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"

Exercise Variation is Overrated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7.     I could do jumping bar lifts for power

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

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

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

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

Truth in Fitness:

Jacques DeVore , CSCS 

Stretch Shortening Cycle

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

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

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

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

Truth in Fitness:
Jacques DeVore CSCS

The Importance of Magnesium

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Truth in Fitness

 

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

Sirens and Titans Fitness, LA

 

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

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

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

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

 

Truth in Fitness

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

www.sirensandtitansfitness.com 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Truth in Fitness

Jacques DeVore, CSCS

Character: Why is it important for training success?

Character: Why is it important for training success?  

Honesty:

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

John Wooden

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

Thomas Macaulay

Loyalty:

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

Woodrow Wilson/Twenty-Eighth President

Respect/Unselfishness:

A Philosophy of Life by Thomas Jefferson—

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately  today  environments to improve  character have been hollowed out:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRUTH IN FITNESS:

JACQUES DEVORE, CSCS

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

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

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

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

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

Truth in Fitness,

Jacques Devore

You want to improve your times on the Versaclimber?

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

 

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

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

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

Where do I want to go?

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

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

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

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

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

30x30x 3 min workout:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

TRUTH IN FITNESS

Genetics and Sport

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Come in and talk to us to find out more. 

Truth in Fitness: