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How often should I workout?

I am asked this question numerous times a week and I answer it the same way each time, “How well are you recovering?”

For the average high school athlete who is in-season, 2 days a week are spent resistance training and 6 days a week are spent playing their sport, plus any extra activities done during PE or recreationally.

Adult athletes at 360-athlete train 3-4 days with a combination of weights, isokinetics exercises, and metabolic conditioning, plus any recreational activities (jogging, tennis, golf, basketball, etc).

High school athletes average 8+ workouts a week and Adults 5+. The Bulgarian Method for Olympic Lifters allows athletes to build up to training multiple times per day, 6 days a week, and with heavy weight. The body can handle high workloads, but as the Bulgarian trainers understood recovery was crucial. A majority of the high school and adult athletes have a hard time recovering between workouts and therefore constantly struggle in a negative energy balance. Here are 3 simple tips to help with recovery.

  1. Hydrate

It’s recommended for males 14-18 years old to drink 14 cups/day, females ages 14-18 is 10 cups/day, and adults should get 11-16 cups/day of water. Dehydration can lead to dramatic decrease in physical work capacity by up to 48%. Activities in the heat can increase the level of dehydration.

Before

-Before exercise drink 17 – 20 fl oz two to three hours before exercise

During

-Drink 7 -10 fl oz every 10 to 20 minutes of exercise

After

-Drink 8 fl oz 30 minutes after exercise

-For every pound of body weight lost during exercise consume 1 pint of water.

-For activities less than 60 minutes water should be main hydrating source after that a sports drink has been shown to be beneficial.

  1. Sleep

General recommendation for athletes is 7-9 hours of sleep with 80-90% of that at night. Adolescent athletes and elite athletes who train 4 -6 hours a day may need 10 -12 hours of sleep. A study on the Stanford Men’s Basketball team had 11 players try to achieve 10 hours of sleep each night for a 5 – 7 week period. Players not only noted feeling more alert, but also decreased sprint time, increased free throw shooting by 9%, and increased 3pt shooting by 9.2%. Your body needs sleep to repair from workouts!

General sleep hygiene strategies
Maintain a regular schedule of going to bed and waking up
If you cannot sleep within 15 min, get out of bed and try performing a mundane task
Eliminate the bedroom clock
Avoid coffee, alcohol, and nicotine in the hours before bed
Avoid watching television, eating, working, or reading in bed
Be conscious of food and fluid intake before bedtime
Nap appropriately (30 min and not late in the afternoon)
Maintain a room temperature comfortable for sleeping (~64F)

Table from Bird: Sleep, Recovery, and Athletic Performance: A Brief Review and Recommendations

  1. Nutrition

This is a huge topic and recommendations are very different person to person. If you are working out regularly, you need to consume food. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats! Keep in mind that vegetables and fruit fall under the carb category, not only grains.

Male athletes between 14 – 19 years old need 3000-6000 cal/day and female athletes 14 – 19 years old need 2200-4000 cal/day.

Carbohydrates should consume 55 – 60 % of daily calories, with endurance athletes completing over 90 min of training consuming 6-10 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight. Ex. a 200 lb athlete is 90.9 kg. 90.9 x 6=545 and 90.9 x 10 = 909. A 200 lb endurance athlete should consume 545-909 grams of carbs per day.

Protein recommendation is between 1-2 g/kg of body weight/day. More protein is needed for athlete’s that complete more resistance training.

Fat is used as an energy source and is essential for bodily functions. 20-25% of total calories should come from fats and of that consuming no more than 10% saturated, 10% polyunsaturated or 10% monounsaturated, and total no more than 30% of calories.

Calories can be scaled down based on age and overall activity level for adults. The first step is realizing what your current nutrition is like. One way to accomplish that is by using Myfitnesspal, an app that serves as a food diary to show the breakdown of Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat, as well as provide recommendations for total calories based on your goals.

Bird, Stephen P. “Sleep, Recovery, and Athletic Performance: A Brief Review and Recommendations.” Strength and Conditioning Journal 35.5 (2013): 43-47. Web.

Casa, Douglas J., Lawrence E. Armstrong, Scott J. Montain, Brent Rich, and Jennifer A. Stone. “NationalAthleticTrainers’Association PositionStatement: Fluid Replacement for Athletes.” Journal of Athletic Training 35.2 (2000): 212-24. Web.

Cummiskey, Joseph, Konstantinos Natsis, Efthymia Papathanasiou, and Fabio Pigozzi. “Sleep and Athletic Peformance.” European Journal of Sports Medicine 1.1 (2013): 13-22. Web.

“How Hydration Affects Performance.” ACE Fitness. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015. <https://www.acefitness.org/blog/5397/how-hydration-affects-performance/>.

Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 01 May 2015. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/workout>.

“Olympic Weightlifting Resource – Bulgarian Training Methodology.” Olympic Weightlifting Resource – Bulgarian Training Methodology. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 May 2015. <http://www.owresource.com/training/bulgarian.php>.

Wein, Debra. “Nutritional Considerations for the Adolescent Athlete.” Nsca’s Performance Training Journal 10.6 (2011): 17-18. Web. <www.nsca-lift.org>.

Myth: The key to running faster is moving your limbs faster. QUICKER STEPS & FASTER ARMS = GREATER SPEED.

The limiting factor in acceleration and top speed is usually not how fast an athlete can drive their knee or cycle their arms, but rather how much FORCE they can apply to the ground in the appropriate direction and within the appropriate time.

For example, when we coach an athlete to improve their acceleration phase they are surprised to learn that in acceleration, the ground is your friend. You need to apply as much force as possible, as long as possible in order to accelerate at the greatest rate. The change in velocity is related to the force applied in the opposite direction multiplied times the amount of time that force is applied to the ground. As soon as the athlete removes their drive leg foot from the ground, they are no longer accelerating until the swing leg foot makes contact with the ground on the next step. Maintaining ground contact through an explosive, forceful and complete triple extension push will yield the greatest increase in velocity. The knee drive will set up their next powerful, triple extension push.

Athletes should be coached in the acceleration phase to MAXIMIZE their push and therefore their ground contact time yielding a greater increase in velocity. Most athletes are not as fast as they can be because they are unwilling to be patient.

As a business that specializes in speed development, it is not uncommon for us to have people come to us saying, “I need to get fast, and I need to get fast right now!” This, to some degree, is a reflection of our instant access culture that is speedily speeding up the speed of speed.

You see, when we think about speed development, we must consider Aesop’s Fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare.” The paradox that trips most people up is that speed is gained slowly. The hare was fast, but his attention span was even faster. He couldn’t stay focused on the objective, and so didn’t achieve it. The tortoise wasn’t fast, but kept his eye on the goal, and just kept plodding towards it and ultimately won the race. With the speed and ease with which technology gets us what we want, i.e. hot food, the latest news, directions from here to anywhere, downloading Aesop’s Fables, etc., we get conditioned to expect that progress should come quickly–no, rather instantly.

We believe that if we can just find the right program, gadget, or gizmo then we will achieve what we want instantly! The problem is, the body isn’t designed that way. Our muscles are much stronger and more powerful than what we can actually exert against any form of resistance. If we were able to tap into all of our strength, we would rip our tendons out, or tear ligaments, or fracture our bones. As we exert ourselves against resistance, i.e. weights, hills, bodyweight, etc., the stress causes our bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and muscles to strengthen in concert. If my strength and power grow faster than the supporting structures, I will have injury.

So our bodies were designed with a protection mechanism that helps protect us from injury. We can have instant gains, and we can have significant gains, but we cannot have instant, significant gains. The gains come, similarly to the tortoise, one step at a time. We take one small step forward athletically every time we train as hard (and smart) as we can. And, Like the Hare, every time we wander off the path to that goal, we have to have to spend a certain number of steps just getting back to the path. Our athletic career, in a way, is the accumulation of the consistent days we give all we have. We must have faith that each and every opportunity to get better, no matter how small, is incalculably significant in the achievement of what we want most. And we must never sacrifice what we want most for what we want now! Too many dreams are thrown away for the urgent insistence of insignificant pleasures or comforts. Not many people are willing to work as hard as it takes for as long as it takes to realize the significant gains in speed, strength, power, or any athletic measure.

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