Blog

This time of the year with returning after a few months break, high running loads & firm grounds; sore muscles & joints are a fairly common occurrence. Properly preparing your body to handle the load of training and impact can help keep you on the park for longer, training harder which will lead to better fitness & performance in the long run.  Read More

We have all heard the saying “Abs are made in the kitchen” therefore you don’t need to waste your time doing ‘core’ work in the gym.

Well, that is bullshit.

Fat is lost in the kitchen (through diet) which leads to your abdominals being more visible. But if you want a core that is strong, functions effectively and supports good movement. Then throwing in some abdominal strengthing exercises can help to support your major lifts, as well as prevent injury.

Read More
In this series of training tips, we will run through the how & why of some of our favorite methods to improve the strength and durability of your hamstrings. To ensure they can stand up to the rigors of another long pre-season. So if you or one of your teammates has some troublesome hamstrings. Share this with them to help them prepare to make next year the strongest yet.  Read More
When you have been training in the gym for a number of years, the same old routines and barbell bench press' can start to get a little stale; both for your strength progress as well as the monotony of training. Providing a different variety of stimulus to the body and mind can help you to keep motivated in the gym Read More

Athletes may not always have access to a gym, or weights in order to perform these kinds of sessions. Especially in a team environment or when working with young athletes.

So we have put together a selection of exercises that can be used to support speed and power development using only a slam ball and your body weight.

Read More

Recently my mother-in-law sent me an article entitled; “Heart attacks of the mega-fit: how safe is extreme sport?” with the sub-heading of: “We don’t just go for a jog any more – we train for a marathon, following in the footsteps of the greats. But when top athletes collapse from heart failure, we start to wonder: how safe is this growing culture of extreme sport?”.

The catalyst of this suggestive headline was the early and tragic death of Dean Mercer, a triathlete and winner of the World Oceanman series and the Coolangatta Gold. Mercer had suffered an acute cardiac arrest on his way home from an early morning training session at a local surf club.

I am always bemused that when someone dies running a marathon it makes the news, but the overweight, stressed-out alcoholic who has a heart attack at home is nothing to be concerned about. The comments from the article range from those using Mercer’s death as an excuse to be lazy (at least that's the way I read their ideas but I'm a cynic), to the undertone of; "good god we must protect these endurance athletes from themselves,”. The most interesting concept discussed was that Mercer was completing endurance events as a health based activity compared to the performance based ritual of self-gratification. The myopic "health-based" view of aerobic/endurance activity is always amusing.

I will bypass discussing the enlarged athlete's heart since, for most of us, there's nothing to be done about it now: too late. But I immediately seize the idea that athletes do their sport or train for it with health as the objective. I submit that many people do sport or train to tame demons, to measure themselves against their fellow man or to compare their current and former selves, to prove what is possible when one doesn't get crushed beneath the wheel of somnolence and routine and the status quo, etc etc.

 

I digress, the article did completely turn its viewpoint around when they brought in an actual expert, Dr Andre La Gerche, the leader of sports cardiology at the Baker Heart & Diabetes Institute; who expressed that he has no idea what had happened to Mercer, or what specific factors were at play in his "cardiac event". No one does.

My mother-in-law’s response to this; “I guess my takeaway is that people should get themselves checked by a doctor before undertaking those sorts of activities?”

My response: I am more concerned with testing the overweight/works stressful job/too many hours/hypertensive/smoker/poor diet/high cholesterol/inactive individual(s). All of which have been proven multiple times by different peer reviewed research to be major risk factors to cardiovascular health – and all are gradual processes; much like training for an endurance event.

I imagine Mercer had been training and competing in endurance events for years, potentially decades. He didn’t (and couldn’t) just wake up one day and decide to complete a triathlon.

If Mercer had smoked, or was overweight and sedentary (or did any of the above mentioned things that do cause heart disease/failure) they would most likely have been accepted as the reason as to why he died and no one would be questioning whether or not he should have been tested before smoking/eating terribly/over working/not exercising as these are lifestyle choices… much like training for an endurance event.

The heart is like any other muscle and the more we work it positively (exercise) the stronger and more efficient at pumping blood around our bodies it becomes. A stronger heart has to beat less to pump blood (stronger pump = more blood per beat) therefore less stress is placed on the heart every moment of our lives (See: Eustress Vs. Distress).

Mercer may have had an underlying heart condition that could have been his cause of death. Where if he smoked or drank excessively or was overweight no one would have bat an eye when he died.

Here is a list of things that have been proven to prevent heart disease/failure:

  • Don’t Smoke
  • Maintain a healthy weight (achieved via physical activity and healthy eating)
  • Manage your blood cholesterol (achieved via physical activity and healthy eating)
  • Manage your blood pressure (achieved via physical activity, healthy eating and having a non-distressful lifestyle)
  • Manage diabetes (achieved via physical activity and healthy eating)
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Look after your mental health (See: Exercise for Mental Health)

In summary; exercise, don't smoke, drink responsibly, don't eat processed foods, limit stressors in the workplace and at home etc etc.

It is a terrible tragedy that Mercer died so young, but more so it’s a tragedy that we are more concerned with the wellbeing of endurance athlete’s health and not the thousands of inactive overweight people who are truly at risk of heart disease and/or failure.

There is more to squatting with chain than just looking like a bad ass.

The dynamic load they provide is a great way to build strength, power and acceleration through altering the force-velocity curve.

When the chain is extended at the top of a movement the load is increased. As you move toward the bottom of the movement and the chain coils on the ground the load is decreased.

This will have numerous benefits to training.

1) Adding more load throughout the movement requires you to apply increased force as you progress through which means an increased output.

2) Having less load in the weakest point (bottom) means you can get moving out of ‘the hole’ quicker

3) Having more load at the top of the movement allows you to perform closer to your peak loads more safely.

Aim for 10% total load through chain for heavy strength work and 15-25% for speed work.

Endurance athletes and strength athletes are about as far apart on the fitness spectrum as you can get in many aspects. Generally they will never cross paths, as endurance athletes (runners, cyclists,triathletes) tend to spend the majority of their time in the great outdoors, soaking in the weather and moving constantly to get their heart pounding. Strength athletes more often than not spend hours in the gym lifting heavy things to get build aesthetics, size, strength & power. The closest they come to doing cardio in walking the barbell back from the squat rack. While the first 2 objectives of strength athletes will serve little purpose to the endurance athlete, the second 2 - STRENGTH & POWER should be of particular interest as when implemented correctly can be an absolute game changer for your endurance performance.

There have been numerous studies that have found that a structured strength program will have multi faceted benefit for endurance athletes. With some of the key areas of improvement being.

  • Improved exercise economy
  • Improved maximal speed
  • Improved lactate threshold
  • Decreased injury risk
  • Increased neuromuscular efficiency

THIS ALL SOUNDS FANTASTIC BUT HOW DOES THIS TRANSLATE TO INCREASED PERFORMANCE?

Concurrent endurance and heavy strength training can increase you running speed and power output at VO2max or the time to exhaustion at maximal running speed or cycling power output (Ronnestad & Mujika, 2014). So not only will strength training help you to increase the maximal pace you can run or cycle at. It will also aid in increasing the amount of time you can spend at those higher intensities = move faster for longer.

There are various reason why this will occur:

Strength training has a strong association to increasing neuromuscular co-ordination (Salehzadeh, 2015). With every step you take your brain has to send the signal to your muscles to contract & move your limbs. Strength training can be responsible for improving the “reaction time” and specificity of these signals resulting in more efficient movement.

Studies have also suggested a faster rate of force development (speed) as result of undertaking a strength training protocol (Vikmoen, 2017). This will enable the endurance athletes to be able to move at faster at given intensities and is perfect for kicking things up a gear in the race to the finish line.

These improvements also result in a improved energy efficiency during exercise. So your body will expend less energy in order move at the same pace. This becomes especially important the longer the distance of your event or training.

Research indicates that 2 x strength session per week facing on maximal force production performed concurrently with your endurance training program is sufficient to provide the benefits associated with strength training. (Berryman, et al 2018). Weight gain can also be an area of concern for many endurance athletes when performing strength training. However given the low recommended volume of strength work in combination with a high volume of endurance training you will still be undertaking. This will not create the right conditions to generate significant mass gain through strength training protocols. Also with the correct programming sets & repetitions you can make the strength program specific to increasing strength without building muscle mass.

To help you get started we have put together a basic 2 day a week strength training program for endurance athletes, if you have any questions on how to get started be sure to get in touch.

Day 1 - Strength

Day 2 - Strength / Power

General Warm Up

5 Minute Sled Walk @ 30% Bodyweight (BW)

Mobility (Dynamic)

General Warm Up

5 Minute Sled Walk @ 30% Bodyweight

Mobility (Dynamic)

Specific Warm Up

Goblet Squat 2 x 10 @ 8-12kg

Glute Bridge 2 x 15 (BW)

Single Leg Deadlift 3 x 5 (BW)

Band Pull Apart 3 x 12

Specific Warm Up

Kettlebell RDL 3 x 10

Bulgarian Split Squat 3 x 5

Band / Cable Hip Extension 3 x 12

Band Row 3 x 20

Pull Up 2 x 3/5

Main Workout

Box Squat 5 x 3 @80% (RPE 8/10)

Inverted Row 5 x 10 @ BW

Main Workout

Rack Pull 5 x 6 @70% (Focus on Speed)

Box Jump 5 x 3

Supplemental 1

Kettlebell Swing  3 x 20

Sled Push 3 x 15m @ 1-1.5 x BW

Push Up 3 x 10

Supplemental 1

Med Ball Throw 4 x 5 @ 5-8kg (for max dist)

DB S/A Push Press 4 x 8 @ 8-15kg

Supplemental 2

Turkish Get Up x 20 @ 8-12kg

Supplemental 2

S/A Plank Row  3 x 8

Hanging Leg Raise 3 x 5

Hollow Rock 3 x 30 sec

Cool Down

Foam Roll & Stretch

Cool Down

Foam Roll & Stretch

 

** This program is intended as a guide only. You may need an individualised program for a more specific program to cater for your needs. For help with these exercises head to our YouTube channel for some demonstration videos**

 

 

References
Berryman N, Mujika I, Arvisais D, Roubeix M, Binet C and Bosquet L. Strength Training for Middle- and Long-Distance Performance: A Meta-Analysis, International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 13, 1, (57) 2018

Salehzadeh K & Ghorbanzadeh B. Effects of Strength Training on Neuromuscular Coordination in Male Pool Players. Journal of Applied Environmental and Biological Sciences. 5. 1-1. 2015

Vikmoen O, Rønnestad BR, Ellefsen S, Raastad T. Heavy strength training improves running and cycling performance following prolonged submaximal work in well‐trained female athletes. Physiological Reports. 5(5) 2017

This exercise is great to add into your training as a substitute for glute bridges/hip extensions at times where you may be unable to lay on your back or place pressure on your shoulders.

It is also a great tool to help teach correct cues and activation for the glute bridge. Often athletes can rely too heavily on quad and lower back contraction to drive the hip bridge. Switching to the kneeling position helps to teach the drive through the hips.

The added pulling from the band will also force you to engage the glute muscles to maintain an upright position

If you are limited by an upper body injury or back/front squats just don’t feel quite right the BELT SQUAT is the perfect substitution to throw into your program.

This movement will allow you to place some substantial load directly onto your hips removing the requirement for the upper body to be under tension.  Read More
1 2 3 Next »