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.

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.

1995:7-9.

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)

250219 Resistance Training in Cold Weather part 6

250219 Resistance Training in Cold Weather part 6

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

Naturally, good shoes are essential components of lifting gear. You should not go out to lift in the cold with sandals or tennis shoes. Protect your toes and feet by wearing the appropriate footwear.

A danger in working out in an unheated room for an extended time comes from exposure to the cold. Frostbite, frost nip and the extreme, hypothermia, can result if care is not taken to prevent their onset. Prevention of this is essential. Keeping the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, hands and fingers adequately covered and warm will in most cases prevent frostbite and frost nip. Also be on the alert for symptoms of Hypothermia, a dangerous lowering of the core temperature, which creeps up on a person. Confusion, lack of coordination, and slurred speech are just a few of the symptoms to be aware of when in the cold for a long time. Immediate warming up is needed in the early stage of hypothermia. If advanced stage symptoms are present then PROMPT and CORRECT MEDICAL TREATMENT IS REQUIRED.

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.

1995:7-9.

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)

180219 Resistance Training in Cold Weather part 5

180219 Resistance Training in Cold Weather part 5

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

“Likewise, clothing next to the skin must also be effective in transporting moisture (wicking action) away from the body’s surface to the next insulating material layer for evaporation.” Polypropylene, a synthetic that insulates and dries quickly, can be very effective in this capacity.
Good workout clothing should “match the weather” and it should “provide a semitropical micro climate for the body and prevent chilling.” (Arnheim, 304)

The covering should be of a synthetic fabric such as polyester, which is lightweight, dries easily and retains its insulating properties even when wet. The fabric should also breathe, i.e., if you sweat, it should allow the water vapors to escape and not be trapped next to your skin. “If the water vapor cannot evaporate through the clothing it will condense, freeze and reduce the insulation value of the clothing and cause the body temperature to go down.” (USAF, 142) 

As a side note, the old woods saying of “cotton kills” is accurate in the weight room as well. When cotton gets wet it loses all of its insulating qualities and remains wet for a long time. Once a piece of clothing becomes wet, especially cotton, heat is transferred outwardly at 25 times its normal rate. (USAF, 143) Wet clothing “actually facilitates heat loss from the body because water conducts heat much faster than air.” (Katch, 505)

Take care to layer your workout clothing. This gives you a chance to regulate the heat by removing some but not all as you warm up during the session. It’s even better to have a button or zipper at the top to allow for a stove pipe effect. A stovepipe effect means you open the top part and allow the air to circulate from the bottom of the garment to escape out the unbuttoned or unzipped top portion.

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.

1995:7-9.

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)

270229 A new phone to practice with today

The old phone outlived its useful life.

So be prepared to see what it’s like where I live.

We have about 18 inches of snow on the ground. It is going to get around 9 degrees within 2 days.

The good part about this is, there are no bugs.

Needless to say, it is gorgeous.

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.

1995:7-9.

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)

040219 Resistance Training in Cold Weather part 3

040219 Resistance Training in Cold Weather part 3

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

We function best at core temperatures between 96-102 degrees, and exposures to extremes can result in substantial decreases in physical efficiency (USAF 141). Keeping our core in the suggested efficient range can be relatively easy if a few precautions are taken at the outset. Cold temperatures work against your power production in the weight room, unless you are prepared to address the temperature dilemma. Overcoming the cold is possible, but it takes effort and planning.

.Clearly, then, in order to maximize gains in a cold environment, some pre training changes must take place. Knowledge of how and where heat is lost will serve as a beginning point.

The skin and tissues of the body strive to remain at a constant temperature despite the fluctuations of the external temperatures. Regulation is by the circulating blood removing heat from the working cells. This excess energy is transported to the surface of the skin where it is exposed to the environment.

Heat loss occurs in five ways:

  • conduction,
  • convection,
  • evaporation,
  • radiation and
  • respiration

We will concern ourselves only with the conduction, evaporation and respiration of body heat while in the cold weight room. Obviously, respiration will play a role in heat loss if we are breathing heavily during our squats and dead lifts.

Conduction is heat loss through touching body parts on colder surfaces (remember warmth rapidly transfers to the colder area).

Each time you grip the bar, body heat is lost through your hands to the cold bar and every time you lay on the bench you lose body heat as it transfers a portion to the bench.

Evaporation is a form of heat loss that is familiar to all athletes. Internal body heat results in the sweat response, the sweat evaporates and thus heat is removed.