Linear:  Just regular increases in volume or intensity of different energy needs.  Concurrent:  No real focus, but work on all areas of fitness needed.  Conjugated:  Has a more focused approach to particular needs of the athletes and move from need to need, block periodization where you build different fitness needs and block them together over time.  Endurance athletes have a tendency to lean toward block or concurrent.  I like concurrent with less mature athletes as there are typically a number of areas that need attention.  Personally I like the conjugated system.  I try to have a primary objective in each workout so that I am walking away with an overload in a particular area of need.  I determine the objectives by an initial evaluation and then ongoing monitoring of performance in and out of the gym.   The last model, which is not included above, is the worst and the one used most.  Random efforts without any thought to design.  It is seat of the pants periodization.  You may get lucky, but you will never realize your true potential and will hit plateaus for long periods of time and grow frustrated with your lack of progress.

       The periodization is usually broken into micro cycles and macro cycles.  The coach must understand the energy systems utilized by the athlete for a particular sport and the time it takes for the athlete to recover.  Without this understanding training becomes a patchwork of stresses and recovery that does not maximize training time.    The goal should be both physical and psychological.  The psychological aspect is of even greater importance with an athlete. 

So, What is your preferred method?

 

"Truth in Fitness"

Jacques DeVore, CSCS, Primal Health Coach

 

 

Short Term Training Tactics and Specificity in Training

Do you have the correct program design?

 

In the list of building the perfect athlete I talk about strategy and tactics. Strategy is the longer term road map or plan to get you from where you are now to where you would like to be as an athlete. This includes the establishment of goals, the timing and measurement of the progress. What are your strengths and weakness as an athlete? Are there any external factors effecting your performance and how are they addressed. It answers the why of a workout on any particular day. It is the architectural training plan so that that the outcome satisfies your goal as an athlete.

The tactics are many. What particular exercises? What is the volume and intensity of a particular training methodology? Does the exercise enhance the ability to perform the particular movements required in the sport? The answer to that question revolves around the idea of Specificity of Training. At Sirens and Titans Fitness we believe that winning in sport is derived from the development of power (moving your body through space) in a fashion that suits a particular sport. This is (power x X Factor) The X factor is the amount of times or level of absolute power and also how long can you hold the highest percentage of your absolute power to perform a task. For example: Swinging a baseball bat is a much different X factor than throwing a punch for a boxer. The boxer has to produce a smaller amount of power numerous times in a fight than the hitter of a baseball. The mechanical requirements and metabolic requirements are much different and the training must be adjusted to accommodate the different requirements of the different sports.

This accommodation and differences in the trainings is defined as Specificity of Training. This accommodation ties directly into the concept of correlation and training that I discussed in a previous post. The focus of the training should be on exercises that modify the body’s complex neuromuscular systems to overcoming movements that apply directly to the particular sport.

This requires the analysis of a particular sports movement pattern. Looking at baseball again, the training must evaluate the movement patterns of hitting, throwing, and running bases. What are the bio-mechanical adaptations necessary? What type of movement pattern? What is the type of muscle contractions necessary? What are the metabolic requirements of the baseball? These requirements are just a small list with many more factors to be considered and addressed when training a baseball player.

So you get the idea of specificity. This is not to be confused with simulation. Many strength and conditioning programs are developed to try to simulate the sport and just add a level of resistance to the movements. This can be helpful in certain movements, however if done without foresight the training can actually confuse the neuromuscular patterns that have been developed and therefore result in a diminishment of sport performance especially of a very high level athlete. Simulating the sport with resistance does not take into account all the physics of movement like center of gravity, inertia etc., so be thoughtful and understand the difference between simulation and specificity.

Think about the X factor of your sport and train in a way that addresses the specific needs and requirements of that particular sport. Your tactics should be adjusted so that it addresses the specific requirements of the movements and metabolic requirements of your sport.

 

Truth in Fitness,

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

What you need to know if the goal is to increase strength and power!

In previous blog entries I have discussed how strength and power are necessary components of any sport.  All sports have a particular requirement or X factor of power needed to perform at an optimum level.  This performance is also influenced by biomechanical issues as well as cardiovascular capabilities. We will only be discussing strength and power training in this entry.

 

 

What is strength?  Strength in its simplest form is your ability to generate a force.  If you put your hands against a wall and push as hard as you can you are generating a maximum force.  The greater the force production the slower the velocity of movement will be.  If the wall starts to move when you are pushing against it your force production diminishes as the wall moves.  The faster the movement the less force is being produced.  Therefore maximum strength is dependent on not only your ability to generate a force, but also the direction of the force, velocity, and the time you generate the force within.  When I talk about direction I am referring more too concentric vs eccentric vs isometric movements.  In other words are you performing negatives (eccentric) positive (concentric) or a hold (isometric).

 

Force Velocity Relationship: All of these different directions influence the force that is being produced.  When velocity is lower force production can be increased and when velocity is high force production diminishes.  There is an optimum level where velocity and force production come together to obtain maximum power. 

 

A golfer looks at club head speed, tennis player at the speed of the racket.  As the speed increases the ball travels longer or faster.  In golf, the speed of the club is based on the back swing which creates an eccentric load on the muscles engaged and then a concentric muscle action as the club approaches the ball.  The club speed is influenced by a number of different factors.  One of the main factors in the absolute speed of the club is the change from eccentric to concentric when the swing goes from back swing to forward swing. This also applies to tennis when changing from back swing to fore swing.    If the muscles involved in the swing have a high speed contraction with maximum force the club will be accelerating at a greater rate.  If the transition is slower the club will be producing less power because the velocity during the time of transition until hitting the ball is not as rapid.  So one must evaluate what the necessary force and velocity is needed to generate the optimum power. This force comes up from the ground through the feet and into the kinetic chain that will then transfer to the movement for the most desired result.    Now, what can make golf and tennis so difficult is the athlete must be able to regulate the power with a high degree of accuracy in order to adjust for different distances and placement.  It is one thing to give it all you can, but a completely different skill to be able to fine tune the power.  In golf different clubs help in this process.  If not you would only need one club.  Of course executing at a percentage of maximum power multiple times is what will win games.  In cycling the muscle contraction is all concentric.  There is not a negative or isometric hold.  The cyclist can determine power output by shifting the gear to create greater force production.  The cyclist will determine at what velocity satisfies the need for power most efficiently.   The cyclist recognizes that if too many matches are burned early on they will not be able to call upon that power when it may be needed most.  So cycling becomes a game of conservation of energy and not just going hard to impress. 

 

Rate of Force Development (RFD) is an important concept in sport and where a lot of time is spent when developing training strategy.  If you think about the physics of moving a mass then a greater RFD would produce greater movement of a mass.  In sport that mass is your body in multi-directions.  This translates into better first step, vertical jump, lateral movement and ability to produce power.  Most of this power comes from the hips and your ground force reaction.

So how does understanding this help you with your training?  If you understand the basic concepts of force production, RFD and how it applies to your sport you can better develop a strategy that will produce the greatest improvement in your strength and conditioning. 

For example, at Sirens and Titans we will utilize a Versa pulley to help us develop power in all planes of movement.  The video above demonstrates a power exercise with velocity and force being measured by the Versapulley in a readout.   This plane of movement is common in sport but harder to get proper loading because of the direction of movement and gravity. 

 

In summary:

So a number of questions have to be answered when developing the strategy for training an athlete.  What is the baseline of RFD and maximum force production?  This will dictate the overload in the training and where the most time should be spent.  Overload can be looked at in the volume of work, intensity of work and how often the work is being completed. 

Where is the greatest inefficiency in addressing maximum force production and RFD? Is the gap in production of power laterally, forward, backward, up?  When we talk about sport specific, what are the speeds of force production necessary to win at the elite level of a particular sport?   Is the velocity needed more after an initial movement or from a velocity of zero?  This concept is as important as understanding the different planes of power needed. 

For example, at Sirens and Titans we will utilize a Versa pulley to help us develop power laterally.  This plane of movement is common in sport but harder to get proper loading because of the direction of movement and gravity. 

So strength and power are a major component of your training, but first you must understand what it really means to your sport before developing your training strategy and tactics. 

 

Truth in Fitness,

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

www.sirensandtitansfitness.com

 

 

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"