NSCA Endurance Clinic Summary: Day 3


David Barr: Nutritional Supplements & Ergogenic Aids

  • NSCA CSCS, USA Track & Field, Precision Nutrition Certified, participated in research with NASA
  • High Return On Investment Supplements
    • Caffeine
      • blocks adenosine which results in
      • less fatigue and
      • lower feeling of exertion during activity
      • concerns include GI distress and diuresis (exessive urination)
    • Carbs
      • type: glucose, fructose, maltodextrin
      • timing: during exercise
      • beneficial in events lasting >2.5 hrs
      • dosing by duration: 60g/hr for 2-3 hrs, 30g/hr if <2 hrs
    • Fish oil
      • effects
        • increased muscle anabolism
        • may enhance recovery
      • Don’t look at total Omega 3s
        • You want EPA = 180 and
        • DHA = 120
      • If eating a high-fat diet (me) then up the Omega 3s.
      • potential synergy with Vitamin E
    • Protein (He seems to be a big protein guy.)
      • Don’t use during exercise (but what about Accelerade?  No good?  Didn’t get a chance to ask.)
      • Consume up to 2 g per kg of body weight or 1 g per lb.
      • Whey post workout: 20-25 g is the limit
    • Nutrient timing:
      • Protein pulse feeding
        • multiple protein feedings per day of 20-30 g
        • ups protein storage
        • Seems the effect of this is separate from the training effects from the workout.
      • Take about 40 g of casein before sleep to help blunt catabolism
      • Carb timing:
      • If you need rapid glycogen replenishment then consume carbs soon.
      • If you have 24 hrs before the next workout then it’s not an issue.
      • Protein and the workout
        • If you’ve eaten soon before a workout then don’t worry.
        • If you haven’t eaten in a while then eat protein pre-workout.
    • Keys to hydration
      • specific prescription better than ad libitum or drinking at will.
      • (Dr. Tim Noakes disagrees and I side with Noakes.)
      • flavor enhances consumption
      • cold increases palatability
      • drink early/often
    • Building the optimal endurance drink
      • 200 ml water/15 minutes
      • sodium: 450 mg/L
      • Carbs: 8-10%, 90 g/hr: glucose and fructose
      • Protein (potentially): 7%
      • You must “train the gut” or use this stuff while training in order to condition the digestive system to put up with it.
    • Antioxidants
      • mitigate free radical damage and aid recovery
      • Don’t take directly after workouts.
      • May be a case for taking antioxidants during activity
    • Lactate
      • Lactate is used as energy.
      • Doesn’t cause burn/fatigue
      • Cytomax makes some sort of drink w/lactate in it.
    • Buffers
      • bicarbonate
        • 300 mg/kg
        • potential GI trouble
      • Beta alanine
      • Theoretically: use both for a systemic effect
    • Nitrates
      • may help power output
      • may mitigate effects of altitude
      • Improved time trial performance in cyclists
    • Immunity
      • CHO
      • Vit C
      • Vit D
      • Zinc
    • Common deficiencies
      • Vit D
        • No toxicity
        • 6000-10,000 IU/day
      • Iron: Test for it.
      • Magnesium
    • Experimental considerations
      • hyperhydration
      • “train low” (carbs): unclear if this benefits performance
      • echinacea: increases EPO
      • ketones: novel energy source
    • Future prospects
      • cobalt chloride
      • guanidinopropionic acid
    • Other resources

Tim CrowleyProgram Design: Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

  • CSCS, NASM-PES, USA Cycling Elite Level Coach, 2008 US Olympic Triathlon Coaching Staff, USAT Elite Coach of the Year and Development Coach of the Year, Owner TC2 Coaching, Head Strength Coach at Montverde Academy
  • Huge need for endurance strength & conditioning coach
  • “Great swimmers are great athletes that swim fast and great athletes are strong.” – Richard Shoulberg, Germantown Academy
  • Program Goals
    • Reduce injury incidence
    • Reduce injury severity
    • Increase athletic performance
    • Improve athleticism
  • If you can read/learn 1 hr per day then you’re way ahead of the crowd.
  • Try stuff out before we give it to athletes: workouts, tools, food
  • Book: Endurance Training Science & Practice, Mujika
  • He covered various research evidence showing that strength training aids runners, cyclists and other endurance athletes
    • Reasons strength training works for endurance athletes:
      • conversion of type IIX fibers into fatigue resistant type IIA fibers
      • improves strength (like money in the bank)
      • rapid force production
      • improved neuromuscular function
      • tendon stiffness (essential for running)
      • improved max speed for fast starts or finishes
    • Common myths
      • Heavy weights make you big
      • Weight training hurts young athletes
      • Endurance athletes need light weight/high reps
      • Heavy weight training reduces ROM
      • Lifting equals bodybuilding
      • Squats hurt knees
      • Only for use in off-season
      • Endurance training will build strength
    • Important considerations
      • Strength work often isn’t to improve the engines of endurance (legs for running for example) but rather to address weaknesses, increase overall athleticism, and avoid injury
      • As pressure mounts on an athlete, find ways to coach less and simply get them to perform at their ability.
      • Time:
        • an obstacle for endurance athletes
        • goal is 30-40 min 2x per week
        • Try high-intensity/low-volume workout to increase muscle activation prior to a track workout
      • Energy
        • finite amount of energy for training
        • can’t interrupt endurance sport training
        • DOMS can be a problem
        • physical effects of high-vs low-volume
        • psychological effects
      • Reciprocal Inhibition
        • Reduced neural drive to opposing muscles
        • Areas of concern
          • scapula/thoracic spine
          • hip flexors/glutes
          • hip adductors/glute medius
          • anterior core/low back
      • Pattern Overload
        • Endurance sports are cyclical
        • high incidence of overuse injury
        • lots of “itises”
      • Force Couplings
        • Key body regions for multisport athletes
          • internal vs. external shoulder rotators
          • hips in saggital plane (flexors vs. extensors)
          • hips in frontal plane (glute medius and quadratus lumborum)
        • Eliminate power leaks
        • Improve movement economy = free speed
      • Masters athletes
        • strength development/maintenance is vital to success
        • loss of power declines faster than strength
        • mobility is crucial
        • compensation patterns
        • slower recovery from injuries
      • Program design
        • foam rolling/movement prep
        • mobility
        • corrective exercise
        • strength
        • keep it simple
        • less is more
        • quality over quantity
        • develop power
      • Self-myofacial release (SMR)
        • foam rollers
        • tennis/LAX balls
        • golf balls
        • the Stick
      • Mobility
        • May be the most important component in the beginning
        • a must for masters athletes
        • Vital concerns:
          • hip mobility
          • thoracic spine
          • ankles
          • 1-leg squat
          • split squat every workout
          • His ACL injury rate is almost 0.
      • Overuse injuries
        • Be proactive
        • shoulders
        • low back
        • glutes/glute medius
        • lower leg/ankle
      • His go-to exercises
        • inverted/TRX rowing
        • anterior core
        • core dynamic stabilization
        • single-leg squatting (priority goes to 1-leg over 2-leg work)
        • glute/hamstring and glutes
        • trap bar deadlifts
        • ankle band walking
        • eccentric calf raises
      • Mobility and Stability
        • Mobility is the combination of muscle flexibility, joint ROM, and the body segment’s freedom of movement
        • 2 types of stability
          • static 1-leg stance
          • dynamic core stabilization during athletic movement
        • Example: Hips are stiff so lumbar spine becomes too mobile/unstable and injury is incurred.
      • 10 exercises to include
        • Cook hip lift

      • Hip flexor stretch
        •  X Lat pull (couldn’t find a video)
        • Reverse cable fly

        • single-leg squat

        • single-leg deadlift

        • stability ball pushup or TRX pushup (unstable surface)

        • lawnmower row

        • cable and tubing lifts and chops (and other similar exercises)

      • single-leg heel raise
  • Resources

Nick Clayton, Power Training for Endurance Athletes

  • Objectives
    • Explain how training with explosive movements benefits endurance performance
    • Correctly perform variations of the Olympic lifts and plyometrics specific to performance in endurance activities
    • Lecture
    • Practical
      • dynamic warm-up
      • Olympic lift variations
      • Plyometrics
    • Why train for power?
      • Rate of force development
      • eccentric strength
    • Non-barbell Olympic lifting
      • Clean, snatch, jerk variations
        • kettlebells
        • dumbbells
        • medicine balls
      • Plyometrics: various 1 and 2 leg jumps, hops, skips
      • Nick said he would create videos of all the exercises and post them.  When/if they’re available I plan to post them here.
      • This was a fantastic session from warm-up to all exercises.
      • It was very much in line with the idea of creating athleticism.
      • These drills exposed a lot of weaknesses and lack of athleticism in a lot of the participants.
      • Exposing these weaknesses could be a huge opportunity to improve athletic performance.


This clinic was just excellent!  It far surpassed my high expectations and that’s a rare thing.  The combination of theoretical/academic/”sciencey-type” stuff, practical application of the science, and physical participation kept the whole thing extremely interesting.  I came away with my mind overflowing with ideas.

Several things are prominent in my mind right now:

  1. I was re-introduced to some of Gary Gray’s concepts.  I’ve returned to doing the 3D lunge matrix with much greater understanding of hip, spine and knee position, plus how to tweak the lunge matrix in all sorts of ways.  I’m doing it again and all my clients are doing it now.
  2. The concept of athleticism as a necessary foundation is a HUGE concept to me.  We tend to specialize too much.  We devote ourselves to endurance sports which go one direction (saggital plane) and we neglect 3D movement.  We avoid crawling, climbing, rolling, hopping, jumping and engaging in unpredictable movement situations.  Check out the people going into and out of Spinning classes and you’ll see a lot of broke-down people who can barely hobble.  They aren’t athletic.  And I have been one of those people–but not anymore! Every one of my workouts now has a dedicated 3D movement component, power component and I try to do something that I don’t typically do.  Athleticism deserves a blog post of its own.
  3. I’m going to contact Jay Johnson for some coaching.  He did such a fantastic job of distilling academic information into practical application.  I can only coach myself so far.  I need someone who’s been through the process both as a runner and a running coach.

Questions About Supplements


Dietary supplements are huge business in this country.  Over half of Americans take some sort of supplement such as a multivitamin, calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, chromium, iron, zinc, and/or any number of various such nutrients.  Consumers spent $26.7 billion on supplements in 2009.  We take supplements for weight loss, bone health, cardiovascular health, athletic performance; and we may take them in order to avoid prescription medicine.  Recent research may make you reevaluate your view of supplements.

Vitamin E and prostate cancer

First, some information from an article in the Atlantic called Are Supplements Killing You? The article looks at two studies.  The SELECT study is the first one discussed.  The results of the trial were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  The aim of the study was to see if Vitamin E and/or selenium supplementation offered a protective effect from prostate cancer.  The study followed 35,000 men aged 50 and up split into three groups: one group took Vitamin E, one group took selenium, one group took both.  Participants were tracked from 2001 to 2008.  The study was stopped in 2008 because rather than finding a protective effect, there were indications that cancer risks were going up.  The pertinent details are these; emphasis is mine:

“The recently published article included results as of July 2011. It found an increase in new prostate cancers among all three groups taking supplements, with the increase only significant in the vitamin E group. That group showed a 17 percent increase in the rate of prostate cancer compared to the placebo group.

An unclear picture for women and supplements

The Atlantic article also discusses the Iowa Women’s Health Study, which has generated some controversy.  This study looked at the effect of taking vitamin and mineral supplements on mortality on nearly 39,000 U.S. women aged 55 to 69 and used information collected from 1986 through 2008

At the start of the study, 66% of the study subjects reported using at least one supplement. This increased to 85% in 2004, with 27 percent reporting use of four or more supplements.

The study examined the effect of taking 14 individual supplements and also a multivitamin. The researchers concluded that women who took any of six supplements or a multivitamin had a slightly higher risk of death over the study period:

  • Multivitamins were associated with a 2.4 percent higher risk of earlier death
  • Vitamin B6 gave a 4.1 percent higher risk
  • Folic acid gave a 5.9 percent higher risk
  • Iron gave a 3.9 percent higher risk
  • Magnesium gave a 3.6 percent higher risk
  • Zinc gave a 3 percent higher risk
  • Copper gave an 18 percent higher risk
  • Calcium gave a 3.8 percent lower risk of death

Do the results surprise you?  They surprised a lot of other scientists as well.  The controversy centers around the statistical methods used to analyze the data.  Though I would love to be able to explain the fine details of this issue to you, I definitely cannot do it.  (Sometimes I need a calculator to count my fingers and toes.)  Read the Atlantic article to learn more or you can hop over to the Perfect Health Diet site and see a very detailed breakdown and critique of the study.  If you scroll down just past the picture of the duckling trying to eat a fly, you’ll find it.  (The Perfect Health Diet is a pretty interesting concept.  Learn more about it here.)

One of the key elements here is that it’s an observational study, not an intervention study.  That means the researchers simply observed the subjects.  They didn’t try to change their behavior.  So while the data may seem to suggest that taking these supplements caused early death, it would be a mistake to draw that conclusion.  (One possibility is that some of the women were ill and they started taking supplements; they then died from the illness.)  The article also states, “In general, when an effect is present in some statistical models and absent in others, it means that if the effect actually exists, it’s a small one.”

A closing comment was made by Robert M. Russell, M.D., special expert to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) at NIH and former senior scientist and director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University:

“In general, what we have learned from an accumulating database from both observational epidemiology and interventional studies is that the vitamin and minerals are safe to take in RDA amounts (as are contained in most over the counter multivitamin-multimineral preparations). Further, we have learned that taking large amounts of single nutrients or nutrient combinations often lead to chronic undesirable toxic effects with implications for chronic disease such as cancer. We have seen this with beta-carotene with a stimulation of lung cancer at high doses, and now we are seeing a similar picture with high dose vitamin E vis-a-vis prostate cancer.”

“So what is the best advice for the public? Stick to a varied diet, if you want to take supplements, take a multivitamin-multimineral that has RDA amounts. Don’t jump on the silver bullet of the day single nutrient band-wagon until there is enough evidence for both efficacy as well as long term safety. That said, in order to get RDA amounts of calcium and vitamin D, a single nutrient supplement may be necessary for some people. Following the nutrient guidance of our National Academies of Science is my best advice.”

So it seems that optimal health can be had largely by eating the right foods.  Focusing on the individual nutrients doesn’t seem wise.  There certainly doesn’t seem to be any miracle supplement out there.  The miracle is the interaction between the thousands of compounds found in our food.  If we go beyond our needs and add more of a particular nutrient then we may have trouble.


More Magical Fitness Nonsense: Part II


The first post of this series looked at a new weight loss pill being developed by General Nutrition Centers.  It’s something containing caffeine, black pepper and an ingredient in hot peppers.  Who knows?  Maybe this thing actually is weight-loss in a pill.  I doubt it though.  Most likely this is just the latest version of fitness snake oil–and there’s plenty more out there.

If you’re any sort of follower of popular culture then you may know of the TV show the Biggest Loser. If so, then you know of Jillian Michaels, one of the show’s trainers.  Michaels was sued in February by a fan of the show.  The woman claims she bought a fat loss supplement sold by Michaels–and guess what!!  It didn’t work.  The suit further claims the product contains a tasty item called citrus aurantium (aka bitter orange).  This substance contains amphetamine compounds which are similar to those found in ephedrine.  These compounds are stimulants and they act to restrict blood vessels and to increase blood pressure and heart rate.  This bitter orange stuff has been used to replace ephedra in many fat-loss products.  Ephedra was linked to the 2003 death of Baltimore Orioles pitcher David Bechler.

More news on this topic came out in January of this year when the Abbott Laboratories’ weight-loss drug sibutramine was cited by European offiicials as being potentially harmful to heart disease patients.  The F. D. A. added a warning to the drug, known as the products Reductil, Meridia and Sibutrex.  (Wow, take a look at the contraindications and side effects of this stuff!  Doesn’t look fun.) 

What other kooky chemicals are in the news?  The article F. D. A. Finds ‘Natural’ Diet Pills Laced With Drugs appeared in the New York Times Business section back in February of 2009.  The story discusses a product called StarCaps.  StarCaps were promoted by celebrities and touted as a “natural” weight loss product that used papaya as an active ingredient.  Seems perhaps the true active ingredient was something called bumetanide, a diuretic that can cause all sorts of ugly side effects.  The article further states:

“In a continuing investigation that has prompted consumer warnings and recalls by some distributors, the F.D.A. has determined that dozens of weight-loss supplements, most of them imported from China, contain hidden and potentially harmful drugs.”

These stories remind me of the Fen-phen episode of several years ago.  Fen-phen was a combination of two weight-loss drugs marketed and sold by Wyeth.  The drug combination was very popular and seemingly effective.  Problem was Fen-phen caused heart conditions such as valvular heart disease, severe hypertension and even death in some users.  The product is no longer available and as of 2005, there were about 50,000 liability cases still to be resolved with an estimated  total of $14 billion in liability.  Seems that we may be eager to repeat history.

So what is the big picture?  Americans want to lose weight and there’s big money in that concept.  We’re not too good at exercising and eating right though.  If weight loss can come in a pill then a lot of us are very likely to spend plenty of cash on the product–nevermind the idea of “too-good-to-be-true” plays prominently in the background.  Thanks to the supplement industry-friendly DSHEA act of 1994  these supplements live in a gray area between food and drugs, and they don’t undergo the same scrutiny.  (Quackwatch gives a good commentary.)  Therefore some supplements may be just as powerful and potentially dangerous to many users as any other prescription drug.  (In fact, the risks posed by these weight-loss formulas may be more dangerous than simply being overweight!)  As in the case of StarCaps, the ingredient label may not tell us everything that’s in a supplement.  These are murky waters for the consumer.

Should these products be banned outright?  I’m not sure.  Can these products be used safely?  Maybe.  Clearly for some people these products are dangerous and possibly deadly.  This stuff must be seen through the same lens as any other medication.  Don’t let a label like “all-natural” fool you (BTW, black widow venom is all-natural too) and don’t let a celebrity face make you a sucker.  A healthy lifestyle has yet to come in a pill and it never will.  Get up, go walk around, and eat something that grew in the ground.

More Magic Fitness Nonsense: Part I


I love this stuff!  From somewhat questionable vitamins, to goofy “health” food, to the out-and-out fantasy Cookie Diet, we continue to search for a way around eating right and exercising.  The latest magic potion to come out of Fantasy Fitness Land is a pill which has been developed by General Nutrition Centers (GNC) and tested by Oklahoma University.  (I’m glad the Sooners took on this strange project instead of the University of Texas.)  You can read all about it at Science Daily in an article titled Weight-loss supplement has potential to burn fair amount of calories

It seems this substance contains three things: black pepper, caffeine, and capsaicin–the stuff that makes hot peppers hot. 

(Now, as it turns out, I actually created this combination some years ago and I’ve been consuming it roughly once a week in the form of a morning meal known as breakfast.  I eat an omlette, sprinkle on some black pepper, splash on some hot sauce, and drink two cups of coffee.  Too bad I didn’t patent the whole process. )

The article is fairly brief and doesn’t give much information but I can forsee this new weight loss pill flying off the shelves into the hands of people who desperately want to lose weight but who refuse to take on the tried-and-true guaranteed methods to healthy weight loss–that is eating right most of the time and working hard often.  I’ll post more information on this type of snake oil.

Vitamin Supplementation: Good? Bad? Or Ugly?


As a personal trainer, I’m often asked about dietary supplements and vitamins.  My position has long been that most dietary supplements are not needed by most people.  Rather, I advise clients to eat a common sense healthy diet full of real food: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and some lean animal products if they like.  Still, I’ve figured that a multi-vitamin probably doesn’t do any harm and may do some good.  On this topic, I may be wrong.



Vita Myth: Do supplements really do any good?, an article from Slate, offers several references to research suggesting that A) there is almost no link between multi-vitamin consumption and decreased mortality, and B) consumption of individual antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E; beta carotene, selenium, and folate may actually increase mortality risk by speeding the growth of cancers.

“But not only do antioxidant supplements fail to protect against heart disease, stroke, and cancer; they actually increase the risk of death, according to a 2007 analysis of research on more than 232,000 people, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, as well as other studies.”

These antioxidants are often taken in order to cleanse our bodies of free-radicals, substances which are implicated in a range of ailments including cancer.   Researchers have found that “certain kinds of antioxidant pills can feed latent cancers growing in the body, for instance, and reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy.”  Apparently these good-for-us substances in some cases are also good for replication of cancer cells.  Researchers also suggest that perhaps free-radicals are actually necessary to our good health, and that among other functions they may help kill cancer cells.

Who knew!?

The article explains among other things, the placebo effect of taking vitamins to cure colds, and why we ever took vitamins in the first place (nutritional deficiencies which resulted in diseases such as scurvy).  There also seems to be some evidence that some consumption of vitamin supplements by some populations–folate for pregnant women for example–seems prudent.  The overall message though is that these various vitamins which are found in food simply aren’t all that beneficial once they’re extracted and put into a pill.

Beyond this article, there are a few other factors regarding vitamin consumption worth discussing.  Let’s consider Total cereal which famously tells us that one bowl has 100% of various vitamins and minerals.  Sounds great right?  Sounds convenient.  One bowl of this stuff and we’re set for the day!  Not so fast.  Our bodies can only use or absorb so much of a particular vitamin or mineral at a time.  That one bowl may indeed have all the vitamins you need for that day but your body will only use what it needs at that time.  The rest is digested and excreted.


Hey now!!!

Further, we’ve learned that in many cases, in order for vitamins to work the way we want them to, they must be consumed in the presence of any number of other substances.  Food is remarkably complex.  There are literally thousands of molecules in any individual food.  The vitamins in the food need the rest of the food to do their work.  The big picture is very clear: Vitamins in isolation won’t do the trick.  Food is required.

Should we be surprised by any of this?  Once again the American quest for convenience has led us away from good health.  Again, science has tried to out think Mother Nature, and again the results are of questionable use.  Common sense often turns out to be an amazingly accurate guide.  To anyone seeking weight loss, better health and a longer life, I offer this advice: Eat right most of the time.  Work hard often.