Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Slinger High School Football Player Dies Weightlifting - December 3, 2010

The death of this high school athlete saddens me greatly. It did not have to happen. Weightroom safety is of paramount importance.

First rule: Never train alone

Second rule: Know what you are doing. Technique, technique, technique!

See the video below. If you bench in a proper rack with
safety bars, use proper technique, and have a spotter you will prevent serious injury (except straining a muscle). With the safety bars set at the correct height, even if you do drop the weight (which is highly unlikely with the proper grip) it will not crush your head, neck, or chest!

Safety comes first!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Posture, Posture, Posture

I LOVE THIS BOOK! If you don't start with proper posture, then it is all downhill from there. Posture is more important than any exercise. Poor posture is habit, not a deformity (very rare). It can be corrected at any age!

Pay close attention to the pictures in this book, especially the author's husband as a young man and then around 50 years old... What a difference!

Buy this book and follow the guidelines. You will see and feel the difference.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sports Specialization - Good or Bad?

My take has always been....bad idea.

Read this fascinating article in Psychology today entitled, "How to Create a Sports Superstar"

Click Here!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Children Can Lift Weights at Any Age!

This is another great post by Dr. Gabe Mirkin. A few comments:
1. Some might take issue with Dr. Mirkin's comments about Naim Suleymanoglu. Others who should be mentioned are Tommy Kono, Pyrros Dimas, Vasili Alexeyev, and of course, Paul Anderson.
2. Muscle growth is dependent on genetics (myostatin), training, nutrition, and recovery.
3. Stronger bones are the key. The more weight you lift, the more the muscle pulls on the bone which causes the bone to make more bone tissue.
4. Read the final paragraph several times and show it to your child's coach!


Lifting weights before puberty makes children stronger and has not been shown to stunt growth or damage the growth plates in their bones (Pediatrics, November 2010). The older the child, the greater the gain in muscle strength from resistance training. The more and the heavier weights they lift, the stronger they became. A surprising finding was that children did not show a significant increase in strength when they enter puberty, a time when their testosterone levels rise significantly.

The best time for future competitive athletes to start training is before they reach puberty. Having large strong muscles makes you a better athlete, and starting training before puberty enlarges the bones that are used primarily in that sport. Muscles growth is limited by the size of the bones on which they attach. The larger the bone, the stronger the muscle. Children who start to play tennis before they go into puberty have larger bones in the arm that holds the racquet. They also have larger bones in their tennis arm than those who start to play tennis later in life. The larger and stronger your muscles, the harder you can hit a tennis ball. As little as four weeks of hard exercise in growing animals increases bone mass (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, October 2000). This suggests that children who start training while they are still growing will have an advantage over athletes who start training after puberty, because having larger bones allow a person to grow larger muscles.

Lifting weights during growth has not been shown to prevent children from growing to their full potential height. Bones grow from epiphyses, growth centers that are the weakest part of bone, but strength training during growth has not been shown to damage these growth centers. Children who lift weights in supervised programs do not suffer more injuries than adults. With increased strength comes increased speed and increased coordination in movements requiring strength.

In most sports, the strongest athlete wins. Weightlifter Naim Suleymanoglu of Turkey, who won three Olympic gold medals and is probably the greatest weightlifter who ever lived, started lifting weights when he was eight years old. Muscles can only grow to be as strong as the strength of the bones on which they attach, so people with the biggest bones are the ones who can grow the biggest muscles.

Children who lift weights do not grow muscles as large as older people do. Muscles are made up of thousands of individual muscle fibers. Each muscle fiber is innervated by a single nerve, although each nerve can innervate many muscle fibers. When you contract a muscle, you contract only a few muscle fibers at one time. With strength training, children learn to contract more muscle fibers at the same time, so they become stronger primarily by being able to contract more muscle fibers. Adults commonly grow larger muscles.

There is great concern that children may be subjected to unreasonable coaches and inconsiderate parents who place athletic training above the child's own needs and desires. In one study from Southern California, 90 percent of female cross country runners who stated running before they were nine stopped running before they reached high school. In 1967, I started competitive long distance running for young children and was the first national chairman of the age group committee of the Amateur Athletic Union and The Road Runners Club of America. Children came from all over the United States and Canada to compete in age group cross country and track running. Many were coached by experienced runners and trained with the same types of workouts used by the older runners. These children rarely suffered from injuries, and when they were injured, they recovered faster than the older runners. However, the real problem of starting children in competition at an early age is burnout. My own son started serious running when he was five and ran a mile in four minutes and 52 seconds when he was nine. He stopped competitive running when he was eleven.

The concern about serious athletic training for young children is more mental than physical. Children should not begin serious athletic training unless they want to do it. They should take days off from training when they want to, and their coaches and parents must allow them to be children.

Monday, November 29, 2010

BJJ Injury Prevention

This is a great video by Jason Brown on how to prevent injuries in BJJ.

A great way to strengthen your feet and hands is to make a rice bucket. Get a bucket from Home Depot ( and fill it with 30 lbs of rice.

Stick one hand or foot in the rice and work it down. Then open and close your fingers/toes and move your hand/foot around in all directions. Make circles, spell the alphabet, make figure 8s, be creative. You can do this for time - start at 3 sets of 15 seconds (you will be amazed at how tiring this is) and work your way up to 3 sets of one minute. Try this twice a week and you won't regret it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Early onset of exercise increases bone mass and size

"There is no downside to physical activity." This is what the moderator, an MD, of the session at which the results of a study showing increased bone mass and bone size in 7 and 8 year olds who performed "intensive physical exercise." "The concern was that if you over-exercise young prepubertal individuals, you might actually increase the risk of fracture."

You have got to be kidding me! The medical profession never ceases to amaze me in their hesitancy to embrace good lifestyle habits. WOW!

Jack LaLanne has it right... just get up and get moving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

New CPR Guidelines

A, B, C (Airway, Breathing, Circulation) has now become C, A, B (Chest Compressions, Open the Airway, Rescue Breathing).


1. Check for responsiveness

2. Call 911 for help and get and AED if available

3. Start with 30 compressions

          a. In 18 seconds or a rate of at least 100 per minute

          b. Depth of 2"

          c. Middle of chest

4. Perform head tilt, chin lift and give two breaths (use a face shield or pocket mask)

5. Perform 30 compressions.

6. Repeat steps 3-5

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gut Check - So Sweet it Hurts!

Gee... a study showing that fructose intolerance is more common than previously thought. What a revelation! 

We have known about fructose intolerance for four decades, yet food manufacturers have done little or nothing to remove fructose and its many forms like corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup from their products. One of the main culprits is fructose sweetened soft-drinks. 

A valuable but disturbing finding was that a substantial proportion of the fructose-intolerant children were overweight or obese.

Fortunately, "the good news is that over half of patients who are fructose intolerant and are able to maintain a low‐fructose diet will notice an immediate improvement in their symptoms,” stated the studies author.

Stop eating the bad stuff and you will feel better.........and we need studies to prove this?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Steroid Injections and Tennis Elbow - Even Worse in the Long Term

In a study reported by the British medical journal the Lancet, corticosteroid injections eased the pain only during the first four weeks after the injections. By six months and at 12 months the effect had reversed to significantly favor no treatment. Even more telling was that repeated injections - ranging from 3 to 6 over 18 months - yielded poorer long term pain results than one injection.

In an accompanying editorial, the authors stated that there is insufficient evidence for the efficacy of steroid injections for Achilles and patellar tendinitis. 

So, what is the best way to prevent/treat these conditions?
1. Find a top coach and learn proper sports technique.
2. Find a practitioner of Active Release Technique and/or Graston Technique.
3. Find a top trainer and get a Functional Movement Screen and learn the corrective exercises necessary to help your body heal your condition.
4. Find a top sports nutritionist and review supplements - natural anti-inflammatories like bromelain or curcumin, Vitamin D, Omega 3's, magnesium, etc. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wei Fit or Wei Injury

Wei users were at increased risk of shoulder, ankle, and foot injuries as compared to those who played more traditional video games. The main recommendation of the study was “younger children under the age of 10 should be supervised while video games are being played to prevent bystander injuries, which are more common with interactive games."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Waist Size and Diabetes

American adults have larger waists than their British counterparts, which can account for their significantly greater prevalence of type 2 diabetes, a study suggested. The sole factor that helped explain the diabetes differential was waist circumference, according to the researchers.

Key point - fat cells deposited in the viscera are distinct from those found elsewhere.
"Central fat cells have a higher turnover rate of triglycerides and produce more proinflammatory and metabolic markers," the researchers explained.

In addition, these cells draw free fatty acids to the liver, which can further contribute to insulin resistance and ultimately, to diabetes, according to the researchers.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Get Sleep, Get Lean!

“Middle-age, overweight patients who slept 8.5 hours burned more fat than those who slept just 5.5 hours, according to Plamen D. Penev, MD, PhD, of the University of Chicago, and colleagues, who reported their findings in the Oct. 5 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.” Participants in the sleep deprivation group were hungrier and expended less energy to compensate for reduced sleep.

Interestingly, the hormone ghrelin was found to increase in the sleep deprived participants. Ghrelin is a hormone produced in the stomach the function of which is to tell the brain that the body has to be fed. Ghrelin levels increase before eating and decrease after. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Orthopedic Surgery Risk – Low Vitamin D

"A high rate of inadequate vitamin D levels in patients undergoing orthopedic surgery puts patients at risk for complications." "This study should serve as a wake-up call to orthopedists that vitamin D deficiency is widespread, not necessarily tied to age, sex, or background, and screening for it should be part of routine pre-surgical care for adults." 


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Vitamin D

On Wednesday, I attended a lecture at the FDA by Michael F. Holick, PhD, MDProfessor of Medicine, Physiology and BiophysicsDirector of the Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research LaboratoryBoston University Medical Center. WOW! What a lecture. Here's the bottom line. START TAKING VITAMIN D TODAY! Dr. Holick recommends 3000 IU per day. Vitamin D deficiency is the most common medical condition wordwide. 

In summary:
1. Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors and 2000 genes are controlled by vitamin D.

2. If you live north of Atlanta, you cannot absorb any vitamin D from the sun in the winter months.

3. In Spring, Summer, and Fall you must get sun between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm to absorb vitamin D. You need 1 minimum erythemal dose (MED) of sun. 1 MED is the amount of time it takes you to get red when exposed to the sun. If it takes you 20 minutes to get a little red, stay out for 20 minutes BEFORE PUTTING ON SUNSCREEN! 30 SPF sunscreen decreases D production by 99%! A recent study showed that 87% of Australian dermatologists were vitamin D deficient.

4. You cannot get enough vitamin D from eating food. High vitamin D foods are mushrooms and oily fish (farm raised salmon have no D!). Milk has only about 100 IU of D in an 8 oz glass.

5. If you are obese smoke, are older than 50, take anti-seizure medication, or take anti-inflammatory medication, you have a very high likelihood of vitamin D deficiency.

6. It is not necessary to get your levels checked before you start taking vitamin D. You should get your levels checked as part of your annual physical blood work. If your doctor does not do this or won't do this - GET A NEW DOCTOR!

7. Your levels should be above 30, better if over 50. Over 100, even as high as 200, is still safe!

8. Vitamin D toxicity is EXTREMELY rare. You cannot get vitamin D toxicity by staying in the sun. You would have to ingest 10s of thousands of units per day for many months and still probably would not reach toxic levels. 

9. Vitamin D deficiency put you at risk for bone fracture, requiring a C-section (400% increase risk), failure to thrive (infants), osteoporosis, osteomalacia (softened bones), muscular aches and pains, MS, getting the flu, cardiovascular disease, heart failure, arteriosclerosis, heart attack (100% increase risk of dying), metabolic syndrome, diabetes, dementia, and dying (7% increased risk).

So what are you waiting for! Many of you use very poor quality and expensive D supplements you have purchased as the grocery store or vitamin store. I have done the research for MYSELF and MY FAMILY. Order Here!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it don't matter, Satchel Paige

SO, HOW OLD IS OLD?In 1900 people were considered old in their 40s; in 1960 people seemed old in their 60s; but today many do not feel old even in their 80s! The oldest Olympic medallist (a rifleman) was 72. There are many professional athletes playing into their 40s.
The bad news is that there are the key physiological changes with age that have an impact on our sports performance. The good news is that with proper training these changes can be mitigated to a large degree. For those of you who have never done a proper strength and conditioning program and diet and nutrition program there is even better news; your performance can be better than it has been in decades!

The bad news first:

Here are some of the physiological changes that occur with age:
1. Body fat percentage can increase from 12% - 16% to 19% - 26% by age 60-70 (in men) IF we do nothing about it.
2. Muscle mass: we experience a 10% decline in muscle mass between the ages of 25 and 50 and a further 45% shrinkage by our 8th decade (about 7 pounds of muscle per decade) IF we do nothing about it. We also lose about 40% of the total number of muscle fibers by age 80 (there is nothing we can do about that) and growth hormone production diminishes (we CAN do something about that).
3. Muscle power decreases by 3.5% per year and muscle strength decreases by almost 2% per year IF we do nothing about it.
4. Height can decrease by about 1cm per decade after age 40 mostly due to the lose of fluid in the discs of the spine. We CAN slow this process down dramatically!
5. Maximum heart rate declines by some 40 beats per minute between 20 and 60 and the heart muscle (myocardium) decreases in size as well.
6. VO2 Max or the maximum volume of oxygen that the body can consume during exercise diminishes by 30% - 40% by age 65 IF we do nothing about it.
7. And maybe the most important change or certainly the one we FEEL the most is the loss of elasticity in the skin, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Joints become less flexible, full range of motion more difficult and stiffness ever more apparent. And we can CERTAINLY do something about that!

30% - 50% or more of this physiological deterioration is the result of detraining (decreased or no exercise) and poor diet and nutritional habits. To stay fit, healthy and even improve our athletic performance, we must train our bodies safely and proper by combining a strength and conditioning program with a healthy diet and some important supplements. The good news will be reviewed in the next article.

Now, the good news:

Strength training is crucial to combat the increase in body fat and loss of muscle mass, power and strength. Strength training should be performed at least 2 times per week leaving at least 48-72 hours between workouts. (Note: More advanced weight training may be performed more frequently and with less time between workouts). You must pick exercises for each of the body parts: legs (calves, front thigh, rear thigh), abdomen, back, chest, shoulders, arms (biceps, triceps). Don't neglect any body parts - this will lead to imbalances in your body. Proper technique is very important - I have had too many patients come to me due to injuries caused by poor technique. Buy an anatomy book and learn the names of the muscles and what they do. This will be extremely helpful in learning how to do your exercise properly.

A quick note on machines vs. free weights. Machines can be beneficial for rehabilitation purposes when the stability of an area is in question and the stress on the area needs to be controlled. The down side of machines is that they allow movement in only one plane of motion and do not require your body to stabilize during the movement. For example, performing a machine chest press does not engage the muscles required to stabilize the entire body as with free weights. If performed with dumbbells on a stability ball, a chest press becomes a full body workout requiring the contraction of the feet, leg, thigh, abdominal, lower back, gluteal, upper back, and neck muscles as well as the chest and triceps muscles. Some machines can actually cause injury like the lower back machine in which you sit and push backwards against a pad. Research has shown this movement to be damaging to the spinal discs. This machine, often recommended as part of rehabilitation for the lower back, may eventually cause a disc herniation!

Aerobic conditioning is the next part of the puzzle. Getting your heart rate into your target zone for at least 20-30 minutes at least five days per week is a must. This will enhance your overall cardiovascular conditioning. The target zone is most easily determined by taking 220 - age= maximum heart rate. Multiply this number by 60% and 80% and this will give you your target range. Check online for target heart rate calculators that use more accurate equations. Learn to take your pulse or just buy a heart rate monitor. These monitors come with a watch and a strap that goes around your chest and sends a signal to the watch. Many of you may jog, walk on a treadmill, use an elliptical machine or ride a bike to build your conditioning. However, softball requires sprinting. This must be trained and practiced as well and is a totally different type of fitness. Believe it or not, speed can be taught! Come on over to Velocity Sports Performance and we can improve your sprinting technique.

Flexibility is the next component and for many of you may be the most important one. As we age, our tissues lose elasticity and we lose flexibility. However, if we practice different stretching techniques we can not only regain flexibility, but also become more flexible than ever. I will simply the discussion by suggesting two books, Stretching, by Bob Anderson and The Whartons' Stretch Book, by Jim and Phil Wharton. Stretching is a great review for the beginner and reviews static stretching. Static stretching is very effective at lengthening the muscles. Static stretching should be done A FTER playing sports. The key to effective static stretching is to breathe slowly and not force the stretch. Stretching is not a time to practice NO PAIN, NO GAIN. The Whartons' book reviews Active Isolated Stretching, which is the type of stretching that should be done BEFORE playing sports and can be used as part of your warm-up. Active stretching not only prepares the muscles for athletic activity, but prepares the nervous system as well. Try it and you will see great results!

Balance is the last component I will discuss. Some of the most devastating injuries to the older adult are caused slips and falls. Good balance can not only help prevent this from occurring, but when combined with good strength and flexibility, enhance your agility for playing sports as well. Try standing on one leg (in a corner so you have two walls to catch yourself if needed). Is your balance better on one side than another? Work up to one minute on each leg. Once you master that, stand on one leg and play catch (catch the ball with two hands). Don't neglect this important part of fitness!

A review of diet and nutrition is a topic for another article but suffice to say, GET OFF THE SEE FOOD DIET! Fruits, vegetables, whole grains (NOT processed carbohydrates), and lean meat are the foundation of a good diet. Beneficial supplements are: a good multi-vitamin/mineral, glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis, MSM (also for the joints), extra vitamin C, and omega-3 (fish) oils. ALWAYS check with your pharmacist to be sure there are no dangerous drug/supplement interactions!

So, how old would you think you were if you didn't know how old you are? 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cycling Does Not Cause Bone Loss

Another great post by Dr. Gabe Mirkin  
During a six-day bicycle race, the bones of world class
bicycle racers become stronger (Physiologie Appliquée, Nutrition
et Métabolisme, June 2010). Bones are constantly changing.
Certain cells called osteoblasts take calcium into bones to make
them stronger, while other cells called osteoclasts take calcium
out of bones to weaken them. During the race, hormones produced
by osteoblasts to strengthen bones increased (osteocalcin
increased by 300 percent, and C-terminal telopeptide of
type I collagen increased by 43 percent).

The theory that cycling weakens bones flies in the face
of our current understanding of bone metabolism. Any force on
bones increases, and lack of force decreases, the rate of bone
formation (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, November
2009). Astronauts in space lose bone because lack of force
blocks their ability to respond to Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1
that stimulates bone growth (Journal of Bone and Mineral Research,
March 2004). All competitive cyclists know that hammering on the
pedals while pulling up on their handle bars puts tremendous force
on every muscle and bone in their bodies, and this should
stimulate bone growth.

I cannot find any studies showing that cycling weakens
bones to increase fracture risk. Some studies show that
competitive cyclists have lower bone mineral density in their
spines than moderately-active, aged-matched men (Medicine & Science
in Sports & Exercise, February 2009; Osteoporosis International
Reports, August 2003). These studies have been interpreted to
mean that cycling increases risk for bone fractures beyond what
you would expect from just falling off the bike. Bone density
tests do not measure bones strength. They measure how much
bones block X-rays that try to pass through them. The only way to
measure bone strength is to see how much force it takes to break
a bone. 

The most likely explanations for broken bones in cyclists
are high-impact crashes and/or lack of vitamin D. I recommend
that all cyclists get a blood test called Vitamin D3 in December or
January. If it is below 75 nmol/L, they are deficient in vitamin D
and at increased risk for breaking bones. To prevent fractures,
they should do winter training in the southern sunbelt or take at
least 800 IU of Vitamin D3 per day.

A review of 12 controlled scientific studies showed
that oral vitamin D reduced non-vertebral and hip fractures in
patients over 65 years of age (Evidence-Based Medicine, October
2009). Blood levels of vitamin D below 75 nmol/L cause
parathyroid hormone levels to rise too high, which causes
osteoporosis. A main function of vitamin D is to increase calcium
absorption from the intestines into the bloodstream. When blood
levels of vitamin D fall below 75 nmol/L, levels of ionizable
calcium drop. This causes the parathyroid gland to produce large
amounts of its hormone. Higher than normal blood parathyroid
hormone levels take calcium out of bones to cause osteoporosis.
A woman's bones are strongest when she is twenty years
old. After that, she continues to lose bone for the rest of her
life, and for the first few years of menopause, the rate that she
loses bones more than triples. A study from the University of
Erlangen in Germany shows that vigorous exercise during the
menopause helps prevent osteoporosis (Archives of Internal Medicine,
May 2004). In this study, fifty women lifted weights in group
training sessions twice a week, and exercised by themselves twice
a week. They also took calcium and vitamin D. As their muscles
became stronger, so did their bones.

Sprint cyclists, and to a lesser extent distance cyclists,
have greater tibia and radius bone strength than controls, with
tibial bone measures being well preserved with age in all groups.
This suggests that "competition-based cycling and the associated
training regimen is beneficial in preserving average or above-
average bone strength surrogates into old age in men" (Medicine &
Science in Sports & Exercise, March 2009).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Strength and Conditioning Program for the Australian National Sprint Cycling Team

Here is a unique view from the strength and conditioning coach for the
Australian National Sprint Cycling Team.  I couldn't agree more with this post. Enjoy!

I am currently the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Australian National Sprint Cycling Team and have been for about five years. I am also the Strength Scientist for the South Australian Sports Institute in Adelaide, Australia, where the National Sprint Program is based. In addition, for "fun", I help coach a group of developmental sprint cyclists, which form the core of our SA State Sprint team and half of whom are now in the Top 10 sprinters in Australia, which would make them National champions in all but a handful of countries and, when I get time, I roll around the track myself.

Some points (for free):

1. We don't keep any secrets from anyone, including the Poms, the Frogs, Ze
Germans or the Yanks. In fact, people just generally don't believe what we
tell them, disagree or their programs (or minds) are too set in concrete to
change. We invite other top riders to train with us and they get faster, but
they go home and do the same old thing. The Head Coach, support staff and I
are happy to tell anyone and everyone what we do. We usually just don't get
time to sit around on chat rooms or make social chit chat on E-mail, let
alone write a book.

What Charlie Walsh and Gary West used to do with our sprinters when they
were the Head Coaches was state of the art at the time and they are both
great coaches. You will not find anyone in Australian Cycling who will
question that or say a word against what they did at the time, but times
have changed and those methods are not quite enough to consistently hit the
top spots now, although you can still be troublesome internationally if
you've got natural speed. The top speeds have gone to a new level and to
reach that level, you have to specialise your sprint riders more. I'm sure
if Charlie and Westy were still coaching the Oz team, they wouldn't be doing
exactly the same things they were doing ten years ago. They are too smart
for that.

Most of what we do is based on methods and research that have been around
for decades but have not been applied to cycling. It has mostly been used in
athletics and we have copied a lot from that and what the French and Germans
have done at various times. The Brits were formerly coached by our current
Head Track Coach, so they do a lot of similar things too. What the Dutch are
doing now, I'm not sure, but they were mostly all speed skaters before they
were top cyclists, so maybe there's something in that.

2. We are constantly trying new things and changing what we do, so what we
do this year will be different to what we did last year and so on. Australia
is a small country and is competing with some real powerhouses in terms of
talent pools, resources and money that we can't even dream of matching, so
we have to be a step ahead or we're not in the race.

3. What sprinters did 10 years ago is completely different to what most of
the top sprinters are doing now. The critical factors that determine success
or failure have changed. Tactics have changed and the tournament formats
have changed. Training that would win 10 years ago is generally not as
successful today, but every dog has his or her day and some old-school
trainers still come out on top now and again, but it is happening less and

4. Our philosophy is simple. Most events are speed endurance. To win you
need to go faster for longer than the other guy or gal. Some riders are
better at faster, some are better at longer, but they generally need a bit
of both. To have speed endurance, first you need speed. If you can't ride
5.0 for a flying 100m, you won't ride 10.1 for a 200m. Speed is hard to
train and takes a long time. Endurance is easy by comparison and we just
chuck that on at the end. To get up to speed, you need acceleration and that
means power. Power is a combination of strength and speed. The speed part
you get on the track, the strength you get in the gym. Low cadence power
(0-120rpm or so) we can train in the gym too, but high cadence power
(120-200rpm) is too fast to do in the gym and you generally need to be
chasing a maniac on a motorbike (e.g., our Head Coach) down the bank to
increase that. Or at least, someone faster than you to break the wind so you
can go overspeed.

5. Aerobic Capacity (VO2max, AT) is the base for enduros, strength is the
base for sprinters. We do three gym sessions and two track sessions for most
of the year. Road is just for recovery, to keep them a little bit lean and
to keep the sprinters out of the pub and out of trouble. It is generally a
max of 2hrs, but mostly only 1 and is very easy - talking the whole time.

6. When strength is the focus, we don't care what numbers they pump out on
track, just what they lift. When power or speed is the focus, we back the
gym off (2/wk and easier sessions) so we can get the numbers we want on the
track (3-4/wk). Generally, half the year is spent focussed on strength and
half on power and speed (roughly - depends on competitive calendar) although
we always train a bit of everything, it's just the proportion of each that
changes. The strength work is not all done in one block. We cycle through
strength, power and speed at least twice per year.

7. Gym is generally 3-4sets of 3 max lower body strength or power lifts -
early in the phase, two strength and one power, later, two power and one
strength. I don't use cleans, jerks or snatches with our current riders -
they are too technical for maximal efforts unless you have years of
experience. We do one bilateral strength lift each session for "core"
strength (Squat, Deadlift, Romanian Deadlift) - usually lower back is the
limiting factor not legs and this is the only reason I use these lifts - for
back strength in standing starts. The rest of the lifts are unilateral. How
many feet do you push each pedal with at one time? If you train bilaterally
you get stronger bilaterally and unilateral strength lags behind. If you
train unilaterally, you get stronger unilaterally. It's a neural thing.

Single-leg Press is our bread and butter. Different foot and hip positions
for different phases of pedal stroke, standing, seated, etc. I use high
speed video to match joint angles and velocities for each rider. We mainly
do it ballistically for power - throw the sled as far as you can - at
different percentages of max to match up to different muscle contraction
velocities for different phases of the acceleration (different cadences). We
do a lot of single-leg plyos on boxes, stairs, bunjee sleds, etc during
speed phases. Strength and power gains are extremely specific and do not
necessarily transfer well. When Ryan Bayley beat Sean Eadie in the
Commonwealth Games sprint final in 2002, Sean was tripling 250kg for a
parallel back squat and Ryan was tripling 120kg. On single-leg press, they
were much closer (20kg) and so was the racing.

Single-leg squats (front and back) and deadlifts usually make up the third
exercise and are as much for pelvic stability as strength. I'm going to try
single-leg pulls and cleans this year, but these will not be our primary
power exercises - more of a preparation for the work before Beijing. We have
done SL squats, deadlifts and pulls for years now and the riders are pretty
stable. An example of numbers - our best single-leg squat figures are 3 @
165kg on each leg (just over 360lbs). The weakest of the girls (who just
entered the squad this year) is 3 @ 80kg on each leg, but she only weighs
about 50kg. Two riders have done the 165kg so far. We have riders who can do
sets of standing hops onto 1m+ boxes. The lowest is for one of the girls and
is a 70cm box for sets of 8 each leg.

8. Upper body, we do two exercise per session (a push and a pull in the same
plane of movement, different each day) in general prep and two per week in
specific prep (both pulls) so they can keep hold of the handlebars in
standing starts. The girls are starting to push themselves off the bike,
their legs are so strong (around 3 @ 250kg on each leg for the girls and up
to 350kg for the guys on SLP). Abs and core, we do two per session - one
mainly flexion, one mainly extension. Some have rotational or lateral
components, but not isometric holds or pilates mumbo jumbo. If their "core
stability" is poor, they wouldn't be able to squat on one leg. Lying on the
ground and waving your legs in the air doesn't transfer to the bike. That
might annoy the physio's and guru's who make money out of Swiss balls and
all that stuff, but I tried it for three years in 20 different sports and it
didn't make any difference to performance or injury rates. They get really
good at balancing on a ball, but there's no Olympic event for that. It
doesn't transfer to the sport. Fix their technical problems in the actual
technique (soapbox time is now over).

9. A Gym session lasts about 2.5-3 hours for 6 or 7 exercises, a maximum of
33 sets including 12 warm-ups sets, so that's about one set every six
minutes or more on average. We don't set maximum rests, just minimums. If
they need longer to get their heads in gear, they take it. Ryan Bayley is
the slowest trainer in the world. Lucky he's so bloody fast, they'll pay my
bill to sit there and talk about muscle cars and heavy metal music. Reps are
a maximum of 6 for strength, and 4 - 15 for power (less for high percentages
- 60-70% max, more for low percentages - 20%, or BW for plyos) Total
contraction time for a set (not counting hang time in the air) is around
6-8s max - phosphate energy system all the way. Minimum of 2 min rest, but
that is never in danger. Only the phosphate energy system can deliver energy
fast enough for maximal work and you've got about 8s max.

10. On the track they take about 3 hours for 3 or 4 efforts including half
hour warm-up routine - same as pre-race warm-up. Warm-up, change gears,
roll-up, effort, roll down 20-30min rest, roll-up, effort, etc. Lot's more
rest. Rest usually consists of sitting on their arses, paying out on each
other, drinking Coca Cola (sponsorship please - the Coke bill is killing us)
and the occasional chocolate cake. This is especially good when there is a
joint sprinter/enduro training session. (Enduros don't get any cake -
they're too paranoid about body fat). In general prep phase, the sprinters
ride to track and gym (15-20min easy each way) and in spec prep, they drive..
Each track effort is no longer than about 15s and usually less than 10s.
Again, mainly phosphate system.

11. The one thing we do that most coaches can't cop is this. If you don't
make the target times or loads on the first effort or set, you warm down and
go home. You aren't fresh enough to train at a level that will make you
improve. If you do a PB, you warm down and go home. If you are on fire that
much you can blow yourself to pieces in a couple of sets or efforts and it
will take weeks to dig you out of the hole you put yourself in, so whatever
it is, if you PB, you stop and come back next time. This philosophy takes
everyone a while to accept, but it works. When we don't follow the rules, if
we let someone pump out a series of PBs in one session, they are almost
invariably wrecked for weeks afterwards and we never get close to quality
training during that time. Sometimes, you can see it coming, but sometimes
it just comes out of the blue. When it does, warm down, go home. Sometimes,
at lower levels you can get away with it, but the better you get, the more
capacity you have to exceed your normal limits, the more this becomes
important. Enduros don't need to do this. Everything is submaximal.

12. In general prep, the sprinters might do 2 x 1hr easy aerobic/coffee
rides per week and an easier recovery ride on days off (unless the're too
fat, then they might do 2hrs and less chocolate cake). This year, we are
doing a total of six aerobic development rides (over Christmas - fat time).
In spec prep, they just do the recovery rides.

13. We generally always do track after gym. Gym in mornings (8:30am-11/12)
track in the arvo (2:30/3pm-5:30/6pm). If the gym session is too hard, it
will bugger them for track. As I said, for about half the year, we don't
care. For the other half, I water down the gym so the track work is 100%.
There is some short term potentiation from doing some maximal strength or
power efforts but the research is not clear on time frames since everyone
does something different. This is one thing we are looking at. If we do two
maximal power ergo tests (6s with 4-5min recovery), the second one is always
much better. The same has been shown with some contrast-loading studies on
squats and plyos, etc., but an equal number of studies have shown no effect..
The time courses and stimuli are always different though, so it's hard to
compare. I think there's something in it so if you find something that works
for you, go with it. The exception is start sessions. We never do standing
starts after gym. If we do, they are always crap sessions.

14. Coming up to the major comp for the year (Worlds or Olympics), we slot
in a speed endurance block. This involves the addition of some longer
sustained efforts or sets of short efforts with low recovery once or twice
per week, usually one on an ergo and one on the track. This increases the
muscles ability to buffer hydrogen ions from the anaerobic glycolysis energy
pathway that you have to rely on when the phosphates run out and increases
the enzyme capacity of that pathway as well, so it can run at a higher
level. Adaptation is relatively fast and 6-8wks will usually give a massive
increase in this capacity.

15. Here's the logic.
Volume is a speed killer. It doesn't matter what you do, if you do a lot, it
will make you slower. The protein in your muscles (myosin heavy chain
isoforms for those who know their molecular biology) will change to a
slower, more endurance friendly type if you do too much volume. This is
individually variable, but two sessions every day of anything will make you
slower as will lots of aerobic work. You might still be fast for an enduro,
but in sprinter terms, you're still slow.

Going slow makes you slow. If you want to be able to go faster, then going
at less than maximal speed generally won't do it. If it does, then you
weren't operating at 100% before. That's OK. Most people can't switch
everything on. You have to practice it. It takes years to reach your 100%
level even without any actual physiological improvement. Most sprint events
require sustained power output at cadences over 160rpm. If you don't
practice this, you won't get good at it. Most people will spend all their
bickies just getting up to 160rpm on a decent gear, so to train maximally at
that level, you have to get up to 160rpm without using up your phosphate
stores. That's where the motor bike comes in. Use the slipstream to get up
to max speed or over and then spend your bickies. That way you work
maximally at maximal speed. You have to train your nervous system to
coordinate your muscular contractions at that speed.

Same in the gym. If all you do is slow, heavy. You get STRONG and SLOW. You
need to do most of your work at race speeds using submaximal loads but at
high speeds. If you can't do single-leg stuff, then Olympic pulling
movements are your next best option, but unloaded plyos are more important
for higher cadences. You don't need to be able to clean or snatch or jerk.
The pull phase from the floor to full hip and knee extension is where the
gains come from. What happens after that doesn't matter. You can throw the
bar out of the window and the gains will be the same. I would only recommend
this on your last rep as most gym owners get quite irate about their
equipment being heaved out into the street, as do passing pedestrians. The
overspeed work will come as you try to get away.

Use your maximum capacities at the maximum rate and in as specific a way as
possible to transfer to the bike. I can outlift all our top riders in the
gym and out-power them on the ergo, but I'm not in the race on the track. I
can't put my power through the bike into the track. I'm just not technically
as good as they are. Ryan Bayley may look like a monkey humping a tennis
ball when he sprints but most of his power is getting onto the track.


Weight training for enduros - the same strategies apply but maximal strength
and power are less critical. All endurance riding, even the bunch sprint at
the end, is really submaximal. A little bit of gym regularly helps to
maintain the structural integrity of the body, prevent imbalances and
prepare you for crashes, but the real gains come on the road. Racing is the
best training. All our best track enduros race on the road in Europe. They
come together for camps to touch up their track skills, but all of that was
learnt as juniors and in domestic track racing on the way up. For strength
endurance on the bike, ride up hills in the saddle on bigger gears. That was
the only strength work out team pursuit did for the last three years and
they won everything there was to win with a bucket load of world records to
boot. Incidentally, they are also the fastest starters."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cycling: Off the Bike Training

Off the Bike Training
Free weights, machines, Yoga, Pilates, Kettlebells...which is best for a cyclist? Do any of them work?

The answers are 1. they all can be effective depending upon individual needs and 2. they all can work or be quite detrimental depending upon who supervising the training (and I hope it is supervised!)

For starters, you must have a proper initial evaluation, commonly called a functional movement screen, to determine your muscle imbalances, i.e. muscle weakness and muscle inflexibility. The next step is to determine why these problems exist. Is it trigger points/scar tissue binding these areas and preventing movement and proper neural flow, is joint dysfunction adding to the problem, is it your daily posture and lack of proper ergonomics? Once these areas are detected and the problems uncovered an off the bike training program can be designed to improve performance and prevent injury. 

What makes CycleLifeUSA so unique is that after I perform this evaluation, I work closely with Colin Shah (our Director of Fitness Training) and Josh Frick (our Bike Fit expert) to write a proper off the bike training program that will address your specific needs. Balancing your body will pay big dividends as you will notice a big improvement in your cycling.

The next several posts will address the specifics of this type of program.   Stay tuned..............