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Advanced Fitness Training – for elite sports performance

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Sport Fitness Training

“All the sports conditioning information you need to compete faster, stronger – and for longer…”

Dear Sports Performance Bulletin reader,

Once upon a time, simply playing and practicing your sport was considered more than adequate for developing sport performance.

Not any more…

The sports science revolution of the last 20 years has ensured that, whatever your sport or the level you compete at, maximising your sport fitness is absolutely essential for achieving your true potential in 2011.

So my latest special report – Advanced Fitness Training – for elite sports performance – brings together the latest sports science findings across a range of sports training fronts. These breakthroughs are (or should be!) revolutionising the way sportsmen and women train for sport.

Get your copy today at a special discount (more on that below) and you’ll quickly find out how you can build more power, more strength, more speed and more endurance so that you can perform faster, stronger and longer!

Here are just some of the exciting new facts, tips and techniques you’ll learn when you order your copy today:

  • How to determine which form of periodisation is most suitable for your specific circumstances (pp. 10-13)
  • How to ensure that the transition between different periods of training emphasis is seamless (p. 11)
  • Which tapering method is most suitable for your sport (pp. 16-17)
  • Which athletes should be wary of experimenting with reverse periodisation (p. 26)
  • Why you should be careful about when, and how much amino acids you take (p. 33)
  • Why there may be an advantage to you in ingesting carbohydrate along with amino acid supplementation (pp. 33-34)
  • Why the time of day you exercise can help -- or hinder -- your efforts at a building in both endurance and strength (p. 36)
  • Why it's important to keep your strength sessions short (p. 37)
  • What is the most important criterion you should consider when deciding whether or not to experiment with concurrent training (p. 47)
  • Why elite athletes do such a small percentage of very high intensity training work in a typical week (p. 53)
  • The best way for athletes to prepare for high intensity training sessions (p. 54)
  • Why could using a heart rate monitor to establish your ‘training zones’ actually prevent you from reaching your true sporting potential? (p. 61)
  • Why do the so-called ‘fit fat’ need to use a different formula from other athletes when calculating VO2Max – otherwise they risk a wrong reading? (p. 58)
  • The single best way to increase the activity of strength building enzymes (p. 74)
  • Why a simple glass of milk could transform your weight training routines (p. 76)
  • What is the maximum number of repetitions per set for optimal strength gains (p. 77)
  • How to determine the quantity of rest you need between sets for optimal strength gains (p. 78)
  • Does it really matter if you use free weights or Smith machines? (pp. 85-86)
  • What impact the speed of movement has on your resistance training efforts (p. 83)

It’s essential information for athletes, and their coaches, who want to know about the quickest, most time effective routes to all-round sports fitness.

And it’s brought to you by ten of the most experienced sports conditioning experts, coaches and former athletes that I know:

  • Dr Richard Godfrey, FACSM is a physiologist and senior lecturer in coaching and performance at Brunel University, UK
  • Nick Grantham is a strength and conditioning coach who has worked with elite athletes for the past 10 years. He has trained many of the UK’s elite athletes, including Olympic and Paralympic finalists, and professionals in a multitude of sports. He now heads the Strength and Conditioning team at GENR8 Fitness
  • Keith Baar runs the Functional Molecular Biology laboratory at the University of Dundee, where his research involves looking for genes that alter muscle and tendon function
  • Joe Beer is an endurance coach working with cyclists, triathletes, duathletes and runners through his company He is also the author of ‘Need to Know Triathlon’ (Harper Collins)
  • James Marshall MSc, CSCS, ACSM/HFI, runs Excelsior, a sports training company
  • Dr Gary O’Donovan is a lecturer in sport and exercise medicine at the University of Exeter and an exercise physiologist accredited with the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES)
  • Romain Denis is a research student in sport sciences at Brunel University and he is pursuing accreditation with BASES
  • Mike Gittleson ran the University of Michigan strength and conditioning programme for 30 years, where he applied many of these techniques to increase the strength of elite athletes
  • John Shepherd MA is a specialist health, sport and fitness writer and a former international long jumper

So, take action now and use this wealth of expertise to steal a march on your competitors.

Get your copy of Advanced Fitness Training – for elite sports performance TODAY, at our special, 42%-discount price. What’s more, postage & packing is free.

And you’ve got 30 days in the convenience of your own home or sports club to decide whether or not you want to keep the book or return it for a full refund.

I urge you to order your copy TODAY – before first-run copies are sold out, and you’re forced to wait for the reprint.

Yours sincerely

Jonathan Pye
Publisher: Peak Performance

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Periodisation Techniques: is your training year set up the wrong way round?

Organising training, periodisation and tapering to ensure an athlete’s fitness is improved year on year and that peaking is correctly timed, is one of the most challenging aspects of coaching. Of course it doesn’t help that in recent years, the concept of periodisation (the planned organisation of training) has become increasingly jargonised and hence often difficult to comprehend, particularly the difference between linear and non-linear models and when to use them.

So we kick off Advanced Fitness Training – for elite sports performance with a guide to the fundamental principles underlying periodisation that will help you construct your short, medium and longer-term training plans for maximum success. At the heart of the discussion is an explanation of the essential differences between so-called linear and non-linear periodisation – and a discussion of an exciting new approach to structuring your training year: reverse periodisation.

Essentially, periodisation is a means of organising and managing training to provide a greater likelihood of successful performance through year on year improvement and planned management of peak performance.

Constructing a traditional periodisation programme begins with identifying a number of discrete competitions over the year that the athlete is required to peak for. Organisation of the annual training programme starts with those important competitions and works backwards. That’s because, from a physiological perspective, it is not possible to improve the level of conditioning in several areas at one time. You therefore plan your training so that at certain times of year the emphasis is on improving one parameter, while other areas are simply maintained.

Typically, traditional periodisation is partitioned into ‘duration categories’ to allow the prescription of training from a broad to more precise focus. To accomplish this there are three training cycles:

  • A microcycle of one to 14 days
  • A mesocycle of two weeks to six months
  • A macrocycle of one to four years

Hence the broad focus is macro, the more detailed is meso and fine detail is micro.

In any year there are four phases of training: the conditioning (or preparation) phase, the transition phase, the pre-competitive/taper phase and the competitive phase.

In Advanced Fitness Training – for elite sports performance we tell you how to structure your overall programme so that the transition between periods of major training emphasis is seamless. The discussion includes a table that illustrates how to put together a periodisation programme for a 400m swimmer. This is an annual linear periodised programme with six to eight competitions in a season lasting 16 weeks.

Then we move to an explanation of how non-linear or undulating periodisation works. That’s because the demand for more competitive sport to satisfy increasing audience demand and the desires of commercial sponsors has led to an increase in the length of the season in many sports and an increase in the number of competitions. This results in reduced time for applying training stimuli, requiring important adjustments to the traditional model of annual periodisation.

The primary aim of non-linear periodisation is the maintenance of hard-won physiological advances. As strength, strength-endurance and power are objects of desire among strength and sprint athletes, training must encompass all of these every week to ensure that at certain times of year all are maintained.

To illustrate the point, we give you an example of a non linear (undulating) resistance training programme that enables you to meet your strength, strength-endurance and power training requirements over the course of a typical week. The programme contains every piece of information you need to implement it right away: which exercise to do, how many sets and repetitions to do -- even how much weight to lift (as a percentage of one rep max).

NB: this strength/strength-endurance/power periodised training programme alone is probably worth the price of the report!

Our discussion on so-called reverse periodisation opens with an explanation of the philosophy underlying this revolutionary approach.

Tradition dictates that to be successful in endurance-based sports you need to complete high volumes of training. The traditional approach is to move from high volume/low-intensity work to low volume/high-intensity work. Basic periodisation also moves from general to more specific work as the competition approaches.

But what if intensity and not volume is really the key for unlocking your endurance potential?

‘The “reverse” approach is based on maintaining intensity closer to that which the competition demands (recognising that initially, the athlete’s capacity to perform this intensity will be low) then to increase the volume progressively, without sacrificing the intensity. In summary, the goal is for the athlete to learn how to run fast over a distance that they are capable of running fast over, then to increase that distance. The difference in approaches of these two models is essentially this: the traditional model commences with capacity (volume) and shifts towards power (intensity). The alternative model, as the name suggests, reverses this approach, commencing with power then shifting toward capacity.

In Advanced Fitness Training – for elite sports performance we show you how to plan and implement such a programme across a range of endurance sports.

Our discussion of periodisation concludes with a focus on the rights and wrongs of tapering – because without this no amount of periodised training will help.

Tapering (or ‘peaking’) is used to ensure that peak performance occurs when required. In broad terms, this involves reducing the volume of training to allow replenishment of energy stores and to facilitate recovery. Specifically, tapering requires maintenance of the intensity of exercise with a parallel reduction in the volume undertaken.

Central to our discussion is the relationship between the amount of reduction in volume and the amount of time over which that reduction takes place. Because if the reduction occurs too fast then there will be an insufficient stimulus to prevent detraining. If the reduction is too slow, inadequate recovery will result and performance will be sub-optimal.

Read our new Special Report and you’ll learn which critical errors you need to avoid when peaking for a Big Event.

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The Science of Concurrent Training: how to build Strength & Endurance – at the same time

Many sports require not just high levels of strength but excellent levels of endurance too. The problem is though that for hundreds of thousands of years, humans have evolved to be either as strong or as tireless as possible, but not both.

The basic reason is that, within our bodies, the two processes of building strength and endurance are diametrically opposed: in other words, one tends to prevent the other.

Strength is usually improved by coordination of the motor units within the muscle, the rate of firing of motor neurons within the muscle spindles and an increase in cross sectional area of the muscle. Endurance is improved by the ability to take up more oxygen (VO2max) through central processes such as an increase in stroke volume (blood volume pumped with each heartbeat) as well as at the cellular level through an increase in capillarisation (the network of tiny blood vessels that supply working muscles) and the number and size of mitochondria (energy producing factories) within the cell. Endurance training on its own has not been shown to improve strength training and strength training on its own has not been shown to improve oxygen uptake.

Therefore, to master both strength and endurance, we have to overcome limitations that have been laid down in our genes over hundreds of thousands of years.

It is not just decathletes that need to master both endurance and strength. All motor-endurance sports – for example, cycling, swimming and rowing – require both, as do many games, including rugby, basketball and ice hockey. Therefore, knowing how to optimise both strength and endurance is one of the keys to success for the modern sportsman.

While coaches have long been the leaders in developing strategies to maximise performance, a surprising number of advances in molecular exercise physiology mean that, for the first time, basic researchers are beginning to understand how best to train simultaneously for strength and endurance – what is known in the jargon as ‘concurrent training’.

In Advanced Fitness Training – for elite sports performance we present the findings of recent sports science research that explain how you can train with both objectives in mind: more strength and more endurance – without, as has often been the case in the past, running the risk of overtraining.

Because ensuring recovery is crucial when undertaking such a demanding and complex approach to physical conditioning.

But before we can discuss how to train for strength and endurance together, it is necessary to understand a little about the basic process of how our muscles build strength and endurance. So first we outline the fundamentals of metabolic pathways in endurance and strength training. Then we share with you some recent research on the roles of our genes – in particular two key enzymes – in facilitating adaptation to endurance and strength training.

Finally we outline specific training strategies designed to help you maximise your strength and endurance gains when performing concurrent training. The discussion centres on the five ‘rules’ of training for endurance and strength.

Learn these five rules – then practice them – and you’ll be well on your way to new athletic success!

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Tempo Training: are you too doing it the wrong way?

Professional elite athletes know how to train because they have access to the best coaches and a because of the Darwinian process that ‘kills off’ bad methods and keeps good ones thriving!

However, until very recently, the amateurs have never had access to the facilities and coaching backup of elite performers, so more often than not they have tended to source information from the best athletes they know locally and/or the group ethos prevailing in their particular training group or environment. The problem with this approach is that the ‘sheep mentality’ of merely doing what everyone else does is not especially effective. And let’s be honest, sheep don’t win many athletic medals!

So it was fascinating when data were presented in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance on 36 elite junior rowers’ actual training data – specifically on the training zones followed by top athletes.

These data have rocked the training methods of some and given the thumbs up to what others are already doing. What they suggest in a nutshell is that the ‘Goldilocks’ approach to training (not too hard, not too easy) is detrimental for optimum performance, resulting in a no man’s land of not much progress.

In Advanced Fitness Training – for elite sports performance we share the results of this ground-breaking research. You’ll get the ‘inside track’ on just how the professionals go about achieving top results. And you’ll learn how to apply these real-world lessons to your own training programme.

The bottom line: Trying to train at threshold is not the way to train: you are working too hard to be easy and too easy to be properly hard!

Our analysis includes a comparison of the training splits between zone 1 base training and high intensity work across ten different sports, from rowing to cycling.

So now you can find out how to avoid the training mistake so many of your fellow competitors are making… and benefit accordingly.

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Heart Rate Training: does it help – or is it a hindrance?

Athletes have used heart rate training to develop aerobic fitness successfully for years – and rightly so. However, slavish adherence to heart rate training zones won’t allow an athlete to reach his or her true potential.

So in the next section of Advanced Fitness Training – for elite sports performance we discuss the strengths and limitations of both heart rate monitoring and heart rate training.

You get a detailed review of the evidence for the suitability, or otherwise, of using heart rate monitors in four key athletic performance areas:

  • predicting VO2max
  • measuring exercise intensity
  • determining training zones
  • preventing overreaching and overtraining

Because it’s essential that athletes be aware of both the strengths and the limitations of using this technology in a training environment.

Then we examine the value of the alternatives on offer. For example, the value of using lactate measurement when assessing optimum training intensities. And why methods such as the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) may sometimes be more suitable than using HRMs.

What you will take-away from this section is a more informed understanding of when to use a heart rate monitor -- and when not to.  As someone once put it: don't become a slave to the rhythm!

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Building Maximum Sport-Strength: time to tear up the old rulebook?

What is it that actually causes an increase in strength?

One possibility is that muscle repair results in a newer, stronger muscle. But while it is true that muscles repair themselves after a training session, there’s nothing in the repair process itself that causes the muscles to grow stronger. This can be seen by comparing muscle strength following a training session to muscle strength after a minor muscle injury. In both cases, muscle repair has occurred. However, only the training session increases muscle strength.

If not repair, then what?

In every scientific model of muscle hypertrophy (growth), including mice, rats, rabbits, chickens and humans, the first response to a strength-training session is an increase in protein synthesis. If the increase in protein synthesis is more than the increase in muscle breakdown, the muscle will get bigger and stronger.

Over the past 10 years molecular exercise physiologists have identified the key regulator of muscle protein synthesis after strength-training. The activity of this protein is directly related to the intensity of the training session and, over time, to the increase in muscle size and strength.

If activating this protein is the key to increasing strength, then understanding how to maximally activate this enzyme will tell us how to optimise our strength-training. To do this, we have to understand what turns this protein on and off, and from a number of beautiful scientific studies, this is now clear – as you’ll find out in the next section of Advanced Fitness Training – for elite sports performance.

The discussion centres on the types of muscle contraction we can employ, nutritional strategy, and a few training programme factors that can maximise protein activation.

Key to this is an explanation of the six cardinal rules for maximising muscle enzyme activation and strength games.

The discussion closes with an explanation of how you can weave together these research findings into a coherent programme that will optimise your future strength gains.

NB: there are three key drivers of success. In Advanced Fitness Training – for elite sports performance you'll find out what these are, and how to implement them correctly.

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How to Develop Sports-Specific Power in the Weights Room

Although power and strength are intimately connected, they’re not the same thing. That's why training for power in sports requires a significantly different approach to traditional conventional strength-training methods.

For example, coaches frequently advocate fast movement lifting with weights in the region of 70% of 1RM as a means of developing athletic power. Typical exercises include squats, hang pulls and bench presses. Jumping/throwing weight exercises such as the jump squat and bench throw are also commonly performed, often with similar loadings.

But are these the optimum loads?

First, let us remember that strength may be defined as the ability to lift as heavy a load or overcome as much resistance as possible. This is normally achieved in the weights room by lifting weights in excess of 75% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM). Low repetitions (1-6) are normally used to achieve this goal.

In comparison, power is defined as the ability to overcome resistance as fast as possible. In terms of weight training, it’s normally developed by lifting weights in the region of 60-75% of 1RM, as fast as possible, but safely with control (6-12 repetitions would normally be used).

However, as we shall see, this may not actually be the optimum load for achieving the greatest power gains – particularly when it comes to improving acceleration, jumping ability and hitting, for example.

So in this next section of Advanced Fitness Training – for elite sports performance we explain the importance of power in sport and – crucially – the distinction between power and strength.

Then we discuss the findings of some recent research into optimal loadings for developing power in the weights room – including the age-old issue of fixed versus free weight training for power. You'll find out whether the way in which an athlete lifts weights has any impact on his strength gains.

Finally, we explain the benefits of ‘power-combination’ training in power development.

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Training for Maximum Speed: why you should introduce a little ‘chaos’ into your efforts

The ability to effectively accelerate, decelerate and change direction is a crucial determinant of success in many sports. Athletes must be able to move explosively and efficiently if they are to outwit their competitors.

While an individual’s ability to develop speed is largely predetermined, it is possible to optimise an athlete’s multidimensional speed and agility with a well-structured training programme.

So in the final section of Advanced Fitness Training – for elite sports performance we turn our attention to finding out how best to achieve this training objective.

First we examine the nature both of speed – defined as the distance travelled per unit of time – and multidimensional speed, which we define as a series of complex movements in the shortest time possible. And more particularly, the ability to change the body’s direction or orientation based on internal and external information without significant loss of speed.

Then we turn our attention to the traditional forms of speed training, analysing both its strengths and limitations.

Traditionally, multidimensional speed development for sport has relied heavily on highly programmed (closed) speed and agility drills. Some coaches even go down the route of using track-orientated drills and workouts to improve speed for athletes competing in multidimensional sports.

However, there’s a fundamental flaw with this highly structured approach…

Because sport is by its very nature chaotic – by which I mean to say it’s not programmed! It’s highly unpredictable – and for good reason. Ask yourself, when was the last time you watched, say, a football match and saw ladders on the pitch or lots of cones to determine the direction in which a player ran. No, what you saw was, in effect, chaos – albeit controlled chaos.

Yes, factors such as quickness, reactive ability, and motor coordination can all be improved during a closed drill. These are all important components and training must adequately address each area.

But the problem is that many coaches and athletes only use this form of speed and agility training, resulting in athletes who can perform drills but can’t transfer that into the sports arena. Athletes quickly master the drill and whilst they will appear to be improving their multidimensional speed and agility, the ‘trainability’ of these types of drills does not adequately address the processing that needs to occur (very quickly!) in unforeseen situations.

By contrast, what’s really needed are drills that develop balance and spatial awareness, develop athletes’ reactions to signals and responses to a variety of cues. To achieve these training objectives, the drills must utilise movements appropriate to the task at hand.

Read Advanced Fitness Training – for elite sports performance and you’ll discover the six essential building blocks that make up an ‘open’ speed training programme – and how to implement them the right way.

It’s everything you need to effectively train yourself, or your athletes, for multidimensional speed and agility.

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Details of your special, discount offer

As a registered member of our Peak Performance web site, you qualify for a copy of Advanced Fitness Training – for elite sports performance at a special 42% discount. Place your order today and you pay just $34.99 (£21.69) instead of the full price of $59.99.

You save 42%.

Advanced Fitness Training – for elite sports performance is one of a series of special reports from Peak Performance, the sports science newsletter. This practical work book is not available elsewhere.

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