What’s Up, Albert & The 300yd Shuttle?

By James Walker, CCS, STM, BioSig, Master Trainer

In this day and age of technology (cell phones, ipods, laptops, aps, internet, google, etc) that makes gathering information very accessible it’s amazing that so much incorrect and ignorant information permeates the airwaves, internet, and newsprint spheres. And this comes from journalist or in this case sports journalists who we used to rely on for accurate information! Especially since correct and reliable information is only a phone call or keystroke away.

There are countless university exercise science professors and sports-performance-strength coaches, all eagerly ready to be interviewed by some famous sports journalist concerning Albert Haynesworth’s struggle in the 300-yard shuttle. Why can’t he pass it or how should he have prepared in order to pass the easy or hard, depending on the commentator, 300 yd-shuttle test. “He needs more cardio”, “why didn’t his trainer prepare him”, “why didn’t he lose weight”, oh yeah he did lose weight, about 35 lb, “so why didn’t he pass”, or “just because he lost weight doesn’t mean he’s in football shape”, right?

I know all of my former professors, strength coaches, and exercise specialist who have mentored me the past 30 years cringe every time they hear, read, or see the responses from all of the media experts.

The 300-yard shuttle run consists of sprinting 25-yards down and back six times touching the line with the foot in order to complete 300 yards total distance. The times may range from 56 seconds for football receivers and defensive backs to 73 seconds for offensive and defensive linemen. After completion the participant rests 3-5 minutes (3 & ½ for the NFL Washington Redskins) then repeats the test a second time. The times can then be averaged or compared to determine the athlete’s fitness level.

The purpose of the 300-yard shuttle run is to test maximal anaerobic-sprint endurance and/or conditioning. In order to attain a reliable score the participant must sprint at maximum effort and not pace themselves. The general testing populations are sports that involve anaerobic-sprint endurance like-.basketball, hockey, rugby, and soccer.

Now I must confess that when I had to take Testing and Measurement and Statistics decades ago I thought I’d never use any of it but I’ve consistently relied on and utilized the information over and over, especially administering performance assessments and analyzing training data.

All test must be valid, reliable, and objective, all interrelated values and that the measurement must measure the component that it supposed to measure; measure the component consistently; and result in similar scores regardless of the administer.

Let’s look at a quick review of those terms valid, reliable, and objective.

Test validity refers to the degree to which the test measures a specific component that it is intended to measure. The test should contain tasks that reflect those specific components to be measured or it’s content validity.

Test reliability refers to the degree to which the test yields consistent and stable scores over repeated trials and time. Reliability depends upon how strict the test is conducted and how motivated the participant is to perform the test.

Test objectivity refers to the degree to which the test can be measured repeatedly and reliably by various testers with minimum subjectivity.

So in spite of how you may feel about Albert and his conditioning it’s amazing that this test is used to test football players, yet alone a 300 lb lineman. Considering that the average play last between 4-5 seconds, why would you test something that last 50-70 seconds? Does this sound valid, reliable, or objective?

First of all, 4-5 seconds of maximal effort utilize absolute strength, power, and speed, all anaerobic bio-components that involve IIB fast-twitch muscle fibers and alactic-glycolytic energy systems.

Secondly, 56-73 seconds of maximal effort (actually slightly sub-maximal) utilize strength and speed endurance that involves IIA fast-twitch muscle fibers and lactic-glycolytic energy systems. The two are very different in their respective functions and actions.

Thirdly, there is another sub-maximal speed endurance IIA fiber that utilizes a glycolytic-oxidative energy system.

Fourthly, none of these are aerobic which starts to kick in after several minutes of continuous sub-maximal effort that involve slow–twitch IA muscle fibers and primarily an oxidative energy system.

In the exercise science community it really doesn’t make since. So when these experts see test such as the 300-yard shuttle or parts of the NFL combine test they cringe, shake their heads, and wonder if any of them ever picks up an exercise science journal or text.

In summary the test is not a very good indicator of anaerobic alactic power required for football. It does not make sense to any knowledgeable exercise scientist. A better test for football conditioning would involve maximal efforts of 4-5 second that are repeated numerous times with 15-30 seconds of recovery to simulate the huddle. Watch the game, doesn’t that make more since?           

‘Train Safe, Smart, & Results Driven’


Training Principles, Part Six - Principles Of Exercise Science Con’t

By James Walker CCS, STM, BioSig, Master Trainer

Training principles of exercise science con’t…and concluded.

20. Time Under Tension (TUT) – is the time required to complete a rep or a set (group of reps).

·      TUT is influenced by the tempo.

·      Muscle fiber type recruitment depends on time under tension.

·      e.g., tempo x reps = total time under tension per set, 302 tempo = 5 seconds total tempo x 6 reps = 30 seconds of time under tension per set.

21. Workout Duration– the anaerobic system (speed and strength) has 30–60 minutes of optimal energy before productivity decreases.

·      Keeping workouts within this time frame will increase gains in strength and performance.

·      Consequently, blood cortisol levels significantly increase after 45 minutes of working out and training becomes counter productive.

·      Simultaneously, the bodies’ natural muscle building hormone androgen begins to drop off at this time, which will further inhibit growth and gains.

·      So anaerobic workouts within 30-60 minutes will maximize increases in muscle, strength, and performance.

This concludes Part Six, next Part Seven Sprint Mechanics.


Training Principles, Part Five - Principles Of Exercise Science Con’t

By James Walker CCS, STM, BioSig, Master Trainer

Training principles of exercise science con’t…

16. Reps and Sets Relationship – reps and sets have an inverse relationship, fewer reps require more sets while more reps require fewer sets.

·      In part this based on the motor learning principle of “repeated effort”- when learning a new skill, task, or lesson the more times it is repeated the easier it is to remember or to perform.

·      Consequently this “repeated effort” or practice will increase the number of times that the particular muscle fiber type and its corresponding energy system gets used thereby making future efforts easier and the muscle more conditioned.

·      e.g., motor skill of riding a bike or learning a different language or exercise, the more the effort is repeated the greater the learning capacity.

17. Super Compensation – the amount of time required for the body to fully recover from the previous workout or workouts.

·      There should be full recovery prior to repeating the same muscle workout for the best gains.

·      This will result in strength increases of 1-2% or by 1-2 repetitions each week.

·      Optimal increases will not occur with out the proper rest, recovery, and regeneration.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              18. Technique and Posture – proper form and posture are necessary for correct muscle recruitment and optimal strength gains.

·      If a movement cannot be performed with the correct technique, form, and posture it should be stopped.

·      An assessment should be made to determine the reason, so that the necessary corrections can be made.

·      Remember correct technique and posture will optimize neural drive to the correct muscles and will prevent faulty muscle recruitment patterns.

·      E.g., excessive forward lean vs. upright torso in the squat, or treadmill vs. running outside.

19. Tempo-is the pace, rhythm, and time required for each repetition.

·      Planned tempo use will ensure correct muscle fiber and energy system recruitment, and will reduce injury and faulty motor patterns.

·      Tempo is usually expressed in counts e.g., 302, 301, 30X or 402, 401, 40X, or 502, 501, 50X, that are normal but may be 31X, 512, 911 counts.

·      The first number represents the negative (eccentric) phase of the rep, usually expressed in a 2-9 range.

·      The second number usually represents the midway point, usually expressed in a 0-2 range.

·      The last number represents the positive (concentric) phase, usually expressed in a X-2 range.

·      e.g., a 302 tempo for an arm curl, starting position at the bottom with the weight in front of thigh, a 2 count is performed while the weight is curled up to the shoulders, a 0 pause at the top or midway position,  a 3 count is done while lowering the weight to the start.

‘Train Safe, Smart, & Results Driven’

Training Principles, Four - Principles Of Exercise Science Con’t

By James Walker CCS, STM, BioSig, Master Trainer

Training principles of exercise science con’t…

10. Overload and Progressive Loading – neuromuscular adaptation occurs as a result of progressive amounts of overload or in other words your body adapts to progressive small amounts of stress (fictitious Greek wrestler Milo carrying the calf until it’s a full grown bull).

·      This adaptation is optimal when the progression of stress or overload is gradual and in small increments of 1-5% of the working intensity level (also called the Kaizen Principle of constant and never ending improvement by increasing in small increments over a long period of time).

11. Over Training - is caused by constant training that does not allow adequate time for recovery, regeneration, or super compensation to occur.

·      Symptoms may include irritability, increase in injury, healing time, resting heart rate, normal blood pressure, illness, change in mood and appetite, decrease in immune system and performance.

·      In addition to excessive inflammation, scar tissue formation, over compensation of other body parts, soft tissue strain and tear, bone fractures, and a weakened level of strength and conditioning.

·      Example-scar tissue, traps or hamstring or calve, get volunteer

12. Periodization or Periodized Training - is a pre-planed training plan, which consists of short or long-term cycles (days vs. weeks vs. months), with changes in the workout at regular intervals.

·      By manipulating your training variables, such as variations in exercises, reps, sets, and weight load intensities you will maximize your progress and motivation, and help to prevent plateaus, injuries, and over-training.

13. Posture, Stability, and Synergist Muscles – are muscles that assist the primary (larger) muscles by helping to hold a position to achieve the desired action. This help is called synergist.

·      e.g., when sprinting the ankle dorsi- flexor muscles and the toe extensor muscles put the foot in the correct position prior to the foot strike.

·      The synergist may also assist in achieving a particular action.

·      e.g; in elbow flexion the arm biceps may get assistance from the forearm brachioradialis muscle.

·      Often these muscles are the smaller muscles and/or the secondary actions of neighboring muscles.

14. Reflex Inhibition –when a muscle is injured by repetitive use, trauma, faulty motor patterns, imbalances, or scar tissue, the central nervous system shuts down the neural drive to the muscle (turns off the muscle) to protect it from further injury.

15. Rep and Set variation – rep and set ranges should be varied for each training cycle (2-4 weeks for advance trainees, 5-8 weeks for experienced trainees, 9-12 weeks for intermediate trainees, and 13-16 weeks for beginners).

·      This will allow total muscle and strength development and will reduce overuse syndromes.

·      For example a muscle hypertrophy workout cycle: cycle One - 6 reps x 6 sets; cycle Two - 12 reps x 3 sets; cycle Three - 8 reps x 5 sets; and cycle Four - 10 reps x 4 sets.

·      For example relative strength or power workout cycle: cycle One - 5 reps x 5 sets; cycle Two - 2 reps x 8 sets; cycle Three - 4 reps x 6 sets; and cycle Four - 1 reps x 10 sets.

·      The rep ranges should be based on your objectives, whether for relative strength and power or for hypertrophy strength or for muscle endurance, whichever need is the priority.

·      The set ranges will help determine and influence the conditioning of the muscle fibers trained.

 ‘Train Safe, Smart, & Results Driven’