Overtraining: Myth or Reality?


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I Was thinking about my own training and my volume, intensity, reps and sets etc Comparing my training to new lifters in my club and how they couldn’t do it now (weight is irrelevant). I’m talking the hours of training lifting, pulling and straining to be bigger faster stronger. I didn’t make them do my own exact programme as I know it’s not specific to them and I know they wouldn’t be able to do it without getting a few years of training under their belts. Why they couldn’t do it?


They don’t have the experience, the physical and mental adaptations and the key element of having the conditioning. Being used to the training, the straining, the DOMS, eating more food, the education of knowing how to train. What I’m leading this all to you can’t stick someone on the deep end if they can’t swim is the same as starting a new lifter on the 13 week Smolov squat programme if he can’t even squat.


This article is on Overtraining: The Myth or Reality.


This is my own personal experience, some friends and my own exclusive opinion on my experience. So may be different to you. Enjoy, Overtraining…..That dreaded word you hear it from your friends when they hear and see you training a lot. They start questioning you as if it’s a crime saying its so bad for your health. The first time I heard it I stopped and looked at my friend who said it and I said “What?!”. Was really confused by it. He said to me “you are doing too much sport you need to relax more”. Me being me I just laughed at him and brushed it off. But the thought lingered, “am I doing too much?”. I looked at my training at the time and I was doing a lot, swimming 3/4 days a week between 1-2 hours then with rowing 4-5 days a week again 1-2 sessions. This was me as a 16 year old. Some of you may be thinking he was overtraining. Reality I wasn’t. Weirdly my body handled the volume well, I was getting stronger, faster, leaner and I felt mentally great. I think I’m just built differently not physically but more so mentally. Looking back at it now, whilst I’m writing this I think I saw the training as a challenge to turn up and train hard do the work well. Never was worried about the worry of training too much. To add to that my studying was still good getting decent grades and still meeting up with friends so I wasn’t sacrificing anything for those sports.


Maybe I wasn’t overtraining as my coaches for both sports were good and the sports I trained for used sensible programming. My diet was good my parents fed me well. So why wasn’t I overtraining. So why wasn’t I over training One simple reason. I adapted. Physical adaption occurred due to the stress I was placed upon. I recovered well with the food I was eating and the sleep I was getting. You will only get stronger due to the demands you place on your body. The only thing that stops/slows you I found was time. I progressed but it takes time. Doing training to see your end goal takes time. Look at Olympic weightlifting they squat and pull nearly every day. The key is they do this at different intensities. They have coaches to programme their training, most of the time their training is balanced on a pin if their intensity goes up by a couple of percent they get injured. Training intensity too low no physical adaptations to improve performance. When I see the Oly lifters train and compare to my own powerlifting training, I thought there human I’m human why can’t i do that. Now fast forward 3 years moving from endurance cardiovascular training, to max strength training.


This is what I’ve found with regards to overtraining in powerlifting and in general fitness/sports training Here are the do’s and don’ts


Do: – SMARTER, Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Time Bound, Exciting and Recorded. Use these in your training those who are unfamiliar with this see my SMARTER article on the IDFPA website http://www.idfpa.net/#!being-smarter/csky


Follow a programme. Failing to plan is planning to fail. If you have no plan to follow then you won’t know when to go hard or ease off the pedal in terms of training volume and intensity.


Listen to your body. Treat it with respect and it will give you the rewards. Get sports massages, hot baths, foam roll, stretch and take Deload weeks. Your body can take a lot of physical punishment don’t be stupid and train through pain.


Sleep more. With lots of training you need lots of recovery. If you train more than you recover then you won’t progress. Sleep is when the body grows.


Eat more. With more training your body needs more energy to keep going and more food to repair itself. My protein intake is quite high as I am constantly breaking down muscle fibres. I take proteins for these reasons in another article I’ve written. http://www.idfpa.net/#!proteins/cxro


Start small build up. You can’t do a programme which an elite athlete is doing as you don’t have the built in work capacity, lactic acid tolerance, the experience of lifting for speed, max strength etc. Don’t reach the top apple when you can’t even get the lower hanging fruit off the tree. Work up not down. We all want the end result ASAP but it takes time to squat 200kg to sprint sub 10 seconds or run a 4 minute mile. Learn the basics, engrain the correct movement patterns, educate yourself on progression, study multiple programmes and get feedback from those who have finished them. Better to take the time doing something right from the start than hoping on at the end and doing it wrong.


Now for the don’t Don’t:

Constantly max out lifts in the gym. You can’t lift 100% every day every week every month. You won’t improve and you will get injured. You need to work on specific areas to improve your max. This takes time.


Use your head not your ego. Don’t impress others by lifting big this will only end badly. Don’t train for someone train for yourself only. Train smart set regular goals – Don’t copy what others are doing. Ever since I’ve started box squatting at my uni people have just copied me doing it. (No reference to the powerlifting club this is just regular gym users) The funny thing is they have no idea why I do it, they all do it wrong. One programme may work for you but one may not. Programmes and exercises need to be personalised.


Starting a programme without knowing what you want your end result to be. If you are training hard day in day out but don’t know what you are training for then what is the point if training you aren’t doing anything specific and thus doing random programmed training will result in injury. To wrap up and get back onto overtraining without drifting too far away Is overtraining a thing to be worried about : No Is overtraining a real thing: Yes it is Is overtraining over hyped: Definitely it is. Plan your training appropriately and you will never experience this. I’m 22 weeks away from my competition so my volume is really high but the intensity is low. Hope you enjoyed my debate on it. If you want to say/discuss anything about it in the comments below.


Creatine: What’s all the Fuss?


Creatine: What’s all the fuss?

By Andrew Richardson

I am always hearing mixed feelings towards using Creatine, such as “it’s a steroid bro”, “it retains all my water and I feel bloated” and finally the most common “makes you stronger”. I want to end the rumours and misconceptions of this supplement. I have researched scientific journals, podcasts, articles, athletes experiences and my own personal use with Creatine.

In this article we will look at the following:

– What is Creatine and how it is used?
– Its many forms (Naturally occurring and supplement form)
– Misconceptions of it
– Studies looking at Creatine used for athletes
– Benefits of Creatine
– Implementation of it into a training programme

My Personal Details
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AndrewRichardsonPowerlifter
Twitter: @arichie17
Email: arichie@hotmail.co.uk

What is Creatine and how it is used by the body?

Michel Eugène Chevreul discovered it along with margarine. It is a legal supplement also known as an ergogenic aid. Creatine is found in the muscles, brain and testicles in stores called phosphocreatine stores/creatine phosphate stores. Creatine phosphate is readily available to the cells and rapidly produces ATP. It also exists in limited concentrations and it is estimated that there is only about 100g of ATP and about 120g of creatine phosphate stored in the body, mostly within the muscles. Together ATP and creatine phosphate are called the high-energy phosphogens.

ATP and creatine phosphate (also called phosphocreatine or PCr for short) make up the ATP-PCr system. PCr is broken down releasing a phosphate and energy, which is then used to rebuild ATP. Recall, that ATP is rebuilt by adding a phosphate to ADP in a process called phosphorylation. The enzyme that controls the breakdown of PCr is called creatine kinase.

The ATP-PCr energy system can operate with or without oxygen but because it doesn’t rely on the presence of oxygen it said to be anaerobic. During the first 5 seconds of exercise regardless of intensity, the ATP-PCr is relied on almost exclusively. ATP concentrations last only a few seconds with PCr buffering the drop in ATP for another 5-8 seconds or so. Combined, the ATP-PCr system can sustain all-out exercise for 3-15 seconds and it is during this time that the potential rate for power output is at its greatest. If activity continues beyond this immediate period, the body must rely on another energy system to produce ATP.

Forms of Creatine?

There are many ways to get creatine into your diet, creatine does occur form plants and animals. It can be obtained from a plant called ginseng. It is in abundance in the following fish and meats:
– Herring (number one source from foods)
– Salmon
– Tuna
– Beef
It can be taken in the form of creatine powder or in tablet form depending on which supplement company you use.
Our bodies can create creatine by synthesising it in the liver from the amino acids L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine

Misconceptions of Creatine?

Building on my initial points at the start of this article about some of he misconceptions of creatine, the Journal of the International Society
of Sports Nutrition investigated “creatine supplementation and exercise” and they found the following myths:

1. All weight gained during supplementation is due to
water retention.

2. Creatine supplementation causes renal distress

3. Creatine supplementation causes cramping, dehydration,
and/or altered electrolyte status.

4. Long-term effects of creatine supplementation are completely

5. Newer creatine formulations are more beneficial than
creatine monohydrate (CM) and cause fewer side effects.

6. It’s unethical and/or illegal to use creatine supplements.
The study disproved all these myths created by the media and where able to point out that creatine is a safe and recommended supplement to take for strength/power and high intensity exercise.

They concluded that “It is the position of the International Society of Sports Nutrition that the use of creatine as a nutritional supplement within established guidelines is safe, effective, and ethical. Despite lingering myths concerning creatine supplementation in conjunction with exercise, CM remains one of the most extensively studied, as well as effective, nutritional aids available to athletes. Hundreds of studies have shown the effectiveness of CM supplementation in improving anaerobic capacity, strength, and lean body mass in conjunction with training. In addition, CM has repeatedly been reported to be safe, as well as possibly beneficial in preventing injury. Finally, the future of creatine research looks bright in regard to the areas of transport mechanisms, improved muscle retention, as well as treatment of numerous clinical maladies via supplementation”.

Great report on a supplement who’s had a mixed reputation even though there are over 200 studies done on it with the majority being very positive towards it and showing no adverse side effects.

Studies on Creatine
Looking at numerous studies analysing the use and benefits of creatine, I’m not going into the testing procedure in this article I will cite and link the article in the reference list below. Remember even though these studies say creatine is good etc take into account their sample size, testing protocol, athletes trained or untrained. There is a lot of variables which can influence the validity and reliability of a study.

The first study is by the Journal of the International Society
of Sports Nutrition and they investigated “creatine supplementation and exercise”

It has found the following points when doing a literature review on creatine:

1. Creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic
nutritional supplement currently available to athletes in
terms of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and
lean body mass during training.

2. Creatine monohydrate supplementation is not only
safe, but possibly beneficial in regard to preventing injury
and/or management of select medical conditions when
taken within recommended guidelines.

3. There is no scientific evidence that the short- or long term
use of creatine monohydrate has any detrimental
effects on otherwise healthy individuals.

4. If proper precautions and supervision are provided,
supplementation in young athletes is acceptable and may
provide a nutritional alternative to potentially dangerous
anabolic drugs.

5. At present, creatine monohydrate is the most extensively
studied and clinically effective form of creatine for
use in nutritional supplements in terms of muscle uptake
and ability to increase high-intensity exercise capacity.

6. The addition of carbohydrate or carbohydrate and protein
to a creatine supplement appears to increase muscular
retention of creatine, although the effect on
performance measures may not be greater than using creatine
monohydrate alone.

7. The quickest method of increasing muscle creatine
stores appears to be to consume ~0.3 grams/kg/day of creatine
monohydrate for at least 3 days followed by 3–5 g/
d thereafter to maintain elevated stores. Ingesting smaller
amounts of creatine monohydrate (e.g., 2–3 g/d) will
increase muscle creatine stores over a 3–4 week period,
however, the performance effects of this method of supplementation
are less supported.

8. Creatine products are readily available as a dietary supplement
and are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA). Specifically, in 1994, U.S. President
Bill Clinton signed into law the Dietary Supplement
Health and Education Act (DSHEA). DSHEA allows manufacturers/claims; however, the law strictly prohibits disease claims
for dietary supplements.

9. Creatine monohydrate has been reported to have a
number of potentially beneficial uses in several clinical
populations, and further research is warranted in these

From the study just read it puts creatine in a very positive light showing it can be used in a number of ways. Another study “CREATINE SUPPLEMENTATION AND EXERCISE PERFORMANCE: A BRIEF REVIEW” by Stephen P. Bird and published on the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2003). The study found the following when looking at creatine:

Creatine is referred to as (Cr), creatine supplementation is referred to as (CrS) and phosphocreatine is referred to as (PCr).

“This review has discussed some of the actions of CrS on muscle metabolism and exercise performance. The available research indicates that CrS can increase muscle PCr content, but not in all individuals, which may improve performance involving short periods of extremely powerful activity, especially during repeated bouts. However, not all studies have reported ergogenic benefit, possibly due to differences in subject response to CrS, length of supplementation, exercise criterion evaluated, and/or the amount of recovery observed during repeated bouts of exercise. It does not appear that CrS increases maximal isometric strength, the rate of maximal force production, nor aerobic exercise performance. Therefore, at this point in time CrS appears to be a safe nutritional strategy that may enhance exercise performance in sports participants requiring maximal single effort and/or repetitive sprint bouts. However, further research should focus on gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms of action that elevated Cr stores have on energetics and metabolism”.

So as we have been told what we already know that creatine will help athletes whose sport is of anaerobic/strength/power based over a short period of time. It should be made aware that we (humans) are all unique not all of us will respond the same when using this supplement. If you think, you will realise this is true when you look at a lot of things, training programmes, interests and food tastes. We all respond differently to them as we are unique individuals.

Benefits of Creatine

Looking at articles from EliteFTS and T-Nation which both have been extensively researched by looking at journals they too have found the following benefits

• Increased fat-free mass
• Improved maximal strength (as measured by a one-rep max bench press)
• Improved muscular endurance
• Increased anaerobic power and performance (shown in many activities including continuous jumping, jump squats, knee extensions, and repeated sprints by soccer players)
• Increased hydration in extreme outdoor conditions (3–7
• Fights inflammation following muscle damaging exercise
• Improves brain performance
• Improves long- and short-term memory for vegetarians
• Speeds recovery in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
• Helps mitigate symptoms for those with neuromuscular disorders
• Prevents DNA mutations in aging cells
• Cognitive improvement
• Reduces Depression
• Anti Diabetic (looking at a study done by Alan Aragon)
• Exerts Membrane Protective Effects
• May help with combating Neurological Disease

Implementation of it into a Training Programme

Most creatine products have 2 ways of taking it
– Loading Phase
– Maintenance Phase

Loading phase is when you are trying to saturate the muscle cells with creatine so the muscles own phosphocreatine stores can increase in size and pull in more creatine. Bigger the store more creatine can be accessed which can be used for your sporting events such as powerlifting, weightlifting and sprinting. These loading and maintenance phases aren’t the official way to take creatine this is just a basic way of taking it. There are other ways of doing it too such as taking so many grams per bodyweight in kilos.

A typical loading phase would involve taking 5g of creatine 4 times a day at regular intervals over a 5 day period. The 5g of creatine would be taken with water or fruit juice. My own choice would be orange juice.
Maintenance phase would be 5g of creatine daily. Again taken with juice or water.

My own use of Creatine

I have dabbled with creatine in the past but now I am using it more frequently due to my own education being improved whilst being at uni and having better access to research on this area. When I first started using creatine I was very sceptical about using it as

– I was and had been getting stronger without using it so I was thinking why do I need to get it?
– I too unfortunately believed some of the hype the media said about using the supplement which put me off from using it.
– When some coaches and friends asked me “how much creatine do you take a week?” I said none and they just looked and say why aren’t you using it will make your performance for powerlifting so much better.
After pondering this idea I then researched it and started to take it following the recommended guidelines presented on the products tub. I am currently using Reflex Creapure, taking 5 grams every couple of days, when running a heavy weight training cycle such as Smolov I will load creatine. So far this year I have broken 16 PB (personal bests) and 10 of them was when the loading phase has ended.

When using creatine I noticed an increase in energy (could of easily have been a placebo effect my brain thinking I had more energy). I cannot confirm I had improved cognitive function, the studies looking at improving cognitive function where aimed at the elderly and children with neurological diseases. After max lifts I didn’t feel as fatigued after doing them when compared to not using creatine.


I’m going to keep this short and sweet, creatine is safe to use. Has great physiological benefits for the athlete at all levels and has psychological benefits as well from studies shown. I can see it becoming a general health supplement in future at the rate of positive reviews it keeps getting. If you follow the recommended guidelines you will never suffer any adverse side effects (not that there is any). It’s with any food or supplement if you take too much you will likely become sick. No one should be afraid to use it, it’s the most studied supplement in the world.

Don’t knock it until you try it.

Referencing and Links

“Creatine”. MedLine Plus Supplements. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 20 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-16
“Creatine”. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Retrieved 2010-08-23

Click to access 1550-2783-4-6.pdf



I want to say thanks to Phil Graham of “Clear Cut Health and Fitness” in Lisburn Northern Ireland, for letting me reference his podcast he did on creatine (Episode 4 of Elite Muscle Radio). Really enjoyed listening to your approach to it and made understanding the area very easy. Here is the link to his Facebook page and website. Phil is one of the top Nutrition specialists in the UK and Ireland if not the World. He is speaking at BodyPower this year.
Thanks Phil
His website http://phil-graham.com/
Twitter: @PhilGraham01
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/philgrahamfitness

Assistance Exercises For Powerlifting


Assistance Exercises for Powerlifting

6. Different blocks of a training programme will work on different aspects of their fitness e.g. Muscular speed, Muscular Power, Speed Strength and Absolute Strength.

Squats Assistance Exercises: 1/ Box Squats 2/ Front Squats 3/  Prowler 4/ Farmers Walks 5/ Lunges 6/ Squat Cleans 7/ Leg Press 8/ Squat Walkouts.  These exercises can have other variations e.g. – using bands – using chains – off blocks 

Bench Press Assistance Exercises: 1/ Triceps Dips. 2/ Behind Neck Snatch Grip Shoulder Press 3/ Push Press/Shoulder Press 4/ Dumbell Floor Press 5/ Rotator Cuff Exercises 6/ Close grip bench press

Deadlift Assistance Exercises: 1/ Speed Deadlifts 2/ Block Deadlifts 3/ RDL’s (Romanian Deadlifts) 4/ Pull Ups 5/ Dumbell Rows 6/ Snatches Remember all exercises mentioned do have a carryover training effect to the other lifts all the squat assistance exercises will help the Deadlift and vice versa These exercises can have other variations e.g. – using bands – using chains – off blocks – at a deficit – different grips – using body weight or with weights (tricep dips and pull-ups

These have great reviews but I  haven’t used: – Snatch grip deadlifts – Reverse Hyper – Good Mornings – Altlas Stones

Crossfit The Marmite Sport


Crossfit the Marmite Sport

Even before I start going into the heart of this article this will most likely cause a stir amongst certain fitness circles. This is my opinion you do not have to accept it as fact but I am trying to show both sides of the sport (the good and bad) through this article and describe to those what the Sport of Crossfit really is to those who are not fully aware on what it is, its goals, its set up etc.
As it seems on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or on any Fitness page it seems to me you either hate Crossfit and slag it off/ troll it or you are a Die Hard member of the Crossfit Community who will die defending it. Me I don’t know there are parts of the sport I like and parts I really dislike (that’s me being honest) . Don’t be expecting me to walk into a Crossfit gym anytime soon after this is published (never been in a Crossfit gym anyway ).
Now to begin Crossfit what is it? Crossfit is defined as “constantly varied, high intensity functional movements” as the CEO Greg Glassman said here http://www.crossfit.com/cf-info/what-is-crossfit.html . When crossfiters talk about constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity what they are really trying to say is “different compound movements performed at a high intensity. These movements being squats, deadlifts, pullups, cleans etc. These movements are everyday movements bending over to pick something up, running to catch the train/bus, reaching for something off the top shelf (hence functional movements)
Crossfit is the sport of fitness (as it claims which is wrong in my opinion). Crossfit is a sport as it is “a physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively”, the sport is worldwide, it has regional, national and world competitions and has the backing of a major sponsor (Reebok) to further legitimise its status as a sport. Crossfit have created a term called WOD (Workout Of the Day) this represents whatever workout they are doing.
Now Crossfit has been getting a lot of stick such as “described as being a cult”, “all their athletes are failed sportsmen and women so they made their own sport”, which is harsh but it doesn’t help when on the Internet there is a lot of videos showing individuals who partake in Crossfit and don’t exactly put it in the best light and thus trolling of the sport as shown via the links here:

It also doesn’t help when one of the main individuals of the sport Dave Castro makes a complete arse of himself by doing a nearly 25 second deadlift attempt should of dropped the weight at 6 seconds when the bar started to go down (even before that his form was so poor) video is here, Mr Castro appears at 00:50 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzrKVPhgfXs
But on the internet there are some really good videos about Crossfit which are the Franks Brothers who both play rugby for the All Blacks. They have embraced Crossfit and it has made them into very good rugby players. Videos below:
Some other good ones are watching the likes of Rich Froning, Dan Bailey etc they are the elite of their sport and a joy to watch. Rich’s total (in this video) would of qualified him for the USAW Nationals 290kg in the 94kg class if it had been a sanctioned event.
Good points about Crossfit:
1/ It’s getting more people into physical activity: Any activity or sport that gets people off their sofa’s and train is a good thing and leads to healthier community, nation, reduces illness and less of a drain on the health service which means less tax on the individual. Win Win really.
2/ Crossfit has increased the profile of Olympic weightlifting: I’m really pleased and happy with this as Olympic weightlifting is such a great sport and one of the original Olympic Sports. I am even more pleased to see the average Joe doing these movements as they are a great tool to boost strength, power and increase fitness levels. By increasing the profile of Olympic weightlifting it opens up routes to the sport through Crossfit and talent identification of future weightlifters can occur as I feel weightlifting’s profile in the UK and Ireland is very low.
3/ Encourages weightlifting, gymnastics and new exercises: Crossfit has a range of exercises and movements which most people haven’t seen or done before. It promotes other sports such as Olympic Weightlifting and gymnastics and makes their sport itself more exciting as its different to the rest of the everyday sports.
4/ Class to watch: I personally find watching the Crossfit games enjoyable as it is a fast paced sport. Never watch the regionals rather just watch the Crossfit Games final (rather see the best in action all in the one place).
5/ A sport which will make you very athletic very quickly: Since the nature of the sport is doing a lot of compound movements at a high intensity you will get fitter very quickly as shown by the study done by http://www.bcliving.ca/health/crossfit-dangerous-effective-or-both but doing high intensity movements for long periods of time will lead to injury as that study also showed (will talk more on this in the next section).
6/ Good top of the line equipment: Crossfit use a fitness firm called Rouge Fitness, http://www.roguefitness.com/. I have seen the equipment and I have to admit it is very good equipment, their racks, bars, weights are all top of the line. If all gyms had this kind of gear or similar a lot more people would be doing physical activity.
7/ Lots of Charity work: The sport of Crossfit have been running a successful charity campaign to help many individuals who have been affected with life threatening diseases. They have a site called http://hope.crossfit.com/cures and this year’s event is benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Any sport/company or individual who donates to charity or does some form of charity work is worth respecting (you may not like them but respecting them you can do).

Bad points about Crossfit:
1/ Crossfit isn’t the sport of fitness, no sport can be. The reason why I feel that Crossfit isn’t the sport of fitness as there cannot be a sport of fitness. Crossfiters don’t become keyboard warriors just yet here me out. Fitness is defined as “the ability to meet the demands of your sporting environment without on due fatigue”. Okay, I am a powerlifter I am physically fit for my sport, Usain Bolt is a 100m & 200m Sprinter he is fit for her sport, a rower he/she is fit for his/her sport. Now if we were to all swap sports we would all perform poorly as we are not fit for our sport. That’s is why there is no sport of fitness as no one can be elite at everything and Crossfiters are not elite weightlifters strength and power) nor triathlon experts (endurance).
2/ Kipping Pull-ups or as I call them not “doesn’t count pullups”: This is really grinds my gears, I mean seriously you are swinging to complete a pull up, this shows you cant be assed doing strict pull ups, you cant do strict pullups well and you look like you are having a fit on the bar. Also I am a person with rotator cuff injury and I don’t know about you doing that swinging motion would just aggravate it #notaproperpullup
3/WOD its not specific and according to Vern Gambetta its flawed http://networkedblogs.com/LIzJz. I think Vern is over exaggerating on the whole Rhabdomyolysis but he is totally correct on how the WOD is not specific. From what the workouts I have seen within Crossfit the word random does come to mind. From a YouTube video which Crossfit made shows a slot machine brining up random exercises and firing them into a workout. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXxMa3pTSDE .These exercises have no correlation to each other and so make the workout less specific and not functional to say the least. If you want to increase lower body strength do squats, leg press, deadlifts for reps of 1-6 etc, if you want to increase muscle mass for the upper body do bench press, shoulder press, barbell high pulls for 8-12 reps. Don’t be mixing things up have a routine which has a solid structure with specific goals.
4/ Paelo Diet: Just eat healthy and well. Don’t restrict your body nutrients, minerals, vitamins or carbohydrates. Live by this simple rule 90:10 if you eat 90% of the time good then 10% of the time you can eat/drink whatever you want to. You will still make progress towards your goals and more than likey faster than going on some diet called Paelo. The reason why I think the Paelo diet isn’t good is because from these 5 good points from http://healthfulmama.com/2013/03/5-reasons-why-your-paleo-diet-is-pathetic/
5/ Form Form Form: These WOD’s are mostly timed events so the quicker the time you complete them the better your score will be. This is all good and is simple but doing certain exercises quickly just to get them done can be a one way trip to getting yourself injured. E.g. Squats, Deadlifts, Cleans, Jerks and Snatches. These exercises need to have their technique in correct from so injury doesn’t occur and by doing them at lightning speed is stupid for the sake of a quicker time. Do it correctly and do it well don’t waste time in the hospital cause you hurt your back by doing fast rep deadlifts.
6/ End of the day it’s just really expensive circuit training if you think about it: You are doing exercises back to back with little rest for a set number of reps and time. The exercises do not work the same muscle groups’ one after the other. So essentially it is circuit training you are doing. When I say expensive I mean compared to other gyms Crossfit gyms are more expensive (in my area that is the case) from other friends across the globe that seems to be the case too. So you are really doing overpriced circuit training, which in reality all you need is yourself (your own body) to do a good circuit with minimal equipment and some space. It’s that simple no need to waste your money if you’re looking for a cheap way to get fit. Stay at home and train.
7/ High Injury rate: From the number 5 point I made in the Good points about Crossfit this study done by the State University Health & Exercise Science, Columbus, Ohio found by the end of the 10 week Crossfit Training programme 16% of the 43 men and women got injured. This is a very high injury rate over a short training cycle. It shows that the high intensity nature of the sport that people will get injured but all those that finished showed a big improvement in their fitness levels. http://www.bcliving.ca/health/crossfit-dangerous-effective-or-both

Well to conclude I personally feel that Crossfit is essentially expensive high intensity circuit training with great equipment which will either make you into a freak or break you into a wheelchair. The sport is not for everyone (like most sports). If you are to do Crossfit I’d say have some experience in physical activity beforehand and by physical activity doing some form of exercise/sport at high intensity. Save yourself form getting injured do the technique correctly even if it means you aren’t the fastest in the gym so what.
Hope you enjoyed reading it if you have made it this far you must really want to slag me off haha its just an opinion don’t take it as fact.
Written by Andrew Richardson IDFPA Powerlifter, 2 X World Drug Free Powerlifting Record Holder and World Drug Free Champion Deadlifter.
Check out his page at https://www.facebook.com/AndrewRichardsonPowerlifter
Referencing is throughout and from some extra sources:
– Pe A2 & AS Textbooks off Edexcel Board
– Irish Strength and Conditioning Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ireland-Strength-Conditioning-Coach/501715979893187?fref=ts
http://www.crossfit.com & the Crossfit journal.

How to Avoid Injury and Promote Recovery


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How to Avoid Injury and Promote Recovery

As the title states this article will be discussing ways to avoid injury and to promote recovery before, during and after training. Some are the things I do myself and some are other methods.

Lets look at them (these are not done in any particular order);

Ice baths/Ice packs/Cold Showers/The Sea: After a heavy weights session, strenuous activity which you know DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) will occur. It is best to get a cold shower, go into the sea or an ice bath or ice the worked muscle. This cold treatment what it does causes the muscles blood vessels to contract flushing the waste products out and pumping blood back in with nutrients to start the recovery process. By doing cold treatments after training your recovery time will speed up (i have found this) as the muscle with your post workout meal and cool down routine is but back into its ore exercise state very quickly, so the recovery process can start. Here is ulster rugby team using there hydro pool

Not everyone will have a hydropool so use your bath fill with ice/get a cold shower/ go to the sea/ ice pack the worked out area this will get the same effect.

Compression clothing: Is designed to either keep u warm or cool. Since its a tight fit material it helps remove sweat or retain heat. It also helps to keep muscles aligned correctly to avoid injury. I use compression clothing when doing leg sessions as I want to keep warm during a workout which involves a large group of muscles.

Sports massage: I get one of these every 4/5 weeks to just loosen my body up from all the training. Sports massage reduces inflammation and swelling of a muscle. It is best used after training or the day before a competition so you get a good nights sleep as you are feeling relaxed.

Active recovery: After your training session you should gradually bring down your heart rate/ventilation rates by doing some form of light continuous (low intensity work) e.g. 5 mins on the exercise bike. This could also be an active recovery session such as doing a low intensity workout (30 mins on the exercise bike ). Active recovery could also be called a de load week.

Warm up: Extremely important as it raises heart rate, breathing rate, increases body temperature, starts sweat response, heat production, warms muscles up, increases range of motion, flexibility increased, synovial fluid production at the joint increased, alertness increased. The list goes on…

It seems stupid not doing a warm up when about to do training or an event as you will most likely get injured and be out for a long time.

Cool down: As important as the warm up is. A cool down is needed to bring the body back to its pre exercise state. Same as active recovery a lower intensity of continuous activity to remove lactic acid and increase EPOC (Excess Post Oxygen Consumption). During the cool down is when you can do your stretching so you can increase your ROM (Range of Motion) as the muscles are warm from the training.

Stretching: Should be done primarily after training when you are warm to increase flexibility but can be done before in the warm up and during to keep yourself loose and relaxed. There are many types if stretching, Static, Dynamic, Ballistic, PNF (Propreoception Neuromuscular Facilitation ) etc each with their own purpose for specific sports. Dynamic and PNF the best.

Foam rolling: This could come under a form of stretching but I think it deserves its on sub title. If you don’t have a foam roller/rumble roller then get one. The term used with foam rolling is self-myofascial release. This simply means it helps remove knots and tight sports with the muscle tissue. I find doing this for 10-15 mins really helps out my workouts before, between sets and after my workout. It does hurt a bit the first few times but you get used to it.

Pre/Post workout food: without good nutrition our body will not recover from the training we put ourselves through. Protein before and after workouts, a multivitamin (use it as an insurance policy), cod liver oil for joints, zinc for your immune system and creatine to replenish phosphocreatine stores. Be hydrated all the time, being dehydrated can make your performance suffer. Fuel your workouts by eating carbohydrates for high intensity workouts and to refuel after training to replace glycogen stores which have been used.

Form/ Technique: Learn the correct form for the movement and once learned move up the weight and try different varieties of it. Without good form you will increase the chances of getting an injury. Now if you where to round your back during a 3RM front squat don’t panic, that’s okay as you aren’t always going for a 3RM front squat. Now if your rounded your back everytime you front squatted then you are begging to get an injury.

When I said do different varieties of the movement this builds up different skills and strengthens different planes of motion. It strengthens different grip positions/feet positions which I turn when going back to the original movement you will find it easier. That’s my opinion, I do front squats, box squats and Bulgarian split squats to improve my back squats.

Supports: This maybe a more personal point, I have been watching a lot of Olympic weightlifting videos and powerlifting videos. What I am seeing in common is they either wear knee sleeves, bandages on their shins or knees, wraps or a combo of some of them.

I am trying out them at the minute to see whats the fuss is about, personally knee sleeves don’t do a thing, I like the bandages (medical ones) just wrap the top of my shins as during heavy cleans my knees take a battering. Either hitting the bar off them lol or me catching the weight causing me to bounce in the squat position.

I do recommend a good weightlifting belt to protect your lower back when lifting max weights but use it sparingly. Try and use it little as possible so your core doesn’t rely on it so you develop a very strong mid section. In my sport I need it but if I was telling someone to squat/deadlift I wouldn’t let them use it unless its a max effort 1 rep.

Wrist straps very good for taking off the pressure from the wrists especially when over head pressing and doing cleans.

Here is Dimitri Klokov a Russian weightlifter he uses two back supports, wrist straps and bandages for his knees when he is training. In his other videos he shows the camera his two belts, which are Velcro based. He wears them under his tops.

I hope you liked this, just my opinion on how to reduce your chance of getting injuried as it is soul destroying getting injuried. I’ve broken my leg, dislocated my shoulder twice, broke my forearm in 2 places and displaced a growth plate in my wrist. All good now.

Chalk: get chalk it’s cheap and it will prevent a torn callus. A torn callus is not a pleasant thing. Chalk is used by weightlifters, powerlifters, gymnasts and throwers as it gives them so much grip.

For more articles check out my blog at arichiepowerlifting.wordpress.com
and to keep up to date with any news, powerlifting etc check out my Facebook page Andrew Richardson Powerlifter.

Sports Analysis


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Sports Analysis

Why do we need Sports Analysis and who is it for?
: We need sports analysis so we can see what our technique/movements are like when we execute a skill. This allows us to pick up on any errors and to compare ourselves with a full marks model of an elite performer. Sports analysis is for everybody at all levels of competition. Some sports sports analysis plays a bigger role such as golf, athletics and swimming.

You have to remember tho in some sports, in particular golf, some of the best golfers have unorthodox swings e.g Bubba Watson. So I wouldn’t worry too much if your swing isn’t exactly a perfect reflection of a pro golfer. As long as you feel comfortable in your swing and you can hit the shots you want there is no need to change (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it).

Sports Analysis can be used to work out how many metres a player ran with the ball or without, how many saves, tackles, kicks, shots on or off target. This is known as notational analysis. This is used in conjunction with GPS software to track a player throughout the whole game and to build up a post match review. This review is what the coach sees and discuss’s with the player/players on their performance and what areas they need to focus on more.

What sort of software is out there for sports analysis?
: For the likes of notational analysis use Prozone and Dartfish. Very high quality software used by most professional teams/ individuals.

For the biomechanical analysis of an athletes technique use Ubersense and Kinovea. Both these pieces of software are free to use. Ubersense is used off a phone so you can take vids in the gym and Kinovea is used on the computer.

Short Term Acclimatisation – Environmental Factors


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There are two rugby tours which I will be playing close attention too over June, the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia and my grammar school Coleraine Academical Institution to South Africa. Both touring parties have an excellent set of players but both will face different environmental challenges. These environmental challenges will test both sets of players mentally and physically and will put them at a disadvantage against the home teams unless proper training is done before hand to prepare both sets of players.

The environment can have a huge effect on performance. E.g. US boxer Hasim Rahman pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in Boxing history in 2001 beating reigning World Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis at the odds of 15:1. The altitude of the fight location in South Africa was held to be partly responsible.

A realisation by athletes that being fully prepared for an event means considering every influencing factor has led to unprecedented consideration and thought being directed towards the environment. Factors such as temperature (hot and cold), humidity, altitude, pollution, prevailing winds and the playing surface are all taken into account.

The Lions team will be facing the environmental factor of heat and humidity whereas the Coleriane Inst team will be facing the environmental factor of altitude (and to some extent heat as well).

Heat Acclimatisation

In hot climates, the problem is not maintaining body heat but dissipating it. In cold climates, the athlete needs to consider the extra clothing required, and the consequent weight and drag effects of the clothing. From a physiological perspective, extra clothing will generally lead to additional sweating; this needs to be met with additional hydration strategies.

Adaptation to hot climates is of two types: adaptation to humid heat and to dry heat (desert conditions). Ordinarily the body will lose excess heat by sweating. In conditions of humid heat, however, the humidity of the surrounding air prevents the evaporation of perspiration to some extent and overheating may result.

In drier heat, the body is better able to lose heat through sweating as the atmosphere will absorb the moisture better. The danger then becomes one of dehydration, as the athlete may not realise how much they are sweating as the sweat evaporates quickly away from the skin. The lions first test game was played in Hong Kong against the Barbarians. The in the build up to the game and during it both teams found training difficult due to the high temperatures combined with the humidity. Players reportedly lost 2-4kg in water weight during both training and the match.

To keep players from being dehydrated/overheating they had two water breaks in each half of the game. The players used, wet towels, cool vests, drinks (water and electrolyte drinks) to replace lost salts through sweating and the stadium had water fans to keep both players and spectators cool. Pictures of the game showed both sides literally dripping in sweat it was that humid!

The body does have the ability to adapt to its surroundings, if training and lifestyle are monitored, near complete adaptation to heat (heat acclimatisation) can take up to 14 days. Individuals will vary in their responses and adaptations to heat, but evidence supports the fact that trained athletes with a higher V02 Max will adapt to heat more quickly. The main benefit of heat acclimatisation is an improved tolerance of heat, allowing the athlete to perform as they would in more equable temperatures without incurring heat related illnesses.

Physiological Responses to Heat

The Lions and Coleriane Inst touring parties will both experience the following over the initial one to five days:

– Expanded plasma volume, this is a temporary with levels reverting to normal days 8-14 of heat accilmatisation

– Improved control of cardiac function
– Reduced heart rate
– Automatic nervous system habituation (this involves the more long term redirection of cardiac output to skin capillary beds and active muscles that might be expected during some extreme endurance events).

During exercise in the heat, the regulation of body temperature is critical to heat acclimatisation. The body uses the function of “Thermoregulation” which is the ability to maintain body temperature within certain boundaries, even when the surrounding temperature is very different. If the body overheats (hyperthermia), death becomes a serious possibility. When you exercise in the heat, adaptations occur that facilitate temperature regulation:

– Increased sweat rate
– Earlier onset of sweat production
– Cardiovascular adjustments
– Retaining of vital salts (sodium’s) that are normally lost through sweating.

The sodium chloride losses in sweat and urine decrease during days 3 and nine of heat acclimatisation, but revert back to normal levels of loss once full heat acclimatisation has taken place. It might seem surprising, but excess dietary water and electrolytes do not speed up the process of heat acclimatisation (same way having a protein shake doesn’t make you bigger or stronger overnight). Consistent daily monitoring of bodyweight is required to ensure that a state of dehydration does not develop. If weight levels drip by 3% it is advised that training intensity drops by 6%.

These are the figures on how dehydration can affect performance

Body Weight Lost as Sweat %

Physiological Effect

Performance Effect Loss of 5%
Impaired performance Loss of 10%
Capacity for muscular work declines
Loss of 25% Heat exhaustion Potential failure to complete task Hallucinations Potentially Fatal Circulatory Collapse and heat stroke Potentially Fatal

Attention to hydration, and awareness of the potentially damaging effects of dehydration, are especially important in hot conditions. Hydration planning is a vital element of acclimatisation. I am sure both touring parties will no problems with keep players hydrated.

When exercise is intense and core body temperature rises markedly, the plasma cortisol concentration increases during the initial days of heat acclimatisation, but returns to control levels after eight days of heat acclimatisation, reflecting the reduction in total body strain. During heat acclimatisation, there seems to be a clear effect on performance in sub maximal activities with oxygen uptake being reduced. The increased blood flow to the skin, which would reduce central blood volume, venous return to the heart rate and cardiac output is thought to be the cause of this loss in sub maximal VO2 max.

The physiological adaptations to heat acclimatisation may disappear after only a few weeks of inactivity (18-28 days). The first adaptations to go are those that develop first such as heart rate and cardiovascular variables, the rate of loss of other performance in the heat, and also by the level of aerobic fitness. Athletes with high VO2 max usually lose heat acclimatisation adaptations more slowly than individuals with low VO2 max.

Heat Illness

Heat cramps: Sodium depletion causes these cramps and can occur in the muscles of the legs, arms and abdomen. They occur several hours after strenuous exercises, in individuals who have lost a large volume of sweat, have drunk a large volume of hypotonic fluid and who have excreted a small volume of urine.

Heat Syncope: Or fainting occurs most commonly during the first 3 to 5 days of heat exposure. This is due to vascular shunting of blood to the skin in order to cool down and the consequent reduction in venous return and subsequent drop in cardiac output in turn leading to a drop in blood pressure.

Heat Exhaustion: Diagnosed form of heat illness among athletes, despite the fact that its symptoms are often vague, and differ greatly from one situation to another. Headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, heat cramps, syncope etc. This explains why heat exhaustion is defined as the inability to continue exercise in a hot.

Now onto the other half of this article focusing on the effects of Altitude Training.

Effects of Altitude

Aerobic performance at altitude is more difficult, so rates of performance decline when compared with those attainable at sea level. At higher altitude, the partial pressure of oxygen (ppo2), is reduced. This leads to a reduction in the driving pressure for oxygen transport and corresponding fall in VO2 max of around 5-7% per 1000 metres.

An increase in altitude of as little as 600 metres has been shown to decrease the performance of many endurance athletes. The greater the altitude, the greater the severity of hypoxia (a shortage of oxygen) and the more difficult the subsequent performance will be.

Altitude Training

The theory is that if it is difficult to perform at altitude, then training there will lead to adaptations that will enable athletes to perform better. Once this has happened, and the athlete returns to sea level, they will be significantly aerobically fitter. The effects on athletic performance of training (and more recently, sleeping) at high altitude have been studied in the West for more than 30 years. During that time, these practices have become an almost essential part of the preparation of world class competitors.

That physical training at high altitude improves performance at high altitude is not in doubt. But studies assessing performance improvements at sea level after training at higher altitudes have produced ambiguous and inconclusive results.

Training Method

Result LHTH – Live High Train High

Maximum exposure to altitude – but evidence of a positive effect at sea level is controversial

LLTH – Live Low Train High

Exercise in a low oxygen environment but rest in a normal oxygen environment – some positive findings, but still no real evidence of any difference to competitive performance at sea level; training intensity is reduced so some may find they actually lose fitness with this regime.

LHTL – Live High Train Low

Acclimatise to altitude by living there (for more than 12 hours per day over at least 3 weeks), while maintain training intensity at or near sea level – improvements in sea level performance have been shown in the events lasting 8-20 minutes; athletes of all abilities are thought to benefit.

Responses and Adaptations of Altitude Training

On first arriving at altitude, trained subjects have no greater advantage over untrained individuals beyond which existed at sea level. Being fit does not alter the form or rate of adaptation to altitude. On arrival, there is what can be best described as a “detraining effect”, as less oxygen is inspired, transported and made available for athletic performance.

The consequence of this is that the athlete has to significantly decrease both their training intensity and volume – not a desirable position for any athlete (think less is more in the long run). Because of the effects of this traditional method of altitude training, where the athlete lives high and trains high (LHTH), many coaches began to experiment with a variation on the theme – live high train low (LHTL). Athletes either physically love at altitude, or sleep in a hypoxic chamber (low oxygen chamber).

Results regarding the benefits derived from this method vary. These athletes experienced initial increases in erythropoietin (EPO) levels and consequent red blood cell production. After prolonged exposure, it was found that both erythropoietin and red blood cell levels returned to similar levels to those when the training began. However, gains in VO2 max were retained. Maintaining high red blood cell levels is dependent on high levels of EPO – and both are stressful and potentially harmful to the body. The gains of LHTL must therefore be attributed to other physiological benefits that produce a more efficient use of oxygen, namely increased vascularisation of the muscles, and increased levels of myoglobin and of mitochondrial density.

Blood Responses

An increased number of red blood cells and increased haemoglobin concentration are seen. This is rapid in the first few weeks at altitude, and serves to increase the oxygen content of the arterial blood. However, it might take as long as three months for the body to finally adapt and achieve the optimum level of red blood cells for the altitude. A training period of 3 weeks at moderate altitudes will result in an individual increase of haemoglobin concentration of about 1-4%. This is primarily due to the blood adaptations that occur in humans in response to a hypoxic environment.

The resulting decrease in arterial oxygen saturation, brought about by the lower partial pressure of oxygen, produces a series of physiological responses similar to those experienced after donating blood, or following periods of intense aerobic training at sea level. The responses ultimately result in an increase in red blood cells. The production of red blood cells helps to improve the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, and hence maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 Max). This increase in red blood cell is brought about largely by increased secretion of EPO by the kidney, which stimulates red blood cell production in the bone marrow (hence the illegal injections of EPO to increase red blood cell numbers). This in turn can lead to a loss of bone density, so extra dietary supplementation of iron is advised.

The normal difference in haemoglobin concentrations can be estimated to be about 12 percent between permanent residents at sea level and those who live 2500 meters above sea level. This difference indicates an adaptation time of about 12 weeks.

Other Responses

– Elimination of bicarbonate in the urine, its main function is to maintain blood pH at near normal levels
– Increased muscle and tissue capillarisation, the growth of more capillaries within the muscle enables more blood to be delivered to the muscle.
– Increased myoglobin concentration, this enables the tissue to extract more oxygen form the blood, and also to remove more CO2
– Increased mitochondrial density, this enables greater and faster production of ATP through aerobic respiration
– Enzyme changes that enhance the oxidative capacity, greater quantities and more availability of the enzymes used during respiration.

It is essential to acclimatize to altitude if your performance is to be at altitude. But if your performance is at sea level, prolonged exposure to loving at altitude while training at sea level appears to offer the most physiological benefits, without the drawback of the initial detraining effect experienced when training and living at altitude.

Referencing from Edexcel Pe A2 Textbook

Being S.M.A.R.T.E.R


Being Smarter….

We all want to be smarter but I don’t mean getting a higher grade in an exam I am talking about the S.M.A.R.T.E.R principle for sportsmen and women. This principle is used by athletes to reach their goals and is used in the short and long term physical and mental preparation.

Let’s break the acronym down;

S: Specific. The training, preparation, die…t all must be aimed towards one sport. It has to be specific there is no point of you are training to be a swimmer and you are doing marathon road races. There is no specific sporting benefit, there is a physical benefit especially in the cardiovascular system but that will not correlate into the swimming environment. You need to be working specifically for your goal you want to achieve e.g. you want to pass maths do more maths not play rugby.

M: Measureable. Its concerned with the performer must be prepared to evaluate their process critically and adjust their goals as necessary. After doing fitness testing or an event an athlete who is already achieving a set goal may need to reassess their goals.

A: Agreed. These goals you have set yourself, you must agree in trying to complete them as if you don’t want to do them or you are half interested you will never achieve them. There must be no doubt in your mind when setting yourself these goals. These goals will be agreed with a coach or training partner that they can help guide you towards them.
R: Realistic. When you are setting goals they need to be realistic there is no point in setting unreachable goals as this will demotivate you and you will end up trying to complete the set task. When setting goals they need to be broken down into short term and long term goals. The short term goals are described as stepping stones towards reaching the long term objective. E.g. within my own sport of powerlifting I have set my targets for the squat, bench press and deadlift to hit by the end of year. So far I am on target to reach them.

T: Time Bound. The goals you have set yourself must be within a time frame e.g. being a competition in 3 months, the next Tour de France or the Rio 2016 Olympics. Athletes need their goals to fit within their competition schedule. When the competition comes around as an athlete you want to be in your best shape, performing well, confidence is high, no worries and happy with all the preparation leading up to it. When the goal is set (going back to the realistic point) it has to be completed within the set the time frame and not after and the goal is achievable to the athlete.

E: Exciting. When you are setting goals make sure you find excitement when you are doing them as it will make the whole process more enjoyable. Set a goal that makes you want to push through the pain barrier, makes you stay up all night working at it. There is no point doing something you hate you must want to do it and doing it for a goal will make it worthwhile.

R: Recorded. What you do during your long term plan of achieving set goal/goals you must record every detail such as training what sets, reps, weight, rest periods, tempo, how you where feeling that day, your diet, sleep how many drinks did you have. This creates an image of your daily habits and you will be able to see a pattern of yourself e.g. after Monday and Tuesdays training on Wednesday I find the training hard. Then you ask yourself why? I’m not doing the same muscle groups then you work out it’s because you are getting little sleep on Tuesday nights due to you going out. These small things if you change can make huge differences in the long term in you achieving your goals.

When I am talking about goals they are divided into the following:

– Outcome Goals: are concerned with the end result e.g. making your national team

– Process Goals: are centred on the technical elements that underpin performance as a focus for development. E.g. a weak grip caused a foul in the deadlift, this needs to be addressed and fixed so it does not occur again.

– Performance Goals: relate to the achievement of a performance e.g. getting a personal best lift in the bench press

– Short Term Goals: are the stepping stones/building blocks that need to be achieved consistently leading to the successful realisation of long term goals.

– Long Term Goals: have a larger objective and can only happen once short term goals have all been completed.

By using the SMARTER principle we can all improve our sporting performance

Referencing from Edexcel Pe A2 Textbook and A2 Pe Coursework.

Proteins: What are they and why I feel they are essential for all athletes!!!


Proteins: What are they and why I feel they are essential for all athletes.

The definition of a protein is “A large molecule composed of one or more chains of amino acids in a specific order; the order is determined by the base sequence of nucleotides in the gene that codes for the protein. Proteins are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s cells, tissues, and organs; and each protein has unique functions. Examples are hormones, enzymes, and antibodies”. This is referenced fromhttp://groups.molbiosci.northwestern.edu/holmgren/Glossary/Definitions/Def-P/protein.html

We get our proteins from a range of sources such as milk, fish, eggs, nuts, beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, protein shakes and BCAA’s (Branch Chained Amino Acids).

Proteins are made up of 20 different amino acids. These are the naturally occurring amino acids which we would get from our foods such as nuts, fish, turkey or beef etc.

An amino acid is defined as “Any of a class of 20 molecules that are combined to form proteins in living things. The sequence of amino acids in a protein and hence protein function are determined by the genetic code”. This was sourced from http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/glossary=aminoacid

The Amino Acids are divided into two categories, Essential and Non-Essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are amino acids which the body cannot make and has to be supplemented in the athlete’s diet. Non-Essential amino acids are the opposite as they can be made by the body. Essential amino acids can be found in meats such as fish, beef, pork, lamb or in nuts.

Amino acids are needed in an athletes diet so they can help muscles grow and recovery after training. I take amino acids in the form of PhD BCAA’s during and after workouts. They help my muscles recover and grow but more importantly stops the muscles feeding off themselves. This is known as a catabolic state and it is defined as “A catabolic state means that your body is breaking down tissue. Whenever you workout, whether it’s cardio or weightlifting, you’re causing tiny tears in your muscle. The longer and harder you workout, the more damage you’ll cause to your muscle tissue”.

No one wants their body to go into a catabolic state because this is your body feeding off your muscles to fuel your workout. The amino acids prevent this from happening. The opposite of catabolic is anabolic and it is defined as “An anabolic state means that your body is building or repairing tissue. When you rest, your body goes into damaged muscle tissue and begins repairing it. It’s during rest, not exercise, that you actually put on all of your size”.

The anabolic state occurs after a workout when you are recovering. As soon as you have finished your workout take your amino acids, your proteins and carbohydrates to refuel your body. An anabolic state can last as long until DOMS of that muscle has stopped- this usually is 1-3 days. Both of these fore mentioned definitions where taken from http://straighthealth.com/pages/qna/catabolic-anabolic.html .

This following information was sourced from http://www.phd-supplements.com as I wanted to know more about the purpose of BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids). I discovered that BCAA’s consist of 3 essential amino acids called Leucine, Iso-Leucine and Valine. Humans cannot survive unless these amino acids are present within our diets. Together they comprise 1/3 of human tissue. Studies have shown that BCAA’s help to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth and production) and inhibit its breakdown. BCAA’s are vital to protein synthesis which is needed to build muscle and to reduce muscle damage. BCAA’s have both powerful anabolic and anti-catabolic effects on the body. When we use BCAA’s we are promoting faster recovery which leads to faster progression in strength gains which is what every athlete wants.

This is the nutritional information of my PhD BCAA’s. I only take 5 a day as I feel that’s all I need (15 is the maximum amount per day).

After my workouts with my amino acids I also take a protein shake. A protein shake is known as a sports supplement which is defined as “legal additions to an athlete’s diet. They are legal because the sporting bodies do not feel their use is harmful to health”. This definition was referred from the Edexcel PE Textbook.

To achieve my goals, I need a high source of protein to repair the damaged muscle fibres caused by strenuous weight training. The protein repairs the microscopic tears within the muscles and makes them stronger so I can lift more weight. I take my proteins in the form of supplements such as protein shakes, meats and nuts. It is good to get a range of protein sources as each protein source has other benefits, for example fish which have omega 3 oils which are every good for the joints, and nuts which contain good fats.

The protein shakes I am currently taking are PhD Strength and Mass Protein and I am taking SiS (Science in Sport) Whey Protein. I use the SiS for my cardiovascular days and PhD for my weight training days. My personal reasoning for this is because the PhD contains a lot more useful proteins, carbohydrates and BCCA’s which are needed to repair the muscles and restore my depleted energy supplies. The SiS contains little fat which is great as the aim for my cardiovascular days is to burn as much calories as possible (this is to recue my body fat percentage). So taking a protein that contains little fat helps me to achieve this goal.

I take 2 scoops of protein with 500ml of milk after every workout. I can mix the 2 scoops with water but it doesn’t taste that nice, but with milk, the drink contains more protein and essential fats which are good for you.

As I have mentioned earlier, when we train we are damaging the muscle fibres. Small tears are created and these tears cause the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) effect the next day. These tears are inflamed after training as blood is being sent a round these tears with the nutrients to start repairing them. By having a high protein diet this will aid the recovery process. DOMS will last 1-3 days depending on how high the intensity of the workout. When this process is repeated a number of times, within a few weeks your strength levels will increase due to progressive overload through your training. This will occur due to sensible training and an effective nutrition plan to help the growth of the muscles.

Shown below is muscles after a workout (small tears and inflamed) then after adequate rest and nutrition for a few days (muscle has become denser and is repaired). http://restoremassagetherapy.wordpress.com/2010/11/23/3-big-reasons-you-need-to-get-a-massage-%E2%80%93-part-1-2/

To further enhance the recovery process I use compression clothing. This is thermal clothing such as Canterbury, Adidas, Under Armour or Skins clothing. These brands all have different names for their products but all of their clothing does the same job- aid with the recovery process for the athlete.

The clothing compresses the skin, as it acts like another layer of skin. This extra layer increases venous return, helps to remove lactic acid (due to an increased venous return) which reduces the effect of DOMS. I use Skins compression clothing after each of my workouts. This is immediately after and a few days after as well to further enhance the recovery process.

My chosen sport of Powerlifting requires a high level of protein due to the demands the sport places upon my body. This is why I need to have a high percentage of my diet consisting of protein, so I can put on muscle mass and repair damage muscle tissues from heavy weight training. Powerlifting requires a high level of protein due to the demands the sport places upon it. With a suitable level of protein combined with compression clothing and sports massages I can recover quicker and progress my fitness levels faster.

I personally think what you do after training is just as important as what you do during training. Your training has to be specific to your sport so I do powerlifting training to compete in Powerlifting events. I then have to eat correctly and recover effectively for my training to create physiological adaptations so I can improve my physical performance. I will not be using proteins as an energy source because Powerlifting is not an endurance event and I will not be depleting my energy stores that low. This is because I will be using proteins for muscle growth and repair.