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NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL
PTJ 12.4
AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2013 | CORE TRAINING
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL
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NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 2
PTJ 12.4
TABLE OF CONTENTS
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 3
FEATURES
COLUMNS
TRAINING TABLE
DO ATHLETES NEED BREAKFAST?
DEBRA WEIN, MS, RD, LDN, NSCA-CPT,*D AND ABBY CALCUTT, MS, MPH, RD
This article delves into several studies that closely examine the physical and mental effects that eating breakfast can have
on athletes. Research has shown that those who eat breakfast have increased energy levels as well as increased mental
alertness—both of which are paramount for athletic competition. This article also provides healthy breakfast ideas and gives
nutritional recommendations for endurance and strength-related sports.
35
PERSONAL TRAINING FOR PERFORMANCE
CORE TRAINING: INCORPORATING CIRCUITS
CHAT WILLIAMS, MS, CSCS,*D, CSPS, NSCA-CPT,*D, FNSCA
A great way to strengthen the core is to use circuits that incorporate multiple modalities, different intensities, and several
planes of motion. This article presents three different circuits: the around the world medicine ball circuit, the ab wheel
medicine ball circuit, and the multiple exercise circuit. It also provides volume, repetition, and weight progressions.
LIMITATIONS OF GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEMS ON THE TRAINING
AND TESTING EFFECTS OF CYCLING
CHRISTOPHER MYERS, MS, TSAC-F, USA CYCLING LEVEL 2 COACH, USA SWIMMING LEVEL 2 COACH
By using both global positioning system (GPS) technology and related analysis software in tandem, a cyclist can greatly
improve their training by tracking their relative VO2, respiratory expiration ratio, heart rate, elevation, distance, and speed.
This article will provide insight for utilizing this technology to improve training.
20
LOW BACK SPARING TORSO TRAINING
TAI TRAN, MS, CSCS,*D, AND JEREMY SHEPPARD, PHD, CSCS,*D
Low back sparing exercises are an important tool for personal trainers and coaches to be able to incorporate into their
programs—not just for those who suffer from low back pain, but also to stabilize the torso of any athlete or client. This
article shows how to implement training exercises into a program that will not strain the low back or spine.
14
HOW TO TRAIN THE CORE: SPECIFIC TO SPORTS MOVEMENTS
TRAVIS BROWN, MS, CSCS,*D
This article provides insights into the different movements that each sport requires and includes various ways to train these
movements. Incorporating multiplanar and multidirectional movements that utilize the three major force lines and vary
between unilateral and bilateral stances can help athletes develop a balanced and strong core. This article shows several
useful exercises that can be integrated into any athlete’s strength and conditioning program to help them perform at their
highest level.
04
28
YOUTH ATHLETIC DEVELOPMENT
CORE TRAINING FOR YOUTH
RICK HOWARD, MED, CSCS,*D, USAW
When it comes to training the core for youth, many decisions must be made to avoid injury and to select the appropriate
exercises that will benefit youth populations the most. Evidence suggests that integrating core training into a complete
strength and conditioning program may help youth develop motor skill competence, health fitness, and skills fitness.
38
FEATURE ARTICLE
4
HOW TO TRAIN THE CORE:
SPECIFIC TO SPORTS
MOVEMENTS
TRAVIS BROWN, MS, CSCS,*D
When training an athlete’s core, the training should mimic real life
sport movements. The core should be trained in multiplanar and
multidirectional movements, using unilateral and bilateral stances
and various force lines. Training should incorporate the various planes of motion
(frontal, sagittal, and transverse) with the athlete in a combination of unilateral
and bilateral stances. The sports performance coach should also be able to provide
equipment and training methods that utilize the three major force lines: horizontal,
vertical, and diagonal. This article will provide several examples of exercises that
can be used to train those types of movements, planes, stances, and force lines.
When looking at human movement in all sports, movements usually involve pulling
(e.g., judo athlete), pushing (e.g., lineman in football), locomotion (e.g., baseball
player stealing a base), rotation (e.g., tennis forehand), level change (e.g., MMA
fighter tossing his opponent), or complexity, which is any combination of those
movements (e.g., linebacker in football shedding a block and making a tackle).
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 5
FEATURE ARTICLE HOW TO TRAIN THE CORE:
SPECIFIC TO SPORTS MOVEMENTS
However, when looking at training those movements, are those
movements incorporated in training? Integrated movement is
the key. Sports performance coaches should provide athletes the
ability to train with integrated movements and have the option to
train using a combination of these movements. Training athletes
in only one plane of motion robs them of their ability to perform
at their highest level; as well as puts them at a greater risk for
injury, due to the underdevelopment of less utilized muscles in
the body. Training the core musculature in the various planes,
stances, and force lines to match the demands of a given sport
may help improve overall performance when utilized in addition to
traditional training methods.
Many of the traditional training methods that are seen today do
not utilize multiplanar movements. The most popular training
methods (i.e., power lifting, Olympic lifting, CrossFit training,
bodybuilding, etc.) tend to work primarily in the sagittal plane.
Very few, if any, movements work in the transverse or frontal
planes. A majority of the exercises in these training methods fail
to incorporate multiplanar movement, which is a combination of
frontal, sagittal, and transverse planes of motion. It does not mean
that it is wrong to utilize these popular training methods to train
athletes, though. The question coaches should ask themselves
is whether there are better ways to incorporate sport-specific
movements that athletes will perform on the field of play.
Sport-specific movements are performed from a combination of
unilateral and bilateral stances. For simplicity, a unilateral stance
can be defined as a stance in which only one foot is in contact
with the ground, and a bilateral stance is one that both feet are
in contact with the ground. From the basketball player trying to
make a layup (unilateral jump) to a football lineman resisting and
pushing back against the drive of a defensive tackle (bilateral
push), these movements are commonplace across all sports.
When training athletes with traditional methods, a majority of
the movements will work in a bilateral stance, with little or no
unilateral stance. It would benefit the athlete to work in both
stances to help improve their core and performance on the field.
It would also benefit the athlete to perform an exercise where
they move the weight to the ball of the foot versus a square
stance, which occurs more in traditional training. Research has
shown that unilateral snatch lifts are just as effective as bilateral
snatch lifts (1). Olympic lifting (bilateral stances) can provide
muscular activation on a large scale, but that form of training
may not develop general athletic power optimally. Once again,
this does not mean that it is wrong to use this form of training to
train athletes, but it raises the question, “are there better ways
to incorporate sport-specific movements in training so that the
athletes will see improved core development and performance on
the field?”
The core can be broken down into several categories (2):
The Superficial Front Line core muscles and fascia are
primarily in the frontal line of the body. They can be
challenged by pushing, squatting, and locomotion. Most
of these exercises are generally performed in the prone
position. An example is the Bilateral Prone Push-Up
(Figures 20 and 21).
The Spiral Line core muscles and fascia perform transverse
plane movements. They can be worked using rotational
types of exercises. A great example is the Bilateral
Rotational Push-Up (Figures 22 and 23).
The Superficial Back Line core muscles and fascia are
primarily muscles that work in the sagittal plane. They can
be challenged using a supine position. An example would
be the Single-Arm Alternating Overhead Press (Figures 14
and 15).
The Lateral Line core muscles and fascia are the muscles
that are frontal plane dominant. They can be stressed
by using side lying and staggered stance exercises. One
specific example would be the Bow and Arrow (Figures 24
and 25).
The key component to incorporating these various muscle and
fascia lines into a training regimen is to remember that muscles
are interconnected with multiple connective tissue sheaths, which
act as elastic bands. This amplifies the force that is produced
through muscle contractions. A great example of this is to put
your hand on your chest. Now, try to raise your middle finger and
thump your chest as hard as possible. That did not produce much
power, right? Now, take that same finger and pull it back with
your other hand and release. It should snap to your chest with
power. This is great example of converting potential energy into
kinetic energy. Another way to portray this is to imagine stretching
a rubber band out, hold it, and then release it. Now, stretch the
rubber band out quickly and release it. You will notice that when
you stretch the rubber band out and quickly release it, that it
covers more distance.
Many exercises, pieces of equipment, and movements are available
to the sports performance coach to help cover a majority of planes
of motions, stances, force lines, and human movements in training.
The following are several exercises that can be integrated into any
program to help develop the core and overall sports performance.
The following list serves as a guide for exercises that require
movements through the various planes, stances, and force lines
utilizing suspension training straps and anchored, ground-based
apparatuses with an assortment of attachments.
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 6
FEATURE ARTICLE HOW TO TRAIN THE CORE:
SPECIFIC TO SPORTS MOVEMENTS
The first exercise is the Squat to Press (Figures 1 and 2) using
clean and jerk attachments on an anchored, ground-based
apparatus. This exercise encompasses a diagonal load, pushing,
level change, sagittal plane movement, and a bilateral stance.
The next exercise is the Lineman Squat (Figures 3 and 4). This
exercise uses a similar attachment as the squat to press but
the load should remain at shoulder level. This exercise utilizes a
diagonal load, pushing, level change, a sagittal plane movement,
and a bilateral stance.
The Suitcase Carry (Figures 5 and 6) uses the anchored, ground-
based apparatus with a barbell. This exercise encompasses a
diagonal vector line, pulling, a frontal plane movement, and a
bilateral staggered stance position.
The Single-Arm Wheelbarrow (Figures 7 and 8) uses the anchored,
ground-based apparatus with a barbell but the athlete faces the
base. This exercise involves a diagonal load, pulling, rotation,
transverse and frontal plane movements, and a bilateral staggered
stance position.
The Bear Fight (Figures 9 and 10) uses the anchored, ground-
based apparatus with a barbell equipped with an ergonomic
handle grip. This exercise involves a diagonal vector line, pulling,
rotation, with transverse and frontal plane movements, using a
bilateral staggered stance position.
The Upper Cut (Figures 11 and 12) uses the anchored, ground-
based apparatus with a barbell equipped with an ergonomic
handle grip. This exercise involves a diagonal vector line,
pulling, pushing, and rotation, with transverse and frontal plane
movements, using a bilateral staggered stance position.
The Single-Arm Lateral Pull (Figure 13) uses the anchored, ground-
based apparatus with a barbell equipped with an ergonomic
handle grip. This exercise involves a diagonal vector line, pulling,
rotation, with transverse and sagittal plane movements, using a
bilateral staggered stance position.
The Single-Arm Alternating Overhead Press (Figures 14 and
15) uses the anchored, ground-based apparatus with a barbell
equipped with an ergonomic handle grip. This exercise involves a
diagonal vector line, pushing, rotation, with transverse and sagittal
plane movements, using a bilateral staggered stance position.
The Lateral Lunge (Figures 16 and 17) uses the anchored, ground-
based apparatus with a barbell rested across the chest (weight
plates can be included for added resistance). This exercise involves
a diagonal load, pushing, level change, sagittal and frontal plane
movements, and a bilateral staggered stance.
The Single-Leg RDL Ipsilateral (Figures 18 and 19) uses the
anchored, ground-based apparatus with a barbell equipped with
an ergonomic handle grip. This exercise involves a diagonal vector
line, pulling, rotation, frontal and transverse plane movements, and
a unilateral stance.
The Bilateral Prone Push-Up (Figures 20 and 21) uses a suspension
trainer. This exercise involves a diagonal vector line, pushing,
sagittal and transverse plane movements, and a bilateral stance.
The Bilateral Rotational Push-Up (Figures 22 and 23) uses a
suspension trainer. This exercise involves a diagonal vector line,
pushing, rotation, sagittal and transverse plane movements, and a
bilateral stance.
The Bow and Arrow (Figures 24 and 25) uses a suspension trainer.
This exercise involves a diagonal vector line, pulling, rotation,
frontal and transverse plane movements, using a bilateral stance.
Adding these exercises to a program can help ensure that the
athletes work various core muscle groups while performing
exercises through various planes. Additionally, these exercises are
beneficial because they require the athletes to work in various
muscle groups with multiplanar and multidirectional movements,
unilateral and bilateral stances, and various force lines, which are
all applicable to sport movements.
REFERENCES
1. Lauder, MA and Lake, JP. Biomechanical comparisons of
unilateral and bilateral power snatch lifts. Journal of Strength and
Conditioning Research 22(5): 653-660, 2008.
2. Myers, T. Anatomy trains: Dynamic education for body-minded
professionals. Kinesis Myofascial Integration. Retrieved July 1, 2013
from http://www.anatomytrains.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Travis Brown has led a career as a strength and conditioning coach
for over 14 years in Atlanta, GA and at the University of Tennessee,
Knoxville. He currently works for Pinnacle Athletics, which is a
sports performance company that trains professional, college,
and high school athletes. He has trained, or played next to, over
120 National Football League (NFL) starters, including dozens of
Pro Bowlers and 1st round NFL draft picks. Throughout his career
he has trained a number of athletes ranging from youth to elite
professionals, which include several Major League Baseball (MLB)
and National Basketball Association (NBA) athletes and two
Olympic Medal winners. Brown is currently working towards his
PurMotion Master Trainer certification and is a Certified Strength
and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) with Distinction through the
National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 7
Figure 1. Squat to Press Figure 2. Squat to Press - Finish
Figure 3. Lineman Squat Figure 4. Lineman Squat - Finish
FEATURE ARTICLE HOW TO TRAIN THE CORE:
SPECIFIC TO SPORTS MOVEMENTS
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 8
Figure 5. Suitcase Carry Figure 6. Suitcase Carry - Finish
Figure 7. Single-Arm Wheelbarrow Figure 8. Single-Arm Wheelbarrow -
Finish
FEATURE ARTICLE HOW TO TRAIN THE CORE:
SPECIFIC TO SPORTS MOVEMENTS
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 9
FEATURE ARTICLE HOW TO TRAIN THE CORE:
SPECIFIC TO SPORTS MOVEMENTS
Figure 9. Bear Fight Figure 10. Bear Fight - Finish
Figure 11. Upper Cut Figure 12. Upper Cut - Finish
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 10
FEATURE ARTICLE HOW TO TRAIN THE CORE:
SPECIFIC TO SPORTS MOVEMENTS
Figure 13. Single-Arm Lateral Pull Figure 14. Single-Arm Alternating
Overhead Press
Figure 15. Single-Arm Alternating
Overhead Press - Finish
Figure 16. Lateral Lunge
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 11
Figure 19. Single-Leg RDL Ipsilateral -
Finish Figure 20. Bilateral Prone Push-Up
FEATURE ARTICLE HOW TO TRAIN THE CORE:
SPECIFIC TO SPORTS MOVEMENTS
Figure 18. Single-Leg RDL Ipsilateral
Figure 17. Lateral Lunge - Finish
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 12
Figure 21. Bilateral Prone Push-Up -
Finish
Figure 22. Bilateral Rotational Push-Up
Figure 23. Bilateral Rotational Push-Up
- Finish
FEATURE ARTICLE HOW TO TRAIN THE CORE:
SPECIFIC TO SPORTS MOVEMENTS
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 13
Figure 25. Bow and Arrow - Finish
FEATURE ARTICLE HOW TO TRAIN THE CORE:
SPECIFIC TO SPORTS MOVEMENTS
Figure 24. Bow and Arrow
FEATURE ARTICLE
14
LOW BACK SPARING TORSO
TRAINING
TAI TRAN, MS, CSCS,*D, AND
JEREMY SHEPPARD, PHD, CSCS,*D
A
considerable focus for strength and conditioning specialists is the
training of “core” strength to prevent low back pain, or enhance athletic
performance. With this in mind, core exercises targeting the abdominal
musculature have been of great interest. For example, performing exercises on
unstable devices such as physioballs, balance boards, or air discs have emerged
as popular training methods to apparently strengthen the core, improve
balance, increase coordination, enhance athletic performance, or prevent injury.
While there is an increase in activation of the torso musculature with these
unstable training methods in some cases, this is not synonymous with force
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 15
FEATURE ARTICLE LOW BACK SPARING TORSO TRAINING
increases, nor does it indicate cause and effect with increasing the
effectiveness of training transference to sport. These devices likely
serve an effective purpose for the untrained population and in
particular for those rehabilitating from an injury (4). However, with
elite athletes, these devices may not be of major utility to develop
athletic performance as previous research has documented that
training using unstable surfaces can reduce the ability to produce
force and power output (1,3,6).
Most core exercises are synonymous with movements at the torso.
However, considering that in athletic settings the torso is often in
a stabilizing role (i.e., preventing motion), and that athletes often
have minor but regular bouts of non-specific low back discomfort,
there exists the need to have exercises that spare the spine. In this
context, exercises that spare the spine do not involve repeated
flexion, extension, lateral flexion, or rotation, but are still present,
difficult, and useful challenges for stabilization of the torso around
the limbs. For instance, “stir the pot,” lying resistance band
pullovers, variations of upper limb movement such as the Pallof
press, or asymmetrical carry challenges, involve stabilization of the
torso to a large degree, without any means of flexion, extension,
or rotation movement. Therefore, at times, exercise programs
may need to aim to minimize spinal shear and compression load
and realize that athletes can potentially benefit from stabilization
exercises where the torso is preventing flexion, extension, lateral
flexion, or rotation torque.
This article is not meant to disparage practitioners from using
exercises that involve active flexion and extension through the
spine, nor is it to suggest that major movements of the lower and
upper body (e.g., squat, deadlift, snatch, or clean and jerk) should
not be used. In fact, it is recommended to utilize and endorse
the major aforementioned lifts, as well as challenging torso
movements that involve large ranges of motion. However, when
low back pain is a concern and when developing stabilization is a
goal, these low back sparing exercises allow athletes to conduct
useful training. In other words, this article does not suggest
athletes with no limitations should place emphasis on low back
sparing exercises all the time. Moreover, when an athlete does
attend a training session with low back pain, exercises such as sit-
ups, V-ups, straight leg raises, sit-ups on a stability ball, or Russian
twists may not be suitable and alternatives should be substituted,
as these exercises increase shear and compressive load to the
spinal discs (2,7). The purpose of this article is to give exercise
options for when people are in need of sparing the low back while
strengthening the torso musculature in a stability role.
STIR THE POT
It is well documented that traditional sit-ups increase shear and
compressive spinal load to the lower back (2,7). In one U.S. Army
study comparing a traditional exercise program (targeting the
rectus abdominus, oblique, and hip flexor musculature) versus a
core stabilization exercise program (no sit-ups) it was discovered
that there were greater musculoskeletal injuries for the traditional
exercise program group compared to the core stabilization
exercise program group (5). In addition, it was reported that
the traditional group had higher work absentee rates compared
to the core stabilization group. Ergo, the possibility for greater
musculoskeletal injuries in the traditional group might be due to
an increased shear and compressive load (5). Therefore, selecting
non-repeated spinal flexion exercises such as stir the pot (Figure
1), may be more beneficial for those in need to spare the low back
(11). The athlete begins the exercise with the elbows and forearms
on a physioball while maintaining an aligned posture with their
feet on the ground. Start by bracing the torso and then move
the forearms in a clockwise circular motion without letting the
torso rotate or the hips rise. Repeat the movement in a counter
clockwise motion.
LYING RESISTANCE BAND PULLOVER
This exercise is similar to the end phase of a straight leg lift where
both legs are raised vertically with the hands over the head.
In a straight leg lift, the movement begins with both legs fully
extended on the floor then simultaneously raised to a vertical
position. The initiation of the leg raise will feel challenging
because the leverage is greatest when the legs are fully extended
at the bottom. However, this may be a disadvantage for those
with weak abdominal musculature because it may cause an
anterior tilt of the pelvis during the initial leg raise, which may
result in hyperextension of the lumber region and cause greater
compression load to the spine (8,12). As such, the strength
and conditioning specialist is cautioned to ensure the athlete
is conducting the exercise with proper form. An alternate
modification may be the lying resistance band pullover (Figures
2a-c) for those with existing low back pain or athletes aiming to
strengthen the torso without stressing the low back at all.
The benefit of this exercise is that both legs start vertically with
the hips flexed at 90 degrees, which reduces the leverage and
reduces the likelihood of anterior pelvic tilt and hyperextension of
the lumbar region. Furthermore, when each leg is raised separately
from the start position, the leverage force is reduced, which
potentially avoids hyperextension. In addition, with the opposite
leg extended at the bottom, it helps stabilize the pelvis. The
athlete begins the exercise by securing a resistance band around a
solid pole, or by having a partner stand behind the athlete holding
the resistance band. The athlete lies on their back with their legs
up, hips flexed at 90 degrees, and places a solid stick or wooden
dowel through the resistance band, if a band with handles is not
present. While bracing the torso, pull the band with both arms
toward the lower region of the abdominals. Hold the band below
the navel area while lowering one leg towards the floor with the
opposite leg staying vertical. Reverse the movement and repeat
with the opposite leg.
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 16
FEATURE ARTICLE
VARIATIONS OF PALLOF PRESS
It has been noted that no single abdominal exercise activates
all the abdominal musculature (8). Therefore, variations of torso
exercises such as anti-rotation (Figure 3), anti-lateral flexion
(Figure 4), anti-flexion (Figure 5), and anti-extension (Figure 6)
may be exercise variations that could challenge the abdominal
musculature with minimal torso movement. In a recent study,
McGill revealed significantly greater abdominal muscle activation
when performing cable walkouts with the arms fully extended
while bracing compared with when the arms were held close
to the body (9). This may be explained when the hands are
at the furthest point with an increased lever arm, as such,
lengthening produces rotational torque that must be countered
by anti-rotation torque. Similar results were demonstrated when
performing the overhead cable press (9). The difference between
these two exercises is that the athlete must counter the flexion
induced by the overhead press to avoid hyperextending the back.
For the anti-rotation variation (Figure 3), the athlete starts in an
upright position with the side of the body to the cable machine
while grasping the handle with both hands in front of the body.
The athlete should brace the torso and then press the handle away
from the body without letting the body rotate. For anti-lateral
flexion variation (Figure 4) the athlete starts in an upright position
with the side of the body to the cable machine. Adjust the angle
of the pulley to the highest height and grasp the handle with both
hands in front of the chest. The athlete should brace the torso and
press the handle directly upward while avoiding lateral flexion. For
the anti-flexion variation (Figure 5) the athlete starts in an upright
position facing away from the cable machine. After adjusting the
angle of the pulley to the highest height the athlete will grasp
the handle with both hands in front of the chest. The athlete
should brace the torso and then press the handle directly upward
to avoid torso flexion. The same movement is performed for the
anti-extension variation (Figure 6) but the athlete faces the cable
machine and strives to avoid torso extension once the handle is
pressed directly upward.
ASYMMETRICAL CARRY
Asymmetrical carry (also known as heavy load carry or “suitcase
carry”) may be incorporated in an exercise program to challenge
the lateral torso musculature. In a recent study investigating seven
strongman events, carrying an average mass of 36.9±8 kg with the
left hand demonstrated peak muscle activation for the right and
left rectus abdominis, right external oblique, right latissimus dorsi,
right biceps femoris, and right rectus femoris (10). In addition,
the right gluteus medius and gluteus maximus revealed peak
muscle activation during the initial step leading with the left leg.
The results may be explained in that holding the load on the left
side produces a lateral flexion stress; therefore, the musculature
on the right side of the body must counter by an anti-lateral
flexion to remain in an upright posture (similar results were
demonstrated during the asymmetrical carry with the right hand).
It is important to note the purpose of this exercise is torso stability
while developing muscular endurance. Therefore, carrying a heavy
load should not necessarily be the emphasis of this exercise at
all times, as moderate loads for extended steps/duration is likely
of particular utility. To perform this exercise, the athlete starts in
an upright position, and then walks while carrying a load (e.g.,
kettlebell, dumbbell, or barbell) in one hand without letting the
torso laterally flex (Figure 7).
SUMMARY
When prescribing exercises for those with existing low back pain,
practitioners should evaluate the athlete’s need and then select
appropriate exercises that stabilize the torso while minimizing
shear and compression load. The main focus of these low back
sparing exercises is stabilizing the torso while maintaining the
intensity; as they are not only for avoiding exacerbation of low
back pain, but also to adequately train stabilization in athletes. It
is important to note that increasing the stress of these exercises
is not necessarily done by simply increasing the resistance load;
changing the leverage and therefore relative force by adding
more repetitions may be the first and most suitable option for
progression.
LOW BACK SPARING TORSO TRAINING
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 17
FEATURE ARTICLE
REFERENCES
1. Anderson, K, and Behm, D. Maintenance of EMG activity and loss
of force output with instability. Journal of Strength Conditioning
Research 18(3): 637-40, 2004.
2. Axler, C, and McGill, S. Low back loads over a variety of
abdominal exercises: searching for the safest abdominal challenge.
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3. Behm, D, Anderson, K, and Curnew, R. Muscle force and
activation under stable and unstable conditions. Journal of
Strength Conditioning Research 16(3): 416-22, 2002.
4. Behm, D, Drinkwater, E, Willardson, J, and Cowley, P. Canadian
Society for Exercise Physiology position stand: The use of
instability to train the core in athletic and nonathletic conditioning.
Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism 35: 109-112, 2010.
5. Childs, J, et al. Effects of traditional sit-up training versus core
stabilization exercises on short-term musculoskeletal injuries in
U.S. Army soldiers: A cluster-randomized trial. Physical Therapy
90(10): 1404-1412, 2010.
6. McBride, J, Cormie, P, and Deane, R. Isometric squat force
output and muscle activity in stable and unstable conditions.
Journal of Strength Conditioning Research 20(4): 915-918, 2006.
7. McGill, S. The mechanics of torso flexion: sit-ups and standing
dynamic flexion maneuvers. Clinical Biomechanics 10(4): 184-192,
1995.
8. McGill, S. Low back stability: from formal description to issues
for performance and rehabilitation. Exercise and Sport Sciences
Reviews 29(1): 26-31, 2001.
9. McGill, S, Karpowicz, A, Fenwick, C, and Brown, S. Exercises
for the torso performed in a standing posture: Spine and hip
motion and motor patterns and spine load. Journal of Strength
Conditioning Research 23(2): 455-464, 2009.
10. McGill, S, McDermott, A, and Fenwick, C. Comparison of
different strongman events: Trunk muscle activation and lumbar
spine motion, load, and stiffness. Journal of Strength Conditioning
Research 23(4): 1148-1161, 2009.
11. McGill, S. Core Training: Evidence translating to better
performance and injury prevention. Strength Conditioning Journal
32(3): 33-46, 2010.
12. Norris, C. Abdominal muscle training in sport. British Journal of
Sports Medicine 27(1): 19-27, 1993.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tai Tran received his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from
California State University, Northridge and his Master’s degree from
California State University, Fullerton with an emphasis in Strength
and Conditioning. After completing his Master’s degree under
the mentorship of Dr. Lee Brown, he received an opportunity to
pursue his PhD at Edith Cowan University. In 2012, Tran relocated
to Australia to work alongside and under the advisement of Dr.
Jeremy Sheppard at the Hurley Surfing Australia High Performance
Centre in Casuarina Beach, New South Wales. His role under the
mentorship of Sheppard is the Lead Strength and Conditioning
Coach for the Development of Junior Pros Scholarship Surfers.
Jeremy Sheppard received his Bachelor’s degree in Human
Movement from Brandon University, Canada; his Master’s degree in
Sport Science from the University of Ballarat, Australia; and his PhD
with an emphasis in Strength and Conditioning from Edith Cowan
University, Western Australia. Sheppard is currently the Head of
Strength and Conditioning/Sport Science Manager for Hurley
Surfing Australia High Performance Centre in Casuarina Beach, New
South Wales. In addition, he is a Senior Lecturer with Edith Cowan
University in Perth, Western Australia.
LOW BACK SPARING TORSO TRAINING
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 18
Figure 1. Stir the Pot
Figure 3. Anti-Rotation Pallof Press
Figure 2a. Lying Resistance Band Pullover
Figure 4. Anti-Lateral Pallof Press
Figure 2b. Lying Resistance Band Pullover Figure 2c. Lying Resistance Band Pullover
FEATURE ARTICLE LOW BACK SPARING TORSO TRAINING
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 19
Figure 7. Asymmetrical Carry
Figure 5. Anti-Flexion Pallof Press Figure 6. Anti-Extension Pallof Press
FEATURE ARTICLE LOW BACK SPARING TORSO TRAINING
FEATURE ARTICLE
20
LIMITATIONS OF GLOBAL
POSITIONING SYSTEMS ON
THE TRAINING AND TESTING
EFFECTS OF CYCLING
CHRISTOPHER MYERS, MS, TSAC-F, USA CYCLING LEVEL 2
COACH, USA SWIMMING LEVEL 2 COACH
The introduction of global positioning system (GPS) technology has
increased the efficiency and detail of the metrics used for testing in
training for the sport of cycling. For elite cyclists, GPS provides data on
terrain, speed, and elevation to enhance power and heart rate data. However,
GPS data alone is a very weak source to use for testing and training metrics.
Combining this technology with other cycling metrics with the right analysis
software, the cyclist can predict his relative VO2 and respiratory expiration ratio
(RER) to improve training and subsequent performance.
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 21
FEATURE ARTICLE
Over the past twenty years, technology and cycling have merged
to make training and testing efficient from elite cyclists down to
the “weekend warrior.” This is specifically true for elite cyclists
since these types of cyclists rely on data collection and analysis
more than a typical person who occasionally rides a bike or
participates in the occasional race. Elite cyclists are those who
focus their training and testing to prepare for a specific race or
competition. This category includes the truly committed club
cyclist all the way to the professional. Within this category of
cyclists, the biggest emergence within the world of cycling is the
combination of power meters and GPS. The two technologies have
taken the guesswork out of how a cyclist trains and gives a clear,
objective picture. The usage of GPS as a stand-alone technology
limits the data a cyclist can use for training and testing; however,
when combined with other data it increases the amount of
information.
GPS units give a position through triangulation between three or
more satellites orbiting Earth. With these data points, GPS units
can calculate position, speed and elevation, which is pertinent
information for cyclists. GPS information allows the cyclist to
receive real-time data that will affect training instantaneously. GPS
technology can be broken down into two separate avenues of data
transmission; ANT+ and Bluetooth.
ANT+ is a wireless technology that allows several differing
devices to communicate with each other. Until recently, GPS units
developed for cycling primarily used ANT+ technology in order
to communicate with other devices. These types of GPS units are
stand-alone devices.
The implementation of Bluetooth technology has given GPS
devices a new level of interoperability. For instance, cyclists
using smartphones with Bluetooth capabilities have the ability
to download applications that can access the phone’s GPS
hardware and convert the smartphone into a cycling GPS unit
(3). Accessories, such as power meters and heart rate monitors,
transmit data via the Bluetooth pathway that can assist in giving
the cyclist the same real-time data picture as with ANT+ GPS
devices; however, the smartphone displays the data via Bluetooth.
No matter the type of GPS device used, the cyclist receives
the same information essentially. Since GPS shows the cyclist’s
instantaneous speed and distance traveled in real time, the cyclist
can use this data for developing and planning training, and for
competitions. This information allows the cyclist to calculate how
fast he or she completed a certain distance. Seeing improvements
in the time required to complete a predetermined distance is
an “old school” metric used to see improvement in fitness (7).
Speed is dependent on several variables; for instance, rolling
resistance of the tires, terrain, wind resistance, and fatigue are
some of the factors that affect speed (4). This metric was the
only measurement available to determine improvements in fitness
before the developments of heart rate monitors and power meters.
Without the power and heart rate accessory devices, GPS devices
provide very limited information.
The addition of heart rate monitors and power meters to GPS units
gives the cyclist a complete picture of performance and bio data.
Heart rate during exercise was the staple of biometrics for many
years. Measuring this data gave cyclists particular training zones
that focused training on developing specific energy systems. The
shortfall of heart rate data is two-fold. The main shortcoming
is due to cardiac drift, and the second is fatigue (5). Combining
these two phenomena by using heart rate as a metric of training,
in real time, was unreliable. In trying to find a more dependable
metric, researchers developed power meters.
The addition of power meters to the world of cycling
revolutionized how cyclists trained and tested. Power gives an
absolute value based on what the cyclist outputs during their ride.
This article is not going to go into detail on the types of power
meters, and how they calculate power; several books are currently
available such as, “Cutting Edge Cycling” and “The Time Crunched
Cyclist” that explain how to use power. Combining GPS with power
meters enhances the cyclist’s ability to see the complete picture of
their training and/or testing.
Most GPS units used today integrate power and heart rate with
GPS data. This compilation of data allows the cyclist to “see” their
performance during an entire race or during a certain section of
a training ride. As mentioned earlier, the GPS provides position,
elevation, and speed. Combining this with the individual’s power
measurement during a certain position, the cyclist can analyze
their performance. The development of this combination of data
has allowed for new protocols in cyclist testing and training.
GPS USAGE FOR TESTING
Before a cyclist can begin proper training, the cyclist must
perform a field test. The coaching method used determines the
field test protocol. A submaximal field test will allow the cyclist to
create a profile of personal strengths and weaknesses across the
different energy systems. Taking the profile, the cyclist can create
specific training zones in which to sustain strengths and improve
weaknesses. Using a GPS alone would not allow a cyclist to create
training zones; the cyclist would need to add heart rate or power
(1).
The addition of power enhances testing over just using GPS.
Under the limited metrics given with a GPS, the cyclist could
only measure how fast they could cover a predetermined
distance. Speed is very dependent on many variables in which
the cyclist cannot control. These variables can distort the speed
measurement and give the cyclist the wrong picture of their
performance as previously mentioned. For instance, a cyclist
performed a 10-km time trial in 20 min on a flat course in weather
that was clear and optimal. Then two weeks later, the cyclist
LIMITATIONS OF GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEMS ON
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NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 22
FEATURE ARTICLE
performed the same test on the same course in which he or she
had wind at their back. The cyclist rode the 10-km course in 18
min due to the “push” given by the wind. The increase in speed
was not due to increased performance but due to environmental
factors. Without this information, the cyclist is not seeing the
“true” picture of their performance. The cyclist needs a more
honest metric to make the correct analysis because power does
not measure speed and time.
The limited capabilities of GPS alone would hinder testing for
the cyclist in the previous example. However, the introduction of
heart rate and power can provide the cyclist all the information
necessary to perform optimal testing (7). Since the variables of
speed were not affected, this metric will give the cyclist a measure
of how much work was actually performed. Additionally, the heart
rate gives a good picture of the cyclist’s cardiac response to the
workload associated with the ride. With the data gleaned from the
GPS, power, and heart rate, and with the correct analysis of this
submaximal test, the cyclist can create the proper training zones
necessary to create effective training plans and workouts.
GPS USAGE FOR TRAINING
As stated previously, GPS technology will only give data for speed,
time, and distance. This data is very susceptible to error to the
variables that affect speed. An example of this would be if a cyclist
rode the same 40-km course every week for three months. The
first time riding the course took 3 hr to complete. Over time, the
cyclist saw a nearly consistent drop in his overall time to 2 hr and
50 min. Given the amount of data gathered over the 3-month
period and using the right statistical analysis, the cyclist would be
correct in thinking that he had improved his performance through
this training. This is safe to say because the same factors minimize
the variables that affect the speed. However, this is a very
“old school” way of training. Even though the cyclist is making
improvements in his physical condition, these improvements
are very limited and very time consuming. As with testing, the
introduction of power and heart rate enhances the ability to
improve physical condition more efficiently.
Assume the same cyclist wants to train for an upcoming time trial.
Before training, the cyclist performed a submaximal field test
with a power meter and determined that his average functional
threshold power (FTP) was 300 W. Since the goal is to train for
an event that will require a high steady-state output of power,
the cyclist can determine the power zone he needs to train based
on his current fitness level. To quantify this in realistic terms,
assume this cyclist uses Coggan’s power zones (1). Of the six
training zones, the cyclist knows he must be able to ride the entire
distance of the race between zones 3 and 4. With his FTP of 300
W from his submaximal field test, he calculates his training zones
for zones 3 and 4 to be 228 – 272 W and 273 – 317 W, respectively.
By concentrating within the specified power zones, the cyclist
in question will be able to train more effectively to increase his
efficiency at his current power level. This is an oversimplification of
creating a training plan from submaximal FTP, but it does illustrate
how much more objective power analysis can be compared to just
time and distance produced by the GPS.
Using power alone for training is a wonderful tool, however,
combining it with heart rate and GPS provides even more
information to improve training. Using the same data, the cyclist
can analyze particular portions of the ride in order to see what
affects performance the most.
Another aspect this technology gives a cyclist is the ability to
calculate other physiological factors. The foremost of these factors
is maximal oxygen uptake. According to the American College of
Sports Medicine (ACSM), the formula to calculate relative VO2 is as
follows (2):
Relative VO2 = [(10.8 x work rate)/mass] + 7
Where: W = watts
M = cyclist’s weight in kg
VO2 = mL/kg/min
The difference between the equations is how the wattage is
measured. The power from the submaximal field test is considered
a steady-state peak output. In addition to knowing the cyclist
weighs 75.9 kg (167 lb), the power output from the field test
concluded a FTP of 300 watts. Armed with this information, the
cyclist can calculate his relative VO2 for his submaximal field test.
The calculation would look like the following:
Relative VO2= [(10.8 x 300 W)/75.9] + 7
= 49.7 mL/kg/min
The cyclist can use this information to compare his physical
condition to other cyclists within his racing category. With this
comparison, he can determine if he needs to increase his relative
VO2 compared to his competition. This calculation tends to
overestimate, but it gives the cyclist a close approximation without
the expensive laboratory testing.
If an elite cyclist can afford to perform the expensive laboratory
testing, he or she is then able to leverage this GPS enabled
technology even more. Laboratory testing of VO2max and lactate
threshold assists in giving the cyclist’s true FTP. Additionally,
the cyclist can use this information to monitor nutritional needs.
Table 1 shows respiratory exchange ratios (RER) based on lactate
threshold (LT) testing with an open spirometer. A RER value of
1.0 indicates LT. Through performing this test in a laboratory, the
cyclist will know what wattage to ride at in order to reach LT.
Additionally, most LT testing protocols use ramp-testing protocols
that will give differing wattages at differing RER values. Once
again, let us use the previous cyclist as an example.
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FEATURE ARTICLE
The cyclist conducts a laboratory LT test and his results show he
reaches LT at 200 W while his FTP is 300 W. He knows that his
RER is equal to 1.0 at 200 W since this was the point he reached
his lactate threshold. Using Table 1, he can read that he is burning
roughly 5 calories per min and that he is using all carbohydrates
(CHO). Additionally, the LT test will tell him what other
percentages of the RER he rides. For instance, the cyclist’s LT gave
the following RER values:
RER WATTAGE CALORIES CONSUMED/MIN
.70 170 6.6 = 100% fats
.80 180 6.0 = 33% CHO / 66% fats
.90 190 5.4 = 67% CHO / 33% fats
1.0 200 5 = 100% CHO
1.0+ 200+ Moving to anaerobic
energy system
With this information, the cyclist can gauge how much he needs to
consume during a long time trial.
Think of this scenario: the cyclist is going to perform a fairly flat
40-km time trial. Since he has traversed the course before, he
knows he can ride the entire course at an average of 190 W at an
average speed of 40 km/hr. By gathering this information from
his power meter and GPS unit, he can gauge his nutritional needs
during the race. Since he knows his RER at 190 W is 0.90, he is
burning 5.4 calories/L of O2 (8). This level of work rate requires
the cyclist to breathe 2 L of O2/min. This rate means he is burning
10.8 calories/min; of these 10.8 calories, 7.2 calories come from
CHO and 3.6 calories come from fats. The cyclist’s average speed
of 40 km/hr will take him about 60 min to complete the race;
thus, he will burn about 648 calories; and of the 648 calories, 427
calories will come from CHO and 213 calories will come from fats
(9). Armed with this information, the cyclist knows how much CHO
he needs to drink or eat during the race in order to support peak
performance.
As stated before, laboratory testing is expensive, yet LT can be
estimated without the lab. In untrained people, LT occurs generally
at 50 – 60% of VO2max (9). So, let us say our cyclist did not have
the money to perform the aforementioned laboratory testing.
Instead, he performed a 20-min submaximal FTP field test with his
power meter and GPS. From this test, he estimated FTP was 300
W and he calculated his relative VO2 at 49.7 mL/kg/min. With this
information, he can estimate his LT. Upon estimating his LT, he can
have a general idea on the amount of calories he is burning during
a ride at certain wattages.
GPS SOFTWARE TO ANALYZE DATA
The measuring of power in combination with GPS measurements
is useless without the proper analysis software. Using the right
analysis software leverages the powerful capability of applying the
power measurement with GPS. Several different types of software
exist; however, they all provide the same type of analysis of the
data. The software organizes the data in a descriptive format for
easy analysis. For example, Figures 1 and 2 show two different
layouts of cycling workouts with measurements of GPS and power.
Figure 3 demonstrates the power of using the software to zoom in
on a particular portion of the data file to analyze a certain section
of the ride.
Let’s revisit our previous cyclist. He performed a “sweet-spot”
workout (1). Essentially, the cyclist rode a predetermined interval
period at 88 – 92% of his FTP (Figure 4 depicts the workout).
During the first interval, he can see his power range was
significantly lower than his predicted range; he only produced an
average power of 226 W over the 18-min interval. Additionally,
his average wattage for the second interval was only 218 W and
he can see he is significantly below his targeted power range.
Using the same data, he can analyze the effects of elevation
change on his power output (Figure 4 shows how his power spikes
during even the smallest of elevation changes). Additionally,
he was unable to keep the wattage level in the targeted power
zone during the descents in the terrain. Several conclusions can
be made from this basic analysis of this one workout. The best
conclusion is that fatigue affected the cyclist as he may not have
fully recovered from previous workouts. This explains why he was
unable to reach the targeted power zones, and why his power
was not as consistent during the changes in elevation. With this
analysis and conclusion, the cyclist can better plan his workouts
to allow for recovery in order to get the maximum benefit of his
training.
APPLICATION FOR COACHES AND ATHLETES
With the improvements in GPS technology, a cyclist no longer
needs to buy a stand-alone GPS unit. With the proper software, a
cyclist can use a smartphone to combine GPS with power analysis
to further determine their weaknesses and make improvements to
their training. For instance, the cyclist can determine whether or
not they are producing the power numbers on certain hill climbs
to stay with other riders during a race. If he or she is weak in this
area, using the training zones determined in the field test and
similar terrain to the race can help improve climbing power and
skills. Power data alone will not show this picture.
Additionally, the cyclist can use the relative VO2 and RER
metabolics to predict overall performance and nutritional
requirements without expensive laboratory testing. The prediction
for nutritional requirements is as, if not more than, important as
being able to see a cyclist’s weakness on certain areas of terrain.
Most cyclists do not ingest enough CHO and electrolytes during
a competition; with the RER metabolic calculations, cyclists can
predict the minimum nutrition requirements needed during a race
to avoid such deficiencies. Utilizing this information, the cyclist
LIMITATIONS OF GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEMS ON
THE TRAINING AND TESTING EFFECTS OF CYCLING
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 24
FEATURE ARTICLE
can strategize when and how much to eat and drink. Additionally,
the nutritional requirements do not end with competition. Elite
athletes train as they race. This means these cyclists know their
nutritional requirements during a training session, and use this
information to get the most from each training session.
SUMMARY
The introduction of the GPS to the world of cycling has greatly
affected the way elite cyclists test and train. This technology alone
does not add much benefit to training except for giving the cyclist
a map to where he or she is going, or where he or she has already
went. However, the combination of GPS with power analysis
greatly enhances the cyclist’s ability to train more efficiently.
These two metrics allow the cyclist to see how well he rides over
certain terrain, which adds a new level of data analysis. The cyclist
can work on these areas to increase physical fitness and efficiency.
Additionally, the right analysis software presents the data in a
format that allows the cyclist to make conclusions in order to
make the proper adjustments in training. Being able to see how
one performs on a portion of terrain speaks volumes. Finally, the
cyclist can be better equipped with proper nutrition by calculating
nutritional requirements to enhance performance. By using these
technologies, elite cyclists can train in ways that are the most
effective and efficient for their sport.
REFERENCES
1. Allen, H, and Cheung, S. Cutting-Edge Cycling. Champaign, IL:
Human Kinetics; 2012.
2. American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM’s Guidelines for
Exercise Testing and Prescription. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott,
Williams & Wilkins; 2009.
3. Bilton, N. Gadgetwise; Apps to get you moving, or offer
motivation. The New York Times, August, 2010.
4. Carmichael, C, and Rutberg, J. The Time Crunched Cyclist: Fit,
Fast, and Powerful in 6 Hours a Week. Boulder, CO: Velo Press;
2009.
5. Dawson, EA, Shave, R, George, K, Whyte, Ball, D, Gaze D
and Collinson, P. Cardiac drift during prolonged exercise with
echocardiographic evidence of reduced diastolic function of the
heart. European Journal of Applied Physiology 94: 305-309, 2005.
6. Dieting & Weight Loss – RER, Calories Burned and Fuel
Percentage. TheNutritionDr.com. 2011. Retrieved from http://www.
thenutritiondr.com/dieting-weight-loss-rer-calories-burned-fuel-
percentage.
7. Larsson, P. Global positioning system and sport specific training.
Sports Medicine, 33(15): 1093-1101, 2003.
8. Louis, J, Hausswirth, J, Bieuzen, F, and Brisswalter, J. Muscle
strength and metabolism in master athletes. International Journal
of Sports Medicine 30(10): 754-759, 2009.
9. Seidell, J, Muller, D, Sorkin, J, and Andres, R. Fasting respiratory
exchange ratio and resting metabolic rate as predictors of weight
gain: The Baltimore longitudinal study on aging. International
Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders 16(9): 667-674,
1992.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Myers is currently a Doctoral student at the Florida State
University Department of Nutrition, Food, and Exercise Sciences
studying Exercise Physiology. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree
from the United States Military Academy in 2004. After serving 10
years of active military service in the U.S. Army, Myers retired from
the Military Police Corps in 2011. He graduated from University of
Louisiana at Monroe in 2012 with a Master of Science Degree in
Clinical Exercise Science. Additionally, he is a USA Cycling Level 2
Coach and USA Swimming Level 2 Coach.
LIMITATIONS OF GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEMS ON
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NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 25
FEATURE ARTICLE
Figure 1. Sample Cycling Workout
This figure depicts a example of power (yellow line) plotted against the terrain traveled (orange
shaded area) during the training ride using a web-based analysis program. Additionally, the program
shows the route plotted with the GPS coordinates using Training Peaks analysis.
Figure 2. Sample Cycling Workout
This figure shows a cycling workout with power (yellow line) plotted against elevation change (orange
line) based off GPS coordinates collected during the ride. The program used for the analysis was a
desktop version of the Training Peaks analysis but this version did not have access to the Internet.
LIMITATIONS OF GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEMS ON
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FEATURE ARTICLE
Figure 3. Sample Portion of a Cycling Workout
The analysis software used here can zoom in to certain sections of the data. This sample graph is an
enhanced snapshot of a hill climbed during the ride at the 90-min mark. The cyclist can take a closer
look at their performance during the ride. The information gathered using Training Peaks analysis can
be used to quantify improvement or regression in fitness.
Figure 4. Example “Sweet-Spot” Workout
In this sample graph, the cyclist performed 2 x 18 min “sweet-spot” intervals at 88 – 92% of FTP (264
– 276 W). The program highlighted the two intervals in black. The yellow line depicts wattage, and the
orange line depicts elevation.
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NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 27
FEATURE ARTICLE
TABLE 1. THERMAL EQUIVALENT OF O2 AND CO2 FOR RER (6)
RER CALORIC VALUE
1 L O2
CALORIC VALUE
1 L CO2
CHO
(%)
FAT
(%)
0.707 4.686 6.629 0100.0
0.71 4.690 6.606 1.1 98.9
0.72 4.702 6.531 4.76 95.2
0.73 4.714 6.458 8.4 91.6
0.74 4.727 6.388 12.0 88.0
0.75 4.739 6.319 15.6 84.4
0.76 4.751 6.253 19.2 80.8
0.77 4.640 6.187 22.8 77. 2
0.78 4.776 6.123 26.3 73.7
0.79 4.788 6.062 29.9 70.1
0.80 4.801 6.001 33.4 66.6
0.81 4.813 5.942 36.9 63.1
0.82 4.825 5.884 40.3 59.7
0.83 4.838 5.829 43.8 56.2
0.84 4.850 5.774 47.2 52.8
0.85 4.862 5.721 50.7 49.3
0.86 4.875 5.669 54.1 45.9
0.87 4.887 5.617 57. 5 42.5
0.88 4.899 5.568 60.8 39.2
0.89 4.911 5.519 64.2 35.8
0.90 4.924 5.471 67. 5 32.5
0.91 4.936 5.424 70.8 29.2
0.92 4.948 5.378 74 .1 25.9
0.93 4.961 5.333 77. 4 22.6
0.94 4.973 5.290 80.7 19.3
0.95 4.985 5.247 84.0 16.0
0.96 4.998 5.205 8 7. 2 12.8
0.97 5.010 5.165 90.4 9.58
0.98 5.022 5.124 93.6 6.37
0.99 5.035 5.085 96.8 3.18
1.00 5.047 5.047 100 0
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Training the core or abdominal region of the body is an important
component to include in a strength and conditioning program.
This can be accomplished through several methods. The core may
be challenged when performing traditional exercises like the squat
or power clean, or the program routine can challenge the core by
including exercises that are specifically designed to train the core
region of the body. These will range from bodyweight crunches
on the floor, resistance machine exercises, medicine ball exercises,
and stability ball exercises. Core training should vary and be
challenged with multiple modalities, different intensities, and in
multiple planes of motion, which will target major areas of the
core (Table 1) (2).
Incorporating circuits with different movement patterns or
multiple pieces of equipment is an excellent way to keep
program ideas fresh, increase intensity, increase tempo, increase
volume, and keep the client engaged and motivated with fun
and challenging exercises. Improved balance, core stability, and
power through the hips and abdominal region are just a few of
the benefits that can be achieved by training the core (1). These
improvements can lead to a stronger and more stable individual
from head to toe, potentially decreasing the risk of injuries while
participating in activities that are physically challenging (1,2). Once
the individual has acclimated to multiple variations of an exercise
and has been instructed properly on several pieces of equipment
or modalities, these may be grouped together to develop circuits.
This grouping will increase the overall intensity and volume for
the exercise; combining multiple exercises using a medicine ball
is an excellent example of utilizing a core circuit while increasing
volume (Table 3).
The following are three examples of core circuits that can be
incorporated into a program:
AROUND THE WORLD (ATW):
MEDICINE BALL CIRCUIT
The ATW core circuit includes four different exercises: toss,
rotation left, rotation right, and a reverse toss. The trainer starts
out in front with the toss, then moves to either side for the
rotation, next behind the client for the reverse toss, and finally to
the other side to finish with rotations. The amount of repetitions
and medicine ball size will depend on the client’s fitness level. A
4-6 lb medicine ball and 2-5 repetitions per exercise is a good
place to start for most beginners.
Medicine Ball Ab Toss (Figures 1 and 2)
The client will start in a seated position with their legs
extended and slightly bent and their hands in front of the
face ready to receive the medicine ball. The trainer will
perform a chest pass aiming slightly above the head. The
client will catch the ball, go back and tap the ball to the
ground creating an eccentric load on the core. Then, quickly
and explosively return the ball following through with the
arms. The concentric toss back is done with one movement
with the hands over the head (it is not a sit-up followed by
a chest pass).
Seated Rotation: Left and Right (Figures 3 and 4)
The client will start in a seated position with their legs
extended and slightly bent with the trainer standing
perpendicular to their position. The trainer will toss the ball
to the client across their body. The client will extend their
arms to receive the ball, and rotate their torso to toss the
ball back explosively.
Reverse Medicine Ball Toss (Figures 9 and 10)
The client will start in a supine position with their legs
out in front slightly bent facing away from the trainer.
Simultaneously, the trainer will chest pass the ball towards
the middle of the body and the client will catch the ball
while sitting up, tap the ball to the ground, and return the
ball back to the trainer finishing in the start position.
AB WHEEL: MEDICINE BALL CIRCUIT
The Ab Wheel circuit includes seven exercises: toss, rotation left
and right, shoulder thrust left and right, chest press, and overhead
extension. The trainer will start the circuit with the Ab Toss out
in front of the client and move around quickly performing each
movement, each time coming back to the top to perform the Ab
Toss again (Table 2).
Medicine Ball Ab Toss (Figures 1 and 2)
Seated Rotation: Left and Right (Figures 3 and 4)
Seated Shoulder Thrust (Figures 5 and 6)
The trainer will stand at a 45-degree angle facing the client.
The client will be seated with legs out in front and slightly
bent. The trainer will toss the ball to the client across their
body. When the client receives the ball, they will rotate
following the ball with their eyes and explosively thrust the
ball back to the trainer. It is important for the client to keep
elbows up and thumbs down during the movement; this
exercise is intended to be a shoulder thrust not a rotation.
CORE TRAINING: INCORPORATING CIRCUITS
PERSONAL TRAINING FOR PERFORMANCE
CHAT WILLIAMS, MS, CSCS,*D, CSPS, NSCA-CPT,*D, FNSCA
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 29
Seated Chest Pass (Figure 7)
The trainer will stand directly above the seated client
holding their legs together. The client will lean back at a
45-degree angle. The trainer will toss the ball to the chest
and the client will then explosively perform a chest pass
back to the trainer.
Seated Overhead Toss (Figure 8)
The trainer will stand directly above the seated client
holding their legs together. The client will lean back at
a 45-degree angle. The trainer will toss the ball behind
the client’s head and the client will catch and return the
ball back to the trainer, performing a triceps extension
movement.
MULTIPLE EXERCISE CIRCUIT
The following core circuit will include four different pieces of
equipment and target multiple planes of motion. The first exercise
will use manual resistance and target the frontal plane, the second
will use suspension training to target the sagittal plane, the third
exercise will be a functional trainer chop in the transverse plane,
and the fourth will be a landmine rotation targeting the transverse
plane.
Manual Resistance: Overhead Reach (Figures 11 and 12)
The trainer will hold on to one end of the strap while
the client, with the handles directly over the head, will
lean over maintaining body position in the frontal plane.
Resistance should be applied to provide a challenge while
maintaining form and technique.
Suspension Training: Fallout (Figures 13 and 14)
The client will start in an upright position, chest out and
shoulders back, with the handles at waist level. With the
arms extended and elbows slightly bent, the client will
bring the handles in front of the face while flexing at the
shoulders. The client should keep the back flat and neutral,
and the hips straight. Do not let the hips cave or rise too
much. Finish with the hands above the head in a diagonal
line. Range of motion will be determined by the strength of
the core and the flexibility in the shoulders.
Functional Trainer Diagonal Chop (Figures 15 and 16)
The client will start with the handles slightly below the
waist on either side of the body; feet should be shoulder-
width apart and toes straight ahead. Next, the handles
should cross the hips and shoulders in a diagonal pattern,
and the client should follow the handles with their eyes
through the movement to maximize full range of motion.
Landmine Rotation (Figures 17, 18, and 19)
The client will start in an upright position holding the bar
out in front of the chest with arms extended. The client
should let the hips, knees, and ankles move freely and in
an arcing movement, and rotate the end of the bar to one
side while keeping the arms slightly bent at the elbows.
Repeat and rotate the end of the bar to the other side. The
client should follow the end of the bar with their eyes to
maximize rotation.
REFERENCES
1. Handzel, T. Core training for improved performance. NSCA’s
Performance Training Journal 2(6): 26-30, 2003.
2. Williams, C. Core training: Partner-based medicine ball training.
NSCA’s Performance Training Journal 10(5): 9-16, 2011.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chat Williams is the Supervisor for Norman Regional Health Club.
He is a past member of the National Strength and Conditioning
Association (NSCA) Board of Directors, NSCA State Director
Committee Chair, Midwest Regional Coordinator, and State Director
of Oklahoma (2004 State Director of the Year). He also served on
the NSCA Personal Trainer Special Interest Group (SIG) Executive
Council. He is the author of multiple training DVDs. He also runs his
own company, Oklahoma Strength and Conditioning Productions,
which offers personal training services, sports performance
for youth, metabolic testing, and educational conferences and
seminars for strength and conditioning professionals.
CORE TRAINING: INCORPORATING CIRCUITS
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 30
TABLE 1. PLANES OF MOTION AND BODY REGIONS (1)
PLANES OF MOTION
PLANE DESCRIPTION
Sagittal Decelerates lumbar extension during anterior motion of the pelvis when the foot hits the ground
Frontal Decelerates the drop of the pelvis when the foot hits the ground then accelerates the trunk helping the leg swing
through
Transverse Decelerates the hips and shoulders
BODY REGIONS
REGION MUSCLE GROUPS
Abdominals Internal and external obliques, transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus
Back Paraspinals, trapezius, psoas major, multifidus, erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, iliocostalis loborum and
thoracis, latissimus dorsi and serratus anterior
Hips
Obturator internus and externus, quadratus femoris, periformis, psoas, rectus femoris, sartorius, tensor facia latae,
pectineus, adductor brevis, magnus, and longus, gemellus superior and inferior, pectenius, gluteus maximus, medius,
and minimus, semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femorus
TABLE 2. SAMPLE AB WHEEL MEDICINE BALL CIRCUIT
ORDER EXERCISE REPS ORDER EXERCISE REPS
1Ab Toss 3 8 Shoulder Thrust
Left 3
2Rotation Right 3 9 Ab Toss 3
3Ab Toss 310 Isometric Chest
Press 3
4Rotation Left 311 Ab Toss 3
5Ab Toss 312 Isometric
Overhead 3
6Shoulder Thrust
Right 313 Ab Toss 3
7Ab Toss 3 Total Repetitions: 39
TABLE 3. SAMPLE CORE CIRCUIT PROGRESSIVE VOLUMES
MEDICINE BALL WEIGHT REPETITIONS PER
EXERCISE TOTAL REPETITIONS TOTAL VOLUME
6 lb
3 x 13 39 234 lb
4 x 13 52 312 lb
5 x 13 65 390 lb
8 lb
3 x 13 39 312 lb
4 x 13 52 416 lb
5 x 13 65 520 lb
10 lb
3 x 13 39 390 lb
4 x 13 52 520 lb
5 x 13 65 650 lb
CORE TRAINING: INCORPORATING CIRCUITS
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 31
Figure 3. Seated Rotation - Right Figure 4. Seated Rotation - Left
Figure 5. Seated Shoulder Thrust - Right
Figure 1. Medicine Ball Ab Toss - Catch Figure 2. Medicine Ball Ab Toss - Return
Figure 6. Seated Shoulder Thrust - Left
CORE TRAINING: INCORPORATING CIRCUITS
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 32
Figure 12. Manual Resistance Overhead Reach - Finish
Figure 7. Seated Chest Pass Figure 8. Seated Overhead Toss
Figure 9. Reverse Medicine Ball Toss - Catch Figure 10. Reverse Medicine Ball Toss - Return
Figure 11. Manual Resistance Overhead Reach - Start
CORE TRAINING: INCORPORATING CIRCUITS
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 33
Figure 15. Functional Trainer Diagonal Chop - Start
Figure 13. Suspension Training Fallout - Start
Figure 16. Functional Trainer Diagonal Chop - Finish
Figure 14. Suspension Training Fallout - Finish
CORE TRAINING: INCORPORATING CIRCUITS
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 34
Figure 18. Landmine Rotation - Left
Figure 19. Landmine Rotation - Right
Figure 17. Landmine Rotation - Start
CORE TRAINING: INCORPORATING CIRCUITS
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 35
TRENDS IN BREAKFAST CONSUMPTION
For years, health and nutrition experts have reported the benefits
of breakfast. Also, breakfast earned the title as the “most
important meal of the day.” A growing body of evidence supports
eating breakfast to boost academic performance including
improved test scores, cognition, and behavior (1,2,6,7). Limited
studies have investigated the benefits of breakfast on the larger
U.S. population. However, for athletes and individuals striving
to reach optimal physical performance, an adequate breakfast
can provide many advantages. Despite the evidence-supported
benefits, the trend for the general U.S. population to skip breakfast
has increased over the last four decades. According to the
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES),
since 1971 breakfast consumption has decreased from nearly 90%
to 84% for adults, and more drastically for the 20-29 year-old age
group (9).
BREAKFAST AND SPORTS PERFORMANCE
Many organizations affiliated with elite athletes encourage
consistent breakfast consumption. The Sport Performance Division
(SPD) of the U.S. Olympic Committee continues to support
breakfast consumption to promote improved athletic performance.
The dietitians working with Olympic athletes released materials
that endorsed breakfast for many reasons. In particular, the SPD
noted the positive correlation between breakfast eaters and
increased strength and endurance (10).
WHY IS BREAKFAST IMPORTANT FOR SPORTS
PERFORMANCE?
After an 8-12 hour break from your last meal or snack, the first
meal of that day can do just what the name states—“break” the
“fast.” A breadth of research indicates that consuming breakfast
helps adults and children meet nutritional recommendations.
Regular breakfast consumption boosts the likelihood of meeting
the daily nutritional recommendations of several vitamins and
minerals (3). The three main meals typically provide a majority
of the carbohydrates required daily. Many breakfast foods (e.g.,
ready-to-eat cereals, oatmeal, and whole-grain cereals) provide
important nutrients including calcium, folate, and protein—some
through fortification. Selecting these foods along with other
typical foods including fat-free milk, low-fat milk products,
fruit, and 100 percent fruit juice from the Dietary Guidelines for
Americans “food groups to encourage” list promote meeting the
daily nutrient recommendations.
CONSIDERATIONS WHEN PLANNING BREAKFAST
Following a night of sleep, an athlete, just like the average person,
needs to refuel with fluids and food. Protein from breakfast
consumption can encourage muscle repair, maintenance, and
anabolism. Simple and complex sources of carbohydrates can
provide energy in two ways. Foods such as fruit, fruit juice, milk,
and ready-to-eat cereal with optimal fiber content to increase the
level of glucose—the sugar that circulates in the blood to provide
immediate energy to cells and the brain (8). The second metabolic
process utilizes carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores—the
packaged carbohydrate synthesized in the liver and stored in
the liver and muscles. In addition to providing energy, complex
carbohydrates contain fiber that slows digestion to sustain energy
for a longer time, which is beneficial for a lengthy training session.
The typical rate of digestion to restore muscle and liver glycogen
levels varies, but it usually takes 3 – 4 hr for the body to digest
and store carbohydrates as liver and muscle glycogen. Ideally, a
meal should be ingested with enough time for digestion before
exercise (5). However, for athletes who train in the afternoon,
breakfast is the most important meal to replenish muscle and
liver glycogen stores. For athletes with early training sessions,
research indicates that consuming a lighter snack 30 – 60 min
before exercise that contains carbohydrates and protein (e.g., 50
g of carbohydrate and 5 – 10 g of protein) increases carbohydrate
availability during the final stretch of an intense exercise bout
when it may be needed most (5).
Needs may also vary based on the conditions in which the exercise
is performed (weather) and preferred muscle type (slow vs. fast
twitch fibers). For example, the needs of a cross-country skier may
be higher than the needs of a downhill ski jumper. Cross-country
skiing is a vigorous endurance sport that forces the athlete to
maintain the core temperature throughout an exercise session. In
ski jumping, a slender physique makes an athlete aerodynamic
during the shorter events that require fast twitch muscle fibers.
The breaks between events for these athletes usually take place
in cold conditions, promoting energy loss from shivering and
consequently playing a factor in energy needs. In strength and
power sports, elite and highly competitive athletes generally
consume a larger percentage of energy from protein sources (8).
TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT BREAKFAST?
Research is ongoing with regard to meal timing and composition
to improve sports performance. Nutrition experts and current
research collectively report benefits in sports performance in
a variety of ways for breakfast eaters. In addition to increasing
energy levels, eating breakfast is correlated with increased mental
acuity and alertness that can add benefits on the field (10).
Therefore, breakfast consumption is recommended for athletes;
however, meal size may vary based on the time of exercise, an
individual’s needs, and the type of exercise performed. Table 1
provides breakfast suggestions for athletes based on weight,
exercise type, and timing when personalizing a meal plan.
DO ATHLETES NEED BREAKFAST?
TRAINING TABLE
DEBRA WEIN, MS, RD, LDN, NSCA-CPT,*D AND
ABBY CALCUTT, MS, MPH, RD
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 36
TABLE 1. NUTRITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS BASED ON CURRENT RESEARCH AND THE NUTRITION REVIEW PUBLISHED BY THE
INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF SPORTS NUTRITION (4,5,8)
NUTRITION RECOMMENDATIONS BASED ON TYPE OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
SPORT
[e.g., 2-3 hr per day
of intense exercise
performed 5-6 times/
week]
ENDURANCE
(Running, biking, cross-country
skiing)
STRENGTH
(Gymnastics, wrestling, sprinting, bodybuilding)
Macronutrient breakdown
(recommended ranges)
CHO: 60-65%
PRO: 18-25%
Fat: 25-35%
CHO: 55-60%
PRO: 20-30%
Fat: 25-35%
Pre-event breakfast (4-6 hr prior to event or training session)
50 kg athlete
Kcal: 2500-4000
4 slices whole wheat toast, 3 tbsp
natural peanut butter, 1 medium
banana
1 cup cereal, 1 cup low-fat milk
½ cup orange juice
4 slices whole wheat toast, 3 tbsp natural peanut butter, 1 medium
banana, 1 egg scrambled
½ cup cereal (Cheerios), 1 cup low-fat milk
½ cup orange juice
70 kg athlete
Kcal: 3500-5600
4 slices whole wheat toast, 3 tbsp
natural peanut butter, 1 medium
banana, 1 egg scrambled
1 cup oatmeal, ¼ cup raisins, 1 cup
low-fat milk, ½ cup orange juice
4 slices whole wheat toast, 3 tbsp natural peanut butter, 1 medium
banana, 2 eggs scrambled
1 cup oatmeal, ¼ cup raisins, 1 cup low-fat milk
½ cup orange juice
If less than 1 hr until exercise, try a light breakfast with 50 g CHO and 5-10 g PRO
1 slice whole wheat toast, 1 spray
canola oil, a dash of herbs
1 egg scrambled
1 medium orange, ½ banana
DO ATHLETES NEED BREAKFAST?
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 37
OTHER BREAKFAST IDEAS TO CONSIDER:
Oatmeal made with milk, dried fruits, and nuts
Whole-grain cereal with fruit and 8 oz of milk or yogurt
One egg and two pieces whole grain toast with fruit
Smoothie made with milk/yogurt, fruit, honey, oats, ground
flax, peanut butter, etc.
English muffin topped with an egg, melted cheese, and
tomatoes
Small omelet made with vegetables and a piece of whole
grain toast
TAKE THE BREAK TO SEE THE BOOST
For athletes, the body of evidence that supports consuming
breakfast to improve sports performance is growing (10).
Consider taking the break for the first meal of the day
research indicates it may boost performance and improve
strength and endurance (10).
REFERENCES
1. Alaimo, K, Olson, CM, and Frongillo, EA Jr. Food insufficiency
and American school-aged children’s cognitive, academic and
psychosocial development. Pediatrics 108(1): 44-53, 2001.
2. Benton, D, Maconie, A, and Williams, C. The influence of the
glycaemic load of breakfast on the behaviour of children in school.
Physiology and Behavior. 23; 92(4): 717-724, 2007.
3. Brown, A. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (4th
ed.) Belmont, CA: Wadworth, Cenage Learning; 348-349, 2011.
4. Jeukendrup, AE. Nutrition for endurance sports: Marathon,
triathlon, and road cycling. Journal of Sports Sciences 29: 91-99,
2011.
5. Kreider, RB, et al. ISSN exercise & sport nutrition review:
research & recommendations. Journal of the International Society
of Sports Nutrition 7:7, 2010.
6. Murphy, JM, Pagano, M, Nachmani, J, Sperling, P, Kane, S, and
Kleinman, R. The relationship of school breakfast to psychosocial
and academic functioning: Cross-sectional and longitudinal
observations in an inner-city sample. Archives of Pediatric and
Adolescent Medicine 152: 899-907, 1998.
7. Rampersaud, GC, Pereira, MA, Girard, BL, Adams, J, and Metzl,
JD. Breakfast habits, nutritional status, bodyweight, and academic
performance in children and adolescents. Journal of the American
Dietetic Association 105(5):743-60, 2005.
8. Slater, G and Phillips, SM. Nutrition guidelines for strength
sports: Sprinting, weightlifting, throwing events, and bodybuilding.
Journal of Sports Sciences 29: 67–77, 2011.
9. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.
Breakfast: Percentages of selected nutrients contributed by foods
eaten at breakfast, by gender and age. What We Eat in America,
NHANES. 2009-2010, 2012. Retrieved from: http://www.ars.usda.
gov/SP2UserFiles/Place/12355000/pdf/0910/Table_13_BRK_
GEN_09.pdf.
10. U.S. Olympic Committee: Sport Performance Division. Nutrition
fact sheet, 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.teamusa.org/About-
the-USOC/Athlete-Development/Sport-Performance/Nutrition/
Resources-and-Fact-Sheets.aspx.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Debra Wein is a recognized expert on health and wellness and
designed award-winning programs for both individuals and
corporations around the United States. She is the President and
Founder of Wellness Workdays, Inc., (www.wellnessworkdays.com)
a leading provider of worksite wellness programs. In addition, she
is the President and Founder of the partner company, Sensible
Nutrition, Inc. (www.sensiblenutrition.com), a consulting firm of
registered dietitians and personal trainers, established in 1994, that
provides nutrition and wellness services to individuals. She has
nearly 20 years of experience working in the health and wellness
industry. Her sport nutrition handouts and free weekly email
newsletters are available online at www.sensiblenutrition.com.
Abby Calcutt is a recent graduate of the Simmons College
Dietetic Internship Program. Drawing from her multidisciplinary
background, she has worked in various clinical and community
settings with a commitment to communicating accurate and
understandable health information to inspire sustainable health
behavior changes.
DO ATHLETES NEED BREAKFAST?
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 38
AT THE CORE OF THE DEBATE
Core training remains a hot topic in the strength and conditioning
industry. Everyone has an opinion as to the relative importance
of incorporating core stability and strengthening exercises. Too
often, programs that are intended for adults or taken from another
discipline are automatically applied to youth with the same
enthusiasm, but perhaps without the academic rigor required
for implementation. When programming core training for the
youth population, it is important to remember that programming
decisions should be evidence-based from reliable peer-reviewed
resources. When judging topics related to youth training, any
research study you review to make your informed decision on
the efficacy of any training modality or program design needs
to match the youth population and be applicable to either one
subpopulation (e.g., youth athletes) or across the youth population
as a whole, depending on personal interest and youth population
served.
BASIC TENET OF YOUTH STRENGTH AND
CONDITIONING
Youth strength and conditioning guidelines must include teaching
motor skills, health fitness, and skills fitness attributes in a
developmentally appropriate progression. These guidelines should
be followed in order to safely and systematically integrate all
fitness attributes, and to “hard-wire” basic movement patterns so
that they become routine for youth. This is why it is essential to
focus on technique and not amount of weight lifted or how many
repetitions can be completed in a certain period of time. Once
the basic movement patterns are mastered, progressively more
challenging movements can be taught and then applied in training
and in game-like situations. The key difference between program
design for youth and for adults is that the elements of motor skill
development, health fitness, and skills fitness are integrated, not
isolated movements within a program. The focus for strength
coaches, personal trainers, etc., therefore, is on designing strength
and conditioning programs that include core stability and
strengthening exercises as part of developing integrated fitness
that leads to athleticism and overall fitness.
WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH TELL US?
Since coaches need to design youth strength and conditioning
programs based on the best available peer-reviewed evidence,
let us examine what the research says. Here are the three main
findings:
Core intervention on its own may not be the best choice.
Researchers have found poor results when implementing stand-
alone core training programs, either due to lack of compliance
or lack of transferability to sport skills (7,8). Both issues deserve
attention from all coaches and trainers. Youth coaches typically
do not have significant periods of time to spend with aspiring
youth athletes. It is important for the program they choose to
have maximum benefit for the amount of time spent. If the effort
does not transfer to developing the integrated fitness that leads
to athleticism and sport skill, alternative methods that meet the
program goals need to be implemented.
There is not a strong relationship between core stability, functional
movement, and performance. Okada, et al. found no significant
correlations between core stability and Functional Movement
Screening (FMS) scores; FMS was not a strong predictor of
performance, and the importance of core stability on functional
movement could not be confirmed (6). The authors concluded
that core and functional movement should not be the primary
emphasis of any training program, despite the emphasis fitness
professionals have placed on functional movement and core
training for increased performance. Behm, et al. recommends
that ground-based free weight exercises with moderate levels of
instability should form the foundation of exercises to train the
core musculature, and not core training on unstable surfaces (1).
Core training on unstable surfaces, while valuable for rehabilitation
and reduction of back pain, is not recommended as the primary
exercises for hypertrophy, absolute strength, or power for youth.
Integrating core training into a complete training program may
provide the best opportunity for improving core strength and
other fitness attributes in youth. Several research studies support
the contention that an integrated approach to training youth
yields the best benefits (2,3,4,5). The work of Faigenbaum and
Myer regarding integrated neuromuscular training deserves special
attention as it lays out a blueprint for safe, developmentally-
appropriate youth strength and conditioning (3,4,5). This supports
the aforementioned basic tenet of youth strength and conditioning
that youth programs need a proper blend of motor skill, health
fitness, and skills fitness components. By integrating these
components in short bursts with adequate rest periods youth
trainers can best engage youth in movement patterns that match
their natural movement tendencies (3,4).
TAKE-HOME MESSAGE
The take-home message for all trainers and coaches that work
with the youth population is that an integrated approach to
training that is mindful of core conditioning is the best approach.
Coaches should focus on teaching proper hinging, breathing,
bracing, and posture as part of an integrated approach that
includes motor skill competence, health fitness, and skills fitness
CORE TRAINING FOR YOUTH
YOUTH ATHLETIC DEVELOPMENT
Rick Howard, MED, CSCS,*D, USAW
NSCA’S PERFORMANCE TRAINING JOURNAL | ISSUE 12.4 39
development to yield the greatest benefits for sport readiness and
physical activity participation.
REFERENCES
1. Behm, DG, Drinkwater, EJ, Willardson, JM, and Cowley, PM. The
use of instability to train the core musculature. Applied Physiology,
Nutrition, and Metabolism 35(1): 91-108, 2010.
2. Emery, CA, and Meeuwisse, WH. The effectiveness of a
neuromuscular prevention strategy to reduce injuries in youth
soccer: A cluster-randomised controlled trial. British Journal of
Sports Medicine 44(8): 555-562, 2010.
3. Faigenbaum, AD, Farrell, A, Fabiano, M, Radler, T, Naclerio,
F, Ratamess, NA, Kang, J, and Myer, GD. Effects of integrative
neuromuscular training on fitness performance in children
Pediatric Exercise Science 23(4): 573-84, 2011.
4. Myer, GD, Faigenbaum, AD, Ford, KR, Best, TM, Bergeron,
MF, and Hewett, TE. When to initiate integrative neuromuscular
training to reduce sports-related injuries and enhance health in
youth? Current Sports Medicine Reports. 10(3): 155-166, 2011.
5. Myer, GD, Ford, KR, Palumbo, JP, and Hewett, TE. Neuromuscular
training improves performance and lower-extremity biomechanics
in female athletes. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research
19(1): 51-60, 2005.
6. Okada, T, Huxel, KC, and Nesser, TW. Relationship between
core stability, functional movement, and performance. Journal of
Strength & Conditioning Research 25(1): 252-261, 2011.
7. Steffen, K, Myklebust, G, Olsen, O E, Holme, I, and Bahr, R.
Preventing injuries in female youth football – A cluster-randomized
controlled trial. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in
Sports 18(5): 605–614, 2008.
8. Tse, MA, McManus, AM, and Masters, RSW. Development and
validation of a core endurance intervention program: Implications
for performance in college-age rowers. Journal of Strength &
Conditioning Research 19(3): 547-552, 2005.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rick Howard helped find the National Strength and Conditioning
Association (NSCA) Youth Special Interest Group (SIG) and served
this year as Immediate Past Chair. In addition, Howard serves on
the NSCA Membership Committee and is the NSCA State/Provincial
Program Regional Coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Region. Howard
is involved in many pursuits that advance knowledge, skills, and
coaching education to help all children enjoy lifelong physical
activity and sports participation.
CORE TRAINING FOR YOUTH
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Abstract Sport nutrition is a constantly evolving field with literally thousands of research papers published annually. For this reason, keeping up to date with the literature is often difficult. This paper presents a well-referenced overview of the current state of the science related to how to optimize training through nutrition. More specifically, this article discusses: 1.) how to evaluate the scientific merit of nutritional supplements; 2.) general nutritional strategies to optimize performance and enhance recovery; and, 3.) our current understanding of the available science behind weight gain, weight loss, and performance enhancement supplements. Our hope is that ISSN members find this review useful in their daily practice and consultation with their clients.
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Regular participation in organized youth sports does not ensure adequate exposure to skill- and health-related fitness activities, and sport training without preparatory conditioning does not appear to reduce risk of injury in young athletes. Current trends indicate that widespread participation in organized youth sports is occurring at a younger age, especially in girls. Current public health recommendations developed to promote muscle strengthening and bone building activities for youth aged 6 yr and older, along with increased involvement in competitive sport activities at younger ages, has increased interest and concern from parents, clinicians, coaches, and teachers regarding the optimal age to encourage and integrate more specialized physical training into youth development programs. This review synthesizes the latest literature and expert opinion regarding when to initiate neuromuscular conditioning in youth and presents a how-to integrative training conceptual model that could maximize the potential health-related benefits for children by reducing sports-related injury risk and encouraging lifelong, regular physical activity.
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Sports nutrition is a constantly evolving field with hundreds of research papers published annually. For this reason, keeping up to date with the literature is often difficult. This paper is a five year update of the sports nutrition review article published as the lead paper to launch the JISSN in 2004 and presents a well-referenced overview of the current state of the science related to how to optimize training and athletic performance through nutrition. More specifically, this paper provides an overview of: 1.) The definitional category of ergogenic aids and dietary supplements; 2.) How dietary supplements are legally regulated; 3.) How to evaluate the scientific merit of nutritional supplements; 4.) General nutritional strategies to optimize performance and enhance recovery; and, 5.) An overview of our current understanding of the ergogenic value of nutrition and dietary supplementation in regards to weight gain, weight loss, and performance enhancement. Our hope is that ISSN members and individuals interested in sports nutrition find this review useful in their daily practice and consultation with their clients.
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The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between core stability, functional movement, and performance. Twenty-eight healthy individuals (age = 24.4 ± 3.9 yr, height = 168.8 ± 12.5 cm, mass = 70.2 ± 14.9 kg) performed several tests in 3 categories: core stability (flexion [FLEX], extension [EXT], right and left lateral [LATr/LATl]), functional movement screen (FMS) (deep squat [DS], trunk-stability push-up [PU], right and left hurdle step [HSr/HSl], in-line lunge [ILLr/ILLl], shoulder mobility [SMr/SMl], active straight leg raise [ASLRr/ASLRl], and rotary stability [RSr/RSl]), and performance tests (backward medicine ball throw [BOMB], T-run [TR], and single leg squat [SLS]). Statistical significance was set at p ≤ 0.05. There were significant correlations between SLS and FLEX (r = 0.500), LATr (r = 0.495), and LATl (r = 0.498). The TR correlated significantly with both LATr (r = 0.383) and LATl (r = 0.448). Of the FMS, BOMB was significantly correlated with HSr (r = 0.415), SMr (r = 0.388), PU (r = 0.407), and RSr (r = 0.391). The TR was significantly related with HSr (r = 0.518), ILLl (r = 0.462) and SMr (r = 0.392). The SLS only correlated significantly with SMr (r = 0.446). There were no significant correlations between core stability and FMS. Moderate to weak correlations identified suggest core stability and FMS are not strong predictors of performance. In addition, existent assessments do not satisfactorily confirm the importance of core stability on functional movement. Despite the emphasis fitness professionals have placed on functional movement and core training for increased performance, our results suggest otherwise. Although training for core and functional movement are important to include in a fitness program, especially for injury prevention, they should not be the primary emphasis of any training program.
Article
THIS REVIEW ARTICLE RECOGNIZES THE UNIQUE FUNCTION OF THE CORE MUSCULATURE. IN MANY REAL LIFE ACTIVITIES, THESE MUSCLES ACT TO STIFFEN THE TORSO AND FUNCTION PRIMARILY TO PREVENT MOTION. THIS IS A FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT FUNCTION FROM THOSE MUSCLES OF THE LIMBS, WHICH CREATE MOTION. BY STIFFENING THE TORSO, POWER GENERATED AT THE HIPS IS TRANSMITTED MORE EFFECTIVELY BY THE CORE. RECOGNIZING THIS UNIQUENESS, IMPLICATIONS FOR EXERCISE PROGRAM DESIGN ARE DISCUSSED USING PROGRESSIONS BEGINNING WITH CORRECTIVE AND THERAPEUTIC EXERCISES THROUGH STABILITY/MOBILITY, ENDURANCE, STRENGTH AND POWER STAGES, TO ASSIST THE PERSONAL TRAINER WITH A BROAD SPECTRUM OF CLIENTS.
Article
Soccer is a leading sport for participation and injury in youth. To examine the effectiveness of a neuromuscular prevention strategy in reducing injury in youth soccer players. Cluster-randomised controlled trial. Setting: Calgary soccer clubs (male or female, U13-U18, tier 1-2, indoor soccer). Eighty-two soccer teams were approached for recruitment. Players from 60 teams completed the study (32 training (n=380), 28 control (n=364)). The training programme was a soccer-specific neuromuscular training programme including dynamic stretching, eccentric strength, agility, jumping and balance (including a home-based balance training programme using a wobble board). The control programme was a standardised warm-up (static and dynamic stretching and aerobic components) and a home-based stretching programme. Previously validated injury surveillance included injury assessment by a study therapist. The injury definition was soccer injury resulting in medical attention and/or removal from a session and/or time loss. The injury rate in the training group was 2.08 injuries/1000 player-hours, and in the control group 3.35 injuries/1000 player-hours. Based on Poisson regression analysis, adjusted for clustering by team and covariates, the incidence rate ratios (IRR) for all injuries and acute onset injury were 0.62 (95% CI 0.39 to 0.99) and 0.57 (95% CI 0.35 to 0.91). Point estimates also suggest protection of lower extremity, ankle and knee sprain injuries (IRR=0.68 (95% CI 0.42 to 1.11), IRR=0.5 (95% CI 0.24 to 1.04) and IRR=0.38 (95% CI 0.08 to 1.75)). A neuromuscular training programme is protective of all injuries and acute onset injury in youth soccer players.