college sports

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 48

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View the last edition of ‘Featured Fitness Content’ here.

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

Does Shaving Improve Swimming Performance? By Allan Phillips via Swimming Science

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

The 12 Most Effective Ways to Spark the Recovery Process By John Rusin

Are Nightshade Vegetables Bad for You? An Evidence-Based Look By Kimberly Yawitz via Diet vs. Disease

How Much Fish Oil Is Too Much? Via Strength Sensei

Carrageenan: Friend or Foe? By Nicole Spear via Strength Sensei

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

Breaking Down the Depth Jump By Nancy Newell

7 Exercises Lost to the ’80s By Skip Hill via EliteFTS

Everything Lateral Lunges By Erica Suter

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

A Quick and Dirty System for Goal Setting: A Done-For-You 60 Minute Workshop To Live An Intentional Life By Michael Keeler via Business for Unicorns

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

Posture By Vern Gambetta via HMMR Media

 

Research

Hyperoxia Improves Swimming Performance By G John Mullen via Swimming Science

 

Ruthless Performance Coaches’ Content

Ruthless Performance Guide to Mineral Supplementation By Jesse Rodriguez via Ruthless Performance

Internal Program Review: Collegiate Swimmer Off-Season Strength & Conditioning Program – Day 1 By John Matulevich via Ruthless Performance

Internal Program Review: Collegiate Swimmer Off-Season Strength & Conditioning Program – Day 1

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The strength and conditioning community is far too fractioned; proprietary training programs and secrecy hide the inner workings of many sports performance coaching theories and facilities. At Ruthless Performance, we find this idea entirely backwards—this mentality is a sign of some fragile egos and insecurity within the industry. To do our part in mitigating this, we’re going to start a new on-going series where we’ll deconstruct some aspect of a selected program from one of our Ruthless Performers. Hopefully this will help coaches and athletes get a better idea of programming and the science of sports performance, regardless of their affiliation with Ruthless Performance.

Our inaugural installment of our Internal Program Review begins with a look at Day 1 of a male, college swimmer’s dryland training program. First, we’ll provide some context…

This swimmer is in between the freshman and sophomore season of his collegiate swimming career. Currently, we’re training him 5x per week. Most workouts have their own day of the week, but occasionally he’ll do doubles if schedule conflicts are present.

As you can see in the figure, his programming is currently changing every 4 weeks and his workout week can most easily be broken down as follows, note that each day is not specifically ‘upper’ or ‘lower’ but rather these ideas denote the dominant exercises for that particular day:Internal Program Review-1

Day 1 – Lower Body

Day 2 – Upper Body

Day 3 – Conditioning

Day 4 – Upper Body

Day 5 – Lower Body

For our Internal Program Review, we’ll examine day 1…

 

1. Box Squat

More than 80% of athletes that we see on a regular basis have some box squat variant somewhere in their training macrocycle, usually this is on a recurring basis as well. The box squat provides a variety of benefits, going into detail here would be too great for the scope of this article. If you’re interested in learning more about how to box squat as well as their benefits, I would recommend performing a quick search for Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell and the Box Squat.Internal-Program-Review-1-2232796486-1528147415624.jpg

In this case, we’re slowly reintegrating the squat into his program after having some time off following his long swim season. Here, we’ve added the box squat as a means to help assist in developing leg strength, posterior weight shift (integral to developing a proficient and technically sound squat) and building muscle to subsequently assist in force production coming off of the blocks and during turns.

 

2. Hanging Straight Leg Raises

A crucial component to any strength and conditioning program developed by Ruthless Performance is a substantial element of force transfer in various planes. In our A2, which is paired with the A1 (Box Squats), we’re emphasizing this force transfer, and we’re doing so specifically in the Sagittal Plane.

With the Hanging Straight Leg Raises (HSLR), we’re also building the anterior chain, specifically the abdominals. Though swimmers are no stranger to ‘core’ exercises, they can be unfamiliar with lower-repetition strength-dominant work in the abdominals like this. Whether its poolside after practice or at-home at the behest of their coaches, swimmers frequently train with high repetition crunches, sit-ups, or poorly performed planks.Internal-Program-Review-1-2.jpg

Exercises like the HSLR are rarely given at Ruthless as these can place too much emphasis on the Rectus Femoris which already receives ample stimulation during regular swim practice. But unlike with Bent Leg Raises, the straight leg variation provides more stimuli to the abdominals, which can partially explain why it is much harder than bent leg variations (also worth searching, but beyond the scope of our review: passive insufficiency).

Something also worth noting with the HSLR is how we manipulate this to maximize efficacy. With most weighted exercises, this is done via an increase in resistance. With a bodyweight exercise like this, we are slightly more confined in our ability to progress this over a 4-week period. Therefore we’re slowly adding more repetitions to each set throughout the program.

 

3. 180 Hip Extension

If you’ve never trained with us, you’ve likely gotten familiar with this exercise being referred to as a ‘back extension’. This is partially a misnomer, specifically at Ruthless Performance as we actively coach a rounded upper back on this exercise to maximize glute input, while minimizing lower back activation.Internal-Program-Review-1-3.jpg

The erector muscles already receive a great deal of stimulation any time the back/hips are being used as a fulcrum (which is close to any time you are doing a non-isolation/machine exercise). Additionally, the capillary network of the low back is rather poor, causing a slow recovery time. Doing low-back work in addition to all of this could be a decrement to performance rather than performance enhancing.

This can be progressed with weights or bands as needed, but a large emphasis should initially be placed on glute activation during this exercise rather than on a large range of motion (ROM). We typically encourage an external femoral rotation when possible, which further activates the glutes on this. When the glutes can’t contract any more on the hip extension, there is no reason to add more ROM.

 

4. Calf Raises

One of the benefits of working with an athlete with such frequency is that we can get into some details holding them back that would otherwise be unachievable on a 2x or 3x /wk program. With this athlete, poor calf hypertrophy is likely a weak link holding back lower body development. From a physics standpoint, mass can’t be added without a broad base of support.  Consider the tyrannosaurus rex, with its massive legs serving as a point of contact and base of support, or in engineering the structure and shape of the world’s largest buildings.

Specifically, to build mass in the calves without taking too much time away from more pertinent programming, we focus on density. Through the course of the program, we’re trying to have this athlete perform more reps with the fewest amount of sets possible. It is very rare to manipulate the volume so drastically from weeks 1 to weeks 4, but this is precisely what is needed in this situation.

Internal Program Review-1

 

5. High Handle Sled Push

We rarely have our swimmers perform energy system training, but in this case, the athlete is out of season and will need to preserve some basic level of cardiovascular conditioning for when he returns to college in the fall. You can learn more about our theories and thoughts on energy system training for swimmers in our article aptly titled “Why Ruthless Performance Doesn’t Emphasize Energy System Training for Our Swimmers”.

The sled provides an opportunity to help generate greater ROM between the legs, build concentric strength, increase hip and ankle mobility, and is just a generally versatile conditioning tool. You’ll also notice that the distance is relatively short. He’s been performing these bouts between 6-10 seconds. This by no means will provide an amount of conditioning conducive to in-pool training and performance, but will help maintain and improve ATP usage at the end of a long workout, which transfers nicely into a strong finish in a mid-distance/distance event.

 

Have any questions about what you see or would you like further clarification? Send us your questions at info@RuthlessPerformance.com. Your question may even turn into inspiration for a blog or social media post.

Ruthless Performance Guide to Mineral Supplementation

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Previously, we talked about the importance and effect of vitamins in performance. We now move on to minerals. Fundamentally, minerals are broken into different categories based on their function; Major, Trace and Ultra-trace minerals. Despite the fact that minerals only contribute only about ~4% of total body weight, their functions are vital for cellular activity, energy metabolism, osmotic properties of body fluids and contribution to teeth and bones.

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This mineral supplement is a Ruthless Performance favorite and available for sale at Healthy Habits Natural Market in Orwigsburg, PA.

The major minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium and chloride. Major minerals are found in greater amounts in the body requiring ~100mg/day by adults. Moreover, sodium, chloride, and potassium are the minerals that regulate electrolyte balance.

Trace minerals are called trace because they needed by small amounts in the body, less than 100mg/day. In addition, if amounts required are less than 1mg/day, they are called Ultra-trace minerals. Trace minerals include Iron, Zinc, Copper, Fluoride, and Manganese while Ultra-trace minerals include Selenium, Iodine, Molybdenum and Chromium.

*Note other Trace and Ultra-trace minerals will not be discussed because not much is known about the need for them by the body.

Discussed will be the most common minerals utilized in athletic performance. Minerals in the body act as cofactors which are need during metabolism and for other bodily functions such transport of molecules. Some minerals are useful during performance while the rest are needed for overall health, but make no mistake, their role in the body is crucial for all of us. The chart below outlines common minerals used for performance, and its major function, role, etc.

Mineral Chart

 

In summary, chromium and zinc are the two most important minerals in glucose metabolism therefore making these minerals essential in our diets, especially in athletes. Magnesium is of importance because of its function in protein and fatty acid synthesis and 300 other enzymatic reactions. However, too much intake of magnesium will decrease absorption of phosphorus, an essential mineral. The electrolytes are obviously crucial in athletic performance so adequate amounts must be consumed pre, during, and post-workouts. If you’re eating a well-balanced diet, then mineral supplementation may not be necessary but a waste of money. For example, like mentioned above, if you supplement with magnesium in large doses (>600mg) then absorption of phosphorus declines about 50%. Furthermore, your body may not absorb all the mineral content so it’s just gets urinated along with your money. Another example would be too much Zinc causing a deficiency in copper or iron, both important for our health. Eat a well-balanced diet and keep training hard.

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Gropper S. Sareen, Smith L. Jack, Carr P. Timothy. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism. 7th Edition. 2016

 

By Jesse Rodriguez

Jesse’s focus and emphasis is on Sports Nutrition. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science with the addition of a CSCS certification from the NSCA. Jesse swam for the El Salvador National Team and competed at the international level. Jesse has worked at USC with the Strength and Conditioning program and UCLA as the lead intern for Sports Nutrition. He is currently a dietetic intern to complete requirements for the Registered Dietitian exam and obtain his professional license. During his free time, Jesse continues to strength train, Olympic lift, and stay up-to-date on the latest nutrition trends. Lastly, Jesse is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.

 

A Quick Guide to Hydration for Performance

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The weather is warming up which means dehydration sets in faster. Dehydration has major effects on the body such as electrolyte imbalances, cramping, headaches, and reduced athletic performance, potentially leading to heat stroke and even death. Dehydration varies widely amongst individuals based on their hydration status prior to training, practice gear body composition, type of training, and an individual’s heat acclimation.  Therefore, rehydration should be tailored to one’s specific hydration status either pre, during, or post-workout. If you’re feeling bold, here is a formula from the NSCA to determine your sweat rate:

 

  • Step 1. Weigh yourself naked before exercise (e.g., 180 lb).
  • Step 2. Exercise for 1 hour (drink normally during exercise but avoid eating) and track your fluid intake (e.g., 4 oz)
  • Step 3. Weigh yourself naked post-exercise (e.g., 178.5 lb).
  • Step 4. To calculate your sweat rate simply subtract your post-exercise weight from your pre-exercise weight then add the weight/volume of any fluids you consumed.

 

Example

180 lb (pre-exercise) – 178.5 lb (post-exercise) = 1.5 lb (sweat loss) + 4 oz (fluids consumed during exercise) (0.25 lb) = 1.75 lb of sweat lost per hour

 

Knowing your sweat loss can give you an idea how much water should be replaced but most importantly it can be indicator of heat acclimation. Training in hot environments can lead to adaptation thus potentially resulting in a decline in sweat loss. A simple and effective way to check to hydration status is by the color of urine. An easy way to remember is by distinguishing two colors; Apple juice color (urine) = dehydrated, Lemonade color (urine) = hydrated.

 

Here some general quick tips for proper hydration:

 

  • Before workout, check the color of urine. If dehydrated drink, until the color of Hydration Statusurine looks like lemonade.
  • If workouts are less than 1hr, water is sufficient. Recommendations are 3–8 oz. every 15–20 minutes (a gulp is about 1–2 oz.)
  • If workouts are more than 1hr, you should drink liquids with the combination of carbs + electrolytes, 3-8 oz. every 15-20 minutes.
    • Note: Fluids may vary depending on intensity of temperature, altitude, and/or humidity.
  • After workouts, weigh yourself and for every 1lb lost, rehydrate with 16-24 oz. of water.
  • More than a 2% weight loss post workout indicates dehydration so replenish soon.
  • Its key to make sure you are replacing not only water, but sodium from sweat loss.
  • Its recommended to rehydrate with a carb + electrolyte drink.
  • Continue to check hydration status with the color of your urine.

 

By Jesse Rodriguez

Jesse’s focus and emphasis is on Sports Nutrition. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science with the addition of a CSCS certification from the NSCA. Jesse swam for the El Salvador National Team and competed at the international level. Jesse has worked at USC with the Strength and Conditioning program and UCLA as the lead intern for Sports Nutrition. He is currently a dietetic intern to complete requirements for the Registered Dietitian exam and obtain his professional license. During his free time, Jesse continues to strength train, Olympic lift, and stay up-to-date on the latest nutrition trends. Lastly, Jesse is a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association.

Nina S. Stachenfeld, PhD. Assessing hydration in the laboratory and field. February 2013. http://www.gssiweb.org/en/sports-science-exchange/article/sse-111-assessing-hydration-in-the-laboratory-and-field#articleTopic_1
https://www.nsca.com/education/articles/trainer-tips/hydration/
https://www.hprc-online.org/articles/hydration-basics

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 47

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View the last edition of ‘Featured Fitness Content’ here.

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

Use Olympic Weightlifting To Transform Strength Into Speed By Antonio Squillante via Breaking Muscle

Softball: 3 Things You Didn’t Know That Will Upgrade Your Warm-Ups By Nancy Newell

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea  By Kris Gunnars via H

Brian St. Pierre on the Fundamentals of High-Performance Nutrition With Brian St. Pierre via Mike Robertson

Reversing the Low-Testosterone Lifestyle with Training & Nutrition By Mike Gorski via John Rusin

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

Bench Press Mobility By Zach Long

How To Weight The Foot During Deadlifts  By Harold Gibbons

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

How to Define Your Company’s Values and Make Them Stick By Michael Keeler

5 Reasons Why You Should Man Up and Start Taking Cold Showers By Ollie Coombes via Addicted 2 Success

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

Swimming Recovery: Why Aren’t You Foam Rolling? By G John Mullen via Swimming Science

 

Research

Histamine Intolerance: Everything You Need To Know Explained in Plain English By Joe Leech

 

Ruthless Performance Coaches’ Content

Adaptogens and Mushroom Supplementation for Wellness and Immune System Function By Jesse Rodriguez

Recipe: Mushroom Risotto By Jesse Rodriguez

Lecture Takeaways: Ruthless Performance Methods & Practices for Peak Athletic Function

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Its easy to imagine how a lecture scheduled for 30 minutes, on a topic as encompassing as optimizing performance, could end up being an hour and 6-minute open-ended discussion. This is precisely what happened this past week at Bloomsburg University during our guest presentation on how Ruthless Performance trains individuals to achieve high performance.

The content of this lecture ranged from specific exercises to an exploration of the Central Nervous System; similarly, questions ranged from the efficacy of BCAA’s to proper running gait—all of which led to an extremely informative and productive talk, filled with content and subsequent questions.

Below is a summary of some of the most important takeaways from this lecture. Remember, human performance is a broad topic, but the information below meets some objective criteria for significance within the theories and practices we endorse at Ruthless Performance.

 

First, a Definition of Terms

Because there is not one set definition of ‘high performance’ across sports and fitness endeavors, let’s assume the definition is as follows: high performance is the ability to perform within the top 10% of your own ability within any fitness doctrine.

For a 5K runner, this means being able to run a 5K within a margin of 10% of your best time at your current state of training. Similarly, for a weightlifter, this means being able to Clean & Jerk or Snatch within 10% of your current capacity for a 1RM. This is not to dismiss linear periodization (though Ruthless Performance typically does shy away from this style) nor is this a sleight on tapering for a significant bout or competition.

During a high-mileage segment of a marathon runner’s training regimen, she may be outside of this 10% margin from a previous race or time. The 10% margin of performance as defined here is referring to a precise training state. In the case of the marathon runner, her ability to complete a half-marathon trial within 10% of her previous season’s high-mileage training cycle is what we are referring to. The closer the training variables are, the more applicable this rule becomes.

 

The Motivational Training Montage is Just the Icing on the Cake

The significance of training to perform is predicated on fundamental health and wellness practices. A 6-hour a day training program would get world-class athletes no where were it not for a broad base of fundamental behaviors.Basics of Health & Function

These behaviors are known universally at some intuitive level, but not always acted upon. What could be viewed as boring and frivolous can make the difference between 6 more weeks of training and 6 weeks of sitting out with the flu while your competition trains because you didn’t get a flu vaccination from your primary care provider.

A similar situation could be ignoring the necessity for injury care work and corrective exercise during the early onset stages of shoulder pain or movement dysfunction as presented in a movement screen. The examples here are limitless, suffice it to say that all of the traditional variables of wellness like sleep quality, nutrition, lifestyle stress, and on, are all predecessors to your ability to train and compete within our newly defined parameters of ‘high performance’.

 

More to Come…

This just grazes the surface of the lecture but provides valuable insights into some fundamentals of high performance. First, high performance must be defined; when a term is open-ended, its implications are only speculative and unattainable. Second, high performance is the sum of the boring but necessary components of life that makes an athlete healthy enough to train and compete within their specific doctrine.

As we continue to review the Ruthless Performance Methods & Practices for Peak Athletic Function lecture, we’ll cover nutrition for high performance, ‘anti-specificity training’, universally essential exercises, and the role of the central nervous system in high performance.

Have a question on this topic or want to train with Ruthless Performance? Contact us via email at info@RuthlessPerformance.com, RuthlessPerformance.com/contact, and be sure to follow us on social media at @RuthlessPerform on Twitter and Instagram.