Training plans are written with the intent to progress athletes to the top level of performance. Coaches take time to write out detailed programs of different exercises, reps, sets, rest intervals, and manipulate all different types of variables to elicit a training response we feel is beneficial for the athlete. We also look at each sport or event as a whole and break down every part to make sure we have hit every possible avenue we can control in training. Where some coaches or programs are lacking is an essential part of most if not all sports: eccentric specific training.
Eccentrics are a type of muscle contraction, in which the muscle increases tension as it lengthens. This is in contrast to a concentric contraction where the muscle shortens while producing tension. Concentric training is often the focal point of most training programs. For proof, just look at the testing in a typical strength and conditioning program. They are almost always all tests of concentric contraction strength. I use all the same tests most coaches use, but just because the test is a concentric movement, we should not forget about the very important eccentric component that is also present. I like to use the back squat as an example of how under appreciated the eccentric component is. When we test athletes we focus so much on the ascent of the squat. However, if we focus solely on ascending, we have missed out on half the movement, the eccentric portion. Eccentric contractions are considerably stronger than concentric contractions (Higbie, Cureton, Warren, and Prior 2173-2181) so during the eccentric component of concentric movements we are not maximizing the training stimulus for eccentric contractions like we should. To get stronger do we continue to lift the same percentages at the same rep schemes every training session? No, we get stronger and increase the load progressively each week or how ever the progressions are designed. So for the eccentric contractions and portions of lifts, if our loads are focused towards concentric, we are not training a big portion of the lift like we should, due to the strength discrepancy.
If you are still unsure on the point of training this type of muscle activation, you should look at your sport and ask yourself do you sprint? Do you jump? Do you ever have to decelerate your body quickly? These movements all require significant eccentric contributions. To perform these movements efficiently and safely with avoidance of injury we need to train for what athletes will do in their sport.
Here some ways we train our athletes with eccentric specific movements.
I know concentric lifts will be the go to lifts for most coaches and they are a vital part of training for sport. But understand all parts are connected in training, so if we neglect a portion of any movement or training specific to the sport, we put our athletes in a position to under achieve or get injured. If you want to be at the top of your game in all aspects make sure to add eccentric specific movements to your next training program.
1.) Higbie, Elizabeth, Kirk Cureton, Gordon Warren, and Berry Prior. “Effects of concentric and eccentric training on muscle strength, cross-sectional area, and neural activation.” Journal of Applied Physiology. 81.5 (1996): 2173-2181. Web. 16 Mar. 2013.
Our USA Weightlifting Level 1 course is coming up soon. We had a huge turnout at our last Level 1 course. In fact, it was one of the largest in the history of the program. The USAW Level 1 course will be held on April 13th and 14th at Athletic Lab. This course is excellent for all athletes, strength & conditioning coaches and weightlifting coaches. If you’re a strength and conditioning coach, this is a must-have credential for high school, collegiate, and professional level coaching.
Coaches can register and find more information on the course here: REGISTER
Do you have what it takes to compete in the 2013 Reebok CrossFit games? The first step starts with the CrossFit Open which begins March 6th and runs until April 7th. We want everyone at Athletic Lab to have a chance to participate in all of the Open workouts. For this reason, we are going to have the RX+ workouts every Friday be the WOD’s for the Open. We will video tape each workout for review and treat it just as we would a benchmark workout. If you are unable to make it in on a Friday for the workout and still want to participate, the WOD can be either made up or redone in the advanced class or open gym times. To be able to participate in the RX+ Friday WOD’s you must be registered with Athletic Lab for the CrossFit Open online. Sign up now.
Athletic Lab has a vibrant and supportive community of people full of great inspirational stories. These people range from professional athletes, high schoolers and any-thing but ordinary ‘joe blows.’ Moving forward we’ll be profiling one member a month. Meet Robert Wolfe.
That was the theme Robert Wolfe and his best friend had set for a friendly competition between them just over a year ago and “No more excuses” was their motto. The goal? lose thirty pounds before each of their thirtieth birthdays and they would need to do whatever it took to make it happen. The friend? A good looking ex High School football player who had put on more than a few pounds over the years while Robert was the high school tennis player who was experiencing the same. The game was on… sort of…
A spreadsheet was created, shared and weight, food and workout were recorded daily. Robert would turn 30 on October 24th and was holding steady at 240 lbs. “I checked my weight everyday” he says. However, the long days spent at work as an accountant in New Haven CT., and the horrendous commute to home and gym did nothing to assist in helping to win the competition. Additionally, his wife Leslie, also a member of Athletic Lab, had recently graduated from grad school and secured a great job in the Triangle area which meant relocation. Robert was on board, but meant he was going to have to go on job interviews, again. ” I used to wear regular clothes to work, you know, a button up and jeans or whatever.. and then I had prep to start interviewing” he mentions. ” I could hardly fit in to my suit…I couldn’t button my pants or my jacket” , he said and enough was enough.
Fast forward a few months after tax season and finding a home to purchase, Robert and Leslie literally and strategically found a home to buy that was close to a gym. Initially it was O2 in Cary that they honed in on, but they discovered Athletic Lab and gave it a shot. The rest they say is history!
Robert looks and feels like a different person. 25 lbs lighter, much more leaner and 3-4 pant sizes later, Robert has recognized that its not his body weight he needs to worry about, but his body fat percentage and his hard work is paying off. What he likes about Athletic Lab is the attention each member receives when they come in to train, the community, great coaching and the real results one gets by putting in the effort. Robert goes on to say, “Its been 8 months since we joined and we are really happy”.
Cannot forget the Happiness factor and we at Athletic Lab are happy Robert and Leslie found us too!!
[This post is written by John Grace, CSCS - Athletic Development Coach at Athletic Lab]
Those of you that have been with us for some time know that our movement standards are much stricter than many other places. One movement in particular we are much stricter on is the burpee. Burpees can be a great conditioning exercise if used and performed correctly. You may see people performing what we call “flop burpees” at other gyms and at CrossFit competitions. Although flop burpees may be faster, you put yourself at a much higher risk for injury as well as lose a majority of the training effect burpees are designed for. These are generally the two goals of most people when they go to the gym: bang-for-your-buck training and to NOT get injured.
When you drop into the plank of the burpee as well as through the pushup, from a side view, we like to see a straight line from the head to the toes. This ensures that the necessary musculature is engaged to perform the exercise. You want to avoid ever having a big dip in the hips or lower back. Any severe dip in the lower back or hips can put undue stress on the spine and raise the risk for injury. One way to correct this issue is to flex the abs and quads. Flexing the abs will lock the pelvis in place and keep it from dipping toward the floor. Also, flexing the quads will lock the knees in place to allow for a proper pushup.
These tips will help ensure you get the best workout while reducing risk for injury. Keep this in mind as you fatigue, because when you are in a state of fatigue most people just think about finishing the workout and not necessarily on how to perform the movement as safely as possible.
Today is National Signing Day for High School athletes. Athletes around the country will be committing to play their respective sport at colleges and universities around the Unites States. Today, we would like to congratulate three of our athletes who signed their letters of intent. Congratulations to Emily Libero, Anna Witte, and Rayna Yvars. Emily will be attending University of Maryland for Softball, Anna will be attending Penn State for Soccer, and Rayna will be attending UNC Chapel Hill for Pole Vault. These athletes have put in years of work to their respective sports and we wish them all the best as they compete at the next level.
If you walk into the grocery store you are going to see aisles and aisles of food, drinks, sauces, and many different snacks. We load up our carts with many different things, but often don’t actually know what we are about to eat? Most people walk around the store basing their entire purchase off the front of the package, which often tells you nothing but lies. The packages are lined with vibrant colors and big bold print stating “low fat” or “reduced fat”, which we all know means it is extremely healthy and loaded with nutrients, right? Wrong. The truth is located on a small printed rectangle strategically placed on the back, a food label.
How many times have you read the food label before deciding on buying the item? The answer to that question most often times is “not a lot.” Is this because of a lack of knowledge with the content of food labels? If this is the case, we should take it upon ourselves to find answers or ask professionals about what each category means and what to look for. Is it a time constraint? Reading a food label can be done in a matter of seconds, so I doubt this to be the answer. Honestly it may be a combination of things but I know one thing for certain, reading food labels have affect on people’s dietary intake. In an article published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine states
Analyses revealed patients eating diets lower in fat were much more likely (51% versus 26%) than patients whose diets were higher in fat to report labels influencing their food purchase decisions, as were patients eating diets higher in fruits, vegetables, and fiber. Patients with high blood pressure were 63% more likely than those with normal or low blood pressure to look for sodium on the nutrition label, but no more likely to look for other nutrition label information. Similarly, patients with high cholesterol were more likely than those with normal or low cholesterol to look for saturated fat and cholesterol on the label, but no more likely to look for other nutrition label information.” (Kreuter, Brennan, Scharff, and Lukwago 277-283).
As you can see reading a food label does have an effect our food choices.
When reading these labels some key points be aware of are
Saturated and Trans Fat content(under.5g of trans fat doesn’t show up on the label)
Amount of sodium
Serving size and what you are actually ingesting
The actual Ingredients(very important)
What Ingredients are listed first( First means highest percentage in product)
How many ingredients are listed( Fewer are usually better)
If artificial sweeteners or processed sweeteners were used (Such as Aspartame and High fructose corn syrup)
Food labels can be tricky at times and hard to understand, but reading them can be the first step into making a healthy dietary change.
Kreuter, MW, LK Brennan, DP Scharff, and SN Lukwago. “Do nutrition label readers eat healthier diets? Behavioral correlates of adults’ use of food labels..” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 13.4 (1997): 277-283. Print.
[Athletic Lab is putting a team together to compete at the Durham Indoor Rowing Trials to try to claim the CrossFit Cup. The CrossFit gym with the greatest number of points at the end of the day, will win the cup. To find out more about the D.I.R.T. and view age brackets, rules, and to register click HERE. Remember to add Athletic Lab – Cary CrossFit as your affiliate when you sign up.]
[This post is written by John Grace, CSCS - Athletic Development Coach at Athletic Lab]
Like every year, a series of races, challenges, and competitions are going to hit the calendars. The Krispy Kreme Challenge and the Durham Indoor Rowing Trials are coming up in the next month. This is the second post in the series of two posts series that will discuss some training techniques you can use leading up to the competition. The first post can be read here. This second post will discuss some training guidelines for the Durham Indoor Rowing Trials.
The Durham Indoor Rowing Trials (D.I.R.T.) offers four separate events that span across a range of age brackets. The athlete can compete in as many or all of the following heats: 500m, 1000m, 2000m, and 30min row for distance. In a article published in The CrossFit Journal, Peter Dreissigacker, the founder of Concept2 and competitive Indoor Rower, discusses some race strategy and training leading into a competition.
One really great point Peter brought up is “knowing” the distance. A 400m sprinter wouldn’t come off the starting line the same 100m sprinter would. A 400m runner would have to leave some “in the tank” to finish the race strong. This same strategy applies to rowing; if you come out of the gate too hard, you will inevitably find yourself trying to hold on just to finish with a respectable time.
Rowing is non-impact; therefore high volumes of training can be tolerated leading up to the event. Rowing intervals are a great way to build work capacity as well as train power output. Intervals are generally set at a distance that is a fraction of the total race distance. Ideally, when rowing set distance intervals, each subsequent interval is rowed in less time.
Here are few interval workouts the author has listed to train for the following set distances:
2000m: 6x500m with 1 minute easy paddle rest; rest for 5 minutes, 1x500m for speed.
2000m: 3x1000m with 2 minute easy paddle rest.
500m: 6x250m with 1 minute easy paddle rest; rest for 5 minutes, 1x250m for speed.
There should always be a purpose to any training session. According to Peter, the general purpose of these interval workouts should be to:
Teach your body how to row at a high intensity
Get mentally prepared to rowing at high intensities
Be able to row comfortable at your race pace
Develop a race plan
Dreissigacker, Peter. Row Fast: How to Prepare for an Erg Test. The CrossFit Journal. Issue 54. February 2007. (Reprint)
[This post is written by John Grace, CSCS - Athletic Development Coach at Athletic Lab]
Like every year, a series of races, challenges, and competitions are going to hit the calendars. The Krispy Kreme Challenge and the Durham Indoor Rowing Trials are coming up in the next month. This two part series will discuss some training techniques you can use leading up to the competition. This first post will discuss some training guidelines for the Krispy Kreme Challenge and road races throughout the year.
The Krispy Kreme challenge is an odd one. It’s a 5 mile race that requires runners to wolf down one dozen Krispy Kreme donuts at the 2.5 mile marker, all while holding them down on the 2.5 mile trek back to the start line. The race is coming up quickly, but this training template can help with future races as well. This particular training model operates on a seven day cycle and involves intervals, tempo runs, and long runs to maximize training stimulus.
Day 1: Intervals – Interval training involves a pace near maximum effort. As an example, for a 5 mile race, you could run 10 reps of a quarter mile with a work to rest ratio of 1:1.
Day 2: Steady state run – This is meant to work as a recovery day. The steady state refers to “exercise intensity at which maximal lactate production is equal to maximal lactate clearance.”(1). This type of training should produce very little fatigue and no burning sensation in the muscle.
Day 3: Tempo runs: Tempo running involves intensity at or slightly higher that race pace. This type of training may also be called lactate threshold training. This is the “I hope I don’t throw up” training that you may have experienced in our CF Endurance class. Since you won’t be able to sustain the intensity level above race pace for the given distance, running a quarter to a third of the race at this pace is enough.
Day 4: Steady state run – Same as Day 2
Day 5: Intervals – On the second interval day for a 5 mile competition, 5 reps of 1 mile intervals with a work to rest ratio of 1:1 would work well.
Day 6: Long run – This intensity is very similar to a steady state run. The expectation of a long run is running at least as long as the race distance.
Day 7: Rest – A light jog, mobility, and flexibility work well here also.
A training technique to use specifically for the Krispy Kreme Challenge is to eat a half dozen or even a dozen of donuts before running. This can help you get used to what it feels like to run on a full stomach. I wouldn’t suggest to make this a big part of training, but it never hurts to know what you’re going to encounter before you do it.
This outline can work well, but as always, the body adapts to training stimulus and as your race time improves, your intensities should increase as well. This will help to provide a great enough stimulus for the adaptation process to continue.
Baechle, T. Earle, R. (2008). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics