Stretch Shortening Cycle

301.4

box-jumps

The fundamental elements of human power production are: high-speed strength, low-speed strength, speed of force production, strength-shortening cycle and muscle memory or skill. The first three elements are trained in the gym, the fourth is a gift of nature and the fifth means that you could be the most perfect physical specimen ever to walk the earth and you wouldn’t be able to chew gum and walk, unless you practiced chewing gum and walking, of course. Let’s talk for a moment about number 4.

Do you remember the classic scene in the doctor’s office where the patient is sitting on the exam table and the dr. hits his knee with a rubber hammer and the patient’s leg kicks out? That is a demonstration of the stretch shortening cycle. A perfect example of the body’s defense mechanism against overstretching, when the hammer hits the tendon over the knee and quickly shortens the quadricep muscle, the brain immediately tells the quad to contract and simultaneously keeps the opposing muscle, the hamstring, relaxed so that there is no opposition to the leg’s movement, preventing overstretching. The same phenomenon can be seen in weight training, called ‘bouncing out of the squat’, the athlete lowers the weight under control until, at the very bottom of the squat the pre-stretched muscles rebound to start the weight up again.

The stretch shortening cycle is a built in part of the human machine but knowing what it is and what it does can help us in getting to know our bodies better. Plyometrics is a subject that really embraces the stretch shortening cycle, many of the movements rely on it for their effectiveness. One of my favorite exercises is platform jumping or box jumping. Many people do this in their workouts, but there are two ways to do this and two very different results.

The basic box jump starts with the athlete standing in front of a wooden platform and jumping from the floor to the top of the box, fully extending the hips each time and jumping back down to the floor. If you can do this, awesome. Now think about this, start on top of the box, jump to the floor and spring back onto the box without pausing at the bottom. This is where the stretch shortening cycle lives. Try this ten times with a small box or snatch block, 6 to 8 inches tall to begin with. Rest at the top instead of the bottom if you need to and try to keep your heels from touching the ground when you land at the bottom, this leaves all of the stretch in your legs. The first several times be careful as there is a component of skill and balance involved in getting back to the same spot you started each time. Think unicycle, don’t hurt yourself trying to help yourself.

workout: run 1 mile, no stops

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The Pyramids

299.8

classic-food-pyramid
If you grew up in the United States you have undoubtedly seen the “Food Pyramid” that shows the different food groups and how many servings of each we should have every day to stay healthy. Now, if you have been following fitness trends over the last ten years you have also been exposed to the “Paleo Diet” which basically flips the classic food pyramid upside down, contradicting most widely held theories about nutrition and health. The pyramid graphic is a highly intuitive reference tool to simply and quickly outline the concepts of many different subjects. One very interesting pyramid for the fitness enthusiast or serious athlete is The Transfer of Training pyramid.
bondarchuk

Developed by Dr. Anatoliy Bondarchuk, a pure genius in the sport of track and field, the Transfer of Training principles broke all exercises down to 4 basic groups:
1. General preparatory exercises, those movements that utilize different muscles and energy pathways than the competitive event(in the original sense, the hammer throw)
2. Specific preparatory exercises, using the muscle groups and energy pathways of the competitive event but a different movement pattern.
3. Specific developmental exercises, targeting the same specific groups and pathways and including parts of the competitive movements.
4. Finally Competitive exercise, including the event itself and some variations.

These principles made training programming much easier and more adaptable to the individual. Although developed for the hammer throw, the pyramid can and is working in many other sports, swimming, cycling, running, all one needs to do is to examine a competitive event and break down it’s movements and categorize your training exercises in a similar way. Here is a link to those wiser than I.Link

Crunching the Numbers

306.4

runners

 

Rule 34 states that ‘If it exists, there is porn of it.’  I believe that in the realm of health and fitness, if one person has had an idea, two other people have figured out how to count it, collate it, and quantify it.  One such idea is the Banister Impulse/Response model.  The idea was at first to figure out if, by recording all training efforts, an increase in fitness could be calculated by means of an ordinary differential equation and the answer given in the form of positive training effect, or PTE.  It almost worked.  For every positive training effect there is a negative effect, that being fatigue.  Rather than shoot down the original hypothesis however, this little fact seemed to have perfected it.  When the PTE is plotted against the NTE over time along with actual performance an interesting and quite repeatable effect is shown.

F6.large

Skipping all of the math, we see that at the beginning negative effects, basically fatigue, outweigh the positive effects of training.  As performance starts to improve the positive effects become substantially greater than the negative.  This model has been tested for many endeavors, running, cycling, swimming, and seems to work similarly in all of them.  More here.

 

I have a confession to make. I fell off the wagon, yes, stopped making fitness a priority and forgot about eating right and it got me. On top of not making weightloss goals and feeling pretty low from the lack of endorphins, I got a chronic hip pain. So I am back at square one, actually square zero, I have lost the ability to squat temporarily. I am slowly rehabbing the range of motion while I try to catch up in other areas.

It is iced tea season once again, there is 3 gallons of the stuff in the refrigerator right now, good hydration is one of the very basic things I am concentrating one as the summer progresses. Purging useless carbs, refined flour and sugar, and getting back to fresh greens and such. Baby steps, the goal is not a ‘diet’ but a lifestyle change, a permanent one.

Prying myself away from the computer screen is underway. Walking the dog a mile at a time, up to 3 times a week now to mobilize the hips and get the wind back. Weight training again starting with Bench, Deads, Lat pulldowns and Power cleans until the squat comes back.

Workout:

Dog walking= 1 mile, large dog, his pace not mine.

Food:

8 oz, sausage, 6 eggs Calories 1376 Protein 81.8 g. Fat 95.8 g. Carbs 0 g.

10 oz. Grd beef+ 2 med onions 518 cal Protein 45 g. Fat 31 g. Carbs 11 g.

Chinese buffet Don’t judge me.

 

Cardio-Like it Or Not

bann1305#

As I have mentioned before, respiration is the primary mechanism for removing fat from the body. Cardio training is the best way of elevating respiration to a level that will effect this removal.

The best method I have come upon is HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training. The acronym may be new but the general principles remain the same, small sessions of extreme effort broken up by short rest periods. How does this work? A story to illustrate…

In 1954 Roger Bannister had decided to break the 4 minute mile. To do this he broke the race down into laps, 4 quarter mile segments. Each day that he trained he ran 10 quarter mile laps at a pace just under 1 minute each. By doing this he, in effect, ran two sub-4 minute miles every day for a month or more. His purpose in doing this was to engrain in his muscle memory the pace that he needed to maintain in order to achieve his goal. At a track in Oxford on May 6, 1954 he finished the mile in 3:59.4.

HIIT works by elevating resting metabolism beyond the amount of time that you actually exercise. If your workout is 30 minutes long you don’t have to workout at maximum intensity for the whole 30 minutes, the work/rest cycle follows the formula ‘2x’ on/’x’ off, typically 30 seconds work followed by 15 seconds rest repeated 10 times without stopping or some variation. Movements that lend themselves to this model are sprints(run a distance and walk back), burpees, box jumps, jump rope, bear crawls, tire flipping, you get the picture.

My workout today was a 1 mile run, in 15:38. Before you average guys(5’10”, 150#) start talking smack, think about this, I weigh in at 305, if you think you can run a quarter of that with a 155# barbell on your back then good on you. Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was my ‘ab’ but I’m working on it.

Day 32: Diet or Exercise-By The Numbers

sweaty

305#

If you are like me and would like to be thinner you have heard over and over that it is all about ‘diet and exercise’. The more we research and try to do the right thing by our bodies the more we run into a majority opinion that states that diet is more important than exercise when it comes to losing weight. I personally have a hard time with diet and I wondered why
exercise is considered to be even more difficult, so I did some math.
Firstly, I researched metabolic fat and the mechanism by which it is removed from the body and after all is said and done fat is broken down to and leaves the body through the lungs as carbon dioxide. This means that you can quantify the amount of fat you are losing in a workout by examining your breathing. The basics are this: at rest the average person breathes 12-18 times a minute, during strenuous exercise respiration rises to a maximum of 45 breathes per minute. Carbon dioxide comprises about 4% of the volume of an exhaled breath. Taking an average of resting breathing rate (15) and subtracting it from the active rate of 45 gives 30 extra breaths per minute, at that rate, considering an average lung capacity of 500ml it would take 425 minutes to exhale an extra pound of CO2. Approximately 36 minutes per day, 7 days a week would get rid of 1 pound of body fat in one week.
Sounds simple, right? Wait just a minute. That’s not a 36 minute workout daily, that is a total of 36 minutes at a respiration of 45 a minute. That’s not doable with weight training or yoga or jogging. Sprinting is good, but not sustainable. Cycling will get you there fairly easily, jumping rope, once you reach a level of coordination that allows you to jump continuously for several minutes, burpees and other body weight movements are more your target.
Lets look at burpees first, universally hated but good for you, you will need to do about 10 burpees in a row just as fast as you possibly can to get your breathing going, then you can start counting them, and by counting I mean counting the amount of time you keep doing them without stopping after the first 10. 15 straight burpees would be good for about 30 seconds toward our 36 minutes. Now to the jump rope, try for 1 minute without stopping, another 30 seconds of max respiration. Barbell thrusters will rapidly ramp up your breathing, 15 reps without stopping will buy you another 30 seconds. 50 yard bear crawl is good for 30 seconds.
Right here lets stop and look at a sample workout and see where we stand:
5 rounds of;
15 burpees
jumping rope, 1 minute nonstop
15 thrusters 65/95#
50 yard bear crawl
1 minute rest between rounds

This workout represents 10 minutes of the 36 minutes daily needed for a 1 pound weekly fat loss. Only 26 minutes to go. You see how much energy goes into this. Obviously, variations are perfectly OK, but the time necessary to complete the same amount of work is substantially higher. Consider jogging, let’s say you are comfortable with a respiration of 25 while running, you would have to spend about an hour and a half at that constant pace. To contrast, a 50 yard sprint full out with a walk back to the start should be good for a full minute of max respiration per lap, 10 laps would be good for 10 of your 36 daily minutes and you could be finished with it in 15 minutes or so. Cycling, with a mixture of sprinting/hill climbing and coasting will also tick down the workout clock rather effectively, although you are restricted by weather and riding environment.
It is not my idea here to prove that diet is always the way to go to lose fat, I am just illustrating the fact that exercise is very involved and very much a numbers game and all about intensity, effort and commitment.

Day 18: Muscle Confusion

thruster

304#

If you want continued gains you have to confuse the body and keep it from adapting and lessening the effect of your workout. I felt a bit in a rut with the squats and benches every day so I am switching to thrusters and some other free weight exercises before jumping back into squatting.

Landmine 180’s 5×25@55#
Thrusters 5×5@70#
Bentover Rows 5×10@70#