17

May

What Is VO2 Max and Why Is It Important?

In reading about exercise and fitness, it is likely that you have come across the term “VO2 Max” at least once. Is this metric something you should be concerned with, or is it geared more towards elite athletes? Read on for everything you need to know to become a VO2 Max expert.

What Is VO2 Max?

VO2 Max is a measure of the maximum volume (V) of oxygen (O2) your body can use while working out as hard as you can. It is measured in millilitres of oxygen used per minute per kilogram of body weight, and it shows the efficiency of your body’s use of oxygen. While this measurement is a useful tool for charting your cardiovascular fitness, it is not the only metric you should use. VO2 Max varies according to a number of factors, including red blood cell count, muscle adaptation to exercise, genetics, and the volume of blood your heart can pump. Even among elite athletes, VO2 Max levels can vary drastically due to these external factors. For an overall frame of reference, average VO2 Max for the general population typically falls within a range between 30 and 60 ml/min/kg, with men showing slightly higher numbers than women. VO2 Max deteriorates as your body ages, so older individuals typically have lower VO2 Max than their younger counterparts.

What Is VO2 Max Testing?

A qualified fitness professional can test your VO2 Max for you. The test involves wearing a breathing mask while performing an increasingly difficult exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike. The mask measures the ventilation, oxygen, and carbon dioxide levels as you breathe in and out. The test will push you to your highest limits of exertion, so keep in mind that this test is not meant to be easy. While the test takes varying amounts of time for each individual, it can typically be completed in about 10-15 minutes. VO2 Max can also be approximated from race paces and other in-the-field data, but these methods only give an approximation, not an exact calculation of VO2 Max.

Why Should I Measure My VO2 Max?

Knowing your VO2 Max gives you increased insight into your overall fitness level and the efficiency of your body as it processes oxygen. It is a highly useful metric for tracking your progress on your journey to cardiovascular health. It is recommended that you test your VO2 Max about once a year if you are trying to maintain your current level of fitness. If, on the other hand, you are training to improve your cardiovascular health, you should aim to test your VO2 max every 6-12 weeks so you can chart your progress.

How Do I Improve my VO2 Max?

The best way to increase your VO2 Max is to get consistent aerobic exercise. Most experts recommend at least 30 minutes, three to five days a week. You can further increase your VO2 Max by incorporating intervals into your training. For example, let’s say you are going to run 5 km, and it usually takes you about 25 minutes. Run the first 5 minutes at a relaxed, comfortable pace, then switch to 2-5 minutes at your maximum pace. Keep alternating paces until you have completed your target distance or time.

Now that you have an understanding of VO2 Max, it’s time to get tested. With Metabolic Measures, the test comes to you and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have. This is the first step towards improved cardiovascular fitness for now and for the rest of your life.

Author: Jarrad White, cofounder of Metabolic Measures is a Physiotherapist and VO2 Max testing expert based in Perth, Western Australia.

22

Feb

More Power!

Would you like to be more powerful? Athletically speaking?

Increasing your power will allow you to generate force at a faster rate (rate of force development) and move faster.  This is not just important for elite athletes but the everyday weekend sporting warrior and also the elderly population (imaging being able to react quicker and prevent a fall that could cause serious injury).

Hence it is important to train in the correct manner for power to improve this athletic quality. 

Lets look at one of the equations for power; POWER = FORCE x VELOCITY

To keep things simple, to get more powerful whilst training it is important to generate a lot of FORCE i.e. lift a heavy weight, and move it quickly and explosively (high VELOCITY).

Of course the trick here is that when something gets heavier you cannot lift it as fast, so how heavy should you lift and how fast should you lift it?  Well you should always try to lift as fast as possible (while maintaining good technique) when trying to maximize power development.  But ‘HOW’ heavy is something that is more difficult to determine.  This will be different for each individual based on training experience, strength levels and genetics.  To determine the optimal load for maximizing power in various exercises sport science testing equipment is available to accurately provide you with this information.  Unfortunately this equipment is not available to many outside elite sporting environments.  So lets focus on several methods of training that have been proven to improve your muscular power.

Method 1

Strength Training

Just get stronger!  Strength is the base for all things powerful.  Improving your strength by performing resistance training will in most instances improve your power, especially if you have a limited training history or are relatively weak and have a greater window for adaptation and improvement.

Method 2

Plyometric training

Plyometric training sees the body or training equipment being propelled into space hence the speed of movement (velocity) will always be higher that traditional resistance training. This method of training enhances your rate of force development, particularly when requiring to move your own body weight rapidly.  Exercises such as jump squats, broad jumps, single leg hops and clap push-ups are all forms of plyometric exercises.  Low repetition numbers and long rest periods are needed for plyometric exercises to ensure the body has adequate recovery and perform at the optimal level reducing the likely hood of injury.

Method 3

Weightlifting or Olympic Lifting

The sport of Weightlifting sees athletes perform two classical lifts, the snatch and the clean and jerk.  Weightlifters are amongst some of the most powerful athletes in the world.  After all their sport involves them lifting as heavy as weight as possible from the floor to above their head.  To do this a high amount of force needs to be created at rapid velocities (with extreme technical skill).  Research studies have shown that weightlifting training alone improved vertical jump to a greater extent than plyometric and traditional resistance training.

In conclusion the best methods for improving power all involve one constant.  You are trying to move fast and explosively.  Remember that strength is the base for all thins powerful, so you need to continually improve your strength levels through heavy resistance training.  But to get quick you have to move quick, power does equal force multiplied by velocity!  Remember that movement patterns must be well practiced before high weights are moved quickly. 

Nearly all classes at Revolution develop your strength and power in some form. However the Pure Strength and Strongman classes specifically have this focus.  Ask any of the trainers here at Revolution if you want to understand the importance of and methods of developing your POWER, athletically speaking of course.

References

The Effect of Different Training Programs on Eccentric Energy Utilization in College-Aged Males. Hawkins, S B; Doyle, T L A; McGuigan,  R. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, October 2009, Vol. 23 – Issue 7: pp 1996-2002

Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. 4th Edition. Editors G Haff & N Travis Triplett.  National Strength and Conditioning Association

27

Oct

Deadball Slam

So what is Metabolic Conditioning or MetCon Training anyway?

 

Metabolic Conditioning is a form of training that aims to improve performance in a particular energy system or pathway by improving the amount of fuel source available for and the efficiency of that energy system resulting in improved energy delivery.

To explain the three energy systems utilized within the body, always remember that all three are working together to provide chemical energy that the body can use to create physical work.  Yet the body will always use one of the three predominately based on two important training variables. Being how long or how hard you work, otherwise known as the duration or intensity of the training.  While the three energy systems have different names depending on what source you read about them from, they are commonly known as the immediate, short term and long term energy systems with the first two being anaerobic (no oxygen required to fuel their usage) with the long term energy system being aerobic (oxygen required to fuel their usage).   For your information, ATP-CP energy system, Lactic Acid energy system and Aerobic energy system are common names used for the three energy systems respectively.   A tabled summary of the energy systems is provided below.

MetCon

*ATP = Adenosine Tri-Phosphate, CP = Creatine Phosphate

Why All The Rage?

The benefits of metabolic conditioning are well known throughout the fitness industry, fast becoming an extremely popular method of training for personal trainers looking to achieve positive results for their clients.  Such methods of training are quite prevalent in functional training studios like Revolution Personal Training.

The reason behind the popular usage of metabolic conditioning is that a high level of aerobic fitness can be achieved by primarily stressing the anaerobic energy system.   This results in the development or maintenance of lean muscle mass while still improving aerobic fitness and losing fat mass, an often-desired body composition requirement of most clients.  This is because scientific studies has shown that various hormones that can negatively effect muscle hypertrophy or size development are not as prevalent following metabolic conditioning in comparison to steady state or long distance continuous training.  These catabolic (to break down) hormones are definitely not wanted when looking to maintain or improve lean muscle mass.  Post such sessions, the high intensity nature of the training will leave your metabolism burning for an extended period of time, another fat loss or body composition transformation advantage!

The anaerobic stress created through metabolic conditioning is also beneficial to many team sport athletes, hence this form of training is used quite extensively within many elite team based sports as it can be programmed to be quite specific to the requirements of the sport.

How Do You Train For It?

Classes that focus on this form of training at Revolution Personal Training include our MetCon and HIIT classes.

These classes see clients perform a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training exercises, either with body weight only or with the use of training implements such as kettle bells, dumb bells, ropes and sleds.  The movements or exercises are often very ‘functional’ incorporating several major muscle groups and joints and movement patterns that are required for your everyday activities (pushing a pram, picking up the shopping bags, placing the tin of biscuits on the top shelf, and then pulling them down again straight away).  This sees a large amount of muscle mass trained within the session, high heart responses and a high rating of perceived exertion felt.

The intensity is obviously quite high so that the first two energy systems are stressed (remember these being anaerobic, hence no oxygen is required yet high energy outputs are needed).  However the repetitive rounds, reps or intervals of exercise ensure that the aerobic energy system is also stressed and the subsequent ‘fitness’ gains or aerobic capacity is developed.

Don’t let this put you off however as all classes, specifically the work to rest ratios and the individual exercises can be adapted to suit your personal fitness and mobility levels.  The classes are challenging but client goals and targets can be set within each class as you look to improve throughout Revolution carefully planned12 week training block.

References

  1. Kenney, Wilmore and Costill, Physiology of Sport and Exercise, 6th Ed
  2. http://www.poliquingroup.com/Tips/tabid/130/EntryId/2304/Do-Short-Sprint-Intervals-to-Build-Muscle-and-Improve-Conditioning.aspx
  3. http://www.mensfitness.com/training/endurance/metabolic-conditioning-the-key-to-better-performance

27

Aug

So, how do I stop my thumb tearing off?

The hook grip (demonstrated in the figure below) is used in weightlifting to increase the total load lifted with each lift (during the pulling phase) by approximately 10%. This grip is not used for the jerk or pushing overhead movements.


Hook GripHook Grip

The grip itself can be quite painful, protection on the thumb is sometimes utilised. An example of this can be viewed in figure below. Rocktape or Sports tape can be used for this. The lifter can get conditioned to the hook grip with constant practice. But its usage it not always required in training, giving the lifter’s thumb a respite from the excessive loading that can be placed on it. In competitions the tape must not cover the entire length or end of the thumb.

If the lifter has small hands, fingers and thumbs the hook grip can be difficult to retain throughout the lift. When performing the hook grip the 5th (little) and 4th fingers need not grip the bar hard. Firmer pressure is required from the 2nd and 3rd fingers.

I recommend that the hook grip be used throughout training and definitely during competitions due to the performance benefits. No pain no gains in this instance lifters!

We recommend rock tape and a couple of specific thumb protection pieces (nubs) that can be purchased at these following websites.

JerkFit

Rocktape

Goat Tape

13

May

Our eBooks are now available directly from our website!

For a while now you’ve been able to grab our two eBooks from the Amazon Store as well as the iTunes iBooks store.

As of the week they have also been available directly from our website for download as PDFs.

 

These books contain all you need to get started with a mobility and flexibility program and will assist you to get more out of your training.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on these books and any additional titles your like to see us work on into the future. 🙂

We have big plans for these educational pieces and will continually be developing this area of our website. We hope you find them valuable.

11

Feb

Pre Exercise Activation and Warm Up is the ideal way to prevent injury.

Those of you who come to Revolution will have walked passed the big display of pre- exercise activation and mobility exercises plastered on the wall. Why do we have them up there and/or why should we do them? Glad you asked.

Today’s blog is all about what is pre-activation and warm up, and most importantly why we should perform them.

We all live busy lifestyles, therefore when it comes to exercise we can sometimes be limited to the time we can allocate to ensure we are keeping active. If we are going to cut something out of our session it is generally going to be the activation or warm up phase to ensure we are getting the important stuff done, like lifting those weights.

For the early risers whom come in, generally just woken up from a nice big sleep or for the night owls on the opposite end of the day, who will have had a busy day at work,
possibly spending most of the day either sitting at a desk or in the car, resulting in our
muscles becoming inactive or shortened, that feeling of being stiff or tight in certain areas. The most common areas for people are the hip flexors, neck, lower back, chest and shoulders. Balance, stability and range of motion (ROM) will all improve whilst exercising, as well as avoiding injury however, the opposite will occur if we do not activate these areas.

Therefore when we are about to perform any kind of exercise it is crucial that we include some pre exercise activation exercises or ‘warm up’ to ensure we do not injure those tight or short muscles.

Completing such activation exercise helps you to identify and work on individual instabilities, weakness or tightness which may be causing further pain of impairing your range of movement in certain exercises.

So next time you are about to start any kind of exercise it’s important to begin with a general warm up, for example cardiovascular exercise like running, rowing, the bike or ski. This will get the blood flowing throughout the body and start to increase your heart rate. It is important in the warm up phase to not over do it, so much that there isn’t anything left in the tank. The time spent on this phase is around 5 – 10 minutes.
Normally each workout is going to be working different parts of the body in each session, therefore the types of activation exercises you choose can be different. Working through the whole activation book would be very time consuming, therefore look at your workout and work out which of the major muscles groups you are going to be working.

Concentrate on areas you feel particularly tight or any of your body which you feel may need improvement in. Work through the motion slowly and to your fullest range of motion. If you are struggling to get into the position, ask our staff to help guide you. However if you are feeling pain or are struggling to perform the exercise with good form we strongly suggest to consult with an allied health profession such as a Myotherapist or Physiotherapist. Working along side them, whilst continuing stretching and activation will over time improve your range of motion in that effect area.
Once you have activated all the working muscles, its now time for the fun part the workout! Dedicating 10-15 minutes of activation and warming up is going to benefit your entire workout in more ways than one. Your range of motion is going to greater than what it was before your started, the muscles are going to be warm which means there is less chance of them tearing or injury and most importantly your performance is going to benefit greatly, which means reaching those goals safely!
If you haven’t already, you can purchase our Activation and Mobility Ebook by clicking on the following link. This is easily accessible on computer, iPads or iPhones. All you need to do is download the free Kinder App through iTunes. This will ensure you can have access to the activation and mobility exercise anywhere, anytime. NO EXCUSES!