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Stronger Athletes

Safe, Effective Strength Training for Athletes

May 8 "The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. Its been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But, baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and could be again." -James Earl Jones, "Field of Dreams"

Mystery Guest

If you think you know the answer or simply want to chime in with a guess.. drop us an e-mail at our Mystery Guest Trivia Department. All correct answers will be recognized on Friday. "This week's mystery guest was named conditioning coach, [for the Steelers], in February 1992 following 10 years as strength and conditioning coach at Penn State.

A native of Harrisburg, Pa.,he is in his 10th season with the team and his 23rd year of strength training. He served as the assistant strength and conditioning coach at Penn State from 1979-80. He was named the first strength and conditioning coach ever at Weber State in Ogden, Utah, in 1981, before returning to Penn State to take charge of the strength and conditioning program in 1982.

Our mystery guest, 48, graduated from Central State (Okla.) University in 1973 with a degree in physical education. He spent the next five years as strength coach and assistant coach in football and track at Harrisburg and Steelton-Highspire high schools. He also is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association."

**Note** Much of this bio was taken from www.nfl.com.

An Experiment in Muscle Fiber Recruitment

Recently, Tom Kelso, University of Illinois-Chicago, conducted an experiment with his athletes, to help determine the relationship between muscle fiber recruitment and lifting speed. This was in response to the overwhelming myth that lifting quickly is superior to slow controlled lifting. Coach Kelso's findings follow below in RED.

WE ACTUALLY CONDUCTED AN INFORMAL EXPERIMENT WITH SOME OF OUR ATHLETES TO DETERMINE THE EFFECTS ON MOTOR UNIT RECRUITMENT AND SPEED OF EXERCISE MOVEMENT.

WE OBTAINED A 1-RM ON THE BENCH PRESS, THEN USED 60% THE 1-RM AND PERFORMED A "FAST" TEST AND "SLOW" TEST ON SEPARATE DAYS TO DETERMINE THE EXTENT OF MOTOR UNIT RECRUITMENT DURING EACH.

THE FIRST DAY THE ATHLETES WERE INSTRUCTED TO MOVE THE 60% RESISTANCE AS FAST AS POSSIBLE -- BOTH CONCENTRICALLY AND ECCENTRICALLY-- AND FOR AS MANY REPS POSSIBLE. NATURALLY, WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS SPEED OF LIFTING, HOWEVER FOR THE SAKE OF THIS TEST WE DID DEVIATE FROM OUR NORM. WE DID MAKE SURE THE ATHLETES MINIMIZED 1) ANY BOUNCING OF THE WEIGHT OFF THE CHEST, AND 2) ANY RESTING IN THE LOCKED-OUT POSITION.

THE NUMBER OF REPS OBTAINED AND THE TOTAL TIME IT TOOK TO REACH MUSCULAR FATIGUE WERE RECORDED.

FOLLOWING A 3:00 REST, 90% OF THEIR 1-RM WAS THEN USED FOR ANOTHER MAXIMUM REP TEST. IN MOST CASES, A PERSON CAN PERFORM ANYWHERE FROM 3 TO 5 REPS WITH 90% OF A 1-RM -- DEPENDING ON THE EXERCISE -- WHEN "FRESH." THE POINT OF THE 90% TEST WAS TO DETERMINE THE EXTENT OF FATIGUE FROM THE 60%/FAST TEST TO MUSCULAR FATIGUE. WE HYPOTHESIZED THAT USING 60% -- STILL A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF RESISTANCE -- AND WORKING TO MUSCULAR FATIGUE EVEN THOUGH MOVING RELATIVELY "FAST" WOULD STILL A LOT OF MUSCLE -- EVEN TYPE II MOTOR UNITS -- AND THEN WOULD HAVE AN ADVERSE EFFECT ON THE NUMBER OF REPS POSSIBLE WITH 90% OF THE 1-RM.

RESULTS OF THE 60% "FAST" DAY WITH THE 90% TEST:

ON THE SECOND TEST DAY THE ATHLETES WERE INSTRUCTED TO LOWER THE 60% RESISTANCE SLOWLY (ON A 4-COUNT, COUNTED ALOUD BY A STAFF MEMBER), THEN RAISE IT FORCEFULLY, BUT UNDER CONTROL, WITHOUT RESTING IN THE LOCKED-OUT POSITION --AGAIN, FOR AS MANY REPS AS POSSIBLE. THE HYPOTHESIS HERE WAS THE 60% RESISTANCE WOULD AGAIN RECRUIT AND OVERLOAD A LOT OF MUSCLE -- EVENTUALLY "GETTING TO" THE TYPE II MOTOR UNITS, THUS ADVERSELY EFFECTING THE RESULTS OF THE FORTHCOMING 90% TEST-- EVEN THOUGH IT WAS CONSCIOUSLY MOVED SLOWER AND UNDER CONTROL.

THE NUMBER OF REPS OBTAINED AND THE TOTAL TIME IT TOOK TO REACH MUSCULAR FATIGUE WERE AGAIN RECORDED.

FOLLOWING A 3:00 REST, THE 90% OF THE 1-RM WAS AGAIN USED FOR ANOTHER MAXIMUM REP TEST.

RESULTS OF THE 60% "SLOW" DAY WITH THE 90% TEST:

AN INTERESTING COMPARISON OF THE RESULTS IN BOTH TEST DAYS. IN ALL TESTS, MOTOR UNITS WERE ACTIVATED IN ACCORDANCE TO THE INITIAL TENSION/WORK DEMAND SENSED BY THE BRAIN, HENNEMAN'S PRINCIPLE GOVERNED FURTHER RECRUITMENT OF MOTOR UNITS, FATIGUE TOOK ITS TOLL, AND OVERLOAD EVENTUALLY OCCURRED AS A RESULT OF WORKING TO MUSCULAR FATIGUE. THE ATHLETES COULD GAIN FROM THESE BOUTS OF EXERCISE PROVIDED RECOVERY FACTORS WERE ADDRESSED PRIOR TO THE NEXT WORKOUT. HOWEVER, THE FAST SPEED OF EXERCISE MOVEMENT WAS UNNECESSARY FOR TWO REASONS: 1) IT CREATED EXCESS STRESS ON THE MUSCLES AND JOINTS AND 2) IT DID NOT CREATE OVERLOAD ANY BETTER THAN THE SAFER, SLOWER MOVEMENT SPEED AS EVIDENT BY THE NUMBER OF REPS PERFORMED IN THE 90% TYPE II MOTOR UNIT-DEPENDENT TEST (i.e. "FAST" EFFECT TEST = 1.86 REPS w/90% AND "SLOW" EFFECT TEST = 1.66 REPS w/90%).

OBSERVATIONS: