Are you a runner? Do you play a sport that involves running? Then you may be at risk for a groin injury. Read this to understand if you're at risk and check out these simple injury prevention exercises.
Intern Post By Goose & Josh:
Get infinity times faster by going beyond your understanding of speed.
Humans have an addiction to speed. No matter what we do we are never fast enough. Whether it is from running to jets flying over the open sky we build/engineer these bodies to go faster. The question is how do we engineer speed and how do we do it properly? We can break it down into 5 parts strength, cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, form, and genetics. Having a firm understanding of these 5 elements will allow you to harness a power that the human race strives to attain.
Being strong does not mean being able to lift heavy things and put things back down. It is the matter of building a foundation for speed. Without strength speed cannot be accomplished. Strength determines the rate of force development (RFD) meaning how fast your muscles contracts to produce a maximal amount of force. With minimal strength there is low RFD meaning that the muscles in your body will not be able to get you to the finish before the guy that can produce the same amount of force is a shorter period of time. Strength training, done correctly, can and will excel your RFD to the next level.
Strength training is also vital to injury prevention. It is much more beneficial and time efficient for the athlete to prevent and injury versus recovering from one. Resistance training strengthens one’s connective tissue and increases the size and strength of ligament. Strong ligaments especially in areas such as the Achilles are necessary for an athlete to keep running at top speed. The physical stress from resistance/strength also increases bone density, which will help prevent overuse injuries such as stress fractures.
Did you know that the Hulk can run at least 215 mph? That is pure strength.
Well some of you also may be thinking, “I lifted once and I got hurt…” Well yes improper lifting can hurt anyone just like improperly can cause stress fractures. Make sure you know exactly what you are doing and if you do not ask people who do. I’ll admit it is difficult to find people who know how to teach lifts properly and this requires research. Well you might be thinking this is a lot of work just to pick things up and put them back down. Let me tell you this, if you truly want to get faster then you will do whatever you can to get it done.
P.S. As strength coaches it is our responsibility to understand that we are responsible not just for making them lift more weights but for the athletes overall health and well being.
P.P.S. If you still are not convinced about building strength and its obvious benefits then check out this great article: http://saptstrength.com/2013/06/17/lifting-running-monster-benefits-an-intern-post/ It should help clear up some doubts.
What’s the point of running fast if your heart cannot keep up? Cardiovascular endurance determines how long your heart rate can pump at a high rate. The heart is the most important muscle in your body and without it there is no life, thus no speed. To have a healthy heart can mean to add more years to your life, which means more time to go fast!
Yes sure a healthy heart is great and goes without saying, but honestly how does this effect my force production to create more SPEED!? Well let’s put it this way, your heart pumps blood through out your body right? Well that includes your muscles too. What muscles need in order to function is oxygen. Well guess what is in the blood going to your muscles, OXYGEN!
So that being said if your heart poops out and pumps less blood after 10 seconds, your muscles start getting less and less oxygen. If your muscles are not getting enough of oxygen then the they will have a much harder time contracting thus = less force production. So the longer the heart can pump blood without straining the longer your body can propel itself at full speeds.
Having strong cardiovascular endurance is also vital for recovery between your bursts of intense speed. The aerobic energy system is responsible for full recovery between bouts of sprints, so that you can sprint fast on each successive sprint rather than seeing drops in performance. It clears out metabolic byproducts of anaerobic work such as CO2. Clearing out the waste allows for ATP to be produced and ATP is what we use for energy to create explosive speed.
Long story short DON’T skip cardio day! Never know when a zombie will show up
The body derives its energy from three different energy systems, the Phosphagen, Anaerobic, and Aerobic Systems. Generally speaking the Phosphagen System provides energy for all out efforts lasting 6 to 15 seconds, depending on the nature of the activity. Meanwhile the Anaerobic System provides the energy for submaximal bursts of speed lasting 30 seconds to2 minutes. Finally the Aerobic System provide a low but constant flow of energy for long lasting activities such as distance running. Whenever you exercise all three of the energy systems are turned on however the amount of energy you get from each one varies depending on duration, intensity, and the nature of the activity.
When sprinting you primarily rely on the Phosphagen System and the Anaerobic System for energy. The Aerobic system is being utilized during the activity but its main role is providing energy for recovery. This is why it is important to have a strong cardiovascular system, it’ll help you recover faster so you can sprint for longer. Muscular endurance training teaches your body how to push the limits of these energy systems and how to recover faster. This can be done through interval workouts, fartleks, hills, and bleacher/stair workouts. By continuously putting a high energy demand on your body and teaching it to keep working under stressful conditions you are actually pushing your Lactate Threshold back further and further.
Your body naturally produces lactate throughout the workout but when you do high intensity muscular endurance workouts you get to a point when the lactate overwhelms the system which gets rid of it. Once lactate production exceeds the removal capacity of the body it starts to accumulate in the blood stream. This is bad news because it interferes with the production of energy by the 3 systems I mentioned before. This begins the downward spiral to you ending up on the ground with vomit all over yourself. During workouts you push your body to its Lactate threshold but not passed it, this paired with your body’s awesome ability to adapt to new stresses over time will keep pushing the threshold further back. This is how people “get in shape”, they constantly put stress on the body which causes it to adapt until the previous level of stress is no longer as challenging.
Mental Toughness! My personal definition of mental toughness is being able to push yourself to do what you have to do even when it hurts. My favorite example of this is the 400m dash. The 400 meters is a great but terrible race for no matter who you are/how fast you are the last 100 meter are ALWAYS going to hurt. The high school scrub who runs 53 seconds and the all-star who runs 46 seconds are both hating life during that last straightaway. The difference being that the all-star has taught himself to ignore the pain and maintain form, meanwhile the scrub is thinking too much about the burning in his quads while his arms flail everywhere and everyone flies by. It’s the mental fortitude to ignore how tired you are and being able to remain focused on the task at hand that separates champions from benchwarmers. Only by constantly putting your body in this tired state, through running workouts, and testing your mental fortitude will you get tougher.
Only the toughest person wins the race!
The reason why coaches are such sticklers about form is because bad form sacrifices efficiency. There’s a reason why all the fast people on TV look the same when they run! Good form allows you to use you’re body’s levers to your advantage and to properly direct the force you’re putting on the ground. In layman’s terms, it lets you do work while expending less energy. This makes the difference in the end of the race/game when everyone is tired. Whoever has the most energy left will win 9 times out of 10. The simplest running form drill that will work wonders when performed correctly are:
-Straight Leg Bounds
-Alternating Quick Leg
These drills not only work on running form but also coordination. They can do wonders for kids and adults who lack the coordination to run properly.
**Front pack = world class times, stragglers = average times, form made the difference!**
As much as I would love to say we are all equal and have the exact same potential, that would be a lie. I’m a firm believer in genetic superiority. We all knew that guy in high school or college that had the drive to work hard but barely improved every season. On the flip side, we all had that friend who never tried hard at all and was still the best on the team. You can only fight your genetics so much! HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve greatness! Sure you may not be a national champion but being All-State or Conference Champ is still pretty awesome. There is still plenty of glory to be had, you just have to go out there and get it! Even if you don’t win but set a personal best, that still means you are now better than you’ve ever been, there should be some small amount of satisfaction there! So what if you’re genes aren’t the best it doesn’t mean you can’t get faster! Odds are you’re not even close to hitting your genetic ceiling, aka you’re body’s full potential. Do work and worry about the factor you can control.
**We can’t all be the greatest athlete in the world, but we can try ;)**
You got out of work later than ususal... perfect timing to hit rush hour at its height and extend your normal 20-minute commute to the gym into an all-out 45-minute crawl full of frustration.
By the time you get to the gym, you only have about 25 minutes before you need to leave.
What do you do? Do you literally throw in your towel and just go home? How can you possibly salvage a decent training session out of the train wreck that was the afternoon?
Circuit Training is waiting to save the day! Well, so are Time Turners, but pretty much no one has one of those things...
What is Circuit Training?
The possibilities are limited only by your imagination (and your physical capacity. I know from personal experience that performing box jumps after a barbell sumo deadlift is a baaaaad idea).
Typically, circuits are comprised of 5-8 exercises and you want to work with weights about 75-80% of your max. Translation: pick weights that you could probably perform for 8-10 challenging repetitions. String them all together, and work through the circuit with minimal rest between exercises.
In terms of time, you can set up your circuit a couple of different ways:
1. Set a particular rep goal per exercise and then set your time for 15-25 minutes and see how many rounds of the circuit you can perform.
2. Pick a number of rounds to complete and try to finish as quickly as possible. Usually, if you have about 5-8 exercises, 5 rounds will be around 20-ish minutes.
Benefits of Circuits:
1. They're a great way to improve overall conditioning without watching your hard earned muscle mass wither away. Two recent research reviews (abstracts here and here) have found that steady state cardiovascular training can a) decrease power output (yikes! Not good for athletes that need to produce power aka: everyone) and b) compromise muscle mass (and thus strength) gains. This effect is seen most prominently when aerobic training is 3x/week for greater than 20 minutes. The metabolic pathways that aerobic and anaerobic (think strength training and sprint/interval training) are conflicting. It's very hard to maintain a large amount of muscle mass and be a long-distance runner!
Circuit training is similar, metabolically, to sprint/interval/hill training in that it preserves lean muscle mass.
Steady state cardiovascular training, on the other hand, can lead to elevated levels of cortisol (stress hormone) which can decrease the effectiveness of muscle-building hormones such as testosterone and insulin-like growth. It also encourages muscle protein break down.
While strength training too breaks down muscle tissue, the anabolic (building) environment produced by strength training encourages repair more than the catabolic (break down) environment of aerobic training. Strength coach Charles Poliquin says:
Whereas endurance exercises compromise anaerobic performance and body composition, anaerobic training modes such as sprint intervals and weight lifting will benefit endurance athletes if programed properly. To improve endurance performance, do a strength-type resistance training program with loads of 80 percent of the 1RM or heavier. This will train the type IIA muscle fibers so they increase the rate of force development and get faster.
Type IIA muscle fibers = strong, powerful muscles. We want those!
So if you're still with me, we'll move on to the second point.
2. It's time-efficient. After a quick dynamic warm-up and maybe a warm-up set or two of the planned exercises, the total time of a circuit should be no more than 25-minutes start to finish. 15-minutes would even be sufficient depending on the intensity of the exercise selection and weights used. Nice huh? It's just long enough to make you feel like you've worked out but not too long that you're home late for dinner.
3. (but really 2.5) Not only are they time-efficient but they're efficient in the sense that a circuit can hit a lot of muscle groups, through full ranges of motion, in one fell swoop. While a jog will really only get your legs (and, I would argue, not very well since the range of motion is small, the force production is low, and the intensity isn't that high either) and maybe some low level core activation, a circuit can be full body. Take a look at this sample:
Goblet or barbell squat x 6-8
Pushup x 8-10
Step back lunge x 6-8/side
3 Point Row x 8/side
Kettle bell swing x 10
Can you see the total body genius in that? We have lower body (both bilateral and unilateral movements), upper body (push and pull) and a delightful amount of full range of motion exercises. All of which, if one wanted, could be done with just one kettlebell.
Run through that baby 5 or 6 times and try to tell me that's not cardio. Oh wait, you can't. I can't hear you over your screaming lungs and gasping breaths.
4. Because circuits demand so much from your muscles and cardiovascular system, they're pretty calorically expensive, which means your body will be burning calories longer post-workout than they would after a lower intensity training session (aka: low-intensity, steady state cardio). On those above-linked research reviews, it was found that athletes reduced body fat when they performed high intensity exercise (sprints or circuits).
So, if you're looking for an efficient way to reduce body fat, preserve lean tissue, AND improve your cardiovascular fitness, circuit training is definitely a tool you want in your toolbox!
I feel obligated to note that strength training, solid strength training sessions, need to make up the bulk of your training week. Picking up heavy things repeatedly is the best way to build muscle and get stronger. Circuit training, while it won't make you weaker and can aid with strength gains, is inferior overall to 80-90% max lifting in terms of producing maximal strength gains. While I don't recommend basing your entire training plan around circuits, they are beneficial and even fun (yes, fun.) to throw in every once and a while.
On March 15, 2013 I became a regular person - well my perception of regular anyway - and I love it!
Why did I have to relinquish my super-hero status? I’ll leave it at this: I saw my dreams not just faltering, but failing. So, to get back on track, I stopped working two full-time jobs... which I had been doing for years for "fun" versus necessity. I took a break from my love-affair with iron. I also sit more than I have in about 15 years... that's a mega regular person activity!
Well, if we fast forward to today, my big dreams in life are properly realigned and effectively back within reach. But, I want to talk about what has happened to my physical foundation over that time.
SAPT’s methodology is based on the approach of Strength as a Foundation. We use various examples to explain why this is the best approach for building speed and explosiveness, but my favorite is “imagine shooting a cannon out of a canoe” sounds silly, right? Well that’s because it is. Never having operated an actual cannon myself, I can still easily imagine how ineffective and potentially dangerous it would be to try to shoot the thing out of a canoe.
The same concept holds true for performance training. If Strength as a Foundation is ignored, you’ve effectively set yourself or your child up for ineffective and potentially dangerous training.
Okay, so getting back to my little story: since becoming proudly “regular,” I’ve been working out at home and put a huge emphasis on improving my overall fitness. “Fitness” in this case meant I wanted to put a big focus on improving my cardiovascular system's functioning and efficiency. My exercise of choice? Running. And because of time limits I have only been lifting an average of 20-minutes, twice a week... but my running workouts stick around 60-90 minutes, 4-5 days a week.
Do you see where this is heading...?
I've let my foundation crack. My strength foundation. It sort of sucks. But, I planned for this to happen... I guess I just didn't know what it would feel like once I arrived. I've been lifting consistently since I was 19 years old. The longest break I’ve ever taken (up until this year) would have been a MAXIMUM of one week off from lifting. Crazy, but this 20-min/2x per week lifting has been going on for almost 4-months. With several weeks in there taken completely off from lifting.
I’ve been trying to shoot a cannon out of an ever destabilizing canoe. Attempting to keep up such a high volume, frequency, and intensity of running without maintaining my strength foundation is trouble. I’m feeling it now.
My goals have been accomplished in terms of “fitness” but I’ve been surprised what a slippery slope running that much and lifting that little has been. It’s like the losses are compounded. My knees often ache and the muscle mass in my legs (read: glutes and hamstrings) has dropped significantly.
What’s the plan and what’s the lesson?
I need to build muscle and lift weights more frequently. That’s the plan. And the lesson? As advertised, running really is detrimental to strength levels. I’m undecided about how I feel about this. Where I am in my life, running really lines up well with my mentality and goals. I can’t even begin to tell you how many excellent ideas I’ve had while running... SAPT was actually conceived during a run 6-years ago(!). But, I need to prioritize more prehab exercises to keep myself on the trails. In terms of the biggie compound lifts, eh, I’ll probably continue to take a break. 13 years straight of weight training means I’m certain the lure of the iron will pull me back when the time is right. In the meantime, I’ll continue setting a laser focus on building an amazing business and embracing my “regular” side.
Last week I attended a workshop on marketing for the small business owner. It was amazing and led by John Jantsch who is *tha guy* when it comes to this topic. As much as I believe the experience has already had a permanent and positive change on SAPT, I will try to exercise some self-control and stay on-topic. I do mention the experience for good reason: the first - and most tangible - impact from this workshop for our readers is in how we deliver content on the blog. Here are the changes you can look forward to:
- Each month will have a theme that each primary (MWF) post will address. This month's theme: Give Me Strength!
- We will be attempting to up our quality from an internal standpoint by actually editing posts ahead of time.
- All this requires *gasp* planning, so posts should be more reliable with few, if any, missed posts.
Please engage if you like or hate or even have no feeling about what you read here!
This begins a series of virtual sprint "seminars" that I'm sure many of you will enjoy. I - along with two of our Summer interns, Josh and Goose - have been working with a number of our college baseball guys to improve their sprinting speed. Given we meet with them 2x/week outside of their usual lifting program, and that they're making some sort of improvement each and every session, it makes for excellent blogging fodder that hopefully you human movement geeks out there will enjoy.
Questions that will be answered in this episode:
- What is the Falling Start? And why does it help with improving sprint speed and mechanics?
- Why having or developing "quick feet" may NOT actually be the answer you're looking for when it comes to improving sprint speed.
- Common errors that nearly everyone makes during the falling start, and how to correct them.
- How to reduce your risk of injury when beginning a sprint training program.
- What Street Fighter can teach you about ensuring a strong acceleration off the line.
Comments? Feedback? Was this helpful? Mind blown? Share any thoughts below!
I've been going on and on about the quality of our interns and the SAPT internship experience, but it's true. We've got some crazy awesome interns this summer. Below is Josh's first post. Like Goose, Josh was also on the track team at Mason... as a pole vaulter *gasp!* That's my gut reaction, anyway... terror! Having my feet above my head has never been okay. I never learned to do a proper cartwheel because of that. I'll happily pile hundreds of pounds on my spine, but feet over my head? No thanks.I used to watch in amazement as Josh would perform handstand pushups outside of my office at Mason. Pretty cool to witness an athlete perfecting that variety of movement as a key skill to their sport. If you ever get the chance to meet Josh (which you might) he's this super relaxed, low-key kind of guy. He'll very quickly put you at ease and somehow seems to have an endless supply of energy. But, he's also always on top of his stuff and tends to always impress me. Everything from the best off-the-cuff dynamic warm-ups ever to thought provoking questions to coming up with the below killer blog about regulating intensity and volume when addressing your conditioning work.
He's one of the RunFAST coaches, btw. ENJOY:
I ask younger athletes a lot what they plan to do over the summer now that school is out and the season is over. Many of them say that they will probably run a couple of miles a day to stay in shape and get faster. This mindset causes these athletes go out for the cross-country team expecting to get faster and stronger for their primary sport: baseball, lacrosse, or even soccer. Don’t get me wrong cross-country is great if you are out of shape and just want to develop general conditioning. HOWEVER, for the athlete that needs to be reactive and explosive, running 40-50 miles a week will not only fail to accomplish this goal but it will shift the muscle composition to be more slow twitch dominant thus losing explosiveness and reactivity capabilities.
You may be thinking, “Endurance actually sounds great! I want to last a whole basketball game without passing out at the end or be able to run up and down a soccer field without gasping for air. I just want to be more in shape then everyone else.” and you still can! You can accomplish these same goals by running way less. Your sport does not only require you to last but also be quick and explosively responsive to the dynamics of the game. So why would you jog around for hours on end when your sport has high demands of fast twitch moments.
To help you better understand this concept of less there is the 80-20 Rule (or “Pareto Principle), which states that 80% of the gains comes from 20% of exercises you do. For example, let’s say for your workout for the day you do 10 exercises, 2 of those exercises are going to be responsible for 80% of the performance results. This does not mean that the other 8 exercises are not important, they are! However, this should help you understand that it is not the “more” that produces better results.
What Should I Do Then?The way this can be accomplished is by working on is fast twitch (type 1) endurance. Yes, as odd as it sounds there is such things as fast twitch endurance. Look at track and field for example. Many people who do not know the sport consider the sprinting events to be anywhere from the 400 meters races and below. However, when you start looking at the college and professional times of the 1600 meters (1-mile) race these athletes/runners are looking at the event as more of a strategic sprint.
Ok I Get It... Just Tell Me How To Train For It Already!
Sprint endurance can be trained by running slightly longer intervals such as 200-400 meter workouts with a set rest time in between. Even though these distances are longer than one would run in a game, this trains the athlete to maintain a top speed for much longer durations.
The rest time for these intervals should be anywhere from a 1:3 - 1:5 work to rest ratio. Huh, you ask? These means that if you run a 400 meter interval in 70 seconds then you would rest anywhere from 3X to 5X the amount ran. So in this case it would range from 3 1/2 - nearly 6 minutes rest. The reason for this ratio is because biologically your ATP-PC energy system takes about that time to recover. When you are training speed endurance, you are actually training the ATP-PC energy system to recover faster. It normally takes the ATP-PC system 6-8 minutes to replenish itself.
For more information on energy system, which is IMPORTANT to understand, check out Gustavo's Article from yesterday. Scroll down to Myth #2 and he breaks down the energy systems really well.
Judging the amount of rest you should take also depends on what your workout is for the day and how you are feeling. You want to make sure you can get through the workout but you also do not want to make it too easy either. Longer rest should be taken for those who are running longer distances such as 400-meter intervals vs. 200 meter interval. Also if your main focus is on speed then you want to be well rested so that each interval is quality and fast.
One More Thing!
We live in a day where overuse injuries are very common. A lot of this is due to the association of the great workout burn to getting stronger. This mentality is what causes people to get hurt. They workout to feel that pain to justify what they do is working however they actually put too much stress on the body and not give it enough time to rest and recovery. Sure in the beginning everything is fine. You are getting stronger and more in shape but as time progresses you get that nagging pain in your hamstring or your foot. This can be caused by improper form that you have been running on consistently for months or one muscle group is trying to compensate for the other. These injuries are very difficult to treat and for an athlete to go through because in many cases the treatment is to do nothing. Every competitive athlete I know hates the idea of doing nothing.
Be smart about your training. Run with quality not quantity. It will benefit a lot more in the long run. Pun intended.