Jumping Rope

Well, the ideas are coming at me hard and fast today. Just finished my strength training workout. Maybe that's why. Strength training has a way of cleansing the body and the mind of impurity.

Anyways, I have a pretty elaborate warm-up that lasts for about 20 minutes before I even slap a plate on the bar. Part of that warm-up includes jumping rope. I am slowly working my way towards 15 minutes non-stop of rope jumping. I have a long way to go though but I am making progress and I like it. At my best cycling and triathlon fitness levels I don't believe I could have even jumped rope for 1 minute straight without having issues. Mainly with breathing but also with foot strength, coordination/balance and the common muscle pains found in most triathletes.

I have read different opinions on jumping rope. It isn't for everyone, but it is hard to argue with an activity that has stood the true test of time. People have been jumping rope in one form or another since 1600B.C.. In modern times it has been used as a method to improve muscular endurance, speed, agility, coordination and aerobic capacity mainly in the sports of boxing, wrestling, and mixed martial arts.

Jumping rope is not an easy activity as most athletes come to find out. You may think you are in excellent shape but I challenge you to try to jump rope for 10 minutes straight. It is not an easy activity. However, jumping rope can be very beneficial to the endurance athlete just as it is to those in power sports. In my opinion jumping rope is a form of plyometric training. If done correctly there is limited stress to the lower limbs (not much more than performing a jumping jack). It can be done just about anywhere. It only requires about a $5.00 investment to join the jump roping club. It improves foot speed, foot strength, coordination, eccentric and concentric muscle reaction and is the single best way for runners to improve their foot strike. After all, it is hard to jump rope with a heel strike. It is pretty much impossible to jump rope if your legs are not directly under your center of gravity.

All in all, jumping rope rules. Not sure why more athletes (endurance or otherwise) don't do it. Might be because it is really really really hard and let's us know what kind of shape we really are in...

Lance vs. Floyd

My thoughts on this.... I thought riding your bike was supposed to be fun? My hats off to all those clean weekend warriors and Cat 5 to Cat 1 riders never picked up by pro teams. You guys are the real heros of the sport of cycling. Just for the love, hard work, and pure enjoyment of the sport. You keep the sport alive. Pure and simple.


This is a power profile analysis of an athlete who is training for a time trial ascent. I have commented on his pacing as he enjoys to really let loose within the first 3-5 minutes of his 20 minute intervals. As is shown in the illustration he cranked out about 437 watts for 5 seconds at around 15 minutes 20 seconds (3 minutes into his first 20 minute interval). He averaged about 235 watts for this effort. His second 20 minute interval was about 5 watts higher and he averaged 240 watts. He still let loose and hit 380 watts for 10 seconds at around the 40 minute mark (again 3 minutes into his second 20 minute effort) but improved his second 20 minute effort by 5 watts. I usually see the second 20 minute effort decline by 5-10 watts in average power. Is this coincidental? I think not. I feel that even though he red lined things a bit for 10 seconds on his 2nd interval he still stayed below 437 watts. Bottom line pay the price when red lining yourself at the BEGINNING of a time trial. I want him to get habitual about going out easy and finishing strong. If I see him cranking out 437 watts in the final 2 minutes of his 20 minute efforts than that tells me a couple things....One, we probably need to increase his goal wattage for that workout AND two,,,he is learning to pace himself...which is critical to having the time trial performance of your life.


Melting Pot

I have taken 3 very interesting articles I have read and tried to weld or melt some common threads together from all three. The first article I read was the Sports Illustrated's (SI) article by David Epstein. The main idea that I took away from this article is that, at least to this point in time, genetic factors are not the end all when it comes to sport performance. However, David mentions that genetics play a critical role in how individuals respond to training loads. The SI article goes on to point out that although genetics are important, and that there are some common traits among world record holders at 100 meters as well as elite Kenyan and Ethiopian distance runners, these traits are not consistent across athletes. A big factor in sport performance continues to be training load and environment and how they apply to the INDIVIDUAL.

I then read Alan Couzens' thoughts on training load in his article. His observations in coaching indicate different types of athletes respond very differently to similar training loads. Alan has found that the athletes he trains respond quite differently to certain training loads when preparing for an Ironman distance triathlon.

Alan's observations and findings correlate quite well with David Epstein's thoughts on this topic. Alan's graph below depicts the amount of TSS/day in terms of Chronic Training Load (CTL) one can handle in order to obtain the desired performance results. Alan's is attempting to quantify and make some sense out of what David Epstein's article brings to light.

Various athletes depending on build and body type, sex, age and experience respond differently to the loads listed above. That explains Alan's wide range of training stress required to complete an Ironman event and/or qualify for Kona. It is possible for a middle of the pack age-grouper to be training as hard as a pro at the same distanced event. Obviously, these two athlete's are going to get entirely different results.

Alan goes on to state in his article that a coach must be intimately aware of how the athlete is responding to the training being prescribed and then make adjustments in his or her program accordingly. Otherwise, the athlete may not be getting the most bang for their training buck. This idea directly ties into David Epstein's article on genetics and training. David states that some athletes respond quite differently to training loads based on genetic factors.

I then came across this IDEA article (May 2010) written by Jason R. Karp Ph.D.. Dr. Karp states in his article:

"Establish your client’s one-repetition maximum (1 RM, the heaviest weight he or she can lift just once) for each muscle group. Have that client do as many repetitions at 80% of 1 RM as possible."
< 7 reps: muscle group = > 50% fast-twitch fibers
> 12 reps: muscle group = > 50% slow-twitch fibers
7–12 reps: muscle group = 50-50 fast-twitch and slow-twitch fibers
In addition to the above method, discuss the following with your client:
1. Are you able to do lots of repetitions when lifting weights, or do you fatigue after a few?

If the former, you probably have more slow-twitch fibers. If the latter, you have more fast-twitch fibers.

2. Are you better at sprint and power activities or at endurance activities?

If the former, you have more fast-twitch fibers. If the latter, you have more slow-twitch fibers.

3. Which type of workouts feel easier and more natural: (a) long, aerobic workouts and light weights with lots of reps or (b) sprints and heavy weights with few reps?

If you answered (a), you have more slow-twitch fibers. If you answered (b), you have more fast-twitch fibers.

4. Which workouts do you look forward to more: (a) aerobic/endurance workouts or (b) anaerobic/strength workouts?

If you answered (a), you have more slow-twitch fibers. If you answered (b), you have more fast-twitch fibers. (From observation, people tend to get excited about tasks at which they excel, while they feel more anxious about tasks that are difficult.)"

Based on this article I realized that it may be possible to have a simple test to determine your muscle type. Then, after taking sex, age, and training experience into account set out to develop a program that takes into consideration one's genetic muscle type, sex, age, athletic goals.

For example, if your muscle type is fast twitch type A or B, you are young (Under 40), male, and have a decent amount of training experience, your planned chronic training load (CTL) measured in TSS/day would be on the low end of Alan's scale if training for an Ironman. Alan's scale could be adjusted for cyclists, runners, or triathletes. The main thing is that there is a loosely standardized method of identifying one's physical factors and how they may relate to the amount of training stress require to obtain a desired performance. So in my above example, I would know not to prescribe more than "X" amount of TSS/day to a middle of the pack Ironman triathlete who is larger in build, fast twitched, male, and under 40.

Now, are these ideas going to work every time? Most definitely not. However, at least a coach could consider these things and rather than push you harder and harder to the point of injury,,,realize that you might be one of those athletes that respond better to less training stress. As a coach, I feel it is always best to slowly ramp up the training stress and see what is working based on the athletes feedback. However, if I already have an idea about what an athlete can tolerate I am that much further ahead of the game. I can avoid pushing that athlete too hard and it also reminds me as a coach that everyone one is totally different when it comes to response to training. Again, more is not always better.