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Sporting Excellence #002 => Super Circuit Training for Athletes
January 20, 2005

Your Guide to Athletic Peak Performance

Issue #002
January 19 2005


To bring you the highest quality, usable, sports training information AND keep it free to all.

Cutting-edge, well-researched and up-to-date - Sporting Excellence delivers peak performance strategies to help take your game to the next level.

The mission is quite simply to be the very best, free, online resource for sporting excellence.


If you think Sporting Excellence offers real value then please do a friend (and me) a big favor..."pass it on" to them. If someone DID forward this issue on to you, and you enjoy what you read, please subscribe by visiting...





    1)Competition Winner - Well Done Stephen!

    2)Sport Specific Articles - Send Your Requests Now






Competition Winner - Well Done Stephen

Last week's competition winner is Stephen who plays badminton competitvely. Stephen, I'll be e-mailing you again later with an evaluation form so we can get to work designing your 3-month program!

Thanks to everyone else who took the time to e-mail feedback for issue 001. Much appreciated.

For those of you who missed the chance for a custom-made, 3-month training program (complete with animated exercise images), next issue's competition will feature the same first prize. Only next time, there'll be more than one winner...



Sport Specific Articles - Send Your Requests Now

In early February Sport Fitness Advisor will be updated with some much needed sport-specific training plans and articles. I've spent the first half of January writing and comissioning articles for baseball, basketball, football, golf, hockey, ice hockey, marathon, soccer, tennis and volleyball.

Following those - articles for boxing, cycling, lacrosse, martial arts, rowing, swimming, triathlon, track & field and wrestling will be uploaded.

But I know that doesn't cover every sport.

I know it can be frustrating if your sport never gets any attention simply because it's less well-known. So...

Tell me what you'd like to see on the site - strength training for canoeists? Increasing anaerobic threshold for cross country skiing or perhaps improving grip strength in climbers?

Now is the best time to submit your request...




Elite Sports Nutrition - Eating (and Drinking) to Maximize Every Aspect of Your Performance

PART 2 - Exactly How Much Protein do Athletes need?

In the first instalment of this mini-series we touched on the nutritional requirements of athletes - and not just professional athletes. If you missed that article, in short...

Competitive sport places significant energy demands on your body. Fail to meet those demands adequately by adjusting your diet, and your performance suffers.

If you lift weights as part of your training, diet plays at least a 50% part in strength and weight gains (some will argue more).

If you're an endurance athlete, the stakes are just the same. How you refuel before, during and after an event can literally make the difference between finishing or not - let alone how high you place.

There is no sport and no event that isn't affected by your nutritional status. If you spend several hours training hard each week, it's criminal not to take just a little time to check your diet. And as we'll see in a moment, the recommendations from the Sports Nutritional field are easy to implement.

Before we try to unravel the great protein debate let's quickly look at how you can gauge your own energy expenditure...

How Many Calories do You Need?
There are hundreds of formulae to estimate your daily caloric needs. Some simply ask for weight, height and age. Others ask you to fill in the number of hours you spend sleeping, your body fat percentage... even whether you're an amputee. It all starts to get a bit complicated. Not only that...

The estimations vary wildly.

I did a quick search for "calorie calculators" at Google and plugged in my own vital statistics at 10 different sites. The results?

According to one formula I need just 1985Kcals to maintain my weight. That takes into account my heavy activity and my age. I doubt it! At the other end of the scale I require over 3200Kcals to maintain my weight.

That's a huge difference.

The only truly accurate method is to keep a food diary. It's a lot less hassle than it sounds. Keep a record for 3 days (or up to a week) of everything that passes your lips. At the end of each day jot down each meal, snack and drink and the approximate sizes i.e. 2 cups of pasta, 1 medium banana etc.

Now add up the total amount of calories for each day - you can find calories tables easily on the Net. Microsoft Encarta also includes the calorie content of thousands of foods. Here's an example:

As long as your weight isn't fluctuating at the moment, you'll have a good idea of how many calories you need to maintain your weight.

If you want to gain weight or strength in conjunction with a weights program, add 500kcals to your daily requirement. In order to build muscle you need a surplus of energy over and above your daily requirements.

Talking of strength training and building muscle...

How Much Protein do You Need?
Correct and adequate protein intake is crucial for anyone involved in vigorous training. To understand why though, we need brush on some basic chemistry...

Every protein molecule is formed by building blocks called amino acids.

The body requires 20 amino acids in total. In adults, 8 of those 20 amino acids must be derived from food - the body cannot synthesize them itself - so they are given the name essential amino acids.

Why is that important to you as an athlete?

In order for muscle tissue to grow and repair you have to consume all 8 essential amino acids in their correct ratio. How do you do that?

By consuming foods that are complete proteins.

Milk, eggs, meat, fish and poultry are complete proteins. They contain an optimal mix of all 8 essential amino acids. Beans, peas, nuts and cereals contain protein. But they are incomplete. They lack one or more essential amino acid.

In order for vegetarians to consume all 8 essential amino acids they must eat a wide variety of vegetable based proteins.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for the average male and female adult is just 0.83g per kilogram of bodyweight. Take your weight in lbs and divide it by 2.2. This you weight in kgs. Multiply that figure by 0.83 to attain your RDA for protein. In a 150lb individual this equates to 57g of protein per day.

That's not much at all - about 3 chicken breasts worth.

Some research shows that competitive athletes - particularly those involved in heavy weight training may require more protein. But the emphasis is on "may".

Recommendations for daily protein intake for endurance athletes and strength athletes is 1.2-1.4g/kg and 1.6-1.7g/kg respectively. Remember, that's per kg of bodyweight not per lb.

Will your body ever breakdown protein (i.e. your muscle tissue) to use as energy?

In a word, yes - if your calorie intake falls below your requirements.

Read that line carefully again.

It is not a lack of protein that forces the body to breakdown lean tissue for use as energy - it is a lack of calories.

Eating additional protein over and above the 1.6 - 1.7g per kg RDA will not increase lean mass - even in strength athletes. Eating more calories will.

In fact eating protein in amounts way above the RDA can be dangerous. The kidneys must eliminate the by-product of protein digestion, Uric acid. Over time a high protein intake may place an unnatural burden on the liver and kidneys.

It can negatively affect performance as well. Every gram of urea expelled in urine is accompanied by 50mL of water increasing the chances of dehydration during prolonged activity.

If a high-protein diet substitutes a high-carbohydrate diet (which we'll cover next issue) performance can be dramatically hindered...

Carbohydrate is always the first source of fuel your body uses for energy. It's broken down and absorbed much more rapidly than protein (and fat) allowing for a higher intensity of work rate over a longer period of time.

As for Protein Supplements...
Protein supplements are big business... and many athletes involved in resistance training falsely believe they are a necessary adjunct for strength and muscle gain.

Consider this interesting, recent study by Rozenek et al (2002)...

73 healthy males were split into 3 groups.

Group A was given a high calorie, carbohydrate and protein supplement to take each day (containing 106g of protein!).

Group B were given the same high calorie supplement which consisted only of carbohydrate and no protein.

Group C were the control and took nothing. All the groups' regular diets were monitored and remained unchanged over the course of the study.

After 8 weeks of resistance training Groups A and B (who took the high calorie supplement) increased their body mass and lean muscle mass significantly more than Group C (who's caloric intake stayed the same). So additional calories really are important for strength and weight gain. However...

Group A (lots of protein) gained no additional weight and no more strength than group B who took no additional protein. Group B's protein intake fell within the RDA guidelines above.

Granted, there are too few studies into the effects of high-protein diet on strength gain. Nevertheless, those that have been conducted have yet to show that it is in any way advantageous.

So to sum up...

  • Use a food diary to determine your energy intake. Add 500kcals per day to increase lean weight and muscle mass.
  • Aim to consume at least 0.8g of high-quality, complete protein per kg of bodyweight. Eggs, milk, fish, chicken and lean, red meat are good examples.
  • If you train intensely, particularly with weights increase that intake up 1.7g per kg. Use supplements only for convenience rather than to increase protein intake over and above this level.
  • To gain strength and lean muscle mass increase caloric intake. This should be in the form of predominantly carbohydrate and good fats (covered next issue) if you already meet the upper levels for protein.

In Part 3 of Elite Sports Nutrition we'll look at carbohydrate's role in performance and the ideal pre and post competition meal. We'll also look at re-hydration and isotonic sports drinks - are they really anything special?



Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness - Causes, Prevention and Recovery

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a familiar experience most of us...

It's that sensation of discomfort that occurs 1 to 2 days after training and can range from slight tenderness to debilitating pain! It usually occurs if you've engaged in an activity that's new to you or when you haven't engaged in the activity for some period of time...

The first training session after the off-season is a classic example. Or returning to a heavy weight training routine following a Christmas break.

DOMS, if it does occur, will usually happen about 12 to 48 hours after the event. Symptoms often feel at their worst some 2 days later and will include overall body soreness, tiredness, weak and stiff muscles.

As you get used to the exercise again over a period of weeks, these delayed symptoms will gradually disappear, although you may still feel some soreness after particularly demanding sessions.

What Causes DOMS?
Studies indicate that DOMS is a result of muscle fibres experiencing a microscopic tearing. The mechanisms for how this occurs remain uncertain.

Up to six hypothesised theories have been proposed for the mechanism of DOMS. They are:

  • Lactic acid
  • Muscle spasm
  • Connective tissue damage
  • Muscle damage
  • Inflammation
  • Enzyme efflux theories

What happened to being just "stiff and sore" - sounds much less dramatic!

It appears that the extent of tearing that occurs is determined by (1) the type of exercise you participate in, (2) how long you exercised, and (3) and how strenuously you exercise.

The type of activities that are most closely linked with DOMS are those which cause muscles to contract eccentrically...

When a muscle contracts and lengthens at the same time it is said to be contracting eccentrically - slowly lowering a dumbbell to fully extend your arm in a bicep curl is a good example.

Other activities that stress the musculature eccentrically include... walking down stairs, running down a hill, any lowering of weights, or the downward movement of concentrated exercises such as squats.

Can the Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness Be Prevented?
There are several things that you can do that may help prevent DOMS... One important preventive measure is to warm up completely before you start any type of exercise activity.

It's also important that you remember to cool down completely after the activity is over. Whether this really can limit delayed muscle soreness is yet to be established but it certainly won't do any harm.

If you are starting a weights program, take the time to build up the resistance and number of sets and repetitions over several weeks. In fact this applies to any strenuous exercise program. Trying to progress too quickly will not only increase the risk of delayed muscle soreness but injury too. If you take the time to plan out your program in the off-season you'll by-pass the urge to skip ahead to more intense workouts.

Recovering from Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
According to the literature there's yet to be a proven method for speeding up the recovery from DOMS. Off those that have been studied...

Massage therapy has shown some positive results that may be attributed to the time of massage application and the type of massage technique used.

Cryotherapy (ice baths or ice packs), stretching, homeopathy, ultrasound and electrical current modalities have demonstrated no effect in clinical trials, yet athletes still use them as a matter of routine.

Gentle exercise is the most effective means of alleviating pain during DOMS, however the analgesic effect is also temporary.

As an athlete, if you must train on a daily basis, reduce the intensity and duration of exercise for 1-2 days following intense DOMS-inducing exercise.

Here are a few other techniques that may work...

  • Massage the muscles that are affected. Keep in mind that massaging your sore muscles needs to be done correctly. You may want to consider hiring someone who is familiar with sports injuries and remedial massage.

  • Stretch affected muscles gently - as long as it alleviates the soreness rather than increasing it. Do NOT try and stretch through the pain.

  • Apply ice for short periods of time to affected muscle groups.

  • There is some evidence to suggest that taking an antioxidant, such as vitamin C, can aid in the recovery of DOMS. Vitamin C plays a role in repairing connective tissue, which may explain its benefit, however anecdotal reports far outweigh clinical studies. Taking vitamin C in large doses is NOT recommended and can, in some cases, be harmful.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication won't speed up recovery but it may help reduce pain in severe bouts of DOMS. Of course you should consult your physician before taking such medication. Finally, a recent and promising study by Miller et al. (2004) demonstrated the effectiveness of a protease supplement on the prevention and recovery from DOMS...

    The experimental group demonstrated significantly superior recovery of contractile function and diminished strength from DOMS after downhill running when compared with a placebo group. A proven method for preventing and relieving DOMS would certainly be useful for most athletes in the early pre-season phase of training.

    I'll keep my eye out for any further research in this area and keep you posted.



    Circuit Training for Athletic Functional Strength & Strength Endurance

    Circuit training is one of the most efficient training modes to improve sport-specific strength and endurance.

    When are professional athletes most likely to use circuit training?

    More often than you think...

    Here's the link and the password (which IS case sensitive)...

    If the above link does not appear in blue and underlined, simply highlight it, copy it (ctrl + C) and paste it (ctrl + V) into your web browser


    Written and produced by Phil Davies.
    (c) copyright 2005 RIO Network LLC.

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