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Ideas for Athletes & Coaches Preparing for Real Competition

AIS fact sheet To help ease confusion from the many messages to do with athlete nutrition, the experts at the Australian Institute of Sport have prepared a series of fact sheets.

The documents represent the latest scientific information about the use of and possible benefit of nutritional supplements including caffeine, creatine, protein, antioxidants and sports drinks, bars and gels.

To find them, login to CrackerSports , then simply search for ‘AIS fact sheets’.

They are essential reading for serious athletes and coaches.

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Category : Sports Nutrition

crackersports CrackerSports.com is a new online service to accelerate skills learning and development in sport. Currently in beta using the sport of Sailing as a test subject, CrackerSports boasts these features:

  • An online library of filtered and high quality resources providing a one stop point for all skills learning and development resources – including video, audio, text and interactive resources. Think about YouTube, iTunes, Amazon and others as being channels and CrackerSports as a guide to the really good stuff on those channels.
  • A personal home page and social platform enabling users to save favourites, connect with others in the learning community, share resources and much more.
  • A unique skills profiling and comparison tool enabling athletes, coaches and officials to assess skills, prioritise learning and connect with targeted resources.

If your a sailor looking to improve your skills, you’re most welcome to have a look around (registration is free) and go ahead and create your performance profile using the CrackerGuide. There’s some instruction videos at YouTube.com/user/CrackerSports . You can let us know what you think via the comments box below or the email address at the bottom of this page.

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Category : Sailing | Sport-General

These foods are champions when it comes to helping athletes sustain quality training:

super foods for athletes 1. Avocado – tasty alternative to butter or margarine as a sandwich spread or a snack on its own. Avocado contains 17 vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C, E and all B vitamins except B12. In potassium, it’s second among plant foods only to Bananas!

2. Nuts – Great source of protein, fibre and healthy fats. Pecans & Walnuts are high in Omega-3 fats. Brazil nuts are high in selenium which may help protect against cancer, depression and Alzheimer’s.

3. Bananas – High in potassium and carbohydrates – the preferred fuel for muscles, blood and brain before and after exercise.

4. Salmon – High in protein and Omega-3 fats. Herring, Sardines and Mackerel also offer quality fish oils. Omega 3s may also have anti-inflammatory effects.

5. Chicken (skin off) – Excellent source of protein for growth and repair and development of the muscles. Red meat and eggs are also a great source of protein for those building muscles.

6. Creamed Rice – Excellent and tasty source of carbohydrates for quality training and a top desert.

7. Skim milk powder – Cheap source of whey protein – mix with milk and banana or other flavourings.

8. Garlic – Might just help you reduce the chance of catching a cold.

9. Ginger – Its antioxidants support immunity and ginger is also great for digestion and has an anti-inflammatory affect, to assist recovery.

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Category : Sports Nutrition

A gym Building muscle and staying in shape go hand in hand when it comes to fitness. There are common misconceptions like: just purely lifting weights will enhance your muscles in a faster way - that can really hamper your success rate.

Throughout my earlier years in fitness training, I thought the more I worked out, the larger I would get and the faster I would grow. I would constantly do chest and arms, very confused as to why I wouldn’t see the gains of many other lifters in the gym.

I finally broke down and decided to teach myself by actually asking several other people around me. As time went on I learned from them how to build muscle properly and was shocked at the simplicity and variety of methodologies you need to apply to get the best results for muscle building. I have highlighted a few areas below that, I believe, made all the difference in my workout:

  • When you lift you are breaking down muscle fibers and your body responds to this by eventually healing, adapting and increasing your muscle.
  • The most important point between any 2 workouts, of the same muscle group, is the key to optimal growth. Remember, it is your recovery time, when your muscles are being repaired, that gives them the ability to get stronger and larger.
  • Working your muscles too much can actually set your progress back if you do not rest. Over-training is the number one reason many fitness enthusiasts do not see results.
  • It’s very easy to keep overworking the same muscles you want to be the strongest by continuously focusing on it, but listening to your body is the better policy. If it is sore in any way, it has not recovered yet and therefore you should not be working it out.

Remember, if you don’t exercise your muscle can’t grow, and it’s how much rest and recovery you applied to that body part after it has been worked that will give you the dramatic results that have been eluding you.

[Ed. - For a further perspective, including the idea of the 'minimum effective dose' of strength training, check out Tim Ferriss' new book The 4-Hour Body ]

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Category : Sport-General | Weight Training

A research review just published in the highly regarded journal Sports Medicine discusses the optimal way to put energy back into the body after moderate to high intensity endurance exercise.

In summarizing the results of a large number of studies the authors concluded that "carbohydrate should be ingested as early as possible in the post-exercise period and at frequent (i.e. 15- to 30-minute) intervals throughout recovery to maximize the rate of muscle glycogen resynthesis."

Aim to eat more sugary foods in that initial recovery period: "Solid and liquid carbohydrate supplements or whole foods can achieve this aim with equal effect but should be of high glycaemic index and ingested… at a rate of at least 1 g/kg/h in order to rapidly and sufficiently increase both blood glucose and insulin concentrations throughout recovery."

The reviewers also said that adding ≥0.3 g per kg of body weight per hour of protein to a carbohydrate supplement results in a synergistic increase in insulin secretion. This can have the neat effect of accelerating muscle glycogen resynthesis.

Specifically, if for some reason you can’t get enough carbohydrate to replenish your stores, then adding protein may at least partially compensate for the limited availability of ingested carbohydrate.

Source: Sports Medicine, Volume 40, Number 11, 1 November 2010 , pp. 941-959(19)

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Category : Sports Nutrition

Like most people you probably do not pay a lot of care or attention to your warm up before exercising. A bit of walk to the front gate before your run or a few arm circles and swings then into the weights session or game of golf/squash or tennis!

One of the areas I put a lot of work into in designing programs for Olympic athletes is in the warm up. Often, I’ll put as much thinking into the first part of the exercise session as the main block of the training session. Every warm up is targeted and individual to both the athletes and the session.

A major part of an effective warm up is dynamic stretching. The aim is to lengthen and warm the muscles, but not with the typical static stretch (where you hold a position for 5 or more seconds). Dynamic stretching is a better way of getting ready for exercise than static stretching because it gets the muscles primed for the movements to come.

You should complete some movement at every major joint before training - shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.

Why do we out so much emphasis on this part of the warm up? Research conducted by the University of Wyoming and published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in June 2008 strongly supports its use. The researchers wanted to examine the effect of the warm-up over a 4 week training program of 24 high level college athletes.

(Take note of the short time frame - only 4 weeks to see if it worked. I wonder if that was long enough to have a significant impact…?)

They divided the group into two. The groups used either static or dynamic stretching before daily practice sessions and measures were made before and after the 4 week period.

After 4 weeks, the static group had no improvements and some decreases in key performance factors. Remember, this is the traditional stretching method you may be doing currently.

The dynamic group showed some significant improvements in performance:

  • Strength: increases of: leg strength by 11%; throws by 4%; push ups by 3%; sit ups by 11%
  • Endurance - 2.4% faster on a 600m run
  • Agility - jump height increased by 4%
  • Anaerobic capacity – time for 300m shuttle test reduced by 2%

These are impressive results in a short time frame - achieved just by focusing on a more comprehensive warm up!

So if you could incorporate dynamic warm ups into your current training before sessions, it could produce long term improvements in Power, Strength, Muscular Endurance, Anaerobic capacity and Agility. Improve any of these factors you will be stronger, fitter and able to continue to increase the intensity of your training to get closer to your training goals - whether they be health, fitness or sporting goals.

This video features a good bundle of dynamic warm-up exercises for field-type sports

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Category : Coaching | Sport-General | Sports Injury | Training Programs

It’s a tough break if you have to take a break from the sport you love, more so if you’re sidelined by injury and are not in prime condition to get back into the game. People who love sports know that they’re addictive – it’s not just the adrenaline rush of winning a game, the entire experience lifts both your body and mind.

So when you have to give it up for some reason or the other, albeit temporarily, you’re raring for the chance to get back to the playing arena. But you have to remember – it’s not just enough to be high on enthusiasm, you have to be high on cautiousness as well. So if you’re thinking of getting back to playing a sport, here’s how to go about it the safe and most effective way:

  • Get permission from your healthcare provider : If you’ve stopped playing because of an injury or any other medical condition, check with your doctor if you’re cleared to play again. You must be capable of strenuous activity again if you plan to return to a sport at any level, so ensure that you’re physically up to it.
  • Take it slow : You may be raring to go, but if you want to prevent injuring yourself again, you must take it slow. Remember this - if you’re put out of action again, it’s harder to come back, both physically and mentally. So think long term and find ways to get back into the game slowly rather than bulldozing your way through.
  • Work on conditioning your body first : Your overall fitness level is very important when it comes to playing a sport, and because you’ve been out of action for a while, your stamina and strength are not what they used to be. So before you step onto the court or field, start working on your fitness and endurance with a combination of cardio and strength training exercises. Your muscles must be strong enough to prevent spills that could cause further injuries.
  • Do sports-specific training : When you’ve been away from a sport for a while, your skills need to be dusted and polished. So get to work on the footwork and other workout drills that are specific to the sport you play. When you get your basics right, you find that the rest of your game naturally follows, and before you know it, you find that you’ve naturally eased back into the game.
  • Don’t get too competitive : And finally, you must resist the competitive urge because it could end up pushing you to do more than you’re ready for. When you know your game is not as good as it used to be, you have to give yourself time to get there slowly and steadily, especially if you’re recovering from an injury. So no matter how good your partners’ or opponents’ game is, don’t try to do too much at once when you’re bitten by the competitive bug. If you don’t proceed with caution, you could end up with a more serious injury.

This guest post is contributed by Sandra McAubre, she writes on the topic of Sports Management Degrees . She welcomes your comments at her email: sandra1.mcaubre(at)gmail.com.

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Category : Sport-General | Sports Injury

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