[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 [...]
[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.] As we age, there are obvious changes in our performance and the way our body responds to loads or exercise. Many adaptations occur within the body, specifically the muscles, that allow for these more global decrements. But, for some, it seems there is less of a decrease in performance and quality of life. Exercise is the key method in attenuating many of the muscular adaptations with aging. The primary adaptations that occur with aging are decreased muscle size (sarcopenia), decreased muscle strength (dynapenia), and decreased muscle quality, which other muscle architectures and structural adaptations contribute to. With a growing number of older adults, this is a very relevant topic to discuss. Muscle Size Sarcopenia differs from atrophy in that it occurs despite lifestyle and weight changes. Beyond the overall decrease in lean mass and inherent increase in body fat percentage, research has shown that muscle size decreases 25-36% in the thigh musculature with aging, compared to younger adults. (Lexell, Overend) An invasive study by Lexell and colleagues found that size changes within the vastus lasteralis can begin as early as 25 years and decrease as much as 10% by age 50. This loss of muscle is different between the upper and lower body, with the lower body reducing at a rate twice that of the upper body. This decrease in size is caused by a reduction in muscle fiber size and quantity. Neuromuscular fiber changes occur through a continual process of denervation and reinnervation, which leads to not only a loss of fibers [...]
[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.] A rotational athlete is any athlete who uses twisting within the torso in order to perform their sport-specific movement. This is done in order to transfer forces generated from the lower body through the core to accelerate the upper body and dominant limb. Sports that incorporate this type of movement include, but are not limited to, baseball (swinging and throwing), tennis, and a few field events in track & field. The ball (or object) can be either stationary or be moving, but the intent is the same – accelerate it outwardly, as hard and/or fast as possible. These movements are very dependent on the adequate use of the body’s kinetic chain. In this case, we are speaking of a closed kinetic chain, due to the foot (feet) being planted on the ground. Ground reaction forces generated from foot contact and the strength of the lower body are transferred through the pelvis and torso to move the upper extremity, whether that is one or both arms. Because humans are naturally stronger in their lower body, it is very important to be able to properly utilize the body’s intrinsic kinetic chain. This is will increase the amount of strength and power that they can generate, but also minimize the stresses at the shoulder and upper extremity joints that contribute to injuries. First, let’s discuss the kinetic chain a little bit further… Simply speaking, a kinetic chain refers to the body’s segments that are linked to allow for the sequential transfer of forces and motions. This [...]
[Michael Bruno recently finished his undergraduate degree at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. He is currently in the Coaching Mentorship Program at Athletic Lab] Post Activation Potentiation (PAP) is a phenomenon by which muscular performance is temporarily enhanced as a result of the subsequent conditioning activity. PAP can be used to improve short-term performance in sprinting, throwing, swimming, and jumping capabilities. This is the underlying mechanism that training methods such as complex, contrast, and French contrast all seem to improve. Complex training involves a heavy compound exercise, followed by plyometric exercise with similar movement pattern (i.e. half squat and vertical jump), aimed at improving rate of force development or the ability to put force into the ground over a short period of time. Whereas contrast training is a heavy set followed by a relatively lighter set over a period of time, aimed at improving maximum strength with use of submaximal drop sets. Although there are many ways to implement PAP into workouts, we are still unclear as to the underlying physiology of PAP. In the past decade, there has been a significant amount of research done on PAP and rightly so because of its wide range of performance improvements. The research has shown that there are three proposed mechanisms behind PAP. The phosphorylation of regulatory light chains, increased recruitment of higher order motor units, and changes in pennation angle of the muscle fibers. Phosphorylation or the adding of a phosphate molecule is done through catalyzation of an enzyme called myosin light chain kinase. This kinase is activated when calcium molecules are released from sarcoplasmic reticulum during muscle contraction. After being released, they then bind to calmodulin. This phosphorylation is thought to potentiate subsequent contractions by [...]
[Frank Muntis recently finished his Master's degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Louisville and is currently in the Coaching Mentorship Program at Athletic Lab.] While there are countless variations of volume and intensity in resistance training programming, a commonly under-appreciated variable of periodization is training frequency. I first became interested in the subject about a year ago when I decided to try a high-frequency squat program to help me break a plateau I was in and saw incredible progress. I not only broke through my plateau, but it seemed as if I was setting PR’s almost every other day. The more I explored the subject, the more fascinated I became. The Norwegian Frequency Project Many of you have likely heard of what is often referred to as the Norwegian Frequency Project. The study consisted of 16 elite competitive powerlifters, half men, and half women, between the ages of 18 and 25. They were split into either a high frequency (6day/wk) training program or low frequency (3day/wk) training program with the same exercises, routine and weekly volume held constant between the groups. The high-frequency group had nearly double the strength and hypertrophy gains as the low training frequency group. It is important to note that these were not your everyday gym goer. The participants in this study were highly trained national level Norwegian powerlifters. This study has sparked a lot of interest into high-frequency training programs. It is my goal to speak about what the limited research indicates about the efficacy of these high-frequency programs and who they are best suited for. Effects on Neuromuscular Strength First, let’s look at the possible effects of high-frequency programs on gains in neuromuscular strength. The literature is [...]
[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.] So what do we really know about strength training? What happens beneath the surface to increase our strength and power – that ever so desired outcome? Strength training has been growing in popularity not only for sport but also for the general population, but sometimes we don’t always understand the benefits it provides for our body. Neuromuscular changes underlie what happens when you strength train, i.e. growth of muscles, increased strength and power and increased anaerobic capacity. We will be discussing both what happens within the muscles and also the brain’s communication to them. Before we proceed, I want to be clear about the kind of strength training I am talking about. I am designing this post at the type of strength training that high-level athletes and advanced lifters use. It is designed to impose a progressive overload, with high intensities and athletic movements. I would like to emphasize that strength training should be an 1) overload and 2) progressive in nature. (It should be considered that not all research studies follow this guideline, but the ones mentioned here generally did.) With an organized strength training plan, we typically see increases in strength (either tested as a 1- repetition maximum or maximal voluntary contraction), increases in power and speed, and greater muscle size (hypertrophy). The extent to which these adaptations occur can vary, based on age, gender, and training age. In addition, training load/ intensity, volume, and frequency also play critical roles that I will discuss throughout. In a long-term study [...]