Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Blog is moving!!

Well, I have decided to move my blog from this website to my own website. I appreciate everyone who has been reading over the past few years and hope that you will continue to join me at the new location.

My blog is now hosted on the Optimum Sports Performance server, and can be found here:

And the RSS feed is here:

Please update your bookmarks and feeds. Thanks for reading!


Monday, December 8, 2008

What Happened To My Skills?

What happens to your sport performance if you don t train regularly?
- Jim


Sorry to break it to you, but you either use it or lose it!

If you aren't constantly working on your skills, then you wont get better. If you don't work on your skills and you stop playing altogether, you are definetly not going to be as sharp as you were when you were competitive. Look at a pro-golfer or a pro-baseketball player. If the former doesn't practice working on his/her swing, then they wont improve (maybe this is why I suck at golf?) and if the later (the basketball player) doesn't constantly work on his shot, it will eventually go cold.

The same holds true for lifting weights and strength training. If you don't do a moderate amount of some strength work, you will start to get weaker and lose the ability to display optimal strength.

The take home message is train specifically for what you want - sports performance, strength, power, endurance, hypertrophy etc. - establish a training program that allows you to focus on one of these areas, while maintaining the other areas so that they do not get "de-trained" (you can check out my post on organization of training for more informatino on that).

If you would like more specific help on setting up a program for sports performance, please feel free to register at our free forum -

Hope that helps.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Research: Tissue trauma: the underlying cause of overtraining syndrome?

Tissue trauma: the underlying cause of overtraining syndrome?

Smith LL. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2004 Feb ; 18(1): 185-193.

Abstract: An athlete who trains intensely, yet consistently underperforms, is considered to be suffering from overtraining syndrome (OTS). OTS is a complex state that involves a large variety of signs and symptoms. Symptoms include changes in mood or behaviour, decreases or increases in concentration of different blood molecules, and alterations in immune function. Although several hypotheses have been proposed, each only explains a selective aspect of OTS. Presently, the sole agreement is that OTS is associated with excessive training and insufficient rest and recovery. The hypothesis proposed in this paper suggests that excessive training/competing causes repetitive tissue trauma, either to muscle and/or connective tissue and/or to bony structures, and that this results in chronic inflammation. It is further proposed that traumatized tissue synthesizes a group of inflammatory molecules, cytokines. Cytokines have been shown to coordinate the different systems of the body to promote recovery. Suggestions are made to detect, prevent, and rehabilitate the overtrained athlete.

My Comments:

Since my last two articles were training related - Recovery and Regeneration For Strength Athletes (dealing with the aspect of recovery between workouts) and Organization of Training: High-Low and Undulating Periodization (an article on how to organize your training and giving you ideas about spacing out high stress workouts to promote balance in your training program) – I thought it would be fitting to post this article on over training syndrome.

This article went into tissue trauma and the effects it potentially has on other areas of the body due to an increase in chronic inflammation inflammation from overtraining.

Overtraining usually develops when there is an imbalance between work (especially intense work) and rest. In an nutshell, the body doesn't have the ability to catch up to the amount of stress you are placing on it. So it reaches a state of "burnout" or "staleness". It is not uncommon for an athlete to be training very intensely
and rather than seeing improvements , they end up seeing a decrease in performance. It is important to note that there is a difference between overtraining and over-reaching. Over-reaching is a temporary decrease in performance, carried out for a brief period of time (a few days) after which the athlete rests and allows for a period of "supercompensation" to take place, the end result being a greater increase in performance (hopefully). Overtraining on the other hand is a condition where the athlete is unable to recover after a few days of rest (almost like a chronic state) and it may even take weeks or months for the athlete to be fully recovered (depending on their level of overtraining).

The paper gave some signs and symptoms of overtraining syndrome. There were a lot, so I will just list a few:

Performance Parameters
decreased performance
inability to meet previous standards
prolonged recovery
reduced toleration to loading
decreased muscular strength
decreased maximum work capacity

changes in blood pressure
changes in heart rate at rest, during exercise, and during recovery
increased frequency of respiration
increased oxygen consumption at submaximal exercise intensities
decreased lean body mass

constant fatigue
reduced appetite
changes in sleep pattern
general apathy
emotional instability
decreased self-esteem
fear of competition
gives up when the going gets tough

Information processing
loss of coordination
difficulty concentrating
reduced capacity to correct technical faults

Biochemical Parameters
negative nitrogen balance
elevated C-reactive protein
depressed muscle glycogen levels
decreased free testosterone
increased serum cortisol

Immunological Parameters
constant fatigue
complaints of muscle and joint aches and pains
gastrointestinal disturbance
muscle soreness tenderness
one-day colds
swelling of lymph glands
bacterial infections
increased susceptibility to and severity of illness, colds, and allergies

The paper then went on to give some recommendations for ways to prevent overtraining syndrome. A lot of these recommendations are things that I have talked about in the past, and some of them are things that recently came up in my past 2 articles. Here are a few of the things they said:

- Keep records of exercises, order of exercises, loads or resistance used, volume or exercise and rest between sets. Endurance athletes should record time trials, training details and racing results.

- Don't increase exercise intensity abruptly. Use periodization and a graded approach to training. Don't increase weekly training loads more than 10%.

- Have at least one complete day of rest each week. Also, be aware of the amount of rest needed between sets and exercises during resistance training.

- Vary hard and light days.

- Avoid to many competitions

- Eat a well balanced diet.

- Psychological stress may add to the physical stress of training. Psychological stressors could include competition, work and family pressure, selection pressure, international travel, funding and other life events. If external personal life stresses are high, reduce training load.

- Rest, active or passive, is probably the most important strategy. Rest withdraws the athlete from exposure to the harmful stimulus (training/competition) and simultaneously allows time for healing of any injured tissue. Rest/recovery should be an integral part of an effective training program.

The take home message from all this stuff is that you need to pay attention to your body and to your training. Properly designed training programs should allow for sufficient recovery inbetween intense bouts of training. It has often been said that "One workout wont make an athlete. But one workout can break an athlete." Trying to beat yourself into a pulp in the gym is not the best (or safest) ways to elevate your level of fitness. Understanding the goals and demands of training and learning how to structure your program is a critical aspect in the development of human performance (whether you are training for competition or just training to be an overall healthy person).



Friday, December 5, 2008

Organization Of Training: High-Low and Undulating Periodization

Organization Of Training: High-Low and Undulating Periodization
By, Patrick Ward, MS, CSCS

Over the past few years I have been reading up on undulating periodization (books, research and attending lectures) and this past year I have read a bit about high-low training (which seems to have some similar principles of undulating periodization – there is so much semantics in all this stuff) and attended a lecture by an NFL strength coach who uses this model for his athletes. Also, James Smith of www.elitefts.com has a High/Low Training Manual that has a lot of his ideas and templates in it as well.

For awhile now I have been using these ideas in my clients training programs and for myself and have been pleased with the results I have been getting in terms of overall increases in level of fitness, strength and power. I have listed a few templates you can try out on yourself or your clients/athletes. If you do try it out, please send me some feedback, as I am always looking for ways to improve upon things and make myself (and my clients) better.

Classifying Your Rep Ranges

Before we get into the definitions of high-low and undulating periodization, we need to first classify our rep ranges. Classifying our rep ranges does a few things for us. First, it lets us know the goal of a certain rep range we are working in. Second, it allows us to understand which rep ranges are more neurologically stressful than others, allowing us to organize our program to prevent over-training or burn out from doing too much to often.

There have been many names given to rep ranges over the past years - max effort, strength, limit strength, endurance, hypertrophy, and on and on. I’ll list a few of the names people may use to describe certain intensities; but for simplicity, I’ll just bold the basic terms that people are familiar with and those will be the terms I use through out the rest of the article.

Power/Dynamic Effort – 1-5 reps with intensities depending on the exercise choosen and the goal. For plyometrics or medicine ball exercises, reps can be 3-10 per set.

Very Heavy/Limit Strength/Max Effort – 1-3 reps per set

Heavy/Submax effort – 4-6 reps per set

Muscle Endurance/Hypertrophy/Moderate/Repetitive Effort – 8+ reps per set

The first three classifications (power, very heavy and heavy) are more stressful on the nervous system and the last classification (muscle endurance) is the least stressful on the nervous system – however it can be demanding on the metabolic system.

Now that we have an understanding of repetition/intensity classifications, we can begin to plan our training in an organized manner.

...If you would like to read the rest of this article, it is posted in its entirety in the Coaches' Corner at our website - Optimum Sports Performance Forum
so please register (free) to check it, and some of our other articles out.

Patrick Ward MS, CSCS

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Recovery and Regeneration for Strength Athletes

Scott Bird hosts a really great site for strength athletes and lovers of the iron game - Straight To The Bar.

Everyday he posts a few articles and/or blog entires on strength training. Today, he was nice enough to post my newest article - Recovery and Regeneration For Strength Athletes

So shoot on over to his site and check it out!

If you haven't done so yet, come on over and register for the Optimum Sports Performance Forum.
I am going to start adding some new articles on training and you wont want to miss out.

Keep your eye on this blog for updates!

Patrick Ward MS, CSCS

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A big THANKS and a follow up question to the NMT-course I took

Just wanted to thank everyone who has joined the forum so far. I think it is going to be a really amazing resource for athletes, coaches, trainers, and general population individuals. I plan on putting together a few articles to post on the forum about some of the ideas I have on training and some of the templates I have used in the past.

As a bonus, for the month of december you can join as a premium member for $15 (regularly it is $20/month) to try it out (the rate goes back up to the normal $20 in january) and get some program design assistance and online coaching. The other option is that you can pay for the year for $150 (regularly $200) in the month of december only. These are two generous deals we are offering for the holiday season so act now!

NMT-course Question
what did you think about the whole leptin portion of the lecture? Truth be told, I am nonplussed. While leptin may be the key to every illness known to man, in my state it has nothing to do with massage therapy, - it's out of scope for us. I've taken 2 of Judy's workshops, and I would've appreciated more palpation/assessment stuff, and less leptin.


Hello Joe, thanks for reading the blog and asking the question. Personally, I loved the leptin portion of the lecture! However, my general staudy interests center around exercise science and physiology (I am a big nerd!) so leptin is something that I have read a pretty good deal about over the past several years.

I understand what you are saying about it being "out of the scope of practice" for a massage therapist. Judy was pretty adamant about the fact that we NEED to operate within our scope of practice but we also need to understand when to refer out. As she said in her lecture, "if you are doing everything right, and you are not seeing some dramatic results in 4-5 visits, it is time to consider other options." She was also very specific about thinking globally when assessing clients. Don't just think - "shoulder hurts so it must be the shoulder" - you need to look for the why's. Sometimes those why's are in the form of postural issues in other areas besides the shoulder, sometimes those why's are in issues with trigger points, sometimes those why's may be in referral patters from organs and sometimes those why's can be due to dietary and hormonal problems/considerations.

Being able to think critically when assessing your clients is something that sets a great therapist apart from an average one. Unfortunately for me, the two areas of I have choosen to work in - personal training and massage therapy - are over populuated with people who drag the profession(s) down because they don't advance their education enough to understand the science behind what they are doing. This is one of the reasons why trainers and massage therapists get looked down upon in the world of allied health professionals. Just because I am a personal trainer or a massage therapist does not give me a free pass to be uninformed or uneducated! The more knowledge I have, the better results I can get with my clients AND the better understanding I have of their situation to know when to refer out to other health care professionals becauseI can't give them what they need. In addition, I can speak to those professionals on a scientific level, which helps to progress our profession forward and become more accepted in the medical community.

Even though things are out of our scope of pracitce, it doesn't mean that we shouldn't study them, learn about them, and be prepared to deal with them when they show themselves in our treatment rooms. I appreciate what Judith Delany is trying to do for the massage community and I hope that others like her continue to help raise the bar of what is expected from massage therapists.


Monday, December 1, 2008

New Website!!

The Optimum Sports Performance Website has been re-done! We have re-vamped everything and updated our service page. You can also subscribe to our newsletter on the home page and get updates and information about Optimum Sports Performance:

Optimum Sports Performance

Also, we have started a forum. The forum is free and we hope to get some really great discussion in there, not just about training for sports, but training for general health and wellness. There is something for everyone in the forum, so check it out:

Optimum Sports Performance Forum

We are very excited about the new changes and hope that you like them.