Monday 150706

Workout

8×1 – Snatch + 1 OHS

From The Conversation

How does aging affect athletic performance?

July 6, 2015 4.39am EDT

I remember the moment a few years ago while watching TV when I realized that if I were riding in the Tour de France, at age 42 I’d be the oldest person in the race. It hit me that my dream of racing in cycling’s biggest event was over…it was not going to happen.

Not that I’d been competing, let alone training seriously, on the bike for a number of years.

Or that not even in my “prime” years for competitive cycling would I have been good enough. It’s just that now I had an excuse…. I was too old, too far past my prime years.

So what happened? Is there a physiological reason people in their mid-40’s are no longer able to compete at the professional level in most sports, or is it a constellation of challenges, such as the time devoted to training, motivation, managing kids’ schedules or busy work demands?

“I’m old” is the common refrain for why we get worse at athletics as we age. But here’s what’s really happening in the body through the years to make world-class performance less possible. And, interestingly, there are a few physiological elements that contribute to athleticism that don’t seem as affected by aging.

The ‘sweet-spot’ age

In most sports, there is an age “sweet spot,“ at which the combination of physical, technical and strategic abilities comes together.

In most sports, this age sweet spot falls in the mid-20’s to early 30’s. Although there have been numerous examples of Olympians competing, and sometimes winning medals, over the age of 50, the vast majority of these come from sports requiring exceptional skill and less aerobic or anaerobic power, such as the shooting events, sailing, equestrian and fencing.

For endurance events, the upper cap for competing at the sport’s highest levels appears to be around the age of 40.

Chris Horner won the 2013 edition of the Vuelta a Espana, Spain’s version of the Tour de France, just shy of his 42nd birthday, making him the oldest winner of a Grand Tour in cycling.

The oldest Olympic marathon winner was the 38-year-old Romanian athlete Constantina Dita Tomescu, competing at the Beijing Olympic Games.

Dara Torres, at the age of 41 in 2008, is the oldest swimmer to compete in the history of the Olympics, missing the gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle by hundredths of a second. But these examples are the exceptions, not the rule.

Dara Torres during US Olympic swimming trials in 2012. Jeff Haynes/Reuters

Age changes how our bodies use oxygen

One big reason we see declines in aerobic (or endurance) athletic performance with age is that our bodies can’t use oxygen as effectively.

The maximal ability to utilize oxygen (VO2max) is a predictor of endurance performance across ages. VO2max is a numerical value that describes how much oxygen your body can use per kilogram of body weight.

VO2max is affected by how well your body can bring oxygen into the lungs, how well this is carried in our blood to the working muscles, and how much oxygen the muscles can use to fuel contraction.

Exercise can improve all of these, and the higher the VO2max, the more “aerobically fit” a person is. That is, they can do more endurance work for their body weight.

In the general population, VO2max tends to decline by about 10% per decade after the age of 30. Athletes who continue to compete and train hard can reduce the drop by about half, to 5% per decade after the age of 30.

The reason VO2max declines with age is that our maximal heart rates go down as well.

Maximal heart rate is the highest heart rate in beats per minute one can achieve during increasing intensity of endurance exercise. It is often roughly predicted as “220 – age = maximal heart rate.” Although the actual maximal heart rate for a given person is highly variable, as you age, your maximal heart rate decreases, whether you are a highly fit athlete or a couch potato.

And this decrease reduces both cardiac output and oxygen delivery to the muscles, which translates to a lower VO2max and thus to lower performance in endurance events as we age.

Even if oxygen delivery to muscles goes down, the ability of your muscles to efficiently utilize the oxygen they do get relative to a given workload (this is called exercise economy) is well maintained into our 60’s and 70’s, though total muscle mass tends to decline as we age, and can contribute to declines in performance as well.

In terms of competitive endurance exercise, rowers have shown the least decline in VO2max with age, but the difference to other sports isn’t huge. And it might be because rowing is a lower-impact sport than cycling (with crashes) and running (constant pounding).

Rowers show the least decline in VO2max compared to other endurance sports. Rowers via www.shutterstock.com.

Let’s not forget the muscles

Some evidence suggest that for sports that require high levels of strength or power, like weightlifting, age-related limitations may reside in our skeletal muscles, those muscles that move our bones and joints.

For competitive weightlifters over the age of 40 (masters level), performance drops more precipitously than it does for endurance athletes such as runners, swimmers and cyclists. That’s likely because weightlifting draws on type II muscle fibers (called “fast-twitch” muscles) to produce strength and power. Research indicates that these cells decline in number and function with age.

Not only do these cells decline with age, but so do the cells that support the repair and growth of skeletal muscles in response to exercise decline.

These age-related declines are not as obvious in type I muscles, those muscle fibers most associated with endurance-type exercise.

Recovery can take longer

As they age, many athletes complain that the ability to recover from hard bouts of exercise diminishes.

This can affect the intensity and volume of training of all athletes. But in many contact sports, such as professional American football or rugby, recovering from injuries and the cumulative effects of hard hits becomes the limiting factor in continuing to play at the highest level.

For instance, last season there were only two people in the NFL, Sav Rocca of the Washington Redskins and Adam Vinatieri of the Indianapolis Colts, playing in their 40’s.

Injuries take their toll on people playing non-contact sports as well. For masters athletes, experiencing more training-associated injuries leads to reduced training intensity and volume, and thus poorer performance come race day.

Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri. Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Better training can help you stay at your peak longer

Although all athletes will eventually lose the age versus performance race, with better training and recovery practices, in the coming years we likely will begin to see more athletes in their 40’s remaining competitive at the highest levels of sport. By “training smarter, not harder,” athletes can reduce the chances of injuries, maximize gains from training and minimize the effects of aging.

Older athletes need longer to recover and adapt to a training stimulus, so workout planning needs to change with age.

High-intensity interval training, for instance, focuses on the quality of a workout, rather than the sheer volume of training, and can be used effectively by older athletes to improve aerobic capacity.

Cross-training, such as weightlifting and yoga, can help to maintain muscle mass and flexibility, and reduce overuse injuries in endurance athletes.

An emphasis on “active recovery” strategies (an easy run or swim on your rest days) and improved sleeping habits are important for athletes of all ages, but become essential for older athletes.

Performance decline isn’t just about physical changes, however. As we age, our intrinsic motivation to train diminishes. Even in athletes, the motivation to train may shift somewhat from setting personal records to remaining active and healthy. And that’s a great motivation for any athlete at any age.

Tuesday 141202

Happy Birthday Bay!

Workout

10-32k-KB Swings
20-65 lbs Over-head Squat (OHS)
30-65 lbs Power Snatch

1000m Row

30-65 lbs Power Snatch
20-65 lbs OHS
10-32k KB swings

Scale the workout. If this is your first attempt at high rep Olympic lifting, use an un-loaded barbell or a 15 lbs training barbell. For the Swings use a KB or DB that takes some effort to complete all 10.

Compare to: TITANFIT: Monday 090608

Tomorrow, Wednesday we start our Double Under fun!

Thoughts?  From Philly.com.  Thanks KTF for the link.

5 moves you should avoid at the gym

Is weightlifting essential to your workout? (istockphoto.com)
Is weightlifting essential to your workout? (istockphoto.com)

Why do I say that? Here are just a few of the injuries we’ve seen in the office from doing the wrong things in the gym: a middle aged women who tore her ACL doing jumping jacks onto a plyometric box, a 60 year old who tore his meniscus when he was forced into deep knee flexion during yoga, and a broken tibia from the bar hitting her leg during Olympic lifting. It’s not that some people can’t do these things; it’s just that most of us shouldn’t be doing them.

Here are my top 5 things you should avoid at the gym.

1. Deep squats

I always have this debate with strength and conditioning coaches. Why do they have their athletes squat past 90 with resistance?  It’s not functional except for maybe wrestlers and football lineman, and even with them, is it worth the risk of injury? For the rest of us who are just trying to stay in shape it is a recipe for knee pain and meniscus tears. Deep squats put significant strain on the knee ligaments, significant pressure on your patellofemoral joint (knee cap), and it puts your meniscus at significant risk for tearing.

Let’s talk about the meniscus tear more specifically. As we squat down, the knee not only flexes but the femur glides posteriorly on the tibia. From about 90 degrees and beyond, we are putting almost all of the pressure on the posterior horn of the meniscus. Now just add a little rotation and pop, there goes your meniscus. And we know that our menisci start to degenerate over time (starting at about 35-40) placing us at even greater risk for a meniscus tear. Do the theoretical benefits of deep squatting out weigh the risks, absolutely not!  So let’s please stop at 90 degrees.

2. Dead lifts

This is another exercise where I also debate people on the risk/benefit of the exercise. Yes, it’s a great exercise to strengthen your hip extensors (glutes and hamstrings) but it’s an even better way to injure your back. Repetitive flexion activities have been shown to be a significant factor in back injuries, specifically bulging and herniated disks. Even if you perform the exercise with perfect mechanics, which none of us do all the time, you’re still setting yourself up for a problem. Just like the meniscus in the knee, the discs in the spine start to degenerate with age. Combine this with an exercise that puts significant strain on the posterior annulus of the disc and you’re in for a lifetime of intermittent back pain. Instead of dead lifts, let’s focus on exercises that will still strengthen your hip extensors with less risk of injury. Lunges, step ups, bridging, and squats above 90 can all accomplish this while limiting the risk of low back injury.

3. Overhead presses

Overhead military press, dumbbell shoulder press, etc., all put your rotator cuff at risk for injury. Every time we lift our arms over head we have the potential for some impingement of our rotator cuff under our acromion. Now add weight and we’re just tempting fate. There is also a common theme with all these problematic exercises I’m writing about: our tissue starts to wear down and degenerate with age.

This is once again true for the rotator cuff. So why do an exercise to strengthen our shoulders that puts our rotator cuff at significant risk for injury? If you want to strengthen your deltoid you just need to do some pushing and pulling exercises. Overhead exercises aren’t functional and the risk of injury just isn’t worth it. Don’t try to “isolate” your shoulders and instead strengthen them functionally with pushing and pulling exercises such as push-ups and incline pull-ups on the smith press or TRX.

4. Bench press to your chest

I don’t like the bench press because it’s not a functional exercise, but that’s another discussion. The risk with bench press is that when your elbows break the plane of your chest, you’re putting significant strain on the stabilizing structures of the shoulder, specifically the labrum and capsule. Now add heavy weight and it’s a labral tear waiting to happen. And like everything else, the labrum degenerates over time. Clicking in your shoulder? It’s probably a labral tear. If you have to bench, keep the weight reasonable and don’t let your elbows break the plane of your chest. Better yet, do a standing cable column press as it is a much more functional position; just don’t go too deep and your shoulders will thank you.

5. Anything with heavy weights

I’ll be the first to admit that I loved lifting heavy weights when I wrestled in college. It was always a competition of who could bench and squat more.  Looking back, bench pressing did nothing for me as a wrestler as I should have been doing more pulling exercises. After two shoulder surgeries, a hip labral tear which has likely progressed to arthritis (no MRI as I don’t want to know), focal arthritis in my knee as well numerous other chronic injuries, my joints wish I had focused on functional training and not weight lifting.

There is starting to be a paradigm shift in the strength and conditioning world. People are turning away from weight lifting and focusing on functional training and injury prevention. Stanford University’s director of football sports performance Shannon Turley is on the forefront of this movement. Instead of having freshman players hit the weight room when they get to school, they focus on regaining flexibility, improving core stability, and relearning correct movement patterns. He has had to write letters to NFL scouts about his program and why his players don’t have a record setting combine bench press but excel on the field and are injury free.

EXOS, formerly Athlete’s Performance, is the provider for strength and conditioning for the Men’s U.S. National Soccer team. Their approach to sports performance is to fix an athlete’s problems/weaknesses.  There is little return in trying to improve quad strength in soccer players who already have super strong quads. Instead, you’ll see more gains by focusing on correcting their weaknesses such as limited hip mobility and glute med weakness. Even though we’re not professional athletes, let’s take a page out of their training programs and try to fix our deficits such as flexibility, core strength, and movement patterns and leave the heavy weights on the rack.

As I’m writing this, I’m envisioning the comments that I’ll be getting. But as I always tell my patients, “Is it better to look good or to feel good?” Let’s move away from working out the way we always have and start thinking about our long term health, as many of the exercises we do are counterproductive to our overall goal of living a healthy, happy, and pain free life.

Monday 140922

Workout

30 CTB Pull-ups (Scale 45 Kipping/60 Jumping or Band)
400m Run
15-OHS 135/95 (Scale 95/65)
800m Run
15-OHS 135/95 (Scale 95/65)
400m Run
30-CTB Pull-ups (Scale 45 Kipping/60 Jumping or Band)

Like D…I HATE FALL.  I want Winter so we can get back to Spring.  From Uncover California

Pumpkin-Flavored Drinks contain Excessive Sugar, and no Natural Pumpkin Elements

Pumpkin-Flavored Drinks contain Excessive Sugar, and no Natural Pumpkin Elements

About $300 million worth of pumpkin-flavored products are consumed by Americans every year. The Pumpkin-Flavor Season begins in September and ends in November. Doctors are, however, not happy with the pumpkin season coming back because pumpkin-flavored products, according to them, contain excessive sugars and no natural pumpkin elements.

After the summer equinox, consumers see a variety of foods and other products made from seasonal ingredient. As per recommendations of the World health Organization, adults should not consume more than 25 grams of sugar per day. One pumpkin latte is more than enough to cross that limit and adding whipped cream in the drink makes it even worse.

Pumpkin is a famous fruit across America and most of the pumpkin-flavored products are sold between the months of September and November, which is its peak season. Nutritionists said that pumpkin spice lattes – sold by Starbucks from August to October – are thought to be beneficial for people who need fiber and vitamins. However, it is not going to offer any health benefit when there is no natural pumpkin in the drink.

Nearly every pumpkin-flavored product available in the market from July lacks natural pumpkin elements, said doctors.

Joyce Hanna, a nutrition expert and associate director of the Health Improvement Program at Stanford University, said 37 grams of sugar is present in the popular 12-oz size Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. And it must be noted that the drink has that amount of sugar without fat milk and whip.

Doctors suggest that people should go in for home made versions of Pumpkin drinks so as to keep them as natural as possible and free from extra calories and sugar.