Monday, September 21, 2009


For serious skiers conditioning is an essential part of an overall ski training program. Not only will it allow athletes to perform at a superior level, it's an important preventative measure to protect joints and connective tissue from injury.

From a sporting perspective (as opposed to a leisure activity), skiing events can be broadly grouped into one of five categories:

•Cross country skiing

•Downhill or alpine skiing

•Freestyle skiing

•Nordic combined

•Ski jumping

Snowboarding, while obviously not skiing, is now an Olympic sport and is covered in this section of the website.

Each discipline places their own unique and specific demands on the body; elite freestyle skiers typically having a very different physiological profile compared to cross country skiers for example.

Cross Country Skiing

Elite cross country skiiers rank amongst the top endurance athletes in the world for aerobic power (VO2max). Aerobic capacity as well as onset of blood lactate accumulation can be used to predict success in this group of skiers.

Traditionally, endurance athletes and their coaches have opted for lower intensity and higher volume programs throughout the training year, with as little as 10% of training above the lactate threshold. However, it may be that a reduction in volume and an increase in high quality work can boost performance even in elite-level skiers. Even maximal strength training can improve work economy and overall performance if converted to muscular endurance.

Alpine Skiing

The fitness profiles of alpine skiers differs significantly to their cross country counterparts. A great reliance is placed on anaerobic metabolism - power, power endurance and muscular strength. Even though moderate to high values for aerobic power are recorded in elite downhill skiers, this may be due to their training rather than a direct result of competing. Alpine skiers must be able to react quickly to changes in terrain and the course outline requiring agility, balance and co-ordination.

Downhill skiing forces the athlete into a crouched position placing significant strain on the knees. Not surprisingly, elite skiers have strong legs when measured during isometric and isokinetic leg extensions. Leg strength is also a predictor in downhill and giant slalom events.

Altitude Training

Unquestionably, acclimatization to altitude improves performance at high levels but can altitude training improve an athlete's performance at sea-level?

The research is inconclusive. In theory, some adaptations that take place during prolonged exposure to the hypoxic conditions at 1500 m (4921 ft) or more above sea-level, should improve VO2 max and endurance performance at sea-level. Recall from the acclimatization to altitude article, that staying for a period of time at altitude increases the blood's oxygen carrying capacity.

However, maximal cardiac output is also decreased with exposure to altitude. Along with dehydration and a loss of lean muscle mass these detrimental effects may explain why living and training at altitude does not improve VO2 max or endurance performance on a return to sea-level.

Those few studies that have shown altitude training to have an ergogenic effect on sea-level performance are easy to criticize. Subjects have not usually reached a training peak so it becomes difficult to determine whether increases in aerobic power and / or endurance performance are the result of the adaptations to altitude or intensive training.

The major problem athletes living at altitude face is a significant reduction in training intensity. At 4000 m (13,122 ft) athletes can only exercise at 40% of their sea-level VO2 max compared to 80% at sea-level for example. Breathing hypoxic gases significantly reduces power output and this could lead to substantial detraining negating any of the ergogenic effects associated with acclimatization.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Hi Alex,

Anaerobic Endurance Training

Anaerobic endurance training will help players to recover more quickly from successive bursts of high intensity exercise. It is not uncommon for a player to have to sprint 20-30yards in order to defend an attack only, to turn and sprint in the opposite direction when counter-attacking. Soccer can be classed as high-intensity, intermittent exercise.

Successive sprints or high intensity work bouts, with little rest in between, quickly leads to an accumulation of lactic acid. When the muscles and blood become acidic, their function is severely hampered. The player must slow down to recover and the last thing they want in this scenario is to receive the ball!

With anaerobic endurance training, the ability to tolerate lactic acid is increased. In other words, it takes longer for lactic acid to accumulate in the blood and muscles and when it does, it can be cleared more rapidly allowing recovery to be that much quicker.

Sample ANaerobic Endurance Drill

Set out 5 cones 10 meters/yard apart. Starting on cone 1, jog to cone 4 then immediately sprint to cone 5. Turn and jog to cone 3 and then sprint to cone 1. Turn and jog to cone 2 and sprint to cone 5. Finally, turn immediately and sprint to cone 1. Rest for 60 seconds and repeat 3-5 times. This is one set. Complete 2-3 sets.

Soccer Endurance Training For Junior Players

Players that have not yet reached, or who are in the early stages of puberty should only complete aerobic endurance training. Intense, anaerobic drills are too demanding on young players, who have a limited capacity to produce and tolerate lactic acid.

In very young players (i.e. 6 – 10) endurance “drills” should be avoided altogether. Instead the conditioning effect should come from endurance-based games that can easily be incorporated into a coaching session.

Soccer Endurance Training For Youth Players

As young soccer players mature, they are naturally able to cope with more demanding training. Aerobic versus anaerobic conditioning should still be emphasized, however some more demanding interval training drills can be added into a players program.

Interval training simply refers to breaking a low intensity drill up into several shorter intervals. Because a rest period is allowed between each interval, the overall intensity can increase. When you think about it, this is a lot like the nature of a soccer game.

Soccer Endurance Training For Mature Players

When players mature physically (usually between ages 16 – 21), their soccer endurance plan should be tailored to meet the precise demands of the game. Players should be completing much more interval training than steady-paced continuous training. They should also incorporate lots of anaerobic endurance drills to help them tolerate the build up of lactic acid.

At this level, endurance training should also be periodized. That simply means that over the course of a season there will be specific periods where aerobic endurance conditioning is emphasized, specific periods when anaerobic endurance conditioning is emphasized and periods of structured rest and recovery.

That’s it for parts 1 and 2. Next part is coming, where we will look at strength training for soccer.

Best wishes,

Phil Davies.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Soccer is perhaps the most demanding of all sports.

In the modern game (at any level) soccer training and conditioning is essential.

Few sports are played on as large a playing field, lasting as long and without regular rest periods.

Players cover 8-12km during a match, consisting of 24% walking, 36% jogging, 20% coursing, 11% sprinting, 7% moving backwards and 2% moving whilst in possession of the ball.

Soccer players posses excellent endurance with VO2max reported to range between 55 and 70 ml/kg/min in elite performers. The game is played at an average intensity close to the lactate threshold - approximately 80-90% of maximum heart rate.

How important is the correct type of endurance training in soccer?

The greater a player's aerobic capacity, the more ground they cover during a typical game. Additionally, improved endurance also increases the number of sprints completed in a game. By improving the VO2max of youth soccer players by 11% over an 8 week period, a 20% increase in total distance covered during competitive match play was manifested, along with a 23% increase in involvements with the ball and a 100% increase in the number of sprints performed by each player.

What about other forms of conditioning?

Strength training now plays a major role in soccer. However, simply lifting weights with the traditional "3 sets of 10 repetitions" approach is not an efficient way to spend training time. Soccer requires a balance of explosive power and muscular endurance. Some players may benefit from increasing their lean mass but even they should focus on converting much of their strength into soccer-specific power.

Strength training for soccer also helps to correct muscle imbalances. Soccer players in particualr are prone to developing overly strong quadriceps in relation to their hamstrings and a well-formed strength plan can address this and prevent future injury.

Few players (and coaches) outside of the professional game fully appreciate the impact that proper conditioning can have on performance. The effect can be truly incredible. There is quite rightly a heavy emphasis on technique and skill development at every level of the game, but skill can only be applied within the limits of player's physical capacity.

We've all seen those players who lack good technique yet still prove to be deadly effective. Often their speed and power is enough to outshine opponents and team mates who posses significantly greater talent. There is no substitute for correct technique. But the greater a player's soccer-specific fitness, the higher the level they can apply what skill they do have.

In bite-size sections, this mini course covers the most important elements of fitness in the game of soccer. Starting today with endurance training, it progresses through strength, power and speed training as well as testing soccer fitness and proper nutrition.

Part 1 - Soccer Endurance Training

Elite soccer players posses excellent endurance. Typical values for VO2max (the technical term for an individual's aerobic power) range between 55 and 70ml/kg/min. To give these figures some context, young, inactive individuals will typical have a VO2max of 40-50ml/kg/min. How important is soccer endurance trainingr?

Studies have shown that the greater a player's aerobic capacity, the more ground they cover during a typical game. Additionally, improved endurance also increases the number of sprints completed in a game. In one study, by improving the VO2max of youth soccer players by 11% over an 8 week period, a 20% increase in total distance covered during competitive match play was seen, along with a 23% increase in involvement with the ball and a 100% increase in the number of sprints performed by each player!

Soccer endurance training falls into one of 2 categories:
AEROBIC endurance conditioning
ANAEROBIC endurance conditioning

Aerobic Endurance Training

Aerobic endurance training improves the body’s ability to deliver and use oxygen. It will allow players to sustain an overall higher rate of work during the ninety minutes. They will also recover more quickly after repeated sprints and high intensity periods of play.

Sample Aerobic Endurance Drill

This drill is based on fartlek training, which is more specific to soccer and less monotonous than running laps of a soccer pitch:

Warm up with a steady jog for 10 minutes
Run hard for 3 minutes, jog slowly for 1 minute
Repeat 6-8 times
Cool down at a steady pace for 10 minutes

Monday, August 24, 2009


Hi, Alex
Yesterday, I saw something on TV that got me so pissed off...

This narcissistic nut was ranting about how rape victims are "weak" for letting themselves be defeated when they are attacked.

Now, any SANE person has to accept that this is complete bullcrap.

But sadly, and I'm sure a lot of you reading this letter will know, martial arts and self defense is FULL of complete NUTS spouting garbage like this!

As part of my training, I teach people how to deal with insult and anger, and how to come the realization that anger is just another form of fear.

But I still cant help but get mad at people saying stuff like that, its just a big fat LIE.

Yes, these people are in fact lying to YOU and THEMSELVES, and not just because they are misinformed.

In an attack of any kind, you cant just SWITCH OFF your emotions. Especially attacks that have happened in the past, or bullying that happened, that's really going to leave a psychological mark on you.

The other reason these guys don't know what they are talking about is that during an attack, your mind AUTOMATICALLY blocks out the most traumatic parts. Its almost like having a safety valve on your memory, so the worst parts don't affect you.

You have probably heard somebody at some point say that you are WEAK, because you FREEZE or PANIC when somebody threatens or attacks you.

Its not weakness, it's a REFLEX.

The important thing about reflexes is they CANT BE CHANGED. Your body has natural reflexes that happen UNCONSCIOUSLY, so why should you try to retrain them? Don't forget that you need adrenaline, it's a powerful drug that your body controls, and it can save your life.

The reason why a lot of people FREEZE on the spot is because they are going into SHOCK. Their minds are trying to BLOCK OUT the traumatic experiences they have had, all those bad memories of intimidation, fear and even social rejection can surface in a self defense situation.

The key to beating the FREEZING and PANIC is to train at RANDOM. That doesn't mean your training partner attacks you when you walk down the street, but they might grab you at any time in any way with extreme force.

Now that might not give you the exact same SHOCK in a real fight, but that's not the point.

The point is you will be able to REVIEW what happened. You cant REVIEW a traumatic experience like rape, no matter what any of those morons say.
It just isn't practical. But you can review less traumatic experiences, like someone putting you in a head lock in a training situation, or swinging wild random punches
at you. As long as you don't tell them what attack is coming, and you start to remember your mistakes, its GOOD training.

But what ever you do, don't beat yourself up about the past. Especially when you hear those morons talking about how they would have dealt with it.
These people usually don't get out enough to even realize what trauma, intimidation or real violence is.

Stay safe,

Your buddy,

Al Steele

Friday, August 21, 2009


By Barbara Russi Sarnataro
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic-Feature. Reviewed by Louise Chang

The Basics: Build Muscle for Better Health. Strength training is about more than getting buff - all know how important cardiovascular exercise is -- how it's great for your heart, cholesterol, and blood pressure. And whether you choose to walk, bicycle, or jog, you know that any exercise that increases your heart rate helps you burn calories and melt away unwanted pounds.

But that's only half the equation.

For a balanced fitness program, strength training is essential. It can slow the muscle loss that comes with age, build the strength of your muscles and connective tissues, increase bone density, cut your risk of injury, and help ease arthritis pain.

"Strength training is very important, not just for your muscles but for your bones," says certified fitness trainer Debbie Siebers. "It's preventative for [bone-thinning] osteoporosis and other problems."

Studies from the CDC have found that muscle-building exercise can also improve balance, reduce the likelihood of falls, improve blood-sugar control, and improve sleep and mental health.

And let us not forget the weight-loss benefits. Not only does it make you look trimmer and shapelier, but building muscle also helps you burn calories -- even after your workout is done.

"Three to four hours after a strength-training workout, you're still burning calories," says Seibers, a creator of fitness videos including the "Slim in 6" series.

Strength training is especially important for dieters. When you lose weight, up to a quarter of the loss may come from muscle, which can slow your metabolism. Strength training helps you rebuild any muscle you lost by dieting -- or keep you from losing it in the first place.

Getting Started

So you're convinced of strength training's virtues. But just how do you go about getting started?

The weight room at the gym, with all the buff bodies and complicated-looking equipment, can be intimidating to a beginner. Indeed, for someone with back or joint pain, just picking up a weight might seem daunting. Then there's the issue of proper form: Without it, you could do more harm than good trying to build strength.

Your best bet when starting out, the experts say, is one-on-one help from a qualified fitness trainer -- whether it's a personal trainer you've hired, or an instructor at your gym. A trainer can address your personal goals and limitations and can help you with alignment and execution of each exercise.

"I can't tell you how many people I see with a knee injury because they were not taught correctly how to do a lunge or squat," says Sue Carver, physical therapist with A World of Difference Therapy Services in Little Rock, Ark.

Siebers also recommends checking out books, videos, and/or fitness- and health-related web sites for guidance on exercises and form.

Indeed, good technique, not heavy lifting, should be your primary goal in the beginning, Carver says.

Getting Started continued...

Siebers recommends using a heavy enough weight to feel resistance, but not strain or pain. Your individual body will determine just how much that is, and you should err on the light side at first; five pounds may not seem like a lot, but it's better to be conservative than suffer.

And how much should you work out? According to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, beginners should do at least two days per week of any type of strength-training exercise. Your workout should consist of 8 to 12 repetitions each of 8 to 10 different exercises working all the major muscle groups -- chest, back, shoulders, arms, abdominals, and legs. (A repetition is how many times you lift the weight, pull the rubber tubing, do a pushup, or whatever.)

Machines or Free Weights?

Both free weights and weight machines work well, and experts say there's no evidence that one is superior to the other, so this is largely a matter of choice.

Machines are a good idea for people who are overweight and/or out of condition, since the exercises are generally done seated and with back support, Seibers says.

But if machines are not an option, investing a few dollars in a set of light dumbbells and/or some resistance tubing can give you what you need to start toning those muscles.

Whichever option you choose, keep your moves basic at first, the experts say. For the arms and upper body, try these exercises:

Chest presses
Reverse flies for the back
Overhead presses for the shoulders
Bicep curls
Triceps kickbacks or extensions
For the lower body, don't start out with squats and lunges, which can put too much impact on weak joints.

Instead, try:
Quadriceps extensions for the front of the thigh.
Hamstrings curl for the back of the thigh.
Side-lying or standing leg lifts to work the inner and outer thigh.
And don't forget to work on strengthening your "core" muscles -- the ones in your abdominal and lower back area. Core stability is key to avoiding injury, according to Carver. "Somebody with strong upper extremities but no core stability can hurt themselves doing a bicep curl, for example, if they can't stabilize the trunk," she says.

You'll also avoid injuries - and get the best results -- by varying your workouts. For example, if you work the biceps, back and legs one day, work the triceps, chest and shoulders the next time you train, Siebers says. Alternating between muscle groups gives the ones you worked plenty of time to recover.

Incorporating stretching in your strength program will also help keep injuries at bay, says Carver. Most important, don't push too hard. Carver always cautions people that "feeling some discomfort in the muscle is OK, but feeling it in the joint is not."

If you have a health condition or previous injury, you may need to do modified versions of certain exercises or skip them altogether, she says. That's when it's especially important to work with a fitness trainer.

Staying With the Program

Success comes from structure and constant support, according to Siebers. "Calendar it up," she suggests: Chart your week of exercise out in advance so you know exactly what you're expecting of yourself.

Having a friend to train with is one of the best ways to stick to a program, Siebers says, even if he or she is a cyber-pal.

"Internet chat rooms and support groups really help to motivate," she says. "There are a million people out there in your same situation getting online every night and encouraging each other. People need that day-to-day hand-holding."

But perhaps the most important things you need for a successful strength training program -- or for successful weight loss -- are patience and acceptance, she says.

"The problem is, people look too far down the road trying to see the big picture too quickly," she says. "You have to try to accept and love yourself today and know that each day, you're going to get better."

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