[This is a guest post by Kyle O'Toole is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with National Strength and Conditioning Association and a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer with National Academy of Sports Medicine. He is currently an Athletic Development Intern at Athletic Lab and you can reach him on Instagram @beyourownbest4life.] Blood flow restriction training has received a lot of attention lately but many still have questions on the potential benefits. This infographic from Kyle O'Toole provides great insight on when it might be useful.
[Harrison Yi received his bachelor's degree in Business Management with a focus on entrepreneurship from Texas Tech University. Harrison is currently a part of Athletic Lab's coaching mentorship program.] The importance of inspiratory and expiratory muscle training has long been an area of focus in healthcare and general wellness in the public. Most commonly seen in different types of meditation, yoga, and movement and mobility training, focused and purposeful breathing has been shown to have therapeutic, stress reducing effects. These days, it is common for competitive athletes to implement some sort of dedicated breath training on low intensity or rest days. More sport specific training sessions by nature will also work breath training that is related to the sport. Powerlifting, for example, has a breathing/bracing component to the sport that is a skill that the athletes work on most training sessions. Breathing patterns will be different when comparing ballistic movements (e.g. sprinting) to slower rates of force development (e.g. long distance running). Breaking this down even further: athletes playing different positions in the same sport will have different respiratory patterns. In American football, a quarterback, kicker, and running back will cover wide-ranging respiratory inputs and outputs. Main points of discussion will be sport-specific considerations and respiratory patterns along with inspiratory warm-ups, training, and diaphragmatic breathing. Sport-Specific Influences on Breathing One study looking at the respiratory differences in the sports of basketball, handball, soccer, and water polo set out to find if any anthropometric/demographic qualities correspond with lung capacity and function.1 The cross-sectional study tested 150 male athletes that played at an elite (national/international) level of their sport for at least 15 hours a week. Anthropometric evaluations measured height, weight, body fat percentage, and ultimately, BMI. [...]
[Sharan Gopalan achieved his bachelors and masters in the field of Computer Science. He has been coaching soccer at YMCA and NCFC Youth over the past 2 years as a volunteer and is an aspiring youth soccer coach. He will returning to university to pursue his masters in sports science. Sharan is currently a part of Athletic Lab's coaching mentorship program.] How do you develop talented athletes? Practice makes perfect, as the age-old saying goes. So why not have them train repeatedly and deliberately from a young age? Surely that ought to do it? Probably not the best idea. For years, practitioners and researchers have been debating the merits of early specialization versus early sampling and the argument rages on. Let’s get a hold on what these terms mean before moving ahead with the discussion. Specialization in sport, as the name suggests, simply means picking a sport and sticking with it through dedicated practice sessions. Athletes accumulate hour upon hour of practice and training time in that one sport and its movements, which is collectively termed as deliberate practice. This is a performance-driven approach where the sole aim is to improve the athlete and prepare them for competition. Sampling on the other hand involves athletes playing different sports and getting a feel for different kinds of movements. Athletes spend more time playing games and performing different activities, collectively termed as deliberate play. The goal here is to create a fun and engaging environment that affords well-rounded development of the athlete (1). On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be anything innately wrong with either approach. However, the key aspect is timing. Guided by Ericsson’s theory, proponents of early specialization suggest that deliberate practice [...]
[Robert Duncan achieved his bachelor of science in exercise science from Appalachian State University and masters in Kinesiology and Sports Studies from East Tennessee State University. He has participated in multiple internships with high schools, at the collegiate level, as well as in the private sector. Robert is currently a part of Athletic Lab’s coaching mentorship program] Why exactly do people go to the gym and resistance train? Whether it is to improve performance in sport, change body composition, or to get “tone” you may not be training with the right intensity to optimally stimulate a hypertrophic response. Muscle hypertrophy is the technical term for muscle growth, and it refers to the increase in the size of your muscle cells. The most efficient way to produce a hypertrophic response is high-intensity resistance training, equal to or greater than 80% 1RM and eccentric contractions at 100 - 120% 1RM. It is at these intensities that integrated electromyographic activity has been shown to increase. This elevated neural activation contributes to an increased muscle tonus, an electrophysiological phenomenon, and to strength gains early on in the training period, with muscle hypertrophy contributing to further strength increases later in training. With the increase in the cross-sectional area of a muscle being directly correlated to the increase in maximum force production potential of the muscle. Muscle tonus refers to an increased ionic flow across the cell membrane and gives the muscle a firm appearance. Thus, if toned muscle are the goal, strength is the best method for achieving this appearance. To begin, previous research has shown training with loads at or above 80% 1RM and eccentric contractions at or above 100 - 120% 1RM allow for 10 reps at the [...]
[Hayden Giuliani recently finished her Master’s degree at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where she now works as a research coordinator. She is currently in the Coaching Mentorship Program at Athletic Lab.] It seems like the best way to improve running long distances would be to run long distances. Endurance breeds endurance. Just like the best way to get better at a particular sport would be to play that sport. Over the years, coaches and researchers alike have begun to take a different perspective on that thought. Can doing a seemingly contradictory form of training actually improve endurance performance? If we sort through the research, it seems the answer is yes. In the article, I will break down the characteristics of endurance athletes, the types and descriptions of sprint training, and the implementation of sprint work into endurance training. Endurance athletes are well-conditioned individuals that perform long events, such as running, cycling, or triathlons. Endurance-trained persons typically exhibit certain characteristics, including, but not limited to, high maximal oxygen intake (VO2 max), efficient running economy, a high proportion of type I fibers, and leaner body composition. This simply means they can perform at a high capacity for a long period of time, yet they also tend to be less proficient at strength and power tasks. The typical training program for endurance athletes, which includes runners, cyclists, or triathletes to name a few, would include multiple longer bouts throughout a week’s time. When individuals think of aerobic training, it tends to be very compartmentalized. For instance, there is the immediate energy resource of creatine phosphate, in contrast to lipids which are used over prolonged periods of time. This compartmentalization isn’t necessary; the systems are always working and [...]
[Alex Cassella earned her undergraduate degree in Exercise Science at SUNY Fredonia. She now works as a personal trainer and powerlifting coach in the Chapel Hill and Apex area. She is currently in the Coaching Mentorship Program at Athletic Lab] Deload Deload is a term that suggests a decrease in training volume over a period of time in a training program. This is not the same as just taking a week of training off completely, rather is a tactic that coaches and athletes use to promote a stronger recovery. The ideal outcome of a deload is to produce a stronger athlete in the meso- or macro-cycle. Strength and endurance athletes can benefit from this training protocol physically and mentally. Training is a stress that the athletes place upon themselves, breaking their bodies down training session after training session. Dialing in recovery should be one of the primary focuses in their training cycle. They are going to eventually need a “break”, in a way that does not take them completely away from training, but allows them to come back stronger. Fatigue One of the models we can first reference to is the fitness-fatigue model (Below Figure). This gives us the basic understanding of how our bodies work in terms of training to come back stronger, faster, more powerful, etc. at the next training session. The model assures us that as long as we supercompensate, there will be an improvement in performance. The fine line though comes in that ability to recover over a period of time. If things like nutrition, sleep, and proper hydration are not up to standard, we will have a hard time getting over that base level of fitness. What we do not [...]
Please enjoy the following Haiku? Judge watches Weight is lifted Signals down -Anonymous Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Brian and Chris are back at it again. Last week the boys unveiled the secret behind what makes an Athletic Lab Weightlifting Meet an exciting and great time for all! In this week’s episode, they discuss: meet day strategy, the importance of hydration and sleep, and general meet expectations. Please enjoy all three (of five) videos below along with lots of supplemental materials! See why critics are calling this week’s video an “edge of your seat, action-packed roller coaster ride” and why they described it as, “thought-provoking and controversial”. In other news, start prepping your questions! Because in our final video of the series we will be conducting a Q&A of your questions. When submitting questions to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, please tag @athleticlab on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’ll get our research time right on it! REGISTER for our Winter Weightlifting Classic on Saturday, February 17th, 2018 here. Part 3: Download our Hydration Chart here. Download the TrueSport Nutrition Guide here. Download the IWF Rule Book here. Part 2: Download our Warm-up calculator for Snatch, and Clean & Jerk here. Part 1: Download our free "Beginner's guide to competing in the sport of weightlifting" here. Be sure to like, follow, subscribe.
[Riley Edmonds from St. Bonaventure University in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in Exercise Science and is currently in the Coaching Mentorship Program at Athletic Lab.] Squatting is one of the most natural movements we do, and arguably one of the most important exercises we can use in training. The odds are everyone that has ever done any bit of exercise has probably been taught how to squat in one form or another. But what if I told you that what you were taught or are teaching is wrong? Okay, well maybe not totally wrong but certainly, the information currently in circulation by many coaches is a little outdated. Specifically, the idea that the knees should never pass the toes in a barbell back squat is wrong and should no longer be a common cue used by coaches. Imagine if you will two people, one fairly tall person and one fairly short person. In general, taller people have a relatively short torso but long legs, while shorter people have a relatively long torso but short legs. Now, when these two individuals perform a restricted squat, that is, a squat in which the knees are not supposed to pass the toes, the end result will be two very different looking squats. What you will probably see is the shorter individual will be able to squat just fine, keeping good posture and balance. (1) However, what you will typically see for a taller individual is a very hunched-over looking squat, with very poor posture and less balance. The simplest reason being that as the length of the leg, specifically the femur, increases relative to the torso, the center of mass will shift further backward, away from the center of [...]
"A long time ago in a training facility far, far away...." That’s right, we said it. You heard it. You’ve probably watched it. The rumors are true. We’re producing a special Five Episode Web Series leading up to our 2018 Winter Weightlifting Classic on Saturday, February 17. Coaches Chris and Brian are putting together five (that’s right, count it…one, two, three, four…. fiiifth) videos leading up to the event. This week we bring you a “Beginner’s Guide to Competing” if you will. Chock full of color commentary and a light dash of science and psychology. So, pop your popcorn, make sure your smartphone is charged. Make sure you're following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and subscribed to our YouTube Channel because it’s about to get serious…. seriously, wild. We can promise you our series will be equal parts fun, informative, and engaging, and backed by science. We have created this pie-chart as proof: So if you haven’t checked out our most recent video on why you should compete...no scratch that, think of it more as a video confirming your decision to compete, then fix your lookin' balls on the video at the bottom of this post. On a more serious note, please download the related supplementary material each week. This week’s material is “A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Competing in Weightlifting” packed with information on: how to register for an event, weight classes, a link to a downloadable version of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) handbook, and links to our very own Athletic Weightlifting Team. Enjoy and we’ll see you in a week!
[Michael Bruno recently finished his undergraduate degree at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. He is currently in the Coaching Mentorship Program at Athletic Lab] The fitness industry is a fickle one with fallacies that continue long after the truth is uncovered. One fallacy I've found in the fitness community is that energy systems of the body are thought of as timed switches. Traditional thought has been during the onset of activity it’s the anaerobic alactic for 15 sec, followed by the anaerobic lactic up to 1:30 and anything over two minutes would be the aerobic system. And that depending upon time demands of your sport you should train the appropriate system exclusively. On the contrary, the systems are not independent of each other, but more so dependent upon each other. The ceiling of the next system depends on the development of subsequent system development starting with the aerobic system then lactic, and finally alactic system. If you think of the energy systems as a pyramid the aerobic system would be the base. The bigger the base the larger the alactic and lactic energy systems can be. The more I read the research I feel as though the aerobic system has gotten the worst reputation possible, the ugly duckling of the energy systems. When people think of the aerobic system, they think long distance runs, fragile, non-explosive athletes. If you were to tell me that the aerobic system although produces the most amount of ATP per substrate but does so at the expense of time, I would say that it would be of no benefit of any field sport athlete. But interesting enough if you’re a team sport athlete this is the most important system and is the [...]