Archive for December 12, 2010

“Iron Man. That’s kind of Catchy. It’s got a Nice Ring to it…”

Posted in Articles on December 12, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

The flood gates have been opened and guest writers keep submitting articles to Old Country. Today’s submission comes from a good friend, our very own Dr. Tri.

I consider myself quite a student of the game. But sometimes your peers have a way with words that leaves iron jockeys like myself speechless. I was going to break the wealth of information that Mike “Dr. Tri” Ross gave me into multiple articles, but instead I allowed our kettlebell hippie Margaux to condense the article down into one post. You can download Dr. Tri’s original article in its entirety by clicking here. It’s quite the read for anyone who takes their endurance training seriously. But for the for our everyday Guerrilla, we have the highlights below:

GogO’s Notes on Dr. Tri’s: “Caliber Cycle is the MOST Important Piece of Ironman Triathlon Training”

Let’s talk fulcrums…
You and I are going on a journey to sophomore year of high school. You are in physics with Mrs. Frackinboring, who’s desk is just close enough to the blackboard that her tweed-clad hinder gets covered in chalk every time she turns around. Like Ebenezer Scrooge and his Christmas ghosts, you’re asking me why I’ve brought you here. It’s because, my dear friends, Fulcrums. Kick. Ass.

Basic Mechanics
Fulcrums and you: they have a lot in common. If a fulcrum could squat, you betchur ass it would squat the house. Not only does a fulcrum have to support its own weight, it has to support the weight of the stuff hanging off of it, particularly its lever(s). When those levers start moving, the fulcrum better be strong and sturdy or shit’s falling apart.

Many of us remember operating our first fulcrum-based mechanical system: the teeter-totter. If you were like me, a peculiarly dense 6 year old, you learned the rules of physics pretty quickly. Lemme tell ya, I could put some serious torque on that fulcrum. Hmmm Torque… anyone? Anyone?
torque = the length of the lever x the weight on the end of it
… roughly.

The further the weight gets from the fulcrum, the more force it exerts on it.

Why is this important? Because we tend to overlook how important this physics stuff is to our training, be it strength/endurance/whathaveyou. Overlooking all to often leads to injury. No likie. So listen up.

Basic Biomechanics
Toss “bio” in front of it and suddenly we’re talking business. Are you ready for this? Your body is a system of fulcrums and levers. I don’t know about you, but my mindhole was just blown. Let’s take a closer look.

Our bodies are a “Functional Fulcrum Group” (FFG for acronym enthusiasts). We’re not just four levers (2 arms and 2 legs) attached to a central fulcrum… we’ve got all kinds of bones, joints, muscles, and ligaments going on. When we create force at the end of one of our levers, we stabilize our FFG and create movement. You still with me? Check this out:

When we take a step, we our hold our FFG (fulcrum) stable and press against the earth (force) with our leg (lever). Your average 180lb non-adult male is cranking out 3-7 times his body weight depending on if he’s walking, jogging, or running from a rabid animal. That’s a lot of force for just one step. While strength, neck girth and ham volume is important, we’ve got to start considering durability… especially for endurance/marathon/Ironman training.

Dr. Tri: “We’re looking at roughly 45,000 to 50,000 steps in a marathon… The ability to withstand this force over a period of 3 to 4 hours becomes paramount in order to just finish the race, let alone excel at that distance.”

Fulcrum vs. Core
Dr. Tri: “We must briefly delineate the difference between the ‘F’ and the ‘C’ word.”

Don’t get it twisted. These aren’t the same. Core training is focused on the abs and obliques, which doesn’t mean you’re pumpin’ power to your fulcrum.

Dr. Tri: “This is akin to preventing injury of your triceps by training your biceps.”

The biceps’ not always gonna be around to make sure the triceps doesn’t get shoved in a locker with a nosebleed and no lunch money. Better to train the triceps to prevent injury on its own.

Myth (1): “Training the abs and obliques will help to tighten the midsection and stabilize the back as a whole.”

Truth by Dr. Tri: “Not only is this NOT supported in research; it is not supported by biomechanics. This is where the distinction between ‘Core’ and ‘Fulcrum,’ or Functional Fulcrum Group (FFG), is very important.  In the human animal, the primary movement of the lower half of the body is forward and the primary FFG muscles that support this movement are the low back, glutes (butt), and hamstrings.  These muscles work primarily to stabilize the trunk while the legs propel us in a forward motion.  Our local Caliber Cycle favorite motion, the squat, is also a primarily ‘forward’ type motion.  It is dependent on the FFG muscles stabilizing the torso (plus 265 or more lb’s), while we lever with the legs into an upright position.  Training any other muscle than the low back, glutes, and hamstrings is not effectively training the FFG.”

Myth (2): “A flexible spine is a healthy spine”.

Truth by Dr. Tri: “This has not resulted in lower occurrences of injury rates and is NOT supported in research. Any excess flexibility of the FFG will increase the risk of injury and decrease performance.  A flexible FFG is not a healthy FFG.  It will ultimately fail under any sort of repetitive load. In fact, the research has shown in numerous cases that increased flexibility is not optimal when levering against the FFG especially in runners who use their levers over extended distances.”

The moral of the story is this: don’t do crunches. Squat.

Methodology of Optimal Endurance Training

Dr. Tri Gettin' Some.

Dr. Tri: “The first step that most people take, and are advised by most endurance coaches, when training for a marathon or Ironman triathlon is to begin building up their ‘base mileage’ to prepare themselves for the long hours of running, biking, and/or swimming that lie ahead.  The rationale is to prepare their legs (or also their arms if triathlon training) for the ultimate race day, as well as increase their ‘cardiovascular’ fitness.  For many reasons, including improper training of the FFG, this is the worst first step they can take.”

ixNay on the aseBay ileageMay…

There are two major pieces of the cardiovascular system:
Uno: Cardiac Output of Heart (get oxygenated blood to the muscles)
Dos: Aerobic Fitness Capacity of Muscles (train muscles to use that oxygen)

Oxygen-rich blood is fuel to our muscles. We gotta make sure our hearts are pumping around more oxygen than our muscles will ever want.

Dr. Tri: “Training should first and foremost start with building up the cardiac output and thereby guaranteeing optimal supply of fuel. Beginning the training with aerobic capacity training of the muscles will only increase their demand for fuel and run the risk of never having an optimal supply from cardiac output.”

The goal should be to train increase your cardiac output BEFORE increasing fitness capacity of the muscles. Why teach your muscles to house entire 15 pound prime ribs when all your heart can pump out is a 4 pack of hot dogs?

Brace yourself for another acronym…
The SAID Principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands)
AKA (oh! there’s another one) “Specificity of Training”

Training Cardiac Output = Training of the FFG
Trainging Aerobic Capacity = Training Levers (arms/legs)

SAID can present a problem in that we get too strong for our own good. Our levers overpower our fulcrum because we can generate more force with our massive quads that we built doing isometric leg presses at the YMCA than our FFG can handle. This is a quick ticket to Dr. Tri’s office repairing an injury. The solution? Train the FFG first.

Training the FFG means working for an iron lower back, ass and hams.

Dr. Tri: “Being able to withstand heavy repeated fast loads on the FFG results in tissues that easily withstand the relatively lower intensity loads that are applied from the lever arms/legs during endurance activities… studies by our favorite Japanese researcher, Dr. Izumi Tabata, have found that high intensity training is most optimal for training cardiac output.”

Dr. Tri: “To summarize, we can see that the first step in Optimal Endurance Training is to train two aspects, the Functional Fulcrum Group of the biomechanical system and cardiac output of the cardiovascular system.  This ensures that later on during training and ultimately on race day, when we need to focus on levering for hours and hours, and are training the aerobic capacity fitness of those lever arms/legs, that the system is durable enough to withstand this levering while also supplying enough oxygen-enriched blood/fuel for the levering muscles.
Once the FFG and cardiac output are trained to a high enough level, then we can transition training over to lever arm/legs and aerobic capacity training.  This will decrease the risk of injury as well as keep the system at its most optimal level of performance capacity.  Any break from this specific training methodology will only result in imbalances in the biomechanical system, as well as, the cardiovascular system.

So, bring on the Caliber Cycle Training in the dark days of this winter, if you plan on running, biking, or swimming, during the relatively sunny days of next summer.”

Article by: Mike “Dr. Tri” Ross
Article writeup by: GogO
Posted by: Z