It’s been over a year since words have appeared on this blog.
To put it simply, I am stubborn.
I have been poked and prodded to write by friends, colleagues, and my wife.
Don’t get me wrong it’s not because she or everyone enjoys my writing. In fact my wife when finishing the edits just sits there in silence.
“So how was it?”
“Reads like a textbook.”
No wonder I don’t write.
I am writing all of this down because I am done. Done being obsessed about energetics. It has taken up too much time, sleep, and quite frankly has affected my health.
You may think I am crazy. How can one be obsessed about something so remedial? It’s in every exercise physiology book!
There lies the problem. I opened myself up to the idea that those words were wrong – and ever since that moment I haven’t been in the driver’s seat – I have just been along for the ride while my passions have taken the wheel.
As of now I operate in a weird space sandwiched between influences from Ben House (Health) and my passion for sports performance.
Those who read this who work solely in one area or the other would no doubt frown upon what I do on a daily basis.
I get it – I understand, and have made peace with it.
“If one is to really understand nature, the traditional boundaries between scientific disciplines can no longer be upheld.”
– Mae-Wan Ho
Over the last year and a half I have been trying to make sense of the data I have been collecting utilizing sports tech like Omegawave and Moxy. Not only in how it correlates to performance but also to health.
Quite frankly, you don’t need much convincing that our classical ideas about bioenergetics may be wrong when you strap on a Moxy monitor.
All you need is 30 seconds. Get on an airdyne and haul ass.
What do you see?
O2 immediately depletes. Not only that, but once it depletes performance stalls out.
“Only when O2 is present can performance increase, when O2 is depleted the best you can do is hold on.”
Now for a period of time I thought O2 was King.
I was sort of wrong.
What I didn’t realize is that O2 and the phosphocreatine (PCr) systems are entangled with one another. They fly together – with exceptions during max strength type activities when they may uncouple and have different recovery times.
I can now use Moxy to get a proxy on PCr (read the “Glycogen Shunt Model” by Shulman and Rothman as well as “Skeletal Muscle Oxidative Capacity by Ryan, Southern, Reynolds, and Mcully). This model also confirms George Brooks’s work concerning lactate.
So if the oxidative and glycolytic systems all work immediately (2 orders of magnitude faster than we perceive time, 0-100 milli-sec) to replenish PCr – what makes PCr so special? Is Steven Plisk correct when he quoted…
“We are fundamentally non-oxidative organisms, with an oxidative pathway that originally evolved as an O2 detoxification mechanism.”
He may be, but we may need to dig deeper.
I believe we are fundamentally
Thus, health and performance follow the trinity of life: biophotonic, bioelectric, biochemistry.
“We are still on the threshold of fully understanding the complex relationship between light and life, but we can now say emphatically, that the function of our entire
metabolism is dependent on light.”
– Dr. Fritz-Albert Popp
If you think I am bat shit crazy about all of this it would be wise of me to note that during certain processes of cloning, the embryo is given a mild electric shock to begin multiplying – this is just one example of the Trinity. If that still doesn’t do it for you read Michael Levin’s work on molecular bioelectricity.
“Living things must be able to take advantage of the laws of physics not just chemistry.”
– Michael Levin
In Levin’s “Molecular Bioelectricity” paper he cites specific membrane potentials (Ming Yang and William J. Brackenbury ”Membrane Potential and Cancer Progression”) for both healthy and non-healthy cells.
Depolarization is generally a bad thing – initiating Mitosis, where Hyperpolarization precedes mitosis arrest, which in the form of cancer progression is good – stopping proliferation. (REMEMBER THIS)
This sounds really familiar to Dr. Robert Becher’s and Dr. Harrold Burr’s work in L-Fields and DC Potential. Hyperpolarization precedes regeneration.
So what does membrane potential have to do with sports performance?
In comes a paper “Performance in Sport” by Jens Bangsbo stating:
“In addition K+ and Na+ is accumulating outside and within, respectively, the muscle cells causing changes in the membrane potential and perhaps sarcolemma inexcitablity. Therefore, the Na+,K+ Pump may play a crucial role in preserving membrane excitability and ensuring skeletal muscle function i.e. delaying the time of fatigue during exercise…”
Now before I get into the performance stuff I feel I should state that I am not 100% in on this whole Na+, K+ Pump stuff. Meaning I don’t believe they work in the way we have studied them in physiology.
Let’s review cell dynamics:
1 NA+, K+ Pump will use 8,000 molecules of ATP/min. There are 50+ channels, gates, pumps along this “non permeable” membrane and they are all assigned certain amounts of ATP to function. That is just one cell in one minute. Take that by multiple mins, hours, and the ~70 Trillion cells in the human body, life is expensive! Granted not all pumps, channels, or gates are running full throttle all the time – but it makes you question how ATP is used, the mechanics of the pumps, and just how porous the cell really is.
Dr. Gilbert Ling argued this way back in 1976 and again in 1997. Dr. Gerald Pollack has now taken up the fight in present day. They believe it starts with the cells environment: water. Fundamentally this make sense. If one was to study a lion – his environment in which he lives would be of high importance – wouldn’t you agree?
Even in our own domain of strength and conditioning we know nothing about how water interacts with muscle proteins. Have you read anything in an exercise physiology book regarding water other than hydration?
I recommend everyone start with Pollack’s book “The 4th Phase of Water”. From there follow the work of the late Emilio De Guidice “Coherent Domains”, Mae-Wan – Ho “Life is Water Electric”, and the work of Fritz Albert Popp.
In 2008 Philippa Wiggins published “Life is Two Kinds of Water” which explains how polymorphic water (or what has been commonly called now “Structured Water”) may in itself be the mechanism that keeps certain gradients present in the cell (K+ in and Na+ out). Below is an example of structure water next to a positive surface protein – remember the reverse would happen if the surface charge was negative. This structured water also creates a water battery demonstrated by Pollack’s lab.
In essence, EZ (Exclusion Zone) or structured water is a huge redox pile full of electrons and light energizes water. It’s this structured water that powers many reactions we see in biochemistry.
So to tie this back into sports performance and bioenergetics we first need to understand the role of ATP and why cells go to great lengths to maintain ATP concentrations (hint: cell potential).
According to Ling’s A.I. Hypothesis and Dr. Martin Chaplin it all comes down to ATP’s relationship with proteins (both in muscle and in the cell’s cytoskeleton) and the specific surface area of Na+ and K+ and their interaction within structured water (Na+ has a greater net charge on its surface than K+, and forms hydrogen bonds with water molecules, resulting in a larger hydration shell then K+).
Simply put, ATP unfolds proteins allowing water to structure and K+ to bind – resulting in the Ion gradient, ordering of water, and the negative cell potential. This also correlates with the dense protein packing within the A-band and the high concentration of K+.
This is the mechanism behind the accumulation of K+ and Na+ inside and out of the muscle cell during fatigue that Bangsbo has stated – cell potential slightly depolarizes. It also explains the weird occurrence of O2 not being utilized by an athlete when structural damage to the cell (or cytoskeleton proteins) may be present when monitoring them with Moxy – even though biomarkers are normal. The brain may sense this then subrecruit other muscles to do the job – obviously sacrificing coordination and performance.
When we understand the dynamics of water it opens up pathways to understand disease, performance, tissue trauma/recovery, and how important mitochondria function is along with their DNA.
It has now lead me down the path to understand nutrition, supplementation, and fascia from a biophysical perspective in effort to enhance electron flow and communication (Proticity – Jump conductions of Protons). Pair this with the three functions of PCr (Greenhaff et. al 2001), PCr relationship with O2, add in the Spirotiger with the understanding that oxygen is the terminal acceptor for our respiratory chains within the mitochondria – now we may have a unique paradigm within training and health.
In Track and Field most coaches are familiar with extensive tempo workouts. The coaching of Charlie Francis made this type of prescription very common in the training design of sprinters.
As a student of Track and Field for years it has been interesting to listen to the pro’s and cons; one side citing the benefits of extensive tempo while the other side’s exposing the pitfalls. If you are a coach reading this post you may have already made your decision on which side you stand.
Do this – don’t do that.
Though for me personally – nothing is sacred, and training can be shades of grey rather than black and white. The only truth in training is your understanding of “why” and the positive outcome for the athlete.
Is extensive tempo work for every sprinter?
I would say for most competitive short sprinters or jumpers extensive tempo could be excluded completely and replaced by general strength circuits or extended warm ups/cool downs.
As we venture into 400m distances I would say the inclusion may be more likely.
I think it’s easy to say we need extensive tempo for 400m athletes so we can satisfy our need for “Energy System Development”, but let’s be honest, everything we do is energy system development. In fact, properly programmed circuit training has both cardiovascular and local muscular adaptations (capillarization and MCT – Monocarboxylate transporters – building the ability to use lactate as intermediate energy source); ultimately Satisfying both delivery and utilization.
So the logical question is why not use circuit training exclusively then?
For the 400m athletes I would prescribe extensive tempo over using only circuit training because of the need for specific adaptation to the prime movers used for running. It allows a more concentrated stimulus (Frequency/Duration) as circuit training will have a completely different stimulus when we look at local muscle metabolism (varying exercises spread across both the upper and lower body).
The inclusion and exclusion of tempo running also depends on the makeup of the athlete. Muscle tissue and fascial health (biophysics) need to be taken into consideration. That is why I believe with short sprinters and jumpers excessive tempo work might do more harm than good. Maybe this is why we see most successful coaches working in short sprints and jumps chose circuit training over extensive tempo. They still can stimulate delivery, utilization, and endocrine profiles but also design circuits to lower tone (less wear and tear on the specific running muscle) and improving movement quality (Tri-planar, large ROM’s), preparing the athlete for the next quality session.
Extensive Tempo + Moxy
During the last few months I’ve started integrating Moxy Monitors into the training of some of my athletes. It’s been instrumental in understanding an athlete’s physiology and is now part of our assessment.
Below is incremental 5 mins on/ 1 min rest assessment for a 400m runner. Yes, way out of specificity, but it was done to see the athletes physiology.
Smo2 (Green) – Hemoglobin loaded with O2. It is shown as a % of total Hemoglobin.
tHB (Brown)- Total amount of Hemoglobin seen under the infrared lights.
Now for context I will compare the above graph with another athlete’s assessment.
I won’t go into extreme detail about the assessments but will highlight that these two athletes apply force during the assessment differently – which affects their physiology (look at the tHB trend – Brown).
The 400m Sprinter (white graph) shows arterial occlusion trends even at slow speeds (6MPH) (Elevated tHB during the work phase of the assessment). He is creating so much tension during the contraction that it limits blood flow. Whereas the other athlete (DR graph) shows stable tHB or compression.
Each of these athletes will need different strategies to improve. When we look at creating Extensive Tempo workouts we need to keep this in mind – both how we organize the session series/sets/reps and/or the inclusion of circuit training and overall volumes of both.
For the athlete (DR) with compression we might see workouts that sit to the left of the training continuum.
For this “specific” 400m athlete with the arterial occlusion trend we might see him sit more in the middle of the continuum (lower tempo volumes & moderate circuit training)
Our priorities for the 400m runner is to control extensive tempo workouts and volume via Moxy. We set low and high ranges (SmO2 30-20%- Garmin) and do 30 sec repeats x3 for each set. Recovery between each rep is dictated by the athletes SmO2, when it hits 30% he begins the next rep. Recovery between sets is a combination of SmO2 and tHB reaching resting levels. So instead of coming up with paces (75%, MAS, etc) we let his physiology guide the workout. We know what we want to stimulate via the assessment so we recreate the environment during the workout.
At first the athlete would make it 150m in 30 secs (40 sec 200m pace) and is now consistently reaching the 185m mark (32.5 sec 200m pace).
The total workout might look like the following:
3x3x30secs@20-30% Smo2 w/ 30-40 sec rest b/t reps ~30% Smo2, 3-4 mins rest b/t sets
This total of 1350-1700m in volume is very low compared to the standard recommendations for 400m runners (2000-4000m). Now for some coaches the low volumes of work might make them anxious. For us it’s what’s right – for right now. We don’t stress over supportive type work. In fact volume will fall again as we move out of GPP and into more SPP-COMP phases. We will still use Moxy but move the rep duration to 20 secs@higher speeds but same SmO2 ranges. The main reason for this is that we want to make sure we don’t exhaust utilization. In other words, dropping SmO2 to 0% – which means the anaerobic pathway is more dominant. Now if we also call upon the anaerobic system heavily during both our Speed/Speed Endurance days (Quality) and with our supportive work you might imagine how we could run into problems.
With the addition of Moxy it allows us to do the simple stuff better and lets us know if the microcycle has balance.
Warm up B
A. Power Snatch 6×3@70-75% w/ 2 min rest
B. WTD Dips 6×1@heavy w/ 2 min rest
15 Back Squats M205, W155
15 Push Press M155, W105
Rest 90 secs
10 min Cool down