In-Season Strength Training, Part Two? By James Walker, CCS, STM, BIOSIG, Master Trainer

September 13th, 2013 by

In Part One we defined in-season training and listed the first two objectives when designing a program including exercise selection and energy system needs of the athlete. In Part Two we are discussing the remaining components that determine an athletes program, including rep range, weight load-intensity, muscle fiber type, and  work volume consideration.

An intertwined objective to consider when determining the athlete’s program is choosing the correct rep range, weight load-intensity, and muscle fiber type that’s needed to improve their performance. A blocker or outside hitter in volleyball will need to develop and recruit their fast twitch fibers, so doing between 1-6 reps, with 95-80% of their one rep max (1RM), for their phasic muscles will accomplish this. Similarly, a running back in football will benefit from the same intensity and rep ranges. Now these values can vary depending on the age, maturity, health, and genetic make up of the athlete but explosive power is the important component.

On the other hand the cross-country runner may require 15-20 reps or more, at 60-70% of their 1RM to improve their muscle endurance but may benefit from the 1-10 rep range at 75-95% 1RM to help with 100-400 meter surges or sprint finishes. Several of the top Olympic middle distance runners employ this method in their training.

Either of these athletes may require a different rep range and intensity level to address their individual structural needs. In general if their tonic or postural muscles need work a rep range of 8-15, at an intensity of 80-70% of 1RM, may be required. The specific needs of the individual will always be the most beneficial to them.

The last proponent to consider is the appropriate volume of work needed to maintain and/or improve ability without over-training. The primary focus during the season should be the development of the necessary skills, ability, and strategy needed to perform the sport or position at the highest level. The secondary focus should be on maintaining and/or improving power, strength, and conditioning that was developed during the off-season. Usually most in-season practice is devoted to game preparation, sports skills, drills, strategy, tactics, plays, and related task. Therefore most of the repetition and conditioning will come from those activities, so strength related training only needs to occupy about 10-15% of the athletes total weekly time. That can be accomplished in one or two sessions, with consideration given to adequate recovery time before the day of the competition. Ideally the strength training should enhance practices, skills, abilities, and performance, while reducing the injury potential.

Likewise, practices shouldn’t injure the athlete or hinder their strength training but allow for mutual improvement, or a complete synergistic relationship. A big mistake often made is to abandon strength training during the season. This will usually start to gradually impact performance or increase injury potential after about 14 days. The athlete may start the season strong, fast, powerful, explosive, and energetic but within a few weeks will start to exhibit weakness, slowness, sluggishness, or tiredness.

Coincidently, the residual effects from strength training may last up to 10 days; so training a muscle group at least once a week or every 7 days will allow maximal recovery and strength gains. Often world-class sprinters require up to 7-10 days to fully recover, after running a personal record.

So a cheerleader who practices about 10 hours a week, excluding a 3-hour Friday evening game, at 10% of her weekly practice time the strength training would require about 1 hour to complete. Depending on equipment, facility, scheduling, etc, the 1-hour time could be divided into two 30-minute segments as to minimize time away from skills practice. This could be accomplished with a 30-minute strength training session on Saturday (the day after the game), followed by another 30-minute session on Monday or Tuesday, which would also give plenty of recovery time prior to the game. Each session would be comprised of 4 strength-power exercises for 4-8 reps, times 2 sets; and 2-4 structural exercises for 8-15+ reps, for 1-2 sets. The exercise selection could be different for each session to target various or specific muscle groups as well.

As you can see the exercise selection, energy system, rep range, weight load-intensity, muscle fiber type, and volume all comply with her in-season strength training needs. The exercise selection should depend on her individual needs and ability level. Likewise, considering the amount of impact and repetitive stress related injuries that cheerleaders accrue i.e., sprains, strains, twists, pulls, fractures, and soft-tissue adhesions, this would help to address those concerns. Not to mention the additional strength to help with the skills execution.

In conclusion, the benefits of the in-season strength training far out-way the time, cost, injury potential, and other factors involved.  The correct, safe, and scientific approach should consider exercise selection, energy system, rep range, weight load-intensity, muscle fiber type, and volume to best address the athletes in-season needs.

NBC Sports Bolt vs. Johnson? by Mike Florio Rebuttal By James Walker CCS, STM, BIOSIG

April 24th, 2013 by

In response to Thursday’s comments from Titans running back Chris Johnson regarding an ongoing desire to race record-setting sprinter Usain Bolt, a source with knowledge of the situation tells us that Bolt’s representatives actively have been pushing the event.

Word of the race first emerged in early January, when ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Bolt’s people and Johnson’s people were working toward setting up a race for charity.  (We suggest calling it the “Usain Bolt Chris Johnson Dunder Mifflin Sabre Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race For the Cure.”)  Within hours, however, Bolt’s agent said “[t]here is no truth to the story,” and that Bolt “doesn’t follow the NFL too closely.”

So it was odd that Johnson said Thursday that he plans to race Bolt next year.  But, apparently, talks indeed have occurred and continue to occur, notwithstanding the denials of Bolt’s agent, whose word on the matter was accepted as Gospel truth, possibly because agents have an impeccable reputation for honesty.

Per our source, the two sides have not been able to agree on a distance.  Johnson presumably wants a shorter race, and Bolt wants a longer distance.  The folks at NBC Olympics previously have determined that Bolt’s 40-yard split from his world-record time in the 100-meter dash during the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing was “a hair slower” than Johnson’s 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. (end of article).

Bolt vs. Johnson- Absurd! By James Walker

Okay, Wlit Chamberlain (basketball great) vs. Muhammad Ali (boxing great) in boxing or  Larry Allen (NFL lineman great) vs. Hossein Rezazadeh (olympic weightlifting great)  in the clean and jerk or Javier Gomez (triathlon great) vs Lance Armstrong (cycling great) in the Tour De France, come on! And I do do not mean any disrespect to any of these great athletes but each talent is specific, especially on a world class level. By the way neither would I reverse the likely hood of the underdog beating the favorite in their respective sports. It’s absurd!

Back in the 1971 there was talk and negotiations for Chamberlain to box Ali. Many athletes considered Chamberlain to be one of the strongest most versatile athletes in the world at that time (basketball, arm wrestling, volleyball, track, weightlifting, et) but getting in the ring with Ali would have been a foolish thing for Chamberlain, and he was fortunate to have someone like his dad and Jim Brown (NFL legend and great all around athlete) to talk him out of it, preventing him from going down in athletic history as the man who got beat up, knocked out, or made a fool of in the ring instead of being a basketball legend. Jim Brown knew since he dad challenged Ali himself. One morning Ali met Brown during his morning roadwork and Brown attempted to hit Ali with a flurry of punches and couldn’t , while Ali hit him at will, which convinced Brown how absurd it was!

I think Larry Allen is a great and future Hall of Fame football player and exceptional power lifter but I don’t think that he could come close beating Hossein Rezazadeh in the clean and jerk at 263.5 kg. Like wise, Javier Gomez is a great world class triathlete but I am willing to bet that he wouldn’t beat Lance Armstrong in the Tour De France!  It’s facinating to read and hear about sports writers and enthusiast who embellish such non-sense.

According to The IFFA’s biomechanical analysis of Bolt’s world record 100m sprint, the split times (st) are as follows: reaction time (rt)=.146, 20m st=2.89, 40m st=4.64, 60m st =6.31, 80m st=7.92, 100m=9.58 seconds. If Chris Johnson said he could beat Bolt then he needs to start running to beat these times. I think that Johnson’s best High school 100m time is 10.38s. I thnk that he’s faster now so he needs to enter a race to get accustomed to the blocks, spikes, track, pre race pressure, reaction time (rt), start phase, drive phase, maximal acceleration phase, etc. Chris needs to race against other top sprinters from that race such as, Tyson Gay (rt=.144, 20m st=2.92, 40m st=4.70, 60m st=6.39, 80m st=8.02, 100m=9.71s, now his best is 9.69s) or Asafa Powell (rt=.134, 20m st=2.91, 40m st=4.71, 60m st=6.42, 80m st=8.10 , 100m=9.84s ) and Richard  Thompson who had the best reaction time in that race at .119 and ended up with a  100m=9.93s. Chris could start with the USA Indoor Track and Field Championship series with the 60m, since that would give him a credible time.

Consider this, only 40 or so various sprinters have run sub 10 second 100m at meets  in recorded history, with some of them running sub 10′s several times during their careers, Chris Johnson has not yet broken the sub 10′s barrier, until then it’s an absurd discussion. It’s like Bolt saying that he could break Johnson’s NFL records, with out putting in the time to have football skills…it’s absurd!