Document Sample
Fatigue_Overtraining Powered By Docstoc
					NCCP L EVEL 4 AND 5, T ASK 6:
A review of the mechanisms of fatigue, and overtraining in athletes, how
to rest and recover for optimal training and performance, and optimizing
taper for competition performance.

Assignment Prepared by:

Stuart Robinson

Head Coach uOttawa Gee-Gees Men’s Rugby

May 2010

Learning Objectives:

Section 1: Fatigue


Theme #1: Potential fatigue factors

Identify the main factors that are or can become sources of fatigue for your athletes during training or competition.
For each, identify a specific strategy in order to limit or reduce its impact, or to maximize recovery.

Fatigue factor

Lack of sleep and rest

Poor time management

Poor planning for university studies and extra curricular studies

Injury, muscle damage or other

Tiredness of the Central Nervous System (CNS)

Deficiencies; protein, potassium, magnesium, sodium, or calcium.

Nutritional deficiencies and insufficient Hydration

Viruses and other infectious diseases

Over training not recovering properly

Work, socializing and university studies and exams

Mental: Personal problems, family, love ones, university studies

Not coping with living on campus

To far to travel to university and play rugby

On rare occasion could be due to altitude
How to avoid Fatigue in Athletes through nutrition

a. Food is essential for energy, growth, repair and strengthening of tissue. A poor diet, lacking in potential energy or
essential nutrients, can result in poor performance, physiological breakdown and injury.
b. The energy in a diet is obtained mainly from carbohydrates and fats with protein providing a minimal amount.
Exercise and physical activity is by far the greatest factor in energy consumption. If more energy is consumed than
expended, the excess will be stored as fat. If energy intake is insufficient, then the body's fat stores will be used
resulting in weight loss.
c. The main function of carbohydrates is to provide an energy fuel. It is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles.
The main types of dietary carbohydrate are starches and sugars.
d. Fats hold almost double the amount of potential energy than carbohydrates. However, fat takes greater time to use
and cannot be used to maintain high intensity exercise.
e. Proteins are primarily used for the manufacture of tissue components such as hemoglobin, enzymes and
contractile proteins.
f. Most vitamins cannot be manufactured within the body and must be consumed in the diet. It is essential to
consume adequate carbohydrates between training sessions or even to replenish the system during prolonged
physical sessions.
g. Water makes up 55 to 65 per cent of the body's total weight. The sensation of thirst an individual feels is an
inadequate method of monitoring hydration and will often lead to dehydration and poor performance.
h. Eating a variety of foods and maintaining an energy balance are basic guidelines for a healthy diet.
If more energy is consumed than expended the excess will be stored as fat and body weight will increase
j. While alcohol is said to have an energy value, the human body cannot process this fuel into useable energy to fuel
K. Eat 5-6 smaller meals per day and cut down the portions

Recovery strategy to reduce or limit its impact

It's long been understood that dehydration and carbohydrate depletion are the main causes of exercise-induced
fatigue. Athletes know they can prolong their activity by loading up on carbohydrates and drinking plenty of fluids.
However, recent studies also reveal there are additional key factors that contribute to fatigue during prolonged

In most cases I find athletes need lots of rest and good sleep 8-9 hours. Excellent nutrition, excellent hydration and
try and lead a balanced lifestyle through ‗time management‘ and schedule aerobic, anaerobic and high energy
phosphate training under careful supervision by coaches and professionals and by working with these person. All
athletes are individuals and are generic. Remember some people have and or a low acceptance to training. Some
have a higher threshold to training. Combining these items with a mental, resilience, focused and vision plan is a
good start to success.


During exercise, the body loses water through sweating and evaporation. Sweat is the way your body keeps from
overheating as sweat glands release perspiration that evaporates, cooling the skin and the blood underneath. The
cooled blood then flows back to cool the body's core. Even mild dehydration can impair athletic performance. To
restore the body's fluids that are lost during exercise, athletes should consume beverages that contain agents such as
glucose and sodium, two ingredients found in most sports or energy drinks. These agents help maintain blood
volume and aid in the absorption of water into the body.


During exercise, an athlete's body temperature, typically about 98.6 degrees, can increase to temps up to 104 degrees
or more, especially during intense exercise. While a certain percentage of blood is used to regulate body
temperature, large quantities of blood are still required to meet the energy and metabolic needs of working muscles.
These demands can overtax the circulatory system, resulting in inadequate removal of body heat and a rise in an
athlete's body temperature. Research has proven that athletes involved in endurance sports can experience risks of
overheating. Studies indicated that athletes who drank fluids during a two-hour run lowered their body temps by two
degrees compared to those who did not re-hydrate.

Depletion of Muscle Fuels

During intense short-term exercise, fatigue can result from depletion of glycogen. Glucose is the predominant fuel
source for muscles in the first 10 seconds to three minutes of intense exercise. During long-term exercise, the
aerobic pathway kicks in for energy production. In addition to glucose, fatty acids and amino acids are burned as
fuel for aerobic metabolism, providing a wider range of energy resources.

However, glycogen depletion contributes to muscle fatigue even during long-term exercise. During studies, when
athletes exercised to near exhaustion at 80 percent of their maximum capacity, the glycogen content of their muscles
dropped to near zero in about 90 minutes. Through carbohydrate loading, endurance was increased and glycogen
storage capacity was enhanced. These results suggest glycogen is a crucial fuel for energy production.

To preserve glycogen, some athletes adopt the method of training the muscles to become more efficient in using fat
as a fuel source by completing several extended training sessions, each lasting more than two hours. This method
stimulates the enzymes responsible for the conversion of fat into energy, which enables athletes to burn a higher
percentage of fat and conserve glycogen for more strenuous efforts.

Low Blood Glucose

In addition to providing energy for muscles, glucose is also a source of energy for the brain and nervous system. In
fact, 50 to 60 percent of the glucose supplied by the liver is used strictly for brain and nervous system function.

During longer exercise sessions, glycogen stores run low. This reliance on muscle glycogen is balanced by an
increased reliance on blood glucose for fuel. After two to three hours of exercise, the majority of carbohydrate
energy appears to be derived from glucose, which is transported from circulating blood into exercising muscles. This
causes blood glucose to decline to relatively low levels. Fatigue occurs because there is not enough blood glucose
available to compensate for the depleted muscle glycogen.

The use of sports drinks, carbohydrate gels and sports bars help athletes keep good blood glucose levels elevated to
maintain central nervous system function and provides carbohydrates to working muscles. Studies show that athletes
are capable of absorbing up to 80 grams of carbohydrates per hour during exercise, delaying fatigue by as much as
30 to 60 minutes.

Central Fatigue

Recent research has also examined mental fatigue during exercise. Although it does not affect the muscles directly,
central fatigue can reduce an athlete's capacity to perform. Doctors have uncovered a correlation between levels of
the amino acid tryptophan in the brain and the degree of mental fatigue. Once tryptophan enters the brain, it can
depress the central nervous system, causing fatigue. Supplementation of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) helps
to regulate the entry of tryptophan into the brain and has proven to increase performance for athletes. Additional
research is being conducted in this area.

By making sure you're properly hydrated before and during exercise, and by consuming enough of the nutrients your
body needs to fuel activity, you can increase your chances of beating muscle fatigue and reaching the finish line a

Pain and Mental Fatigue

Mental fatigue can be crippling. One cause of mental fatigue is pain. The perception of pain and exhaustion can
weigh heavily on an athlete‘s mind. Motivation and enthusiasm are necessary to sustain the hard work of prolonged,
intense physical activity. Pain can deflate our motivation like a needle in a balloon.

Mental fatigue can also be induced by acidosis (slightly acidic blood). The acidosis affects the brain and various
mental functions, causing sensations of unbearable exhaustion and nausea. Acidosis can be caused by high levels of
lactic acid. Lactic acid is a natural by-product when energy is produced from carbohydrates without sufficient
oxygen. The best way to extract energy from carbohydrates is with the aid of oxygen (which is why we breathe and
pant so much when working hard). Burning carbohydrates for energy with adequate oxygen yields about eighteen
times as much energy as without oxygen. Similarly, blowing on a campfire will cause it to burn hotter. However,
muscles sometimes work so hard that the demand for oxygen cannot be met, so the muscles are forced to generate
energy without oxygen. If you‘re panting or gasping for breath, you‘re not getting as much oxygen to your muscles
as they‘d like. The generation of energy without oxygen is a relatively inefficient backup mechanism, used only
when necessary. The good news: it can generate energy without oxygen. The bad news: it produces less energy per
carbohydrate and it also generates lactic acid. When lactic acid accumulates in the blood, it can cause acidosis.
Suppose you‘re a sprinting as fast as you possibly can. After about 400 meters even well-trained athletes will start to
become dizzy and nauseous, they may even fall down and puke. The lactic acidosis is affecting the brain and
inducing these symptoms which contribute to mental fatigue. Nutritional strategies are also required to combat this

The Central Fatigue Hypothesis

Evidence is accumulating in support of a role for the neurotransmitter 5-HT, and perhaps dopamine, in central
fatigue during prolonged exercise. Newsholme was the first to form the hypothesis that, because of its well-known
effects on arousal, lethargy, sleepiness, and mood, 5-HT may have a role as a possible mediator of central fatigue.

It was also hypothesized that exercise could influence important factors that control the synthesis and turnover of 5-
HT in the brain. This hypothesis suggested that increased amounts of brain 5-HT could lead to central fatigue during
prolonged exercise, thus affecting sport and exercise performance.

Increased synthesis of 5-HT in the brain occurs in response to an increase in the delivery of blood-borne tryptophan
(TRP), an amino acid precursor to 5-HT. Most of the TRP in blood plasma circulates loosely bound to albumin;
however, unbound, or free, TRP (f-TRP) is transported across the blood-brain barrier. This transport occurs via
specific receptors that TRP shares with other large neutral amino acids, most notably the branched-chain amino acids
(BCAAs) leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Thus, 5-HT synthesis in the brain increases when there is an increase in the
ratio of the f-TRP concentration in blood plasma to the total BCAA concentration in plasma (i.e., when f-
TRP:BCAA rises). This increase was proposed to occur during prolonged exercise for 2 reasons. First, BCAAs are
taken up from blood and oxidized for energy during contraction of skeletal muscles. Second, fatty acid (FA)
concentrations in plasma increase, causing a parallel increase in plasma f-TRP because FAs displace TRP from its
binding sites on albumin (Figure 1 ).
                                           FIGURE 1. . Primary components of the central fatigue hypothesis at
                                           rest and during prolonged exercise. BCAA, branched-chain amino
                                           acid; FA, fatty acid; f-TRP, free tryptophan; 5-HT, 5-
                                           hydroxytryptamine (serotonin); TRP, tryptophan.

Physical exercise is not the only condition under which changes in TRP uptake and 5-HT metabolism in the brain
have been linked to altered behavior. Although TRP uptake in the brain is rather stable under many conditions,
immobilization stress or ingestion of a high-carbohydrate (CHO) meal can increase uptake. TRP uptake also appears
to be elevated in elderly persons and in persons with depression, various appetite disorders, liver failure, and renal
disease. However, the mechanism for increased brain TRP uptake is often different under various conditions. For
example, immobilization stress appears to increase TRP uptake by enhancing the kinetics of TRP (and other amino
acid) transport to the brain. A high-CHO meal stimulated brain TRP uptake via an insulin-induced decrease in the
plasma concentration of competing large neutral amino acids and FAs. A combination of these mechanisms may
occur with aging. Moreover, the mechanism of TRP uptake may depend on the specific situation in which treatment
is administered. For example, CHO ingestion has opposite effects on brain TRP uptake depending on whether the
subject is at rest or doing vigorous exercise. At rest, brain TRP uptake is accelerated because of an insulin-induced
decrease in plasma concentration of competing large neutral amino acids and FAs. During vigorous exercise,
however, insulin release is inhibited and brain TRP uptake is attenuated because of reductions in FA mobilization
and plasma FA and f-TRP concentrations.

Brain 5-HT and Central Fatigue during Exercise

Studies in both rats and humans provide good evidence that brain 5-HT activity increases during prolonged exercise
and that this response is associated with fatigue. Investigators are only beginning to explore the possible physiologic
mechanisms behind this response.
The serotonergic system is associated with numerous brain functions that can positively or negatively affect
endurance performance. We have observed that fatigue during prolonged exercise in rats is associated with increased
5-HT and reduced dopamine concentrations in the brain. Other evidence has shown an inverse relationship between
5-HT and dopamine in certain brain areas. On the basis of these findings, it is our working hypothesis that a low
ratio of brain 5-HT to dopamine favors improved performance (i.e., increased arousal, motivation, and optimal
neuromuscular coordination), whereas a high ratio of 5-HT to dopamine favors decreased performance (i.e.,
decreased motivation, lethargy, tiredness, and loss of motor coordination). The latter would constitute central fatigue.

Chaouloff was the first to demonstrate an effect of treadmill exercise on the ratio of f-TRP to BCAA in plasma, as
well as on the concentrations of 5-HT and its primary metabolite 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid (5-HIAA) in the brain.
Chaouloff initially showed that the total concentration of TRP in plasma was unaffected in rats after 1–2 h of
treadmill running (20 m/min). However, the concentration of f-TRP in plasma was markedly increased and was
accompanied by an increase in TRP and 5-HIAA concentrations in the brain. Similar changes were found in
cerebrospinal fluid, and concentrations returned to basal amounts by 1 h after exercise. The same authors also found
that endurance-trained rats that had undergone repeated sessions of prolonged exercise showed increased turnover of
plasma FA, brain TRP, and brain 5-HT immediately after exercise, but that this increase was smaller than that found
in less well-trained rats. This was the first evidence that endurance running is associated with an increase in 5-HT
production and turnover, which in turn is due to an increase in plasma f-TRP.

We began to look more carefully at the possible relationship between elevated 5-HT concentrations in the brain and
fatigue. One experiment was designed to study the time course of changes in brain neurotransmitters during exercise
to fatigue. Rats were killed at points corresponding to rest, after 1 h of treadmill running (1 h) and at fatigue
(approximately 3 h). The treadmill speed (20 m/min) and grade (5%) were set to elicit 60–65% of O2max. The
midbrain, striatum, hypothalamus, and hippocampus were analyzed for concentrations of 5-HT and dopamine and
their primary metabolites, 5-HIAA and Dopac (3, 4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid). In the 1-h group, 5-HT and 5-
HIAA concentrations were increased in all brain regions except the hippocampus, where only 5-HIAA was elevated.
In the fatigue group, 5-HT was similarly elevated in all brain regions, but 5-HIAA was further increased in the
striatum and the midbrain. Interestingly, dopamine and Dopac both increased at 1 h but had returned to control
amounts after fatigue. These results indicate that 5-HT and 5-HIAA concentrations increase during endurance
exercise and are highest at fatigue.

The aforementioned studies provide good evidence of increased 5-HT and 5-HIAA concentrations in whole brain
tissue at specific time points during prolonged exercise. However, these studies do not differentiate between intra-
and extra cellular concentrations, which is necessary to determine whether the changes are due to the release of 5-HT
from the serotonergic neuron terminals. Techniques involving in vivo microdialysis have been used to examine this
issue and support the conclusion that increased release of 5-HT occurs in various regions of the brain. However, no
such studies have been conducted during fatiguing exercise. Further development of this technique should provide
exciting new avenues for exploration of central fatigue in the exercise model.

A better cause and effect relationship between increased brain 5-HT and fatigue was demonstrated in a series of
experiments involving pharmacologic alterations in brain 5-HT activity during exercise in rats. It was proposed that
if 5-HT could be artificially increased through the administration of 5-HT agonists (drugs that specifically increase
5-HT activity), fatigue would occur earlier. In contrast, if 5-HT antagonists (drugs that decrease brain 5-HT activity)
were administered, fatigue would be delayed. The experiments demonstrated that run time to exhaustion decreased
after the administration of specific 5-HT agonists but increased after the administration of a 5-HT antagonist. These
modulations in run time to fatigue occurred despite no apparent alterations in body temperature, blood glucose,
muscle and liver glycogen, or various stress hormones.

Similar studies were conducted with human subjects in whom brain 5-HT activity was increased by the
administration of either of the 5-HT agonists paroxetine or fluoxetine. Fatigue occurred earlier during running or
cycling, and ratings of perceived exertion were higher when the drugs were administered than when a placebo was
administered. As in the animal studies, there were no obvious differences in cardiovascular, thermoregulatory, or
metabolic function that could explain the differences in exercise time to fatigue.

Nutritional Manipulations

 One of the implications of the central fatigue hypothesis is that nutritional manipulations can alter brain
neurochemistry and exercise performance. Two main areas of focus involve BCAA and CHO supplementation.
Intake of BCAA should lower the plasma f-TRP-to-BCAA ratio and presumably 5-HT synthesis, owing to decreased
f-TRP transport across the blood-brain barrier. As BCAAs compete with f-TRP for the same transport sites across
the blood-brain barrier, a reduction of this ratio will, in turn, decrease the amount of f-TRP entering the brain,
thereby limiting 5-HT synthesis. The postulated benefits of CHO feedings in limiting central fatigue are based on the
fact that the normally large increase in circulating FAs that is seen during submaximal exercise is at least partially
blocked by CHO ingestion. Because FAs have a higher affinity for albumin than do the loosely bound TRP, this
would attenuate the normal large increase in f-TRP and f-TRP-to-BCAA ratio that is expected during prolonged
exercise (Figure 2 ). Unlike the situation during rest, in which a high-CHO meal would elicit a large increase in
plasma insulin and a corresponding decrease in BCAA concentrations, the insulin response is blunted during
exercise to the extent that little or no decrease in plasma BCAA occurs.

                                           FIGURE 2. . Proposed effects of carbohydrate (CHO) and branched
                                           chain amino acids (BCAA) on central fatigue during prolonged
                                           exercise. FA, fatty acid; f-TRP, free tryptophan; 5-HT, 5-
                                           hydroxytryptamine (serotonin); TRP, tryptophan.

Blomstrand has focused on the administration of BCAAs as a means of delaying central fatigue during prolonged
activities, such as marathon racing, cross-country ski racing, and soccer matches. When 7.5–21 g of BCAAs were
administered before and during exercise. Small improvements were reported in both physical and mental
performance in some subjects. It should be noted, however, that although field studies such as these are designed to
mimic the real-world situations of athletes, such studies are often limited in scientific value. For example, subjects
are often not appropriately matched to prevent inherent differences in the performance capacities of the groups
before being assigned to control and experimental groups. In addition, studies of this nature often do not, or cannot,
blind subjects to experimental treatments to prevent bias on the part of the subjects toward the treatment that they
believe to be better. Finally, these studies often fail to control important variables, i.e., exercise intensity and food
and water intake, across the treatment groups. These and other limitations increase the likelihood that the benefits
ascribed to a particular nutritional supplement may have actually resulted from inherent differences in the groups,
subject bias, or uncontrolled variables.

In well-controlled laboratory experiments, the administration of BCAA showed to have no benefits on performance
during prolonged bouts of exercise. Using a double-blinded, crossover design, Varnier found no differences in
performance of a graded incremental exercise test to fatigue after the infusion of 20 g of BCAA or saline over 70
min before exercise. Additionally, Verger reported that fatigue occurred earlier during prolonged treadmill running
in rats fed relatively large amounts of BCAAs than in those fed either water or glucose.

To further assess the potential role of BCAA supplementation on exercise performance, Blomstrand devised a cycle
ergometry protocol for trained athletes in a controlled laboratory study. In this study, 5 endurance-trained male
cyclists performed cycle ergometer exercise to fatigue at 75% O2 peak, preceded by a glycogen-reducing activity.
On separate occasions, subjects were randomly given (a) BCAA (7 g/L–1) in a 6% CHO solution, (b) 6% CHO
solution, or (c) flavored water placebo. Increases in performance were seen in subjects given CHO and in those
given BCAA in CHO solution as compared with those given placebo. Results further indicated no additional benefits
of the added BCAA despite increases in BCAA concentrations in plasma (120%) and muscle (35%).

In another well-controlled study, van Hall tested the effects of both TRP and BCAA supplementation on cycling
time to fatigue. Ten endurance-trained athletes randomly completed a session of cycle ergometry exercise to fatigue
at 70–75% of their maximal power output after being given (a) low concentrations of BCAA (6 g/L–1) in 6% CHO,
(b) high concentrations of BCAA (18 g/L–1) in 6% CHO, or (c) TRP (36 g/L–1) in a 6% CHO solution. Despite large
changes in plasma concentrations of BCAA and total TRP, exercise time to exhaustion ( 122 min) was not different
among treatments. The authors concluded that these manipulations either had no additional effect on serotonergic
activity in the brain or that manipulation of serotonergic activity functionally does not contribute to mechanisms of
fatigue. This brings up an important issue regarding the presumed effect of supplementation on brain
neurochemistry, which of course cannot be directly assessed in human studies.

A completed pilot study in rats that addresses this issue in part. They tested the effects of BCAA or CHO feedings on
5-HT and 5-HIAA concentrations in the midbrain and striatum after 60, 90, and 120 min of treadmill running. No
concentration differences were found in either brain region at 60 and 90 min. At 120 min, however, 5-HT and 5-
HIAA concentrations were lower in the brainstem in both the BCAA and the CHO groups than in a water-fed group.
5-HT concentrations in the striatum were also lower in the CHO group at 120 min. Whether these changes reflect
differences in central fatigue awaits further study.

For BCAAs to be physiologically effective in reducing central fatigue, large doses are probably required. Large
doses, however, are likely to increase the ammonia concentration in plasma, which is known to be toxic to the brain
and muscle. It has been suggested that buffering of ammonia could lead to early fatigue in working muscles by
depleting glycolytically derived carbon skeletons (pyruvate) and draining intermediates of the tricarboxylic acid
cycle. Large doses of BCAA during exercise are also likely to slow water absorption across the gut, cause
gastrointestinal disturbances, and decrease fluid palatability.

To assess the effects of a smaller, more palatable supplement of BCAAs ( 0.5 g x h–1 BCAA consumed in a CHO-
electrolyte drink), we studied the effects of supplementation on cycling performance to fatigue at 70% O2 max.
This low dose of BCAA was chosen to replace the calculated maximum amount of BCAA uptake and metabolism
by muscle that was likely to occur under these conditions; and to decrease the likelihood that the BCAA supplements
would impair water absorption rates in the gut, produce gastrointestinal distress, or otherwise be unpalatable. The
results of this study showed that the low-dose BCAA supplement added to a CHO-electrolyte drink was palatable,
did not cause gastrointestinal distress, and prevented the slight drop in BCAA concentration in plasma that occurred
during prolonged cycling when subjects consumed the CHO-electrolyte drink without the BCAA supplement.
However, the added BCAAs did not affect ride times to fatigue, perceived exertion, or various measures of
cardiovascular and metabolic function.

It seems reasonably clear from the weight of the evidence in the literature that BCAA supplementation is probably
not an appropriate nutritional strategy for delaying central fatigue and enhancing performance. On the other hand,
the literature is consistent in showing beneficial effects of CHO feedings during prolonged exercise when compared
with a water placebo. This is not surprising, given the well-known benefit of CHO feedings on muscle metabolism
and fatigue. It is also possible; however, that CHO feedings can delay central fatigue. Therefore, a more appropriate
strategy for delaying both peripheral and central fatigue might involve CHO feedings.

This hypothesis was tested in a double-blind, placebo-controlled laboratory study in which subjects drank either 5 ml
of a water placebo, a 6% CHO-electrolyte drink, or a 12% CHO-electrolyte drink per kilogram of body weight per
hour during prolonged cycling at 70% O2 max to fatigue. When subjects consumed the water placebo, plasma f-
TRP increased by 7-fold (in direct proportion to plasma FAs), whereas TRP and BCAA concentrations changed very
little during the ride. When subjects consumed either the 6% or the 12% CHO-electrolyte solution, the increases in
plasma f-TRP were greatly reduced, and fatigue was delayed by 1 h. The CHO feedings caused a slight reduction
in plasma BCAAs (19% and 31% in the 6% and 12% CHO groups, respectively), but this decrease was probably
inconsequential with respect to the very large attenuation (5–7-fold) of plasma f-TRP. Although it was not possible
to distinguish between the beneficial effects of CHO feedings on central compared with peripheral mechanisms of
fatigue in this study, it was interesting that the substantial delay in fatigue could not be explained by typical markers
of peripheral muscle fatigue involving cardiovascular, thermoregulatory, and metabolic function.


Unfortunately, little is known about the mechanisms underlying a CNS effect on fatigue. This area of investigation
has largely been ignored, owing in large part to the difficulty of studying brain function in humans, the lack of viable
theories to explain such an occurrence, and the lack of good methodologies to directly measure central fatigue. In
recent years, however, new methodologies and viable theories have sparked renewed interest in the development of
hypotheses that can be tested in a systematic fashion and that may help to explain the role of the CNS in fatigue.

Fatigue-related research generally includes an examination of treatments designed to delay fatigue and enhance
physical performance. This often involves nutritional strategies that supply extra fuel to the working muscle or buffer
the buildup of toxic metabolic by-products. A possible role of nutrition in central fatigue is also beginning to emerge
in the scientific literature. Nutritional strategies designed to alter brain 5-HT metabolism have received the most
attention in this regard. Although 5-HT is probably not the only neurotransmitter involved in central fatigue during
prolonged exercise, a review of the mechanisms involved in the control of 5-HT synthesis and turnover in the brain
make it a particularly attractive candidate. Newsholme et al (11) first proposed this neurotransmitter as a potential
mediator of central fatigue in 1987. It is well known that increases in brain 5-HT can have important effects on
arousal, lethargy, sleepiness, and mood that could be linked to altered perception of effort and muscular fatigue.

It is now known that 5-HT and its major metabolite, 5-HIAA, increase in several brain regions during prolonged
exercise and reaches a peak at fatigue. This increase in brain 5-HT metabolism almost certainly results from an
increase in f-TRP and f-TRP-to-BCAA ratio in plasma. It is also known that the administration of drugs that increase
and decrease 5-HT activity in the brain have predictable effects on run times to fatigue in the absence of any
apparent peripheral markers of muscle fatigue.

The evidence, however, is more tenuous regarding a benefit of nutrition on central fatigue during exercise. Studies
involving BCAA supplementation usually show no performance benefit despite preliminary evidence that it can
suppress brain 5-HT metabolism during exercise. Perhaps the negative effects of ammonia accumulation on muscle,
and brain function offset this potentially beneficial effect on brain 5-HT. CHO supplementation, in contrast, are
associated with large decreases in f-TRP and f-TRP-to-BCAA ratio in plasma and with a decrease in 5-HT
metabolism in the brain, and fatigue are clearly delayed by this strategy. However, it is not possible to distinguish
with certainty the effects of CHO feedings on central fatigue mechanisms and the well-established beneficial effects
of CHO supplementation on the contracting muscle.

Future research on possible relations among nutrition, brain neurochemistry, and fatigue is likely to lead to important
discoveries that may enhance physical and mental performance during sports participation as well as during activities
of normal daily life. This research should begin to incorporate new technologies involving transcranial magnetic
stimulation, in vivo microdialysis, novel drugs, and various new dynamic imaging technologies, including positron
emission tomography for measuring neurotransmitter metabolism and receptor changes. The resulting information
may also help us to understand and better treat the debilitating fatigue that often occurs in patients with chronic
fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, viral illness, and depression, among other disorders. Although the evidence usually
makes good intuitive sense, however, our knowledge in this area is rudimentary at best.

When is a sport drink more beneficial then water?

Most athletes acknowledge that hydration is important. But there is confusion about which fluid to hydrate with.
Some athletes have heard that water is as good as a sports drink. Some have also heard that sports drinks can make
you fat. Both of these statements are true and false, depending on the situation.

Much of the nutritional guidance in the popular media is targeted to the general population. Most people are
sedentary or engage in only light exercise. Their nutritional needs are very different from those of athletes in pursuit
of peak performance.

―Athletes are like Ferraris and the rest of us are like Fords and Chevies.

Athletes need high octane fuel.‖ The sports drink vs. water decision is an excellent example of this dichotomy of
recommendations. Sports drinks can be very beneficial for elite endurance athletes. Sports drinks are formulated to
provide the fluid, energy, and minerals they need to sustain their athletic prowess. For non-athletes, water is the best
beverage and sports drinks are empty calories, very similar to fattening, sugary soft drinks (soda pop).

Gatorade was created in 1965 by a team of sports physiologists at the University of Florida. The Gators football
team was struggling to stay hydrated and energized during summer practices. The original recipe used to ‗aid‘ the
‗gators‘ continues to be supported by more recent scientific research. The physiologists knew that one liter (about
one quart) is the maximum amount of water that most people can absorb in one hour while exercising. Likewise, 60
grams of glucose is the maximum amount that could be absorbed in one hour. So, Gatorade was formulated to
contain 60 grams of glucose in one liter of water (6% glucose). The athletes were advised to drink one liter per hour
for maximum benefit. This would provide the maximum amount of glucose and water the athletes‘ bodies could
accommodate. The original formula also contained some sodium and potassium to replace these minerals that are
lost in sweat. These minerals (called electrolytes or salts) also serve to encourage water absorption by the body.

Today, there are dozens of different sports drinks with a range of carbohydrate and mineral concentrations. Some
also have a variety of other components, such as caffeine, creatine, vitamins, and antioxidants. The components of
sports drinks will be evaluated in this article so you know what to look for. But, first, I‘d like to return to the
question of when is a sports drink more beneficial than water. And, when is pure water preferred.

The principal ingredients in a sports drink besides water are minerals and carbohydrates. These minerals (primarily
sodium and potassium) leave the body along with our sweat. Any athlete who sweats a lot might benefit from
replacing these minerals during exercise. Athletes frequently underestimate the amounts they sweat. Athletes that
train hard for more than an hour each day, especially when in hot climates, would probably benefit from some
mineral supplementation during exercise. While the general population usually obtains sufficient amounts of these
minerals from a balanced diet, intensively training athletes may not get enough in the diet to replace the large
amounts lost in their sweat.

Carbohydrates are included in sports drinks because carbohydrate depletion is the most common cause of fatigue in
athletes (see Why Athletes Fatigue). Athletes employ several strategies to delay carbohydrate depletion. One
strategy is to consume carbohydrates during physical activity. The carbohydrates could be obtained in foods or
beverages. Beverages are often more convenient. They also provide water, thereby resolving two challenges

Athletes begin their physical activity with a fixed amount of stored carbohydrates. Sometimes those stores are
plentiful, such as after a carbohydrate-rich meal. At other times the carbohydrate stores are meager, such as when
nothing has been eaten for several hours. An example of this would be Mark, the athlete mentioned in the beginning
of this article. He was weight training before breakfast. Athletes who begin their training session or competition
with low carbohydrate stores would benefit from consuming supplemental carbohydrates during the event. This
might be true for even a 20 minute work out. It would depend on how low the carbohydrate stores were.

 The amount of carbohydrates that a body can store is limited. There is a maximum. For most athletes, this
maximum is about one pound. Some elite athletes can train their bodies to store up to two pounds. Whatever the
amount, it will eventually run out when you train or compete for an extended period. So, another group of athletes
likely to benefit from carbohydrate consumption during an event are those whose carbohydrate stores could not
suffice even if the stores were maximized. A good example of this would be long-distance cyclists, who may cycle
for 3-5 hours. Sports nutritionists generally recommend supplemental carbohydrates (like sports drinks) for well-
nourished athletes if their event lasts longer than 90 minutes.

Supplemental carbohydrates during an event will not increase your energy at the beginning of the event. You will
not run faster or jump higher. But you will be able to run longer at your chosen speed. This is like when you add
gas to your car‘s tank during a trip. The additional gas will not make you drive faster, but it will enable you to drive
longer. What if the gas gauge is broken? Wouldn‘t you think it wise to add a little gas for insurance? We usually
don‘t know the amount of our carbohydrate stores. Sometimes we also don‘t know how long the event will last.
What if the game goes into overtime? Why risk running out of carbohydrates when the consequences can be so
catastrophic? This is why athletes who want peak performance to consume carbohydrates during all trainings and
competitions – usually as a sports drink.

Begin drinking sports drinks before you begin the intense activity (during or after warming up) and continue
drinking them throughout. Don‘t wait until your carbohydrate stores run low. Add ‗gas‘ to your tank continuously,
so the total added is greater. The more you add, the longer you can go before running out.

Some athletes use a sports drink during an important competition, but not during training. This is a rooky mistake.
Delaying fatigue is just as important during training as it is during competition. How else can an athlete improve
performance? Athletes should follow a hydration plan with sports drinks during training sessions that closely
mimics how they plan to drink during a competition. This enables athletes (and their trainers and coaches) to
evaluate their hydration plan and their chosen sports drink for effectiveness. Adjustments can be made to the plan
prior to important competitions. Practice your drinking of sports drinks until you‘re satisfied with your athletic
drinking skills.

Water is your best beverage when you only want to hydrate, when you are completely confident that your body‘s
mineral and carbohydrate stores are sufficient to last through the event. An example of this might be running or
cycling for 30 minutes in the evening when you‘re well-nourished. Plain water would also probably be sufficient
during a 5K footrace, assuming you‘re well-nourished. If you‘ve been eating a carbohydrate-rich, well-balanced
diet over the previous few days, your carbohydrate stores should be sufficient to sustain you for at least 45 minutes,
so a sports drink would be redundant. The carbohydrate stores of many well-nourished athletes might even last for
75 minutes. Or, maybe even 90 minutes. But, I don‘t recommend taking that risk if you want to be competitive.

 Water would also be your preferred beverage if the goal of the physical activity is to reduce body-fat. In this
instance, the sports drink would be additional calories and would undermine your goal. The extra calories of the
sports drink would slow the rate at which the body-fat is being used to fuel the activity. Of course, your athletic
performance will suffer if your body‘s carbohydrate stores run low during your exercise. You may feel a greater
sense of fatigue. So, you should not drink plain water if your goal is to improve your performance, or if you dislike
that feeling of fatigue when you‘re exercising. If you‘re not concerned about your performance, and reducing body-
fat is your primary goal, then water would be your best hydration beverage, no matter how fatigued you get. (This
does not include exercise lasting more than two hours in hot weather, when mineral replacement might be needed.)

Water is usually your best beverage whenever you are not exercising (except of course during breaks in the action).
This includes when you‘re watching from the sidelines, as well as from the couch at home. Never drink a sports
drink while inactive, except in the following exceptions. One exception would be immediately before or
immediately after exercising. Another exception might be if you can‘t consume sufficient carbohydrates from
natural food to meet daily needs. Women tend to have smaller stomachs and may not be able to eat enough.
Endurance athletes may also have difficulty consuming enough carbohydrates from food. So, there are some
athletes, such as women cross-country runners, who might benefit from the additional carbohydrates throughout the
day. For supplemental carbohydrates while at rest, try to avoid beverages high in fructose. The better ones have
glucose and dextrin (see below). Other than these few exceptions, it‘s generally unwise to consume sports drinks
when not engaged in a sport.

 Athletes should not drink sports drinks during the off-season, or whenever they‘re not training hard. Dinking sports
drinks or any other sugary drink when you‘re not physically active can increase body-fat deposits. What‘s the big
difference due to the physical activity? When you‘re engaged in physical activity, all the carbohydrates tend to go
directly to the working muscles. None will go into storage. When you‘re sedentary, up to half the sugary
carbohydrates may be converted to fat. Most of the other half of the carbohydrates will go into carbohydrate stores.
Another concern with drinking sugar-water when it‘s not justified to enhance athletic performance is the needless
increase in dental cavities.

How much carbohydrate?

The concentration of carbohydrates in sports drinks usually ranges between 4-8%. This percentage is not indicated
on the label. Instead, the Nutrition Facts label indicates the quantity (in grams) of carbohydrates in a serving
(usually 8 or 12 oz). Ignore the percentages listed under % Daily Value. The standard goal for most athletes
(whenever possible) is to drink 8 oz of fluid with 15 grams of carbohydrate every 15 minutes (22 grams in a 12 oz
serving). Most sports drinks have 14-16 grams per 8 oz serving, though they can range from 10-20 grams. Why the
range? The goal is to get as much carbohydrate as possible, so higher amounts would be better if tolerated.
However, there‘s a lot of variation among athletes. Some athletes can drink a beverage with 30 grams of
carbohydrate in 8 oz, while others feel even 10 grams per 8 oz is too sweet, and makes them gag. High fructose
corn syrup is especially sweet. Sweet things taste even sweeter during exercise in some athletes. If it‘s too sweet to
drink, then find one that isn‘t or dilute a full-strength sports drink with plain water until an acceptable sweetness is
reached. Remember: More is better, but anything is better than nothing.
Which carbohydrate?

The carbohydrates in sports drinks are usually simple sugars. They are primarily glucose, fructose, and sucrose.
There is some evidence that a mixture of glucose and fructose is optimal for endurance athletes. The explanation is
that the glucose is absorbed very quickly and provides an immediate boost in blood glucose. The fructose is
absorbed more slowly. The fructose must then be converted to glucose by the liver before it can contribute to blood
glucose. (Muscles don‘t use fructose.) Thus, the effect on blood glucose is longer with less of a spike. Sucrose is
equal parts glucose and fructose. It is commonly called table sugar or sucrose syrup and comes primarily from
fruit. Most sports drinks of the 21st century contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is the inexpensive
sweetener used in soft drinks. It is made by converting some of the glucose in corn sugar (which initially is almost
all glucose) to fructose. So, HFCS has about equal amounts of glucose and fructose. This nutrient composition is
similar to sucrose (table sugar), but HFCS is much cheaper because it‘s made from corn rather than fruit. It‘s also
sweeter than table sugar. Sometimes, sports drinks may contain maltose, dextrin, or maltodextrin. These are
complexes of glucose molecules connected together (without fructose). These larger complexes of glucose are
especially useful when the carbohydrate concentration gets above 8% because they remain dissolved better than
simple sugars do at the higher concentration, and are less likely to cause discomfort. Digestion of the glucose
complexes into individual glucose molecules occurs so rapidly that the absorption rate is the same as pure glucose:
10-20 minutes if in liquid form on an empty stomach (food slows digestion). Which carbohydrate is best? I
generally prefer glucose or glucose complexes (partly because they‘re not as sweet), but the glucose-fructose
mixtures work well enough and they tend to be cheaper.

How much minerals?

The most common minerals in sports drinks are sodium, potassium, and magnesium. All three are lost in sweat. All
three are important in muscular contractions. Depletion can cause muscle fatigue and cramps. A well-balanced diet
should provide sufficient minerals to replace those lost through sweating for most athletes. Only a relatively few
athletes who sweat a great deal may require additional minerals during exercise. Nevertheless, nearly all
commercial sports drinks include some minerals. These minerals are inexpensive and there‘s no downside to getting
a little extra (unless your doctor insists you follow a low sodium diet). The inclusion of some minerals in sports
drinks also enhances water absorption from the beverage.

Sodium is the most important of the major minerals for athletes. Sweat losses vary, but an athlete engaged in
intensive athletic activity could lose about 2,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium in sweat each hour. Elite athletes may
train 2-5 hours each day. This would result in the loss of 4-10,000 mg of sodium per day. The ‗typical‘ diet
provides 6-9,000 mg daily. So, whether an athlete needs supplemental sodium during exercise might depend on
how ‗typical‘ their diet is. Some athletes think a low sodium diet is good for them because it‘s good for the general
public. But a low sodium diet can be harmful to an athlete who sweats a lot.

 Sports drinks commonly contain about 100 mg per 8 oz serving (150 mg in a 12 oz serving). Since these athletes
are drinking 8 oz every 15 minutes, they would receive about 400 mg each hour. Not nearly enough to replace
2,000 mg per hour, but a good start. If you tend to sweat a lot, you may want to find a drink that is higher in
sodium: Some ‗endurance‘ sports drinks provide up to 200 mg per 8 oz serving. Use caution though, because you
may notice that water absorption slows at higher concentrations. An alternative is to be a little more generous with
the salt shaker at mealtimes.

 Sports drinks usually contain a small amount of potassium. They sometimes (rarely) contain magnesium. If added,
then potassium and magnesium are present in relatively small amounts. These two minerals are abundant in the
diets of most people. Potassium is found in all foods, but is especially abundant in avocados, bananas, orange juice,
and tomato juice. Excellent food sources of magnesium include potatoes, whole grains, and nuts.
Other additives

Amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants, creatine, and caffeine are some of the other additives found in some sports
drinks. There is some evidence that suggests that each of these might benefit some athletes. However, in general,
these are not beneficial for most athletes. Neither are they likely to be harmful. So, they shouldn‘t have a
significant role in your considerations about sports drinks. I‘ll evaluate these additives more thoroughly in a future
article on sports supplements.

Home recipes

Sports drinks do not have to be purchased. You can make your own at home. The main ingredients are 15 grams
carbohydrate in 8 oz of water. A simple sports drink might be fruit juice, which is typically about 25-30 grams of
carbohydrate per 8 oz, diluted with an equal volume of water (1:1 dilution). This applies to most fruit juices,
including orange, apple, and cranberry.

 You can also make your own from common ingredients. One tablespoon of table sugar (12 grams) or honey (17
grams) in 8 oz of water would work nicely. Increase the sugar/honey up to two tablespoons per 8 oz if you prefer.
Add a ‗dash‘ of table salt to add 100-200 mg of sodium. Add a few drops of lemon juice for flavor.

Which sports drink is best?

Technically, the best sports drink is the one that enables you to consume the most carbohydrates. Usually, this
means those with the higher carbohydrate contents. But, in my experience with athletes, the best sports drink for
you is the one you think tastes the best. Research has shown that athletes voluntarily drink more fluids if they are
flavored and cool, but not too cold. The differences in nutritional composition between sports drinks won‘t matter if
they‘re not drunk. What‘s most important is that the beverage has some carbohydrates, any carbohydrates. And
that you drink it!

Concluding summary

In summary, competitive athletes always consume a sports drink whenever training or competing. They practice
their drinking skills during training sessions in preparation for important competitions. They drink about 8 oz every
15 minutes, whenever possible. Their beverage contains about 15 grams of carbohydrate and 100 mg of sodium in 8
oz. The taste of the sports drink encourages consumption. Drinking with discipline will helps these athletes achieve
their full athletic potential.

Summary Recommendations:

Drink ½ quart (16 oz.) of sports drink15 minutes prior to the event (after or during warm-up).

Drink 6-8 oz every 15-20 minutes of play whenever possible (a mouthful is about 1 oz.)

Drink ½ quart (16 oz.) of sports drink within 15 minutes after the event (during cool-down).

Drink water the rest of the day, unless there is doubt about whether sufficient carbohydrates can be obtained through
your carbohydrate-rich diet.

For those who want to know more

Insulin is the powerful hormone that directs the macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, proteins) to their metabolic fate.
 Insulin rises after eating or drinking carbohydrates. Exercise lowers insulin. Most sports drinks have nearly-equal
amounts of two carbohydrates: glucose and fructose (added as sucrose syrup and high fructose corn syrup). All
glucose is used as an immediate energy fuel or else it goes into carbohydrate storage. Glucose is almost never
converted to fat in athletes training more than an hour each day. All fructose, on the other hand, goes to the liver.
During exercise, when insulin is low, even after drinking carbohydrates, the liver converts the fructose to glucose
and the glucose is released into the blood to support the muscles and organs. Fructose cannot be used by the rest of
the body. At rest, when insulin is high after drinking carbohydrates, the fructose is converted to fat. This is how
fructose in table sugar and high fructose corn syrup can promote fat gain in sedentary individuals.

The amount of sweat an athlete loses varies, ranging from 1-3 quarts each hour. Sodium losses range from 1,500 to
4,500 mg/hr. Higher amounts of sweat and sodium are lost in hot and humid environments. Higher amounts are lost
if the athlete is not acclimated to the heat and humidity. Higher amounts are lost at higher exercise intensities.
Higher amounts are lost in untrained athletes. The sweat rate declines as the athlete becomes dehydrated during

Theme #2: Symptoms of fatigue

Based on your experience as an elite coach, how can you recognize that an athlete is showing signs of fatigue in
your sport?

Make a list of the main signs or symptoms which can be used as indicators of fatigue in your sport, both in training
and during a competition. Consider the signs/symptoms that can be observed during a training session or a
competition (short term signs), as well as those which may manifest themselves after several sessions or
microcycles. Signs/symptoms that can be observed during a training session or a competition

In layman‘s terms, fatigue/overtraining syndrome can be described as the human body‘s response to the inability to
physically or mentally recover from training. Proper recovery is the basis for all increases in physical performance.

For the athlete, overtraining manifests itself, as a downward spiral of physical preparedness, athletic performance or
motivation. In its most severe cases, the athlete may suffer acute or chronic instances of injury and may quit the
sport altogether due to those injuries, frustration or a severe lack of motivation.

For the unwary coach or athlete, the first signs of overtraining may be masked until a real or perceived drop in
performance is noticed. The initial reaction to a drop in performance is to increase training duration and intensity.

When overtraining syndrome is detected, increased training will have the exact opposite effect on re-establishing
prior performance levels. The human body is an amazing piece of machinery. One of its many unique properties is a
set of circuit breakers and response mechanisms that give fair warning that things just aren‘t right. Sort of like an
early warning system to protect athletes from themselves. Here‘s a list of signs and symptoms to look for and how
you can reverse the fall from grace.

Performance symptoms.

One marker is past or current instances of performance levels that may plateau or decrease. A closer look at
individual performance characteristics may reveal some clues, but these are symptoms of underlying problems that
may be physiological, psychological or biological.

Year over year performance shows incidents of peaking at mid-season and ending before post-season competition.

Strength gains may plateau and even drop.

Decreased biomechanics, and motor skills including balance, technique, skill, agility and coordinated movement.
Performance is limited due to acute or chronic pain during competition.

Slower performance times or lowered levels and shorter duration of intensity during competition.

Training is marred with incidents of lowered intensity and recurring injuries

Peak performance can only be seen after extended periods of rest and recovery.

Incidents of total exhaustion nd longer recovery times after competition.

Physiological symptoms.

There are outward signs that the body is reacting to overtraining. Here are some examples.

Weight loss. More common in endurance athletes, and sports like wrestling and boxing where poor nutrition is part
of the sport's culture. Unintended weight loss could mean a reduction in muscle mass, which is never a good thing.

Increased or decreased resting heart rates. It's more common for over trained athletes to show increases in resting
heart rates, but over trained endurance athletes may experience resting heart rates that are slower than normal. The
best time to test your resting heart rate is immediately after waking up in the morning.

Decreased aerobic, anaerobic and lactate thresholds. You may notice this from the top down, with lower lactate
thresholds and shorter intensity durations. But your aerobic baseline fitness level may be the cause as it's the basis of
the body's GPP (General Physical Preparedness). Overtraining the aerobic energy pathway can cause lower
anaerobic and lactate thresholds.

Muscular fatigue and weakness. Lower lactate thresholds bring on muscle fatigue faster, while muscle weakness can
be the result of shrinking muscle mass.

Acute or chronic joint, ligament and muscle pain and soreness. Micro tears in muscle tissue and inflammation are
unavoidable in everyday activities as well as training and competition. Pain and swelling symptoms are not always
present, but can silently lower strength and performance levels.

Lowered immune system response. It has already been documented that extended periods of intense training lowers
the body's immune system response. Intense training increases levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which is known
to suppress the immune system.

Loss of muscle mass. Muscle requires coordinated periods of rest to repair itself and proper nutrition to increase
tissue formation. Take either rest or proper nutrition away and you will eventually cannibalize muscle.

Psychological symptoms.

Acute or chronic incidents of depression and lack of motivation show up in a wide range of symptoms that may
include one or more of the following.

Increased frustration over performance and loss of confidence.

Increased irritability.

Lowered self-esteem.

Thoughts of quitting.
Depression Symptoms

Depression-Related Mood Disorders

Major depressive disorder

Commonly referred to as "depression," can severely disrupt your life, athletic abilities affecting your appetite, sleep,
work, and relationships.

The symptoms that help a doctor identify depression include:

Constant feelings of sadness, irritability, or tension

Decreased interest or pleasure in usual activities or hobbies

Loss of energy, feeling tired despite lack of activity

A change in appetite, with significant weight loss or weight gain

A change in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much

Restlessness or feeling slowed down

Decreased ability to make decisions or concentrate

Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt

Thoughts of suicide or death

If you are experiencing any or several of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about whether you are
suffering from depression.

If you are in an immediate serious crisis please contact your doctor or go to your local hospital or emergency room.


Is another mood disorder. People who have it may feel mildly depressed on most days over a period of at least two
years. They have many symptoms resembling major depression, but with less severity.

Symptoms of depression may surface with other mood disorders. They include seasonal major depression (also
known as seasonal affective disorder), postpartum depression, and bipolar disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Has symptoms that are seen with any major depressive episode. It is the recurrence of the symptoms during certain
seasons that is the hallmark of this type of depression.

Postpartum Depression

Is a type of depression that can occur in women who have recently given birth. It typically occurs in the first few
months after delivery, but can happen within the first year after giving birth. The symptoms are those seen with any
major depressive episode. Often, postpartum depression interferes with the mother's ability to bond with her
newborn. It is very important to seek help if you are experiencing postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is
different from the "Baby Blues", which tend to occur the first few days after delivery and resolve spontaneously.

Bipolar disorder

Another mood disorder, is different than major depressive disorder and has different treatments. For more
information go to

Biological symptoms.

 The human body is loaded with chemical and biological responses and circuit breakers. Here are some of the
chemical reactions that take place when overtraining sets in.

Lowered ATP due to lack of muscle glycogen stores.

Increases in the production of the stress hormone, cortisol.

Increased white blood count (evidence of infection or lowered immune system).

Dehydration affects blood viscosity, proper organ function, distribution of nutrients and a rat's nest of other
problems. Lowered sweat levels mask diversion of fluids to cool and protect vital organs.

Fighting your way back - the three R's of recovery.

The next 3 steps are some examples of possible recovery methods.

Static recovery method.

The most common and easiest method to implement, it has three parts.

Rest. And I mean total rest. Not only is rest needed for recovery in the shortest training cycles (3 to 7 days), but
longer terms of rest are needed depending on the sport, the intensity of the training and level of competition. Your
body needs time to heal from the physical damage done during training (micro muscle tears and inflammation),
lowered immune system response and the emotional pressures of competition.

Refuel. Protein is the building block needed to fuel muscle growth and maintenance. Carbohydrates are the only
way to replace glycogen stores. Rest alone will not replace glycogen. Proper nutrition strategies vary from sport to
sport and are easily available on many reputable websites. Find the nutrition regimen that's right for you and follow
it to a tee.

Re-hydrate. Even before the initial onset of thirst begins, you're already dehydrated. A dehydration level of just 2%
can drop performance 10% or more. Dehydration can affect the transfer of nutrients and oxygen to cells, the
function of vital organs and the regulation of body temperature. You cannot fully recover from intense training
without adequate water in the cells. Water is fine for slight dehydration, but a sport drink containing salt and
carbohydrates is needed when training intensity calls for electrolyte replacement.


Tapered training is a recovery mechanism used before the post season or key competitions to help athletes rest up
and reduce inflammation, muscle soreness and increase glycogen stores. It can even help raise lactate thresholds by
allowing the body to build up its fuel burning cells known as mitochondria. One form of tapered training uses a
systematic reduction in training duration or intensity (between 20 and 50% of max) or both. Still another form uses
very high intensity with shorter duration.

First used in ancient Greece and perfected in the former Soviet Union, periodization training is designed to
continuously stimulate performance gains with varying routines, intensities and duration. Many periodization
training protocols start from the bottom up with an aerobic cycle; followed by increases in training intensity and
duration and ending with sport specific training technique. The Russians and Eastern Bloc countries, however, did
the most detailed research and had the most success using a periodization system that started with a sport specific
training and technique phase followed by an aerobic and anaerobic fitness and strength training phase.

There are numerous other signs of overtraining, but the ones I‘ve listed here are the most common ones I‘ve seen
and some of them I have experienced firsthand during my athletic participation and coaching experience over the
last 30 years. Always consult your health professional, coach, trainer or parent if you experience symptoms of
overtraining and before you attempt to adopt any recovery method.

Low Testosterone (fatigue)

Testosterone is the sex hormone that is responsible for physiologically making a man a man. This means that
testosterone is the hormone that governs the spermatogenesis process or the giving rise to male sex cells. It is also
involved in keeping the male physique, muscular; hence, the excessive abuse of the hormones among professional
athletes and body builders. It is also linked to curing erectile dysfunction and the inability to sustain a strong enough
erection for intercourse.

All the problems stated above are the symptoms of low testosterone. While the side effects of testosterone
supplements may be a bit benign to say the least, physicians still favor non-pharmacologic ways to address problems
rather than going full force with a testosterone supplements This is the same approach when women have issues
with their estrogen levels.

Lifestyle changes are still better rather than messing with DHEA and other hormones prematurely.

Here are ways to improve your own body's production of testosterone:

Exercise regularly.

Increased physical activity has been proven to trigger the greater release of testosterone since it is needed to build
new muscle.

Eat healthier.

If you can, limit your intake of meat for just two to four times in a week. Eating green leafy vegetables and a lot of
fruits rids your body of toxins that may be interfering with the more efficient synthesis of the sex hormone.
Reduce the stress in your life.

Certain relaxation exercises like meditation and other eastern arts like yoga can help reduce your anxiety and stress.
This would be great in keeping your internal physiology less erratic.

b)       Signs/symptoms that can be observed after several training sessions or micro cycles.

When it comes to the elite or highly competitive athlete, one might think that training always makes for better
performance and higher achievement. Unfortunately, many things in life have fine lines that you really don‘t aspire
to cross (i.e. love/hate – passion/obsession). Athletes can become victims of their own goals when the fine line of
peak performance is crossed and becomes the poison pill of overtraining.

Training fatigue and over-reaching

Fatigue as a result of training lasting 1-2 days and characterized by muscle soreness, insomnia and increased allergic
response is termed ‗training fatigue‘. A reduction in training volume, which allows recovery, will reverse training
fatigue within 24 hours.

When intense training sessions are undertaken during the period of training fatigue, without an appropriate recovery,
a state of ‗overreaching‘ ensues. Over-reaching is a temporary state lasting from a few days to two weeks. Coaches
will often deliberately induce a state of ‗over-reaching‘ to enhance the training effect.

Caution is warranted, however, when adopting these techniques if ‗unexplained underperformance syndrome‘ is to
be avoided.

Constant fatigue

Poor performance

Excessive sweating

Inability to recover optimally following intensive exercise

Loss of desire and enthusiasm for exercise training (feelings of helplessness)

Breakdown of technique

Poor concentration

Loss of appetite and loss of body weight

Disturbed sleep often with nightmares or vivid dreams

Increased susceptibility to injuries

Increased anxiety, and irritability.

Unexplained underperformance syndrome (UPS)

The term unexplained underperformance syndrome (UPS) is used to describe a reduction in physical performance
coupled with chronic and unexplained fatigue for a period of greater than 2 weeks despite rest and in the absence of
any medical condition.
UPS has been termed ‗overtraining‘, ‗overtraining syndrome‘, ‗burnout‘, ‗staleness‘, ‗chronic fatigue‘ and ‗post-
viral fatigue‘. UPS is a clinically complex condition of indeterminate cause with a range of individually varying
symptoms and signs. UPS is more common in endurance-trained individuals with a prevalence of around 10%,
however it does occur in sprint/power trained athletes. While the cause of UPS is associated with an imbalance of
training and recovery it is not solely associated with over-training. Other factors include various stressors outside of

training. The treatment for UPS is complex and multi-factorial and focuses on the removal or modulation of
underpinning stressors and a restructuring of training to allow a slow progression in training volume often lasting 2-
6 months.

Increased normal resting heart rates by 5-10 beats per minute

Increased resting blood pressure

Raised resting lactic acid concentrations

Decreased maximal lactic acid levels following intensive physical exercise

Following specific exercise/training routines, the heart may take 2-3 times longer than normal to return to resting

Decreased ability by the body to utilize oxygen during maximal exercise

Muscle damage

Menstrual irregularities, even cessation of menstruation

Susceptibility to infections, especially of the skin and upper respiratory tract

Increased rates of allergies & minor scratches may heal more slowly.

Theme #3: Monitoring fatigue status in your athletes

Please outline the field tests or objective performance indicators you currently using or plan on implementing to
monitor fatigue status in your athletes in order to assist you in identifying these signs or symptoms?

Test/indicator 1:


There are four stages of progression that are associated with overtraining. The overload is the first stage, which
directly relates to the workload that the athlete first experiences in a workout. After the initial workload, the athlete
experiences acute fatigue--the second phase of overtraining. When acute fatigue takes place, the glucose storage
(immediate energy source) in the cells is drained in order to accommodate the workload thus limiting performance.
When the athlete is pushed beyond this phase, it is known as overreaching. Its symptoms, such as decreased motor
control, mood disturbances, altered immune function. The state in which the body recognizes foreign materials, and
is able to neutralize them, before they can do any harm. As training becomes more intense with fewer days for
recovery, the athlete begins to enter into the final stage--known as overtraining.

This final stage can produce physical ailments such as sickness and infection along with psychological factors that
include emotional and sleep disturbances.
When examining overtraining, we must look at both anaerobic and aerobic training. In anaerobic training, the body
experiences neuromuscular facilitation. This is the nervous system's response to resistance. This response enables
the nerves to fire properly in order to achieve optimal performance. As neuromuscular facilitation takes place, the
athlete can experience the first two stages of overtraining (overload stimulus and acute fatigue). Athletes, who train
with elevated heart rates for extended periods of time, also known as aerobic training, can experience overtraining as
At a high state of training, muscle glycogen, that is found in the liver and muscles of humans and the higher animals
and in the cells of the lower animals.

Symptoms of overtraining are excessive muscle soreness, headaches, and loss of appetite, decreased immune
function, and physical exhaustion. As these symptoms become more excessive the athlete is not only affected
physically but mentally, which directly correlates with the psychological state of the athlete.

When our athletes become over trained, you may find that their psychological structure begins to crumble. As
performance levels begin to drop off due to the overtraining syndrome, the athlete's demeanor changes.

Athletes will also experience a decrease in vigor, increase levels of tension, depression, anger, fatigue, anxiety, and
the inability to concentrate. As we begin to assess our athlete's training, you not only have to look at the physical
demands placed on the body, but the psychological load as well.

The ratio of testosterone to cortisol, or hydrocortisone, steroid hormone that in humans is the major circulating
hormone of the cortex, or outer layer, of the adrenal gland. It is also an important factor to look at when overtraining
may be suspected. If the ratio begins to decrease by 30%, overtraining syndrome may be evident.

Other hormone responses associated with aerobic overtraining is the decrease in growth hormone or, glycoprotein
hormone released by the anterior pituitary gland that is necessary for normal skeletal growth in humans . The
decrease can cause a decline in cardiac output. The volume of blood pumped from the right or left ventricle in one
minute. It is equal to the stroke volume multiplied by the heart rate. , which can directly inhibit endurance

Simple blood tests performed by a physician can detect whether any of these hormone levels are affected. It is
important to remember that muscle damage occurs in both forms of training, enabling the body to function at peak

To prevent overtraining first, you must give the athlete's body the chance to recover.

Once the muscle has experienced intense levels of exertions and damage, it must have time to recover--which may
take up to 48 hours.

We must also look at specificity, various intensity levels, and volume--otherwise known as periodization is the
attempt to categorize or divide time into discrete named blocks.

The result is a descriptive abstraction that provides a useful handle on periods of time with relatively stable

For the beginner athlete a two-three day workout routine is recommended with at least one day in between workouts.
As the athlete becomes more adapted to increased loads, a three-four day routine is prescribed. Advanced athletes
are given a four-seven day routine.

Proper training must include periodization. We must first look at the General Adaptation Syndrome. General
adaptation syndrome, or GAS, is a term used to describe the body's short-term and long-term reactions to stress.

The alarm phase is the first of three phases that make up the GAS model. It is the first response of the body when
subjected to intense resistance training or exercise conditioning.

The second phase (resistance phase) involves the body's ability to adapt to training loads and revert back to normal

The third and final phase is the exhaustion phase, when the body loses the ability to compensate for the amount of
stress that it is under. This can directly be associated with the overtraining syndrome. Thus our strength and
conditioning coach's routines must be carefully assessed in order to prevent overtraining.

Periodization is a great depiction of the correct order of events that is needed to achieve positive results for novice

Monitoring our student athletes is a key component in preventing overtraining. By monitoring our student athletes,
we can assess their physical and psychological states.

Using daily training logs assist coaches and athletes in the diagnosis and prevention of overtraining.

A common psychological tool known as the Profile of Mood States Psychology A 65-item questionnaire that
assesses a person's moods–eg, anger, anxiety, confusion, depression, fatigue, vigor is a must use system.

POMS Portfolio Order Management System ) is a test composed of 65 questions that assess fatigue, anxiety,
depression, vigor, and total mood.

Another tool that has been used to evaluate athletes is the Exercise Orientation Questionnaire. By monitoring our
student athletes we can assess overtraining on an entirely different level, further preventing the onset of overtraining.

Overtraining can be a very serious health issue for our student athletes. Ask our selves. Do we have proper
periodization and are we monitoring our athletes for the signs and symptoms of overtraining?

Overtraining in the last decade has become a major issue in the sports world. It can be a very serious ailment that
can drastically influence both individual and team performances. It can easily be treated through the use of proper
recovery time, periodization, and nutritional education.


As coaches, we must constantly monitor our student athlete's physical and psychological well-being. Research A
nebulous legislative term intended to ensure that certain categories of lab animals, especially primates, don't 'go nuts'
as a result of experimental design or conditions
Test/indicator 2:


Rusko Heart Rate Test

This is a very simple heart rate monitoring test that is currently in use with many athletes around the globe. A
detailed method appears below, but essentially all you have to do is lie quietly in a comfortable position for a few
minutes and then stand up and remain still for a couple more minutes. The test initiates a heart rate response to the
standing motion (and gravity) that the body has to quickly adapt to. Since this test is done under a fairly sensitive
control and feedback system, it responds to positive and negative training and competition loads, as well as the onset
of illness and other stresses in a fairly sensitive and individualistic way.

Athletes should do this test at least once a week, on a morning when they do not have to rush out of bed. Ideally, it
should be done on the same days of the week and in the morning immediately after waking, before the athlete gets
out of bed. The test requires very little energy and can easily be done anywhere.

The test usually requires the athlete to have a recording/memory-type heart rate monitor or a standard display heart
rate monitor. If the athlete does have a recording heart rate monitor, it should be set to record every 5 seconds of the
last 4 minute period of the test. If the athlete does not have a recording heart rate monitor, then the athlete should
just record and calculate 3 data points visually:

Start by lying down and waiting until you are relaxed, and your heart rate has stabilized. Start you watch. At 2
minutes stand and stay standing for another 2 minutes. The important heart rate values are:

1) the average of the 2 minutes of lying,
2) 15 seconds after standing and
3) the average of the last 30 seconds of standing (i.e., the 90-120th seconds after standing).

The following charts give an idea of what data may look like, together with some basic interpretive guidelines.
In the above sample diagram, the suggestion is that a clearly elevated heart rate average between 90 and 120 seconds
after standing (i.e., 8-10 beats + above normal) is a possible sign of some failure to recover adequately. This may be
due to hard training and poor recovery time, the onset of some illness, or other forms of life stress. On the other
hand, if you the heart rate is dropping slightly, then this may be due to some positive adaptation to training and
competition. You can also interpret the shape of the heart rate spike caused by standing. A steep climb and quick
drop in heart rate indicates a heart that is more rested and sharp than a spike that climbs slowly and descends slowly.

Keep in mind that the results are very specific for an individual. No comparisons can be made between athletes and
a profile of each athlete must be made to know what values mean for each person.

This test is used regularly by all of the Canadian National Ski Team athletes to monitor fatigue and adaption levels.
It is generally done one day a week, on the same day that other regular testing would be done. It is done before the
athlete gets out of bed in the morning. During hard training periods or periods of extreme stress (altitude adaption,
travel, training camps, etc...), the test is generally done every day. The national team uses Polar recording heart rate
monitors (such as the Polar Accurex Plus) and the data is downloaded and graphed for interpretation by coaches
using the Polar computer interface.

 The chart ruskos function on the main header bar produces a heart rate overlay of all Rusko tests done over the
given dates similar to the one below. This is useful to compare different tests and see recovery and stress patterns.

Below is the 45 Heart Rate monitoring of one of my rugby players Aaron Dooley, should you have any questions
on this please contact me. 613-850-0006
Aarron Dooley HR monitoring for 45 days.



The inability to fall asleep, or repeated awakenings throughout the night. Insomnia can be due to unresolved
emotional distress, but it also occurs often in athletes who are over trained. Those who choose to exercise in the
evenings are more likely to experience insomnia because of the demanding nature of their work out which results in
a significantly elevated basal metabolic rate right before bed. In many cases, an athlete will misinterpret the reason
for their insomnia as due to not working hard enough an will attempt to correct it by intensifying their work out. In
the end, this can end up in a self-destructive over training cycle.


Both beginner and advanced athletes often experience exercise-induced headaches during intense workout sessions
or in the midst of a big event/competition. These headaches can be very painful, but usually disappear quickly.
Persistent headaches can make one prone to migraines and thus rest is mandatory.


If you become more irritable than normal, then over training may be the culprit. Often it is others, such as friends,
family or a coach that will point this out before it becomes noticeable to the athlete themself. Obvious psychological
factors are at play and so the answer lies in either a change in one‘s training regime or complete rest.

Loss of appetite

If an athlete normally has a hearty appetite, but experiences a lack of appetite following vigorous work outs, then
over training may be the reason why. Psychological stress, increased lactate levels and core body temperature inhibit
the hypothalamus‘ feeding center that is located in your brain. When this occurs, one‘s appetite can be suppressed
for up 2-3 hours after exercise. If the appetite fails to return after this time period, then acknowledge this as a sign of
over training.

Sudden weight loss

An unexpected loss of weight is a cause for concern because it can be a sign of over training. A loss of body fat from
training is one thing, but a sudden and significant loss of body weight is another. Weight loss of this kind can be
brought on simply by a failure to re-hydrate yourself with fluids after a vigorous work out and by a lack of highly
nutritious foods in your diet. It is in your best interest to rest, re-evaluate your diet and then resume training when
the timing is most appropriate.

Change in bowel movements

Diarrhea and/or constipation can also be a sign of over training. If it isn‘t due to illness or a change in diet, then
there‘s a good chance that it is the result of training to hard. This symptom of over training for athletes is very likely
to appear during times of a major competition or during a state of anxiety and nervousness.

Test/indicator 3:

Polar Overtraining (POT)



Polar Overtraining Test (POT) is a non-invasive self test based on resting and orthostatic heart rate and heart rate
variability measurements. It is aimed for overreaching and overtraining detection for sportsmen. The test is built into
the Polar VNV and its successor Polar S810 HR monitors. The result of the test is analyzed and evaluated with Polar
Precision Performance software. Altogether five studies (one of them, by Rusko, a lecture summary) have been
published on Polar Overtraining Test during 1998-2000 and in all of them Polar VNV has been used.

Rusko has conducted several trials on overreaching in different sportsmen groups since 1980´ies. These studies
show that overtraining leads to increased HR measured at supine and standing and that the changes in HR in
standing are related to changes in performance. Altitude training studies have shown that HR supine and standing
reflect changes in stress due hypoxia. HRV was found to increase with the increase in VO 2max while overtraining
was related to decrease HRV.

Hoffman et al. did study POT in healthy experienced endurance; speed-power and skill athletes (10 women, 20 men)
took test in the morning after light training day during basic endurance pre-competition training period. Great
interindividual variation was found in test results. The values detected can be used as recommended general
reference values for the athlete groups. No differences were found between men and women. Measurement of
individual values is recommended for base line values.

POT was measured in seven male orienteer‘s (Kaikkonen, Laukkanen) before, during and after intensive training
period. They trained total of 19 hours (2-3 times daily) for 10 days. Resting HR and HRV results were consistent
with the subjective feelings of stress and training intensity. After the camp HRV remained low, even HR (bpm) did
incidate total recovery. POT was concluded a useful tool for recovery and overtraining detection.

Rusko et al did follow Finnish athletes preparing for Sydney Olympics 2000. POT was measured before and for 10
consecutive mornings after 22-hour flight from Finland to Sydney. Air flight and zone shift for 9 hours induced HR
and HRV changes which lasted for 10 days.Individual differences in the adaptation to jet lag were great and some
athletes did not recover to baseline values in 10 days. POT was suggested as a simple mean to control the adaptation
to jet lag in athletes.

In the IOC Olympic Congress in Athens 2003 Esa Hynynen at al . Presented results where he compared over trained
athletes reactions to those controls. In the mean standard deviation of RRI`s the difference was found between the
groups in heart rate variability parameters. Even the more clear difference was found in cognitive functions (tested
with the Stroop Colour Word Test).


Poor athletic performance
A common result of over training for the athlete is a drop in performance decrement. This is usually easily detected
by the athlete them self, by their training partner or by their trainer. When this occurs, a vicious cycle is usually
initiated in which the athlete tries to correct the situation by training harder and doing more work than needed. If this
is the case, it would be beneficial to start a training journal (if you don‘t already have one) that one can use as a
reference tool for evaluating one‘s performance.

High resting heart rate
It is important to note that an abnormally high resting heart rate can be an indicator that one‘s body has yet to
recover from the previous day‘s intense work out. If your resting heart rate is elevated 5 to 10 % above your norm,
then it would be wise to re-evaluate reasons for such. Many athletes will misinterpret this as due to a lack of sleep,
emotional stress and even a common cold when it simply comes down to the fact that the body is experiencing
―work overload.‖

Test/indicator 4:

Measuring VO2 max

Accurately measuring VO2 max involves a physical effort sufficient in duration and intensity to fully tax the aerobic
energy system. In general clinical and athletic testing, this usually involves a graded exercise test (either on a
treadmill or on a cycle ergometer ) in which exercise intensity is progressively increased while measuring
ventilation and oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration of the inhaled and exhaled air. VO 2 max is reached when
oxygen consumption remains at steady state despite an increase in workload.

A treadmill is an exercise machine for running or walking while staying in one place. The machine provides a
moving platform with a wide conveyor belt and an electric motor or a flywheel. The belt moves to the rear allowing
a person to walk or run an equal, and necessarily opposite, velocity. The rate at which the belt moves is the rate of
walking or running. Thus, the speed of running may be controlled and measured. The more expensive, heavy-duty
versions are motor-driven. The simpler, lighter, and less expensive versions passively resist the motion, moving only
when the walker pushes the belt with their feet.

As a machine:

Enables exact calculation and adjustment of slope and speed.

As many of the factors of the activity are known, the energy expended may be calculated.

Some treadmills have special features such as step count, heart rate monitors, and number of calories expended

Theme #4: Medical evaluation of your athletes

Which laboratory or medical tests do you refer to in order to confirm your observations in the field? If you are not
using any such tests currently, which could you, consider using, and which criteria would provide you with
information regarding the response of your athletes to training?

Test/indicator 1:

Any laboratory or medical tests would be done at the uOttawa sports complex where they have full testing,
physiotherapy, doctors and medical staff to handle athletic evaluations. Some evaluations I handled myself such as
vo2 max testing in conjunction with our strength fitness and conditioning coach. As our season is only 10 weeks
long we test during the camp week which is last week of August. We then follow that up during the 10 weeks and
at the end of the season. This gives the athletes and I a good indication of their cardio fitness to kick start them
during the transition period and into the spring, where they play for their clubs and at other levels of rugby.

Once the season is over the athletes are working on maintaining their individual fitness with the strength and
conditioning coach.
We do have a risk plan for all our athletes, where they have to supply the following information. This information
supplies us with excellent feedback on the athlete and we keep a constant update of information through our athletic


Medical History: This form provides past and present medical history as well as family history. It must be signed by
the student-athlete, and if under the age of 18 years, the parent / legal guardian must also sign.

Pre-Participation Physical: All student-athletes are required to have a complete medical physical performed by a
physician every year prior to the year of sport participation. This physical MUST be completed by a medical doctor
(MD) or a doctor of osteopath (DO); if it is completed by a certified nurse practitioner (CNP), it MUST be over-
signed by a MD or DO. Physicals performed by a doctor of chiropractic (DC) will not be accepted. The physician
must sign and print their name in the space provided as well as provide an office stamp in the designated space to
verify completion. If you are a new student or transfer student the mandatory physical required by student services
will be accepted as a pre participation physical. Note If you are a returning athlete all pre-participation physicals
must be completed. These forms are available from the coaches or the athletic therapist.

Authorization and Release: Required of all student-athletes each year. It MUST be signed by the student-athlete, and
if under the age of 18 years, the parent / legal guardian must also sign.

Returning Student-Athlete Check List:        New Student-Athlete Check List:

Medical History                              Medical History

Emergency Information                        Emergency Infromation

Section 2: Overtraining

Coach Workbook – Prevention and management of overtraining

Theme #1: Indicators/signs of overtraining

Indicator 1:


Overtraining syndrome frequently occurs in athletes who are training for competition or a specific event and train
beyond the body's ability to recover. Athletes often exercise longer and harder so they can improve. But without
adequate rest and recovery, these training regimens can backfire, and actually decrease performance.

Conditioning requires a balance between overload and recovery. Too much overload and/or too little recovery may
result in both physical and psychology symptoms of overtraining syndrome.

Common signs of over training include:

Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy

Mild leg soreness, general aches and pains

Pain in muscles and joints

Sudden drop in performance


Indicator 2:


Decreased immunity (increased number of colds, and sore throats)

Decrease in training capacity / intensity

Moodiness and irritability


Loss of enthusiasm for the sport

Decreased appetite

Increased incidence of injuries.

A compulsive need to exercise

Physiological / psychological explanation:

It's hard to predict overtraining since everyone's body is different. It is important, however, to vary training through
the year and schedule in significant rest time.

Treating Overtraining Syndrome

If you suspect you are overtraining, the first thing to do is reduce or stop your exercise and allow a few days of rest.
Drink plenty of fluids, and alter your diet if necessary. Cross training can help you discover if you are overworking
certain muscles and also help you determine if you are just mentally fatigued. A sports massage can help you
recharge overused muscles.

Measuring Overtraining

There are several ways you can objectively measure some signs of overtraining. One is by documenting your heart
rates over time. Track your aerobic heart rate at specific exercise intensities and speed throughout your training and
write it down. If your pace starts to slow, your resting heart rate increases and you experience other symptoms, you
may heading into overtraining syndrome.

You can also track your resting heart rate each morning. Any marked increase from the norm may indicate that you
aren't fully recovered.

Another way to test recover to use something called the orthostatic heart rate test, developed by Heikki Rusko while
working with cross country skiers. To obtain this measurement:

Lay down and rest comfortably for 10 minutes the same time each day (morning is best).

At the end of 10 minutes, record your heart rate in beats per minute.

Then stand up
After 15 seconds, take a second heart rate in beats per minute.

After 90 seconds, take a third heart rate in beats per minute.

After 120 seconds, take a fourth heart rate in beats per minute.

Well rested athletes will show a consistent heart rate between measurements, but Rusko found a marked increase (10
beats/minutes or more) in the 120 second-post-standing measurement of athletes on the verge of overtraining. Such a
change may indicate that you have not recovered from a previous workout, are fatigued, or otherwise stressed and it
may be helpful to reduce training or rest another day before performing another workout.

A log, that includes a note about how your feel each day, can help you notice downward trends and decreased
enthusiasm. It's important to listen to your body signals and rest when you feel tired.

You can also ask those around you if they think you are exercising too much.

While there are many proposed ways to objectively test for overtraining, the most accurate and sensitive
measurements are psychological signs and symptoms and changes in an athlete's mental state. Decreased positive
feelings for sports and increased negative feelings, such as depression, anger, fatigue, and irritability often appear
after a few days of intensive overtraining. Studies have found increased ratings of perceived exertion during exercise
after only three days of overload.

Research on overtraining syndrome shows rest is the primary treatment plan. Some new evidence indicating that low
levels of exercise (active recovery) during the rest period will speed recovery. Moderate exercise has also been
shown to increase immunity. Total recovery can take several weeks and includes proper nutrition and stress

The subjective assessments and mental state of an athlete is clearly the most reliable indicator of overtraining.
Unfortunately, most athletes ignore these signs or wait too long before doing something. An important component of
exercise is to objectively measure your training and modify it before damage is done.

15,861 words

Theme #2: Monitoring and interpretation

Using these and / or additional indicators, monitor the recovery and adaptation to training of one of your athletes
over a period of at least 45 days. During this monitoring process, you draw some graphs to see the evolution of the
variables you have selected, and visualize the trends. If you do so, please include a copy of these spreadsheets and
graphs with your assignment.

Possible factors to track include:

Resting heart rate

Rusko test results

Quality of sleep

Attitude toward training

Muscle soreness on waking

General level of fatigue

At the end of the 45-day period, and once you have compiled these data, provide a brief analysis of the information
you have gathered and of the status of your athlete:


See attached chart and diagram

Theme #3: Managing overtraining

In the event that one of your athletes clearly showed signs of overtraining, what recovery strategies would you put in
place, and what changes would you make to is/her training and competition program? Please provide a brief

Changes to the training and competition program, and rationale:

Simple answer be on the lookout for overtraining. So how can you as a coach help your athletes recover from
overreaching and prevent the occurrence of overtraining?

        Recognize the symptoms: Be on the lookout for athletes who have overreached and are at risk of
         overtraining. Post the checklist below, and use it to evaluate each of your athletes.

Recovery strategies and rationale:

        Cut back on the intensity and/or duration of training: In the face of poor performance, coaches often
         make the mistake of pushing their athletes to train even harder. But for the athlete who has already
         overreached and is on the verge of spiraling into overtraining, further training just compounds the problem
         and leads to even poorer performance. Instead of pushing harder, insist on a couple of rest days with no
         exercise. Follow that with three active rest days where the training load is low in intensity. After this five-
         day period, regular training can be resumed if symptoms of overreaching have largely been remedied.
         Athletes suffering from overtraining may need extended periods of rest before training is gradually
         resumed. The progress of these over trained athletes should be followed by a sports medicine specialist.
        Consider a curfew: Instruct athletes who have overreached or over trained to get at least 7–9 hours of
         sleep every night. Naps whenever possible can help as well.
        Make counseling available: Psychological stress can be a contributor to overtraining. A professional
         counselor can help athletes talk about and sort through whatever stresses are weighing them down.
        Keep athletes hydrated: Dehydration makes the heart work harder and exercise more difficult. For ways
         to help keep your athletes hydrated before, during, and after exercise, check out hydration tips for coaches
         on the web.
        Promote muscle fueling and muscle tissue repair and rebuilding: Have your athletes eat a high-
         carbohydrate meal about 2–3 hours before a workout, or a high-carb snack about an hour beforehand. For
         workouts lasting longer than 60–90 minutes, have your athletes consume 30–60 grams of carbs every hour
         during exercise. Sports drinks, energy gels and chews, and energy bars are fast and convenient ways to take
         in muscle-fueling carbs during exercise. To promote faster post-exercise recovery, have your athletes
         consume carbs along with some protein as soon as possible after training. Having a recovery drink after
         exercise is a simple and convenient method for jump-starting the recovery process.
        After exercise, implement relaxation and other techniques that promote recovery: Examples include
         meditation, relaxation exercises, massage, stretching, ice or cold baths, a stint in a sauna or steam room,
         and electric muscle stimulation.
The bottom line is that overreaching can be managed and overtraining prevented in your athletes by being on the
lookout for early signs and symptoms, and by building in adequate time for recovery — whether that is a day, a
week, or more. Athletes need time and proper nutrition to rebuild and to respond to their training. Recovery, just like
training, is a critical part of the process of improving athletic performance.

Overreaching and Overtraining Symptom Checklist

        Decreased performance during training and competitions
        Severe fatigue
        Sleep disturbance or insomnia
        Loss of appetite
        Irritability and mood swings
        Depression
        Decreased desire to train
        Extended periods of muscle soreness
        Difficulty concentrating
        Response to more training is a further decrease in performance
        Frequent injuries
        Frequent colds and flu

Theme #1: Potential rest and recovery factors

As an elite coach, you have some responsibilities in the area of planning the recovery and regeneration activities of
your athletes. Indicate how the importance and/or the use of some recovery techniques or modalities could vary
during the year, as your athletes progress from one phase of the training plan to another, and as the training load and
the activities change. In this exercise, you may also want to consider the human and financial resources available to

            Adequate sleep - it is important to sleep as many hours as possible each and every night. Many
             people don't realize just how important sleep is when it comes to recovery, building muscle and
             gaining weight. If you don't allow your body to get enough sleep each night, you are neglecting a very
             important part of your muscle healing and building program that could completely erase all of your
             muscle building efforts on the field and in the gym.

            Adequate rest between workouts - It is very important to incorporate "rest days" into your training
             program so that you allow time for your muscles to recovery in between workouts.

            Adequate sleep is probably the first thing most people think of when rest is discussed. When sleeping,
             your body is completely at rest. During sleep, your muscles are finally given a break from the constant
             support that they provide through out the day. Your body‘s energy systems get a chance to restore
             (provided proper nutrition). Although important, sleep may be the hardest of the restoration techniques
             to achieve. Think of all the factors there are to prevent someone form a good nights sleep. There are
             constant distractions all around us, especially the student-athlete. It is nearly impossible to eliminate
             all of the distracting factors from our lives so other tactics may need to be implemented.

            Although nothing can replace sleep, there are relaxations techniques that will help decrease the stresses
             of everyday life and help your muscle relax. A massage can be just as restoring or more to your
             muscles as a mid day nap. Massage techniques can promote blood flow and stimulation to muscles
             which will bring in more nutrients to the muscles.

            Another restoration technique is the use of thermal modalities. Examples of such are the use of heat,
             ice, and water. The use of ice and heat are commonly used preventative means of restoration and
             recovery. Utilizing a heating pad before a warm up to help draw more blood flow to an area can be
             beneficial. Using heat throughout the day as a means to prevent the ―stiffening‖ of a muscle can also
             be implemented. Ice is perhaps the best way to prevent tomorrow‘s potential injury. The use of ice as
             a modality is important for minimizing and preventing swelling in muscles and joints post work out.
             Ice can be applied directly to the skin in a bag, as an ice cup, or as an ice bath. All of which will help
             to with vasoconstriction of the blood vessels preventing excessive amounts of blood flow to an area
             thereby decreasing swelling.

            Hydrotherapy can also be classified as a thermal modality. The uses of ―Scotch showers‖ are a
             favorite means of recovery among weightlifters post work out. A ―scotch shower‖ is using hot and
             cold water to vasodialate and vasoconstrict the blood vessels repeatedly to increase and decrease the
             amount of blood flow to the muscles. It is essentially bringing in more ―good‖ blood (oxygenized
             blood) to an area and removing the ―bad‖ blood (deoxygenized blood), promoting faster recovery. The
             temperature range of the shower varies throughout the shower becoming hotter and colder with each
             cycle. The shower will usually start with a high temp of 98 degrees F and a low of 80 degrees F,
             ending with a high temperature of about 104-106 degrees F and a low of 34 degrees F. Alternate the
             temperature, beginning with hot water for about 1 minute, followed by cold for ten seconds intervals.

            For the injured athlete in a clinical setting, the use of Electrical Stimulation, or Estim and Ultrasound
             are frequently used. Esitm can be used to decrease swelling and muscle re-education through the use
             of electrical currents running through the targeted muscle. Ultrasound promotes blood flow through
             sound waves that travel through the skin and into the musculature. These modalities are generally seen
             in the rehabilitation process of an injured athlete.

            Without proper rest and recovery, an athlete may never reach their fullest potential. There are a lot of
             athletes who do not give their bodies enough rest between exercise bouts, and in the long run end up
             cheating themselves, or worse injured. Rest and recovery is just as important to strength and
             conditioning program as the program design itself, and should always be included.

Recovery technique or modality:

Techniques and Modalities

Swedish Massage – Uses techniques to promote general relaxation, improve circulation, and relieve muscle tension.

Shiatsu Massage – Based on applying pressure to a pattern of specific points that correspond with various
meridians. The ultimate goal is to restore harmony and balance to the body. Shiatsu is a great compliment to

Myofascial Release – Techniques to treat the bodies fascial system which runs throughout the body and connects
surrounding muscles and bones. Restrictions in the fascial system respond by releasing, easing inflammation and
tension and by lengthening tight tissues. This modality can be very helpful in treating chronic pain, inflammation,
fibromyalgia, swelling and headaches.

Sports Massage – 60-90 minute sessions performed on light training or recovery days. Deep tissue massage
techniques increasing muscle flexibility, circulation and recovery time. A thorough evaluation of posture, flexibility,
and movement patterns. Education on stretching, nutrition and recovery techniques.

Deep Tissue Massage – Uses slow strokes and direct pressure to releases chronic patterns of muscle tension.
Theme #3: Planning and managing recovery after competition

Making a list of the recovery strategies you could/would use after a competition. Please provide a brief rationale.

Intense rugby games and training participation may result in various medical, musculoskeletal, and dermatological
complaints. Delayed onset muscle soreness is a common condition affecting runners during the games and training.
Various types of mild exercise or massage have been recommended to alleviate pain secondary to Dermatological
issues frequently include joggers nipple, joggers toe and blisters. Although with the jerseys and footwear we
currently use this is being eradicated.

During a very physical game changes to the immune system is reportedly suppressed for a short time. Changes to
the blood chemistry may lead physicians to mistakenly diagnose heart malfunction.

After long training runs and games, consuming water, carbohydrates to replace glycogen stores and protein to aid
muscle recovery is commonly recommended. In addition, soaking the lower half of the body for 20 minutes or so in
cold or ice water may force blood through the leg muscles to speed recovery.

Recovery strategy after minor in-season competition

For the first two hours after your event, blood is still rushing to your muscles. Muscle cells are still receptive to
taking up glucose and enzymes are receptive to converting glucose to glycogen. This is the best time to maximize
your recovery by eating moderate to high glycaemic index foods and using sports drinks. These products will
provide glucose to the blood and muscles quickly. If you wait until after two hours to consume carbohydrate, your
recovery will be slowed down.

In the 24 hours after your event aim to consume 7-10 g carbohydrate per kg of body weight from carbohydrates.

Approach this goal by eating 1 g carbohydrate per kg of body weight as soon after exercise as possible, then have a
high-carbohydrate meal in the next two hours, and normal meals and snacks for the rest of the day.

If a main meal is not available, have carbohydrate snacks (at least 50 g every two hours) until you can have your
next main meal.

            Sports drinks can provide carbohydrate as part of the glycogen resynthesis strategy.

            Muscle damage can occur due to body contact or eccentric exercise (that is, the type of exercise that
             makes you sore the next day).

            The damage to muscle fibres means they cannot store glycogen as well.

            If you have had a hard game or practice or have bruising and muscle damage (that is, soreness), pay
             special attention to meeting your recovery carbohydrate needs to help muscle recovery.

            Do not expect optimal endurance performance until soreness is gone, as muscle glycogen will not be
             totally replaced.

            Avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours. Alcohol causes more blood to flow to the injured area, increasing
             swelling and bleeding that will slow recovery and make the injury worse.

            Recovery will be just as rapid if the carbohydrate is consumed in a few meals or many snacks, as long
             as you meet your total carbohydrate needs.
            Moderate to high glycaemic index foods may promote greater glycogen storage than low glycaemic
             index foods.

             Carbohydrates can be consumed as solids, fluids or a combination of both.

            Including small amounts of protein in the recovery meal can help increase the rate of muscle glycogen

            Glucose and sucrose provide faster muscle recovery than fructose, the sugar found in most fruit and
             fruit products. Fructose does enhance liver glycogen storage, but only very slowly replaces muscle
             glycogen. It can form part of the recovery meal, but should not be the only source of carbohydrate..

            Choose foods that you like!

Main points about your competition diet

            Carbohydrate loading involves tapering exercise and increasing carbohydrate intake in the three to four
             days before your event to "superload" muscles with glycogen.

            Pre-event nutrition is vital to ensure glycogen stores are topped up, hydration is optimal and stomach
             upsets and hunger are prevented. Eat at least 200 g of familiar foods in the four hours before
             competing and drink enough fluid to be comfortable. During your endurance event consume 30-60 g
             carbohydrate per hour and aim to replace fluid losses. Begin eating and drinking early in your event.

            Post-event nutrition restores fluid and electrolyte balance, and replenishes depleted glycogen stores,
             reducing recovery time.

            In the first half to one hour after your event you should eat 1 g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight,
             eat some protein and begin drinking fluids. Within the next two hours you should aim to have a high-
             carbohydrate meal and follow this with regular meals and snacks and drinks for the rest of the day.

Theme #4: Responsibility

In your opinion, and given the nature of your sport, what should the responsibilities of an elite coach be in the area
of managing (e.g. following up and supervising) the recovery process of his or her athletes?

Injury Prevention and recovery must assume high priority. Nothing is more discouraging for a rugby player, who is
participating for health and fitness benefits, than to be sidelined with a nagging injury. The coach needs to educate
the player about the importance of developing and maintaining optimum flexibility especially in the shoulder, back
and leg areas. A short set of supplementary shoulder, back and leg strengthening exercises designed to maintain
balance, along with proper stretching guidelines can go a long way towards preventing and recovering from injury.

Rugby players need to be educated about the importance of "listening to their bodies", icing, resting, and correcting
potentially detrimental stroke and training habits. Many persons are reluctant to complain or admit to a problem, not
realizing that early intervention can prevent a minor problem from developing into a chronic one. They should also
be made aware that the recovery process (from injury) tends to be longer for the older athlete than the young. In
addition, the coach should be made fully aware of any previous history of injury or medical conditions that may
predispose the athlete to injury.

High intensity training of elite athletes is coming under increasing scrutiny, with responses being very carefully
monitored to determine optimum quantities and avoid overtraining. The coach needs to be certain that athletes are
physically ready for the introduction to high intensity work, and must ensure that those going beyond the average
three workouts per week are aware of the need to maintain a proper balance of training and adequate recovery time.
Because your rugby players arrive with widely divergent backgrounds, fitness levels, and physical limitations, you
will need to educate them to understand the importance of monitoring their own training responses and
communicating this to you. If you explain the basic principles of training, the rationale behind your season plan, the
symptoms of overtraining, and the warning signs of injury, they will be better able to do this.

Flexibility or range of motion limitations and buoyancy idiosyncrasies often require the coach to take a very
individualized approach in development.

In summary, the Coach needs to be aware of and make adjustments for

        Range of Motion Limitations
        Strength Deficiencies
        Previous injuries/weaknesses
        Prolonged Training Recovery
        Extended Rehabilitation time
        Wide range of entry level fitness
        Pre-existing medical conditions including pregnancy
        Background/experience with athletics and training

Return from athletic injury can be a lengthy and difficult process. The injured athlete commonly
receives care from several providers during rehabilitation. As their condition improves, injured
athletes resume strength and conditioning programs and sport-specific activities in preparation for
return to play. Until full medical clearance is provided to return to sport and the athlete is
psychologically ready to return to play, the injured athlete remains a patient regardless of who is
developing and supervising each component of the recovery process. An understanding of and
commitment to the plan of care for each athlete, as well as communication among health care
providers, strength and conditioning specialists, coaches, and the athletes, are essential to the safest
and most efficient recovery from injury.

First although the athlete may have recovered in medical terms i.e., improvements in flexibility, range of motion,
functional strength, pain, neuromuscular control, inflammation, preparation for competition requires the restoration
of strength, power, speed, agility and endurance.

At levels exhibited in sport. Such sport-specific training may be beyond what those attending to the athlete‘s
medical needs are qualified or prepared to provide. Returning from injury is a process requiring additional work
from the injured athlete to regain competitive ability exercise must be prescribed with an emphasis on the
fundamental components of the exercise prescription. This progressively incorporates activities and skills displayed
in sport. When athletes resume team-based strength and conditioning activities, emphasis should be on generic
movements, exercises inherent to most sports, such as closed kinetic chain squats and sport-specific movements that
makes up the complete strength training program for an athlete both exercise templates are vital in the recovery

In contrast to linear improvement, rehabilitation is often a haphazard process with positives and negatives occurring
daily. Consequently, athletes usually benefit from input from all providers throughout the process of returning to
play. Unfortunately, athletes often pay the price for poorly coordinated recovery plans within the return-to-play
process. Communication is a vital factor. A lack of communication between medical providers, strength and
conditioning specialists, and team coaches can slow or prevent athletes from returning to peak capability and
increase the risk of new injuries and even more devastating re-injuries. In addition, care providers must consider the
possible psychological consequences of injuries, and they should position themselves to identify and address or refer
such issues to appropriate parties when identified. Unfortunately, communication between clinicians is often
suboptimal, face-to-face meetings infrequent, and clearly defined roles lacking in the return-to-play process.

Coaching staffs and administrative personnel must work to ensure that care can be provided at all points of the
rehabilitation process, especially when funding dictates the need to hire personnel capable of addressing injuries at
multiple levels. Under most circumstances, individual providers should not be expected to possess the knowledge
and training needed to ensure complete recovery for athletes through all stages of the return-to-play process.

Our purpose is to address the process of transition that takes place once rehabilitation from injury is near completion
and athletes are ready to begin strength and conditioning activities, highlighting some common considerations en
route to an expedient and successful injury recovery.

From injury resolution to performance resumption

The paradigm found in Figure 1 provides an overview of the injury and recovery process. A thorough examination
of the injured athlete and a careful evaluation of all findings are essential to an accurate diagnosis, from a structural
and biomechanical perspective. A clear understanding of the injury and of the interventions from each provider is
vital to an efficient and successful return to play. Each provider must make clear the purpose of each treatment and
the restrictions from specific activities during the rehabilitation process while providing supervision at points of
progression and when new activities are initiated.

Figure 1.

The process of care for an athlete who is returning to play, with different providers and roles.

Resistance training is critical to the resolution of impairment and the recovery of function. Early in rehabilitation,
resistance training is typically of lower intensity and often supervised by a physical therapist or athletic trainer in a
clinical setting or in close tandem with strength and conditioning specialists. Early resistance exercise is prescribed
for a number of reasons, including the restoration of balance, the development of reflex control, the redevelopment
of neuromuscular control and function, and the development of strength and endurance in injured tissues. During
the latter stages of rehabilitation treatment, goals shift from the resolution of impairment to functional recovery.

During this period, exercises directed toward overall fitness are initiated, as are more aggressive but closely
supervised strength, endurance, and neuromuscular retraining activities. In many cases, these activities occur in the
weight room or in open spaces, outside the confines of a clinic. Acute program variable prescriptions (see Figure 2)
are increasingly focused on encouraging adaptations that will improve physical abilities of high specificity to the
performance demands of the athlete‘s sport.
Figure 2.

Program design variables.

Care and proper progression (or periodization) are needed with conventional heavier resistance training programs.
The injured tissues must be carefully monitored to assess tolerance to exercise stress. Initially, recovery exercises
(closed kinetic chain using body weight) may be highly stressful. Although well intended to stimulate tissue, they
can cause overload damage and inflame previously injured or immobilized tissue. For example, after an initial
strength improvement session, a recovering patellar tendon may be irritated, requiring therapeutic interventions such
as rest, ice, compression, and elevation to mitigate symptoms and expedite the process of recovery so that further
progressive resistance exercise sessions can take place with minimal delay. The athlete must be monitored for signs
and symptoms of overload to the healing tendon that would not be of concern for a healthy athlete participating in
the same conditioning program. Training might begin with carefully monitored unilateral exercises using open
kinetic chain movements, progressing to weight bearing closed kinetic chain movements, and finally, bilateral
closed kinetic chain movements. Such a progression would help permit the periodization of exercise stress and a
central focus on the tissues in need of gains in force production and conditioning.

An awareness of the exercise prescription on any given day will better enable rehabilitation providers to anticipate,
collaborate, and administer treatments. Furthermore, clinicians must inform strength and conditioning specialists on
the status of injuries. Regardless of an athlete‘s apparent level of recovery, constant feedback from the athlete is
needed to gauge and adjust exercise prescriptions. The athlete‘s perception during periods of recovery from injury
can provide valuable direction in the decision-making process.

In addition, athletes must be regularly assessed to ensure that they are not attempting to conceal worsening
conditions or delay return to play because of a lack of confidence or disagreement in the perceived severity of the
injury. Such monitoring is the responsibility of all involved until the athlete has been provided medical clearance to
discontinue all rehabilitative care and return to unrestricted sports participation.

Of critical importance is mutual agreement between all involved parties over the athlete‘s readiness to rejoin highly
demanding sports and conditioning activities. Medical providers must be assured that injured tissue is capable of
withstanding the demands of sports and that muscle and joint impairments have been sufficiently resolved;
moreover, coaches must be confident that the athlete is adequately conditioned and physically capable of performing
at a high level. Before athletes rejoin practice and other live competitive scenarios, coaches must believe that he or
she can contribute to the success of the team.

Injury is more than physical; that is, the athlete must be psychologically ready for the demands of his or her sport.
Many individuals assist athletes through the recovery process and can foster psychological readiness, but they can
also identify those who are physically recovered but require more time or intervention to be fully prepared to return
to competition. Thus, rehabilitation and recovery are not purely physical but also psychological.

Individuals cope with illness and injury in different ways. Despite the ineffective and sometimes counterproductive
coping behaviors, a number of approaches may be effective in assisting psychological recovery. Beyond the
physical impairments relating to sport, limitations and disabilities associated with injury and recovery may cause
additional distress. Concerns over re-injury, regaining status on a team, and failing to perform at pre-injury levels
are common and can affect the rate of recovery through overuse, avoidance, and other compliance issues. In some
cases, clinical or sports psychologists will best provide the psychological care for an athlete who is recovering from
injury. Athletes may train excessively for return to play and quickly become the biggest threat to successful
recovery from injury. In many cases, educating athletes on the process of recovery and the physiological process
taking place throughout each component may help to offset a natural inclination to over train injured tissues.

In a healthy state, the tissues of the musculoskeletal system respond to exercise through a process of damage and
repair. If the tissues are excessively overloaded, injury can occur. When an athlete is recovering from an injury or
surgery, tissue is already compromised and thus requires far more attention despite the recovery of joint motion and
strength.. Moreover, injuries and surgical procedures can create detraining issues that increase the likelihood of
further injury. For example, when the mid portion of the patella tendon is harvested for use in the reconstruction of
the anterior cruciate ligament, the bone of the distal pole of the patella is weakened, as is the tendon itself. Excessive
loading of these tissues can result in fracture or tendon rupture during training, thus creating an entirely new injury
and process of recovery outside of what was already planned for the anterior cruciate ligament. Strength and
conditioning specialists must have an awareness of the risks created by some of the common operative and
rehabilitative procedures. For example, ankle immobilization designed to promote healing of an injured anterior
talofibular ligament could lead to significant strength loss in muscles associated with the immobilized ankle joint.
Consequently, strength and conditioning specialists must be sensitive to vulnerabilities and weaknesses caused by


The severity of an injury and the complexity of the medical and surgical care affect the rate of recovery and the
extent to which rehabilitation must be supervised in some cases. In all cases, clear and open communication is
required from each person who is participating in the care process. Until full medical clearance is provided to return
to sport and the athlete is psychologically ready to return to play, the injured athlete remains a patient regardless of
who is developing and supervising each respective component of the recovery process.

Strength and conditioning specialists should give assessments of performance to health care providers with objective
and quantifiable information that can show reliable, time-based trends indicative of improvement or lack of
progress. Ultimately, successful rehabilitation depends on trust. The athlete must trust that all who participate in the
treatment and rehabilitation process place the welfare of the athlete first.

Section 4: Optimal Tapering for Peak Performance

Theme #1: Taper Design

Competition Tapering

What is a taper?

A taper is considered to be a period of time where the volume of training is reduced in the days or weeks leading up
to a key event to prevent training-induced fatigue from impacting your performance on the day. It isn't done for
every event just the one or two a year that you have pre-determined to be
your key objectives for peak performance.
The key to a well executed taper period is finding the best balance between recovery and sustained training.

A structured taper will allow the body to recover from the accumulated fatigue of hard training without reversing the
affects of training adaptation. The best training and form in the world can all be wasted with an ineffective taper
period. Get it right and you'll fly on the day, get it wrong and you'll not be competing to your full potential

Pump Up The Volume?

Most definitely not! You'll have noticed that only the volume of training is reduced during a taper period, not the
intensity. Some people lose the full advantage of a taper period because they reduce both volume and intensity.
Ensure you differentiate between the two and success is at least a step closer.

Try to follow a few simple rules and guidelines. I say, "allow yourself" because it still surprises me how many
people train hard up to two days before a key event. They're nervous, that as the big day approaches, and they‘ll
lose valuable fitness if they don't stay at full throttle. You can't get any fitter in the last week before a key event; it's
a fact!

Remember the FIT principle?
Good training is all about manipulating three critical factors to get the maximum return on your training investment.
The training methods & December planning fact sheets explain these factors in more detail.

To cut a long story short, a good training programme relies on adjusting the Frequency, Intensity and Time
(duration) of your workouts to physically overstretch your body to create a sustainable adaptation to your training
load. The key word is "sustainable." You can't overstretch your body indefinitely. You need to schedule active
rest, recovery and adaptation periods in to your training plan, then finish it off with an equally well planned taper

A taper is a cross between a rest period and an activity period. You still stress your body before a key event; you
just do it for a shorter activity period, which gives you a longer recovery period. You get to "rest" rest, after your
key event! To make the point absolutely clear; tapering isn't resting! Please don't confuse the two.

How long is a taper?
As I said above, and will continue to say throughout this fact sheet; it depends. If you're training for an Iron Man
event you might need to take a three week taper. A full on sportive like the Marmotte, L'Etape or Quebrantahuesos
would probably require a 10 day taper; a 25 mile time trial might require just a 7 day taper. It really is horses for
courses and requires a little trial and error to get it just right. The only problem is, you don't want to be "erroring"
when preparing for your key event of the year. But you have to start somewhere, and to be honest, I've never heard
of anyone saying they tapered too much!

The quantifiable benefits.
Again, there is a key word in the heading above; quantifiable. These things have been measured by clever people
with clever stuff; there is scientific research to back these concepts up. So it's worth paying attention and at least
giving the next paragraph or so the benefit of the doubt.

Research suggests that a well planned and executed taper can lead to an increase in oxygen uptake, an increase in
muscle glycogen levels and an increase in an athlete's strength and power. Some studies have measured a 3%
increase in power, and an increase in sustained endurance, over control groups that never undertook a taper period.

Now I can hear a few of you scoffing at 3%. But consider this...
There is no template
Just as each individual reacts differently to the same training stimulus, the same is
found for tapering. Don't do what your mates do or copy a schedule from a book.

You cannot write a cookie cutter template taper that works for everyone. Each
individual needs to find the taper that works best for them. Having said that, there
are at least some indisputable rules of tapering that have to be followed.

▼ Frequency has to remain around 80% of previous training patterns.
▼ Intensity has to remain at or above that of competition level.
▼ Time (volume) has to decrease by at least 50-60%.

So, if you're training five times a week, you don't cut back to two sessions, you drop to four. These are all starting
points for you to work from.

As I said, there is no template, and these figures aren't prescriptive. But they do make excellent starting points
against which to prove your theories when you taper for one of your less-important objectives.

The taper period isn't exclusively used for physical recovery and adaptation. Nutrition is as key to your training and
tapering as any physical activity you may undertake. Your performance on the day relies heavily on the food you
eat the week before the event. Just because you've cut back in one aspect of your training doesn't mean you can let
discipline slip in another.

Eat the correct food in the correct quantities and at the correct time. Keep your glycogen levels stocked by eating
little and often. Don't eat three big meals a day, eat five smaller ones and make sure you remain hydrated at all

Don't compromise your whole preparation period by neglecting this vital piece of your competition jigsaw. And
don't underestimate the psychological effects of treating yourself to a dessert in the taper period. You've trained
hard for a prolonged length of time and are now as fit as you'll get.
One small dessert isn't going to hold you back. Reward yourself for your training effort before the big day; but not
the night before! It all adds to the confidence that you're as well prepared as you can be and are looking forward to
competition day.

Planning your training.

This next section provides empirical evidence of a controlled, structured, season long build and taper, planned in
October and executed in August.

In the table below you can clearly see, the overload and taper principles at work, from my actual SRM race and
training data files. The first red block is La Ronde Picards sportive, at the back end of that year's competition
period. Season over, I recovered in October with short, easy, steady-state 50k rides with a tiny Training Stress

I planned (and rode) the rest of the season in progressive overloads and distances to peak for June and again in
September. You can see the Sarthe &Bossis rides were shorter but more explosive to give an overload for my two
key events, The Pyreneene and the Hubert Hubert Arbes which took place a week apart in June.

After a July back-off, so I could watch the Tour, I then began my end of season build up with Courir Pour La Paix in
August. I tapered properly for this event and ended up just 2 minutes behind the comeback kid, Bernard Hinault;
yes that one!

My final and key event of the year, and the most "stressful" was the Lapabie in September. Once that was over I
went back to October's 50k wind-down rides. Here's a full season at a glance with the peaks and troughs and tapers.

Date                Distance    TS         IF            Load

Picarde Sept        135k        284        0.869         246

Recovery Oct        50k         147        0.745         109

November            65k         201        0.808         162

December            100k        242        0.821         198

January             85k         289        0.869         251

February            60k         213        0.920         195

March               100k        334        0.924         308

Sarthe April        155k        378        0.919         347

Bossis May          151k        395        0.955         377

Pyreneene June      175k        410        0.740         303

August Taper        65k         147        0.865         127

La Paix August      115k        232        0.781         182
Lapabie Sept        160k        416        0.753          313

October             50k         111        0.760          84

You can see from the actual training figures above that Training Stress and Intensity Factor build each month to give
a controlled, progressive, sustainable overload. Ideally, your season should be planned the same. As should your
run up to your key events.

You don't need a power meter to do all this. You can gauge the "hardness" of your training and events on
experience, distance, climbing and possibly average speed. Don't over complicate things, I can because I'm sad!
This is a very simple concept that can be as easy or as complicated as you wish to make it. Keep it simple!

Psychological benefits
Do not underestimate the psychological benefits of a taper period. If a taper is carried out correctly you can actually
feel yourself getting stronger as your key event approaches.

The mental lift this gives is enormous. To be in with a chance of performing well on your chosen day you need to
peak both physically and mentally. If one of these factors s just slightly off song you could compromise your
chances of successfully fulfilling your goal. It doesn't matter how strong you are, if you're not mentally fresh you
could be handicapping yourself against less powerful but mentally more attuned athletes. So refresh your brain as
well as your muscles.

Common sense touches
The taper period is an ideal time to concentrate on technique and strategy. As fatigue occurs and the emphasis is on
completing intervals or sets, it's all too easy for technique to drift as you fight for that last ounce of race-winning
fitness. Use the taper period to concentrate on doing the small thing right. Don't drift just because the sessions are
easier; use the time to sharpen your skills and enhance your awareness.

If you train in the evenings, due to work or family commitments etc, but your key event is in the morning, try to use
the taper period to train at the same time of day as your key event. This will allow your body to adapt to the
environment and conditions in which you will be competing.

As you train to a lesser level, make sure you adjust your nutritional strategy accordingly. It
would be a shame if you put on a kilo or so during your taper period because you forgot to
throttle back on your carb intake! Also, remember that fluid replacement and balance is just as
crucial in a taper period as it is in an activity period. Don't get to your key event dehydrated!

If you're competing away, or at home, save your sunbathing until after the event. Sitting in the
sun the day before a key event may help with your tan but it isn't conducive to optimal
hydration levels. Common sense, but I've seen it done.

Also, if you've got new kit or nutrition products don't save them all up for the big day. Test
them during your taper period. It's no use having a brand new pair of race shoes for the big
day if the cleats are misaligned or your new shorts have a seam just where you don't want it!
Test your kit in the taper period and if you have new tyres get them scrubbed in before you go
flying up the road. Literally!

The message
Each athlete and each sport discipline requires differing combinations of physiological, psychological and technical
abilities. Therefore the same athlete will require differing tapers for differing events. A taper that worked for a
180k sportive isn't the same one to use for a ten mile time trial. And differing athletes will require different tapers
for the same events. Find what's best for you in your chosen discipline.

No one got to a race fatigued because they recovered too much the week before a key event. If in doubt err on the
side of caution and do less. Go for a ride and when you feel good; go home!

Sometimes it's that simple. A while back I saw someone go on a 40 mile club run, then contest the last mile dash
and give it a big sprint at the end. Thought nothing of it.

The next day I see them half-way down the results sheet for the Island 50 mile Time Trial Championship! What on
earth were they thinking? Did they really believe they'd get a fast time with a heavy workout on the Saturday!
Maybe they did.

Train hard, taper well, realize your potential.

Outline your plan for a taper for a major competition. Note any planned changes in training frequency, intensity, and

Theme #2: Potential stress factors

Identify the main factors that are or can become sources of stress for your athletes during taper. For each, identify a
specific strategy in order to limit or reduce its impact, or to optimize adaptation.

Stress factor                                           Strategy to reduce or limit its impact

Theme #3: Optimizing taper

Identify the main factors that can enhance the adaptation of your athletes during taper. For each, identify a specific
strategy in order to maximize its impact, and to optimize adaptation. Strategies can include sleep, nutrition, stress
management, speed training in practice, stretching, massage, etc…

Performance / adaptation enhancement technique 1:


Implementation plan:

Performance / adaptation enhancement technique 2:


Implementation plan:

Performance / adaptation enhancement technique 3:


Implementation plan:

Performance / adaptation enhancement technique 4:

Implementation plan:

Approach to Training

Undertaking a focused, structured, individualized training program can increase an athletes VO2max by 15 to 30%
over a 3 month period and up to 50% over 2 years! Obviously the later figure is based on someone new to the
sport. A world champion cannot be expected to increase their VO2max by 50% unless they resort to the old EPO or
other dodgy practices.

So, back to normal stuff. Focused training also leads to metabolic adaptations, include changes in lactic acid
removal, which contribute to your ability to perform at a higher level of VO2max for longer periods of time.
Changes are also made to lipid metabolism which enable extra energy Calories to be provided from fat. These
Calories supplement those from glycogen and glucose, at specific VO2max levels, supporting longer durations of
exercise to fatigue. We'll cover fat metabolism in the next fact sheet.

Training also results in physical changes in the muscles. These will improve their tolerance for the stresses of
prolonged exertion. Especially the strengthening of the connective tissue between muscle fibers which translates
into less micro trauma, or post exercise discomfort to give its less scary term.

Not every training session in your program needs to stress the cardiovascular system to its limit. In fact successful
programs are balanced with at least two days per week at less than maximal cardiovascular intensity to allow for
mental and physical recovery.

There is obviously a drop off in metabolic adaptations within a few weeks of stopping training, although changes in
numbers of muscle capillaries and skeletal and cardiac muscle fiber size probably occur more slowly. So you can
quickly get back to where you were after injury or illness.

Training Intensity
Is more better? Not necessarily. Although the exact optimum for training intensity is unknown, and obviously
varies between individuals, it is generally accepted that maximum aerobic improvement occurs at 85% VO2max
(approximately 90% of your max. heart rate). Regular training above this level will increase the potential for injury
without a corresponding increase in cardiovascular or musculoskeletal training benefits.

Lower levels of exercise, 60% maximum heart rate for 45 minutes, will at least maintain general cardiovascular
conditioning. The "long slow distance" approach to endurance training where your maximum heart rate is always
limited to 60 to 80% VO2max will not optimize your personal performance for high level aerobic events. A recent
study assigned 15 women to either a low intensity (132 beats per minute) or high intensity (163 bpm) group,
exercising for 45 minutes, 4 times a week. There was an increase in VO2max for members of the high intensity
group, but not the low intensity one.

However at this time of the year we are not attempting to boost our VO2max, we are attempting to train our bodies
to "spare glycogen" and to get used to three to four hours in the saddle. Everyone thinks we are riding slow to "burn
fat". This isn't strictly true. We do burn fat, if we ride slowly enough, but that's because we are sparing glycogen.
It's a bit cause and effect and "semanticky" but there is a difference. Once you can acknowledge or accept the fact,
training principles and why we do what we do, become a little clearer.

Training Duration
There is no easy answer to the optimum duration for a high intensity training session as training is an interaction
between intensity and time. Ten minutes of 80% maximum heart rate will be of some benefit, but 30 minutes are
even better. However, 60 minutes does not necessarily give you a proportionally greater benefit as there is clearly a
point at which the negative effects of exercising at such a high level outweigh the benefits. At some point there is a
case for "less is more".

For aerobic training at less than 90% maximum heart rate it makes the most sense to look at the duration of the
planned event, and to train at the same level of anticipated performance for a duration equal to that of the event plus,
possibly, an additional 10%. Seeing as for the majority of us, our longest race is 60 miles, there is little point riding
longer. As most of us have already done this on the Anthony Nolan ride it is now a case of riding that distance more
efficiently and effectively. So now we know we have the endurance capabilities, we can SLOWLY, build up the
speed necessary to race at this level.

As the first race is about 20 weeks away, and the biggie is about another 16 weeks after that, there is little need to
panic. We have a little time to fine tune our plan.

Training Frequency
It appears that maximum aerobic conditioning (increasing VO2max) occurs with 3 workout days per week. It is
better to take off 2 to 3 days per week to allow for muscle and ligament repair and decrease the risk of cumulative
physical stress. Interestingly, it appears that these 3 days per week will maximize aerobic conditioning equally in
any combination - i.e. 3 days in a row with 4 off, alternating days, etc.

Studies on maintaining the benefits of aerobic training revealed that a 66% reduction in training frequency, going
from 6 days a week to 2 days a week but keeping the same intensity for each individual workout, maintained gains
previously made. You can cut a 60 minute, 6 per week program to 60 minutes, twice a week, perhaps even to a 30
minute session 6 times a week, and still maintain your aerobic fitness level.

However, fitness levels cannot be maintained by cutting the intensity of the 60 minute session and keeping it at 6
times per week. If intensity is held constant, the frequency and duration of exercise required to maintain fitness are
much less than the effort needed to attain that fitness level in the first place.

That's why, once we have established an endurance base we can cut back the distance to maintain it, then go off and
do some speedy-power type training. All we need to do then is to maintain our endurance through the race season
by using one day a week to do a long, race-distance type, ride.

Methods of Training
Training needs to be structured for the intensity and duration of the planned sporting event. Anaerobic (oxygen
independent) exercise is generally less than 60 seconds in duration and is fueled by the anaerobic, ATP Creatine
Phosphate (CP) energy pathways.

The classic anaerobic sport is weightlifting. Sprint activities also use anaerobic pathways. If the sprint lasts more
than 5 or 10 seconds, lactic acid clearance becomes an issue because of the negative effects of lactic acid on muscle
performance. Training focused on anaerobic activities will enhance the ATP and CP energy transfer pathways as
well as improving the tolerance for, and clearance of, lactic acid.

Aerobic training on the other hand provides its benefits by improving the cardiovascular and oxygen delivery
systems to the muscle cell. These include improvements in both cardiac output, the amount of blood pumped by the
heart per minute, and at the muscle fiber level there is an increase in the extraction of oxygen from the blood cells in
the capillaries. In addition, there is an improvement in the efficiency of the cellular metabolic pathways which
convert glucose into ATP. Which is why we ride slow in the winter.

As the level of exertion increases, there is a slow transition towards anaerobic metabolism in the muscle. There are
always areas of relatively lesser perfusion within the muscle that are functioning anaerobically. So even at 50 to
60% VO2max some anaerobic conditioning is occurring. At 85% VO2max, the "anaerobic threshold" for most
individuals, there is an abrupt increase in anaerobic metabolism throughout the entire muscle. Even though some
cross training of the anaerobic systems takes place during exercise at 60 to 80% VO2max, a sprint performance
training program needs to include exercise sessions above 85% VO2max. We do these once we are into the racing

Obviously, long slow distance work is good training for aerobic, endurance events, but it will not improve your
sprint performance. Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise sessions need to be included in a training program. It is
the balance of the amount of each type of exercise which determines its suitability for the competitive event for
which you are training. We'll cover this in another article.

Interval Training
Interval training refers to sandwiching periods of intense physical activity between periods of recovery, to allow
longer periods of training time at your peak performance levels. One study in runners demonstrated that continuous,
maximal performance levels could be sustained for only 0.8 miles before exhaustion occurred, while a similar level
of peak exertion could be maintained for a cumulative distance of over 4 miles when intervals were used.

In training for sprints, which do not involve significant lactic acid build up and basically are training the ATP and
CP systems, it is recommended that the duration of the training interval should be increased by 1 to 5 seconds over
the usual sprint distance. The exercise intensity or maximum effort should remain unchanged and the recovery
period should be at least three times longer than the training interval.

Training for longer intervals, up to several minutes, produces significant lactic acid build up along with stressing the
anaerobic metabolic pathways. To train for these several minutes of maximum output intervals, it is suggested that
the distance being trained for be subdivided, and the training interval effort focused on that shorter distance.

So, if you are training for a personal best 10 mile ride, and your best time for the ride is 30 minutes then if you can't
ride one mile in three minutes, how will you ever do 10 in thirty. So ride one mile in three minutes, well within your
capability, have three minutes rest, then ride another. Then build up from there. We'll cover this later, we are only
showing concepts at this early stage. And on no account do intervals unless you really understand them. Pleas ask
someone first!

Training program drop out rates can double when intervals are used, so they should be used judiciously. They are
only to be used at specific times. Consider them twice a week during your peak season, and separate each session
by at least 48 hours to allow adequate recovery. If your long ride is on the weekend, Tuesday and Thursday make
the most sense. The goal should be 10 to 20 minutes of hard pedaling per training interval session, not counting
warm up, recovery, or cool down.

If you have a heart rate monitor, an alternative is to key intervals to your maximum heart rate. Ride your intervals at
80 to 90% of your maximum heart rate and spin easily until your heart rate drops to 60 to 65% of maximum.

Continuous Training
Continuous training refers to aerobic activity performed at 60 to 90% VO2max for an hour or more. When done at
the lower end of this range, it is often referred to as long, slow distance (LSD) training. This level of training is
ideal for those starting off an exercise program, those wishing to maximize Calorific expenditure for weight loss
purposes, and as an option for an active "rest" day in a weekly aerobic training program.

This level of exertion can be maintained for hours at slightly less intensity than used in competitive events in the
past, and is particularly suited for endurance event training. It is thought to have a preferential beneficial effect on
the slow twitch muscle fibers (as opposed to the fast twitch fibers used in sprint interval training).
Fartlek Training
This form of training is a combination of interval and LSD training. It is not as structured as an interval program
being based on the personal perception of exertion rather than specific time or distance intervals. It mimics the
"sprint to the line" that is part of many road races. While there is little scientific proof of its benefits it makes sense
physiologically, and psychologically it adds a feeling of freedom to those long slow days. Best done with mates, but
it is almost impossible to stop it becoming a race and it often screws up your planned training ride.

To summarize, here are the key points for an aerobic training program:

▼ Training needs to be structured for the intensity and duration of the planned event

▼ Long slow distance training forms an important base at the beginning of the training season

▼ Maximum aerobic improvement occurs at 85% VO2max (90% max. heart rate)

▼ Maximum aerobic conditioning (increasing VO2max) occurs with 3 workout days per week at or above 85%

▼ Additional training days should be at a slower pace to allow recovery and build musculoskeletal strength

▼ Exercising at less than 85% VO2max will improve general cardiovascular conditioning and overall
musculoskeletal tolerance

▼ In training for endurance events train at the level of anticipated performance with a ride equal to that of the event
+ 10%

The message
Running a Max Heart Rate Test to find your optimum training zones is extremely useful but only if you do
something with the information you have. Devising a training plan with the specific requirements of developing
your strengths and limiting your weaknesses is a fantastic investment in your training time. But only if you know
which areas need addressing and operate in the correct training zones to improve them. Without a test how will you
know how hard to go and how will you know if you've improved?

Through increasing your cycling economy, lactate tolerance and power output you can make significant
improvements in the efficiency of your aerobic engine thus allowing you to cruise at a faster speed. We may not be
able to make your heart beat faster but we can make each beat more oxygen efficient and help you deliver more
oxygen to your muscles. And that's what wins races.
December Planning

We're now into December and, if you accept the information of last month's fact sheet, you
should now have a fair idea of what you want from the forthcoming season. This month we'll
discuss how can you maximize your chances of achieving next seasons SMART goals?

Train, don't ride
It's a fact that to fully realize your potential you have to undertake training, not just go for a ride.
If you have accepted that fact then you'll need to apply a little discipline, structure and planning
to your cycle sessions between now and your main objective. When you apply these simple
attributes to your time on the bike, riding ceases to be a random collection of roads and routes, it
becomes structured training. A small mindset change that brings a disproportionate gain in

For now we'll concentrate on helping you plan your own training and explain why plans should be important to you. If
                           you don't think they are then just enjoy your rides as normal but read on anyway as there
                           may be just one thing that can help structure your rides. Just because a cycle ride is
                           structured or planned doesn't mean it can't be fun, enjoyable and most of all, rewarding.

                             To keep you motivated towards achieving them, the goals, you've identified for yourself,
                             have to meet the goal setting criteria explained in previous fact sheets. A goal, without
discipline and motivation, is little more than a dream. A dream requires nothing more than an imagination. A goal
requires focus, discipline, motivation, dedication, sacrifice and a structured plan.

How much are you willing to sacrifice to achieve your goal? In the early days of your plan, your sacrifice will be time;
long, cold, winter endurance hours in the saddle. The closer you move towards the peak of your goal, the less time you
need to dedicate but the more pain you have to endure.

As you near your goal, time gives way to pain and suffering. If you think a 20 minute interval hurts wait until you try
20 second ones.

There's a business tool that fits so many decision making models it's ridiculous in it's simplicity. Once you learn to
apply it in business, life becomes so much more simple. What's more ridiculous is how it applies to competitive cycling
and training. The Pareto Principle is also known as the 80/20 rule. In work 80% of your problems are caused by 20%
of your contacts. In business 80% of your profits come from 20% of your clients. In cycling 80% of the races are won
by 20% of the riders.

In training, 80% of the performance gains are made through 20% of the sessions you undertake. So you can get 80%
towards your stated objective with only 20% preparation.

If your objective is the tip of the lighter pyramid, the effort required to meet it is measured upwards from the bottom of
the red kite. The higher up the objective pyramid you go, the greater the red kite focus, discipline, motivation,
dedication and sacrifice you have to make. You can also think of the light pyramid as time and the red kite as pain; an
inversely proportional but ultimately rewarding relationship.

Pareto in practice
A typical example would be training for a 25 mile time trial. Say you ride your first ever 25 in 1:15. To ride a 25 TT in
seventy-five minutes requires a certain level of fitness. To knock 10% off that time and get it to a 1:07:30 will require a
fair degree of commitment and hard training; say an extra 20%?

To knock a further 10% off, and get down to an hour, will require a further 50% of structured training and dedication.
To drop below the hour you may need to double your previous efforts as the training effort, duration and intensity
required becomes exponential to the speed increase and time decrease you're trying to achieve.

Are you prepared to sacrifice a 100% increase in training effort for a 20% increase in performance? Because that's what
champions do. However, most of the time the 80% gain for 20% of effort is acceptable and sustainable for most of us.

I know statistics and percentages can be twisted or misinterpreted to tell almost anything. But what I'm trying to get
                                   across is the concept of returns on training investment; please don't take the
                                   above figures literally.

                                    Why structure?
                                    Undertaking a focused, structured, individualized training program can increase
                                    your VO2max threshold wattages by 15 to 30% over a 3 month period and up to
                                    50% over 2 years!

                                    Obviously the later figure is based on someone new to the sport. Experienced
                                    athletes cannot be expected to increase their VO2max wattage by 50% but they
                                    wouldn't sniff at a 10% increase.

Imagine by how much local races are won and lost? A wheel at the most. Now imagine if you had a 10% bigger
engine. Imagine riding at the same race pace but using 10% less effort or imagine riding 10% faster for the same effort.
Imagine being able to sprint 10% faster or longer. Or even both! Now, you've taken notice!

How does it work?
Milo of Croton was a Greek peasant who had ambitions of being an Olympic Champion. To become stronger he
realised he needed to have a structure to his training.

A challenge was laid down to him that he couldn't lift a full grown bull. He knew he couldn't at the time but he also
knew it was possible if he applied a structure to his challenge.

He acquired a new born calf which he picked up with relative ease. Each day the calf grew and each day Milo picked it
up off the ground. With each passing day the calf grew more, as did Milo's strength.

Within a year the calf was fully grown and Milo was still lifting it! What could you do if you apply this principle to
your training?

In 540 BC Milo won his first Olympic Championship. He went on to be a six-time consecutive Olympic Champion.
Alright, it wasn't in cycling but you get my point. You see it's not all bull!

How does it help me?
Okay, back to normal stuff. A well structured training plan can lead to metabolic adaptations which enable you to
produce one or all of the following:

▼ an increased VO2max index
▼ an increased lactate threshold
▼ an increased maximum power output
▼ an increased endurance power output
Which basically means you can ride stronger, for longer, with increased economy. In effect, getting more output for
less input through increases in efficiency and effectiveness. The fact that you have a plan means you know when you're
going to get better and by how much. Without a structured plan... I hope you get lucky.

A structure to your training allows the planning and development of lactic acid processing and removal, mitochondria
production, lipid metabolism and the building of vital capillaries which feed the muscles with oxygen during training
and competition.

Lipid metabolism, or fat-burning, enables the fat in your body to be used as fuel. Fat calories supplement those from
glycogen and glucose, at specific VO2max levels, supporting longer durations of exercise to fatigue. That's why the
first part of your training season needs to be the long slow miles, with bursts of activity to raise metabolism and keep
everything ticking over.

Structured training results in physiological changes in an organized and coordinated way. Adding structure to your
training improves your muscles tolerance for the stresses of prolonged exertion, especially the strengthening of the
connective tissue between muscle fibers. This translates into less micro trauma, or post exercise leg discomfort to give
it its less scary term, when you start your high-end training as the season approaches.

Measuring Improvement
Most of my clients are aiming to be as powerful at the start of next season as they were during the middle of last. This
will give them a platform on which to build and become stronger for their stated objectives next season.

Progression is measurable through regular testing, analysis and feedback. At the start and end of each training period,
clients are tested and compared to their previous session and their previous peak. We then structure a personalized plan
around their objectives and current levels of fitness. Tests are reasonably simple and inexpensive.

For less than the price of a tire, and an hour of time, constant, sustainable progression can be measured and maintained.
Every pedal stroke of training can be made to count towards the specified objective. If not, then why do it?

Designing a plan
Your structured training program should revolve around manipulating the three principles of Frequency, Intensity &
Time to gain the maximum benefit with the minimum of effort. Think FIT! Which we'll cover shortly, once we have
established a planning process.

Get yourself a diary, with a month to a page, and start planning. I won't get all "coachy" and go in to micro, meso and
macro cycles here that's for another day. If you think of week, month, season, you're almost there.

So, where do you want to be next season? You've already decided on your stated goals. So, let's say your goal is next
June. We'll not go in to too much detail here, we don't have the space but you need a plan that looks like this.
You can see from the far left that we
peaked in August and carried some fitness in to September.

Take a test
To move up a level in whatever discipline you enjoy, ideally, we should be aiming to be at last Augusts’ peak for April
the following season. If you know how much wattage you were putting out in August or September (having taken a
test), then it's a relatively easy process to work backwards from. This is your first sub-goal.

Target a sub-goal
If you could knock out 300 watts for six minutes in August you need to be at say, 300 watts again in April, which should
be a major sub-goal target. Each month previous you should set other minor sub-goals of 280 in March and 260 in
February and 240 watts in January.

Springboard to your target
Once you've hit your first major sub-goal it makes it easier to maintain momentum to the next. If, however you miss
any of your sub-goals then you have a month in which to take corrective measures or re-adjust your main objective.

The beauty of this system, Train, Test, Analyze, Plan, is you don't just ride around until the early season and hope
you‘re doing well. You actually know you're doing well and even better you know exactly how well you're doing and
with time and experience can predict your peak to within days.

Okay, now we have our diary, and our monthly (or to be more accurate, four weekly) progression sub-goals. I like to
grade my training plans with a traffic light system of Green, Orange, and Red. An easy week, a medium week then a
hard week. Followed by an adaptation week which is Grey?

Then it starts again with Green, Orange, and Red. However the second green week is as hard as the first orange week.
Sounds complicated but it looks like this...

This 11 week training cycle shows the structured progression and overload phase of each week and the grey adaptation
weeks which allow recovery and preparation for the next phase...
Training Frequency ~ How Often
Research and scientific studies support the theory that maximum aerobic conditioning (increased VO2max) occurs with
just three workout days per week.

During this phase it is important to take two to three days recovery per week to allow your muscles and ligaments to
repair, thus decreasing the risk of cumulative and chronic physical stress.

Interestingly, it appears that these three recovery days maximize aerobic conditioning equally in any combination - three
days in a row with four off, alternating days, two on two off, etc.

Training Intensity ~ How Hard
Is better? Not necessarily. Although the exact optimum for training intensity obviously varies between individuals, it is
generally accepted that maximum aerobic improvement occurs at 85% wVO2max (approximately 90% of your max
heart rate).

Regular training above this level will increase the potential for injury or illness without a corresponding increase in
training benefit. So why tempt fate?

However at this time of the year we are not attempting to boost our wVO2max, we are attempting to train our bodies to
"spare glycogen" and to get used to two, three, four or even five hours in the saddle.

The riding we do in November and December will allow us to boost our wVO2max when the time is right. For those
new to the sport, once you understand these principles, why we do what we do, when we do, becomes a little clearer.

Training Time ~ How Long
There is no easy answer to the optimum duration for a training session as training is an interaction between frequency,
intensity and time.

Ten minutes of 80% maximum heart rate will be of some benefit, but 30 minutes gives more than three times the
benefit. However, 60 minutes does not give you twice the benefit of 30 minutes. Confusing isn't it?

There is clearly a point at which the negative effects of exercising at such a high level outweigh the benefits. That also
goes for low-intensity work. Finding what's right for you comes through experience and self-knowledge. Keep a diary
and analyze it often.

For aerobic training it makes the most sense to look at the duration of your key event. Your training time should then be
tailored to ensure at least two months prior your main objective you can comfortably cover at least 90% of the time or
distance expected. Once you can comfortably cover the distance, you just work on covering it faster!

To give you a pointer to how your plan could look click here.

The message
Having a structured training plan will allow you to predict and create your future performance levels and allow you to
peak when you want to peak, not when your body gets round to it.

It's no accident that Lance managed to peak each July. He didn't ride around for a bit and hope he got ready for the big
race. He may not have used one of our structured plans but you can bet your last energy bar he had one.

I would recommend that you decide what you want from next season, decide if you're willing to make the necessary
sacrifices, find out when you need to do it by and work backwards from that. Set sub-goals and performance markers to
ensure you're heading in the right direction at the right pace. Peaking too early is much worse than peaking too late.
Ask you partner!

Manipulate your work-outs through frequency, intensity or time to gently overload your physiological system. For each
session, make your efforts harder than before, longer than before or just do more of them than you did before. Don't
manipulate all three at the same time, that's a recipe for overtraining. Everything in moderation!

When devising your plan consider this: a marathon champion doesn't run a marathon every time they pull on their
trainers, and a 100 meter sprinter doesn't just sprint a 100 meters five times a day to win gold. Mix and match your
training to go keep fresh, motivated and maintain progression.

Spend three or four hours this month devising yourself a structured training plan with the specific requirements of
developing your strengths and limiting your weaknesses. It's a fantastic investment in your training time and is far
better than spending three unstructured hours riding on the road.

Good luck and enjoy the journey.

Aims of the taper

                                                               Figure 1.1
By Iñigo Mujika

The main aim of the taper is to reduce the negative physiological and psychological impact of daily training. In other
words, a taper should eliminate accumulated or residual fatigue, which translates into additional fitness gains. To
test this assumption, Mujika and colleagues (1996a) analyzed the responses to three taper segments in a group of
national- and international-level swimmers by means of a mathematical model, which computed fatigue and fitness
indicators from the combined effects of a negative and a positive function representing, respectively, the negative
and positive influence of training on performance (figure 1.1). As can be observed in figure 1.1, NI (negative
influence) represents the initial decay in performance taking place after a training bout and PI (positive influence) a
subsequent phase of super compensation.

                                         The mathematical model indicated that performance gains during the
                                         tapering segments were mainly related to marked reductions in the negative
                                         influence of training, coupled with slight increases in the positive influence
                                         of training (figure 1.2). The investigators suggested that athletes should
                                         have achieved most or all of the expected physiological adaptations by the
                                         time they start tapering, eliciting improved performance levels as soon as
                                         accumulated fatigue fades away and performance-enhancing adaptations
                                         become apparent.

                                         The conclusions of Mujika and colleagues (1996a), drawn from real
                                         training and competition data from elite athletes but attained by
                                         mathematical procedures, were supported by several biological and
                                         psychological findings extracted from the scientific literature on tapering.
                                         For instance, in a subsequent study on competitive swimmers, Mujika and
                                         colleagues (1996d) reported a significant correlation between the
                                         percentage change in the testosterone-cortisol ratio and the percentage
                                         performance improvement during a 4-week taper. Plasma concentrations of
                                         androgens and cortisol have been used in the past as indexes of anabolic
                                         and catabolic tissue activities, respectively (Adlercreutz et al. 1986). Given
                                         that the balance between anabolic and catabolic hormones may have
                                         important implications for recovery processes after intense training bouts,
                                         the testosterone-cortisol ratio has been proposed and used as a marker of
                                         training stress (Adlercreutz et al. 1986, Kuoppasalmi and Adlercreutz
                                         1985). Accordingly, the observed increase in the testosterone-cortisol ratio
                                         during the taper would indicate enhanced recovery and elimination of
                                         accumulated fatigue. This would be the case regardless of whether the
Figure 1.2
                                         increase in the testosterone-cortisol ratio was the result of a decreased
                                         cortisol concentration (Bonifazi et al. 2000, Mujika et al. 1996c) or an
increased testosterone concentration subsequent to an enhanced pituitary response to the pre
When training for competition, it is important to properly manage your sessions to ensure optimal physical readiness
for an event. Many athletes in preparation for competition utilize tapering to ensure they do not over train and to
realize optimal gains before a performance.

What is tapering?

The intention of tapering is to sustain an athlete‘s peak level of fitness over a long period of time. Inigo Mujika and
Sabino Madilla, two researchers responsible for much of the recent scientific evidence on the subject, insist that
tapering provides physiological and psychological benefits. Their research cited changes in the balance of key
hormones which benefits the athlete with better moods, reduced fatigue, increased alertness and a feeling of less
effort in performance.

Tapering Guidelines

Understanding how to taper correctly is vital to avoid ‗detraining‘ your athlete. Mujika and Madilla in their work
have detailed the following guideline for tapering the right way.

The Goal of Tapering – The aim of tapering should be to minimize cumulative fatigue, as opposed to achieving any
particular fitness gain.

Training Intensity – It is absolutely imperative to maintain levels of intensity in training. Even where training
quantity is reduced, training quality must be sustained.

Training Volume – Reduce training volume, with a focus on the most non-essential and low intensity activities. The
scale of reduction can range from 40%-80% depending on the athlete and the sport. Training Regularity –
Maintaining high levels of training frequency, roughly 80% appears to be optimal to avoid detraining an elite level
athlete. With more novice athletes, reductions of up to 30-50% is less detrimental.

Taper Duration – The duration of a taper truly must be customized per athlete. Tapers as short as 4 days and as long
as a month has been observed to have positive effects. A coach or trainer must understand his/her athlete‘s fitness
peaks in order to identify an optimal tapering period.

Types of Tapering

The following are the four types of taper described by Mujika and Mudilla, with the progressive tapers boasting the
most positive results:

Linear Taper – A progressive, ramp like, linear reduction in training load

Step Taper – A non-progressive, step like, reduction in training load.

Exponential Taper (slow decay) – A slow non-linear decline in training load

Exponential Taper (fast decay) – A fast steep decline in training load

The Benefits of Tapering

For an athlete seeking optimal performance, correct application of tapering is important. There may be a bit of trial
and error in determining the most beneficial tapering period, but once achieved, effective tapering has been shown to
enhance an athlete‘s performance in competition up to 6%.
58 pages

27, 980 words


Stuart Robinson