An athlete requires energy to fuel all physical actions and movements. This energy is supplied from the macronutrients and micronutrients consumed, and from the oxygen acquired through respiration. In their raw form, the food that provides the macronutrients and micronutrients, and the air that athletes breathe to acquire oxygen, cannot be used in their original state. These raw, unchanged fuel sources are called potential energy. There must be a change that occurs to convert the potential energy, into energy that can be used by the body (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2016).
The converted energy, which can be used by the body to fuel physical movement, is called kinetic energy. This process is collectively known as energy transfer. Through a variety of chemical actions and reactions, the body metabolizes the potential energy into kinetic energy, through two primary metabolic energy pathways. These two metabolic energy pathways are the aerobic system, which uses oxygen, and the anaerobic system, which does not use oxygen. This process of energy changing forms is described in the first law of thermodynamics. (McArdle et al., 2016).
The first law of thermodynamics refers to energy changing forms. Energy exists and does not disappear. It simply changes form, so that it can be utilized by different biological functions. In the case of human movement, energy transforms from chemical energy, to mechanical energy, ending with heat energy. This is also known as the conservation of energy. These complex chemical changes, concerning the energy’s form in the body, are known as biosynthesis (Kim & Roberts, 2015).
The body has a process which it uses to release energy and to store energy. The exergonic process releases energy to its surroundings, while the endergonic process stores energy. The energy that is released is known as free energy, and is available to be used in biological functions. These two processes often work together in a very complicated chemical state, to regulate and optimize the availability and use of free energy. Energy itself does not increase or decrease. However, the forms of energy that are available do change, as a result of many different chemical reactions (Kim & Roberts, 2015).
Unfortunately, for the athlete, these changes almost always lead to less kinetic energy available for physical activity. This concept is known as entropy, and it ties directly into the second law of thermodynamics. The second law of thermodynamics refers to the eventual degradation of potential energy, into kinetic or heat energy. This degradation decreases the capacity to perform physical activity (Kim & Roberts, 2015).
Fortunately, when one form of energy decreases, other forms increase. This cycle is continual in nature. The energy doesn’t disappear; it continues to change its form. At any given time, an athlete’s body is performing three types of biological work. These three types of work include mechanical, chemical, and transport. These types of work tie into energy transfer and the metabolic energy pathways. During physical activity and exercise, duration and intensity determine how and where, energy is being transferred and utilized. The aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways have specific functions, in relation to exercise (Chamari & Padulo, 2015).
The anaerobic energy pathway is utilized during short duration, high intensity events such as sprinting, powerlifting, and Olympic weightlifting. The anaerobic system actually has two main subsystems or pathways. The first is the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and phosphocreatine (CrP) pathway or ATP-CP. This pathway provides the energy for approximately ten seconds. After ten seconds, the second pathway activates. This second pathway is known as the glycolytic pathway. This pathway provides energy for approximately ninety seconds. This is the approximate time window where the anaerobic pathway is thought to end (Chamari & Padulo, 2015).
After ninety seconds, the aerobic or oxidative phosphorylation pathway takes over. This pathway continues providing energy for long duration activities such as distance and endurance events. Within the first two minutes of exercise or physical exertion, the athlete has activated three different energy pathways, belonging to the anaerobic and aerobic systems. Also the three biological forms of work are all functioning to assist with the demands on the body. There are ongoing debates amongst researchers, concerning the exact timings and roles of the energy pathways (Chamari & Padulo, 2015).
Proper nutrition for an athlete is absolutely critical, in order to meet the high energy demands of athletic training. The correct caloric intake, combined with a proper macronutrient ratio is essential for an athlete to meet their needs and goals. The body uses carbohydrates for the bulk of its energy demands. Glucose and glycogen play crucial roles in energy transfer during anaerobic and aerobic metabolism (Liesa & Shirihai, 2013).
Fats come into play during longer duration aerobic events. When muscle and liver glycogen levels, and corresponding glucose levels decrease, more fats are used to sustain energy transfer. Fats transfer energy slower, and can only generate about half as much energy production as carbohydrates, in the same amount of time. When the activity reaches a long duration such as the end of a triathlon or marathon, the remaining macronutrient is called up. The last in line for energy transfer are proteins (Liesa & Shirihai, 2013).
When energy demands are very high, glycogen levels are very low, and fats are too slow during the transfer process, proteins are called upon to help out the team. The athlete does not want to be in this situation, where proteins are being called upon to sacrifice themselves, for energy production. Proteins are broken down into their amino acids through deamination, and other methods that make them suitable for energy transfer. This can cause a loss of lean body mass, and cause decreases in performance, with rising fatigue levels (Longland, Oikawa, Mitchell, Devries, & Phillips, 2016).
Overtraining is a viable threat for hard working athletes. But it can be avoided with proper rest, nutrition, and training. It is very important for an athlete to recover properly after each period of training. Athletes must replenish and maintain their hydration levels, electrolyte levels, and muscle and liver glycogen levels. Consuming the right amount of calories, with the correct ratio of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, is an important part of preventing overtraining. Poor nutrition and dehydration, combined with intense training, poor rest, and high stress levels can propel an otherwise healthy athlete, into the overtraining mode. By eating properly, athletes can maintain an anabolic state and reduce the catabolic effects of intensive training. Coaches need to ensure that their athletes are doing the right things, so that overtraining does not occur (Cadegiani & Kater, 2017).
Longland, T., Oikawa, S., Mitchell, C., Devries, M., & Phillips, S. (2016). Higher compared with lower dietary protein during an energy deficit, combined with intense exercise promotes greater lean mass gain and fat mass loss: a randomized trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Retrieved from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/103/3/738.short
Nutrient timing is very important for overall health, body composition, and athletic performance. Consuming the needed amount of calories, with the correct macronutrient ratio, at the proper time can provide the athlete with optimal results. There are three primary nutrient timing windows. These nutrient timing windows include pre-workout, post- workout, and the period of time until the next pre-workout window. Nutrient timing windows are also known as the energy phase, the anabolic phase, and the growth phase. These three phases essentially cover the twenty four hours of the day. The athlete has the additional challenge of mastering these nutrient timing windows. It is the nutrition plan that makes all of the athlete’s hard work pay off, in the gym, and on the playing field (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2016).
The pre-workout or energy phase is a critical window concerning nutrient timing. This is the phase that provides the athlete with optimal fuel for performance, during a game or training session. It is recommended that the energy phase meal be consumed immediately before and during training. This timing is commonly referred to as pre-workout and intra-workout. There are numerous research studies that have shown the positive benefits of this nutrient timing window. In addition to enhancing performance, the energy phase also limits the catabolic effects of intense physical exertion (Brown, Imthurn, & Ramsay, 2015).
While many studies show the positive effects of a variety of pre-workout nutrients, there is a common thread that appears to hold true. The main nutrients that make up the energy phase requirements are carbohydrates and proteins. The pre-workout and intra-workout meals should contain twenty to twenty six grams of high glycemic carbohydrates. There should also be five to six grams of whey protein. Additional recommended nutrients include magnesium, sodium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin E, and leucine. For ease of consumption, most athletes make this meal in liquid form, as a drink or shake (Brown, Imthurn, & Ramsay, 2015).
The anabolic phase or post-workout window is the forty five minute time period immediately following training. This phase is also very important for the athlete. Hard, intense training leads to catabolic effects which can break down lean body mass, and increase fat storage. No athlete can afford to let this happen, if they want to be successful. Proper nutrition at this stage can reverse these catabolic effects, and turn it into an anabolic period of muscle sparing and protein synthesis (Sharp et al., 2017).
The nutrition profile for the post- workout meal contains forty to fifty grams of high glycemic carbohydrates, and thirteen to fifteen grams of whey protein. This is also normally consumed in liquid form. Recommended additional nutrients include vitamin C, vitamin E, leucine, and glutamine. High glycemic carbohydrates and whey protein are used, because they digest and metabolize faster than other forms (Sharp et al., 2017).
After the anabolic phase, the growth phase continues until the next energy phase. The goals of the growth phase are to build muscle, replenish glycogen stores, and to promote recovery. The growth phase is broken down into two sub-phases. The first sub-phase is the rapid segment, which lasts for the first several hours. The goal of this phase is to replenish glycogen stores. This is done by maximizing glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity. This phase also initiates recovery and muscle growth (Helms, Aragon, & Fitschen, 2014).
The next sub-phase is the sustained segment. This period lasts for approximately sixteen to eighteen hours following the rapid segment. The goal with this period of time is to increase muscle building with a positive nitrogen balance. The growth phase nutrition profile includes fourteen grams of faster digesting whey protein, two grams of slower digesting casein protein, and two to four grams of high glycemic carbohydrates. It is also recommended to include leucine, and glutamine to aid in recovery and muscle building. By following a disciplined nutrition window timing program, athletes can receive the proper nutrition necessary for optimal performance, muscle building, and recovery (Helms, Aragon, & Fitschen, 2014).
Skinny fat is alive and well in today's society. You can be thin and still have a lot of body fat. Your body fat percentage has nothing to do with how much you weigh on the scale.
Your total calorie intake per day and your macronutrient ratio of protein, fats and carbs determines whether or not you will make progress during your body transformation program.
Your performance during your workouts and your fitness level, directly correlates to how well you followed your nutrition plan that week. If you didn't eat well, don't expect to achieve great things during your workout. If you did eat good, your performance should reflect that.
People usually think they're eating much better than they really are and they usually over or under estimate their macronutrient ratio and calorie intake. That is why food journals do work and are helpful.
99% of the time, if you increase your protein intake, great things will happen.
Nutrition, hormone levels, stress, medications, sleep and water intake all have a tremendous impact on your results. Keep all of these variables in mind because exercise does not equal success alone.
Common issues with the plant based, vegan, or vegetarian diets include total protein intake, complete protein intake, iodine, zinc, selenium, iron, calcium, vitamins A, D, E and K (the fat-soluble vitamins) and B12 levels. If you are following one of these diet plans, make sure you are getting the macro and micro nutrients that you need.
The bottom line is that you need to eat the right amount, of the right foods, at the right times, to support your needs and goals.
Macronutrients are the body’s major fuel sources used to provide energy, and the raw materials to sustain, grow, and repair the body’s operating systems and infrastructure. The macronutrients consist of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Each macronutrient has specific roles and functions that help the body operate at, or near, optimal capacity. Carbohydrates serve four major roles. These roles include central nervous system fuel, primer for metabolism, sparing protein, and an energy source for the body (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2016).
Fats also serve four major roles. These roles include suppressing hunger, protection of vital organs and promoting thermal insulation, providing a transportation mechanism for fat soluble vitamins, and acting as a reserve source of energy. Proteins provide important support to the hormonal, transport, metabolic, and tissue synthesis and systems. Proteins provide amino acids, and contribute to cellular, muscular, skeletal, and numerous other internal systems. Together, the three macronutrients provide the body with all of its important needs, in order to operate in a healthy state (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2016).
Micronutrients consist of thirteen vitamins and twenty two minerals. Vitamins are categorized into water soluble and fat soluble groups. Each vitamin has specific functions, and all help to maintain the optimal physiological operations of the body. Minerals assist with cellular metabolism, bone and teeth formation, balancing acidity levels, neural functioning, muscle contractions, and heart rhythm (Ahmed, Ali, Islam, Hoque, Hasnat, & Nahar, 2016).
Minerals also assist in the operations of the immune system and other biochemical functions of the body. Both vitamins and minerals assist with antioxidant defense against free radicals and oxidative threats. Together, vitamins and minerals provide a wide variety of essential functions, for all major biological operations and systems of the body (Ahmed, Ali, Islam, Hoque, Hasnat, & Nahar, 2016).
Proteins, fats, and carbohydrates provide many important functions in the body, especially during exercise. Proteins are important for building lean body mass, which includes muscle tissue, connective tissue, and healthy bones. Proteins also help facilitate fat loss, or the loss of fat mass. In emergencies, proteins can be broken down to provide more glycogen to the body. Carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel source during exercise. When carbohydrate levels are sufficient, protein is spared during exercise (Helms, Zinn, Rowlands, & Brown, 2014).
When the body goes through the anaerobic phase, and begins the aerobic phase of exercise, after about two minutes, the carbohydrates become the main fuel. When glycogen stores begin declining after prolonged exercise, fatty acids are broken down into glycogen to sustain the body’s fuel needs. In dire cases of glycogen depletion, fats can break down into ketones to provide fuel. The three macronutrients work in concert to keep the body fueled and strong, throughout whatever stressors that one may face (Helms, Zinn, Rowlands, & Brown, 2014).
Vitamins and minerals are the micronutrients that support numerous chemical, biological, physiological, and metabolic actions, and systems within the body. During exercise the micronutrients play key roles in assisting with the break down and utilization of the macronutrients to provide fuel, and energy. They also assist with defense against free radical damage, muscular contractions, and thermoregulation. Micronutrients are extremely important during all catabolic and anabolic functions of the body. Not only do they provide vital functions in maintaining general health, they are critical components in numerous physiological activities during exercise (Pingitore, Pace, Lima, Mastorci, Quinones, Iervasi, & Vassalle, 2015).
Helms, E., Zinn, C., Rowlands, D., & Brown, S. (2014). A systematic review of dietary protein during caloric restriction in resistance trained lean athletes: A case for higher intakes. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. Retrieved from http://journals.humankinetics.com/doi/abs/10.1123/ijsnem.2013-0054
Marketing a sport product internationally can present numerous challenges, compared to marketing the same product within the United States. Dealing with fluctuating exchange rates in currency can be a frustrating experience, depending on which countries are involved. Planning, care, and caution need to be used when dealing with certain countries, as their exchange rates with U.S. dollars change frequently. A deal could be closed with certain amounts, only to be very different by the time the actual deal was executed on foreign soil. Companies can gain or lose large amounts of capital, if the exchange rates fluctuate unexpectedly. This is a very different situation than business deals that are conducted in within the United States (Pitts & Stotlar, 2013).
Trade regulations, bureaucracy, laws, taxes, tariffs, and policies are very different amongst different countries. This can be a challenging situation for many companies seeking to embark on international trade. Within the United States, all companies basically follow the same set of federal trade laws, and guidelines. When dealing with another country, all of the procedures, laws, guidelines and expenses can be very different. Trade tariffs between countries can be very expensive. Many nations create trade agreements which seek to streamline, and regulate the differences between all of the variables involved with each country. Companies have to do thorough planning and research before launching any international projects (McDonald, 2017).
Marketing and advertising methods and techniques have to be adjusted for the differences between the U.S. and foreign targeted market. A marketing campaign that was effective in the United States may not work in its original configuration overseas. Demographics, marketing data, marketing trends, languages, socioeconomic status, competition, and cultural differences are some of the variables that have to be researched by a company wanting to market a product in a foreign country. This vast amount of data is relatively easy to acquire in the United States. It can be quite challenging to gather this data from another country. Another variable which complicates matters, is whether or not the target country is considered to be developed or developing. Certain third world nations that are considered underdeveloped, would present many challenges to a U.S. based company. Technology interface can also present challenges to specific marketing campaigns (Surbhi, 2015).
Translating marketing copy properly can be a unique challenge for U.S. based companies. If the marketing copy does not properly translate into the language and dialect of the targeted nation, the entire campaign could fail. Companies need to spend the time and money, to research and ensure that their marketing copy is going to be understood correctly by foreign consumers. Something that is easy to understand in the English language can come across with a different meaning in certain languages. Copy writers for foreign marketing campaigns have to make sure that they are creating content that can be understood by their intended buyer. This is much less of a hassle within the United States. In some countries, regional differences further complicate this issue. The marketing campaign not only has to be written in the correct language, with correct context, but also must be tailored to the specific region of the intended sales (Beninatto, 2013).
In the sport business industry, there are eight major factors that contribute to, and influence the growth of the industry. These factors include people, sports activities, sporting goods, sports facilities, medicine, and fitness training, commercialization and marketing, professional service businesses, media and electronic technology, and sport management education. All of these factors contribute greatly to the sport business industry. However, one factor stands out as a critical component, which all of the other factors depend upon. This critical factor is the people. Thousands of people are interested, and involved in, the sport business industry. These thousands of people include the fans, athletes, management, staff, and workers, who give life to the other seven factors (Pitts & Stotlar, 2013).
People are the fundamental reason that the sport business industry exists. There has been major interest in sporting events of all kinds, dating back thousands of years. Most early civilizations had different forms of sport entertainment, which were widely popular with the people. In the modern era, sports have had a growing fan base, especially in competitive team and recreational sports. The sport business industry is one of the only industries that dominate all forms of media representation. Many people watch or participate in various forms of sports on a weekly basis. Our modern society is heavily influenced by the sport business industry. Sports are a part of many peoples’ lives from childhood, during school, and throughout adult life. In every aspect of the sport business industry, people are the facilitators and consumers of all sporting events and products (Humphreys & Ruseski, 2008).
The sport business industry employs thousands of people through a variety of job categories. There are numerous, sports related degrees and educational programs, which people complete with the hopes of entering into the sport business industry. Many athletes participate in sports from early childhood, throughout high school and college, to ultimately tryout for a spot in the highly competitive professional sport leagues. Large numbers of employees are needed to operate the large sporting goods store chains, which provide a variety of sports products, for thousands of sport fans and athletes. The marketing and advertising components of the sport business industry also employ many people, to attract fans and consumers. The facilitator side of the sport business industry requires thousands of people, to operate the many different aspects of this huge industry (Belzer, 2014).
Sports, recreation and fitness activities make up the largest segment of the sport business industry. Thousands of people attend sporting events weekly, at all levels, from youth events to major league games. There has been a steady rise in the number of participants in recreation and fitness activities over the last few decades. Individual sports have grown in popularity and now involve thousands of people. Legislation such as Title IX, along with local, state, and federal government support, have facilitated the sport business industry’s inclusion of more female, disabled, and minority participants. Technology has closed the distant gaps and allows more people to be involved. The sport business industry is a major contributor to society in many ways. The sport business industry has grown over the years, into an economic giant of global proportions. It is ultimately the people who are involved, which have allowed the sport business industry, to become what it is today (Macri, 2012).
Practical, hands on experience vs. academic education.
Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.
- C. S. Lewis
I am a firm believer in the value of experience. Most of what I know today, is based upon my empirical and anecdotal experiences of the past.
Later in life, my experiences were validated, supported, and confirmed through academics, and scientific research.
This is backwards concerning the normal learning model. Typically, a person goes to school, then begins working in their field of study, and gains experience.
I often read, and hear people using the terms empirical and anecdotal incorrectly.
Often, you will hear people using the word empirical to reference academic or scientific research. Anecdotal is commonly used to describe personal experience.
Incorrectly labeled empirical data is commonly valued far above the lowly anecdotal data.
As you can clearly see by the definitions below, both of these words are closely related in meaning. Both are observation & experience based, devoid of scientific research.
Empirical data: depending upon experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory.
Anecdotal data: based on personal observation, case study reports, or random investigations rather than systematic scientific evaluation.
I don't care how much academic schooling a person has.
If they haven't put the time in, hands on, boots on the ground, and gone through the process of trial & error, in any field of study or topic; they are not truly educated on the subject (IMO).
Experience and science based education together, formulate the best case scenario. If I had to pick between a person with a doctorate degree and no practical experience, or a person with no college and 20 years of practical experience; I'd pick the no college guy 99% of the time.
Having said all that, let me get back to registering for my next semester of courses. 😀
Overtraining syndrome is a condition that affects athletes, who follow a program which neglects adequate rest and recovery. Overtraining gradually builds with time, and causes the athlete’s performance, health, and mindset to decline. When overtraining occurs, the athlete’s performance decreases, and they develop chronic fatigue, changes in blood lactate variables, a decrease in motivation, neuroendocrine changes, develop an illness, or become injured. Overtraining should not be confused with overreaching. Overreaching is when an athlete completes very demanding training and is fatigued and worn out for a few days afterwards. With proper rest and recovery, the athlete can quickly recover from overreaching. When the rest and recovery is not adequate, the door is opened for the overtraining syndrome to set in. Overtraining is chronic in nature, and develops during the course of a lengthy training program (Bompa & Buzzichelli, 2015).
Athletes train to increase performance. Intense training is required to stimulate the physiological adaptions, which are desired. This intense training requires rest and recovery in order to facilitate the increases in performance. Training programs that follow a proper periodization model, take this into account. When training programs fail to include proper rest and recovery in the training schedule, athletes begin to develop telltale signs of overtraining. These signs and symptoms include fatigued, sore, and tight muscles, a decrease in performance, loss of appetite, increased resting heart rate, irritability, a lack of motivation, and trouble sleeping. There are numerous theories concerning the many different factors that contribute to, and cause overtraining. Some of the theories include low glycogen levels, low glutamine levels, central nervous system fatigue, oxidative stress, autonomic nervous system fatigue, and excessive inflammatory response. All of these theories contribute to understanding the overtraining syndrome. However, existing research has not been able to definitively answer all of the questions (Kreher & Schwartz, 2012).
There is no single way to identify and diagnose overtraining syndrome. There are established ways to look for it. Training logs, recorded heart rates, handgrip dynamometers, and heart rate variability monitors are methods used collectively, to determine if overtraining syndrome is present in an athlete. Other factors that contribute to identifying overtraining include a sudden increase in training volume, intensity, a busy competition schedule, a lack of periodization, or programmed recovery in training schedule, a monotonous training program, and high self-reported stress levels. Outside stressors have to be looked at as possible contributors to overtraining. Questionnaires asking about stressors from home, work, school, relationships and other outside factors can help with identifying overtraining (MacKinnon, 2000).
Athletes can recover from overtraining syndrome by resting, eating properly, staying hydrated, implementing recovery techniques, and by altering the training program until symptoms are gone. It takes different recovery times based upon the individual, and severity of the overtraining. Certain individuals can be more prone to overtraining than others. Athletes should be screened with a risk profile to find out if they have suffered from overtraining before, have a history of medical issues, or are predisposed to any of the symptoms. Overtraining syndrome can be prevented by ensuring that several factors are in place. Some of these factors include early identification and monitoring of susceptible athletes, minimizing known effects, preventing sudden increases in training loads, watching for inadequate dietary intake, managing the competition schedule, individualizing training, periodizing training, and programming recovery training and rest days into the training cycle. By implementing these factors, the risk of overtraining can be greatly reduced (Cardoos, 2015).
Bompa, T.O., & Buzzichelli, C.A. (2015). Periodization training for sports (3rd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
There are three main types of muscular contraction associated with strength and conditioning training. These types of contractions are concentric, eccentric and isometric. Each type of contraction has a place in training, and there are positive and negative aspects for each. While eccentric contractions provide the highest amount of tension during execution, isometric contractions come in second place, with concentric contractions trailing at third place (Bompa & Buzzichelli, 2015).
There are numerous training programs that are designed around each of the three types of contractions. Numerous research studies have analyzed many aspects of each type of contraction. Much debate has arisen over which type of training and contractions are the best. The data shows that each contraction type has strengths and limitations. A well rounded program should maximize the benefits of each, while avoiding the limitations. Isometric contractions are usually used the least, and are often misunderstood. The research shows that isometric contractions can be used to great benefit when applied properly (Bompa & Buzzichelli, 2015).
The concept behind isometric training revolves around two main methods. The first method is achieving an isometric contraction, by trying to lift a heavy weight that is beyond the muscle’s capability. The second method focuses on trying to move an inanimate or unmovable object. Both techniques result in a static contraction, where the length of the muscle does not change. Isometric training has been around for quite some time. One of the popular strongmen of older times was Alexander Zass. He was a prisoner of war during World War I. During his captivity, he worked on his strength by performing isometric contractions, against the steel bars and chains of his cell. He later went on to sell his isometric training program through mail order courses (Read, 2015).
Some of the first recorded research studies that outlined the benefits of isometric training, occurred in the 1950’s and 1960’s. During this time period, isometric training gained in popularity, and numerous training programs were created. Programs were designed for athletes, fighters, bodybuilders, and strongmen. Programs were even developed for the average, non-athletic citizen (Raizis, 2017).
While isometric training attained its peak in popularity during the 1960’s, it soon faded from the spotlight, and was replaced by many other fitness fads and trends. Some notable fitness icons that promoted isometric training included the great martial arts star, Bruce Lee, and fitness guru, Jack Lalanne. Bruce Lee was well known for a unique isometric exercise, where he attempted to move a steel bar, which was permanently attached to a squat rack. While he obviously never moved the steel bar, he did become so strong, that he put a curved bend in it (Read, 2015).
Isometric training has little functional use, as it is stationary in nature. But it does provide considerable gains in strength. It is also very effective for trunk, core, and abdominal stabilization, and strength. Positive results in rehabilitation therapy have also been shown with isometric training. Because the nature of the contraction is stationary, people who are recovering from skeletal, and bone related injuries can benefit from isometric training (Raizis, 2017).
Some of the other benefits of isometric training include the minimal time, equipment, and space required to perform it. Isometric training is also capable of considerable motor unit recruitment and activation. Many believe that isometric training is one of the more superior methods of motor unit recruitment. The earlier research studies showed that a single session of isometric training per day, at seventy five percent of maximal output, over ten weeks, raised strength levels by up to five percent, per week. Other research concluded that isometric training caused isometric strength gains to continue, even after the training protocol had concluded. Some of the studies outlined that isometric contractions of only six seconds could cause increases in strength, equal to a much larger number of dynamic isotonic contractions. The studies also suggested that in certain circumstances, ten minutes of isometric training could be the equivalent of sixty minutes of regular resistance training (Barry, 2015).
No special equipment is need for isometric training. During the 1960’s, when isometric training was very popular, many companies developed training devices specifically for isometric contractions. This never took off and isometric specific equipment quickly disappeared. Today, isometric training can utilize existing equipment, or body weight. Standard squat racks with pins and safety bars, can be utilized in a number of ways, with common items such as barbells. There are dozens of ways to perform isometric training with body weight alone. An old exercise that was popular once upon a time, simply had people put their hands together and apply force, for a period of time. Large spaces are not required for isometric training. It can be done in a standing, seated, prone, or supine position (Barry, 2015).
Isometric training does have its limitations. When isometric training is performed as the main training method, muscular elasticity, coordination and speed can be compromised. Critics of isometric training often say that this method of training only produces strength gains at specific joint angles, and is therefore limited. Other research has shown that this is not entirely accurate. Isometric training has been shown to produce strength increases for up to fifteen degrees, on each side of the joint angle that was trained (Kubo, Ishigaki, & Ikebukuro, 2017).
With isometric training, most people do not experience the common post workout fatigue, and soreness that accompanies regular resistance training. However, isometric training is said to produce a very deceptive, central nervous system fatigue, which can negatively impact performance. For this reason, supporters of isometric training recommend that training sessions be limited to about ten minutes. Adequate recovery time is just as important with isometric training, as it is with other methods (Kubo, Ishigaki, & Ikebukuro, 2017).
There are certain health risks associated with isometric training. Isometric training is not recommended for people with heart, blood pressure, or circulation problems. During isometric contractions, blood flow to the muscle is temporarily halted, which increases blood pressure. This could be a serious problem for certain people. Isometric training also dramatically increases intrathoracic pressure as contractions are conducted while breathing is momentarily suspended. This increase in intrathoracic pressure could cause medical concerns for people with certain conditions. Medical clearance is recommended for those with blood pressure related conditions, before beginning any isometric training. Some current research does indicate that isometric training, performed under certain conditions, could potentially help to lower blood pressure (Millar, McGowan, Cornelissen, Araujo, & Swaine, 2014).
The recommended method of incorporating isometric training, into a modern strength and conditioning program, uses the functional isometric contraction. This method is used in conjunction with weight training. Significant strength gains can be achieved by using functional isometric contractions. These would be utilized throughout various joint angles, or sticking points, in Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting and other resistance exercises. Combining isotonic and isometric training together, in a balanced strength program, can provide optimal results for the athlete (Millar, McGowan, Cornelissen, Araujo, & Swaine, 2014).
During my twenty years in the Army, misinformation regarding strength training was abundant. The military is transfixed on aerobic training. For many years, the military has promoted a singular concept in which all movement revolves around aerobic fitness. Science never seemed to enter the picture, until recently. Misinformation in the military is generally handed down from generations of leaders telling subordinates, of how it was done in the past. There was absolutely no knowledge of metabolic energy pathways, or of the need for anaerobic training to develop strength and power. After completing hundreds of long distance runs and countless high repetitions of exercises, the realization that performance transference existed, resonated with me to this day. Five mile runs did not provide any cardiorespiratory benefits, when the actual tasks involved picking up heavy objects, jumping over obstacles, and sprinting to a position, that provided cover and concealment (Bompa & Buzzichelli, 2015).
Despite the fact that long distance cardio training did not enhance performance, for tasks requiring anaerobic energy pathways, the guidance was to simply run more. During the times that strength training could be conducted in a gym, the emphasis was on light resistance and high repetitions. The well indoctrinated, aerobic based leaders would tell myths that heavy weight training would cause excessive mass, slow a soldier down, and get them killed. There was no knowledge of the benefits of strength and power development. The reality was that the soldiers needed strength and power development, for many of the same reasons that athletes do. Soldiers must be able to sprint, from one position to another, while under direct fire. There is a strength requirement when soldiers must physically pick up wounded comrades, and move them to safety. Negotiating obstacles, and maneuvering through difficult terrain, can require the use of all metabolic energy pathways. But yet the focus remained steadfast. Run more and do more repetitions to maximize endurance. Picking up a wounded soldier, with body armor and gear on, is anaerobic. No amount of five mile runs will assist with that task. Because of the excessive aerobic training, overtraining symptoms became common. Sarcopenia, osteopenia, and the skinny fat syndrome were present in soldiers, across the entire Army. The lack of power and strength training not only hindered performance, but caused many health issues as well (Mientka, 2013).
When power and strength training was added into the programming, along with aerobic training, performance increased dramatically. Physical fitness test scores were raised, and actual job related tasks were performed at much higher levels. By incorporating the different metabolic energy pathways into the fitness program, the limitations of the previous programming were overcome. The aerobic based leaders continued to dismiss these science based results. The modern military is finally accepting the science, and new programs addressing power and strength are being developed. Sprinting, plyometrics, and heavy resistance training are invaluable assets to any military program. Hopefully, the days of being told to just run more, are coming to an end (Stevens, 2017).
Bompa, T.O., & Buzzichelli, C.A. (2015). Periodization training for sports (3rd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Anaerobic and aerobic training both result in specific, acute, and chronic adaptations. Acute adaptations to both anaerobic and aerobic training include responses, and changes, that occur during and shortly after the training. Chronic adaptations to both anaerobic and aerobic training include changes in the body that occur after numerous training sessions. These changes are longer lasting and continue on after the training sessions. While both anaerobic and aerobic training produce acute and chronic adaptations, the changes between the two types of training are very different in nature. The differences between the adaptations are largely influenced by the metabolic energy pathways used by each type of training (Coburn & Malek, 2012).
The results of anaerobic training concentrate around short duration, high power events, such as sprinting, plyometric jumps, and resistance exercises. The metabolic energy pathways used by anaerobic training include the phosphagen system and glycolysis. Acute adaptations of anaerobic training include muscular, neurological, and endocrine changes. Neurological responses include increases in motor unit recruitment and EMG amplitude. Muscular changes involve increases in hydrogen ion concentrations, ammonia levels, and inorganic phosphate concentrations. There is usually a slight decrease or no change to ATP concentrations. CP and glycogen concentrations decrease. Endocrine changes include increases in the concentrations of epinephrine, cortisol, testosterone, and growth hormone (Pike, 2015).
Chronic adaptations to anaerobic training include changes to muscle fiber characteristics, muscle enzymes, muscle substrates, and muscle performance. Structural, body composition, and neurological changes also occur. The changes to muscle fibers include increases in type I & II CSA fibers, and type IIa fibers. There are decreases in type IIx fibers and usually no change to type I fibers. Increases in muscle size, and the number of muscle fibers are also common. Structural changes include increases in bone density, bone mass, and connective tissue strength. Muscle enzyme changes include increases in the absolute levels of glycolytic enzymes, and phosphagen system enzymes. The concentrations of glycolytic enzymes, and phosphagen system enzymes may also increase. Muscle substrate changes include increases in the absolute levels of ATP, and CP. The concentrations of ATP, and CP may also increase. There are usually decreases in ATP, CP, and lactate during exercise. Muscle performance changes include increases in muscle strength, power, and endurance. Body composition changes include a decrease in body fat percentage, with an increase in fat free mass. The metabolic rate usually increases as well. Neurological changes include a decrease in cocontraction, with an increase in motor unit firing rate. There is usually an increase in EMG amplitude during maximal voluntary contraction, and motor unit recruitment. Additional changes in the endocrine, immune, and cardiorespiratory systems promote an increase in force, velocity, and power capabilities (Fitzherbet, 2012).
Aerobic endurance training causes the body to respond to stressors, through a variety of alterations and changes, in numerous physiological processes and systems. The aerobic system is suited for activities that are normally longer in duration, and less intense, than those that require the anaerobic system. Distance running, mud runs, marathons, and triathlons are some examples of activities requiring the aerobic system. Intensity, frequency and duration are key variables that impact the response of the aerobic system. Acute adaptations of aerobic training include cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, and endocrine changes. Cardiovascular changes include increases in heart rate, stroke volume, cardiac output, blood flow to coronary vasculature, skeletal muscle blood flow, mean arterial pressure, hematocrit, and systolic blood pressure. Other adaptations also include decreases in splanchnic blood flow, plasma volume, and total peripheral resistance. Respiratory changes include increases in pulmonary minute ventilation, breathing rate, tidal volume, and the respiratory exchange ratio. Metabolic changes include increases in oxygen consumption, blood lactate, and arteriovenous oxygen difference. There is a decrease in blood PH levels. Endocrine changes include increases in glucagon, catecholamines, and growth hormone. There is a decrease in insulin. Cortisol levels decrease during low to moderate intensity exercise, and increase during moderate to high intensity exercise (Murphy, 2015).
Chronic adaptations to aerobic training include changes to the respiratory system, blood, heart, muscle, bones, metabolism, body composition, and performance. Changes to the respiratory system include increases in respiratory muscle aerobic enzymes, and ventilatory muscle endurance. Changes to the blood include increases in blood, plasma, and red blood cell volumes. Heart changes include increases in coronary arteriole densities, and diameters, left ventricular muscle thickness, and end-diastolic chamber diameter. Sometimes there is also an increase in myocardial capillary density. Metabolism changes include an increase in lactate threshold. Muscle changes include increases in capillary density, myoglobin, mitochondria density, oxidative enzymes, triglyceride stores, and glycogen stores. Sometimes there is an increase in type I fiber cross-sectional areas. Usually, there are no changes to the muscle cross-sectional areas, type IIa, and type IIx fiber cross-sectional areas. Normally, there are no changes or an increase in bone mineral density. Body composition changes include decreases in body fat percentage, fat mass, and overall body mass. There are usually no changes to fat free mass. Performance changes include an increase in cardiorespiratory endurance. There are usually no changes in muscular strength, anaerobic power, vertical jump, and sprint speed (Lewis, 2013).
In order to isolate and enhance certain adaptations to anaerobic and aerobic training, specific exercise programs can be designed. Lactate threshold training is an example of a specific style of training that benefits aerobic performance. Conducting specific training to increase the lactate threshold causes further adaptations to the athlete’s metabolism. Raising an athlete’s lactate threshold allow the body to move further, at a higher intensity level, for longer periods of time. The increased ability of the athlete to maximize lactate clearance increases performance dramatically. A variety of exercise protocols exist where intensity and distance are manipulated during each training session. Over a period of time, these specific adaptions increase the lactate threshold and clearance capability. This ultimately improves aerobic performance (Messonnier, Emhoff, Fattor, Horning, Carlson, & Brooks, 2013).
To isolate and enhance certain, specific adaptations to anaerobic training, specialized plyometric workouts can be designed. This training maximizes the benefits of the stretch shortening cycle. By using different single and double leg plyometric exercises, in a variety of repetition and set schemes, with varying intensity levels, numerous physiological adaptations can be enhanced. This style of specific training has been shown to improve overall power, strength, stored elastic energy, stretch reﬂex response, motor unit recruitment, muscle fiber size, rates of force production, inhibition of antagonist muscles, activation, and cocontraction of synergistic muscles, and increased Type I and Type II muscle ﬁber area. By conducting plyometric training numerous, specific, anaerobic adaptations are isolated and enhanced. This improves overall anaerobic performance as well (Luebbers, Potteiger, Hulver, Hyfault, Carper, & Lockwood, 2003).
Coburn, J.W., & Malek, M.H. (2012). NSCA’s essentials of personal training (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
The human body utilizes three metabolic energy systems to replenish adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP provides energy for all movements, exercises, and muscular activity. These energy systems include the phosphagen system, the glycolysis system, and the oxidative system. The phosphagen system, and the glycolysis system are anaerobic, and do not require oxygen. The glycolysis system is subdivided into two sub systems, which are fast glycolysis and slow glycolysis. The oxidative system is aerobic and requires oxygen. The three macronutrients, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, are the main food sources for energy. Carbohydrates are the only macronutrient that can be utilized for energy, without oxygen. All physical movements and exercises require the use of one or more of the three energy systems. The type and duration of the movement, or exercise determines which energy system will be utilized (Coburn & Malek, 2012).
For short duration, high intensity, explosive, power movements, the phosphagen system is utilized. The phosphagen system is used for about the first ten seconds of activity. Examples of activities that rely on the phosphagen system include short sprints, plyometric actions such as box jumps, and powerful actions such as an Olympic lift. Even if the physical activity lasts longer than ten seconds, the phosphagen system acts first. ATP and creatine phosphate are the primary elements used by the phosphagen system. The enzymes myosin adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) and creatine kinase play a role in the breakdown, and regeneration of ATP. The ATP is broken down to release its energy. Myosin ATPase facilitates the breakdown of the ATP into adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and phosphate. This catabolic action releases the energy from the ATP so that it can be utilized by the body. Once this occurs, the ATP must be regenerated. The adenosine diphosphate (ADP) levels rise, which activates the creatine kinase. The creatine kinase breaks down the creatine phosphate, which provides a phosphate group to combine with the ADP. This anabolic sequence produces ATP. This cycle repeats rapidly, and provides a high rate of energy, for a very short duration (Karp, 2009).
As physical exertion moves beyond the first ten seconds, the glycolysis system activates. Glycolysis breaks down carbohydrates from blood glucose, and stored glycogen to form ATP. The glycolysis system provides energy for high intensity activity, which lasts up to two minutes. For intense activities lasting for about thirty seconds, fast glycolysis is used. With fast glycolysis, pyruvate is converted to lactate, to produce ATP. The lactate can be then sent to the liver to be converted back into glucose through the Cori cycle. As the activity goes beyond thirty seconds, slow glycolysis begins to take over. With slow glycolysis, the pyruvate is sent to the mitochondria, through the Krebs cycle, to produce more ATP. This occurs from approximately thirty seconds to two minutes of intense exercise. The intensity of the activity or exercise will decline as the sequence moves through the phosphagen system, to fast glycolysis, and on to slow glycolysis. Examples of activities that could utilize the glycolysis system include a four hundred yard run, a high repetition set of a barbell exercise, or a full court press in basketball (Kelso, 2017).
At approximately the two minute mark and beyond, the oxidative system takes over from the slow glycolysis system. This is where the activity switches from anaerobic to aerobic, and oxygen is required. The oxidative system utilizes both carbohydrates and fats to fuel ATP production. Protein is not usually metabolized as fuel, unless the activity lasts for over ninety minutes. With the oxidative system, ATP production can occur through the Krebs cycle, electron transport chain, and beta oxidation. In addition to being used to produce ATP for longer, slower activities, the oxidative system also works while at rest. While at rest, fats are predominantly used as fuel. Once activity begins, it switches to carbohydrates. Once glucose levels start to become depleted, the system reverts back to fats. As the glycolysis system fades and the oxidative system takes over, the pyruvate is sent to the mitochondria, and converted into acetylCoA. The acetylCoA is then sent through the Krebs cycle for more ATP production. As glucose levels decline, fats are metabolized through the electron transport chain, and beta oxidation process, to be converted to acetylCoA. The acetylCoA then enters the Krebs cycle to produce more ATP. If the activity is very long in duration, protein can assist in energy production through gluconeogenesis and the Krebs cycle. The protein is broken down into its amino acids, which are then either converted to glucose or acetylCoA. Protein breakdown is usually minimal, as glucose and fats are normally present in sufficient quantities. for most activities. Examples of activities utilizing the oxidative system include rest, medium to long distance runs, triathlons, and manual labor during a work day (Pegg, 2013).
Coburn, J.W., & Malek, M.H. (2012). NSCA’s essentials of personal training (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Muscular contraction begins with the nervous system sending a stimulus to the muscle fibers. This stimulus occurs at the neuromuscular junction. There is one neuromuscular junction for each muscle fiber. The neuromuscular junction contains structures that include the axon terminal of the neuron, the motor endplate, and the synaptic cleft, or neuromuscular cleft. From this point, the actions of the sliding filament theory begin. The actin and myosin filaments slide past each other, causing the muscle to shorten or lengthen. The filaments do not change in length during this action. Excitatory neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh), is released at the neuromuscular junction, after an action potential passes along the length of a neuron. ACh is released into the synaptic cleft between the axon terminal of the neuron and the muscle fiber. This occurs in direct response to the action potential (Coburn & Malek, 2012).
From that point, the Ach binds with ACh receptors, on the motor endplate of the muscle fiber. This occurs after the Ach moves across the synaptic cleft. This causes another action potential to be created. This new action potential moves along the sarcolemma of the muscle fiber. T-tubules are utilized by this action potential to travel to the interior of the muscle fiber. This movement causes the release of stored calcium from the sarcoplasmic reticulum. The calcium is released into the sarcoplasm. Once in the sarcoplasm, the calcium moves to the troponin molecules. The calcium then binds with the troponin molecules. These the troponin molecules are located along the length of the actin filaments. The shape of the troponin changes after the calcium binds to it. Tropomyosin is attached to the troponin. This change in shape causes the tropomyosin to expose the binding sites on actin, to the myosin head (Krans, 2010).
The exposed binding sites on the actin are able to attach to the myosin, forming a cross bridge. This myosin head of attachment pulls the actin filament toward the center of the sarcomere. The effort of the myosin pulling on the actin depletes the energy of the myosin. The depleted myosin must then detach from the cross bridge and reenergize itself. This requires a new adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecule to be bound to the myosin. Once the ATP molecule is bound to the myosin, it can then detach and energize itself. The energizing of the myosin comes from the enzyme myosin adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase). The ATPase splits the ATP molecule. This energizes the myosin and allows for the cross bridge sequence to occur again. This sequence can continue as long as the muscle fiber is being stimulated to contract, by its motor neuron. The myosin pulling the actin toward the center of the sarcomere shortens the muscle. This process is the muscle contracting. The success or failure of this sequence is determined the external forces pulling against the cross bridge (Szent-Györgyi, 2004).
There are three basic types of contractions that can occur when the sliding filament theory is activated. Muscle contractions are usually pulling against an external force such as a barbell. When the myosin is pulling the actin through the cross bridge, the resistance determines the outcome. The contraction generates more force than the resistance, causing a concentric contraction. The external force is greater than the contraction force, causing a lengthening of the muscle. This is an eccentric contraction. The contraction force is equal to the resistance force, which stalls movement. This is an isometric contraction. The muscle will always attempt to shorten as the myosin pulls on the actin. The resistance level will cause one of the three types of contractions to occur. ATP is the primary fuel source for this sequence (Lefkowith, 2014).
Coburn, J.W., & Malek, M.H. (2012). NSCA’s essentials of personal training (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.