Here is the second part to a previous article written by Dan Zwirlein. Whatever your goals may be, proper nutrition is huge. If you didn't already read the first part, check it out with the link below. Take it away Dan!...........................
In the first compliance article,
I talked about why people have trouble seeing results from their prospective fitness programs. In review, this usually stems from what they are doing outside of the gym rather than inside the gym, and it has to do with their compliance/adherence to a nutritional plan. In this article, I want to expand on this idea and give more thoughts/tips on how to develop a more disciplined nutrition plan for better body composition.
A common question is “so then what do I eat?”, “what is healthy eating?” “what is considered clean eating?”. This is a hot topic in the nutrition today: what really is clean eating or what is healthy? Honestly, I don't think there is an accurate description of what clean eating is and if you asked someone to give you a formal definition, I don't think they could. That's one of the major flaws with the clean eating concept: it means something different to everyone. There was a very good article just written about this topic and I suggest everyone checks it out. You can find it here
. Basically, the article debunks the notion of “clean” eating; meaning there aren't actually groups of clean and dirty foods respectively. For example, the body doesn't have different processes for digesting, utilizing, and storing nutrients from so called clean foods vs. dirty foods; i.e., fat from cookies isn't digested and stored differently than fat from avocado. Your body doesn't know the difference between the macro nutrients it receives from these different foods. Obviously, there is a difference between the complete nutritional profile of a cookie and a vegetable, and you shouldn't use this as an excuse to eat as much cookies and ice cream as you want even though it still fits your macro nutrient profile.
So what can we do with this information to make educated decisions about our nutrition? It doesn't really change anything but the mindset, meaning you still should concentrate on eating nutrient dense foods a majority of the time. The 90% rule still applies but now your outlook on those supposed cheat meals is different. There is nothing unhealthy with enjoying a treat for 10% of your meals IF it is planned properly and accounted for in your total caloric intake. This way you don't have to worry about it completely derailing your progress. Keep in mind though that something that is “unhealthy” might be “healthy” for someone else based on their goals or medical condition. Its all about the right context. HOWEVER, once again we are talking about 10% of your meals, which still means only about once a week. The biggest point I want to make is that your focus shouldn't be on the 10% of meals, it should be on the 90%. The other thing I want to emphasize is the fact that these are planned single meals and snacks that must fit within your weekly caloric intake, not all day binges that some suggest.
The 90% meals should be a combination of protein, fat, and carbs in ratios that help you reach your goals. For weight loss, that means about a gram of protein for every lb of your targeted body weight. (The same is true if you are trying to put on muscle) So if you weigh 200 lbs but you want to weigh 185 lbs you would consume about 185 grams of protein. Fat intake would be up to half of your protein intake and carbs will vary based on your goals and activity level. For example, someone trying to put on muscle mass or an athlete will need more carbohydrates in their diet than the average person looking for weight loss. These are all estimates and can be adjusted as needed; they are just a good basic guideline to start with.
The sources of your protein, fat, and carbs for the 90% of your meals should be your main focus. Whole food sources including quality meats, eggs, fruits, vegetables and certain healthy starches and grains (depending on the goal at hand). A good rule of thumb is if it didn't grow, run, fly, or swim then don't eat it. For most people starting out, this is a challenge just in itself. Changing 90% of their meals to some combination of these foods will be enough to make a large difference. This is why in the previous article I talked about making small progressive changes that can lead to long term habitual change. I want to make another point clear however: calories DO matter. This means that besides quality, the QUANTITY of food still needs to be monitored. It doesn't matter if you only eat things that I just mentioned, if you still eat too much you will not burn as much fat or lose as much weight, if at all. What a typical meal should look like
About a palm size portion of protein of your choice ( Grass fed Beef, Eggs, Chicken Breast, Pork, Salmon, etc., some type of vegetable, and a starch like a potato/sweet potato or some oats in equal portions. You should get your fats from the meat sources, eggs, avocados, and cook with things like grass fed butter, olive oil, or coconut oil.
This article is supposed to be about compliance right? So now lets talk about more ways to help with compliance within the framework of ideas I've been talking about. I think the best way to stay compliant within your 90% meals is to have a plan of attack and stick to the plan as much as you can
. One of the best ways to stick to a nutritional plan is to limit your choices. Find a few meals that you like, are easy to make, and fit within the framework of your macro nutrient intake (carb, protein, and fats) and stick to them. There will always be ways to spice things up later or add more choices in. Limiting your choices early on helps you take the guessing work out of preparing food and inherently keeps you more disciplined because you only have a couple of meals to choose from. This also forces you to develop good habits. If you eat just about the same things everyday you can form a routine around these meals. Preparing of multiple meals is also a great way to increase nutritional compliance.
If you prepare all your meals ahead of time it keeps you on a plan, and like limiting your choices, you are forced to stay on your plan because the food is already prepared. A big barrier for a lot of people to stay compliant is meal preparation. There is work involved in preparation of meals, and when people are short on time or they just don't feel like cooking, they look for something quick and easy. What types of foods are usually quick and easy to make? Not usually things that fall into the grow, run, fly, or swim category. Decrease the amount of times you are eating out
. This goes hand in hand with preparing meals ahead of time, which will limit the need for eating out as much. Lets face it, as I already mentioned, most people don't enjoy meal prep so going out to eat or ordering something is an easy cop out; however, once you decide to go out your chances of sticking to a plan diminish quite a bit, because you really are no longer in complete control of what you are eating. It is easy to get off track when there are so many restaurant and menu choices out there. Not to mention, now you really are not in control of the portion sizes or what exactly is being used to cook the meal. By limiting the times you are out, you avoid temptation, stay on track, and best of all save money. Limit alcohol consumption.
This might be the biggest nutritional hurdle for a lot of people. They don't realize how many extra calories they are consuming just from alcohol alone. For some it means getting rid of half a day's worth or even a full days worth of meals in calories each week just by dropping alcohol consumption down! I am not saying to never drink alcohol, but it should be limited to a couple drinks a week or special occasions. Drink Super Shakes.
Even If you prepare all your meals ahead of time there will still be those situations where you need some nutrition in a pinch. Having a few go to super shakes that are quick and easy to make are a good way to stay on track and satiated until you have time to eat more whole foods. But remember, you shouldn't just live off of shakes, it is necessary to eat whole food as much as you can.
Find out what a super shake includes here
. If all else fails try preparing all your meals from a lean eating cook book.
There are many good options out there these days but I would recommend: Gourmet Nutrition Practical Paleo
(Disclaimer: You would need to add in more carbs when using this one.) 4 hour chef
( Disclaimer: This is more than a cook book but a very interesting read.)
With this information in hand I don't think anyone should have a problem making some healthier choices, especially if you take the time to make a plan and follow through with it. Using just some of the tips I've outlined in these two articles should give you everything you need to be successful. The key is actually making the time not taking the time. You make time for things that are important to you and what's more important than your health?
A common mistake people tend to make with their lunge, or single leg squat variations in general, is caving or falling over as they go down or come out of the bottom. This can be due to abdominal, low back or hip weakness, improper breathing or just poor neuromuscular coordination. Whatever the reason, it is important to stay tall during the lunge (looking at the reverse lunge here) while driving through the hip. Here is a great exercise to help teach proper hip drive while staying tall. It is also just a killer exercise in general that can be loaded real easily and also hits the entire core real nice. Peep the vid.
When is the last time you hurt your back? Yesterday picking up a grocery bag? Helping your buddy move last month? Getting up off the toilet wrong as you were reading the latest Mens Health magazine? Picking up your girlfriend to twirl her around until you dropped her when you spasmed up? Well if you answered yes to any of these then you better keep reading this article. If you didn't answer yes to any of these, you still better keep reading this article. If you are here for any reason at all, you better keep reading this article.
Building upon the last question, when is the last time you hurt your back intentionally? I'm going to go ahead and guess that for many of you, the answer to this question is never or not recently. I don't mean when is the last time you hurt your back as in intentionally injured yourself. I'm saying when is the last time you straight up went to war in the weight room and made a solid effort to train, strengthen and bulletproof your back muscles. If you don't know when that time was, then perhaps you deserve all of the aches, pains and injuries you sustain with mundane little tasks like picking up a grocery bag to get out your crap food that you don't need or the crap food that you think is good for you because some garbage magazine said that it was but it really isn't and is in fact, in all reality, crap.
Now, before going further, let me make it perfectly clear that hip mobility and stability, glute function, abdominal endurance and stability, lumbopelvic stability, proper movement patterns, good thoracic spine mobility and solid control all around the pelvis and spine is of huge importance and should always be developed for optimal back health. McGill's stuff, Sahrmann's stuff and all of the movement impairment and corrective stuff out there is all awesome and needs to be addressed. What I am going to write about today is something that, at least in my eyes, you don't hear a whole lot about anymore. Actually training the heck out of your low and mid back and developing bulletproof muscular support, strength and endurance all around your spine and back region. There are tons of muscles to be developed and while glute work, abdominal work, etc. are all important, the back needs to be trained and trained hard. It seems to me that many have almost become scared to train their back because of all of the info that is now out there about stability, hip function, etc. Iliocostalis, longissimus, spinalis, multifidus, rotatores, semispinalis, quadratus lumborum, lats, trapezius and even the deep little intertransversarii and interspinalis muscles make up just a general summary of the many muscles that make up the lower region of the back (many of which continue up into the rest of the back on up into the neck). Want to be freakishly strong? Better train these muscles. Want to get big and muscular? Better train these muscles. Want to get lots of chicks (or, umm, good looking guys)? Better train these muscles. Want to prevent unnecessary episodes of back pain? Better train these muscles.
More commonly than should occur, I have clients “alert” me that their backs hurt or were sore after certain workouts. Now, “pain” as in bad pain that occurs from a tear or passive tissue injury is not something we want and if this is in fact occurring, the program needs to be modified for that individual or you need to learn how to use proper form. However, muscular soreness from training hard with solid exercises like deadlifts, back extensions, reverse hypers and good mornings is something that we need to push through with. Now, if your back is completely torched all the time and you don't feel much in your glutes or hamstrings, then you should probably reevaluate your technique or program. But if your back is sore or hurting sometimes after a hard training session, then maybe your building up some tolerance in those tissues where it needs to be built up. Maybe your toughening those tissues up so that next time you want to pick up that bag of groceries or carry that piece of equipment across the yard, you won't curl over and use three forms of the “f” word. Because when it comes down to it, if you never train those muscles and tissues and are afraid to put some positive stress through those muscles and tissues, when you do put some unexpected stress through them, you can easily run into problems.
If you look at some stuff out there by guys like Louie Simmons and Chuck Vogelpohl, some of the strongest men to ever walk the planet, they even go as far as to say you should do some exercises with a “bad” or rounded back position to build some tolerance in the tissues so that if you do catch yourself in that position, nothing “bad” will happen. When I worked at a corporate wellness center in La Crosse, my boss at the time, Cori Cripe had general population clients do some exercises with “natural” form (which often was not textbook like) so that if they found themselves in a bad position in a real life situation, their body would be prepared for it. I think that this is an interesting concept because while we can train proper body mechanics as much as possible, there will usually be some odd situation where we might not be able to use picture perfect form. Look at some strongman activities or warehouse jobs. While I don't think doing tons of sets and reps with “less than perfect” positioning is a good idea and that people absolutely need to learn and train with proper mechanics first and foremost, I think this idea has some value for certain people. The main point that I am getting at is that we can't be afraid to train the low/mid back and put it through some work.
Deadlift heavy, do your back extensions, perform reverse hypers, do good mornings all morning, row and pull heavy, swing plenty of kettebells and do things like these until you have some nice steaks on each side of your spine. (Of course learn proper form and use good hip drive w/ a good back position) Train each side and get the deeper fibers with side holds, side bridges, cable chops, heavy carries and windmills. Get a little dirty with it. Build a fortress. Get rolling. Have a little soreness? Good!! Get stronger. Build some endurance in those fibers (research shows back extensor endurance is a huge part of preventing back issues). The more tolerance you have in the wide array of tissues back there, the easier everyday activites will be, the stronger your body will be as a whole, the more muscle you will build and the more members of the opposite sex you will attract. A strong, endurable, muscular and well developed back is the cornerstone of a fit and strong body (talking mainly about low/mid back in this article but upper is just as important; i.e. do your rows and face pulls:). That goes for males and females. While pecs, arms and abs get all the attention in many “circles,” the back is where its truly at. It is the base for everything else. So train it and reap the rewards.
Building steel across their backs
Todd Maier is a lieutenant at the St Francis Fire Department. I've had the privilege of working with his wife Penny for over 2 years. Her amazing progress finally inspired him to start getting serious about training this past fall. He quickly took everything in and his hard work ethic both in and out of the gym has carried over to many others in his department. He has gotten pretty ripped, stronger and out of pain in around 8 months time. He is proof that hard work and dedication with training and diet will lead to awesome results. From September 2011 to February 2012, he went from ~27% bodyfat to ~16% bodyfat. Looking at the last pictures shown down below (taken in May), he is now under 10% and lean. Peep the photos kids.
Original, Fall 2011
Training has been going great the last 4-5 months and I've been hitting some nice weights on multiple lifts. I'm hoping to get back on the platform this summer. Heres video of my workout from yesterday where I work up to a 675lb reverse band rack deadlift and a 315lb zercher squat for 5 reps; the rest of the workout is listed in the video after the main lifts.
I'll list a couple of other notable workouts I've had lately in no particular order.
Max floor press week 1
Floor Press w/ 40lbs of chain 135lbsx3 185lbsx3 225lbsx3 245lbsx3 275lbsx3 PR 285lbsx2 (325lbs w/chains) PR 225lbsx12
Lockouts (pin3, ~top half of press) 225lbsx3 315lbsx3 335lbsx3 365lbsx3 405lbsx2 PR
Incline db press 85lbs 3x15-10
Chest supp row 1platex5 2platesx5 2plates&25lbx5 2plates&35lbx5 3platesx4.5
One arm pulldown 60-80lbs 3x7-8
Rolling db extensions 40lbs 2x8-10 50lbsx8 45lbsx8 Chain extensionsx20
One arm rev curl 65lbs 3x8
Chest supp Y 12lbs 3x10-15
External rotation at side 15lbs 2x12
Max floor press week 2
Floor Press w/ 32lbs of chain 135lbsx3 185lbsx3 225lbsx1 275lbsx1 300lbs2x1 PR (340lbs w/ chains)
One arm face pull 30-60lbs 5x8-12 (in between sets)
Rack lockouts (hole 3) 225lbsx3 315lbsx3 365lbsx2 405lbsx1 315lbsx8
Incline db press 85lbs 3x8-15
Chest supp row +45lbsx5 +70lbsx5 +90lbsx5 +125lbsx5 +115lbsx6PR +90lbsx10
One arm pulldown 60lbs 3x8
Db extensions 40lbsx8 band pushdowns grey 3x8-10
One arm rev cable curl 50lbs 3x8
One arm chest supp Y 15lbs 3x8-10
Ext rotation at side 3x10-12
Max Box Squat week 1 at Badgers Facility
Buffalo Bar Box Squat w/ 88lbs of chains (buffalo bar is 52lbs) worked up to 282lbs+chainsx3 322lbs+chainsx3 (410lbs) PR 332lbs+chainsx2 (420lbs) PR 332lbs+chainsx3 232lbs+chainsx8
Trap Bar Deadlift 1platex5 2platesx5 3platesx5 4platesx5 3platesx5
One leg glute ham raise 3x8
One leg belt squat machine 3x8 (+10-+45lbs)
Reverse hypers +90lbs 3x~20reps
Hanging leg raises, high to low rope chops, offset farmers carry
Clams/side leg raises/psoas raises/adductions
Belt squatx20/belt pullx20 3rds nonstop airdynex20s
Max Box Squat week 2
Box Squat w/ ~80lbs of chain 135lbsx3 185lbsx3 225lbsx1 275lbsx1 315lbsx1 335lbsx1 355lbsx1 PR 365lbsx1 PR (445lbs w/chains) 315lbsx5 PR 225lbsx6
Yoke Bar Good Morning off rack 132lbsx5 172lbsx5 222lbsx5 262lbsx5
One leg press 2platesx8 3plates 2x8 3plates&25lbx8
One leg glute ham raise 2x8 ghr w/ grey band 3x8-10
One leg reverse hyper short strap +70lbs 3x8 Lateral kb lunge 52lbs 3xreps
High to low chop 90lbs 2x8 Hanging leg raise straight and to sides 2xreps
Offset kb carry 52lbs 2x fwd and bwd
From about a month back
Front Reverse Lunge 95lbsx5 135lbsx5 185lbsx5 235lbsx5 PR 205lbsx5 135lbsx5 w/ pause
Barbell One leg hip thrust 135lbsx5 155lbs2x5 135lbsx5
Tall kneeling cable hold 40lbs 2x8
Hanging circumductions 3xreps
High to low chop 80lbs 2x8
Long strap reverse hyper +90-+140lbs 3x12-20
A couple weeks ago
Speed Box Squat 135lbs+greensx2 185lbs+greensx2 205lbs+greens ~6x2
Speed Deads 135lbsx2 225lbs 4x2
Step up 135lbsx5 185lbsx5 215lbsx5 225lbsx5 PR
One leg bb hip thrust 135lbsx5 155lbs2x5
Reverse Hyper long strap +180lbs 3x12-20
Tall kneeling cable hold 50lbs 2x8
Hanging/cap chair oblique/leg raises 3xreps
High to low chop 90lbs 2x8
One leg calf raise/ reverse raises
A couple months ago
Reverse Band Box Squat w/ greens straight weight warmup 135,225,315 bands on 365lbsx1 405lbsx1 455lbsx1 495lbsx1 505lbsx1 PR 405lbsx5
Sumo Deads off rack (floor level, speed) 225lbsx5 315lbsx3 365lbsx2 335lbsx3 315lbsx5
Sled Drag 5-6plates fwd bwd 3 trips
Reverse Hypers long strap one leg/dbl leg 180-230lbs 4x8-10
Back extensions 2x15-20 w/ rotation on 2nd set/ reverse hyper 180lbsx20
Hanging leg/knee raise 3x15-20 Horizontal cable chop 70lbs2x8
Suitcase hold 115lbs2x6
Band one leg curl grey 3x12
One leg calf raise/reverse 3x6
Zercher Squat off rack w/ yoke bar 122lbsx3 172lbsx3 222lbsx3 262lbsx3 312lbsx3 PR 332lbsx1 PR 352lbsx1 PR 372lbsx1 PR 402lbsx1 PR 172lbsx5
Good Morning off rack w/ yoke bar 122lbsx5 172lbsx5 222lbs2x5 172lbsx8
Sled drag 6platesxd*b 7platesxd*b 8platesxd*b
Back extensions (45deg) avg band 2x12-15, offset kb x16/bwx10 w/rotation
Superset w/ Roller Reverse Hyper +90lbs 3x10-15
Band one leg curl avg band 3x12,12,10
Hanging leg raises 3x8-15 alt raisesx~20 leg/knee raise pulse above 90xreps
High to low cable chop 70lbsx8/side 80lbsx8/side
Suitcase hold 135lbs 2x8
Calf raises dbl and sgl, dorsiflexions dbl and sgl
Those workouts are taken straight from my log. Essentially my training schedule right now looks like this.
Monday- Speed Work for Bench if in cycle, Overhead work, accessories with shoulders/arms focus
Wednesday- Speed or power work for squat/deadlift, heavy single leg variation, accessories for glutes/hams/back/abs/quads, etc.
Thursday- Max Strength Upper w/ a heavy press and pull variations, accessories w/ more of a chest/back focus
Saturday- Max Strength Lower w/ accessories for glutes/hams/back/abs/quads/etc.
Conditioning 2-3 days a week for extra workouts
I still do lots of low/mid trap and tricep work on my upper days and lots of glute/oblique work on my lower days. These have been weak points I've been bringing up the last couple of years.
I've been doing 4 week cycles of max strength and speed strength work followed by 2-3 week cycles of deloading from barbell work with mostly moderate to high rep sets with exercises like pushups, goblet squats and pull throughs in place of barbell presses, back squats and deadlifts. This allows me to ramp up neural output and strength for a month, rest my CNS for a few weeks while adapting differently to some superset, high rep bodybuilding style stuff, then coming back for another 4 week cycle hitting new strength levels again. This has been working good for strength and muscle gains, recovery and staying healthy. Reading and understanding lots of material on block periodization has helped me plan my training a lot more effectively than I have in the past. I've found that if I go too intense/heavy for much more than 4-5 weeks that I will start to drain my nervous system a little too much. Thats not to say that I'm not challenging myself at all during the 2-3 week lower intensity cycle; I'm just training in a way that allows my nervous system to recover while still building the important muscles and movements that will help the big lifts.
I'm looking to hit some nice numbers coming up. For raw numbers, I'd like to hit a mid 1300 total with a mid 400's squat, a low to mid 300's bench and a low 600's deadlift. Geared (w/ lifting suits/shirts) I'd like to total 1500-1600 w/ a mid 500's squat, a low to mid 600 deadlift and a 400+ bench. I'm also closing in on a 225 overhead press; I've come close with 215. I've been doing lots of overhead work as its something I've wanted to bring up. It definitely helps with my bench. I've done one arm presses w/ a slight push with 85lbs for 8 reps as well. All of the heavy single leg work I've done has contributed greatly to improved squat numbers, which will help with improved pull numbers. I've never felt more stable or stronger with squatting and all of the single leg work, glute work and oblique/core stability work has helped tons.
I got a nice workout in at the Badger's facility a few weeks ago with Jeff Zuhlke, a good buddy of mine from college, who is an awesome strength coach out there. Also checked out Nx Level in Waukesha last week and caught up with another buddy from college, Nic Hansen; very awesome place with lots of knowledgeable coaches out there. Always good to pick up some good tools to add to the toolbox from other good professionals. My facility should be opening this summer and I'll knock out some details when everything is set. All I can say is that it will be THE place to train in this area. Lots going on and lots of exciting things coming up. I should have a couple of articles posting either here or other sites relatively soon. A great one on the importance of aerobic training, one on self soft tissue modalities and a couple on figure skating training and firefighter training. Stay tuned! Hope everyone's training is going as well as mine.
I worked with a ton of triathletes and runners at the Milwaukee Multi Sport Expo last weekend and did mini assessments, soft tissue treatments and some basic exercise/movement coaching. A majority of endurance athletes do not understand how they should be training outside of their specific sport activity. Here is a list of important things that I discussed with many of the athletes and that can help you if you are a runner or triathlete, etc.
1. Develop adequate muscular support. Every time your foot strikes the ground while running, 5-7 times your bodyweight of force goes through your joints. Without adequate support, injuries will come. It is of utmost importance that you strength train appropriately if you run a lot of miles. Long distance activities release excess amounts of cortisol, which tends to promote muscle atrophy. If you don't build some muscle to balance out and assist all of the long duration activity, its not a matter of if but a matter of when an injury will occur.
2. Address muscular imbalances and movement faults. With repetitive activity such as that involved with endurance races, imbalances and patterns are bound to develop. When muscles that work with one another are out of whack and/or movement along different joints is impaired, certain areas will become overloaded; leading to injury and decreased race times. Movement faults and imbalances must be assessed and then addressed through appropriate exercises and tissue work to make sure that loads are distributed evenly among the kinetic chain. A very common problem that I saw particularly at the expo is a lack of big toe extension on either one or both feet. When the big toe can't extend far enough, push off stresses are overloaded in other areas of the foot and the rest of the way up the body. It can have effects all the way up to the head. Muscles such as the adductor hallucis can often be released to help improve movement here along with some mobilization drills and retraining push off patterns with gait.
3. Address postural issues- With impaired posture such as rounded shoulders (kyphosis, a very common issue I see with runners), breathing will be less than efficient, which means your body has to work harder to deliver oxygen to your tissues; which means that you will not perform as well as you could. Get the rib cage elevated, and breathing will be much more efficient which means that working tissues will have better oxygen supply which means that fatigue will not set in as easy. Postural issues such as this also make running gait less than efficient, which can lead to injuries and wasted energy with each step.
4. Develop Max Strength- The nervous system must be trained to tap into a wider variety of muscle fibers and to do so more efficiently. The more force you can put into the ground with each strike, the faster you will be. The stronger you are, the easier your body has to work with each step. Its like giving your body a bigger engine. To do this, heavy weights must be lifted for multiple sets of 2-5 reps (specifics will depend on the athlete) in big bang exercises like squats, deadlifts, rows and presses.
5. Develop Speed Strength- Training the nervous system to activate more fibers faster will make you faster and take time off of your race. This can be done with exercises such as speed squats and speed pulls, for multiple sets of 2-10 reps. For straight speed strength, the lower rep range will be used. For speed strength endurance, the higher rep range will be used. Unlike powerlifting speed work, where only the lower rep range for speed work is usually needed, endurance athletes will also need endurance speed work to be programmed in for optimal carryover to race performance.
6. Perform Free Motion Functional Movements with Strength Training To train for performance, muscular coordination, balance, stabilization and movement patterns must all be addressed with exercise. This means that squatting, pulling, pushing, rotation and locomotive variations all better be addressed within a runner’s strength training program. (Unless you run while sitting down on a pad while the rest of your body is stabilized for you that is).
7. Develop Other Energy Systems- Endurance activities primarily train aerobic endurance; however, all energy systems are active to some extent. Developing anaerobic capacity, anaerobic power and aerobic power will assist the aerobic system and will make you faster, more durable and will give you that extra kick when you need it. Anaerobic capacity can be trained by performing high intensity intervals with an activity such as a sprint for a long period of time. This trains the body to buffer substances such as hydrogen ions more effectively and trains the body to perform at higher intensities for a longer duration of time without gassing out. Rest periods will be long enough to allow the body to generate sufficient intensity but not long enough to develop full power, which is mentioned next.
Anaerobic power can be trained with a similar activity but with a longer rest period between rounds. This trains the body to perform as fast and powerfully as possible while utilizing the fastest of the fast twitch muscle fibers. Each individual round is more important here.
Training for aerobic power trains the heart to pump blood stronger with each beat and betters the aerobic system's ability to work effectively (i.e. deliver oxygen) towards higher intensity ranges and heart rates. Increasing the heart's performance here will make aerobic endurance feel like cake. This is done with fairly high intensity activities with the heart rate towards the upper end of the aerobic range and lower end of anaerobic range. The intensity and heart rate is not quite as high as anaerobic work (which can get up to 180+) but it is significantly higher than typical aerobic endurance work (150-160 vs. 120-140) and the work to rest ratio is generally 1-1 to 1-0.5. Sprints, prowler work, sled work, jump rope, kettlebell drills and battle ropes are all good options to train these qualities. I highly recommend checking out Ultimate MMA Conditioning by Joel Jameison and Block Periodization by Vladimir Issurin to learn more about specific energy system development. Bill Hartman also has tons of great info on specific energy system development. Priceless sources full of great information!
8. Develop Fast Twitch Oxidative Fibers- Your body has different muscle fiber types. There are two fast twitch types. Although primarily used for high intensity power movements, one fast twitch type has quite the potential to assist with endurance, known as fast twitch oxidative fibers. Developing these fibers can go a long way with assisting your performance. These will be developed pretty well with anaerobic capacity and aerobic power training discussed above (there will usually be some overlap between training with these two qualities). To develop these specific fibers, performing activity that is intense enough to activate the proper motor units must be done over and over again for long periods of time. A couple examples that I like to use include the following. Pad or Prowler pushing with a decently heavy weight is done for ~8-10 second trips every 20 seconds for up to 20-25 minutes. Squats in the 90% intensity range are done for 1-2 reps every 20-30 seconds for up to 20 minutes. This is brutally hard work but will pay off in huge dividends for any endurance athlete as developing the oxidative capacity of these fibers will give lots of assistance to the slow twitch fibers that are usually relied heavily upon during a race.
9. Develop Slow Twitch Fibers- These fibers are heavily relied upon with endurance activities. Specifically training them in the weight room can make them stronger and help them to reach their full potential. Many people don't realize that these fibers can actually be developed outside of endurance activities. A great way to do this is by using a fairly slow tempo with exercises. Performing an exercise such as a row with a 3 second eccentric and 3 second concentric phase will train these fibers; thus, helping them to perform better when called upon in a race.
10. Do Something Other than Your Usual Events- If you do anything at all, at least perform some other form of training, as doing the same activity and nothing else will limit your progress. Adaptation is one of the most basic laws of performance. Your body will adapt to what you do. If all you do is run, bike, etc. you will only improve so much. Developing all of these other qualities will provide your body with the change and shock that it needs to improve and will give it the true help that it needs from all of the appropriate systems.
Remember, random training equals random results. Create your goal, develop a plan to reach it and work hard.