Category Archives: Strength Training

The Bodyweight Advantage

The Bodyweight Advantage

Many folks absolutely love the prospect of being able to train efficiently in the convenience of their own home. Most fitness enthusiasts have gym memberships and have become highly dependent on machines and free weights to work their muscles. While I’m a huge proponent of using all types of resistance, bodyweight training is without a doubt the most convenient type of resistance. All you need is your own physical being, and you’ll never be without equipment or a facility and you’ll never need a spotter. In other words, if you learn to use your body as a barbell then you’ll always have the ability to obtain a great workout. You can gain tremendous functional fitness in terms of strength, power, balance, and endurance from progressive bodyweight training, and recent research shows that you can enhance your flexibility to the same or even a greater degree through resistance training than from a stretching routine.

I like to watch all types of athletes train. As a strength coach I’ve watched thousands of athletes lift weights. Two types of athletes have always stood out to me in terms of superior muscular control: gymnasts and bodybuilders. In awe, I watch the gymnast on the rings or the pommel horse maneuvering his body around the Continue reading

Five reasons athletes should stretch

This is from the author of Delavier’s Stretching Anatomy. It’s published with permission of Human Kinetics.

Athletes spend hours training to hone their skills, but few consider stretching a vital component to their athletic performance. According to popular author Frédéric Delavier, stretching has the ability to increase performance levels and should be included in every athlete’s training regimen. In his upcoming book, Delavier’s Stretching Anatomy (Human Kinetics, October 2011), Delavier discusses the top five reasons every athlete should stretch.

Maintain or increase range of motion. Repetitive athletic movements can reduce range of motion by tightening the muscles and tendons. “A certain tension is required, especially in strength sports, but too much tension and a decreased range of motion can ultimately lead to injury and reduced performance,” Delavier explains. “Stretching regularly can prevent this problem.” In certain fields, like swimming or gymnastics, stretching must be done regularly to increase the range of motion in a joint when that range is synonymous with increased performance.

Increase muscle tone. Stretching is a powerful signal to strengthen muscles. “Using the muscle’s passive resistance strength, stretching accelerates the speed at which the proteins that compose the muscle fibers are synthesized,” says Delavier. “Your body gains muscle tone, strength, and resilience this way.”

  • Warm up before working out. Stretching warms up the muscles, tendons, and joints, which prepares the body for physical exertion.
  • Relieve stress. “Thanks to its euphoric oxygenating effects, stretching minimizes stress that can paralyze muscles, which is especially beneficial before a competition,” Delavier says.
  • Relax, recuperate, and prevent injuries. Most muscular efforts compress various joints as well as the spine. “Stretching decompresses your back as well as your joints,” Delavier says. “This prevents injuries while accelerating recovery of the joints, tendons, and muscles.”

    Although flexibility is important for an athlete, Delavier advises finding a balance between muscle tension and flexibility. The muscle must be flexible enough to have a slightly greater range of motion to prevent injuries and aid movement, but not so flexible as to diminish performance by becoming like a rag doll whose joints move around easily. “Stretching has the ability to increase or diminish performance levels,” Delavier adds. “So we must be careful to use stretching properly.” Delavier’s Stretching Anatomy offers stretches for releasing tension, increasing flexibility, and creating an overall sense of well-being.

  • Upcoming book of interest – Swimming Anatomy

    I don’t usually do this but I saw a book that should be published this fall you all should know about.  I have yet to see it but if it’s like any of their other *.Anatomy  series, it will be terrific.  It’s called “Swimming Anatomy” published by Human Kinetics.  Here’s the description published with permission of Human Kinetics.

    “See how to achieve stronger starts, more explosive turns, and faster times! Swimming Anatomy will show you how to improve your performance by increasing muscle strength and optimizing the efficiency of every stroke.

    Swimming Anatomy includes 74 of the most effective swimming exercises, each with step-by-step descriptions and full-color anatomical illustrations highlighting the primary muscles in action.

    Swimming Anatomy goes beyond exercises by placing you on the starting block, in the water, and into the throes of competition. Illustrations of the active muscles for starts, turns, and the four competitive strokes (freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly, and backstroke) show you how each exercise is fundamentally linked to swimming performance.

    You’ll also learn how exercises can be modified to target specific areas, improve your form in the water, and minimize common swimming injuries. Best of all, you’ll learn how to put it all together to develop a training program based on your individual needs and goals.

    Whether you are training for a 50-meter freestyle race or the open-water stage of a triathlon, Swimming Anatomy will ensure you enter the water prepared to achieve every performance goal.”

    Designing Your Own Training Week

    With one sport, you can understand how which days to train hard.  The following is an excerpt printed with permission from Human Kinetics book, Run Strong, by Kevin Beck.  It covers running only but the concepts cross sport lines.  Understanding training rules of thumb will put you on the path to designing your own training patterns.

    Based on my experience as an athlete and a coach, I believe that the most valuable tool for any self-coached runner is an outline to guide decisions regarding which workouts are appropriate. The various types of training, …

    With one sport, you can understand how which days to train hard.  The following is an excerpt printed with permission from Human Kinetics book, Run Strong, by Kevin Beck.  It covers running only but the concepts cross sport lines.  Understanding training rules of thumb will put you on the path to designing your own training patterns.

    Based on my experience as an athlete and a coach, I believe that the most valuable tool for any self-coached runner is an outline to guide decisions regarding which workouts are appropriate. The various types of training, such as long runs, interval work, tempo runs, and so on, are all important and necessary for helping you improve as a runner. The key is classifying the various workouts and then scheduling them into your training consistently. Following a map–one that successful runners have used time and again–can ease the uncertainty and doubts that creep into every athlete’s mind. Following an outline that has led to success allows runners to train with greater focus and purpose, knowing their work will achieve long-term results. A workable training schedule brings workouts together to form a routine that addresses every relevant energy system necessary for top racing performance and continued improvement over time.

    I cannot name one individual heroic workout that will take someone to the next level, but there are a few workouts that, when done consistently and repetitively as part of a training schedule, can lead to substantial progress for the majority of runners. The surprising thing for many runners is realizing that the training principles are the same for any distance you want to race. It doesn’t matter if the event is the mile, 5K, 10K, marathon, steeplechase, or cross country; the same training elements and concepts apply. As a coach, if I base an athlete’s training on the key elements, the athlete invariably maintains his or her health throughout the season, improves his or her race performances throughout the year, and competes well at specific goal races. It’s basic, it’s fairly brainless to follow, and most important, it works.

    The following suggestions will help you fit each of the six elements into your training consistently within your standard training cycles. Some advanced athletes who recover quickly can address all six within a single week. Athletes who require more time between hard efforts to recover fully should consider fitting these within a two- or three-week cycle. You can also try a 10-day cycle if one week doesn’t work for you, but given that most people have schedules that revolve around a standard 7-day week, we tend to stick with 7, 14, or 21 days as the standard options.

    For my athletes, I generally schedule two harder workouts every week, cycling through anaerobic-conditioning, aerobic-capacity, and anaerobic-capacity training. Once we’ve addressed each of these individually, we start the sequence of workouts over again; this allows us to elevate the athlete’s fitness level by concurrently working all of the energy systems necessary for distance running success. For athletes who recover especially quickly, I schedule a separate anaerobic-conditioning, aerobic-capacity, or anaerobic-capacity session each week, thereby allowing the athlete to address all energy systems within a single training week. For those who require additional recovery, a single session each week of one of these types of training is sufficient, allowing the athlete to address all relevant energy systems within a three-week period. Here’s the most effective route to incorporating the six elements in your program:

    Step 1. Designate Your Recovery Day

    Because most of the athletes I work with have families and careers, a recovery day is usually one on which they’d like to complete additional chores around the house, spend time with their families, or socialize. It may be a day to do little or nothing except read a book and relax. Others travel frequently for business and have a floating schedule; these runners need a day on which they can miss a run without feeling guilty. View the recovery day as a day to let your body and mind unwind and allow modern life to take priority over training. As an added benefit, it’ll keep you healthy, allow you to improve, and help keep you motivated.

    Step 2. Determine Your Long-Run Day

    This is pretty simple because most athletes do their weekly long run on either Saturday or Sunday. Whatever works for you is fine, as long as you do it consistently. I don’t have a hard and fast rule regarding spacing recovery days around the long run. In most cases, my athletes run a harder effort on Saturday, run long on Sunday, and run an easier day on Monday. This allows Saturday to be fairly hard and Sunday moderate while providing a recovery day following these back-to-back harder run days.

    Step 3. Determine Your Primary Workout Days

    On primary workout days you run scheduled harder workouts. My athletes schedule primary workouts every Tuesday and Friday in the fall. In the spring, the longer-distance athletes maintain this schedule, while the middle-distance runners adopt a Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday schedule. Depending on the length of your workout cycle, combinations of hard days vary. A 7-day cycle might include primary workouts on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Runners on a 14-day cycle might designate Monday and Thursday as primary hard-workout days. On the other hand, some runners can only tolerate a single hard workout each week and are therefore on a 21-day cycle. Based on your particular goal event, rotate workouts in this order:

    1. 200s, 300s, or 400s at faster than 5K race pace (anaerobic capacity)
    2. 800- to 2,400-meter intervals at 5K to 10K race pace (aerobic capacity)
    3. Tempo run of approximately 30 minutes at threshold pace (anaerobic conditioning)

    On the fourth hard-effort day, start over again with the 200s, 300s, or 400s at faster than 5K pace and work your way through the lineup again. In this manner, you address all the relevant energy systems needed for top-level performance. The 800- to 2,400-meter intervals at 5K to 10K pace handle aerobic capacity, the tempo runs address anaerobic conditioning, and the 200s, 300s, or 400s at faster than 5K race pace develop anaerobic capacity (economy).

    Most runners use a 14-day schedule of two primary, harder workouts each week during the two-week period. The question arises: There are four harder workout days and three primary workouts to do, so should I adjust the schedule? Rather than starting again with workout one on the fourth workout day, would there be a benefit to focusing on one area of fitness more than the other? I allow for the following slight variations based on the fact that most athletes see the greatest improvement in race times by giving increased focus to aerobic-capacity development.

    Week 1: Aerobic-capacity workout, anaerobic-conditioning workout

    Week 2: Aerobic-capacity workout, anaerobic-capacity workout

    During the final four to eight weeks of the training year before the championship racing season, I make the following adjustments based on event focus:

    1,500 meters. Each week perform an aerobic-capacity workout on one day and an anaerobic-capacity workout on another.

    5K to 10K. During week one, perform an aerobic-capacity workout one day and an anaerobic conditioning workout the second harder day of that week. During week two perform an aerobic-capacity workout one day and an anaerobic-capacity workout the second harder day.

    Marathon. Each week perform an aerobic-capacity workout on one day and an anaerobic-conditioning workout on another.

    Step 4. Schedule Your Double Days

    I generally schedule double days on the primary harder workout days of the week because I want the athlete’s hard days to be hard. Without exception, my top athletes do a minimum of two double days per week on Tuesdays and Fridays, the same days we schedule either the 200s, 300s, and 400s, the 800- to 2,400-meter intervals, or the tempo run. The more experienced athletes add double days on an additional two to four days per week as they see fit.

    Step 5. Fill In Rest With Aerobic-Conditioning Runs

    The remaining days should consist of runs varying in distance from 45 to 90 minutes. Whether you choose to do two-a-days and whether you keep to the shorter end of the 45- to 90-minute range or the longer end is as much a matter of preference and “recoverability” as it is a function of your chosen race distance.

    To help illustrate the previous concepts in detail, tables 3.1 through 3.3 provide some sample training weeks using this program. These are not set in stone, but rather are intended to illustrate how to apply the training principles to the everyday training of fast competitive athletes who also happen to have careers and family obligations.

    So that’s it. Designing a training plan is important yet simple. I’ve described the elements it should include and provided examples of runners across the race-distance spectrum who have used these elements to form training plans that have taken them to the top of their game. Now, it’s your turn. Reread this chapter along with the other information in this book, set clear goals, grab a pen and paper (or a mouse and computer), and go to it.

    Five training phases for triathlon success

    It’s not often I can do this but the following is an excerpt from an upcoming book (currently only available as a pre-order), Triathlon 101 (Human Kinetics, due out March, 2009). In this updated edition reprinted with permission from Human Kinetics, Triathlon 101, you’ll learn the five training phases for triathlon success.

    “Training in phases, or cycles, has long been considered the best way to condition the body to the rigors of endurance exercise safely and effectively,” says Mora. “Each phase has a very specific High-Tech Cycling book coverobjective, and the workouts are thoughtfully designed to fulfill that objective.” Mora suggests beginners approach training in five phases:

    Initiation phase.
    Specifically for beginners, the initiation phase allows the body to learn a new activity never or rarely performed before. Depending on the level of experience, this phase could take up to three months. “This phase may try your patience because you’ll be learning at least one activity that you’ve never attempted before,” Mora notes. “It is a time for your body to adapt gradually to new activity and to overcome the inevitable discomforts that go with triathlon training.”

    Base phase.
    This phase creates a foundation of training with gradual, safe adaptation to a physical activity and consists mainly of long workouts done at a slow pace. According to Mora, the focus of this phase should be on gradual increases of the length of workouts of no more than 10 percent per week, a rule that is especially crucial for running and helps in avoiding common overtraining injuries. This phase can last from three to six months, depending on current conditioning, skills, and the distance being trained for.

    Speed and technique phase.
    This phase increases the pace you can maintain and the efficiency of your exercise. According to Mora, the speed and technique phase is for those who have already run a few races and would like to hone their skills. However, for those running a triathlon for the first time, Mora recommends dismissing any expectations of finishing in a certain time and instead focusing on simply finishing the race.

    Race simulation phase.
    This phase helps boost race-day confidence through completing workouts similar to those done on the day of the event. According to Mora, many first-time triathletes have questions about transitioning from one sport to the other and the transition’s effects on the body. Race training improves performance on race day and provides the confidence needed for race day. “Workouts known as bricks combine two sports in a single session and are instrumental to any racing success,” Mora explains. “If you complete workouts that simulate what you will be experiencing during a race, the shroud of mystery surrounding your upcoming first triathlon will soon begin to evaporate.”

    Tapering phase.
    Tapering involves a period of decreased activity in the days or weeks before an athletic event. According to Mora, tapering allows the body ample time to recover from the previous months of training and refresh the muscles in order to be primed for racing. “Although there is much debate about the ‘perfect’ tapering schedule, it really depends on how fast your body recovers from training, how long you’ve been training, and what you are training for,” Mora says. “And although there may be some disagreement about how to taper, experts do concur that you need to taper in order to perform your best.”

    “Hailed as a must-read for triathlon rookies, Triathlon 101 covers all the steps necessary for triathlon training. The updated edition also offers new chapters on what to expect on race day, information on off-road triathlons, and information on recovering to compete again

    Triathlon Base Preparation Phase

    For some reason, triathlon attracts many who want to dig into the science of how to train, researching questions like, “Why do I need long runs AND short fast runs?” “Why should I train my core so much if I am not in a sit-up competition?” “Swimming is really the only technique-oriented sport, right?”

    It all starts with base training. Marc Evans writes about base training in Triathlete’s Edge. The following is an excerpt from his book reprinted here with permission from Human Kinetics.

    traithlon base training“The ability to compete at peak athletic levels depends first and foremost on the athlete’s base preparation. A concentrated base is the foundation, core, and framework that best performances rely on. Base preparation includes exercising at low intensities for long durations—the building blocks used to construct the higher intensity efforts that come later. Dryland training (strength, core, flexibility) plays a chief role in base preparation training to comprehensively prepare the triathlete.

    Too many triathletes want to get to the more intense work and neglect this important training. As I like to say, “The bigger the base, the better you’ll race.” Base training is the most important training and preparation part of the season.

    As noted in chapter 6, the base preparation period of training picks up from active restoration and includes 16 weeks of foundational work in endurance, strength, flexibility, and technique. The general benefits of base preparation training include the following:

    * Develops sport-specific aerobic endurance
    * Develops strength, flexibility, neuromuscular coordination, and technique
    * Strengthens connective tissue
    * Increases the number of mitochondria and capillaries within the muscles
    * Increases blood volume
    * Enhances glycogen storage and capacity
    * Decreases resting HR and increases stroke volume

    These benefits are achieved by meeting the objectives of the phase, which include:

    1. Assessing current fitness
    2. Gradually increasing aerobic capacity and endurance (oxygen consumption)
    3. Adding to core and maximal muscle strength
    4. Progressively overloading and building up workout frequency, volume, and intensity
    5. Promoting neurological development of proper technique patterns to improve economy
    6. Training with drills to improve flexibility and coordination (technical exercises)
    7. Managing nutrition and rest
    8. Transitioning (aerobic/stamina) to bike-to-run workouts of longer duration and low intensity

    Base preparation begins by assessing and establishing the athlete’s current baseline fitness and from there establishing short-term, midrange, and long-range goals. I use a battery of pretests to determine an athlete’s swimming, cycling, and running fitness. This is followed by another or several periodic retests to evaluate progress throughout this phase. These tests help define the direction of the training plan by establishing objective training benchmarks, which can be repeated over time. From these benchmarks, an athlete can better establish realistic goals that will give their training and racing a sense of purpose and direction.”

    Dave Scott stretching video

    Dave Scott, who is a six time IronMan World Champion, and active.com show some of his favorite stretches in this video. They include stretches for your glutes, hip flexor, piriformis, hamstring, quad and shoulder girdle.

    Enjoy and remember to check out the resources page with other great videos. Our online store offer terrific videos as well.

    Triathletes and Injury Prevention

    Having spent many years training for fitness, it wasn’t until the last few years I became aware of how delicate a balancing act it can be of knowing how and when to push yourself toward greater fitness and avoiding injury.

    I have had many injuries and hope I’ve learned how to approach training with the long tern goal of staying healthy and injury free. I would often push myself too hard when I did not need to or it was not the right time to push. Maybe I did not give myself enough of a rest, either between intervals, sets, or laps. It absolutely is a science and the more I read and study, the more I am able to understand when and WHY I do the things I do.

    With the idea of sharing that, I posed several questions to my physical therapy group that helps heal me, Elite Physical Therapy in Charlotte, NC. Kelly Floyd started this the group and Joe and Lesley have joined in the last year. They are immensely qualified and have vast sports experience themselves as well as treating patients of all ages and ailments.

    I treasure their input and advice. Here’s some advice I hope you can learn from as well.

    What are the training rules of thumb and why are they important to follow?

    Always break a sweat before stretching. Think of your cold muscle as a piece of bacon out of the freezer. You bend it and it breaks! Heat it up and it bends much easier!

    It all starts with the core, the area of your body from your diaphragm to your groin. When running, jumping, cycling, swimming, or weight training, sitting, standing, bending, you name it, keep your spinal alignment perfect. Your spine is made to be stabilized, not twisted and bent. That’s what our other joints are for.

    When increasing your mileage/running time or weight lifting, especially if you have not trained in a while, live by the 10% rule. Don’t increase your training initially by more than 10% per week. For example if you have been running for 10 minutes 1 week, don’t increase to 20 minutes the next. Try up to 5 minute increases each week. We sometimes tell our patients that if they are running every other day up to 4 days per week, try adding 1-2 minutes onto each run for the week for a total of about 5 minute increase in time per week.

    As for weight training, try to only increase your resistance if your form is perfect for 2-3 repetitions in addition to your planned repetition stopping point. For example, if you had planned to do 10 repetitions with 50 lbs, if you could perform 12 repetitions with 50 lbs with perfect form, you would be able to lift the next time with 10% more weight (55 lbs) at 10 repetitions.

    As to not sound redundant, most of the overuse injuries can be prevented with a gradual training program and adequate rest. But for those athletes just starting out without knowledge of their own body, it’s best to see a sports medicine specialist (physical therapist, orthopedic surgeon, athletic trainer, some well-respected personal trainers, contact local triathalon clubs for information on these specialists). These specialists can assess your muscle imbalances and functional strength, assist with appropriate shoe-wear, nutritional requirements, and make necessary training corrections in mechanics to optimize your training.

    Are there any training practices specific to triathlon athletes should adhere to?

    Triathletes need to understand that the specificity of their training comes from performing 3 consecutive events sustaining a relatively high intensity. Therefore program optimization would be to carry this idea into your cross training as well. For example, Pick 3 consecutive exercises, (push ups, pull ups, squats) and maximize your effort on all 3 for a certain period of time. This type of training develops anaerobic power, or the ability to work through the burn, utilizing large muscle groups. Another example would be to get on a spin bike for a mile as fast as you can, then the treadmill for ¼ mile as fast as you can, then do 1 minute of step ups onto a 8-16 in. box as fast as you can.

    Your practice sees many athletes after they have injured themselves. Given your experience, what are some things triathletes can do to prevent injury?

    Hydrate! Your muscles need the correct electrolyte balance for optimal contraction. If you are lacking fluids pre- or post- training, your muscles lose efficiency to contract and then you may sacrifice proper technique, cramp, or strain a muscle.

    Rest and Nutrition! Sleep is a triathlete’s best, but often unappreciated friend. Plan your training to allow for maximal rest the day or night after your hard training day. Also, periodizing your programs will permit proper work to rest training days working up to the event.

    Shoe-wear! A lot easier to say than do, but a proper shoe-wear assessment by a physical therapist, podiatrist, or pedorthist can be a life-saver as your mileage and intensity increases. Also, make sure you have 2 pairs of shoes to rotate at least 48 hours between because the EVA rubber in the shoe heats up and needs time to cool down to regain its properties.

    Professional Movement Assessment! Along the same lines as a shoewear assessment, a physical therapist can assess the entire body from heel strike to leg swing, from pedal stroke to breast stroke to determine faulty kinetic links in your triathlete body. Many times overuse strains and sprains can be prevented before heavy training begins by a full body athletic movement assessment.

    What role does technique play in athletic performance and injury prevention?

    Technique can affect efficiency and spinal control. Many overuse injuries come from your muscles’ inability to slow a body part down. This is called an eccentric contraction, and this type of contraction is where muscle strains show their ugly heads…usually right when you are pushing to the next level of training. The overuse injury can often be avoided by improving your efficiency of movement, in other words optimize your muscle’s overall ability to contract, especially eccentrically.

    As for spinal control, excess spinal motion leads to uneven wear on your spine’s joints. It also leads to unwanted motion that your extremities need to control. Say you use your quadriceps muscles 10% more when cycling by leaning side to side vs. keep your spine still. You are already fatiguing yourself for the run portion, and the extra 10% muscle use can affect your technique in the last leg of the race

    What are the most common injuries you see in triathletes and how can they help prevent them?

    Overuse injuries- The “ itis’s “(tendonitis, bursitis) Usually at the foot, ankle, knee, hip, shoulder. Usually caused when training is increased too dramatically too soon, or when the body has not rested the necessary amount.

    Stress Fractures- especially of the navicular in the foot and top of tibia in the leg. In women stress fractures may be more prominent, especially in the leaner female triathlete, where the body fat percentage is low.

    Joint Pains/Muscle strains- Cause by muscle imbalances, overtraining, poor knee alignment, hip abductor weakness, incorrect shoe-wear, improper postural habits while cycling.

    I wholeheartedly recommend them and if you have questions feel free to contact them at:

    Elite Physical Therapy
    2630 E. 7th Street, Suite 206 •Charlotte, NC 28204
    Office: 704.333.1052 • Fax: 704.333.1054
    Email: elitept1@bellsouth.net
    Website: www.elitept1.com

    Here’s alittle about them:

    “Kelly Floyd, president and owner, graduated with a Masters in Physical Therapy from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kelly is an active triathlete and former collegiate basketball player as well.

    Joe and Lesley Tedesco graduated with their Doctorates in Physical Therapy from Duke University and are also Certified Athletic Trainers. In addition, Joe is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. As former athletic trainers for the University of Florida, Joe cared for the men’s basketball team and Lesley worked with the women’s volleyball team. Both have experience initiating functional training programs to professional, collegiate, and high school athletes.

    At Elite Physical Therapy, we emphasize a hands-on-approach to treatment of orthopedic dysfunction of the spine and extremities. Our services also include movement assessment rehabilitation, injury prevention programs, therapeutic massage and/or strength and conditioning consultation for all sports and fitness levels.

    We believe in community outreach and promise dedication to excellence using effective programs to keep our community’s athletes healthy now and in the future!”

    Stretching for triathlon

    As any athlete knows, stretching is a very important component of a training regimen. There are a few well-regarded thoughts on stretching.

    First – always warm up before stretching. My PT gave this example – imagine putting a rubber band in the freezer for a while and another one under warm running water. Which do you think will stretch more and stretch easier without breaking? The one that has been in warm water, of course. You do not have to run several miles to warm up enough to stretch but even walking a little bit until you feel your body more active. Your body will thank you with fewer injuries. Stretching cold is putting more stress on muscles that are not ready for it and are likely to create a circumstance where injury can occur.

    Second – Understand that a long lean muscle that has been trained and stretched through its range of motion and can used through its range of motion is more useful and efficient than a shortened tight one.

    Third – have a stretch routine. In triathlon, you use many parts of your entire body – core, shoulders, arms, hips, neck, legs, and feet – so have a routine that stretches them. Remember, you can use compound stretching which are movements that stretch more than one muscle at the same time, thus saving you time.

    Fourth – My physical therapist tells me I should hold a stretch for 30 seconds or longer for it to have lasting benefit.

    Stretching has been a huge part of my rehab from injuries. My PT tells me I have very tight hips. I try to work on that consistently. It amazes me that muscles “over here” can play a significant role with injuries or tightness “over there.” Learning the intricacies of of how muscles work together has been a fascinating study for me. If I were younger, I would probably go to graduate school for further study.

    Toward that end, I have tried to find books that help me with stretching. A lot of people recommend Bob Anderson’s stretching book and I found it useful. However, I have just found, “Stretching Anatomy” by Human Kinetics, who pride themselves on having high quality, well-researched and reviewed, scientifically sound books.

    What I found particularly useful was:

    • Several pages per section of the body and how the muscles relate and move
    • Numerous high-quality illustrated pages of stretching movements with detailed
      instructions, which muscles are stretched more and some less, and variations as you progress
    • A recommended stretching program from beginners to advanced

    Here’s a sample image:
    Sample Page

    Here’s a link to a few sample pages:

    No one likes down-time due to injury, being away from their sport. So, enjoy stretching and reduce the likelihood of injury.