- "Attention Recruits! How to train for your testing"
- "Research updates for athletes"
- "Body composition programs just in time for the New Year"



Q: For people entering army, police, or firefighter testing, recruits often are tested for the number of reps they can do in an exercise. It's the same for many athletes (football and hockey) that are asked to do a bench press for reps with 225 lbs. What is the best way to train for this type of test?

A:First off, the trainee should address excess body fat immediately to bring down the bodyweight for the push-up and chin-up tests. Next, there are 2 training methods that can be used to improve absolute and relative strength, these are heavy strength training and muscular endurance work.

1) Absolute strength

Increase your absolute strength, and your absolute endurance will increase. Charles Staley is a well-recognized strength coach that used this method to help increase an athlete's bench press performance with 225 lbs. Staley chose to concentrate on increasing the athlete's one rep max (1 RM) in the bench press. By doing that, 225 lbs. became a lower % of his absolute strength and he was able to do more reps.

For those recruits concerned with push-up tests, the number of push-ups the trainee will be able to do will improve secondary to the gains in absolute strength. For chin-up testing, weighted chin-ups are a measure of absolute strength. The ideal situation is great absolute strength and low body weight. That will be a recipe for success even without the development of muscular endurance.

Testing for absolute strength will help determine the optimal training protocol. For instance, if the trainee's bench press 1 RM is similar to their bodyweight, the athlete would be better off concentrating on improvements in absolute strength rather than muscular endurance. Thus, heavy bench pressing and weighted chin-ups are exercises that should be used as the staple in building absolute strength. In contrast, if absolute strength is much greater than bodyweight, the trainee might want to emphasize strength endurance.

2) Relative endurance.

Increase your relative endurance by doing more reps with less rest. This is similar to a method used by Roger Bannister in training to perform the 4-minute mile. Bannister did four-quarter miles with progressively less and less rest between quarters.

To improve your relative endurance in push-up or bench presses, you will perform multiple sets at or slightly above the test weight. Coach Staley also recommends paying attention to the speed or repetition. He emphasizes the speed of the repetition because the faster the athlete performs the repetitions, the more reps the athlete will be able to get.

Both methods can be of great help but there are 2 times when building absolute strength might work against the athlete. The first is if the test load is based on a % of 1 RM. That would strictly be a test of relative endurance, not absolute endurance. The second is in the case of absolute strength training increasing body weight, and this may have negative effects in chin up or push up tests. Then again, if that weight is appropriately added muscle then it won't hinder testing.



Q: As a soccer coach, I know aerobic fitness (VO2max) is important, but I've found that most athletes find traditional aerobic training boring. Is there any research to point me in the direction of better training?

A: In many sports, it is arguable that VO2max may not play a huge role in performance (i.e. hockey). However, soccer seems to be consistent with the traditional belief that VO2max can have a direct impact on sport performance. A significant correlation has been found between team performance and VO2max, as well as the distance a player can cover in a game (i.e. more distance covered if you have a higher VO2max).

But does this mean training should consist of running 60-90 minutes per day at a low intensity? Probably not. After all, for anyone that has played soccer, you know that the intensity of some periods of play can be maximal. So in designing training, how can a coach optimize a session? Norwegian researchers have found it to be quite simple. They implemented an aerobic interval training program over 2 months, and then quantified game performance via video analysis. Players that trained had superior performance in comparison to players that did not train.

The training was designed as follows:

Players trained twice per week for 8 weeks. Following a regular practice, the players performed four 4 minute intervals with rests of 3 minutes between each. The intensity was equivalent to 95% of maximal heart rate. A control group practiced skills during the same post-practice period.

Players that trained with intervals increased their VO2max by 11% (remember that these weren't couch potatoes either, they were elite junior soccer players). Their VO2max went from 58 ml/kg/min to 64 ml/kg/min. The training also led to more involvement in play, more sprints per game, and more distance covered, as determined by video analysis. Finally, the players that trained were also found to have more intense play in the second half and the later stages of each half. And finally, the training did not reduce explosiveness or speed.

The authors concluded that, "Enhanced aerobic endurance in soccer players improved soccer performance by increasing the distance covered, enhancing work intensity, and increasing the number of sprints and involvement with the ball during a match." For more information on similar types of training, check out ISSUE #32 on sport-specific interval training. Combining intervals with strength training and speed agility drills will help develop any player into the best that they can be.


Helgerud J. Aerobic endurance training improves soccer performance. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 33:1925-1931, 2001.


Q: One of the previous newsletters mentioned a study that compared older NHL players to younger NHL players on many fitness parameters. Are there any other studies like that?

A: Yes there is. At the recent conference of the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiologists, researchers compared the physical attributes of old and young professional ice hockey players.

Results showed that with increasing age, professional hockey players increase body weight, upper body strength, and grip strength. In contrast, there were no changes in anaerobic power, aerobic power, leg power, abdominal endurance, or body composition. These results seem to merely reflect the difference in maturity between older and younger players. With respect to training design, sport specific training should be key (to strengthen the groin for injury prevention), but younger players may also want to add in additional upper body training (particularly grip training) to help give them all the edge possible for the season.

Germain, G., et al., Physical and Physiological Characteristics of Professional Ice Hockey Players. Can. J. Appl. Physiol. 26(5): 460, 2001.



Q: Well it's that time of year again. Many people expect to gain a little weight over the holidays and then will make New Year's resolutions to lose it. Any tips, workouts, or diet plans that can be recommended?

A:For fat loss, complex circuits would be a good recommendation. It's merely an extension of the warm-up that was described in ISSUE #76. So check that out. Begin by picking a bunch of exercises you do with a barbell (between 6 and 8 exercises). After you've done 2 warm-up circuits, add some weight to the bar. The amount of weight will be dictated by your weakest exercise. For example, if you chose biceps curls as one of the exercises, but you can only curl 65 lbs., then you will use that weight for all exercises. So you'd go through squat, bent row, military press, Romanian deadlift, power shrug, biceps curl, and calf raise. Repeat this circuit 3-5 times.

For more fat loss workouts and diet tips, consider the "GET LEAN" program, now available at a greatly reduced cost just in time for New Year's resolutions.


Q: I want to get big, but NOT fat! It's really hard to eat healthy foods and put on mass, but I don't want to start eating bacon-double cheeseburgers in hopes of gaining muscle, when in reality I just end up adding 5 lbs. of fat. Do you have any tips?

A:First off, what you need to do is calculate your caloric need. Here is a nice easy formula provided by Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky from McMaster University:

A nice easy formula for BMR is 1.0 kcal/kg/hr. So for a 200 lbs. (90 kg) male, that is:

1.0 x 90 x 24 = 2160 kcal.

Now, if you are training hard and consistently, you are going to need to add on 30-40% of that (~800 kcal), to get your weight maintenance calories. So you need just under 3000 kcal per day to stay at 200 lbs. Add on another 500 kcal per day to add 1lb of lean mass in 5-7 days (a pound of lean mass is only 2500 kcal, not the 3500 kcal needed for a pound of fat).

You should also keep track of your caloric intake, so that you can see where the lack of calories lies. Should you add another meal, a second post-workout shake, or more calories to each meal? (You should also log your training...and how you feel each day, etc., etc. - very helpful stuff for reviewing programs...identifying weaknesses, and charting successes).

Consider checking out the CB ATHLETIC'S "MASSIVE ACTION" program that details the optimal training and supplementation regimens for gaining muscle. It too, like the "GET LEAN" program, is available at a special rate. Other options for gaining mass include drinking a lot of milk (if you find that to be an acceptable addition to your diet). Milk and yogurt are cheap and effective ways of adding mass. These are nature's own weight gainers. And finally, as more information becomes available on healthy fat intake, you may want to begin consuming an extra 50 grams of healthy fats per day (flax oil, fish oils, omega-3 enhanced eggs, etc.).


If you do not want to receive this newsletter, please reply with REMOVE in the subject line.



CB Athletic Consulting, Inc.
Copyright © CB Athletics 2015. All Rights Reserved