Back to Back Issues Page
Sporting Excellence #003 => Unbeatable Off Season Training
February 02, 2005

Your Guide to Athletic Peak Performance

Issue #003
February 02 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) Complete Range of Breakthrough Soccer Training Articles Now Available

    2) RSS feed coming soon. Don't know what RSS is? It's the "Next Big Thing" to Hit Internet




----------THE NEWS----------


Complete Range of Breakthrough Soccer Training Articles Now Available

I've just added 14 soccer training programs and articles to the site.

They cover all kinds of performance enhancing topics like soccer-specific speed and agility drills, interval training, plyometrics for soccer as well as a sample 12-month program.

During February I will be adding similar (and much needed!) sections for basketball, baseball, football, golf, tennis, hockey and marathon training.

Keep an eye out for articles and programs for other sports and events - combat sports, cycling, swimming, track and field, wrestling, lacrosse and triathlon.



RSS feed coming soon. Don't know what RSS is? It's the "Next Big Thing" to Hit Internet

Over the next few months Sport Fitness Advisor will be hit with a deluge of high-quality sports training programs and articles. Several writers and training experts will be contributing to the knowledge base with their extensive experience...

If you're a coach or athlete, you don't want miss anything that you can use to take your own or your team's performance to the next level. Enter RSS...

Before now, to keep on top of new information added to a website (any website that is) you had to visit it - and often. Then you had to search around to find what was new. All a bit time consuming - especially if you follow several websites. But that's all changing...

Imagine being personally alerted every time new content was added to one of the websites you liked to stay abreast of. This is the essence of RSS (Really Simple Syndication).

It's still in its infancy but it's gathering popularity... very quickly. It may even put an end to spam!

Very simply you add websites of your choice to a piece of software called a News Reader (the software is free and even easier to use than Outlook Express or MSN Messenger).

Each time you open your News Reader it automatically checks the websites you've entered for new and updated content. It then presents it to you in a very neat, easy-to-scan, bullet point format.

You can literally track dozens of sites and forums and discussion groups through your News Reader - very, very quickly and very easily. Simply scan through the bulleted list of all the new content or forum posts, click on those that interest you and delete the rest.

Essentially, RSS brings the Net to you. What a time saver!

The News Reader I use is called Blog Express and you can get free at

One point I forgot to mention. Most websites are not yet ready for RSS. Sport Fitness Advisor WILL be compatible imminently. The big news sites like and are compatible now. How do you know if a website is set up for RSS?

You'll see a little orange button the size of Tic Tac with "RSS" or "XML" on it. Go to the bottom of - there's one there.



How to Develop Peak Sports Fitness Right From the Start - An Unbeatable Off-Season Training Program

You could argue that off-season training is THE most important phase of any sport-specific conditioning plan...

Because if you get it wrong (and many athletes do) then you set yourself up to fail before you even begin the following season...

Here's the password and link...




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

PART 3 - The Best Pre and Post Competition Meals

In the previous two instalments of Elite Sports Nutrition we looked at the energy demands competitive sport places on your body and how to calculate your own caloric expenditure. We also examined the great protein debate with some objective recommendations for eating protein.

If you missed those two articles it's easy to catch up...

In this issue we'll look at the key role carbohydrate plays in athletic performance.

We'll also see how simple adjustments to your food intake before and after exercise can make a huge difference to the way your train and perform.

Carbohydrate is THE most important nutrient to you as an athlete.

During short, intense bouts of exercise, carbohydrate is the only fuel that can supply your body with energy. During the first few minutes of any activity, it's carbohydrate that almost exclusively meets your energy demands.

And it's just as important during prolonged, lower intensity activity...

If you're a distance runner, cyclist or swimmer for example, as duration stretches beyond 20 minutes, your body places a greater and greater emphasis on fat metabolism.

But even though fat stores offer an almost unlimited source of fuel, you may still fatigue or "hit the wall" if your carbohydrate stores are depleted. Why?

Well, firstly carbohydrate supplies energy twice as rapidly as fat. Secondly, carbohydrate acts as a "primer" or catalyst for fat breakdown. And thirdly, carbohydrate plays a key role in central nervous system function. The brain for example, uses glucose almost exclusively as its fuel.

What if you play a multi-sprint sport like football, basketball, soccer, hockey and so on?

Your ability to repeat a sprint or high-intensity movement at the end of a game to the same level you could at the start of the game, relies in part, on your carbohydrate stores.

In the last instalment of this series we looked at protein intake...

Many athletes are afraid that their heavy training schedule will force the body to breakdown protein or lean muscle mass and then use it as energy. In a sense they are right - the body does do this. But consuming more protein is NOT the answer...

By taking in adequate carbohydrate before, during and after exercise it acts as a protein "sparer". Only in the absence of adequate carbohydrate stores will the body begin to metabolise protein for use as energy. Just how dramatically can your diet affect your carbohydrate stores? Consider this for a moment...

A well-nourished, 175lb person stores roughly 500g of carbohydrate. Of this, about 400g is stored in skeletal muscle, 100g is stored in the liver and only about 2-3g exists as blood glucose.

A single gram of carbohydrate contains 4 kcal, which means the average 175lb person has energy stores of about 2000 kcal. Sound a lot? It's not. Most of us consume that in less than a day.

An overnight fast (8-12hrs) and a low-carbohydrate diet can dramatically lower carbohydrate stores. But more importantly, a carbohydrate-rich diet can more than double them...

The body's upper limit for carbohydrate storage equates to about 15 g per kilogram (2.2lbs) of bodyweight. So, our 175lb person can potentially store up to 1200g of carbohydrate - 4800 kcal worth of energy with a few dietary modifications.

Would that have implications for most athletes? Absolutely.

The subject of carbohydrate can get a little confusing. Terms like starch, complex carbs and simple sugars are often used interchangeably. Here's a quick break down of carbohydrate and how all those terms relate to one another...

This is the most basic unit of carbohydrate. Examples of monosaccharides include fructose (found in fruit) and glucose (also called blood sugar). Cells can use the glucose found in food directly for energy, while fructose is converted to glucose in the liver.

Combine two monosaccharides and the result is a disaccharide. Sucrose or table sugar is a disaccharide and it's the result of combining glucose and fructose. The sugar in milk, lactose, is another disaccharide. You've probably heard the term "simple sugars"? It's simply the collective name for both mono and disaccharides - sugars that are quickly absorbed by the body and converted into glucose.

You've heard of starch and fibre right? These are both polysaccharides. Starch is the combination of hundreds of monosaccharides joining together - hence the other common term for starch... complex carbohydrates. It takes longer for the body to break these complex structures down so they release their energy over a longer period than simple sugars.

Fibre differs from starch in that it cannot be digested and used for energy. It's still an important dietary component though and no doubt you've heard the link between lack of fibre and certain, major illnesses.

Glycemic Index
It may be the foundation for one of the latest celebrity diets but Glycemic Index has been used by Sports Nutritionists for many years. What exactly is it and why is it important to athletes?

Not all carbohydrate is digested and absorbed at the same rate. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale of how much a particular type of food raises blood sugar over a 2-hour period compared to pure glucose.

So for example, a piece of food with a GI score of 45 means that it raises blood sugar 45% as much as pure glucose in that 2-hour period.

You might imagine that simple sugars like fructose in fruit have a higher GI than complex carbohydrates, but that's not always the case. White bread, white rice and potato have a very high GI. That is, they raise blood sugar almost as much or even more than pure glucose. Fructose has medium GI because the fibre found in fruit slows digestion and absorption.

Carbohydrate Intake Before Exercise
The goal prior to a game or event is to maximise carbohydrate stores in the muscles and liver and to top up blood glucose stores. And this is where GI becomes important...

Studies have shown that consuming high-glycemic foods within an hour of exercise can actually lower blood glucose...

The body produces an "overshoot" of insulin, which in turn causes low blood sugar.

As a rule of thumb you should eat foods with a low to medium GI before competition. This allows for a relatively slow release of glucose into the blood and avoids the insulin surge. To make doubly sure, consuming carbohydrate at least an hour before the start allows any hormonal imbalance to return to normal.

Example low GI foods include pasta, whole grain breads and rice, oatmeal, milk and milk products and fruit (except bananas and dried fruit).

A pre competition meal might consist of pasta in a low-fat tomato sauce, baked beans or scrambled eggs on toast and fresh fruit such as apples, pears or orange juice. Some grilled fish or chicken and vegetables could accompany the carbohydrates.

Ideally you should aim to eat this high-carbohydrate, low-GI meal 3 hours prior to competition...

Remember that when food is in your stomach your body makes it a priority to digest it. As a result greater blood flow is directed to the digestive tract - not good news when your muscles will soon be demanding an increase blood flow too. Guess what often happens when blood is shunted away from a full stomach to working muscles? You throw up! Usually you get a warning first - nausea - your body's attempt to get you to stop.

There is one exception to consuming carbohydrate at least an hour before competition - you can take a sports drink immediately prior (5-10mins) to the start. But we'll discuss this in more detail next issue.

Carbohydrate Intake After Exercise
Following a game or competition the goal is to replenish carbohydrate stores as quickly as possible.

Ideally you should try to eat a large, high-carbohydrate meal within 2 hours at the end of a strenuous tournament or match. And whereas you aim to eat low GI foods prior to competition you can eat high GI foods afterwards.

Bananas and dried fruits are good immediately following a match, as are sandwiches and high-carbohydrate drinks like Gatorade Exceed and Lucozade.

A main meal several hours later might consist of bread, pasta, potatoes and rice as well as other simple sugars like cakes and sweets.

Even under the best circumstances it can take 20+ hours to fully restore carbohydrate stores. This has implications for athletes who train and compete 5 or 6 days a week. In this case carbohydrate replenishment at regular intervals following activity becomes even more crucial. This is where high-carbohydrate drinks offer a real advantage.

Overall, if you are training vigorously several days a week, your diet should consist of approximately 65% carbohydrates. So if your total caloric expenditure is 3000 kcal, about 1950 kcal should come from complex and simple carbohydrate.

Another guide is 10 g per kilogram (2.2lbs) of bodyweight. A 150lb person would consume around 680 g of carbohydrate.

In Part 4 of Elite Sports Nutrition we'll look at dehydration, isotonic sports drinks and how they can help maintain carbohydrate stores during exercise. We'll also look at how to carbohydrate load.



Essential Steps to Fitness Testing... Step #1 to Athletic Peak Performance

Vince Lombardi once said that "winning isn't everything; it's the only thing." Unfortunately, if you take that statement literally it can severely limit your achievements...

Instead, a much more effective mindset is to strive for constant and never-ending improvement. The Japanese have a word for this approach. It's called "kaizen". As Kenneth Baum says in his book The Mental Edge...

"You can't win all the time, but you can always work on becoming better. And as you do, winning will take care of itself."

A prerequisite to getting better is measuring where you are now. What gets measured, gets managed. And if you want to manage your performance and your rate of improvement, step #1 is fitness testing.

Next issue, we'll look in detail how to design a battery of fitness tests for your sport. But we need to make a start now by laying some groundwork...

The very first step is to determine what physical demands your sport requires. What components of fitness does it incorporate? Choose from this selection:

  • Aerobic endurance - long distance sports like cycling, running, triathlon etc. Also long duration sports with minimal breaks like soccer, tennis, hockey, rugby etc.
  • Anaerobic threshold - long distance events that are steady stae in nature i.e. marathon, triathlon, cycling etc.
  • Explosive power - sports that involve jumping, sprinting, speed off the mark, physical contact.
  • Maximal Strength - any sport that incorporates explosive power. Also pure strength sports like weight lifting and wrestling etc.
  • Strength Endurance - sports involving repetitive, intense activity like soccer, racket sports, endurance sports, combat sports etc.
  • Speed - sports that involve speed off the mark, acceleration, top speed.
  • Speed endurance - multi-sprint sports like hockey, lacrosse, tennis, soccer, basketball etc.
  • Agility - sports with sudden movements, changes in direction, twisting, turning, complex skills
  • Flexibility - all sports!

As an example then, a long distance cyclist would want to test his/her aerobic endurance, anaerobic threshold, explosive power and speed (for hill climbs and sprint finishes for example) and also strength endurance. They would also test their flexibility to complete the profile.

A basketball player on the other hand, may choose to test aerobic endurance, explosive power, speed, speed endurance, maximal strength and strength endurance. They would also test agility and flexibility to complete their profile.

Have a think about which if the above components fit your sport. Next week we'll go over how to select the most appropriate tests (there's more than one way to test power for example, but some will be far more relevant to your sport than others).

By the end you'll have a battery of tests that can perform over one morning or afternoon.

Once you've completed these tests and built a fitness profile of yourself, we'll move onto a series of articles and programs that will literally propel you through an entire competitive season...

Here's a heads up - save each article. Better still... print them out and keep them in a ring binder.

Within a few short months you will have a complete season-long, sport-specific training plan. You can use it time and time again to reach a level of conditioning year-in, year-out, which simply blows your competition out the water.


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

Back to Back Issues Page