August 21, 2020

Upgrade Your Commitment to Running with a Motivation Self-Assessment and More…

In today’s digest we bring you articles on Upgrade Your Commitment to Running with a Motivation Self-Assessment, What Are Tempo Runs And What Are The Benefits Of Doing Them?, Play Football And Lose Weight With MAN v FAT and The Powerlifting vs Olympic Squats: Which Style Is Better?. Hope you enjoy them…

Upgrade Your Commitment to Running with a Motivation Self-Assessment

Member Exclusive Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks. For many, the lure of running at our best, discovering what lies inside us and what we are capable of, will always hold appeal. What kind of runners are these? The kind who are inspired and driven to train methodically for […]


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For many, the lure of running at our best, discovering what lies inside us and what we are capable of, will always hold appeal. What kind of runners are these? The kind who are inspired and driven to train methodically for months for a single event and then run the very best that they are capable of from the starting line to the finish line—personified by Olympians.

Can recreational runners train with an Olympic approach if they’re not world-class athletes with the talent and ability to run at an international level? Yes, they can. Believe it or not, essentially what goes into training as a committed enthusiast runner physically, mentally, and emotionally is the same as for elite runners. No matter your age, your experience, or your cumulative talent package, you can train like an Olympian if you fully commit to it.

As a coach, before I prescribe a training plan for age-group runners, I ask them to be honest with themselves and with me and to think hard about not only what kind of runner they have been but also what kind of runner they want to be. The two are sometimes the same but more often are quite different.

I’ve found that, more often than not, most runners fall into one of four categories. While these categories are fairly well defined, any runner can aspire to move into a higher-level category if he or she is willing to commit to it.

The “I Want to Get Back into It” Runner

This runner is running little if at all but talks about it frequently with family, friends, and coworkers. She might catch the New York City Marathon on TV or get goose bumps watching inspirational Olympic highlights and then exclaim, “That’s it! I need to get back in shape.” This runner has a sincere interest in getting started but lacks a goal to keep motivated.

If this is you:

  • Without a goal, it is all too easy to get derailed and slip back into complacency. Don’t wait to get into shape or improve your fitness; register for a race or challenge as soon as possible, and you’ll have all the motivation you need. Choose something that sounds fun or unique or features an attainable challenge, sign up, and start training consistently.

The Seasonal/Occasional Runner

This runner typically uses the annual 5K or 10K road race as the impetus to get out and start a standard 6- to 8-week training routine in order to avoid total agony and just complete the race. That’s just enough time to see progress but not enough time and commitment to maximize race-ready fitness. After the race, this runner’s training often becomes sporadic, and that new pair of running shoes ends up seeing more mileage going in and out of Starbucks.

If this is you:

  • You’ll benefit from picking more than one goal race. Pick three target races over a three- to six-month period, and hold yourself accountable for the consistent training and gradual improvement that yields real results. You have proven that you can be consistent in spurts; just extend that over a longer period, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at your increased fitness.

The “Run Every Day at the Same Pace” Runner

This runner is committed and consistent, enjoys staying in shape, and recognizes the joy of running but struggles with implementing the necessary type of training to improve. The standard neighborhood loop at the standard pace becomes too easy and methodical and often lands this runner in a training rut or an extended plateau. Ongoing commitment and motivation to get out the door are not the issues here; the problem is lack of variety in training stimulus and perhaps lack of incentive to endure the discomfort necessary to improve.

If this is you:

  • If you always run at the same pace, you can’t expect to run any faster on race day. What you need is a new perspective on how to train and a training plan, training group, or coach. That will help spice up your workouts with tempo, fartlek, and progression runs that use different paces with varying amounts of rest to stimulate higher levels of fitness. Assuming you already have a good aerobic base, you should see big gains within four to six weeks.

The Enthusiast/Lifelong Achieving Runner

This runner is committed and goal-oriented and enjoys the running lifestyle and camaraderie of training and racing. The aspects typically lacking are workout variety and individualization. Workouts are usually moderate tempo-paced efforts, just hard enough to feel challenging but without the true discomfort and suffering necessary to improve. This runner sometimes runs with a group but often runs too hard or too easy depending on the group dynamic and how she trains with others.

If this is you:

  • You need to develop a specific training plan that complements a specific goal. Choose a race four to five months in the future. Before you start your training program, pick a reasonably aggressive time goal and then select a plan or coach that can help you achieve that goal. The more specific your goal, the more individualized your training needs to be. Write down your goals in a training log, and share them with your training group or coach as a means of holding yourself accountable.

You might waver between the lines of these types of runners, but the differences are tied largely to commitment, investment, and what you want to achieve. While the committed runner will already have a comprehensive understanding of many training principles, all levels of runners can benefit from a check on motivation and training methodology. No matter where you fall in that spectrum, there are ways to address your specific needs so that you can train better, get faster, and improve your running.


Adapted from Run Like a Champion: An Olympian’s Approach for Every Runner by Alan Culpepper, with permission of VeloPress.



Upgrade Your Commitment to Running with a Motivation Self-Assessment was originally published at LINK






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What Are Tempo Runs And What Are The Benefits Of Doing Them?

If you’ve ever attempted to follow any kind of training plan for a running event, the odds are it will have had tempo runs on it. That’s because tempo runs are useful for all kinds of runners, whether you’re tackling short distances like 5Ks or one-mile events, or a marathon. Simply put, if you want […]

If you’ve ever attempted to follow any kind of training plan for a running event, the odds are it will have had tempo runs on it. That’s because tempo runs are useful for all kinds of runners, whether you’re tackling short distances like 5Ks or one-mile events, or a marathon. Simply put, if you want to get faster, stronger and fitter, a tempo run should be part of your training schedule.

What Is A Tempo Run?

There are a few ways to define a tempo run, some very easy to understand, others less so. If you judge the different types of run on feel, a tempo run is commonly described as a comfortably uncomfortable pace. It shouldn’t be killing you to maintain it for around 20-30 minutes, but it shouldn’t feel like a breeze either.

A more precise way to judge tempo runs is to run them at the pace you could sustain for an hour, which will usually be somewhere between your 10K and half marathon pace. If you’ve only done 5K races, then you can use that pace plus 15-20 seconds per kilometre for a rough guide to your tempo pace.

You can also use heart rate to judge your tempo effort, which will be useful on hillier routes than trying to stick to a certain pace. Tempo runs are done at 85-90% of your maximum heart rate, so you’ll be hitting the higher zones but not going all out.

If you want to get precise, tempo runs are done at around or just below your lactate threshold. This is the point at which your body can clear the lactate at the rate it’s producing it, so you don’t get the burning sensation in your muscles that you do if you push past that threshold by sprinting or hitting your 5K pace. You can find out your lactate threshold pace with a dedicated test, where your blood is tested every few minutes as you increase your pace.

What Are The Benefits Of Tempo Runs?

We hope you didn’t skip over that bit about lactate threshold, because the main benefit of tempo running is that it increases your lactate threshold. That’s particularly important for half marathon and marathon runners, because this increases the pace you can run long distances at without the lactate build-up in your muscles becoming unmanageable.

This benefit is less useful in shorter races like 5K, where you run well above your lactate threshold pace, but it does still help you to maintain your speed and increase the chances of running a PB.

There are also mental benefits to tempo runs, because while you aren’t going flat out like you might in an interval session, you are pushing your body out of its comfort zone for extended periods. If you can do them regularly you’ll build the resilience to help you handle tough spells in races.

How To Add Tempo Runs To Your Training

Since tempo runs are done at roughly your one-hour pace, they should be significantly shorter than an hour so you avoid burning out in training. A common type of tempo run is to run a 20- to 40-minute block at tempo pace during a longer run, with easy sections before and after. Don’t go past 40 minutes, and if you want to do the full 40 minutes, the best method is generally doing two sets of 20 minutes or four sets of ten minutes at tempo pace with long recovery sections at an easy pace.

If you’re completely new to tempo runs, start with ten to 15 minutes and make sure you’re not overdoing the effort – you shouldn’t be broken at the end of that run.

You can use distance to measure your tempo runs, but in our experience using time makes it easier to focus on getting the pace right. Sometimes if you know you have a distance to complete, the temptation is to go faster than tempo pace to get it done sooner.

Another way to use tempo pace in training runs is to do shorter reps at tempo pace with shorter recoveries. You could complete a set of five to ten 1km reps at your tempo pace, taking 60 to 90 seconds of recovery in between. This can be less mentally difficult than facing a 20- to 30-minute block of tempo running.



What Are Tempo Runs And What Are The Benefits Of Doing Them? was originally published at LINK







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Play Football And Lose Weight With MAN v FAT

If you’ve been thinking that you need to slim down but aren’t sure how, what if we told you there was a weight-loss programme that helped 90% of its members to lose weight? You’d be impressed, right? And what if we told you that the cost of registration had been reduced from £9.99 to 50p […]

If you’ve been thinking that you need to slim down but aren’t sure how, what if we told you there was a weight-loss programme that helped 90% of its members to lose weight? You’d be impressed, right? And what if we told you that the cost of registration had been reduced from £9.99 to 50p as part of the Public Health England’s Better Health initiative? You’d be looking for the Click Here button.

Well hold your horses – there are some caveats, mostly about who will really benefit from the programme. You have to be a man with a BMI of over 27.5, need to like football, and, perhaps most importantly, have a competitive edge that drives you.

MAN v FAT is a 14-week football league for men with that BMI figure or over, with games lasting 30 minutes. Along with the fun of playing football against men of a similar fitness level, players are also motivated to lose weight by the fact that it directly impacts on their team’s fortunes – each week there’s a pre-game weigh-in and the results affect your team’s score.

This is why that competitive edge we mentioned comes into play. If you’ve found nothing else motivates you to lose weight, perhaps the fact that your team will start ahead on the scoresheet will.

MAN v FAT runs 80 leagues in England, Wales and Scotland, and so far 90% of players who have taken part have lost weight, which may indicate how motivated many men are to win a football match. Or how having the support and encouragement of a group of people in similar situations can be exceptionally effective when it comes to weight loss. Or both.

Like all football leagues, MAN v FAT had been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new Better Health campaign from Public Health England, part of the UK government’s obesity strategy, is helping MAN v FAT to start up again and providing that hefty 95% discount for new sign-ups.

“It’s fantastic to be a part of the government’s new campaign and we’re looking forward to supporting men who want to improve their health, whether they’ve been meaning to lose weight for a while or whether lockdown has been an unhealthy time for them,” says MAN v FAT managing director Tim Roberts.

“We’ve seen amazing results from the men who have taken part in MAN v FAT Football to date, and with the reopening of sports venues in England we’re excited to get going again.”

You can get more information on the leagues near you and how to sign up on the MAN v FAT website.



Play Football And Lose Weight With MAN v FAT was originally published at LINK







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The Powerlifting vs Olympic Squats: Which Style Is Better?

Along with the deadlift, the squat is the ultimate test of lower extremity strength and power.  There are few exercises that develop the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core, as effectively as the squat. For many avid lifters, improving squat performance is high on the priority list. One of the major factors in squat performance is […]

Along with the deadlift, the squat is the ultimate test of lower extremity strength and power. 

There are few exercises that develop the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core, as effectively as the squat.

For many avid lifters, improving squat performance is high on the priority list. One of the major factors in squat performance is the technique or style that is used.

This article will review two popular squatting techniques to allow you to determine the method that will be most beneficial.

The Powerlifting Squat

When setting up for the powerlifting squat, the barbell should be placed below your upper traps. This is often referred to as the “low-bar” squat.

Not only does using the low-bar position give the lifter a mechanical advantage, but it also allows the trunk to lean forward and engage more of the powerful posterior muscles such as the glutes and hamstrings (1).

Typically, a wide stance is assumed during a powerlifting squat which causes the range of motion to be restricted.

In a powerlifting competition, for a squat to be considered a good lift you must reach parallel or slightly below. Therefore, although the stance is wide it should still allow you to hit parallel.

Russel Orhii Squat
Russel Orhii Squat (Image via @russwole)

A combination of the low bar position and restricted range of motion allows for the greatest amount of weight to be squatted. 

This is evidently significant as the ultimate goal in powerlifting is to lift as much weight as possible. 

While there are many extremely strong squatters who use other styles, the majority of squat world records use the powerlifting style.

Powerlifting Squat Technique:

  1. Begin with the feet much wider than the hips with the feet turned out
  2. Grasp the bar using a width that is most comfortable for you
  3. Place the bar on the “shelf” of the shoulder blades
  4. Lift the chest, engage the core muscles and unrack
  5. Drop the hips back and down while keeping the knees out
  6. Descend to parallel before powerfully driving back up

The Olympic Squat

Unlike the powerlifting squat, the Olympic squat starts with a high-bar position. This is where the bar sits on the upper traps rather than below.

This position does not allow the trunk to tip forward nearly as much and more closely replicates the trunk position assumed during the snatch or clean (2).

As a result of the more vertical trunk position, the glutes, quads, and trunk stabilizers become highly activated. Meanwhile, the demand lessens on the hamstrings.

Foot position also differs. Instead of being extremely wide, the Olympic squat places the feet just wider than hip-width with toes either pointed straight or turned out slightly.

Olympic Squat
Olympic Squat

This increases the range of motion and allows the lifter to drop deeper. This is essential in the snatch and clean where the lifter must rapidly drop down low in order to catch the bar.

A common squatting coaching cue is to prevent the knees from passing over the toes. However, considering the range of motion, it is possible that this will occur, especially with tall lifters.

Providing proper form is adhered to, there is no danger in allowing the knees to pass over the line of the toes (3). 

Taking into account the high-bar position and large range of motion, significantly less weight can be lifted with the Olympic squat in comparison to the powerlifting squat.

Olympic Squat Technique:

  1. Start with the feet slightly wider than hips with toes pointed forwards or slightly out
  2. Grasp the bar just wider than shoulder-width
  3. Place the bar on the upper back
  4. Lift the chest, engage the core muscles and unrack
  5. Drop the hips back and down while keeping the knees out
  6. Descend as far as possible with good form before powerfully driving back up

Which Technique Is Best For Squats?

Ultimately, neither technique is better than the other. It entirely depends on your goals, needs, limitations, and preferences.

The Olympic squat can be considered the “natural” squat. It uses a full range of motion and mirrors how the body naturally moves.

A great example that highlights this can be found in babies and toddlers. Infants can sit in a deep squat position for a prolonged time period without any issue.

However, as adults, the Olympic squat can be a little more complex to learn than the powerlifting squat as it has greater mobility demands.

When learning the Olympic squat, a common area that can cause issues is the ankles as a large degree of dorsiflexion is required for this squatting style.

The reason why the weightlifting shoes worn by Olympic lifters have an elevated heel is to increase the amount of dorsiflexion and enhance the range of motion.

With the powerlifting squat, however, a great level of mobility and dorsiflexion is not required. This explains why many powerlifters typically wear zero drop shoes rather than weightlifting shoes.

As reflected on, the bar position, foot position, and mobility, all influence the demands and range of motion of the squat.

For the majority of individuals, the powerlifting squat will allow you to squat heavier weight, however, the Olympic squat utilizes a larger range of motion.

Consider the benefits and drawbacks of each style before concluding which one is best for you.

If you are interested in squatting the most weight possible, the powerlifting squat may be the best choice. 

However, if this is not of utmost importance, the Olympic squat may be the better choice. While slightly more technically challenging, it can improve strength, mobility, and athleticism. 

Here is another great comparison 

Optimizing Your Squat

Although the earlier section provided detail on each squatting style, understand that these are only guidelines. 

In reality, there are no strict rules for squatting. There are a variety of factors that influence how you move and, therefore, the way in which you squat is likely unique. 

Therefore, often a little bit of experimentation is needed to determine what works best for you. Some lifters even have experienced success by combining elements of both styles.

Furthermore, some training programs prescribe both squatting styles into the same plan and still have yielded excellent results.

That said, it is not recommended to perform the powerlifting squat with a high-bar position as this may increase knee valgus.

Knee Valgus
Knee Valgus

Knee valgus is where the knees cave in rather than staying wide and over the top of the feet. Excessive knee valgus can cause a serious injury to the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee (4).

The very wide stance utilized in a powerlifting squat and the upright trunk position assumed with a high-bar position may increase the risk of knee valgus. 

Furthermore, raising the bar higher increases the lever arm and, consequently, puts additional strain through the lower back.

While there are powerlifters who squat in this manner, it is generally not recommended.

Briefly, one final note on foot position and where your toes should be pointing.

It has been suggested by some weightlifters that the toes should remain pointed straight at all times. 

The thought behind this is that by keeping toes pointed forward you can most effectively stabilize the joints of the lower extremities while enhancing torque generation. 

However, by simply assessing the lifts of elite Olympic lifters, you will see that the majority turn the feet out to a degree.

That said, there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to squatting. If preventing turnout is beneficial for you, by all means, utilize it.

Final Word

Although squatting styles are typically categorized as either “Powerlifting” or “Olympic”, there is little benefit to be found in being rigid with your technique.

Often optimal squatting comes as a result of experimentation and practice and may even combine elements of both squatting styles.

References:

1 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28570490/

2 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28195975/

3 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14636100/

4 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3647681/

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The Powerlifting vs Olympic Squats: Which Style Is Better? was originally published at LINK