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Set Your Mind for Success

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Recently I was making my way through the interior of BC giving presentations at conferences and corporate functions. And there was a message that came through with all the presentations which  only seemed appropriate to include here as well.

And this message had nothing to do nutrition. Or training. Or supplements. Or any of the obvious things that have to do with fitness or performance training. Instead the message had to do with mindset.

And I used a couple of stories to make the point of how to set the proper mindset for training. Because often times we’ll hear of people who get started on a fitness program and don’t see results. Or they make a nutritional change but the pounds aren’t coming off. They make a number of lifestyle changes which should help them achieve their goal yet they don’t realize the success they had hoped for. And sometimes this is due to not having the proper mindset for success.

What we normally ask people is if they believe they can achieve their goal and if they are motivated to do whatever it takes. Because it’s not uncommon to find out people that don’t achieve success didn’t believe in themselves from the get-go. And further they weren’t too excited to do whatever it takes.

You can imagine if someone doesn’t have their mindset oriented properly they may struggle to get to the gym for their early morning workouts. And they may find it difficult to adapt to a new nutritional plan. And getting to sleep on time may be less of a priority.

But once they have the proper mindset great things can happen. And success inevitably follows.

During the presentations I shared a couple of stories related to mindset. The first has to do with believing if someone else can do something so can you. And the second is about setting lofty goals. If you’re a fan of WWII history as I am you’ll appreciate the stories even more. If not, at least there is something to help set your mindset and achieve better results.

bannister 300x168 Set Your Mind for Success

Once he showed it was possible many others followed suit.

The first story is about Roger Bannister. Bannister was a miler from England and was trying to become the first person to ever run a four minute mile. From the early 1940s before the end of WWII the record for the mile was 4:02. And they claim Louie Zamperini (from Unbroken) ran a 4:08 mile in the sand the day before his plane went down in the Pacific Ocean.

Anyways, from being just a shade over four minutes it took until 1954 until Bannister finally broken the 4 minute mile. Prior to that a number of naysayers had all concluded it just wasn’t humanly possible to achieve such a feat. They did calculations on stride rate, stride length and physiological markers to prove that mathematically it wasn’t possible to run under four minutes.

But once Bannister achieved this standard up to 17 others did the same thing in the next few years. From something that took about 13 years to achieve by one person was then matched by many others soon after.

Training methods hadn’t evolved drastically. They didn’t eat different foods. There wasn’t a new supplement for them. Instead their mindset changed. Instead of a message of ‘this can never be done’ it became one of ‘if Bannister can do it, why not me?’.

With your own training is there someone you know that has achieved a result that you would like? Has a friend dropped a significant amount of weight? Has an athlete moved on to the next level? Has someone addressed a painful joint or injury which you suffer from as well?

Know that if someone else has done it you may be capable as well. Success leaves clues. Learn as much as you can from those that have done what you want to do and then do whatever it takes to get there.

Liberty 300x202 Set Your Mind for Success

Imagine building one of these in 4 days!

The second story is one I’m ‘borrowing’ from a presenter at last year’s conference. Dr. Stephen Norris told the story of Liberty ships that were used during WWII. During the war England, in particular, was getting bombed non-stop by the Germans. In England supply lines, factories and munitions were all depleted.

Liberty ships were used to send supplies from North America to Europe. But once the Germans learned of this they began to torpedo these supply ships. So the Allied Forces decided there was only one option to overcome the u-boats. And that was to build Liberty ships faster than the Germans could torpedo them.

Now near the start of WWII it would take well over 700 days to build one of these ships. Within a few short years they were able to reduce the time to build substantially. Substantially is not a strong enough word because in 1943 they were able to produce a Liberty ship in 4 days.

Think about that for a moment…

4 days!!!

During one of the presentations one of the female audience members asked if this was due to the fact that the men had gone off to the front lines and left the ship building to the women. I had to laugh and agree with her.

But seriously, for me, the take home message is that we can achieve more than what we think is possible. And that when we have a purpose for our efforts we can usually dig deeper to get it done.

Imagine for the people building the Liberty ships. What would their motivation have been to do whatever it takes? To work long shifts? To not give up? To match the best worker’s intensity?

Probably things like national pride and patriotism. Maybe the threat of nazism. Maybe having a friend or family on the front lines who are depending on the supplies coming on a Liberty ship.

All of these things would definitely bring out the best in a work crew. And allow them to reduce the time to build a ship by 99%.

Summary

Going forward ask yourself who are the ‘Roger Bannisters’ in your life? Who has been where you want to go? Learn from them. It wasn’t all easy and usually all we hear is the success at the end. Rather than learn from your mistakes learn from the mistakes of others.

Secondly, what is your ‘Liberty ship’? What could you do in less time? Instead of a year to lose 30 lbs could this be done in 6 months? Less? More importantly, what is the bigger purpose behind your ultimate goal? For some they want to lose weight so they will be around to see their kids graduate, get married and have kids. When you think in terms of bigger purposes such as this it makes all the things necessary a little easier to do.

Chris

 

 

 

Characteristics of Top Hockey Players

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Post Activation Potentiation

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Speed is one those things every athlete wants more of. It may be described as quickness or having a faster first step but ultimately it comes to having more horsepower.

But how we go about developing speed is a good question. Ask five different coaches what they do for speed training and you may get five different answers.

Recently there was an article published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research by Hancock et al which looked at how post activation potentiation (or PAP) affects swim performance.

This research team took 30 collegiate swimmers and had them do a standard warm-up followed by a 6 minute rest. After the rest the swimmers performed a 100 m time trial with splits at the 50 m mark plus blood lactacte was sampled. One grip did 4×10 m maximal swims on the minute against the resistance of a power rack before taking the 6 minute break. These four swims lasted an average of seven seconds and the resistance for each swimmer was set based on their mass and 100 m swim time so as to equivalent for everyone.

What they found was that performing the four maximal sprints resulted in a swim times that were 0.54 seconds faster than the group that didn’t perform them.

Think 0.54 s doesn’t matter in the 100 m freestyle in swimming? It would if you were #11 and you were the only to perform this kind of warm-up. In theory it could shave 0.54 seconds off his time and take him from 48.67 to 48.13 and the gold medal.

Rank Heat Lane Name Nationality Time Notes
1 6 5 Nathan Adrian 22px Flag of the United States.svg Post Activation Potentiation United States 48.19 Q
2 6 1 Gideon Louw 22px Flag of South Africa.svg Post Activation Potentiation South Africa 48.29 Q
3 8 2 Sebastiaan Verschuren 22px Flag of the Netherlands.svg Post Activation Potentiation Netherlands 48.37 Q
4 8 4 James Magnussen 22px Flag of Australia.svg Post Activation Potentiation Australia 48.38 Q
5 8 5 Brent Hayden 22px Flag of Canada.svg Post Activation Potentiation Canada 48.51 Q
6 6 7 Brett Fraser 22px Flag of the Cayman Islands.svg Post Activation Potentiation Cayman Islands 48.54 Q
6 7 8 Pieter Timmers 22px Flag of Belgium %28civil%29.svg Post Activation Potentiation Belgium 48.54 Q, NR
8 6 3 Nikita Lobintsev 22px Flag of Russia.svg Post Activation Potentiation Russia 48.60 Q
9 8 7 Cullen Jones 22px Flag of the United States.svg Post Activation Potentiation United States 48.61 Q
10 7 7 Konrad Czerniak 22px Flag of Poland.svg Post Activation Potentiation Poland 48.63 Q
11 6 4 César Cielo 22px Flag of Brazil.svg Post Activation Potentiation Brazil 48.67 Q
12 7 4 James Roberts 22px Flag of Australia.svg Post Activation Potentiation Australia 48.93 Q

I point this out to show that a half second is a huge amount of time in this race.

So how is it that PAP can help? Well when do something with high loads there is a high muscular effort that goes along with performing that lift. The effects of performing that lift are retained and allow for higher power outputs in subsequent performances.

But it’s not simple as straightforward as lifting something heavy and then seeing a performance boost. There are a few things to consider regarding PAP including:

1. Transfer effect

If I perform a couple of heavy reps on the bench press I will have worked my upper body and stimulated my nervous system. I really shouldn’t expect a huge increase in my vertical jump if I test it after benching.

Now if instead I do 2-3 relatively heavy squats I am stimulating some of the same muscles used for jumping. Additionally am performing the lift on my feet with has better carry-over than if I were to perform a heavy leg press.

2. Training age

If a world record power-lifter does 3 reps at 87% of their max they would probably recover and be fine with this. Not only would they be fine later in the same day they would be fine in the same workout.

Now imagine someone who has never lifted before. We do some quick tests to determine their max and then we have them perform 3 reps at 87% as well. This person may be done for the rest of the training session. Not only that they may be stiff and sore for days after.

We need to consider how long the athlete has been resistance and at what level before we introduce something like PAP into their training.

3. Load

There is quite a variation in terms of the protocols used for research on PAP. Some studies describe using loads in the mid to upper 80% of 1 RM. Others refer to using loads that are 3-5 1 RM which would be about 85-87% as well.

In the swim example the resistance applied was proportional to the mass and speed of the swimmer. And the effort lasted all of about seven seconds.

You can see the challenge in selecting a load to yield a PAP. To low and enough of the musculature, and the nervous system, are not stimulated. Or choose the appropriate load and only perform one rep and there not be enough of a stimulus either. And if you go too heavy or too long you will end up fatiguing the athlete.

4. Rest

This is a tricky part of PAP. How long do you rest after a muscular effort to allow the body to recover yet still reap the benefits of PAP.

For example, if you perform 3 squats at 87% and immediately try and perform your best box jump for height things probably won’t go well. Give yourself five minutes to rest and you may just hit a PB. Wait 15 minutes and again you may notice no benefit.

Here’s a graphical representation of this.

 Post Activation Potentiation

How long to wait? Too short of a rest and fatigue lingers. Too long and PAP benefits are gone.

In this study the swimmers rested six minutes. Would the same result have occurred after four minutes? After twelve?

This is a hard question to answer and requires further research. The range appears to be four to twelve minutes but would be dependent on the participants of the study, the percent of the load and the length of the muscular effort.

Here is the citation for the study for any that are interested.

Hancock Andrew P, Sparks Kenneth E, Kullman Emily L. 2015. JSCR. Postactivation Potentiation Enhances Swim Performance In Collegiate Swimmers. 29(4):912-917.

Chris

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