The Science of Strength: As easy as 1 – 2 – 3

The Science of Strength

As easy as 1 – 2 – 3

Image result for Strength Progression:

1. Progression: Making the workout or exercise more challenging over time. This could be adding weight to strength exercises, or running faster or longer with cardiovascular training. Either way if you are not challenging your body no improvement will happen.

Image result for Training Overload:

2. Overload: Is when the body is challenged through intense exercise and the muscles are worked passed their current capacities. This training “environment” is what sets the scene for improvement.

Image result for Training Progression:

3. Recovery: After the muscles have been overloaded they need time to adapt and get stronger. This process takes between 48* – 96 hours +.

So the science of getting stronger is as follows:

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1. Train as hard as you can on each exercise to make sure overload takes place.

2. Allow the body to rest and recover. You can’t rush improvement.

3. When you return to the weight room try to add weight or repetitions to each exercise.

The science of getting stronger is really easy to understand. It is the application that is challenging. There are no secret routines or special exercises, just simple things that need to be done a certain way, for an extended period of time.

Train Hard!

PAU for NOW

TAKU

(*minimum recovery period for athletes with optimal recovery ability).

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S.P.I.C.E. things up

A common question that comes up with coaches and athletes is how do I make sure my strength and conditioning program is “sports specific”? There are only three things you need to think about improving.

  • Force enhancement via strength training
  • Energy system improvement via sport-related conditioning runs or drills
  • Skill improvement via sport-specific skill training

The development of muscular strength is the general progression of increasing the muscle’s ability to produce force. Sports skill development, on the other hand, is the specific learning of how to best coordinate and apply these forces.

In other words, strength is a non-specific adaptation developed in the weight room whereas sports skills are a specific adaptation developed through guided practice on “the field”.* As a result, a powerful athlete is developed physically in the weight room, which by a separate process is developed mechanically on “the field”.*

Unless you are competing as a power-lifter, Olympic style weight lifter etc, anything you do in the weight room will have zero direct transfer to what you are doing on “the field” of play.*

With the above in mind, here is a simple formula to keep your training on the right track.

Key points to remember too S.P.I.C.E. things up

1. Strength train in order to reduce injury, and resist fatigue in the safest method possible.

2. Practice your skills

3. Improve flexibility- perform a proper stretching routine to increase range of motion around a joint

4. Condition the energy systems used to play your sport (running intervals, cardiovascular exercises and speed training)

5. Eat nutritious foods and drink plenty of water to ensure the body has the proper amount of nutrients in order to grow stronger.

 

These five basic concepts will go a long way in keeping your training simple, safe, and focused on success.

PAU for NOW

TAKU 

TAKU’s NOTE: *(“The field” implies any athletic playing space the wrestling mat, tennis court, Fighting cage, boxing ring etc.)

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

 

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

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

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

Fartlek Training

By TAKU

What comes around goes around

Fartlek, meaning Speed Play, is a form of training that has been around for many years. Fartlek training was developed in the 1930s by Swedish coach Gosta Holmer (1891-1983). It was designed for the Swedish cross-country teams that had been thrashed throughout the 1920s by Paavo Nurmi and the Finns. Holmer’s plan used a faster-than-race pace and concentrated on both speed and endurance training.

Fartlek training is essentially a form of Interval Training performed in an informal, unstructured manner. Fartlek sessions should ideally be done outside over natural terrain such as golf courses, trails or rolling fields.

Because of it’s free-style nature and emphasis on fun, outdoor runs, Fartlek training can be psychologically stimulating in a positive manner. When properly executed Fartlek training has the ability to develop both general and specific endurance for a broad array of athletes including those participating in field games such as soccer, field hockey, Ultimate Frisbee, lacrosse, and rugby league, as it develops aerobic and anaerobic capacities which are both used in these sports.

When implementing Fartlek sessions the pace should alternate between fast and slow with an emphasis on fast running. Outdoor Fartlek sessions are an excellent change of pace after being forced indoors during winter months or by bouts of inclement weather. Depending on how and when you cycle Fartlek runs into your current training regimen they may also act as a great form of active recovery.

When designing a Fartlek training session you are limited only by your imagination and the terrain you have access to. Remember Fartlek is a free style form of training. Look at it as structured improvisation. Do not worry too much about the exact order of exercises or distances that you run. Just be sure to challenge yourself and work hard.

Fartlek training is generally associated with running, but can include almost any kind of exercise. Below I have outlined just one example of the variety of exercises that could be included in a 2 – mile Fartlek session:

  • Jog or jump rope for 5- 10 minutes as a warm-up.
  • Do 5-6 minutes of brisk calisthenics covering all major muscle groups.*
  • Run a half mile at a fast, steady pace (about 75% max speed).
  • Jog a quarter-mile.
  • Perform three to four acceleration sprints of 150 yards (jog 50 yards, stride 50 yards, sprint 50 yards) walk 50 yards after each.
  • Do four to six sprints of 20-50 yards, jogging 50 yards between each one.
  • Jog a quarter-mile as a warm-down.
  • Stretch all major muscle groups

*Example of calisthenic circuit: 30 seconds on 15 seconds off.

  • Walking Lunges
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Sit-ups
  • Burpees
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Alternating back raise
  • Hamstring Bridges
  • T-stability push-ups

So there you have it, a simple and flexible system which practically guarantees that you will never get bored. Give Fartlek training a try and I am sure you will see and feel the fitness benefits while enjoying some time outdoors with nature.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

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