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Determinants of Strength Performance Part 2

Continuing from last week where I looked at the contribution of inherent mechanics and muscle cross sectional area, I want to finish up this week by looking at the next factor that determines overall strength performance.  This was originally meant to be a fairly short bit as I was trying to keep it line with the mechanical and msucular factors I discussed last chapter but it turned out to be far more involved.  So it’s long.  Too long.  And while I will try to sporadically link out to references (which I know most don’t care about), most of it will be coming from two primary sources which are Enoka’s Neuromechanics of Human Movement and Strength and Power in Sport edited by Komi.

The SSC and Strength Performance

Although it kind of fits in with the impact of muscular factors on strength performance, I want to discuss the stretch shorten cycle (SSC) separately.   This refers to a situation where a muscle is first stretched (an eccentric muscle contraction) before shortening (a concentric muscle action); there is also a brief isometric muscle action where the muscle doesn’t change length in-between the two.   When this happens, a greater amount of force is generated … Read More

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Determinants of Strength Performance Part 1

In a long-ago written article (that was written while I was doing a lot of endurance training, go figure) I wrote about the primary determinants of endurance performance and today I want to do sort of the equivalent article to that for strength production (of no surprise, I’m doing mostly lifting now).

Now, if you want to get technical, you can define different kinds of strength.  What is often measured in the lab is isometric strength using some kind of tensiometer (that will give you force output in Newtons, not the Fig kind, or whatever the units are) but in practical sense most will be more concerned with how much weight they are lifting in some gym movement. Even that can be subdivided and some folks might really get up their butts by worrying about concentric strength (how much weight can be lifted), isometric strength (how much weight can be held at some position in a movement) and eccentric strength (how much weight can be lowered under control).

The weights would go up from concentric to isometric to eccentric (i.e. you can lift less than you can hold and hold less than you can lower) but for the purposes … Read More

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What is Sprint Training

Continuing from last week, hopefully you have grasped my basic argument that while some of the differences between sprinters and endurance athletes does have to do with training it’s also partly genetic, some of which is racial (I didn’t get into detail about this and spare me the racist comments), and some of which is sporting selection for certain body types.  Mostly whether or not a given individual who does one sport or the other has more to do with the presence or absence of weight training than anything else.

But let’s play a game today.  Let’s ASSume that the body types of sprinters is built by their sprint work (I still see this floating around, the idea that you should run sprints to be built like a sprinter even if it’s total nonsense).  It’s not true but let’s assume that it is.  And I want to assume that it is to make a point that what people think sprint training is or the types of training they use this idiotic comparison to promote is actually almost never what sprinters actually do.  I’ll also address an alternate part of the argument is that sprint training is not only superior … Read More

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Some Less Well Known Weider Principles

So I know I was originally supposed to finish off the sprinter versus marathoner series today but then it dawned on me that it’s been one year since I wrote perhaps my most inspired training article where I gave away the Ultimate Training Secret of the Illuminatty (for which I am now in constant danger of repercussions).  And that means that I need to do a followup (inasmuch as I can ever follow that bit of brilliance).  So today I present you with some less well known Weider Principles.

For some history, Joe Weider is usually considered to be the father of modern bodybuilding.  Through his magazines (such as Flex and Muscle and Fitness) and Arnold, he truly brought bodybuilding into the mainstream in a way that it simply hadn’t been up to that point.  Previously seen as a niche activity for narcissistic idiots (who’s sexuality was questioned in that they liked to primp around in tights covered in baby oil), bodybuilding became mainstream and fairly well accepted.  He also brought bodybuilding from the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) which had previously had height classes and created the International Federation of Bodybuilding and fitness (IFBB) which had weight classes in a … Read More

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The Sprinter Versus Endurance Athlete…Again

Continuing from last week where I tried to make the points that:

a. There is no singular athletic body type in the first place

b. The idea that the training per se is what generates the physiques seen in a given sport (at most the training emphasizes the ideal physique that sports select for in the first place)

I finished by pointing out that usually when you see people argue to “Train like an athlete to look like an athlete” the body type they hold up is that of a track/100m sprinter.  Perhaps more accurately, one of the sillier ideas to come around since high-intensity interval training (HIIT) became THE type of training that everyone should be doing, is to draw a comparison between the physiques of a track sprinter and a marathoner or ask “Which would you rather look like?”   Usually a picture is shown with a BIG African American sprinter (tho I get the impression that the guy typically used is actually a football player since he’s far larger than most sprinters) compared to a scrawny white marathoner.  I won’t even post the picture that is typically used but I imagine most have seen it.

A related argument … Read More