Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Thirty rugby players were chosen to be tested, although the researchers believed the results to be applicable to any field sport. I think the results apply to pretty much any athlete tasked to move his or her own body around.

The rugby players had a computer scan their bodies to create a digital model. Based on that model, a huge assortment of measurements were taken, such as bodyweight, height, circumference, length, and other data. The athletes were also tested for their one-rep-max (1RM) strength on squats and deadlifts, as well as their power output on jump squats and a fast deadlift. Once all of the data was collected, it was put together to see which factors affected sprints (from five to thirty meters), vertical jump, and change of direction the most.

Bigger Isn't Better

In what might seem to be a counterintuitive result, bigger muscles were negatively correlated with performance in all of the tests. It didn’t matter what muscle groups were chosen, from forearms, to arms and chest, to the muscles of the thighs and calves - bigger muscles made the athletes slower, less agile, and less powerful on their vertical jumps. In fact, the more important the muscles were for each test, the worse the performance was as the subjects got larger.

There’s one good reason for these results. When moving around, relative strength (when compared to the athlete’s bodyweight) and power are the most critical factors. Although the athletes got stronger as their muscles grew, they also got heavier at a disproportionate rate. Because all of the body measurements taken were associated strongly with bodyweight, performance was reduced even though the weight room numbers were going up.

Relative Strength Wins the Day

To further drive this point home, when relative strength was measured by the 1RM performance of the squat and deadlift exercises, and then divided by the athlete’s bodyweight, the results were exactly what you’d expect. The greater the relative strength, the better performance. In fact, performance was more significantly correlated to relative strength than it was to body size.

But how much did the studied factors actually impact these tests? The researchers stated that for the vertical leap and thirty-meter sprint, as much as ninety percent of performance variation can be explained by the collected data. In general, relative power, average and peak power outputs, and velocity correlated with better field performance. In other words, the heavier and faster you can lift at a given bodyweight, the better you will perform in field tests.

Research Limitations

The researchers admit that the five-meter sprint and the agility tests were not as well explained by the collected data. They suggested that more advanced body composition measurements might help with this test, but I suspect otherwise. The five-meter sprint and change of direction tests used were short and had high technical requirements to perform well. I suspect that lack of technique on these tests could explain virtually all of the remaining uncertainty.

Of course you want skill for tryouts and for better performance on the field. But in the weight room, focus first on getting to the appropriate bodyweight for the position you play, and from there, getting as strong as possible without gaining much weight

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cross-Training for Runners –

by John Feeney

Coyle et al. (1984) suggested that the reduction in VO2max following a period of detraining takes place in two stages. The first stage is likely to occur within 2-3 weeks and may result in a reduction of VO2max by 5-7% (Coyle et al. 1984; Houmard et al. 1992). This initial decrease is thought to result from a decrease in maximal cardiac output brought about by a reduction in stroke volume (Coyle et al. 1984; Martin III et al, 1986). These changes occur at a ‘central’ level (i.e. at the heart rather than in the skeletal muscle) and so alternative exercises can be introduced to prevent detraining and the reduction in VO2max (Mujika & Padilla, 2001).

The second stage takes place over a longer period of time (8-10 weeks) and may result in VO2max returning to pre-training levels (Davidson & McNaughton, 2000; St-Amand et al, 2012). The rate of decline and the level at which VO2max subsequently stabilises depends on the training status of the individual (Mujika & Padilla, 2000). The changes occurring during this second stage are more specific to the trained skeletal muscle. Consideration should be given to the introduction of alternative sport specific exercises that involve the same muscle groups without placing additional stress on the muscle/joint. If this is not possible, VO2max can be maintained by using alternative exercises but if these are not sport specific then the athlete will quickly lose aerobic endurance (Mujika & Padilla, 2001).  Read More

Monday, August 25, 2014

Plantar fasciitis


Plantar fasciitis can be a nuisance to treat and, to date, we've had little high quality evidence to guide us. Today's blog represents an exciting new direction in treating this stubborn condition. For some time we've noted the similarities between plantar fascial problems and tendinopathy. Back in 2006 Scott Wearing wrote an excellent paper on how the two structures shared similar pathology and similar response to load. However, no one has tested whether we might be able to treat plantar fasciitis like a tendinopathy, that is until now… Michael Rathleff and colleagues have just published an exciting new paper that is the first of it's kind and represents a new treatment approach for plantar fasciitis, so I was delighted when Michael very kindly agreed to share his findings with us in a guest blog. Michael's work includes excellent papers on hip strength and patellofemoral pain and patellofemoral pain in adolescents

Read More 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Skillet Chicken & Potatoes – An Easy One-Pot Meal

Skillet Chicken & Potatoes
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbsp   oil
  • 1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into ½” chunks
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves
  1. Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Add the oil to the skillet and place over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, put the chicken thighs and drumsticks in a bowl and season with the salt, pepper, and thyme.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the chicken to the skillet skin-side down, alternating between thighs and drumsticks. Let the chicken cook for about 10 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and golden-brown. Flip all the chicken pieces over and remove the skillet from heat.
  3. At this point, add the potatoes and onions. Make sure to fill in the spaces under and between the chicken pieces. Once they’re all squeezed in there, pour the chicken broth and buttermilk over the top and put the skillet into the oven for about 40 minutes. Top with the tarragon leaves and serve.

Saturday, August 23, 2014