220419 Exercise and rest period cycles Part 1

220419 Exercise and rest period cycles Part 1

By Danny M. O’Dell, M.A.CSCS*D

In days of old when men were men and women were women they exercised in the fields or in their homes from sun up until sun down. And no one ever mentioned overtraining, supercompensation, distress or ustress; they just did what had to be done to survive. They ate clean, lived clean and died clean.

We could take a lesson from them and do the same but we don’t. Sure they were strong, they had to be just to keep living back then. It is apparent from reading any history at all that staying in shape was not the reason these old timers did so much hard work. It was to continue to live. But times have changed and we don’t have to struggle quite so much to stay alive-at least in many areas of the world. Now we can go to a gym or workout in our homes to stay in shape.

If we followed the regimen of sun up to sun down we would get in shape darn fast but how long could we tolerate the program? Not long I am sure.

“Supercompensation” is the thin window of opportunity between overreaching and overtraining. It is the ideal goal in any well-designed exercise program, especially if you are contemplating a contest in the near future. But, how is it reached without overtraining and getting hurt?

The body’s adaptive mechanisms are wonderful and can do marvelous things to keep you healthy. However, you must pay attention to what it is saying about the evolution-taking place concerning your training loads, duration and intensity and the effects on you.

080419 Training your breathing part 3

Your healthy athletes should be able to hold their breath more than just a few seconds during the heaviest part of the lift, commonly referred to as the sticking point. Instruct them to take a larger than normal breath, not excessive but a little bit bigger than normal, and then hold it through the sticking point.

Not only does maintaining control of your breathing contribute to a stronger physical effort, it can relax your body and mind. Dr. Yessis states that inhaling and exhaling before a physical effort helps the body to relax. However, this does not mean a total relaxation of the muscles.

Prior to beginning these movements there has to be some muscular tension throughout the body. For example, when doing the dead lift, this tension is brought about by taking the slack out of the bar before the lift begins. This places enough tension on the muscles to produce sufficient strength to lift the weight off the floor once the pull begins.


Yessis, Michael, Dr. Build a Better Athlete, Equilibrium Books

Zatsiorsky, V.M. and Kraemer, W.J. Science and Practice of Strength Training

Verkhoshansky, Y. and Siff, M., Supertraining 6th edition, published by Verkhoshansky

010419 Training your breathing part 2

010419 Training your breathing part 2

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.

According to Dr. Michael Yessis[1], “studies have shown that when you execute a skill, you hold your breath on exertion-during the power phase, when force is generated.” Holding the breath “on exertion provides up to 20% greater force, stabilizes the spine, and helps prevent lower back injuries. It transforms the trunk (and, in fact, the whole body) into a stable unit against which your hips, shoulders, and arms can move more effectively.”[2]

The underlying mechanism for potentiation of strength resulting from holding your breath on exertion relies on “a pneumomuscular reflex in which increased intralung pressure serves as a stimulus for the potentiation of muscle excitability. The true mechanisms of enhanced muscle excitability have yet to be studied.”[3]

Drs. Mel Siff and Yuri Verkhoshansky “recommended that breath-holding should precede and accompany maximal efforts, which should be followed by brief exhalation-inhalation, unless technical adjustments have to be made, in which case breath holding must persist. Exercise with submaximal loading may be executed with longer phases of normal exhalation-inhalation and shorter phases of breath-holding. Neither rapid, short hyperventilation breathing, nor forced maximal inhalation is desirable for production of maximal effort during any phase of lifting.”[4]

[1] http://doctoryessis.com/about/dr-yessis/

Dr. Michael Yessis received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and his B.S. and M.S. from City University of New York. He is president of Sports Training, Inc., a diverse sports and fitness company. Dr. Yessis is also Professor Emeritus at California State University, Fullerton, where he was a multi-sports specialist in biomechanics (technique analysis) and sports conditioning and training.

[2] Yessis, M, Dr., Yessis, Michael, Dr. Build a Better Athlete, Equilibrium Books

[3] Zatsiorsky, V.M. and Kraemer, W.J. Science and Practice Of Strength Training, Published by Human Kinetics

[4] Verkhoshansky, Y. and Siff, M. Supertraining sixth edition published by Verkhoshansky

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.

110219 Resistance Training in Cold Weather part 4

110219 Resistance Training in Cold Weather part 4

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

Sweating is a good thing, but if the clothing becomes wet the insulating factor of the clothing decreases by about 90%. This is not good if you are trying to stay warm during sets.

You should remember to drink fluids regularly as dehydration adversely affects the ability to regulate body heat and it increases the risk of frostbite. Avoid alcohol and beverages that contain caffeine as they have a tendency to dehydrate the body. Dehydration brings fatigue.

According to Katch, et al. (505), radiation of heat accounts for approximately 65% of the total heat loss. Heat is lost rapidly from an uncovered head. The head, neck, hands, armpits, groin and feet all lose heat due to the close proximity of the blood vessels to the surface of the skin. The head being about “8% of the total body surface can lose as much as 30-40%” of the total heat loss.” This is a substantial amount of heat loss, and if we are to continue to exercise in an effective manner, it must be stopped. Clothing is one line of defense against the cold. Clothing, however, derives its insulation from the dead air that surrounds each fiber, so adding more layers of clothing adds more dead air space around your body. The clothing keeps the dead air close to the skin and prevents it from circulating away. “The thicker the zone of trapped air next to the skin, the more effective the insulation.” (Katch, 505)

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)

311218 Changes in pain 2/2

311218 Changes in pain 2/2

Typically, your pain will gradually subside over time with the proper treatment. If this does not happen then a revisit with your doctor is in order just as it would be if the pain changes in character.

If you experience the following, it is time to seek outside help.

  • Fever or chills and or night sweats
  • An inability to empty your bladder
  • Incontinence of your bladder or bowels
  • Weight loss that you can not explain
  • Pain that cannot be relieved with rest and relaxation
  • If you are awakened at night by your pain
  • The inability of positional changes to alleviate your pain symptoms
  • Numbness, pain weakness in your legs, either one or both of them

These signs or symptoms could indicate an undiagnosed condition such as an infection, compression fracture of the spinal column due to osteoporosis, nerve root or spinal cord compression, a kidney stone or stones, an abdominal aortic aneurysm , spinal cancer or a tumor that may have started elsewhere and spread to the spine.

In the case of the latter, these are especially true in the case of prostate, breast and lung cancers.

Pay attention to what your body is telling you and don’t let these signals pass without an examination by your doctor.

241218 Changes in pain 1/2

241218 Changes in pain 1/2

Typically, your pain will gradually subside over time with the proper treatment. If this does not happen then a revisit with your doctor is in order just as it would be if the pain changes in character. For instance if your pain moves up the scale from mild to severe or greater then call your care provider and follow their suggestions. A more serious change would be an onset of new symptoms such as tingling or numbness; both demand a consult with your doctor as soon as you can get in to see them. Your doctor should reevaluate these changes in the pain characteristics. They will conduct an examination and either eliminate a possible serious threat to your health or change the directions of the present care program.

Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most commonly reported health issues.

Throughout ones life, there more than likely will be at least one episode of low back pain. The cause can be muscle strains, deconditioning of the body brought on by a sedentary lifestyle, spinal disk damage from accidents and the degenerative diseases of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. In some cases, the pain escalates into an unbearable situation and must be aggressively dealt with by the medical professional. In the present case of low back pain, serious red flags that appear need to be heeded and promptly attended to by a medical professional.

Part 2 next week

051118 Sport and lifestyle activity-range of motion exercising

051118 Sport and lifestyle activity-range of motion exercising

Your joints and muscles are meant to function within standardized degrees of movement, commonly referred to as the range of motion (ROM). The stronger you are within these ranges, the better protected you will be in preventing injuries from occurring. Therefore when doing your exercise routine keep in mind the following two guidelines:

  1. You gain the most strength within the range of motion (ROM) at which you exercise.
  2. The smaller the range of motion you in the joint, the less will be the carry over strength throughout the rest of the movement.

The basis of every quality strength training or fitness program relies, in part, on these two premises. As an example, let’s look at the squat while explaining these principles.

Many lifters do short range squats, known as high squats, in the gym. They get into a machine or in rare cases under a bar and drop down a few inches and call it good. In many instances this isn’t even to a parallel position, let alone below parallel where they should be before starting back up again. Depending on the load of the bar or on the machine, strength may be increased within this small range of motion but its unlikely this will happen.

This range of movement is too little and does not support normal living activities such as sitting down in a chair and then getting back up. If the strength is not developed within a range that is vital to living an active lifestyle then it is not useful. This group of fitness enthusiasts would be better served by going deeper in their squats, thereby getting a transfer of useable strength into their daily lives. This naturally leads in to the second principle.

An individual or strength athlete will become stronger when training the full range of motion. This expands the strength curve and transfers more useable muscle activity across greater degrees of the joint angle. Greater degree angles of strength protect the joint from injury, especially at the far ranges of motion.

The take home message is don’t cut yourself short with limited range of motion exercises.

Training theories 291018 5/5

Training theories 291018 5/5

Two models of thought predominate the current thinking in strength training. One is ‘supercompensation’ or the one-factor theory, the second is the ‘fitness-fatigue’, also known as the two-factor theory. These two are generalized theories and as such contain only the most essential portions of the training ideas. Extraneous options are not included in this brief snap shot of these two training programs.

A rough rule of thumb with a normal training load is the duration of the fitness gains and the impact of fatigue differ by a factor of three. That is the fatigue effect is three times shorter than the positive effects, which last up to three times longer. As an example if the effects of fatigue last 24 hours, the improvement in fitness lasts 72 hours.

Using the two factor model the coach must keep in mind the two offsetting components of training and plan each follow up session accordingly. Maintenance of preparedness, avoidance of fatigue and continual training sessions comprised of several warm up type sessions prior to a contest. The idea behind this is to decrease the training load during each session rather than reduce the number of training sessions. A tapering off of the training load has been proven to enhance the final strength outcome.

In order to accomplish this feat the intervals between sessions must be long enough so the “negative traces of the preceding workout pass out of existence but the positive fitness gains persists.” This has become a rather popular model for use in planning strength training programs.