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Sports Science Monthly – November 2017

This month, we start with a lengthily mini-review, looking at gaining a fuller understanding of how exercise causes adaptation. This is obviously paramount to coaches, because causing adaptations is what we’re interesting in; being able to understand the underpinnings of this can be useful. It gets a little heavy in places, but keep going and I’m sure you’ll find something useful within it. After that, we move back into the regular format; this month, we have a closer look at massage, repeated sprints as a marker of hamstring rehabilitation status, and the 24-hour athlete, along with a rapid-fire round-up at the end. Read more

How embracing risk helps you control it

I recently came across an interesting book by Greg Ip titled Foolproof: Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe. It’s a fascinating look at the balance between risk mitigation and risk adaptation, both of which compete to either make us safer, or more at risk than before. Read more

GAINcast Episode 89: How Speed Happens (with Peter Weyand)

There are some basic questions out there that are difficult to answer, such as what limits human running speed. As technology advances, scientists can better study and start to answer this and other simple questions like what makes one athlete faster than another. Dr. Peter Weyand has spent decades researching locomotion on both animals and humans. His work with elite sprinters has brought some interesting conclusions and is driving the field forward. On this episode of the GAINcast he joins us to discuss his research and its practical implications. Read more

Thoughts from Litvinov and McMahon on accelerating the hammer

Biomechanists can break down how the hammer is accelerated, but one thing they can’t do is determine what is going on in an athlete’s mind to perform the actions they see. What does the athlete think about? How do they try an initiate the movement? This is an area that intrigues me and I’ve been chatting with elite hammer throwers recently to find out their approach. There is no one right answer here, but hearing different viewpoints gives you more tools you can use as a coach. Read more

Why Did Usain Bolt Lose?

Athletics fans love statistics, and I’m no different, which is why it was so exciting to hear that the IAAF and Leeds Becket University were to collaborate on a biomechanics project at the recent World Championships, giving us some insight into what makes up a world class performance in athletics. As the Championships finished last weekend, the first initial reports were released for the men’s 100m and 10,000m, men’s discus final, and women’s pole vault final, which you can find here. The extended analysis will come in time, but the initial analysis does contain plenty of interesting bits of information. As my athletics knowledge is primarily limited to the sprints, that is where I’ll focus. The initial report itself does a great job of presenting the pertinent points, but I hope to add a little extra context where possible. Read more

GAINcast Episode 77: More Odds and Ends

Every few months we take a look back at all the short topics we’ve wanted to cover but haven’t had the time. Well, now’s the time. On this episode we take a quick look a several diverse topics. We start off by discussing categorical thinking and its impact on velocity based training, energy systems, and other areas of training. Then we look at genetic testing, training speed, EMGs, FMS, and several other topics. Read more

Strength Methods for Distance Runners

Earlier this week we looked at why runners need to lift. Now that you understand the why, let’s look at what kind of strength training provides the specific neuromuscular and physiological benefits we discussed above. To review, there are three purposes to lifting:

  1. Improve running economy;
  2. Provide movement patterns that contrast the repetitive nature of running; and
  3. Accelerate recovery to prepare for the next hard workout and to reduce injury potential.

Read more

Is There a Balance to Sports Training?

There has been a lot of talk about balance on this site over the past few weeks. Initially, Martin wrote about Peak Performance, ther new book from Steve Magness and Brad Stulberg. In his review, Martin discussed his own search for work-life balance, and how it may well be crucial in order to be successful. This article was followed up by “Balance and The Barbell Strategy”, which examines how a true balanced approach lies not in the middle, but at the two extremes. Read more

Training, Fast and Slow

Earlier this month I wrote about how the universality of fartleks. The concept comes from the world or running, but I outlined how one could implement such speed play in throwing. This isn’t just a concept that sounds fun and cool; it also has some science to back it up and can be applied in preparation for any number of sports. Read more

HMMR Podcast Episode 99: Robust Running (with John Pryor)

The problem with speed training for field sports is that speed can be difficult to transfer to the field of play. In his work with Japan Rugby and several professional clubs John Pryor has sought out solutions to this problem, developing a system of robust running that helps players develop the skills to hit the right positions in the various complex situations they might encounter on the field. In this episode we sit down with Pryor to discuss his approach to speed training for field sport athletes. Read more