Archive for June, 2010

Recovery is a vital part of any training program whether you are an elite athlete or just someone who hits up the gym to improve your strength and fitness. In any training program whether it be speed and agility, strength and conditioning or a general fitness program it is important that recovery becomes a planned activity.

A good recovery will help your muscles and connective tissues to repair faster allowing you to train harder and more effectively the next time you are out there.

What is Recovery?

Recovery is basically the time it takes the body to repair itself from the damage (stress) caused by training. During recovery a complex process takes place which includes refueling the muscle and liver glycogen stores (carbohydrates), replacing nutrients lost through sweat and developing new muscle proteins require for growth.

Why is Recovery so Important?

- Appropriate recovery accelerates the regeneration rate between training and competitions

- It increases the quality and quantity of training

- Reduces the risk of developing overtraining

- Reduces the risk of injury

- Adequate and appropriate recovery can enhance performance

It is important to understand that there are several different methods of recovery and how a certain athlete recovers will vary depending on personal preference, the type of training, time constraints and the resources that are available to that person or group of athletes.

Popular Recovery Interventions:

Rest and Sleep

Adequate rest and sleep is the most effective recovery tool. Sleep is where the physical and psychological restoration occurs through hormonal secretion and is critical in ensuring maximal recovery. The quantity and quality of sleep is also very important as in deeper sleep phases the body heals quicker. It is important to note that sleep disturbance is often a sign of overtraining so if you are constantly waking up in the middle of the night then it could be from overdoing it a bit. Developing good sleep habits is very important.

Active Recovery (Cool Down after training)

This enhances the removal of lactate by increasing blood flow through movement. An active recovery will help recovery of force from eccentric damage and will reduce soreness and stiffness of your muscles.


It is generally accepted that increasing flexibility of a muscle-tendon unit produces better performances and reduces the number of injuries. Stretching increases the range of motion and enhances recovery in that it relaxes the muscle. This is best achieved by short static stretches of around 6-10 seconds.

Proper Nutrition

Nutritional Recovery Aims:

- Replenish and maximize energy (glycogen) stores in the body

- Replace lost fluids

- Repair muscle damage

- Protect immune system function

Some form of carbohydrate is essential immediately after training. This replenishes glycogen stores and kick starts the recovery process. The next thing the body needs is protein for muscle recovery and repair. Fluid is then used for rehydration.


Massage reduces the severity of muscle soreness, enhances relaxation and has shown positive effects on recovery from a psychological perspective. It is important to note that self massage is possible if you cannot get to a massage therapist or you don’t have a really nice girlfriend/boyfriend to give you one.


Compression garments are becoming increasingly popular today. Research suggests that graduated compression wear improves muscle oxygenation during actual exercise and reduces muscle soreness after training.

Psychological means

Some studies have shown that athletes who are aggressive, tense, and act in a compulsive manner do not recover as well and therefore have a higher risk of injury than those that are more relaxed. So being able to unwind after a workout is essential. This could involve anything from dinner with friends, a walk on the beach, listening to music or doing some form of meditation.

Periodised Training Program

Periodisation involves altering your exercise and training to target certain benefits at a certain time of the year. Athletes have been using periodised programs for years to help them “peak” for big events. This will obviously vary for the type of sport or activity you are preparing for and require careful planning. For the everyday person it is also beneficial to do this so as to avoid over training. The body thrives on variation so don’t just train the same over and over again. This way will reach a plateau you can’t get past and it becomes boring to say the least.

Hydrotherapy (Cold water immersion, Hot water immersion and Contrast Water Therapy)

How is Contrast Therapy thought to Work?

- Increased blood flow

- Stimulates the central nervous system

- Increases range of motion

- Decreases stiffness, soreness and muscle damage

- Increase removal of metabolites

Contrast water therapy may include the use of spas, contrast showers where pressured jets of water hit the muscles. Always drink fluids before, during and after this therapy and maintain other recovery techniques like proper nutrition. Ice baths are also useful and are commonly used to treat soft tissue sports injuries. They can be used in conjunction with a spa session and the benefits include decreased pain sensation, muscle spasm and inflammation.

Manny Pacquiao Training Photo In Track Suit There is just so much that can be said about Manny Pacquiao who is currently the pound for pound king and has recently been named “fighter of the decade”. He is arguably one of the most destructive boxers of his era and will surely go down in history as one of the greatest boxers of all time.

But what makes Manny so great? Is it purely talent and hard work or is does it have more to do with being trained by the best in the business? I believe it’s a combination of all these things. One thing that really stands out about the man is he really seems passionate about what he does. Manny likes to have a good time.. He is the lead singer in a band that  has sold more than a million albums. He has also become a congressman in his native Philippines where he is helping to build a hospital and improve the educational system in the Sarangani province, the region he represents.

What I find amazing though is the physical shape he is in. Since his career began he has moved up seven different weight classes and dominated by winning world titles in each class. Amazingly he has kept his unbelievable speed while developing strength, power and size. Usually fighters who go up in weight struggle to knock guys out and are often slower. Not Pacquiao. Along with his strength his hands are blindingly fast. He reminds me of Bruce Lee. In fact I think Manny is Bruce Lee reincarnated. He has that aura about him. Ross Greenburg, who is the president of HBO Sports, likened him more to Ali. “He reminds me of a time I was walking with Muhammad Ali and he literally stopped traffic,” Greenburg once said. “People were mesmerized, and it is the same with Manny.”
What I am really interested in is how Pacquiao has developed as an athlete and what training methods he uses to get himself into this unbelievable shape. His strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza togther with Freddie Roach have really done a wonderful job.

When he is not training for a fight he still keeps himself fit by running and playing basketball which he loves. He actually owns his own basketball team in Manila, in the Philippines. When he is training for a fight he usually starts his training camp about eight weeks before which is unusually short for a boxer preparing for a big fight. This is because he works so hard that his trainers don’t want him to burn out if he starts preparation any sooner.  The intensity he trains at make him what he is. His trainers have a difficult time slowing him down and at the end of a days training, they are almost begging him to stop.
His routine varies, but for the most part he is up early running a few miles and doing sprint work at the Los Angeles public high-school track. This is followed by a grueling three-hour workout in Roach’s Wild Card Gym in the afternoon. The workouts vary but over the course of the week he combines shadow-boxing, working the mitts, bag work, plyometrics, sparring, skipping and a stretching routine. On Sundays, Manny rests.

plyometric training exercises by lance armstrongStrength, speed and agility are integral components of fitness found in varying degrees in all sports that require movement. People often talk about that unique athlete or person being more powerful than anyone else, but what exactly is power and how do we train it?  Well it is basically the combination of speed and strength and for many years, coaches and athletes have sought to improve power to improve physical performance.

A great way to train this is by doing plyometric exercises. Plyometric training enhances explosiveness and power through powerful muscular contractions that invoke a stretch reflex in the muscle so that when the muscle contracts it does so with greater force. A plyometric workout will include jumping, bounding and hopping exercises and there are literally hundreds of drills that can be performed by an athlete or individual. Plyometric workouts are not only a great way to improve explosive reaction for athletes in sports like tennis, boxing, hockey, cricket, volleyball, basketball, soccer, rugby and many other sports but this type of training is used more and more by everyday people wanting to improve their fitness. Fitness programs like P90x incorporate a lot of plyometrics into their workouts and results and feedback from this type of training have shown benefits such as increased muscle performance, an improvement in balance and posture, toned muscles and better flexibility which prevents injury.

As with any workout a good warm up is essential prior to doing a plyometrics session and always make sure you leave enough time for a good cool down as this is just as important. It is also important that you understand what your level of strength is before you start and realise what you can and can’t do. Make sure you do not perform too many repetitions, the quality of training is most important with more emphasis placed on speed rather than endurance. Recovery between sets is important. Give yourself or your athlete at least one minute of rest between each set so the neuromuscular system can recover.

dynamic stretching is the best way to stretch Strength and conditioning trainers are constantly looking for the best ways to improve sport performance. The specific techniques used to train sport specific strength, speed and agility are of great importance but I believe warm-up for the match or training session is just as important as the actual training or the game. A good warm-up will enhance physical performance and obviously a bad warm-up will have the opposite effect.

For a long time it was considered beneficial to do a light jog for warm up followed by a series of static stretches. Static stretching involves stretching a particular muscle to a certain tension and then holding the stretch for 10 or so seconds. New research has shown though that static stretching can actually be detrimental to performance and it does not prevent injury.

The more recent approach which is used by most of the world elite athletes is the dynamic warm-up which provides the athlete with a more active preparation for their sports match, event or training. Dynamic stretching has been used by track and field athletes for years, and is only recently been incorporated more in other sports such as cricket, tennis, football, rugby and baseball.

A good warm-up starts with some light cardio until the athlete breaks into a sweat. This raises the body’s core temperature enough to enhance the elasticity of muscles, tendons, ligaments and overall joint structures to get the athlete ready for the training or game ahead. I like to do some jogging and then skipping usually. Some days when I am doing agility sessions or before matches I like to incorporate some agility drills through a speed and agility ladder. I find this one great for before games because I feel more mentally prepared for what lies ahead.

After the body is nice and warm it is time to get into the dynamic part of the warm-up which involves specific movements like leg swings, walking lunges, high knees, wall drills, but kicks. There are several different exercises that you can do to warm-up and depending on the sport or activity you are preparing for these can vary. The way you should conduct these moving stretches are by setting up two cones about 20 meters apart and do each stretch out to the cone that is 20 meters away and then jog back. I usually complete 1-2 sets of each stretch. The whole warm up should take around 15 minutes.

After the training or game it is important that we dont just go and sit down straight away.  This is when we need to do a cool down. During an intense session or game your body goes through a number of stressful processes. Muscle fibers, tendons and ligaments get damaged, and waste products build up within your body. A good cool down routine will assist your body in its repair process. This is very important in preventing muscle soreness that usually hits you the next day and often a couple of days after training. The cool down routine will depend on the type of training you have just done so if you did a lot of running it may involve a light jog for 5 min followed by a series of static or pnf stretching exercises. Nutrition and rehydration is also important and should be incorporated into the cool down.

usain bolt speed training exercise routine

Speed is influenced by an athlete’s agility (mobility), fast twitch muscle strength, strength endurance and technique. Being quick and having fast muscles is very different to having strong muscles as you simply will not get faster contracting muscles by training using traditional weight training workouts. Yes you may get stronger by lifting weights but to get faster and more explosive you need to train more explosive. Sprint training drills along with isometric, ballistic and plyometric exercises help develop fast twitch muscle fibers in the body which improve the speed of the athlete for whatever sport they play. Obviously depending on the sport you are training for, the specific movements or variations of exercises will be somewhat different.

There are basically two types of muscle fiber in the body and everyone has a combination of both. Slow twitch muscle fibers are for strength and endurance, so your long distance athletes such as marathon runners have more of these fibers. The other type of fiber is fast twitch fiber which is required for speed, agility and acceleration and sprinters, tennis and baseball players have more of these fibers.

Athletes trying to improve their speed and acceleration need to condition themselves to get more of this fast twitch response which basically means quicker muscle contractions. Techniques need to be rehearsed at slow speeds until they are perfected and then done at higher speeds until you can control the movements at maximum speed. It is important to remember that the improvement or development of speed is a complex process that is controlled by the brain and the body’s nervous system. This basically means that the brain and nervous systems have to learn to control these fast twitch movements efficiently so repetition of quality exercise and training methods is necessary to develop these mechanisms. Some people refer to this as muscle memory.

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