Sunday, December 2, 2012

Increasing Biological Output: Part 2

In my last post, I put forward my theoretical thoughts on how an ex-athlete who wants all things that are encompassed by being an athlete (lean, strong, powerful, fast, etc.) without training for any particular sport (football, basketball, track & field, etc.) or with any specific means that are typically used in training (Olympic lifting, powerlifitng, bodybuilding, etc.). 

Lets revisit the desired adaptations that make up the abilities that all athletes desire (Strength, Power, Speed, Stamina, and Endurance).

-Increase in total amount of creatine phosphate 
-Larger number of mitochondria in the cells (and increase in size via hyperplasia)
-Faster splitting of ATP into creatine phosphate and inorganic phosphate 
-High oxidative capacity of both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers 
-Hypertrophy of muscle fibers and immune cells
-Parasympathetic dominant autonomic nervous system
-Faster neural drive from the CNS 

When training to induce these adaptations, you simply do a specific type of activity within specific parameters of various metrics (i.e. intensity, duration, rate of work, etc.) that will elicit the desired adaptation.

Below is an incomplete explanation of how each of these adaptations are achieved. 

-Increase in total amount of creatine phosphate 
  • In order to increase the total amount of creatine phosphate stored in the cells, the intensity of work and mean must be "high" (i.e. sprints, jumps, weights), the duration must be alactic (<10 seconds), the rest period is incomplete (10-60 seconds depending on the interplay of all other variables) and the total amount of work must be substantial relative to the athlete (yourself). 
-Larger number of mitochondria in the cells (and increase in size via hyperplasia)
  • This is by far the simplest adaptation to elicit; any sort of "aerobic" activity will increase both the size and total amount of mitochondria in the cell.  The intensity of work and mean is low to medium (walking, jogging, skipping, abdominals, calisthenics, etc.), the duration is more extensive (usually 20-60+ seconds), the rest period can short or there can be a series of exercises in a circuit, or if the intensity is low enough, the activity can be done continuously. 
-Faster splitting of ATP into creatine phosphate and inorganic phosphate 
  • When speaking of this adaptation, you are simply trying to maximize output in the alactic regime. Thus, the intensity and mean is very high, the duration of work is in the alactic regime, rest periods must allow complete recovery (which again is dependent on the interplay of all acute variables and depending on the individual usually 3-5 minutes, however). 
-High oxidative capacity of both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers 
  • This adaptation is a hybrid, in that it is brought upon by performing various activities in both the alactic and aerobic regimes.
-Hypertrophy of muscle fibers and immune cells
  • These adaptations are again resultant from physical activity (mainly with the immune cells); hypertrophy of muscle fibers can be induced by simply "overloading" a muscle, this is done by typical "bodybuilding" type work
-Parasympathetic dominant autonomic nervous system
  • Again, this adaptation is more of a result of increasing your physical activity, especially in aerobic work.  This adaptation is key in that it allows you to recover faster within a workout (in terms of between sets, exercises, etc.) and between workouts.
-Faster neural drive from the CNS 
  • Similar to the increase in ATP splitting, improving the working ability of the CNS is done by using means of high intensity, for short duration, with complete rest periods.  Again, this adaptation is usually a result of proper exercise progression, rather than a goal itself.
Now that all the boring adaptations have been explained, I'll now give practical examples of how I induce all of these adaptations in my own training.

My typical workout will look something along the lines of the following:

Active/Dynamic Warm-Up

Heart Rate/Circulation Increase
-I will use any sort of low intensity mean such as walking, skipping, jogging, abdominals (200-300 reps), medicine ball throws (6-8 pounds), etc. in order to raise my heart rate and induce several other acute effects physiologically 

-Any sort of basic joint circle, swing or any other anatomical movement, working from low amplitude (range of motion) to high amplitude and from the top to the bottom of the body.

Dynamic Stretches
-These are any sort of calisthenic while walking 

Power-Speed Drills
-The classic A, B & C drills from Gerard Mach and Charlie Francis 

-During this time, I target any specific weakness or imbalance I have (i.e. markedly weaker left side)

My warm-up usually lasts 10-15 minutes and is done in a continuous fashion; I do it ritualistically and simply change the different exercises I use (for novelty purposes to break up monotony) but always in the same sequence.  All of this work takes care of several of the most important adaptations (parasympathetic dominance, mitochondria number/size and oxidative capacity).

Resistance Training

After my warm-up is complete I move on to resistance training.  At this point in my training process, I am in somewhat of  realization phase where I do some sort of max effort work in at least one exercise every 72 hours.

I have relied upon special exercises of the squat, bench press, and deadlift; I rotate through 3-4 exercises for each category and pair them in terms of primary, secondary and tertiary.  This allows emphasis on the most important or largest output exercises (for me the three classical lifts).

These primary exercises have gone the normal block loading scheme of Accumulation, Intensification and now Realization, using Prilepin's Chart for the total volume.

My accessory work in targeted at the muscles I want to increase in size and are done for a total volume or in a simple bodybuilding scheme of 3-5x8-12.

What sets my training apart from others is what I do and have done in-between my sets.  I always do some sort of activity in between sets; whether it is a box jump, medicine ball throw, low intensity abdominals, rehab/prehab exercises, skipping, relaxation exercises, mobility work, etc.  This has allowed me to raise my work capacity immensely  by increasing the density of the workouts and increasing the total load without having to take out any extra real time from my week. 

This training has resulted in many all time personal records.

Resistance training induces several of the desired adaptations, including: These include: Increase in total amount of creatine phosphate, Faster splitting of ATP into creatine phosphate and inorganic phosphate, Hypertrophy of muscle fibers and immune cells and Faster neural drive from the CNS. 

Besides increasing my biological output, the training set-up I have been using has resulted in the improvement of some nagging structural problems.

What I want to make a point out of, is that I worked up to this point in my training since late August.  I used a methodical progression from simple, extensive means, to more complex, intensive means.  Using vertical integration has been the easiest way to manipulate all of the training variables which I outline in a post here.

When you look at the training process as an ever evolving entity, set out with a plan, and adjust when needed, there is no doubt in my mind that you can and will achieve your goals. 

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