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

30

Sep

Time to go shopping – Weightlifting Equipment and Accessories

Weightlifting Equipment and Accessories

Various tools of the trade exist for weightlifters.  These tools or pieces of equipment can greatly assist a lifter that is performing high load, high volume training by protecting the joints that can be affected by performing the classical lifts and their various assistance exercises.  Below is a list of some of these pieces of equipment.  It is important to note that some of these equipment pieces are not allowed in competition, and it is important for the lifter to not develop a dependence on them, ensuring that the joints and neuromuscular structures are stressed appropriately developing their strength.  

Wrist WrapsWrist Wraps

Wrist wraps help support the wrist by creating a compressive force around the joint and protects the wrist in extension when supporting the bar overhead.  There are many various brands and styles of wraps including Rouge, Eleiko, Ironedge, Rehband, Sling Shot, Risto, Spud Inc, HumanX by Harbinger.  Sizing suggestions as recommended by Rouge Fitness include 12” or 18” wraps that provide ample support and wrist mobility for Weightlifting exercises or 18” or 24” wraps that provide extra support for Powerlifting & Strongman training with less wrist mobility.  Wraps are made out of a combination of elastic, polyester and cotton material. A new product by Jerk Fit called Woddies provides wrist support and also protection for the skin of the palm, preventing any torn calluses occurring. 

Wrist Straps

Lifting Straps

Lifting straps enable a greater barbell load to be lifted during pulling exercises before the forearm strength gives way.  It also helps a heavy load to be lifted while protecting the thumb from the hook grip.  This allows an overload stimulus to be placed on the musculature during training when completing clean and snatch pulls.  Weightlifting variations see the strap not loop around the wrist in a fix manner so that they can be released easily during the clean and snatch movements in the receiving position.  They can be made of cotton or leather or a combination of materials. Again it is important not to utilise wrist straps for the pulling exercises for every single rep so that dependence is not created for them.

Knee SleevesKnee Wraps & Sleeves

Knee wraps can be in the form of a wrapped material around the knee or in the form of a compressive sleeve.  This compression on the joint again helps protect it and can assist in preventing sideways tracking of the knee, and the barbell movement in general, increasing the amount that can be squatted by about 10 percent or more in some lifters.  They also provide an elastic recoil effect when moving up in the concentric (muscle shortening) phase of the squat after the eccentric (muscle lengthening) decent.  The wraps can also provide warmth to the knee to aid performance and potentially reduce soreness and injury whilst squatting.  Knee wraps are usually made out of the same material as the wrist wraps.

The sleeves come in various degrees of thickness such as 3, 5 and 7 millimetres. And are made from neoprene material.  Rehband is a very popular brand for sleeves with most CrossFit or Athletic equipment companies providing options for you to purchase such as Ironedge, Rouge, and The WOD Life.  The sleeves are not to be confused with wraps as they are different pieces of equipment (i.e. you slide on the sleeve, and you wrap the wrap).

If purchasing wraps use them for lifts that are near maximum efforts or above 85-90% of your max.  But again avoid over use as this can create dependence.  Sleeves can help provide some compression (although not as much as the wraps) but are excellent at maintain a warm knee joint throughout a lifting session.

Shin SleevesShin Sleeves

Shin sleeves provide warmth to the calf muscle area when lifting. They also help protect the shin skin from damage, as it is advantageous to have the barbell travel as close to the body as possible during the first pull (from floor to knee Shin Sleeves 2height) of the lift.  Many lifters use long athletic socks as protection for the shin with some custom made socks having increased padding in the front section offering further protection.

 

 

 

Weightlifitng ShoesWeightlifting Shoes

If performing weightlifting, weightlifting shoes are a must.  Once you have lifted in weightlifting shoes you wont ever want to lift without them, especially during heavy sessions.  Weightlifting shoes provide lateral stability to the foot, improving your technique.  They also often have a raised heel with improves the range of motion at the ankle joint increasing the depth that can be achieved when squatting.   The sole of the shoe is extremely hard which allows the forces that are transferred into the ground to not be lost, improving the amount that can be lifted.  This in opposition to running shoes that are designed to absorb ground reaction forces during foot strike.  Various heel heights can be used, with lifters who have a poor deep squat position requiring a higher heel to help them achieve a deeper squat.

Weightlifting BeltsWeightlifting Belts

Weightlifting belts are designed to increase intra-abdominal pressure (air pressure within the body in the trunk area).  This is similar to taking a deep breath and holding it, known as the val salva maneuver.  As with all wraps for a specific joint, increased pressure on or within that joint can aid in protecting it when performing a lift.  It is contentious for many lifters if a belt actually provides assistance. They most probably do have a role to play when lifters are performing maximal effort lifts in training and competition. But all lifters do not use them.  The clean and Jerk is the classical lift that belts are more commonly used for but again personal preference is different for each lifter again. There are limitations on how wide (12mm) a belt can be when it is used in competition also.   Belts are made of leather or synthetic material and can be buckled together or velcro.  Leather belts with buckles do provide a greater level of stability.

Thumb TapeTape (for thumbs in the hook grip)

The hook grip is used to increase the loads lifted during the classical lifts in weightlifting. However this grip is extremely painful and can damage the thumb.  Taping of the thumb with general sports tape or specific branded tapes such as Goats Tape or Rock Tape are available providing good connection and flexibility for the joint.  There is also equipment pieces called nubs out there in the market by Jerk Fit that are a permanent sleeve that can slide over the thumb offering protection.

Weightlifting SuitsLifting suit/uniform

Lifting suits create compression for the entire body.  It is not advantageous to have the barbell connecting with loose clothing, slowing down its velocity, hence close fitting suits are used by lifters in competition.  The bar must travel close to the thigh area during the second pull which is why compressive suits are used.   Cost range for a suit can vary from 50-150 dollars plus depending on the type of material used and the design.  They are most beneficial in competition.  Sylvia P is one of many companies that can provide you with a variety of styles and material options for your weightlifting suit.

Weightlifting ChalkChalk BowlChalk

Lifters consistently use chalk on their hands to maximise their grip during lifts and offer protection to the hand.  Some lifters place chalk across the front of the shoulders and their color bones to reduce friction of the bar on the body in the receiving position of the clean.   Chalk can be bought in blocks and can be kept in bags or chalk tubs or bins and are a common sight in weightlifting clubs.  Liquid chalk options are also available and they are considerably less messy.

Eight blocks of chalk will cost you $30 from Ironedge while small containers of liquid chalk will cost only around $10 from Rouge fitness.  Liquid chalk will prevent chalk dust settling on equipment and on clothes while still providing improved grip on the bar.   It is the magnesium carbonate that provides the chalk with its texture and improved grip properties.

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

15

Jul

Why you need to be lifting weights if you’re an endurance athlete.

Endurance athletes have typically shied away from performing heavy resistance training exercises or weight training.  This is often due to time restraints associated with the high volume and time associated with their training schedules, or due to the belief that there are no associated performance benefits from this method of training.

Maximal strength training with weights (resistance training) typically uses high loads (+80% of an athlete’s 1 Repetition Maximum value, or the maximum amount of weight that can be lifted in one repetition) with a low (1-6) number of repetitions are performed per set (3-5 or even greater), as there is an obvious inverse relationship with how much weight you can lift and how many times you can lift it.  For the purpose of this article, strength training shall be used when describing high intensity/load resistance training.

Hence the question of can high load strength training aid in improved performance for endurance events, specifically long distance running.

The answer is YES!

Strength training programs have demonstrated improvements in running speed and economy (Taiple et al., 2010; Storen et al., 2008) in trained and untrained adults in the absence of improvements in maximal oxygen consumption (Grieco et al, 2012). Running economy can be described as the energy cost to maintain a sub-maximal running velocity (Roschel, 2015). However results within the scientific literature are equivocal (Tanaka & Swensen, 1998).

A 2013 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research by Piacentini and colleagues reported a statistically significant performance improvement in running economy and 1RM strength following a maximal strength training program in experienced marathon runners.  This was in comparison to a traditional resistance training program and a control group (who performed no resistance training).  The reasoning for the improved running economy was attributed to the potential muscular rate of force development increases or power within the maximal strength training group.  There were also no changes in body composition, specifically body weight, which is advantageous for a long distance runner.

An earlier study in 2010 investigated the effects of concurrent strength and endurance events in recreational marathon runners.  Ferrauti et al., found that there was actually no significant improvements in VO2max treadmill testing data when comparing a concurrent strength and endurance training program and an endurance training program only.   This is despite an improvement in isometric leg strength in the strength training group.  A potential limitation of this studies protocol was the duration of the training protocol was 8 weeks only.

Another study found that running economy did in fact improve (Johnson et al, 1997) in female distance runners when comparing a concurrent strength training with endurance training program to an endurance training program only.  The concurrent training method did not negatively affect body composition or VO2max levels.

It is important to note that within every research study that there are responders and non-responders to exercise protocols, and varied results will consistently present between studies.  Variations between training methodologies and the training history of participants also vary greatly hence caution is needed when reading research summaries.  But in summary, it has been shown that strength training can consistently improve running economy and performance for endurance athletes.

Strength training can also assist to prevent tendon over use type injuries such as Achilles tendinopathy and patella tendinopathy etc.  Heavy strength training is a method used to combat tendinopathy ailments due the tendons positive responsive to high constant loads (Gaida & Cook, 2011; Rodriguez, 2013).

So should all endurance athletes perform strength training?  I personally believe yes, provided they have the time in their life schedules to practically perform the required training load.  This is the obvious negative of strength training for endurance athletes. The increased training volume may result in a greater overall level of fatigue.  This in itself may be physically impractical to the athlete, depending on life/work commitments of the individual.  It does then come down to the individual needs of the endurance athlete. If an athlete is prone to tendon overuse type injuries, or if hill surges or kicks during race events are a weakness then the supplementation of strength training could be advantageous.

In summary the benefits of strength training for endurance athletes include;

  • Improved tendon health, as tendons respond to ‘load’ and the reduce likely-hood of overuse tendon injuries.
  • Maintenance of bodyweight, specifically lean muscle mass which is advantageous for endurance athletes.
  • Improved movement economy, or working at a lesser percentage of maximum contraction effort during a submaximal exercise effort, resulting in improved performance.
  • Maintenance of positive anabolic hormone profiles, such as the testosterone/cortisol ratio that could reduce the likelihood of illness, fatigue and over-training symptoms.

So keep running, but start lifting!

Lucky for you Revolution Personal Training runs cardiovascular and strength group exercise classes. Our pure strength and strong man classes look to develop your maximal strength levels, improve body composition, and also improve your endurance performance for running events. Team RevoPT is participating in the RUN Melbourne and Melbourne Marathon events as well as the Eureka Stair climb event. These events can provide you with training goals to work towards within a team environment. Enquire at Revolution Personal Training today!

References

Ferrauti, A, Bergermann, M, and Fernandez-Fernandez, J. Effects of a concurrent strength and endurance training on running performance and running economy in recreational marathon runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 24(10): 2770-2778, 2010

Grieco, CR, Cortes, N, Greska, EK, Lucci, S, and Onate, JA. Effects of a combined resistance-plyometric training program on muscular strength, running economy, and VO2peak in division I female soccer players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 26(9): 2570–2576, 2012

Johnson, Ronald E, Quinn, Timothy J, Kertzer, Robert. Strength Training in Female Distance Runners: Impact on Running Economy. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 11(4):224-229, 1997

Piacentini, MF, De Ioannon, G, Comotto, S, Spedicato, A, Vernillo, G, and La Torre, A. Concurrent strength and endurance training effects on running economy in master endurance runners. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 27(8): 2295–2303, 2013

Roschel, Hamilton, Barroso, Renato, Tricoli, Valmor, Batista, Mauro Alexandre Benites, Acquesta, Fernanda Michelone; Serrão, Júlio Cerca, Ugrinowitsch, Carlos.  Effects of strength training associated with whole body vibration training on running economy and vertical stiffness. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research., Post Acceptance: January 26, 2015

Dr Hirofumi Tanaka, Thomas Swensen. Impact of Resistance Training on Endurance Performance. Sports Medicine. 25(3),191-200, 1998,

Gaida J.E, and Cook J. Treatment options for patellar tendinopathy: critical review. Curr Sports Med Rep. 10(5):255-70, 2011
Rodriguez, M. The treatment of patellar tendinopathy. Journal of Orthopedic Traumatology. 14(2), 77-81. 2013

25

Jun

Want to win a ‪‎66fit‬ prize pack?

Check out RevoPT‬ trainer Larissa working on her recovery post leg session with our handy new ‪mobility‬ and ‪‎recovery‬ toys thanks to 66fit Australia.

Would you like to win a ‪66fit‬ prize pack valued at $350.00?

If so just comment below and tell us what these fantastic 66fit products would help you recover from.

Entries close on June 30 so get in quick!
Good luck and ‪get 66 fit!‬ 👌