I know we all hate the sled . . . but . . . .

Towing a weighted sled can substantially improve sprint performance. So says a  study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Acceleration is often more important than speed in sports. Athletes on playing fields rarely have enough distance to reach top speed before a change in play. This means that short sprints – acceleration – can be paramount to sports performance.

Today’s study examined whether a training regimen using weighted sled tows and unweighted sprints together would be more effective than unweighted sprints alone. Twenty professional rugby union players participated in the study. They were tested in 10m and 30m sprints, and then broken into two groups. The groups were balanced by average sprint times, so each group had a nice mix of different sprinting abilities.

The first group added only unweighted sprints to their training. They performed 3 sets of 20m sprints, rested, and then performed 2 more sets of 20m sprints. The second group performed the first 3 sets of 20m sprints while towing a sled. Then they rested and performed the final 2 sets of sprints unweighted. Both groups performed the training twice a week for six weeks, in addition to their off-season strength and conditioning program.

So which protocol improved sprinting the most? The weighted sled protocol was more than twice as effective as the unweighted sprints alone. Rugby players in the sled towing group improved their 30m sprints by an average of 0.1 seconds. The unweighted sprint group managed just half that improvement – 0.05 seconds.

In the United States, we’re all about American Football and the 40-yard dash. Thirty meters is about 33 yards. That means these athletes would have improved their 40-yard times by even more than 0.1 seconds. The fact that a professional athlete improved his 40-yard time by more than 0.1 seconds in just six weeks is huge.

The study chose a sled weight of 12.6% bodyweight for each athlete. This generally ranges from about 15lbs for a small lady to 30lbs for a large man. The authors chose that weight strategically because any more weight altered the mechanics of the sprint too much for the drill to be effective.

So there you have it: towing a weighted sled as part of your sprint training is much more effective than just sprinting alone. For best results, use a sled weight that doesn’t alter your sprint mechanics, usually about 13% of your bodyweight. And when your friends ask why you’re suddenly smoking them on 50m repeats, you can either divulge your secret, or tell them your new Zumba class made all the difference. Your call.

References:

1. Daniel West, et. al. Effects of Resisted Sprint Training on Acceleration in Professional Rugby Union Players. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. Apr 2013. Vol. 27. Issue 4. p1014-1018. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182606cff

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Why Fish Oil is just so freaking awesome.

fish oil blog

Time and Time again, in the name of John Berardi, I stress that the deficiency must be fixed FIRST. One of the biggest deficiencies I see if the inherent abundance of Omega-6s and lack of Omega 3s. Recent research suggests an Omega-3 deficiency could be the underlying cause of approximately 100,000 deaths each year. Yes, 100,000!!

Let’s dive in to why Omega 3s are just plain awesome.

1. Heart Health – An Italian study (GISSI) of 11,324 heart attack survivors found that patients supplementing with fish oils markedly reduced their risk of another heart attack, stroke, or death. In a separate study, American medical researchers reported that men who consumed fish once or more every week had a 50 percent lower risk of dying from a sudden cardiac event than do men who eat fish less than once a month.

2. Omega-3 normalizes and regulates your cholesterol triglyceride levels – Compared to a statin, both fish oil and krill oil are more efficient in doing this. According to a study comparing the efficiency of krill and fish oils in reducing triglyceride levels, both oils notably reduced the enzyme activity that causes the liver to metabolize fat, but krill had a more pronounced effects, reducing liver triglycerides significantly more.

3. Got Kids? DHA affects your child’s learning and behavior – Do you want to maximize your child’s intellectual potential? A study published in Plos One in June 2013 linked low levels of DHA with poorer reading, and memory and behavioral problems in healthy school-age children. In another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August 2013, children who consumed an omega-3 fat supplement as infants scored higher on rule learning, vocabulary, and intelligent testing at ages 3 to 5.

Previous research also found that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related behavior or learning disabilities are more likely to have low omega-3 fat levels.

The magical balance.

Omega-3 and omega-6 are two types of fat that are essential for human health. However, the typical American consumes far too many omega-6 fats in her diet while consuming very low omega-3 levels.

The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 1:1. Our forefathers evolved over millions of years on this ratio. Today, however, our ratio averages from 20:1 to 50:1 – this spells serous dangers to your well-being! In fact, mainstream media has finally reported that lack of omega-3 is among the most serious and pressing health issues plaguing our world.

Omega-6 is primarily sourced from corn, soy, canola, safflower, and sunflower oils. These are overabundant in the typical diet, which accounts for excess omega-6 levels.

Omega-6 fats predominate the diet in the US, and this encourages the production of inflammation in your body. Many scientists believe that one reason there is a high incidence of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, premature aging, and some cancer forms today is this profound omega-3-omega-6 imbalance.

Which kind of oil is best for me?

There are tons of different kinds out there. Let me give my honest personal recommendation.

Fish Oil – of all of the research I have seen, this has the best benefits. Make sure you get one thats USP verified and contains over 600mg of EPA/DHA combined per serving. Slightly lower bang for your buck than krill oil, but I’ll explain my issues with Krill oil below. Fish Oil, however, is weak in antioxidants. This happens because fish oil is a bit perishable, and oxidation leads to the formation of harmful free radicals. Antioxidants are therefore necessary to ensure that the fish oil doesn’t oxidize and become rancid in your body. So I recommend taking with a multivitamin or greens powder or meal rich in veggies, as you’ll get the necessary nutrients to help work with the fish oil.

Cod Liver Oil – Recent research suggests this can cause insane ratios of Vitamins A and D so it’s not on a go-to list for me or hopefully anyone reading this.

Krill Oil – Has just as many of the benefits of Fish Oil, however the ONLY SINGLE REASON I don’t recommend it is that I have seen it cause irritability and lack of social awareness (which is a promoted benefit of fish oil) in children. I am simply waiting until further research comes out before I make a case for it.

Moral of the Story? Get your omega-3s, and ditch the Omega-6s like a bad date.

Just how important is posture?

So I want to share a few very valuable insights on posture – It’s something we all rolled our eyes at when we were younger, but now it’s catching up to us, in a very VERY negative way.

Check this out, for instance:

  • 65% of back pain is posture related
  • 53% of neck pain is posture related.

This is QUITE alarming.

Let’s think of some of the causes: I didn’t have a cell phone until I was 18 years old. When I had one I barely used it. Now, children are glued to their iphones at the age of 10, sometimes even younger. And they’re probably not doing soft tissue work or mobility work or even switching hands when they talk.

This can lead to neck pain, referred all the way down to back pain as they get older and such. I have had more people with pain in the last 5 years than people without, unfortunately.

I would like to bring light to some of the effects that it has, as well as an identifiable solution to one of the more common problems:

Back Pain: You should be sitting at 135 degrees if you suffer from back pain. Read below to see the research.

135 degree

Using “positional” MRI techniques researchers studied the sitting positions of 22 healthy volunteers with no history of back pain. The MRI machine allowed freedom of motion, such as sitting or standing, during imaging. Conventional MRI machines require the patient to lie flat and may mask some causes of back pain.


Researchers used the MRI to examine spinal positioning while the participants assumed three different sitting positions: slouching forward (such as hunched over a desk or video game console), an upright 90-degree sitting position, and a relaxed position with the back reclined backward about 135 degrees while the feet were still on the floor.


Overall, researchers concluded that the 135-degree reclining position put the least stress on the spine and may reduce the risk of back pain. They recommend that people who sit for long periods of time correct their sitting posture and find a chair that allows them to recline.

When I was preparing my research for the SAP Field Kick Off Meeting, I found some more alarming research insights into posture and just the effects it has on people:

A study from researchers at Columbia and Harvard showed that body language symbolizing power can actually affect our decision-making subconsciously. The researchers measured the appetite for risk of participants in either expansive, powerful poses or constricted poses (occupying minimal space, keeping limbs close to the body). Those in the powerful poses not only felt more powerful and in control, but were 45% more likely to take a risky bet.

Plus, the study used saliva samples to prove that expansive postures actually altered the participants’ hormone levels—decreasing cortisol (C) and increasing testosterone (T):

This neuroendocrine profile of High T and Low C has been consistently linked to such outcomes as disease resistance and leadership abilities.

So clearly, our posture has more to do with our minds than we might have thought. And, in fact, it seems like our bodies come first: When we alter our posture and body language, it subconsciously influences our thinking and decision-making.

So moral of the story: PAY ATTENTION TO HOW YOU SIT!

-Darin Hulslander

http://www.thisisperformance.com