Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Interesting Links

A couple of other blog posts I've liked:
On CrossFit and General v. Specific training http://maxwellsc.com/blog.cfm?blogID=90

On Kettlebells http://skinnybulkup.com/kettlebells-are-inferior-to-dumbbells/

In both cases there are little things I disagree with, but overall they are worth reading.

Friday, April 13, 2012

More Interval Training

This came up again on the HEMA Alliance forum, someone asked about the training that Mike Edelson was doing (which I talked about before).

Tabata's are a specific protocol of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). As Mike acknowledges, he is not using the term correctly. Tabata protocol is 20 seconds of high intensity and 10 seconds of medium intensity (i.e. active rest). The periods are alternated 8 times for 4 minutes. Work:rest ratio is 2:1. High intensity was defined using a cycle ergometer originally, but you can think of it as an intensity you can only maintain for around 20 seconds. This should be well above your anaerobic threshold i.e. you should be breathless at the end of each . As you improve over the weeks you can progress by increasing duration or intensity.

Mike is doing more conventional interval training. This is done with longer work periods of 30 s. to 2 minutes. And easier work to rest ratios of 1:2 to 3:2. Also the intensity is lower, around your anaerobic threshold. So a run but not a sprint.

Both do a good job of increasing conditioning, especially for anaerobic activities like fighting. But the HIIT is gonna be better for that purpose. For increasing the intensity of his stations to high-intensity you could use a sledge hammer in place of the axe (or an exercise bar) and replace the speed rope with some plyos like box jumps or med ball slams.

What Mike is doing is a lot like circuit training. The primary difference being that he has several different training stations while interval training typically refers to all the same exercise. Perhaps we should develop the "HEMAA Protocol", a high-intensity sword specific circuit.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Overhead lifts

"Another common mistake is lifting weights higher than shoulder level or bringing weights behind the the plane of the body." P. 188 Complete Conditioning for Tennis, E. Paul Roetert & Todd S. Ellenbecker.

This is a quote from a book on tennis. But the similarity in movements between tennis and longsword are relevant . This is also common advice for baseball pitchers.So, for longsword guys the overhead lifts are a potential problem. Due to the high stress on the shoulder from doing overhead sport actions the overhead lifts should be avoided. This is also common advice for baseball pitchers.

So do an incline press instead of the shoulder press (and do a vertical pull exercise as well e.g. lat pulldown, pull-ups, dips etc.). And only do cleans for Olympic lifts, not the snatch or jerk.

To explain, a little anatomy first: the head of the humerus rests in a socket, the glenoid cavity. Above the socket is the acromion, a projection off the scapula. In between these two is the subacromial space, which has to fit tendons, muscle and bursa.

Lifting the humerus above about 90* tends to compress the subacromial space. This can be lessened by strengthening the rotator cuff muscles. Healthy, strong rotator cuff muscles will help the head of the humerus move correctly, so that it doesn't impinge.

However, strengthening the muscles that pull the humerus upward will not reduce the upward compression of the humerus against the arcomion.

Overhead work, like house painting, and overhead sports, like pitchers and tennis, involve much more upward movement of the humerus. Most people bodies can't tolerate a large amount of overhead movement of the arm. There is variation in this characteristic; differences in acromion shape, glenoid cavity health, rotator cuff health and strength, and history of injury will all effect the likelihood of developing impingement.

Motion at the edge of a range of motion increases the likelihood of chronic injury. So overhead athletes have a much higher likelihood of impingement. Even with correct form for pitching or serves in tennis, the stress is still high. Professional athletes frequently subject themselves to predictable injury because of their drive to compete.

This blog post also does a reasonable job of discussing it.

To produce the same strengthening of as an overhead press you can do an upright row and a shoulder shrug. Same muscles, used the same way, but each avoids excess abduction of the humerus.

Complex training

Recently I was asked my thoughts on Complex training, in this thread.

Complex training involves mixing another training mode in with weight training. This is done during the rest periods between sets of lifts. The most common form uses plyometrics that are biomechanically related. Such as doing squats and box jumps. There is a good summary here. Other forms exist as well.

I'm aware of only a small body of research on complex training. What I've seen is that the benefits are small. That means that the advantages are most useful to people already at the top of their game. If you're coming in second in races then complexes may push you to first. If you're coming in tenth, you have fundamentals to work on more importantly.

The other reason that they are most appropriate for high-end athletes is that they significantly increase the stress on the body. The total volume of work done in a workout roughly doubles. For someone whose already developed a tolerance for lot's of exercise it's fine. For an amateur athlete it's probably too much and increases the risk of overtraining or even injury.