Fitness is an elusive topic that means different things to different people.
Fitness is defined as ‘ the ability to carry out daily tasks (work and play) with vigour and alertness, without undue fatigue and with ample reserve energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and to meet unforeseen emergencies’ .
Sports have different fitness requirements and we are all different physically.
The fitness requirements of a sport can change and our own fitness levels can change in response to a wide range of factors including health, activity levels and motivation.
When being specific about the fitness requirements of a sport or the fitness attributes of an athlete, we refer to the fitness components.
The fitness components are predominantly related to the anaerobic energy systems.
The exception is cardio-respiratory endurance , which is associated with the aerobic energy system.
Each of the components of fitness cardio-respiratory endurance; muscular strength; local muscular endurance; muscular power; flexibility; anaerobic power and speed; and agility and body composition is affected by a range of factors including age, gender and degree of training.
While it is rare to see one component of fitness in isolation as most are interrelated it cannot be assumed that an athlete who has one highly developed component of fitness also has other highly developed components
List the fitness components being tested in the following tests.
12 minute run
Standing long jump
Sit and reach
Chapter 8 Data collection and activity analysis
The main purpose of data collection is to gather information about the physical, mental, tactical and technical requirements of an activity or sport so that training and game performance can be improved.
Our focus is principally on the physical aspect (physiological fitness requirements); however, all areas have an impact on all the other areas.
When assessing fitness requirements, we are particularly interested in which energy systems, fitness components and muscle groups are involved.
A range of data collection methods is available including observation; observation with statistical data collection; and video recording and statistical data collection.
Each of these methods has advantages and disadvantages; however, with new computer technology, video recording is seen to be the way of the future (at least at the elite level) as this type of data is much more reliable.
Examples of data collected include skill frequency, movement patterns, intensity charts, work rest ratios and heart rate.
Depending on the skill and knowledge of the observer, a great deal can be inferred from the data gathered, particularly if we know the intensity and duration of the exercise sessions.
The purpose of analysis is to identify patterns in data, recognise relationships, make connections and draw inferences. The better the quality of the data and the more skilled the analyst, the more useful the analysis will be to the coach and player(s).
Analysis can take the form of immediate observations that inform decisions on game day, through to detailed computer analysis of data collected over a whole season or more.
Data collected can inform and guide training and forward planning of factors such as diet; training methods; training cycles – micro and macro; pre-game warm-up; and post-game recovery.
There are numerous reasons for undertaking fitness testing . Key among these are: benchmarking; identifying strengths and weaknesses; monitoring progress; setting new targets; and motivation.
The tests chosen must be reliable and valid; that is, they must produce consistently accurate results and must test what they set out to test.
There are two broad approaches to testing direct, maximal testing and indirect, submaximal testing. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
Direct testing tends to be confined to expensive laboratories. Indirect , submaximal testing tends to be used most often because it is easier to administer, requires less expertise and requires minimal equipment.
There is a range of tests available for each fitness component.
Where available, an athlete may make use of ‘ norms ’ (standards that are ‘normal’ or typical for a group) but caution should be exercised in referring to these norms. Where norms are not available, the athlete should use personal bests as a guide.
As a rowing coach, you need to determine the fitness levels of a rower prior to competition.
Suggest a suitable test for the rowers local muscular endurance levels.
Why might you measure the athlete’s BMI?
Would an agility test be suitable for a rower? Justify your answer.
What is the advantage of conducting maximal testing over sub-maximal testing?
Explain why a male rower would achieve better results on a beep test than a female.
Chapter 10 Fitness training principles and methods
Adhering to a set of key training principles aids an athlete in getting the most from their training program.
The key training principles are specificity, frequency, intensity, progressive overload and duration.
The principle of specificity requires that athletes train the specific energy systems, fitness components and muscle groups for optimal fitness gains.
Training should be specific to the physiological adaptations required at the time.
Improvements in performance occur as a result of adaptation to physical stress . An increase in the training workload will bring about physiological changes that make the body better able to cope with the stresses placed on it.
Progressive overload principle states that to gain maximum benefit from training, workloads must be gradually adjusted upwards as adaptation to stress takes place.
A general rule is that only one factor is adjusted upwards and that the increments are gradual.
Periodisation is the process of dividing training into discrete time periods or cycles.
Training induces a catabolic, or destructive, tiring effect that is then followed by an anabolic or constructive effect during the recovery period. It is during the recovery periods between heavy workouts that many of the physiological adjustments to training (i.e. the adaptations) occur.
To achieve maximal fitness gains , the new (increased) loading must be introduced at the highest point in the overcompensation phase.
The frequency principle: the more frequently an athlete trains and the longer the training program, the greater the fitness benefits (provided adequate rest is obtained).
Generally, train two times per week for fitness maintenance and three or more times per week for fitness gains.
Since anaerobic training is completed at high intensity, anaerobic athletes need more time to recover, so they require fewer training sessions than endurance athletes.
Intensity refers to how hard the training sessions are and is generally measured in terms of heart-rate response to exercise.
The lower the initial VO 2 max , the greater the improvements with training.
Duration may refer to either the length of time of each training session or the length of the training program (in weeks or months). It is becoming more common to refer to the duration of training in terms of macro, meso and microcycles.
A training session generally consists of a warm-up (involving aerobic work and stretching), skill development and tactics, a strength and conditioning bout and a cool-down (again involving light aerobic work and stretching).
The training season consists of a number of macrocycles – pre-season, competition (in-season) and off-season.
There is a wide range of training methods available including interval training (sessions of work interspersed with sessions of rest), continuous training, Fartlek training, circuit training, plyometrics, flexibility training, strength (weight) training, speed training, Pilates and Swiss ball.
Skill development depends on a range of factors related to an athlete’s abilities and command of various specific techniques.
When developing skill, an athlete and their coach must consider a range of factors including current ability/skill level, own and opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, environmental conditions and external lifestyle demands.
The training principle of adaptation is also referred to as the SAID principle , which stands for: S = Specific; A = Adaptation; I= Imposed; D = Demands and basically states that the physical activity we are involved in encourages our bodies to adapt in specific ways to meet its demands.
Adaptations are the result of specific demands placed on the body and are dependent on the volume, intensity and frequency of training.
The type of training undertaken will ultimately determine the nature of the adaptations that occur. Essentially, training can be broken down into two discrete forms: aerobic and anaerobic .
Training that predominantly calls upon the ATP PC and/or lactic acid (LA) system(s) will bring about specific changes to these systems.
Aerobic training leads to improvements in oxygen uptake, transport and use, resulting in improved aerobic energy system capacity.
Aerobic training results in increased capillarisation, mitochondria density and oxidative enzymes, which, along with structural changes to the cardiovascular system, increase the anaerobic threshold from 85 per cent to 90 per cent of a person’s maximum heart rate.
The heart is a muscle and it adapts to different training regimes. Aerobic training leads to increases in ventricle size, whereas anaerobic training tends to increase the ventricle wall thickness.
The heart becomes more efficient in response to aerobic training. It is able to pump out larger volumes of blood and oxygen with each beat and at both rest and submaximal levels does not need to beat as much to supply the body with its demands.
More blood (up to 20 per cent) is redistributed to working muscles as a result of aerobic training. This provides muscles with greater amounts of oxygen and fuels as well as transporting wastes away at increased rates.
Endurance training results in improved pulmonary function and larger lung volumes. This also sees a larger alveolar-capillary surface area form and directly increases the diffusion capacities found at the lungs.
Aerobic training improves oxygen supply and increases the muscles’ ability to use oxygen. These both result in significant increases in the production of aerobic energy, and lead to increases in VO2 max.
Muscles are made up of slow-twitch (Type I) and fast-twitch (Type II) muscle fibres. At the muscular level, aerobic training results in a greater improvement in slow-twitch or Type I muscle fibres and conversely anaerobic training results in a greater improvement in fast-twitch or Type II fibres.
Fast-twitch muscle fibres can be further classified as fast-twitch ‘B’ (purely anaerobic) or fast-twitch ‘A’ (partially aerobic).
Training with high intensity or loads and low repetitions results in greater hypertrophy to fast-twitch fibres . Training at submaximal intensity or loads with moderate-to-high repetitions results in greater hypertrophy to slow-twitch fibres .
Regardless of the training undertaken, adaptations occur at the cellular level to improve the functions associated with muscle action. For example, aerobic training increases oxidative enzymes, which in turn release and recycle more ATP under aerobic exercise conditions.
Anaerobic training increases PC stores, which are critical when supplying ATP during explosive, all-out exercise sessions lasting several seconds.
Adaptations are reversible and the loss of physiological adaptations is known as detraining . This usually occurs more quickly than the time it took for the adaptations to occur during training.
Reliable monitoring techniques and individual guidelines for optimal workload must be established.
Some useful approaches to monitoring training and recovery are keeping a training log, developing an athlete’s self-monitoring skills including physical and psychological monitoring, coaches’ observations and communication with the athlete, and athletes recording resting heart rate at the same time each day.
Overtraining is a cumulative exhaustion following prolonged and repeated stresses of training to the point where the rest provided does not permit adequate recovery.
Continual training without sufficient rest and recovery leads to excessive fatigue, injury, illness and ultimately a decline in overall performance.
If a training program is not well designed, overtraining might result.
Managing a training load and sports injury risk management 2
Inadequate and unreliable monitoring of training performance could contribute to overtraining.
A well-designed, individualised training program with gradual increases in training stimulus along with a high priority for rest and recovery will avoid exposing an athlete to overtraining.
Apart form training factors, other related factors in overtraining are a balanced diet and good sleep patterns.
Psychological signs and symptoms of overtraining can include moodiness and being easily irritated and angry; increased anxiety and depressive symptoms; loss of competitive drive and enthusiasm for physical activity; reduced concentration; apathy; feeling tired, drained and lacking in energy; inability to relax; being twitchy and fidgety; altered sleep patterns including insomnia and disturbed sleep; confusion; being excessively emotional; feelings of helplessness; and reduced confidence.
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Physiological signs and symptoms of overtraining may include persistent soreness, heaviness and weakness in the muscles; body aches; increased incidence of injuries; prolonged fatigue; loss of appetite and weight loss; intolerance to training and delayed recovery from training; elevated resting heart rate; dehydration; excessive sweating; insatiable thirst; increased susceptibility to infections; hyperactivity; slower heart-rate recovery; gastrointestinal disturbances; nausea; swelling of the lymph nodes; and menstrual irregularities.
If overtraining has occurred it is important to identify the factors that led to overtraining and make adjustments to rectify this.
The recommended way of treating overtraining is rest and seeking medical treatment where necessary.
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Risk management is the process of measuring or assessing risk and then developing strategies to manage the risk. Risk is the chance of something happening. It can be measured in terms of likelihood (i.e. the probability and frequency of it occurring) and consequences (the likely outcome of an event or situation).
Some suggested steps in the risk-management process are identification and assessment of risks ; identification of possible actions available; risk avoidance; risk reduction; creating a plan; implementing the plan; and ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the plan.
Responding to a number of key questions can assist in determining risk-management procedures. What could possibly go wrong? Consider all of the risks you face. What protections do you have in place to prevent these likely occurrences? What will you do if it happens?
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The principles of risk management extend far wider than simply sports injury risk management and also encompass such areas as facility, environmental and equipment safety, coaching, an athlete’s physical preparation procedures and health policies.
When identifying how things could go wrong in training and recovery the most likely occurrences are a consequence of behaviours, practices (of coaches, trainers and participants) and physical surroundings, equipment and the environment.
Possible actions for avoiding things going wrong in risk management could include a complete identification, assessment and prioritisation of risks; the development of policy statements and procedures in a number of key areas; and the use of checklists.
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The relationship between arousal and performance is commonly referred to as the ‘inverted-U’ hypothesis (or graph). It is possible to experience situations of under-arousal, optimal arousal (also referred to as being in the ‘zone’) and over-arousal.
Arousal reduction techniques include controlled breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, biofeedback and stress-inoculation training (SIT), listening to calming music and using routines.
Arousal promotion techniques include rapid breathing, acting energetically and positively, positive talk and energising imagery and participating in pre-game work-outs or preparation.
Athletes can attain optimum arousal and concentration levels by trying to imagine themselves performing skills before actually doing them. This is known as mental rehearsal, mental imagery or visualisation.
Performance enhancement from a psychological perspective 3
Effective imagery involves a lot more that simply ‘seeing’ how a performance should be executed. It calls on as many senses as possible during the rehearsal stage typically kinaesthetic, auditory and tactile.
Imagery improves performance by improving neural pathways between the brain and muscles; providing a mental template of rehearsed sequences; enabling athletes to prepare for a range of events and eventualities; working in conjunction with other psychological skills; and allowing athletes to pre-experience the achievement of goals that build confidence.
Simulation and visuo-motor behaviour rehearsal are both carried out by making the physical training environment as similar as possible to the game setting. Thoughts are actually taken through to the physical application stage.
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Concentration and attention are used interchangeably in sports psychology and typically contain three parts: focusing on relevant environmental cues; maintaining attention focus over time; and having awareness of the situation.
There can be four possible types of attention :
broad-internal focus – used to focus on thoughts and feelings
broad-external focus used to focus outwards on opponent’s actions
narrow-internal focus used to focus thoughts and mentally rehearse upcoming movements
narrow-external focus used to focus on very few external cues.
Many factors can lead to an athlete experiencing inappropriate attention focus and their performance can deteriorate as a consequence for example, focusing on environmental distractions, focusing on past performances, future-oriented thinking, fatigue, muscle tension, negative self-talk, poor handling of game pressure(s) and not sticking to game plans.
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Cue words, selective attention training, routines, overlearning and maximum confidence levels all ensure that concentration levels remain optimal.
Confidence levels and performance attainment closely reflect the inverted-U shape demonstrated by the arousal theory. It is possible to lack confidence, be over-confident or be in the ‘optimum zone’.
Confidence levels remain high if athletes feel that they are adequately trained to succeed in the activity being undertaken – both physically and psychologically. Knowing what to expect by having practised many physical and mental scenarios, and how to respond to them, removes uncertainty and ensures optimal performance levels.
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Alisa uses mental imagery before take-off. Clearly outline how imagery improves her performance.
Alisa has just had a bad fall. How could see regain her confidence?
Alisa wants to win gold at next winter Olympics. What type of goal setting would she use – outcome, performance or process? Justify your answer.
List two methods of arousal regulation that Alisa could use prior to her event.
Chapter 14 Performance enhancement: nutrition, diet and other considerations
Athletes and their coaches/support staff, advocate the use of ergogenic practices and dietary manipulation to improve training, performance and recovery. Ethical and medico-legal issues need to be carefully considered by all parties involved.
Many illegal performance-enhancing practices lead to long-term, irreversible side effects. Masking agents are often used to hide these drugs from detection by doping agencies.
Many reasons, other than the need to win at all costs, are given to justify why athletes resort to both legal and illegal performance-enhancing practices.
Dietitians/nutritionists are professionals trained to provide a wide range of services to promote health and wellbeing in individuals, groups and communities. Their expertise is being increasingly used by athletes to improve their training, performance and recovery by manipulating dietary intake.
Many protocols for carbohydrate loading exist. Consensus among researchers indicates it is no longer necessary to fully drain carbohydrate stores with high-intensity exercise and then build up glycogen stores by consuming excessive amounts of carbohydrates. The preferred model for carbohydrate loading is one of exercise/training taper followed by increased carbohydrate intake.
Creatine supplementation is expensive, but when used in conjunction with increased carbohydrate intake has been found to improve power-related performances.
Colostrum has been used increasingly over the past five to 10 years and has been found to be beneficial to athletes’ immune systems and protein-synthesis mechanisms.
It appears that branched-chain amino acid metabolites support the body’s ability to minimise protein breakdown (anti-catabolic agent) subsequent to training stresses seen in intense exercise and may also work to preserve the integrity of cell membranes.
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Caffeine is used as a central nervous system stimulant, diuretic, circulatory stimulant and respiratory stimulant. Some exercise physiologists believe that caffeine might improve performance by increasing fat oxidation and conserving muscle glycogen.
Two main factors affect the speed at which fluid from a drink gets into the body:
the speed at which it is emptied from the stomach
the rate at which it is absorbed through the walls of the small intestine.
Sports drinks vary according to the amount of dissolved electrolytes they contain.
Hydration needs to occur before, during and after athletic/activity participation.
Performance enhancement: nutrition, diet and other considerations 3
Most minerals can be found naturally in a wide variety of foods and in most cases the minimum daily requirements of minerals are easily met through a normal, varied diet. Minerals play a vital role in important body functions, and excess intake might actually produce unwanted side effects. Many minerals either cannot be stored or adversely affect the function of others when taken in high doses.
The Australian Sports Commission has established a sports ethics unit to deal with the issues raised in all areas of sport. Ethics deal with a range of principles including respect, basic justice and fairness; refusing to take unfair advantage; willing compliance with sporting laws and rules; freedom to enjoy and flourish; preventing harm; impartiality and objectivity; trustworthiness and honesty; transparency; avoiding potential or apparent conflict of interest; due diligence; and duty of care.
One of the most considered ethical issues in sport deals with performance-enhancing practices, both legal and illegal. But what are the costs (moral, physical, financial) involved and do these outweigh the benefits?
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