020718 Avoiding Exercise Rhabdomyolysis

Avoiding Exercise Rhabdomyolysis

A classic case of too much, too often, and too soon is seen in those who suffer the ill and sometimes fatal after effects of working out far beyond their physical capacity.

Rhabdomyolysis in much simpler terms means that the exercise has been so extensive and strenuous that the muscle fibers themselves have not only broken down but have separated from the main fiber itself. This leads to these wayward fibers entering the circulatory system.

Some of these bits of tissue are toxic to the body and can result in kidney damage.

The person most at risk for this condition is inexperienced in exercise and is pushed either by themselves or an incompetent coach far beyond their limits. Others who may be put in the danger zone are military recruits in basic training, those who are dehydrated or suffering from heat related issues, and the circuit trainee under the supposed guidance of a personal trainer and of course the ultra marathon and triathlon athletes.

The clues of this dangerous condition are found in the abnormal and dark colored urine of the individual. This urine will have a dark, red or cola color to it.

This is a danger sign that should not be dismissed. If rhabdomyolysis is suspected, take immediate steps to have the symptoms and potential life threatening condition expertly evaluated by a physician.

Saving the life of another may be at stake here.

110618 The general principles of the warm up 2/4

110618 The general principles of the warm up 2/4

The general warm up

The runner’s may actually be onto something when they start out on a run-they normally begin at a slower pace than the main portion of the run will be. Any exercise that revs up the cardiovascular system is good except for the time-honored jumping jacks. As mentioned in Thomas Kurz excellent training manual Science of Sports Training, these are contraindicated as a warm up because there is NO technique in any sport that is similar or can be improved by doing these outdated exercises. This activity causes a neurological disorganization in an athlete by causing a regression to an out of sync, homolateral pattern of locomotion resulting in a vague feeling of confusion. Additionally, jumping jacks raise the levels of blood lactate before the main workout and are not a lead in exercise for any lifting technique.

Increased flexibility is a residual effect of the influx of blood into the muscles so after the aerobic warm up immediately begin with dynamic stretches. Arm and leg rotations to the front, side, rear and in large circles. More leg rotations can be done during this time than arm rotations due to muscle mass involved. Ten to twelve legs compared to five to eight arm rotations. Do as many as necessary to reach full range of motion in any particular direction.

Notice there was no mention of any isometric, relaxed or static stretches before an active workout. Recall the reasons for a warm up:

* Improved elasticity of and increased contraction capabilities of the muscles
*Reduced reaction times via improved neuromuscular connections and transmissions
*Higher breathing efficiencies

The goal is improved performance. Static stretches tend to relax the joints and decrease potential power output, by some estimates up to 8% and impair the activity of the tendon reflexes. Isometric stretches that are held make an athlete tired while at the same time decreasing coordination abilities. Whereas the passive, relaxed style of stretching has a calming effect on the athlete.

A relaxed, non-optimally coordinated joint and muscle tendon combination is just asking for an injury to happen.

If the temperature is low and the forthcoming activity intense, the warm up must be longer and more intense than if the temperature is high, and the session a low intensity one. Each exercise builds on the previous ones until the final effort has the body ready for the main part of the workout.

040618 Balancing Out Your Exercise Program

040618 Balancing Out Your Exercise Program

By Danny M. O’Dell, M.A.CSCS

It is well established that exercise benefits us in many areas such as increased self confidence, improvements in our moods, and longer healthier lives. Simply being able to do what you want to do physically and mentally may be made easier by engaging in a long term pattern of running, weight training, stretching/balance, and recreational sporting exertions.

During spring time the runners start hitting the road, especially those who are getting ready to run Bloomsday here in Spokane, Washington. While running is an admirable endeavor, it is not enough to keep your body in top physical condition. Our body needs physical and mental stimulation which is only achievable through the use of a variety of methods.

Cyclic exercise, similar to running, stresses the cardiovascular abilities thereby increasing the capacity to engage in lengthy activities through enhanced oxygen transfer to the working muscles. However, exercising in this manner will not increase the lean muscle mass composition of our body. In order to do that resistance training is necessary.

040618 The general principles of the warm up 1/4

040618 The general principles of the warm up 1/4

The warm up session starts with exercises that are low in intensity, progressing up to the actual work out movements. Starting with high intensity exercises leaves little left in reserve for the main work out. The body quickly uses its stored muscle glycogen and increases the lactate levels in the blood when engaged in high intensity work. When the lactate increases the free fatty acids decrease leaving less to help produce energy. You don’t get into your car on a cold morning and go racing out the drive way and onto the expressway at maximum speed. It’s the same for our bodies; warm them up for the tasks ahead.

General principles of arranging warm up exercises normally follow few these guidelines. Start from the distant joints and work toward the center or proximal portion of the body, from one end to the other or from top to bottom or vice versa. The exercises move from one into another so that the end of one move floats directly into the start of the next movement. This is also how a regular strength training session should be set up.

A solid warm-up will take anywhere from twenty to forty minutes. Many people don’t have the time to take this long so adaptations will have to be made by taking into account the total length of the exercise session. If the intensity of the workout is high then the warm up will, of necessity, be longer. Longer warm up periods would be in order for the explosive sports endeavors such as sprinting and the more difficult technical sessions. Aerobic and endurance exercise periods need much less, as the pre stages of these activities are in and of themselves a warm up.

Repeating the same warm up in successive workouts is not beneficial to the athlete as the goals of each workout are not necessarily the same, thus the warm up should reflect the workout goal. The warm up should prepare the athlete for the workout; bearing this in mind the last minutes of the warm up will be more or less specific to the first training exercises and ultimately blend into the actual workout itself. After the session has started then each different move will be preceded by its own specific but short warm up as the training continues onward.

280518 Relative strength-are you really as strong as you think you are?

280518 Relative strength-are you really as strong as you think you are?

Does your relative strength match these standards? In the following chart* you will find commonly accepted values for determining whether or not your strength is good, excellent or elite in the three power lifts.

Squat Male Female
Good greater than 2 x bdwt greater than 1.5 x bdwt
Excellent greater than or equal to
2.5 x bdwt
greater than or equal to
2 x bdwt
Elite greater than or equal to
3 x bdwt
greater than or equal to
2.5 x bdwt
Bench Press Male Female
Good >1.25 X bdwt >0.8 X bdwt
Excellent greater than or equal to 1.75 X bdwt 1 X bdwt
Elite greater than or equal to
2 X bdwt
greater than or equal to
1.25 X bdwt
Deadlift Male Female
Good greater than 2 x bdwt greater than 1.5 x bdwt
Excellent greater than or equal to
2.5 x bdwt
greater than or equal to
2 x bdwt
Elite greater than or equal to
3 x bdwt
greater than or equal to
2.5 x bdwt

Relative strength means balancing out your lifting.  This requires adequate attention to each of the lifts; which in essence means your lifting should be in a ratio of one to the other across the board. It has been suggested by practitioners of the sport and the scientists who support these lifters that a ratio of 1:1.5:1.5 will provide the ratio for success. In this case the first number represents the bench press followed by squat and the dead lift 1 repetition maximum numbers.

*Adapted from Encyclopedia of Muscle and Strength by Stoppani, J Human Kinetics 2006

140518 Muscular strength-continued from last week

140518 Muscular strength-continued from last week

Here is the bottom line for those of you who don’t have the time to read it all. This is akin to eating your dessert before your meal and before you get too full to actually enjoy it.

Successful overload occurs by increasing these components above the normal:
1. The load on the bar
2. The frequency of lifting
3. The duration of time under the load.

The load on the bar must be high enough that it creates a maximal muscular tension, or nearly so, on the body. Train at these intense levels by using low repetitions and more sets. For example, an effective form of high intensity strength training uses load levels between 85-100% of the one rep max (1RM) for two repetitions for six to twelve sets.

Lifting frequency is increased according to a periodized plan based on the desired outcome. A method that has produced excellent results for many years is one that has multiple lift times a day. These training plans are for elite or highly trained athletes. Heavy lifts performed up to four and seven times a day are possible under these strictly controlled situations.

Each session emphasizes just ONE exercise per period in this type of a sequence throughout the day. The following five exercises depict an example of such a daily lifting schedule.

  1. Squats, rest and recovery
    2. Military presses, rest and recovery
    3. Deadlift’s, rest and recovery
    4. Bench presses, rest and recovery
    5. Front squats, rest and recovery

Here are the prerequisites for the schedule.

Warm ups are required for each session
Rest periods from fifteen minutes up to one hour in duration between each lift period (morning (2)-afternoon (1)-late afternoon sessions (2))

Separate the morning sessions from the afternoon ones by up to three hours.

The afternoon is separated from late afternoon by the normal fifteen minutes to one hour

Recovery methods are used between each session

070518 Muscular strength

070518 Muscular strength

By Danny M. O’Dell, M.A.CSCS

Here is the bottom line for those of you who don’t have the time to read it all. This is akin to eating your dessert before your meal and before you get too full to actually enjoy it.

Aerobic activities have very little carry over into muscular strength or muscular endurance.
Aerobic fitness can alter the muscle fibers from a fast twitch characteristic to a modified slow twitch fiber.

A complete fitness program will entail the three main components of cardiovascular, flexibility and strength development. Focusing on one part, to the exclusion of the other two, will adversely affect them. But that is exactly what we are going to do here; we are going to discuss strength, not cardiovascular or flexibility, but just plain strength.

Strength comes in many forms from absolute to endurance, from speed to special strength. Moderate intensity training which is high enough to develop and then maintain muscular fitness while also increasing lean muscle mass is an effective means of exercise. It is not an effective means of raising levels of strength and power for those who want to become competitive or want to be a LOT stronger than the average lifter. In order to do that, heavy weights have to be used on a regular basis.

The overload principle applies to this type of training. And it means just what it says. You WILL NOT get stronger lifting ‘soup cans,’ no matter what the infomercial’s say! Lifting a soup can is about as effective as lifting a bag of air. Unless you are extremely out of shape, move on to a weight that will challenge your body in a positive way.