The B-Side: Training in a Time of No Ultimate [Ep. 4]

The B-Side is Breakside Strength & Conditioning’s podcast about training, performance, and nutrition in ultimate frisbee.

Charlie Eisenhood and Patrick Kelsey talk about how to get back to training, even though there’s no competitive ultimate happening in the near future, including thoughts on the safe way to return to the gym, how to mix things up, and how to think about training as a lifelong endeavor.

You can also find the The B-Side podcast on iTunes, SpotifyStitcher, Spreaker, iHeartRadio, DeezerRSSGoogle Play, and your other favorite podcasting apps.

How to Safely Return to Training in the Gym or on the Field

The coronavirus pandemic has kept us away from the gym for almost three months. Many of us have also had our seasons truncated or outright cancelled. With an extended period of detraining behind us and a potentially long training timeline in front of us, there are many questions about how to best return to the gym both effectively and safely.

Below, we address how to safely return to the gym — or playing ultimate, for those able to do so!

I’ve been going crazy. Can I get back into my old training regimen?

Not right away.

The most pressing concern for returning to training is injury risk. The risk of sustaining an injury is heightened after an extended lapse, both on the field and in the weight room. Most non-contact injuries are sustained during periods where athletes are transitioning back into training following a period of inactivity.

We recommend that you come back by using a 2-4 week ramp up before re-entering a periodized program again.

This ramp up will be based on The FIT Rule, which controls frequency, intensity-relative-volume (IRV), and time of rest interval.

Frequency

Frequency should begin with only two weight training sessions in the first and possibly second week back, progressing to three times a week. If muscle soreness dissipates within 48 hours after the end of the weight training session, then higher training frequency may be included.

Intensity Relative Volume

The formula for IRV is (Sets * Reps * %1RM expressed as a decimal). Basically, this controls for both how many reps you’re doing and how difficult they are.

IRVs of greater than 30 are not recommended in the two weeks following a period of inactivity.

So don’t do 10 sets of 10 reps at 60% of your one-rep max your first week back.

Rest

It is recommended that all weight training activity uses a 1:4 or greater work to rest (W:R) ratio during week one and a 1:3 or greater W:R during week 2.

Have I lost all my strength?

As always, developing functional strength is one of the best safeguards against injury, which leads to the above question.

Short answer: No, but it depends.

Brief detraining periods result in only small decreases to strength, but longer periods of inactivity (including a lack of in-season training) result in much larger strength losses. Additionally, if you engaged in a program that emphasized muscular endurance (think “100 air squat challenge”), your maximal strength may very well have gone down more than had you just done nothing. High rep, glycolytic work has the potential to move your adaptation in a completely different direction. Your body will adapt to what you ask it to do.

So what do I do to get strong again?

This all depends on your experience level.

If you are a beginner in the weight room, start with an empty bar for a couple of sets and do a set of five reps. You’ll want to be incredibly deliberate about maintaining full body tension. Lack of tension is one of the riskiest errors when under the bar. We use the cue “fake the weight” — pretend the bar is far heavier than it is.

Overloading the bar too quickly is one of the best ways to lengthen your hiatus from the gym. Once you have done a few sets with just the bar, you’ll want to perform some positionally challenging versions of the heavy lifts — things like deficit deadlifts and pause squats — that really force you to brace in a challenging position and naturally limit the amount of weight you can load onto the bar. We’ve adjusted the tempos and loads of our squats and deadlifts in our Return to Lifting Program to emphasize control over weight.

For experienced lifters, your strength is very persistent. You are almost certainly able, even after a three month layoff, to work up to your 85% or even 90% of your 1RM weight. Don’t do that. You will be able to finish the set, but you will not recover in the way you’re accustomed to. You will be sore for three, four, maybe even five days. The last thing you want to do is risk injury or extend your time away from the gym.

So in your first workout back, the one where you “rip the scab off,” you’re going to leave a lot of weight off the bar. It’s ok!

Let’s say you can normally squat or deadlift 225 for three sets of five. First day back, I think I’d probably go up to 135, maybe 145, maybe 155. And just do one set of 5. The second workout, at least 48 hours later, come in and do 145, 155, or 165 for three sets of five. For the third workout, go to 175, 185, or 195. Again, these are percentage based recommendation based on an ability to do 225×5, so our percentages here are all below 85% of this capability, or 75% of 1RM.

In week 2, we can repeat this rep scheme.

In the following two week block, we’ll work between 75%-85%. The chart below includes an additional 2-week block for a total of six weeks (this recommendation, however, is based on a return to play after rhabdomyolysis, a serious injury requiring much more recovery.

How should I get back to conditioning?

Relative to what we normally do as ultimate athletes, we are all almost certainly significantly deconditioned. We can apply the FIT rule to conditioning as well, and use an easy-to-remember 50/30/20/10 pattern to return to conditioning.

That is, the conditioning volume for the first week would be initially reduced by at least 50% of the uppermost conditioning volume on file, and by 30, 20, and 10% in the following three weeks, respectively, with a 1:4 or greater work:rest ratio (W:R) in the first week, and a 1:3 W:R or greater in the second week.

So, don’t just try to jump back into your usual routine: ease back in over a period of four weeks.

The chart below gives a nice summary of many different types of activities and the recommended strategies for return to training. Right now, our season is as far away as it has ever been, but there is still a great reason to build an aerobic base. We’ll be releasing more content on the best strategies to do this as the season approaches, but for now a few things to focus on are endurance, work capacity in accessory strength movements, breathing, and heart rate variability.

How about speed and agility work?

The real question surrounding speed and agility work is not what exactly to return to, but when to return to it. In general, ultimate players experience tremendous volume during their playing season, which means we normally would be very selective with the speed and agility work we prescribe. With the season cancelled or, in some cases, severely reduced in duration, we’ll want to adjust volume up gradually for two reasons: building specific work capacity and adapting to eccentric force production.

If you’ve been doing home workouts only, you’ve probably sacrificed complexity of movements and reactivity. The increase in volume will have to come after a gradual ramp up, just like our conditioning with the same the 50/30/20/10 rule.

For these workouts, we want to think about foot strikes. The ramp up workouts should be about 120–140 foot contacts for in-season athletes, and plyometric workouts in the first two weeks should not exceed 70-foot contacts in week one and 100 in week two, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Linear First, then Agility

Once linear sprints can be performed without increased muscle soreness and the athlete is able to perform them at their previous training volumes, then agility and change of direction drills can be added.

To start, focusing on simple repeat sprints is a great way to both increase your work capacity and keep the technique demands relatively simple.

After about two weeks of linear speed work, you can start to think about adding change of direction. Be sure your deceleration drills increase intensity gradually. This can be done with percentage effort and drill selection. The 5-10-5 is short and doesn’t get to full speed; flying 10s involve gentle deceleration. (Each 5-10-5 is about 16 footstrikes; a flying 10 is about 20).

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If you’re looking for a program to help you get back to the gym and training safely and effectively, check out a Breakside Strength and Conditioning membership starting at just $10 a month.

Eating Healthy During Coronavirus Lockdown (And Three Recipes)

I wasn't exactly expecting to be writing about nutrition amidst stay-at-home orders. However, besides work and school routines, food habits may be one of the most heavily affected parts of daily life during the coronavirus lockdowns.

Restaurants are shutting down. Grocery stores are running out of weird things. Everyone is home all the time so normal food routines are out of wack, and you may find that you're eating at weird hours, snacking too much, or simply struggling to figure out what to eat at all.

On top of all that, your overall physical activity is probably way down.

So let's talk about some things that can help keep your diet in good shape even as you're stuck at home.

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The B-Side: Training at Home, Stretching & Foam Rolling [Ep. 3]

The B-Side is Breakside Strength & Conditioning’s podcast about training, performance, and nutrition in ultimate frisbee.

Breakside coaches Charlie Eisenhood and Patrick Kelsey talk about training at home — the challenges and silver linings, the best exercises, and more. Later in the show, they talk about some of the basics around static stretching, dynamic stretching, and foam rolling (24:05).

You can also find the The B-Side podcast on iTunes, SpotifyStitcher, Spreaker, iHeartRadio, DeezerRSSGoogle Play, and your other favorite podcasting apps.

Getting Creative with Your Workouts During Quarantine

If you’re like me, you are really sick of not being able to go to the gym.

I’ve always been a gym workout person. I prefer a gym session to most other workout options except maybe playing ultimate (or disc golf, if that counts as a workout). So being blocked from the gym has been a real bummer.

Even though I have plenty of training implements at home to get workouts in, at some point, I just want to do some squats and deadlifts with a barbell.

But we have to face the fact that we may not have gym access for a few more weeks or even months. So let’s push beyond the basics and talk about some ways to optimize workouts without getting bored. Continue reading “Getting Creative with Your Workouts During Quarantine”

Can’t Get to the Gym because of Coronavirus? Here are some Workout Ideas

If you’re on a Breakside Strength and Conditioning program, you know that having access to at least a moderately well-equipped gym is strongly encouraged. There are simply no good long-term substitutes for barbells.

But you won’t always be able to get to the gym. That’s true right now, as the coronavirus pandemic closes down college and university gyms and even going to available, open gyms may be too risky given the proximity to other people at a time when social distancing is a must.

It’s worth noting that you cannot contract coronavirus from sweat, only through respiratory droplets or by touching your eyes, nose, or mouth after contact with a contaminated surface. Of course, there are many potentially contaminated surfaces in a gym — like barbells, dumbbells, and benches — so, if you do go to a gym, be sure to wipe down equipment with disinfecting wipes before and after use, and wash your hands regularly while avoiding contact with your face.

But if you can’t or don’t want to go the gym, here are some ideas for at-home or outdoor workouts you can do to keep yourself in ultimate shape. Continue reading “Can’t Get to the Gym because of Coronavirus? Here are some Workout Ideas”

The B-Side: Shifting Phases, Building A Gym Bag [Ep. 2]

The B-Side is Breakside Strength & Conditioning’s podcast about training, performance, and nutrition in ultimate frisbee.

PK and Charlie discuss how to shift out of the deep strength-focused winter training into more power and speed work to get ready for tryouts (or, for college players, the season). Later in the show, they share some ideas for building out a useful gym bag or simple home gym. (13:24)

You can also find the The B-Side podcast on iTunes, SpotifyStitcher, Spreaker, iHeartRadio, DeezerRSSGoogle Play, and your other favorite podcasting apps.

The B-Side: Offseason Training, Underrated Exercises [Ep. 1]

The B-Side is Breakside Strength & Conditioning’s new podcast about training, performance, and nutrition in ultimate frisbee.

Charlie and PK introduce themselves and the new B-Side podcast! On this show, they discuss offseason training (12:13) and four underrated exercises for ultimate frisbee (21:00).

You can also find the The B-Side podcast on iTunes, SpotifyStitcher, Spreaker, iHeartRadio, DeezerRSSGoogle Play, and your other favorite podcasting apps.

The Right Way To Warm Up Before Games

Warmups. Some players hate them, most – at best – tolerate them, and many teams do them suboptimally, if not outright incorrectly.

If you’ve been playing for a few years and have been on multiple teams, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that variability between warmup protocols across (and even within) teams is enormous. What explains this variety? As a sport, shouldn’t we have nailed down exactly which are the best activities to perform before playing? Who’s in charge here?

Perhaps warmups are inherently frustrating because they are so misunderstood and misapplied. This article is here to shed some light on the topic and provide a framework for priority, order of operations, and desired result. Continue reading “The Right Way To Warm Up Before Games”

What’s The Best Way To Recover From A Tournament Day?

Welcome to Breakside Strength & Conditioning's 'Research Review' series. We look at the latest scientific research on human performance and offer practical advice for training, competition, nutrition, and more.

One of the biggest challenges facing most ultimate frisbee athletes is the grueling nature of tournament play. The most important games are played in the most fatigued conditions.

As a result, optimizing recovery after each day of competition is vital to maximizing performance later in the tournament.

Ultimate players employ a variety of techniques to recover -- cooldown activity, stretching, and cold water immersion (commonly 'ice baths') are especially popular -- but what is actually the best way to enhance recovery, especially with the knowledge that exercise will begin again in less than 18 hours?

Recent research provides some potential answers.

Only Available to Breakside Subscribers

Get access to the rest of this blog post and all the quality, in-depth fitness content at Breakside Strength & Conditioning with a subscription! No ads, no tiers, no hidden fees - just a smart, all-in-one training solution.

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