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Super Stiffness and Vascular Implications | Boddicker Performance

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Super Stiffness and Vascular Implications

by on Dec 16th, 2010

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It is well known to readers of my blog that I believe that strength training can offer a great deal of benefits to the endurance athlete without taking away from their “real” training.  Based on what literature we have available, it is possible to say that frequent strength training of loads exceeding 85%  1RM or training at high velocities with eccentric loading, intermediate and high caliber runners stand to benefit from, among other things, improvements in running economy.

While this is fine and good and may be the last question asked by many: “why does strength work help aerobic performance” is not deep enough for Osteras, Helgerud, and Hoff who, like any good scientist asked the next logical question.  Why does running economy and time to exhaustion improve with strength training?

Their answer is one that relates well to the concept of “the pulse” or super stiffness.  In essence, the team above believes that by decreasing the relative force production and rate of force production, vascular implications may allow for the specific neural adaptations that result in better performances.

In running, attaining peak power requires about 30% MVIC to battle and beat gravity stride after stride.  Adding strength allows this number required to maintain a specific velocity to be lower and the potential for absolute speed to be higher, both decreasing the relative intensity of previous race velocity.  Adding power along with strength improves more specific and selective activation of tissues, improved rate coding, increased reflex potential, and more powerful co-contractions (Behm, 1995).

The conductance theory of VO2Peak suggests performance is limited both centrally and peripherally and Verkhoshansky contends that it depends heavily on the muscle’s ability to remain alactic–antiglycolytic finality.

One such peripheral impact is that of muscular constriction on vascular flow and return.  At 15% MVIC, blood flow can be restricted and at levels approaching 70% vessels may be occluded almost entirely.  Obviously in cases of ischemia, local metabolism can shift closer toward glycolysis and increase production of less than ideal factors that may begin the decline in performance ability.

If, however, athletes are able to produce force more quickly than before at the same level–rate of force development adaptations–then it stands to reason that there will be greater time in flight for tissues to relax and refill, enhancing local oxygen and substrate metabolism and delaying the onset of blood lactate accumulation.

While this exact entity has not been confirmed or dispelled to date that I’m aware of, the thinking is something that may be valid and something that we as athletic development coaches should be aware.

The way we approach training does not necessarily change based on what we know or believe, however, utilizing techniques to help optimize the ability to quickly generate super stiffness of the entire system followed by an extremely quick decline of super stiffness on a reflexive level may be beneficial.

Regards,

Carson Boddicker

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Leave a Comment »12 Comments
  • Israel December 17, 2010

    Hi there, would you mind referring me to the research examining the force required in each stride in running?

    ” each stride requires at most 30% MVIC to battle and beat gravity stride after stride.”

    Thanks,
    Israel

  • D Kelsey December 17, 2010

    Great post Carson. Would you happen to have e reference on “In running, each stride requires at most 30% MVIC”? I think that would be helpful for people to know.

    Thanks.

  • Carson Boddicker December 17, 2010

    Gents,

    It’s probably not phrased entirely appropriately in the post, which I’ve changed, however, it is still applicable. Here is the reference:

    Østerås H, Helgerud J, Hoff J. “Maximal Strength-training Effects on Force-velocity and Force-power Relationships Explain Increases in Aerobic Performance in Humans.” European Journal of Applied Physiology 88.3 (2002): 255-63.

  • D Kelsey December 17, 2010

    Thanks for replying….I read the abstract and am not sure that it supports the 30% MVIC for running though…anything else you’ve found?

  • Carson Boddicker December 17, 2010

    D Kelsey,

    Read the whole paper.

    Regards,
    Carson Boddicker

  • D Kelsey December 18, 2010

    Ok. Thanks.

  • Israel December 18, 2010

    Thank you !

  • Israel December 18, 2010

    I have read the whole article and couldn’t find anything related to the “In running, each stride requires at most 30% MVIC”. What am i missing ?

  • Carson Boddicker December 19, 2010

    Israel,

    See the corrected vernacular. I initially adapted and potentially misrepresented the statement. We’re simply talking about maximal power production occurring with that, which I extended to maximal power is harder than can be attained in distance running, so that’s the number I used. A lot more goes into it, but I think that may still be fairly accurate.

    Regards,
    Carson Boddicker

  • Israel December 19, 2010

    I understand. Would you know of any data showing the relative % of MVC/MVIC at each running stride/bike pedal or any other repetitive movement that take place in endurance sports?

    I ask because it could make life much easier when explaining the added benefits of increasing strength and explosive power to endurance athletes.

    Thanks,
    Israel

  • Carson Boddicker December 19, 2010

    Israel,

    I think the first benefit that gets distance runners in is that you can provided them potentially more durability and more consistency and then also changes in relative intensity argument is what you need to worry about secondly with them. Most won’t actually care about the relative intensity argument, which you can get without telling them in my experience.

    Check Weyand’s work from 2000 and his “structural basis” paper from the Journal of Experimental Biology in 2005, where he gives a formula worth understanding and probably has some direct references for you.

    Regards,
    Carson Boddicker

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