We had the pleasure of watching our long time client David perform at the Jiu Jitsu IBJJF event last Sunday, where he finsihed with a superb Silver medal.
We’ve been in charge of designing David’s strength and conditioning program for a couple of years now, so it’s always great to see him in action. Watching his fights live always gives us fresh information on what types of strength work we should prioritise with his training.
Jiu Jitsu requires both mat and standing strength, so the strength requirements are broad and complex. That said, besides the obvious goal of getting stronger here are 3 things we would focus on with an experienced trainee:
1. Training both full range and end range of motion
When you see the positions a Jiu Jitsu fighter find themselves in, you realise that maximising full range of motion strength, especially in the hips, is essential. Practically this means full range squats, high box step ups, glute ham raises, rear foot elevated split squats and back extensions take priority in lower body training. That said there is also plenty of occasions in fights where they have to be explosive in the end range of motion, both in the lower and upper body. Because of this we will cycle in exercises with a slightly limited range, but where he has to overcome inertia such as squats and presses from pins, inverse rows and presses from the floor and pauses during the mid range of a movement.
2. Using a variety of grips
If you’ve ever been to our gym at The Sporting Club you’ll notice straight away that we have a heap of different bars – at least 20 at last count – with many having slightly different grip widths and angles. The grappling nature of Jiu Jitsu means we program A LOT of grip varieties with our exercises – 2 inch grips, tube grips, cone grips, ball grips, pinch grips and towel / belt grips to name but a few.
3. Prioritise both speed and strength endurance
Bands, chains and olympic lift exercises feature heavily in order to teach quick and powerful movements. For less experienced trainees we may program alternative exercises such as kettlebell swings or speed deadlifts which still focus on speed of movement but are less complex. On top of that, a Jiu Jitsu fight goes for 5 minutes without rest, so a fighter needs to be able to reproduce strength and power even when feeling fatigued. Because of this we will train their work capacity by pairing exercises – such as a squat and pull up – whereby you will alternate between the exercises for 5-15 minutes doing as many sets of 2 reps as possible.
Strength is king. This is generally the mantra of any strength and conditioning coach when it comes to training their athletes in the gym. Cycling – both in sprint and endurance form – falls squarely within this category.
Although the legs are used extensively for cycling, they don’t necessarily become stronger from cycling. They essentially become better at the specific demands of cycling, but that can have very little carryover to other lower body movements and exercises.
Lance Armstrong (hear me out!) famously said that running a marathon was the hardest physical activity he had done – harder than any of the grueling cycling events that he competed in.
So one of the key benefits of being stronger is that, in general, increased strength improves sports performance no matter what the sport.
The other key benefit of being stronger is that it correlates with a decreased chance of injury.
So tying the idea of strength and conditioning more specifically into improving cycling performance, here are some of the main advantages to off-bike training in the gym:
You can implement an array of single side exercises
Obviously each leg works individually during cycling, so the gym is a great place to have a structured approach to single leg training as it is very rare to see equal strength levels in both legs and between the various lower body muscles.
Varieties of split squats, single leg deadlifts, step ups and sled pulling and pushing exercises will constitute a vast majority of the lower body work, especially in the initial programming when strength deficiencies between the legs will be more pronounced.
You can improve maximal strength and power
Endurance athletes in particular are likely to spend little time improving their maximal strength, but it can be extremely beneficial to performance. Cyclists of all mediums still need to produce bursts of speed, which is where being stronger and more powerful plays a big part. Strength also invariably improves endurance.
Squats, deadlifts, pull ups and incline bench press are exercises where phases of maximal strength work (1-5 reps) could be done in the gym. Even though single side exercises will feature heavily in any cyclists’ programs, performing these dual side movements (provided you are capable) allows for greater overload on the nervous and muscular system. For those who are proficient, various versions of the olympic lifts can also be incorporated to help improve power output.
It should be noted that improving maximal strength and power can be done without putting on excess muscle, an important consideration for cyclists who need to maintain a certain weight.
You can dedicate time to train the upper body and core
Upper body and core strength may not seem as vital as lower body strength, but it still plays a crucial role in overall control of the bike, especially when turning at speed where the body can encounter high levels of force. Because the torso and spine remain largely flexed during cycling, training the upper back and shoulder retractors is extremely important to reduce the risk of overuse injuries. Great exercises include cable face pulls for shoulder retraction and the renegade row for the upper back and multiple areas of the core.
You can implement strongman style training for conditioning, rehab and knee stability
One of the best additions to performance training in the last decade has been strongman style exercises. The most beneficial for muscular strength and structural balance in cycling would undoubtedly be backward sled drags and farmers walks. Sled drags are fantastic at training the concentric portion of full knee lockout, targeting the ‘teardrop’ VMO muscle of the inner quadricep, a crucial muscle for overall knee health. Farmers walks or loaded carries test core strength, shoulder stability and lower back strength all whilst each leg is moving individually. Both of these exercises can be performed by relative beginners through to experienced lifters, and are also great exercises in the rehab setting or for those who suffer joint pain. This is because they overload the muscle without excessively overloading the joint.
The second benefit of strongman style training is its effect on overall conditioning. Combining the above with other strongman exercises – tyre flips, prowler pushes, rope drags, log presses – is one of the best ways to improve conditioning off the bike that can be easily transferred to the conditioning required for cycling.
You can train through a full range of motion
Overuse injuries make up a large proportion of injuries in monotonous aerobic sports – the lumbar and knee being the most prevalent injuries in cycling. Cycling is essentially a repeated concentric contraction through a modified range of motion and with a flexed spine. Exposing the muscles of the lower body to a full range of motion helps to overcome the issues that come with cycling. Hip, lower back and thoracic extension (the posterior chain) and full knee flexion / extension are very important movements to train in the gym.
You can work on improving overall structural balance
Having balanced strength qualities will help any cyclist maintain a smoother cycling pattern, and will allow for the right muscles to be working when they meet the specific demands of any race. Generally speaking the quadriceps should have more endurance than the hamstrings and glutes. For easier portions of the race, the quadriceps will be heavily involved. But when more demanding parts of the race are met – inclines or sprints when it comes to cycling – the glutes and hamstrings play a bigger part.
If the quadriceps are lacking strength, then the hamstrings and glutes will likely have to compensate for the easier parts of the race and thus will be more fatigued when they are really needed.
All in all, if you are serious about improving your cycling performance then a structured strength training program of 2-4 weekly sessions is a must.
Thanks for visiting our site.
Here are the days and times of our Free Group Training Sessions.
Clicking on the links below will take you through a quick sign up after which time you can register for the sessions.
- Saturday February 21st – 8.00-8.55am – Fat Loss Circuits
- Monday February 23rd – 7.00-7.55pm – Foundations
- Tuesday February 24th – 6.45-7.45am – Strength Group (Some weight training experience necessary to join this group)
- Wednesday February 25th – 5.45-6.35pm – Modified Strongman / Conditioning
- Wednesday February 25th – 7.00-7.55pm – Fat Loss Circuits
- Thursday February 26th – 7.30-8.30am – Foundations
If you want to chat to us to find out more, please email or call:
07932 365 645
A few photos showing off our new gym.
Spot reduction is a myth, right?
Sure, there are endless articles in fitness magazines about how to target and tone specific muscles, but no personal trainer worth his certification will promise he can help you take off fat from specific areas. Reduce your body fat by three percent, no problem. But get rid of that annoying cellulite on the back of your thighs or that little pouch on your lower belly – and nothing else – well, that’s just not possible. Or is it?
The promise of spot reduction is an obsession that many in our culture just won’t abandon. How many pills, creams and celebrity-endorsed gadgets have people tried that were supposed to help you develop ripped abs or slender thighs? And even though those tight corsets of the Victorian era that caused women to pass out due to lack of oxygen are a long-dead fashion trend, today there are special pants and girdles that give the illusion that the troublesome fat is gone.
Trainers constantly warn their clients to stay clear from such nonsense. However, the advancements in exercise endocrinology may give personal trainers new tools for combating site specific fat storage. The system is called Biosignature Modulation. Biosignature Modulation is a scientific approach to spot reduction I developed from over 20 years of performing blood, urine and saliva tests while working with world record holders, professional athletes in all the major sports and Olympic medalists in 16 different events.
My entire professional life has been devoted to finding ways to improve athletic performance among the elite, and along the way, I have found innovative and amazingly effective ways to help the non-athletic population in the area of fat loss. Based on my testing, the reason so many people have stubborn problem areas is due to imbalances in their body biochemistry, especially with hormones. Doubt the power of hormones? Just look at what steroids have done to so many athletes, turning men into supermen and women into superwomen (and sometimes into supermen!
Unfortunately, these drugs do have side effects). And just as steroid hormones can build muscle, other hormones can cause unwanted fat stores in your back, legs, hips and – well, you get the idea. Here’s how Biosignature Modulation works. There are 12 major body fat sites that can be quickly and accurately tested by a pair of quality skin calipers. These sites include the cheek, chin, pectoral region, triceps, umbilical, supra iliac, subscapular, mid axillary, quadriceps, hamstrings, knee and calf. Although there are many other methods to test body fat, such as underwater weighing and electrical impedance, I believe body fat testing with skin calipers is the best method to be used for Biosignature Modulation because it can determine precisely the amount of fat in each of the major fat testing sites, the same way a far more expensive Dexa scan would.
Measurements from each site are then compared to the tricep reading, and this identifies which areas of the body have excessive levels of fat relative to the other 11 body fat sites. Some people may have excessive fat in just one area, while others may have several problem areas. Most clients will already be quite familiar with their problem areas. An experienced practitioner in Biosignature Modulation can often make an accurate visual determination of the problem, but the calipers are quick, easy and reliable.
Once the Biosignature sites are analyzed, the next step is to set out a specific protocol of diet, exercise and supplementation to resolve the problem. Let’s say that after being tested, it’s discovered there is an excessive amount of fat on the lower thighs (again, relative to the other major fat sites). This indicates there is a problem with the estrogen levels. If the problem area is the triceps, the issue is with the androgen levels. If the problem area is the shoulder blades or hip, the problem is with insulin levels.
The shoulder blade area has to do with the genetic ability to handle carbohydrates, while your supra-illiac skinfold is a direct reflection of your dietary intake. Therefore, if a client cheats on an assigned low carbohydrate diet, the skin folds will not lie. After determining the cause of the fat, the next step is to make appropriate modifications in your client’s diet. For the subscapular and supra-iliac, controlling the blood sugar levels of the body with more frequent meals, reduced daily carbohydrate and low GI food choices is critical.
For lower abdominal fat, the key is reducing cortisol levels by restricting the consumption of stimulants and simple sugars. For the glutes, it’s important to detoxify estrogen levels by consuming vegetables such as broccoli that have biochemicals to accomplish this important task. Many of these dietary recommendations overlap. None of them involve any method harmful to the body, and in fact, all of them will improve the overall quality of life. The next step is supplementation.
For the fat on the back of your arms, herbal products such as licorice root, ginseng (which is most effective when taken 45 minutes before a meal), suma, holy basil and rhodiola rosea might be prescribed. For the fat stored around mid-axillary, a supplement of guggul, coleus root and bladderwrack algae could be recommended as it contains iodine that will strengthen the thyroid gland. For the fat stored around the shoulder blades and hips, corosolic acid, R-form stabilized alpha lipoic acid and fish oils may be prescribed to control insulin. For fat storage on the thighs, indole-3-carbinol, phosphatidyl-choline may be recommended. The cortisol site on the abdominal wall can be addressed mainly with what traditional Chinese medicine practitioners would call Yin tonics.
In the Biosignature model, over 26 types of Yin tonics are used. The choice of a specific one is regulated by other factors than cortisol, such as the client’s personality, levels of neuro-transimitters, exercise levels, circadian rhythms, to name a few. Taking a well designed multivitamin/mineral helps out the overall process, as many nutrients act as intermediaries in detoxification of hormones and provide building blocks for all the neuro-transmitters. Male slanted formulas tend to work on correcting blood fat values. Female slanted formulas are more geared towards the detoxification of estrogens.
The final step is determining an appropriate exercise regimen. For example, for those with lower body fat, spinning will likely do more harm than good. Spinning will increase the storage of intramuscular and subcutaneous fat in the hip and thigh areas to provide a more readily available source of fuel for the muscles. Instead, a weight training protocol of high reps (10 to 15) and short rest intervals (about 30 seconds between sets) would be a much more effective choice. The Biosignature Modulation program will always be in a constant state of growth with the publication of new and better research that improves the system.
But now, personal trainers can effectively combat site specific areas of fat storage using a simple 12-point skinfold test, dietary changes, supplementation and exercise based on their individual biochemistry.
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of Charles Poliquin and Poliquin Performance
We are very happy to announce that on June 11 2013 we opened our brand new training facility in Wapping.
Our new premises will be located at:
The gym will be equipped by Watson Gym Equipment, one of the finest gym equipment companies in the world.
We will also be able to continue (and expand) our current selection of group strongman, fat loss and conditioning workouts.
1. HCL – ARE YOU ABSORBING YOUR NUTRIENTS?
The body produces stomach acid (HCL) whenever we eat to help break down nutrients, especially protein. Due to a number of factors in modern life, most people have sub-optimal levels, a fact that leads many functional doctors to therorise that HCL deficiency is the underlying issue in a number of modern ailments. If you are HCL deficient, all that effort to eat healthy and supplement correctly may be going to waste. Read this article on how to easily test your own levels, and add HCL supplementation if necessary.
2. ADD GLUTAMINE AND GLYCINE TO POST WORKOUT SHAKES
Yes everyone loves the idea of rewarding themselves after a tough (or not so tough) workout with some well deserved sweeties, but generally only a select few who are already very lean will benefit from carbs after their workouts. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body, and will provide excellent immune support after your workout. Glycine is excellent at restoring depleted glycogen levels, but importantly it does this without spiking insulin. The key to pretty much any fat loss approach is to keep insulin in check.
3. GREEN TEA OR COFFEE BEFORE WORKOUTS
Both are slightly old school methods, but sometimes there is nothing at all wrong with the old school. The caffeine in both green tea and coffee will boost energy, making your workouts more productive. They also both stimulate cellular activity, enhancing fat burning capabilities during and after your workout. Caffeine or green tea capsules can also work well.
4. CARNITINE AND FISH OILS – SUPPLEMENT BUDDIES
Both carnitine and fish oils have been proven to help boost fat loss, but what few people know is that their fat burning capabilities improve dramatically when used together. The uptake of carnitine is greater on a relatively empty stomach, so taking 2-3 grams first thing in the morning and/or 45 mins before your workout is ideal. Fish oils are best spread evenly over the day with meals.
5. VITAMIN D
If you have to endure miserable northern winters, and/or are stuck in an office most of the day, chances are you are not getting nearly enough Vitamin D. Although getting sufficient sunlight exposure is the best way to take in Vitamin D, supplementation may be the easiest option for many of us. A standard blood test can reveal your current levels, and then you have the option of supplementing with drops, capsules or topical cream. Something around 5000 IU per day should do the trick if you are deficient. Generally the darker your skin, the more Vitamin D you need.
Feel the burn, feel the burn – these are the words that I repeat in my head constantly both when I’m training with The Sporting Club and afterwards…when I’m walking up stairs or even getting up off my seat. I’ve learned to love this feeling and accept it as a ‘good pain’. With only six weeks to go until my wedding, I’ve been training with Justin three times a week and getting to grips with a whole new lifestyle. With my job, planning a wedding and busy social life, it’s been somewhat difficult, especially in the midst of Olympics madness and fun, but I’ve managed to balance it as best I can, and I am feeling, and looking a whole lot better for it.
I had my first wedding dress fitting the other day, and you can definitely see the results.
There is still a long way to go though and I’m sure Justin has a master plan that involves my new BFFs; “the plough”, “the sled” and that “farmer and his walk”.
All the things that seemed so foreign when I initially started, like the copious supplements and vitamins, the protein shakes, the amount of protein in my diet generally, are now a normal part of life. I’m excited, and also quite nervous, about the next six weeks but I’m ready for it – bring on the burn The Sporting Club and get this bride ready for that ‘farmers walk’ down the aisle.
This video is from a recent Strongman / Stronggirl training session that we run on Tuesday evenings. Awesome work from all involved – yes it was 0˚ outside – we don’t stop just because it’s cold…
Energy Systems Training
Strongman implements allow for all variety of energy systems training, from pure strength to muscular endurance. It allows you to improve your overall cardiovascular health, whilst focusing on anaerobic training. Improvements in strong leg exercises such as the prowler sled, sled drags and farmers walks also translate to increased strength (and often range of motion) in more traditional gym exercises such as squats and deadlifts.
Strongman training is exceptional at building lactate levels, because the work output continues to increase with no intra-set ‘rests’. This produces a special type of burn and lactic acid response. Increased lactic acid increase the blood ph, prompting an increase in growth hormone production. GH is the body’s fat burning tool.
Rehabilitation And Injury Prevention
Because many strongman implements – particularly the sled – allow for powerful muscular contraction without excessively loading the joint, strength training can safely be resumed quite soon after injuries or surgeries. Sled drags are also great at recruiting the VMO muscle of the quadriceps, a key knee stabiliser. Farmers Walks are excellent at building ankle and lower back strength. Practically all of the exercises are great core exercises, as often the core can only be effectively trained under heavier loads.
All Levels Can Partake
The techniques and movement patterns are very easy to teach, making strongman training an ideal introduction for those new to strength and conditioning training.
It’s Fun & Outdoors
Pushing and lugging weights around is great fun and there is something inherently enjoyable about training outdoors. Women in particular enjoy this approach to training, away from the all-too-often macho atmosphere of a typical gym weights area.