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How Strength Training Results in Faster Lap Times – Part 1

There are numerous professional opinions on whether or not strength training should be an instrumental part of a racer’s training program.  In my opinion, strength training is imperative for the successful racer at multi-day races like Loretta Lynn’s, Ponca, Lake Whitney and Oak Hill. Overall body strength will help prevent the effects of cumulative fatigue and allow for proper bike position and efficiency on the bike throughout the entire week of racing.  Also, full body strength is a complement to the other elements of a complete performance training program: endurance, flexibility, nutrition and mental preparedness.

Let’s take a look at three direct benefits of strength training from a physiological stand point and how it relates to motorcycle racing.  First, it will increase the amount of force your muscles can exert on a particular object.  As a racer, moving a motorcycle around that weighs anywhere from one hundred to two hundred plus pounds for any extended period of time requires strength levels above the typical athlete that only has to concern himself with one’s body weight.  When you add both the weight of the rider, the weight of the motorcycle and the law of physics that exponentially adds resistance to the working muscle, force is a key component for finishing a race as strong as you started.

Second, strength training will permit your muscles to reach a maximum output of force in a shorter period of time.  Even if you are not a big fan of science, hang in there with me for this concept.  Weight training will increase and facilitate the balance of strength in all working muscles and the resulting motor units (witch include motor nerves and muscle fibers).  One nerve impulse can charge hundreds of fibers at once; a rapid series of multiple fiber twitches can generate maximum force quickly and for a long period of time.  Weight training will “teach” your nervous system to recruit a wide variety of fibers.  As one group of fibers fatigue, another group will be prepared to relieve the fatigued group.  Without getting to complex, think about nerves as messengers from the brain which control every physical response.  If motor nerves don’t “tell” the muscle fibers to twitch, your muscles won’t contract.  The entire concept behind physical training is to teach your nervous system, with repeating particular muscular movements, to get the correct message to the working muscles.  With a diversified strength program, you will initiate a message to include the number of fibers to be recruited, type of fibers used (fast twitch A or slow twitch B) and frequency of contractions.  Remember, a diversified training program will recruit all of the fibers and the types of fibers needed for the required physical demands.  This is the purpose behind sports specificity and related workout – the more specific the more productive.

Finally, the duration of time your muscles can sustain the level of force before exhaustion is extended.  The overload principle is based on the concept of subjecting the muscles to slightly more load levels than it has incurred in the past.  With incremental load levels, the muscles will increase the fiber solicitation and corresponding recruitment.  With proper rest, the muscles will grow stronger by developing new muscle tissue as an adaptation to the load levels.  With increased muscle mass, the muscles are able to exert higher levels of force and for extended periods of time before exhaustion.  To capture a better idea of this concept, imagine you have muscles that fall under the category of primary and secondary muscles.  The primary muscle groups are the obvious muscles that are responsible for assisting movement.  The secondary muscle groups are also referred to as “assisters” for primary movement.  However, once the primary muscle groups fatigue, the secondary muscles are required to step up to finish the task at hand.  Strength training makes this task familiar to the secondary muscle groups at both the muscular and neuromuscular levels.

Three indirect benefits of strength training include stronger tendons and ligaments, greater bone density and enhanced joint range of motion.  Concerning tendons and ligaments, weight training will increase the size and overall strength of both which will increase the stability of the joints that they surround.  Bone density will increase as a by product of tensile force being placed on the bones – without this tensile force, the bones will actually become brittle and susceptible to breaking.  An increased range of motion at the joint is due to the increased strength and size of the tendons and ligaments.  This increased strength will enhance the ease of mobility within the joint due to tendon and ligament strength and resulting efficiency.  When you look at all three of these components collectively, they address the concern of every racer: broken bones and torn up joints (particularly knees).  Keep in mind that the ultimate goal of the muscles and a self protecting mechanism called the Golgi Apparatus are to keep the bones from being taken outside the normal range of motion.  If your have a strong muscular system (accompanied with good flexibility), you will be able to take large impacts without the typical injuries because your body has the proper mechanisms to protect itself.

As a top racer, you need to identify your weaknesses and address these variables specifically.

6 Training Tips to Improve Your Lap Times

Riding fast (and for a long period of time) is within your reach—it’s not just for the genetically gifted or factory riders. Many times, the simple things hold you back: quality/quantity of sleep, food, hydration, mental outlook, proper warm up and preparation to name a few.  It goes without saying – you must put in quality training (both on and off the track) to develop speed. However, many racers are surprised to learn that what they do off the track makes a big difference regarding how fast they go on the track. Use these six simple training strategies to improve your lap times.

1. Sport Specificity

You won’t become a faster racer by climbing rocks.  As a racer, sport specific speed and efficiency requires two elements.  First, the pattern of joint and muscle coordination must be specific to your racing. Second, you need to make sure that you are subjecting your body to the exact conditions and effort levels that you will experience on race day.  Through a year-long performance program that is based on the scientific overload principle, an athlete will move his or her level of speed and endurance to the next level incrementally from week to week and month to month.

2. Work Smart, Not Hard

Make the most of every workout by working out with a purpose. Before you embark on a training program (both on and off the track), establish 3, 6 and 12-month goals to help keep you focused when the physical training becomes difficult.    If necessary, consult with an online program or human performance coach (not an ex-mechanic!) to design a program that includes strength, flexibility, nutrition and mental development elements to maximize your training results in the shortest period of time. Your training plan should focus on quality, rather than quantity. High-quality training is specific to your goals and available amount of time to train.  Training beyond what is necessary will wear you down both mentally and physically.

3. Vary Your Lap Times & Training Intensities

Riding the same pace day after day creates a “speed rut”. Vary your riding durations and intensity levels regularly to become a stronger, faster racer. Include skills/drills, negative split intervals, heart rate ladders, long motos and short sprint intervals throughout the week of riding.  Your body will adapt to the various demands associated with these workout durations and intensity levels leaving you fresh for key races.

4. Eat Right

The only way your body is going to be handle higher rates of speed is if your body has the necessary fuel to grow and adapt to the stress you submit your body to.  The necessary elements are simple: fresh fruits, vegetables and lean sources of protein.  The fruits and vegetables provide your body the vitamins and minerals necessary for your overall health; an additional benefit is the high water content – this helps hydrate your body from the inside out.  The lean protein provides your body the amino acids necessary to rebuild the muscle tissue that you have torn down in training and racing.

5. Sleep More

When you look at the busy schedules that racers keep, sleep is usually bounced around by either going to bed late or getting up early.  This pattern of sleep deprivation eventually leads to a drop in performance, feelings of depression and frustration with training and life in general. Cutting sleep short will eventually undermine all of your fitness and race speed because during sleep, the body releases growth hormones that repair damaged tissue resulting from the stress of training.  As you increase the amount of either intensity or duration, the amount of sleep must also increase accordingly to maintain balance within the body.  Ideally we are looking for 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night for optimum performance on the track.

6. Warm Up Sufficiently

Riders frequently comment that they feel better at the end of a race than they do at the beginning (ironically lap times validate this feeling).  The reason for this is because the body has reached an optimum performance level within both the muscle tissue and the internal systems that deliver oxygen to the working muscles and remove the metabolic waste created in the energy producing cycle (i.e. lactic acid).  By warming up for 5-10 minutes with a Concept 2 rower, bicycle or a jump rope will get the blood flowing into your arms and legs along with raise your heart rate and your internal body temperature.  This will keep you from using the first few laps of your race to warm the body up.

Periodization – What It Is and Why It Is An Important Component of a Racer’s Program

You are a dedicated athlete that trains on a regular basis. You have the best of intentions with your training, but lately, no matter how hard you work out, you aren’t making any gains. You have plateaued. What has really happened is that your body has adapted to your workouts and it needs new challenges. This is where periodization comes in.

At both the amateur and professional levels, the racing season has increased to the point where the racer is competing nearly year-round and actually inhibiting his or her ability to improve physically as a racer.  It is unrealistic to think that a racer can be in top form every weekend from January through December.  Throughout the year, the body has to be provided the opportunity to develop various energy systems through specific workouts. For long term improvement, a window of time must be provided to rest and recover from the stress loads applied to the muscles and cardiovascular system.  This is where periodization comes into a racer’s program.  Periodizaton creates phases of training or “periods” to keep your body working hard, while still giving it adequate rest. It answers how hard, how long and how often a racer should train to reap the benefits of training without burning out or getting injured.

With riding and racing encompassing so many elements of your life, it has literally become a lifestyle – sleep, eat, ride, train off the motorcycle, repeat until the next weekend.  However, this lifestyle of training, doesn’t allow you to systematically decide to begin training seriously for four weeks out and then be ready for the season’s first big race.  On the other hand, hitting the Concept 2 Rower the Monday after your big race and riding every day until next weekend’s race isn’t productive for you either.  The reason being, you will not be able to push the body beyond its normal performance level and then you don’t allow enough time for the body to adapt to the stress loads.

At MotoE, we break a year into four training “seasons”: Pre-Season, Pre-Competitive, Competitive and Off Season.  Each season has a different performance objective to optimize your training time for maximum results.

The duration of training cycles vary based on individual identified weaknesses during assessments, but typically consist of the following:

Pre-Season (12 weeks): Develops maximum aerobic capacity, muscular strength and flexibility; this is also an ideal time to work with your riding coach to help with technique and mechanics.

Pre-Competitive (8 weeks): Continued development of aerobic engine, final stage of maximum strength development, and the implementation of slight lactate tolerance intervals.

Competitive (4 Cycles of 7 weeks): Specialization is the main component of this season.  Your anaerobic threshold and sprint training should make up the high-quality workouts during the week.  Also during this phase is the increased need for rest – ideally one complete day of rest per week to help you recover both mentally and physically.

Off Season (4 weeks): This is where you deviate away from heavily structured training. Instead of structured training, you are back to casual riding or

any other type of cross training.  You don’t want to become so inactive that you begin to lose the conditioning you have worked so hard to achieve throughout the year; you do, however, what to remain active and healthy.

 STEP ONE: ESTABLISHING GOALS

This step involves establishing your long-term goals and developing a plan for achieving each of your goals.  This step needs to be quantified, simple, optimistic and realistic. Though this sounds like an easy task, it takes real brainstorming to narrow this first step down and onto pape.r An example of an unrealistic long-term goal: “I want to be fast”.  There is no way to quantify fast and there is no time line established to complete it.  It also doesn’t tell you what you are setting your standards against.

If you say: “I want to be the top local rider in my class by May in the Gold Cup series” – this is quantified, specific and with a little research you can determine what it will take to surpass the current top riders to achieve the status you are looking for.

At MotoE we have our clients establish three sets of goals – 3-month, 6-month and 12-month.  The most important thing to remember when you are sitting down to establish your goals is that they need to be specific and each should have a date applied.  Without specific goals, you will quickly lose your motivation to stick to the homework, especially when it becomes difficult (due to either the duration or intensity levels required) or boring (i.e. stretching).

STEP TWO: DETERMINING A STARTING POINT WITH YOUR TRAINING

If you are starting at a minimum fitness level, you will have to increase your overall strength and endurance before your dive into a comprehensive performance training program.  As a general rule of thumb, strive not to increase your duration of your overall workouts by more than 5-8% every other week.  Once you have been consistent with some level of training for six to eight weeks without any physical set backs, it is time to determine exactly where your fitness levels are – this will identify your strengths and weaknesses and what to address with daily training to maximize your training time (especially for those of you that work and/or have a family to balance).

The main concept to keep in mind when it comes to training is to strengthen weaknesses which have been specifically identified through field testing.  Riders and racers, like any athletes, have a tendency to complete workouts focusing only on the elements where strength already exists.  For example, in the gym, you rarely see anyone working their legs due to the high levels of lactic acid and associated increased heart rate levels.  Instead they avoid these uncomfortable exercises and complete lower intensity exercises which do not address their physical limiters.   If you use riding a road bicycle as a form of cross training, and you are not a strong climber, how often do you go out and complete hill repeats to increase your strength and lactate tolerance?  It is not that you are soft; it is simply human nature to do the activities where we feel strong and confident.

When it comes to assessments, it is imperative that you capture three key testing data points in field testing: aerobic capacity, muscular strength and lactate tolerance.  At MotoE, we are more interested in testing these three variables within the training modalities that you have been using over the last six to twelve months.  The important thing to keep in mind with establishing base line assessment numbers is to be consistent with your testing protocols.  For example, if you use the Concept 2 Rower for your cardio training, it would not be a wise choice to use a running test for your lactate tolerance and aerobic capacity testing due to the different muscle groups and demands on the cardiovascular system – ultimately your testing data would be inaccurate.

STEP THREE: ESTABLISHING A TRAINING PROGRAM BASED ON YOUR FIELD TESTING RESULTS

This is where a human performance specialist can be an asset to a rider and racer’s development program – identifying where the most progress can be achieved in the shortest amount of time.  As an illustration, a racer gets a riding coach to help work on problem areas around the track.  A racer may be fast through the whoops, but if he or she can not get in and out of the corners fast, the time gained in the whoops is immediately lost in the next corner.  The same applies to developing the training protocols that are going to maximize the appropriate energy systems to enhance the elements of aerobic capacity, muscular strength and lactate tolerance specific to riding a motorcycle as fast as possible for as long as possible.

If you are serious about making performance gains, periodized training will ensure that you continue to make measurable progress and steps towards achieving your goals.

Top 10 Things to Make Your Key Race More Successful

1. Taper.

If you have followed your plan, you are trained. Realize that you are NOT going to gain any more fitness or speed before your big race. However, you CAN negatively affect both if you panic and try to “squeeze” in one more high intensity workout. The body needs the opportunity to “absorb” the workloads that you have subjected the body to in the form of intensity, volume and frequency.  To race to your full potential you need to come into the race feeling fresh – mentally and physically.  A rule of thumb is to come into your high profile races one percent undertrained, rather than one percent over trained.  If you are over trained, even by one percent, you will not be resilient to the challenge of a typical race week: heat, humidity, loaded competition, setbacks, frustrations, rain, etc.

2. Identify your sweat rate to avoid over or under hydration.

You need to know how much sweat you lose during a high intensity effort in the humidity and temperatures you plan to race in. Though this may sound obvious (and even difficult to implement for most people), this will help eliminate two significant problems during race week: dehydration and hyponatremia.  Dehydration is when your body loses too much water in the way of sweat.  You don’t want to lose more than 3-4% of your total body weight (including the amount of fluids you consumed prior to the race).  Send us an email at Contact@CoachRobb.com to receive a copy of our Sweat Rate Calculator. Hyponatremia is when you consume more water than your body can absorb and properly hydrate the body.  Walking around with a gallon of straight water is the quickest way to over-hydrate and become physically ill.  When the body is over hydrated, you will feel nauseous, dizzy and have little to no energy.

3. Determine your nutrition and hydration plan.

Prior to your race you need to plan and test your nutrition and hydration. If you are bonking or experiencing gastrointestinal issues, then you know that what you are eating or drinking is not working and you need to reevaluate. Testing is key to developing a solid plan that will work for you on race day.

4. Establish an effective warm up.

To avoid using the first 10 minutes of your race to get your body up to your full race speed, you need to come to the starting line warmed up.  There are a few physiological adaptations that your body will go through, but understand that if you are warmed up sufficiently, your muscles will embrace the high intensity levels right from the beginning of the race.  A proper warm up will not only increase your speed, but will offset the potential for fatigue later in the race because the muscles and energy systems are working efficiently.

5. Learn to breathe.

Though this skill may sound odd, the ability to maximize your oxygen uptake is the foundation for speed AND endurance.  Click here to watch a video on how to learn how to breathe properly.  Once you can breathe deep through your belly in a relaxed setting (i.e. when you are lying down to go to sleep), you can begin to implement during your training and racing. This is a simple drill and skill to learn with huge rewards!

6. Get a therapeutic massage rather than deep tissue.

Avoid deep tissue massage prior to a race. The residual soreness and inflammation associated with deep tissue is completely contrary to what your body needs while you are peaking for your key race. Though deep tissue work is counterproductive for peak performance prior to a race, therapeutic massage is beneficial because it will help the tissue relax (you will sleep better) and improve range of motion within the muscles and associated joints.  A good massage therapist will help you identify any overly tight muscle(s) which will maximize your stretching and soft tissue efforts.

7. Nothing new.

Don’t try anything new the week of your race.  If you haven’t consumed something in training and have concrete evidence that the food you are eating will yield a positive result, don’t eat it, especially the night before your race! Many adverse reactions can result from introducing new foods: dehydrations, diarrhea, nausea and low energy levels.

8. Establish a schedule to avoid rushing.

One of the biggest energy robbers on race day is rushing around the morning of to get to the starting line. Once the race schedule is established, sit down and create a daily schedule including sleep, eating, warm-up, race and post race recovery. You need to know where you need to be and when and then stick to the schedule.  Sounds basic, but this task will save you energy when you are doing exactly what you “planned” to be doing.  You will be both more productive (because you are focused) and less stressed (because you have a little bit of extra time in case something goes wrong).

9. Eat real food.

Avoid eating anything that comes out of a box and instead snack on real food: fruits, vegetables and lean sources of protein. Fresh fruits and vegetables are high in water and natural electrolytes – both imperative for optimum performance. Lean protein sources will provide your body with the necessary amino acids to replenish the torn down muscles associated with high intensity racing.

10. Don’t carbo load.

The quickest way to throw you off of your race game is to follow the old theory of “Carbo-Loading”. What you may not know is that to store one gram of carbohydrates in your body (you store sugar in your body in the form of glycogen and you store it within your muscles and liver) your body stores 2.5 grams of water.  So, if you “load up” on carbs, you can easily add 3-5 pounds in extra water – overnight.  Think about strapping a five-pound dumbbell to your waist and hit the starting line. The added weight will throw your form off and you won’t even understand why. [Note: your liver fuels your brain when you sleep and your muscles fuel your racing efforts.]

What Happens to the Brain When a Concussion Happens

What happens to the brain when a concussion happens?

Inside your skull you have cerebrospinal fluid and of course your brain. A violent impact causes your brain to vibrate and sometimes even bump against the skull bone. If the force is too much, you end up with a concussion. Ironically, the trauma that occurs when the brain hits the skull is often not evident because the damage is on the inside.  It is known as the “Silent Injury” according to Dr. Lovell from the University of Pittsburgh’s medical center which researches concussions.

Once common mistake is assuming that because you didn’t get “knocked out”  the hit to your head was minimal. If you experience vomiting, dilated pupils, loss of smell or taste you should visit with a neurologist immediately. Additional negative symptoms after a head impact are headaches, dizziness or memory loss lasting more than five days or delayed memory of easy questions (i.e. what did you eat for breakfast yesterday morning?).

Four Stages of a Concussion

Impact to the head – The most common causes of concussions are falls, car accidents, impact sports and explosions. The trauma causes force to the head in two directions: linear (forwards and backwards) or rotational (side to side). These forces literally cause your brain to “slosh” within the cerebrospinal fluid and bump up against the skull.

Inflammation – Trauma to the brain can damage neurons, the cells that govern the flow of chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters. In the worst case scenario, those damaged neurons lose control of the neurotransmitters, allowing them to accelerate up to five (5x) their normal speed. The resulting chemical acceleration can cause memory loss, blurred vision, dizziness, headache and nausea.

Hibernation – Your brain’s cortex detects the neurotransmitter imbalance and tries to fix the neurons by calling for a surge of healing glucose. At the same time, calcium neurotransmitters start constricting the blood vessels, delaying glucose from reaching the neurons. Your brain function slows until blood flow returns to normal.

Recovery – Healing the neurons within your brain can take several weeks.. However, if you sustain another concussion during this period, you could suffer permanent damage and a lifetime of headaches and other adverse side effects. Though it is hard for competitive athletes,  staying away from the potential of re-hitting your head, rest & proper nutrition will facilitate the recovery process.

Note: if you experience headaches after hitting your head, DO NOT consume aspirin or ibuprofen (this may increase your risk of brain bleeding); instead use acetaminophen.

Concussion Dangers and Side Effects

In a previous article I outlined what happens to the brain when a concussion is experienced and the four stages associated with a concussion. (Note: if you need a copy of this article, please email me and I will send you a copy of the article). In this article I want to outline the associated dangers and side effects of a concussion.

Defining a Concussion

Research has validated that you don’t have to be knocked unconscious to be classified as a concussion. We now know that a hard hit to the head without losing consciousness can result in damage to the brain tissue and the neurons and nerves embedded within this tissue. Initial symptoms of concussion include, but are not limited to: disorientation, headache, vertigo (loss of balance), nausea and vomiting. The secondary symptoms include, but are not limited to: mood swings, insomnia (not able to sleep), memory loss, inability to talk without slurring, sensitivity to noise and light, sudden symptoms of being clumsy and unable to hold onto things without dropping them unintentionally.

Health Dangers Associated with a Concussion (only made worse by multiple concussions)

You have rattled your brain, extensive research has validated that a second mild concussion shortly after the first can add up to a lifetime of physical disability (troubles with balance, walking, eating, etc.) and cognitive disorders (inability to focus, remember, perceive analyze and blend sounds, delayed processing speed which makes it difficult to take a test, tie your shoes or answer questions).

How to Handle a Concussion

First and foremost, discontinue any more activity – no matter what anyone says (reference the long term complications outlined above)! According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, the following criteria have to be met before a patient is released from the hospital after incurring a concussion:

  • Patient is alert, oriented and able to follow simple commands
  • Patient has no suggestion of skull fracture (which can include some subtle signs, such as bruising around the eyes or behind the ears, blood behind the eardrums, or clear fluid leaking from the nose or ears)
  • Patient isn’t taking aspirin or other anticoagulants (a substance that keeps the blood from clotting)
  • Patient hasn’t had a seizure
  • Patient can remember events up to 30 minutes before the injury
  • Patient is younger than 65 years of age

Ironically, even if you pass the criteria outlined above, the next round of questions stems around the nature of your concussion:

  • Did you fall from higher than three feet?
  • Did you vomit more than once after the injury?
  • Were in a car accident?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you need to cat a CAT scan (CT Scan) of your head to ensure that there are no signs of inflammation or swelling. If the CT scan comes back normal, you will need to ensure that someone is with you at your place of residence to wake you up every two hours and ask you simple questions like: What is your name, what is today’s date, when is your birthday, etc.?).

How Long to Wait Before Resuming Training & Racing

This decision needs to be made by a qualified physician and no one else. When you realize that you are making a decision about your brain and your long term health, clearance to resume training and racing needs to be made with medically backed supervision. The reason for this is two-fold. First, the physician is providing you feedback without emotion: your body is either ready to resume training and racing or it isn’t. Second, if your physican is saying that you are not ready to train and race, he/she is keeping you from injuring yourself worse. This occurs as a result of your brain not being clear and the lack of skills necessary to safely train, ride and race: depth perception, ability to process speed, etc. This situation will result in you hitting the ground again and causing not only a delay in your return, but worse, causing more damage to your head and associated bodily functions.

I realize that you love to train and race, but you have to respect the fact that you have only been provided one brain and it is literally the center of your existence – if your brain is injured, the rest of your life will suffer. No puns intended, but think about this…

Thanks for reading – if you have any questions or need anything clarified, please feel free to email me!

What An Elevated Heart Rate Means and What To Do If Yours Is Elevated

There is a tremendous amount of discussion floating around these days regarding resting heart rate; however, there is little information regarding what an elevated heart rate means to you as an athlete.

What Causes an Elevated Heart Rate? When it comes to the various forms of stress that your body is subjected to on a daily basis, the list is quite long and complex: lack of quality & quantity of food, dehydration, relationships, financial, school, work, quality & quantity of sleep and keeping all of these variables within manageable levels.   One must realize that your brain doesn’t have a filing system for each form of stress, but rather one large file to handle and address the needs of each form of stress. Notice that the discussion of training and racing hasn’t even been introduced to the stress file. When you train too hard or too long too often, the body has to handle yet another form of stress and the residual effects associated (i.e. fatigue, inflammation, tenderness, etc.).

Daily Symptons Associated with High Levels of Stress

Typical symptoms associated with stress include:

  • Decrease in performance (mentally and physically)
  • Increased recovery windows (takes longer for you to recover from your race weekend and  training days)
  • Short tempered, impatient with other people
  • Lack of motivation to train and race
  • ELEVATED HEART RATE!

Long Term Affects of Stress if Systems are Ignored

The concept of Adrenal Fatigue (a.k.a. Epstein Barr or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) is applied to individuals that have pushed the body (mentally and physically) too long without adequate rest and nutrition to provide the necessary “tools” to rebuild a body that is resilient to stress.

The four prominent external signs of Adrenal Fatigue are:

  1. Inability to sleep through the night (even though you are tired)
  2. Waking up throughout the night with night sweats
  3. Loss of libido
  4. Craving simple sugars

Please note, the body doesn’t rebuild and get stronger unless it has adequate amounts of sleep (to naturally release human growth hormones – HGH) and high quality food (carbohydrates, protein and fat) to rebuild the body from the inside out – literally. The body that you have today is the result of the food and sleep you have provided your body over the last six months. It takes six months to completely “rebuild” your body and create the ultimate performance machine that you want. Think about it this way, to have the body that you want in June, starts in January!

How do you Identify an Elevated Heart Rate? Though this sounds odd, many athletes misidentify what an elevated heart rate actually is (much less what to do when the assessment is correct).

There are two ways to effectively capture your heart rate:

  1. Empty your bladder and lay back down with a heart rate monitor on for 5 minutes
  2. Empty your bladder in a seated position and take your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to establish your pulse for 1 minute

The key to accuracy is being consistent on your methodology and consistency. If you are worried about a margin of error, this margin will be essentially eliminated because your measurement methodology is the same over the course of four weeks.

Additional Variables to Maintain:

  1. Maintain a log of your resting heart rate for a minimum of 4 weeks.
  2. Maintain a log of your hours of sleep for a minimum of 4 weeks.
  3. Maintain a food log for a minimum of 4 weeks.
  4. Maintain a hydration log for a minimum of 4 weeks.

NOTE: If you would like a copy of Coach Robb’s Body Analysis Log spreadsheet to document these numbers, email me directly.

How Does Food, Hydration and Sleep Impact Your Stress Levels?

The body is constantly adapting to the load levels associated with training  (specifically volume & intensity).   Here is a breakdown of food, hydration and sleep as it relates to improved health, wellness and ultimately your on  speed.

Food: By consuming raw, real food, you provide your body with the key elements to a stronger and faster body. Through clean eating, you are providing your body the right mixture of carbohydrates, protein and fats.

Carbohydrates provide your body stored energy (in the form of sugar) in the form of glycogen within your liver and muscles.  Protein is the building block to re-building torn down muscle tissue. Fats are a necessary nutrient for your nervous system and the protection of your internal organs.

Hydration: By consuming half of your body weight in ounces of filtered water (i.e. 160 pound athlete needs to consume 80 ounces of cold filtered water on a daily basis to ensure proper daily hydration levels). you will provide your body the necessary volume of water to maintain proper levels of hydration. Please keep in mind that the average body has 96 pints of water within it. Your brain consists of 75% water; blood is 85% water; and muscle is 70% water.

Sleep: When you provide your body a minimum of eight hours of sleep per night, it has the opportunity to slip into deep levels of sleep (referred to as REM Pattern 3 – this stands for Rapid Eye Movement) which is the depth of rest that your body has to experience before it will release HGH  naturally. When HGH is released naturally, the body will become stronger and leaner – the reason why sleep needs to be protected at all costs for maximum recovery and improved speeds on the track.

What Do You Do With Your Training If Your Heart Rate Is Elevated?

If you wake up in the morning and your resting heart rate is elevated, follow these guidelines to help offset the negative effects of stress (of any and all kinds):

– Morning HR is elevated by 1-2 beats, follow your existing training schedule

– Morning HR is elevated by 3-5 beats, cut your training volume in half and keep your intensity levels exclusively aerobic (if should be able to talk and/or sing at this intensity level)

– Morning HR is elevated 6+ beats, go back to bed and focus on clean eating throughout the day. No training of any kind.

Final Thoughts… Your body provides you with four specific external symptoms, not to mention the daily symptoms. By accurately evaluating your daily morning heart rate, you will have a non-emotional evaluation of how your body is dealing with stress. By focusing on consistent and clean eating along with 8-9 hours of sleep, your body will be more prepared to handle the stressors that you are subjected to on a daily basis and in turn grow stronger and ultimately faster!