250319 Training your breathing part 1

250319 Training your breathing part 1

Proper breathing techniques are essential to any athletic endeavor and the learning of these skills correctly, right from the start, is an important first step to success in your athletes chosen sport. The introduction to correct breathing patterns properly begins on the first day, during the introduction to the sport, in the welcoming portion and continues onto the practice field or lifting stations.

However, there is one caveat to bear in mind when discussing this breathing technique and that is for those with heart and circulatory problems. You must make certain each of your athletes has had their sports physical and their participation in your program is without restrictions.

Many coaches recommend exhaling on exertion. This is not a normal breathing pattern and it is not a typical breathing reaction in a high intensity physical situation. No type of research or practice supports exhaling on exertion. Observation of athletes in competition clearly illustrates that when force is applied they are holding their breath. This is a natural response to the situation. If this is natural then why change the pattern?

180319 Five Facts About Flexibility and Stretching

180319 Five Facts About Flexibility and Stretching

1. Maintaining your Range of Motion (ROM) is important, as it appears to reduce the potential for injury. An adequate ROM will enhance your ability to do certain physical and sports related activities.

2. The best time to stretch is immediately after the warm up as the blood flow and temperature in the muscles is highest. This makes them more elastic and in a better condition to be stretched. However, this is NOT the time to stretch if you are about to participate in a power sport, i.e. sprints, pole vaults, throwing movements or weight lifting. Stretching before these types of activities reduces the power output by as much as 8%!

3. One of the key facts to maximizing flexibility is the amount of repetitions performed each time. The magic number seems to be no less than two up to about six per position. Hold to the point of mild discomfort for 10-30 seconds. The time has not been universally agreed upon.

4. The order in which you exercise matters. Stretch the major muscles first. From these move to the specific muscles that will be involved in the upcoming activity.

5. Isolate the muscles to help eliminate any compromises in your efforts. By concentrating on specific muscles, you also lessen your risk of injury.

040319 Resistance Training in Cold Weather part 7

040319 Resistance Training in Cold Weather part 7

Resistance training places high internal and external load demands on the human body. It must be physically prepared to meet and exceed these artificially designed stresses. To successfully adapt, conditions within the body must be favorable. Temperature variations, however, can sometimes overpower the metabolic responses of the organism

Now you have been exposed to a few of the problems of cold weather exercising it is time to take advantage of the situation. A solid warm-up is an absolute. A warm up prepares the body for the upcoming activity by loosening the muscles, moving the blood faster, and increasing the breathing rate.
Daniel D. Arnheim states in his book Modern Principles of Athletic Training on page 303

“An athlete may fail to warm up sufficiently or may become chilled because of relative inactivity for varying periods of time demanded by the particular sport either during competition of training: consequently the athlete is exceedingly prone to injury.” 

Another danger to be aware of is that “peripheral vasoconstriction during cold weather predisposes the extremities to cold injury, the temperature of the skin and extremities may fall to dangerous levels. Early signs include tingling and numbness in the fingers/toes, or a burning sensation of the ears/nose. If these sign are not heeded frostbite may occur.” (Katch, 521)

Even though you have more than likely just left your nice warm home to go outside, you still have to warm up your muscles prior to working out. Begin by making circles with your arms and legs, ever widening circles until the outer ranges of motion are reached. These are not ballistic moves, they are dynamic in nature. Next, do some light cardiovascular work to get the heart rate up into the working zone. 5-10 minutes depending on the temperature; the colder it is the longer this portion needs to be in order to get physically ready to workout. Exercise selection will also dictate the length and time spent in the warm up. If larger muscles are being worked, then a longer time will be required to warm them up.

Move on to the movement specific activity, i.e., if you are squatting then do a few free body weight squats. Add a bit of weight to the bar and do a few more squats. Continue in this fashion until you are thoroughly warmed up. (But don’t do the routine in the warm-up.) Now you should be ready to hit the heavy weights to begin your workout routine. 

Summary: the cold weather triad of cold temperatures, heat loss, and an inadequate warm-up are invitations to injury if left unheeded.

• Warm up thoroughly before attacking the heavy weights.
• Protect yourself when lifting in a cold weight room by wearing and layering quality-insulated clothing that breathes as you perspire. 
• Cover your head and prevent heat loss where possible.
• Pay attention to the signs and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. 
PS: Keep this in mind as you lift in the cold. There are no mosquitoes around are there? The flies are non-existent and the fan is not making noise as it blows the summer hot air around. 
Training just does not get any better than this. Lift strong. 

References Cited for Resistance Training in Cold Weather:

Arnheim, Daniel D. Modern Principles of Athletic Training. Mirror/Mosby. 1989: 303-4.

Houston, Charles, S., M.D. Merck Manual of Medical Information. Simon and Schuster. 1997:1345-7.

Katch, F.I, V.L. Katch, and W.D. McArdle. Exercise Physiology. Lippincott. 1996 (4th ed.): 351, 502-3, 505-21.

Michele, Lyle, J. The Sports Medicine Bible. Harper Collins.


Schneipp, Jason, Terry S. Campbell, Kasey L. Lincoln Powell, and Danny M. Pincivero. “The Effects of Cold-water Immersion on Power Output and Heart rate on Elite Cyclists.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 16 (Nov. 2002): 561

Search and Rescue Survival Training. Department of the Air Force, USAF. 1985. (Currently in use at the Survival School)