On Building Strength & Stamina

Wayne Westcott

Fitness Tips from Dr. Wayne Westcott:

 

This week I offer some valuable tips on attaining and maintaining total fitness from my friend and mentor Dr Wayne Westcott. For those who may not know him, Wayne L. Westcott, PhD, CSCS, is the Fitness Research Director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts. His tenure as a strength training expert spans more than 35 years as an athlete, coach, teacher, professor, researcher, writer, and speaker.

Dr. Westcott says: “My interest in strength training began with my personal weight lifting program in high school that seemed beneficial for my track performance but was strongly discouraged by my coaches. I decided to learn more about the outcomes of resistance training and how to best develop a safe, effective and efficient program of strength exercise.”

Influences: The three key influences on my direction in the field of strength training were the exercise protocols promoted by Drs. DeLorme and Watkins, who initiated sensible strength exercise in the United States in the late 1940s; Dr. Richard Berger, who studied various combinations of sets and repetitions in the early 1960s; and Arthur Jones, who advocated brief, high-intensity strength workouts in the early 1970s, and designed specialized equipment (Nautilus machines) to facilitate the strength-building process.

Specificity: Unfortunately, fitness is more specific than it is general. I believe that the most practical way to improve cardiovascular fitness is through basic endurance exercise, such as running, cycling, stepping, swimming, rowing, etc., for about 30 minutes per session, at a heart rate of about 70 to 80 percent of maximum, 3 to 4 days per week. In my opinion, the most practical means for increasing muscular fitness is through standard strength training, using progressively heavier resistance to perform one hard set of exercise (8 to 12 repetitions with approximately 70 to 80 percent of maximum weight-load), 2 to 3 days per week with proper technique and controlled speed. Such a workout requires about 30 minutes, which combined with 30 minutes of endurance exercise requires only 1 hour of physical activity, 3 days a week, and should be acceptable for most individuals.

Creating efficient workouts: Most people who do not exercise regularly give time constraints as their main reason for avoiding physical activity. Training protocols for both strength and endurance exercise, may be accomplished by single-set and high-intensity strength training techniques that eliminate lengthy rest/recovery periods necessary in multiple-set training programs. Combine this with interval training protocols for endurance exercise sessions which provide more cardiovascular effort in less time by alternating higher and lower effort bouts of aerobic activity. One may also create combination circuit training routines for the really time-pressured person who must perform concurrent strength and endurance exercise.

 

Circuit Strength Training: Circuit training is an excellent means for maximizing your strength development while minimizing your exercise duration. By performing a hard set of one exercise (e.g., leg extension), then doing a hard set of a different exercise (e.g., leg curl), you can address all of the major muscle groups in relatively short order. This is possible because you do not need to rest between sets, as each exercise works a fresh muscle group. Training without rests is also beneficial from a “fatigue-resistant” perspective, as your cardiovascular system works at a relatively high level for the entire exercise session.

Extending the set Vs multiple sets: Two sets of the same exercise is fine, but you essentially work the same muscle fibers twice. With breakdown training, you work additional muscle fibers in an extended set that forces you to reach a second and deeper level of muscle fatigue. Although it may be easier to do repeat sets to the same level of muscle fatigue, it may be more productive (and certainly more time-efficient) to perform high-intensity training techniques that fatigue more muscle fibers and provide a greater strength building stimulus.

Strength & flexibility: Our latest research on stretching has shown that beginners who combine strength training and stretching exercise experience almost 20 percent greater strength development than those who do not stretch. You may do a 20-second stretch immediately following each strength exercise for the muscles just worked, or perform all of your stretches together right after your strength workout.

Your never too old to benefit: Our research has shown almost equal and very impressive improvements in both boomers and seniors who do a basic and brief program of strength and endurance exercise. In a study with almost 1,200 participants, those between 41 and 60 years added 2.3 pounds of muscle and lost 4.4 pounds of fat after just 2 months of training, less than an hour a day, 2 or 3 days a week. Remarkably, the subjects between 61 and 80 years added 2.4 pounds of muscle and lost 4.1 pounds of fat following the same training program. Both age groups increased their muscle strength by approximately 50 percent during the 8-week training period.

Recommendations for older trainees: I recommend that boomers perform a basic fitness assessment before and after two months of the exercise program to verify their progress and reinforce their training efforts. Beginning with just 3 key exercises and adding 2 exercises each week is a most sensible method for introducing new participants to a progressive program of purposeful strength training. Those who follow the exercise guidelines will notice some improvements in as little as 2 weeks.

Getting Rid of Cellulite: We have recently conducted a considerable amount of research on a pervasive problem encountered by most women, commonly called cellulite. Our studies have shown considerable success through a sensible combination of strength training, endurance exercise and reasonable caloric reduction. (The new book is titled No More Cellulite and should soon be available at all bookstores).

On simple methods to develop Strength & Stamina: In my observation, most fitness centers are geared for exercise enthusiasts who enjoy new, challenging and complex training programs. Unfortunately, the 90 percent of Americans who do not frequent fitness facilities are far less comfortable with what they consider complicated and time-consuming exercise protocols. They are much more responsive to short and simple fitness programs consisting of basic strength training and standard endurance exercise that they can easily blend into their busy lifestyle. To reach the unfit market, we need to place more emphasis on chocolate and vanilla, and spend less time on 50 mix and match flavors, at least initially.

 PAU for NOW

TAKU

 

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CONDITIONING 101:

By TAKU

No matter what sport you engage in from Golf to Ice Hockey, American Football to international Futbol (that’s soccer to all you Americans)…all athletes will benefit from a simple solid conditioning program. In fact, even if you are not currently practicing any sport in particular, a simple conditioning plan will benefit everyone when it comes to total fitness.

Most folks who have been reading my work for a while know that I am a proponent of interval style training programs. I know that interval training has become cool of late, but I have actually been recommending brief intense conditioning plans since the late 1980’s.

Interval training plans for sports are often designed with specific distances such as sprint for 60 meters, recover for a specified time, and repeat. Rather than use distance as a goal, I prefer to use time. Using time instead of distance will help people of varied fitness levels and body types stay within the desired range. If you are a 300 lb. Offensive lineman playing american Football, running 100 meters may take you a little longer than it would a 160 lb. striker playing World Futbol. By using specific times (instead of distance) we can insure similar energy systems being activated and keep the work consistent. for everyone. Finally using time instead of distance allows us to choose from a broad array of training tools or modes both indoors and out.

Most athletes will utilize a wide variety of energy systems along the intensity continuum. Remember this is a general conditioning program. It will help build a base of conditioning for almost any activity. Participants playing such sports as American Football, Basketball, Field Hockey, Rugby, Lacrosse etc. may all benefit from this type of program, especially in the off-season.

Once you are nearing the pre-season or are in-season, the playing and practicing of your specific sport should take precedence. Practicing specific sports will always be the best way to prepare for those specific activities. For instance someone training for pure speed such as a 100 meter sprint specialist, will first and foremost want to polish technique and running mechanics. The actual practice of sprinting is designed to be an all-out 100% maximum effort. To prepare for running at full speed, one must practice running at full speed. To allow this to occur maximum recovery between bouts will be required.

Below I have outlined an 8-WEEK Conditioning Program. It is set up with specific work to rest ratios. Each week we will increase the volume of sprints while reducing the actual exertion times. Your goal is to go at the most brisk pace you can tolerate, and still maintain work for the desired time. As you progress through the program (and your conditioning improves) you should be striving to go as fast and as hard as possible during the work phase of each bout of intervals. During the recovery period just walk (or pedal etc.) very slowly while you catch your breath and prepare for the next work phase.

If you are an open field athlete I highly recommend that you do your best to perform this workout on a running track or sports field.

For general fitness enthusiasts, any tool of choice may be used. Recommended tools include but are not limited to:

Bicycle
Rowing Ergo-meter
Step-Climber
Elliptical Cross-Trainer
Jump-Rope

8-WEEK CONDITIONING PROGRAM

In this program I recommend that you perform the conditioning program on two, non-consecutive days in your training week such as Monday and Thursday. You may do strength and conditioning on the same day, or you may separate them. Here are two examples of ways one might combine these types of training in an overall S&C plan:

EXAMPLE 1:

Monday: Conditioning
Tuesday: Strength Training
Wednesday: REST
Thursday: Conditioning
Friday: Strength Training
Saturday / Sunday: REST

Wash – Rinse – Repeat

EXAMPLE 2: 

Week One

Monday: Conditioning
Tuesday: REST
Wednesday: Strength Training
Thursday: REST
Friday: Conditioning

Saturday / Sunday: REST

Week Two 

Monday: Strength Training
Tuesday: REST
Wednesday: Conditioning
Thursday: REST
Friday: Strength Training

Wash – Rinse – Repeat

Note: The prescription is written so that the work period is first, followed by the rest period. For example in week one, day one you will work for two minutes, followed by a rest period of 4:00 minutes.  After completing the first week of the program, when successive bouts are called for you will complete the specified number of bouts at a given work to rest ratio, then rest three to five minutes before moving on to the next series.

Week 1

Day 1 – 1 x 2:00 / 4:00 & 2 x 1:00 / 2:00

Day 2 – 2 x 2:00 / 4:00 & 3 x 1:00 / 2:00

Week 2

Day 1 – & 2

6 x 00:20 / 01:00

Week 3

Day – 1 & 2

4 x 00:36 / 01:48

3-5 minutes rest

8 x 00:18 / 00:54

Week 4

Day – 1 & 2

4 x 00:36 / 01:48

3-5 minutes rest

8 x 00:18 / 00:54

Week 5

Day – 1 & 2

4 x 00:34 / 01:42

3-5 minutes rest

8 x 00:16 / 00:48

Week 6

Day – 1 & 2

4 x 00:32 / 01:36

3-5 minutes rest

8 x 00:15 / 00:42

3-5 minutes rest

6 x 00:07 / 00:21

Week 7

Day – 1 & 2

4 x 00:30 / 01:30

3-5 minutes rest

8 x 00:14 / 00:42

3-5 minutes rest

6 x 00:07 / 00:21

Week 8

Day – 1 & 2

4 x 00:30 / 01:30

3-5 minutes rest

8 x 00:14 / 00:42

3-5 minutes rest

6 x 00:07 / 00:21

*Rest 3-5 minutes between each series.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

P.S. My personal S&C program is very similar to that shown in example # 2. above

Better Running Through Strength Training

The following is one in an ongoing series of articles written by Wayne L. Westcott PhD.

Distance running is a great sport that is enjoyed at a variety of levels by millions of competitive and recreational athletes. Whether you prefer to jog a couple of miles through the neighborhood, or are training to complete a marathon, distance running is a highly effective and efficient means of aerobic conditioning. Unfortunately, distance running is considerably less beneficial for your musculoskeletal system. Injury rates among runners are extremely high. In fact, at the high school level, cross-country runners experience more injuries than athletes in any other sport, including football and gymnastics.

Why is a non-contact sport like running such a high-risk activity? Actually, running involves an incredible amount of contact, but it is with road surfaces rather than other athletes. Every running stride places about three times the weight of your body on your foot, ankle, knee and hip joints. These landing forces may also stress your lower back structures.

The repetitive pounding encountered mile after mile produces a degree of micro-trauma to the shock-absorbing tissues. Under ideal conditions, these tissues recover completely within a 24-hour period. However, there are numerous factors that may interfere with normal recovery processes, eventually resulting in weakened and injury-prone tissues. These factors include longer running sessions, faster running paces, shorter recovery periods between workouts, more downhill running, more hard-surface running, more racing, more general fatigue, and undesirable changes in eating or sleeping patterns.

Of course, you may wisely take steps to reduce the amount of tissue trauma and decrease your risk of running-related injuries. Such precautions include making very gradual increases in training distances and speeds, taking sufficient recovery periods (particularly between hard training sessions), selecting user-friendly running courses (soft surfaces and level terrain), competing in fewer races, avoiding over-fatigue, and paying careful attention to proper nutrition and sleep.

However, one of the most effective means for minimizing tissue trauma is to develop stronger muscles, tendons, fascia, ligaments and bones. This is the primary reason that every runner should perform regular strength exercise. Consider the results of our four-year strength training project with the Notre Dame High School girls’ cross-country and track teams.

Notre Dame High School Strength Training Program For four consecutive years, 30 distance runners from Notre Dame High School participated in a basic and brief strength training program during the summer and winter months between their cross-country and track seasons. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, they performed 30 minutes of strength exercise (12 Nautilus machines) that addressed all of their major muscle groups. Each of these years, the cross-country team won both the Massachusetts and New England championships in this sport. More important, during the four years that they did strength training, only one girl experienced an injury that resulted in a missed practice session or meet.

Strength Training Benefits
The Notre Dame runners realized that a sensible strength training program provides many benefits for runners. These include the following:

  • Greater muscle strength
  • Greater muscle endurance
  • Greater joint flexibility
  • Better body composition
  • Reduced injury risk
  • Improved self-confidence
  • Improved running economy

While the first six strength training benefits should be self-explanatory, you may be intrigued by improved running economy. In a 1995 study at the University of New Hampshire, the women cross-country runners who did strength training experienced a significant improvement in their running economy. They required 4 percent less oxygen at sub-maximum running speeds (7:30, 7:00, and 6:30 minute mile paces), meaning that they could run more efficiently and race faster than before.

Runner Concerns
With so many advantages, why do so few runners regularly perform strength exercise? Consider these four concerns that keep many runners from strength training:

  • Increased bodyweight
  • Decreased movement speed
  • Less fluid running form
  • Fatigued muscles

Let’s take a closer look at each of these issues.

Increased Bodyweight
Very few people who perform strength exercise have the genetic potential to develop large muscles. This is especially true for distance runners, who typically have ectomorphic (thin) physiques. Strength training increases their muscle strength and endurance, but rarely results in significant weight gain.

Decreased Movement Speed
With respect to running speed, our studies and many others have shown that greater strength results in faster movement speeds. We need only look at sprinters and middle distance runners to realize that strength training has a positive impact on running speed, as essentially all of these athletes perform regular strength exercise.

Less Fluid Running Form
Running involves coordinated actions of the legs and the arms, and one cannot function without the other. Your right arm moves in mirror image with your left leg, and your left arm counterbalances your right leg in perfect opposition. That is why it is almost impossible to run fast and move your arms slow or to move your arms fast and run slow. By strengthening the upper body muscles, you more effectively share the running effort between your arms and legs, resulting in more fluid running form.

Fatigued Muscles
It is true that a strenuous strength training session can cause a considerable amount of muscle fatigue that could adversely affect the quality and quantity of your runs. That is why we recommend brief strength workouts that do not leave you feeling enervated or exhausted. Remember that you are strength training to enhance your running performance, not to become a competitive weightlifter. Our program of strength training requires just one set of exercise for each major muscle group, which does not take much time and does not produce much lasting fatigue. You may also choose to strength train only one or two days per week, which should make muscle fatigue even less likely.

Runners’ Strength Training Program
The strength training protocol followed by the Notre Dame athletes, and all of our runners, is a comprehensive conditioning program that addresses all of the major muscle groups in the body. We do not attempt to imitate specific running movements or emphasize specific running muscles, because this typically results in an overtrained, imbalanced, and injury-prone musculoskeletal system.

For example, the calf (gastrocnemius and soleous) muscles are used extensively in running. Due to their involvement in every running stride, many people think that runners should strengthen their calf muscles. Indeed they should, but it is even more important to strengthen their weaker counterpart, the shin (anterior tibial) muscles. If you strengthen only the larger and stronger calf muscles they will eventually overpower the smaller and weaker shin muscles, which may lead to shin splints, stress fractures, achilles tendon problems, and other lower leg difficulties. With this in mind, our runners always conclude their strength workouts with a set of weighted toe raises to strengthen the shin muscles and maintain balance within the lower leg musculature.

Some people believe that runners should complete numerous sets and many repetitions with light resistance to enhance their endurance capacity. However, this is not our purpose in performing strength training. Remember that running is best for improving cardiovascular endurance, and that strength training is best for increasing musculoskeletal strength.

Generally, muscle strength is best developed by training with moderate weightloads (about 75 percent of maximum) for 8 to 12 repetitions per set. However, distance runners typically possess a higher percentage of slow-twitch muscle fibers, and therefore attain better results by training with about 12 to 16 repetitions per set. You should add 1 to 5 pounds more resistance whenever you complete 16 repetitions in good form. One set of each exercise is sufficient for strength development.

There is no reason to train with fast movement speeds, because training fast will not make you faster and training slow will not make you slower. Exercising with controlled movement speeds maximizes muscle tension and minimizes momentum for a better training effect. We recommend six-second repetitions, taking two seconds for each lifting movement and four seconds for each lowering movement.

Research supports three non-consecutive strength training sessions per week for best results, but fewer workouts can produce significant strength gains. Our recent studies have shown two weekly workouts to be 82 percent as effective and one weekly workout to be 69 percent as effective as three-day-per-week strength training.

Summary of Strength Training Guidelines

  • Exercise all of the major muscle groups
  • Perform 12 to 16 repetitions per set
  • Add one to five pounds whenever 16 repetitions can be completed
  • Perform one set of each exercise
  • Use controlled movement speeds (six seconds per rep)
  • Train one, two or three non-consecutive days per week

Recommended Strength Exercises For Runners
You may develop muscle strength with a variety of exercises using free-weights or machines. The following section presents recommended strength exercises for the major muscle groups.

Leg Muscles
Although barbell squats are the traditional leg exercise, most runners may do better to avoid placing a heavy barbell across their shoulders. Dumbbell squats are an acceptable alternative, but it may be difficult to hold enough weight to appropriately stress the large leg muscles.

Our recommendation is leg presses on a well-designed machine that offers a full movement range and good back support. It may be advisable to precede leg presses with leg extensions that target the quadriceps and leg curls that target the hamstrings. One set of each exercise is sufficient, but you may perform an additional set if you desire.

Upper Body Muscles
The typical exercises for the upper body are bench presses for the chest muscles, bent rows for the mid-upper back muscles, and overhead presses for the shoulder muscles. These are acceptable exercises, but are much safer when performed with dumbbells rather than barbells. For example, because there is no back support in a barbell bent row, the stress to the low-back area is 10 times the weight of the barbell. By using one dumbbell, and placing your other hand on a bench for back support, this exercise can be performed more safely and effectively.

If you have access to machines, we recommend chest crosses for the chest muscles, pullovers for the mid and upper back muscles, and lateral raises for the shoulder muscles. These machines require rotary movements that better isolate the target muscle groups. If you prefer linear movements that involve more muscle groups, well-designed chest press, seated row, and shoulder press machines provide combined training for the upper body and arm muscles.

Arm Muscles
The basic exercise for the biceps muscles is the arm curl, performed with barbells, dumbbells, or machines. Training the triceps involves some form of arm extension, either with free-weights or machines.

A good means for working the biceps and upper back muscles together is chin-ups with bodyweight or on a weight-assisted chin/dip machine. A good means for working the triceps and chest muscles together is bar dips with bodyweight or on a weight-assisted chin/dip machine.

Midsection Muscles
Machines provide the best means for safely and progressively conditioning the muscles of the midsection. In our opinion, the abdominal machine and low-back machine are key exercises for developing a strong and injury resistant midsection. We also recommend the rotary torso machine for strengthening the oblique muscles surrounding the midsection.

If appropriate machines are not available, the basic trunk curl may be the best alternative for abdominal conditioning. The recommended counterpart for the low-back muscles is a front-lying (face down) back extension. Although both of these exercises are performed with bodyweight resistance they are reasonably effective for strengthening the midsection muscles.

Neck Muscles
The neck muscles maintain head position throughout each run. As the head weighs up to 15 pounds, this is an important function. In fact, the first place where many runners fatigue and tighten up is the neck/shoulder area. We therefore recommend the 4-way neck machine to strengthen these muscles. If you do not have access to this machine, perhaps the best approach is manual resistance. That is, place your hands in front of your forehead to resist slow neck flexion movements, and place your hands behind your head to resist slow neck extension movements.

Table 1 presents the recommended strength training exercises for an overall conditioning program that should be beneficial for runners.

Table 1. Recommended Strength Training Program: Basic Exercises

Major Muscle Groups Machine Exercises Free-Weight Exercises

Quadriceps Leg Extension Machine Dumbbell Half-Squat
Hamstrings Leg Curl Machine Dumbbell Half-Squat
Chest Chest Cross Machine Dumbbell Bench Press
Upper Back Pullover Machine Dumbbell Bent Row
Shoulders Lateral Raise Machine Dumbbell Overhead Press
Biceps Biceps Machine Dumbbell Biceps Curl
Triceps Triceps Machine Dumbbell Triceps Extension
Low Back Low Back Machine Back Extension (Bodyweight)
Abdominals Abdominal Machine Trunk Curls (Bodyweight)

Once you have mastered the basic exercise program, you may want to add some of the exercises presented in Table 2.

Table 2. Recommended Strength Training Program: Additional Exercises

Muscle Groups Machine Exercises Free Weight Exercises

Quadriceps & Hamstrings Leg Press Machine Dumbbell Lunge
Chest & Triceps Weight-Assisted Chin/Dip Machine Bar Dip
Upper Back & Biceps Weight-Assisted Chin/Dip Machine Chin Up
Internal & External Obliques Rotary Torso Machine Trunk Curls with Twists
Neck Flexors & Extensors 4-Way Neck Machine Manual Resistance Neck Flexion   & Extension
Calves Calf Machine Dumbbell Heel Raises
Shins Weight Plate Toe Raises

Summary
The main objectives of a strength training program for runners is to decrease injury risk and increase performance potential. For best results the program should be high in exercise intensity and low in training time. One good set of 12-16 repetitions for each major muscle group is recommended for a safe, effective and efficient exercise experience. One or two training sessions per week are sufficient, although three weekly workouts produces greater strength gains. Each workout should take no more than 20-30 minutes depending upon the number of exercises performed. The key to productive strength training is proper exercise technique, which includes full movement range and controlled movement speeds. When you make every repetition count, a basic and brief training program should increase your strength significantly (40-60 percent) over a two month training period.

TAKU’s NOTE: Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. He is strength training consultant for numerous national organizations, such as the American Council on Exercise, the American Senior Fitness Association, and the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, and editorial advisor for many publications, including Prevention, Shape, and Club Industry magazines.

Train Smart: Learning to use R.P.E.

By TAKU

If you have read or used any of my interval training programs, then you know I often recommend creating your own personal R.P.E. scale as a means of measuring both exercise intensity as well as overall performance progression.

R.P.E.

Creating an R.P.E. scale allows the exerciser to subjectively rate his / her feelings during exercise, taking into account personal fitness level, environmental conditions, and general fatigue levels. Perceived exertion ratings correlate highly with measured exercise heart rates and calculated oxygen consumption values. The R.P.E. scale has been found to be a valuable and reliable indicator in monitoring an individuals exercise tolerance and is often used by fitness professionals while conducting graded exercise tests. Here is an example of how to create your own personal R.P.E. scale. We’ll use the numbers ** 0-10 where 0 = nothing at all (the feeling of sitting at home watching TV) and 10 = Very, very hard (the feeling of running as fast as possible for 100-400 meters). You can actually use this R.P.E. scale as a way to measure both intensity and progress. If you are training on a machine* at resistance level 5 and you feel you are at an “8” on your personal R.P.E. scale, you know you have improved when your R.P.E. for the same exercise and resistance level has dropped to a “6” after several sessions. In the following program I will make suggestions for R.P.E. intensity levels to work towards and it will be up to you to match those levels of intensity to your current ability using your personal R.P.E. scale.

Example R.P.E. Level Rating:

1. I’m resting on the couch

2. I’m comfortable and could maintain this pace all day long

3. I’m still comfortable, but am breathing a bit harder

4. I’m sweating now, but feel good and can carry on a conversation effortlessly

5. I’m just above comfortable, am sweating more and can still talk easily

6. I can still talk, but am slightly breathless

7. I can continue at this pace with some discomfort, talking in short bursts

8. I can only nod in response to your questions and won’t last long at this pace

9. I am very uncomfortable, losing focus and finding it almost impossible to continue

10. I physically cannot continue or I will surely collapse

EXAMPLE WORKOUT: (Use Mode or Tool of choice)

The protocol consists of a graduated, three-minute warm-up, which will elevate the level of perceived exertion to a seven on the RPE scale, as identified in the example above. Following the warm-up phase, perform three-minute work intervals, followed by one minute of rest. During each work interval, (depending on the mode or tool you are using) adjust speed, incline, and / or, resistance in order to achieve a maximal effort that may be sustained over the three minute period. The work / rest intervals should be repeated three to five times, depending upon your level of fatigue. Stop the workout when you feel you have reached a point at which you cannot continue.

During each rest interval ask yourself what is my perceived exertion based on the rating system described above. Do your best to distinguish between overall perceived exertion, and the perception of effort in only the legs. In this way, one may more accurately gauge the overall workout R.P.E..

So remember an R.P.E. scale is simply a reference scale designed to provide exercisers with easily understood  guidelines regarding exercise intensity.

Take the time to create your own R.P.E. scale and start getting more out of your training.

Train Smart = Win Easy.

Pau for Now

TAKU

*Use any tool you prefer: For example

Jump Rope
VersaClimber
Tradmill
Rower

Sled:

Using a sled for training is a topic that appears on many discussion boards. Most, usually want to know where to buy one. If you look you’ll find a number of places to buy some real nice looking sleds and harnesses. The problem is that they must be made of gold or some other precious metal. I’ve never found one for less than $100.00 plus shipping.

What I did was get an old garden wheel barrow, take off all the hardware, so just the tub is left. I drilled two holes in the front, put a 2X6 inside the tub up against the front and screwed two large screw eyes from the front side into the wood. This is where I hooked a plastic covered wire strand dog tie out onto. (They have metal snap hooks on each end) The handle is made of a 2 inch piece of PVC (I don’t like harnesses) But you could use a harness or tie a rope from the tub to a lifting belt. I put several 12 ½ and a couple of 25 pound Sears plastic weights in the tub. (Admit it you have some) Then I picked up some Kwik Crete (2-80 pound bags) and mixed them onto the weights already in the tub. When finished the sled weighs in at 190 plus pounds. If I pulled it on the driveway or road it would probably move pretty well. But I do it in the back yard and its soft back there and sometimes very hard to do multiple pulls. This suits me fine because I don’t want to spend a bunch of time getting in a workout (remember High Intensity Training?)

For added weight I put a pipe in the wet cement so I could put extra plates on and not worry about them sliding off. In the past I’ve used the sled and 2 45’s. And sometimes had my Grand Daughter ride on it. Lately it works well just as it is. Several people have pulled it and so far all like the big handle for hand comfort. I also built another one for those that can’t possibly pull the “stone cold sled.” For that one I went to Home Depot and picked up the mid size plastic cement mixing box.  If you look for them they are black plastic boxes and will be near the cement bags. I also picked up a couple of large screw eyes and screwed them through the front of the box into a 2X4. This way when you pull you won’t pull out the front of the box. I hooked a rope through a metal pipe for a handle. With this sled I can just add the desired weight into the box. This sled slides real well in the back yard and usually is pulled by female clients.

As far as technique goes, I don’t run with the sled. I just pull or drag at a steady pace for as many 50 yard trips as I can make. Great conditioning tool and the “stone cold sled” is also a damn good strength tool. In the Florida heat it becomes a test of will. Helps flatten out the bumps in your back yard too. 

I don’t have any certain times I pull it. I just fit it in whenever I feel like it. Some weeks I do it daily. Some weeks I don’t pull at all. And instead do rope climbing or another outdoor activity. I saved a bunch of money on this. I only had to buy two screw eyes, two bags of cement, and a plastic mixing box. The rest I had laying around.

Jim Bryan

Bryan Strength & Conditioning
863-293-1206
TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to Jim for always sharing some great stuff with us here at Hybrid Fitness. We have a “Poor Mans Pulling Sled Video on our YouTube Channel as well. Check it out HERE:

Truth Not Trends: CONDITIONING

1. Because of the specificity of energy demands, varied muscle contraction dynamics and general body stress and fatigue, playing and practicing your sport should be a priority when it comes to physical preparation. As they did in the good ole days, you CAN play yourself into shape. It’s “sport-specific”
and still true today. That stated, following a sensibly-designed conditioning program can further prepare one for the rigors of competition provided it “fits” with all strength training activities and practice sessions and does not over-stress the body’s recovery systems.

2. Like strength training, a legitimate conditioning activity must a) create an overload on the (energy) system(s), b) allow adequate recovery / adaptation time, c) be progressive relative to the variables of running intensity, volume, distance and bout work / recovery times and d) be performed on a regular basis.

3. All other factors being equal, running speed can be improved if one a) gets stronger, b) stays lean and c) practices the skills of running.

4. Purported “speed drills” that do not replicate exact sprinting body mechanics (same speed, muscle contractions, angles of force output, etc.) may not transfer to improve speed. Again, the principle of specificity states that to become proficient in any activity, the activity itself must me practiced exactly. Anything “almost” or “close” is NOT exact. Therefore, general drills such as high knees, skips, bounds, box jumps, or other slower-moving actions (relative to all-out sprinting speed) can be used, but more as a part of a dynamic warm-up routine.

5. Being in good condition is also a part of a sound speed-enhancement program. Simply put, if you’re fatigued you cannot run at your maximum speed potential.

6. Straight-line sprinting ability does not correlate to lateral or backward agility or the ability to react and change directions based game / contest situations.

7. All energy systems – ATP-PC (immediate), Lactic Acid (short term-high power) and Aerobic (long term-lower power) – are activated at the onset of any activity. What determines which system is relied upon the most is the intensity and length of the activity.

8. You don’t have to jog for 30-45 minutes or keep the heart rate in the “aerobic zone” to ultimately burn body fat. Shorter, higher intensity lactate threshold work actually gets you more bang for the buck, since it burns a lot of calories. Also, post-exercise fatty acid mobilization from the adipose (fat) tissue is accelerated after demanding, high intensity work.

9. One can improve lactate threshold and VO2 max with a variety of training regimens: short and long intervals, fartlek runs and continuous runs using various running speeds, distances, volumes and work-to-rest ratios.
10. Genetics also play a role in conditioning: those endowed with a high percentage of the slow / type 1 muscle fibers may possess better endurance and recover faster than those with more quicker-to-fatigue fast / type 2 fibers. On the other hand, predominantly fast/type 2 people may run relatively faster but take longer to recover between bouts, all other factors being equal.

TAKU’s NOTE: This weeks article courteousy of my friend Tom Kelso.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

What am I doing right now!

By TAKU

It’s the age of Facebook and twiiter. People are constantly updating us on the minutia of their lives. I realized that it’s been a while since I talked about what my workout program looks like at the moment so I thought I would take a minute to fill you all in.

BRIEF – INTENSE – INFREQUENT:

These are still the basic guidelines I follow when setting up a training plan. With this in mind I’ll fill you in on what I am doing right now.

I train three days per week Monday – Wednesday – Friday. I alternate between a strength training day and a conditioning day (although in truth there is carryover in each direction with the the training that I do).  Because I am alternating I end up doing three strength workouts and three conditioning workouts every two weeks. If week one is Strength – Conditioning – Strength, then week two will be Conditioning – Strength – Conditioning.

On the strength days I set my GymBoss for 20 minutes and see how many cycles of push – pull – legs, I can get done. Some days I may just choose three exercises and repeat the TRI-SET as many times as I can in the 20 minute block. More often, I cycle through varied movements in each TRI-SET, always choosing a Push, a Pull, and a Leg exercises in each sequence. I do any and all warm-up stuff before I start the timer.

Once the timer starts I proceed to do a single, all-out work set of each exercise. I train to positive (concentric) failure on each work set. I track reps as well as TUT. I always do as many perfect reps as possible but do have target Rep /TUT ranges in mind. For most upper body exercise I am shooting for about 4-6 reps and a TUT of 40-60 seconds. For most lower body exercises I shoot for 6-9 reps and a TUT of about 60-90 seconds. For hips, ABs & low-back I may do slightly higher reps shooting for 8-12 reps and 80-120 seconds of TUT.

Ultimately I get what I get,  always doing as many perfect reps as possible. If I get a few more or a few less than the goal, I don’t sweat it too much.

Example Strength Series:

Clean Dead-lift & Shrug
Chin-up
Dip.

Squat
Bench Press
Row

Leg Curl / Stiff Legged Dead-lift
Incline Press
Recline Pull

For my Conditioning days I most often select a set time or distance and attempt to either cover that set distance in less time, or go further in the same amount of time from workout to workout. Currently I use the Versa-Climber as my conditioning tool and I see how far I can climb in 20 minutes.

Well there you have it. Pretty simple really. Using this basic template you could spin-off workouts with endless variety depending on what tools you have available. You could also keep it super simple and just do Push-ups or dips, Single-Leg Squats or lunges, and chin-ups or recline pulls for strength. On conditioning day you could just choose running and either see how fast you can cover a set distance like three miles, or how many 100 yards sprints you can get done in 20 minutes.

Now…Get to it!

PAU for NOW

TAKU