Respiratory System Limitations

As we have introduced the three physiological systems that fuel elite athletic performance in previous posts, we will now delve into each individually. The starting point of any elite athletic performance should be the respiratory system. Without an efficient ability to take O2 from your surrounding environment to help fuel you on race day you will find it incredibly difficult to get the results you want.

Respiratory System

The respiratory system is made up of your lungs, inspiratory and expiratory muscles. Within the functional fitness community this might be the most overlooked and misunderstood of all the systems. As you have probably heard many exclaim during or after a particularly challenging workout, ‘I just couldn’t breathe!’. Why? You would think we would spend more time understanding this system, identifying limitations and training them.

On average we take 20,000 breaths per day and probably don’t ever even think twice about how it all works. On each of these breaths your lungs are taking available O2 from your environment. Our body has to somehow convert this gas so that it can be delivered and utilized internally. This gas exchange occurs at the alveoli. The alveolar sacs are surrounded by capillaries, as such deeper breaths that fill alveoli are beneficial to O2 delivery to the muscles.

We may think that as such whatever genetics we have are what we are stuck with. While initial capacity is important, both the inspiratory (diaphragm and external intercoastal) as well as expiratory muscles (abdominals and internal intercoastal) both react to training stimulus.

Capacity VS Capability

Limitations in the respiratory system usually center around one of two main categories, capacity or capability. Where as capacity refers to the total amount that can be contained produced, capability focuses on the ability to utilize said capacity.

Capacity limitation is present when an individual has a capacity lower than what would be normal for their age, sex, height and ethnicity using spirometry to test the individual. There are various reason for this type of limitation such as, asthma, EIB or COPD. They could also have a structural limitation such as limited thoracic and rib mobility that limits their ability to take in the necessary oxygen.

How is it Measured?

Capacity is measured in litters through a FVC (Forced Total Capacity). An individual upon taking in a deep breath will then use a spirometer to measure the amount they can exhale in 6 seconds or FVC6. Along with this measurement we want to know how much of that were they able to exhale in the 1st second or FEV1 (Force Expiratory Volume). For example, a male Caucasian that is 5’6 should have a FVC6 of 4.48L and FEV1 of 3.61. Measurements lower than the predicted values would mean this individual has a respiratory capacity limitation.

Once the capacity has been established then capability can be measured using oxygen/metabolic testing to determine if the individual is able to utilize said capacity. If either the capacity or the ability to properly coordinate their breath during exercise are present, then this individual has a respiratory limitation. Any protocol other than respiratory training is simply training compensators and not the root issue (respiratory limitation).

It would be more valuable to add respiratory training protocols to your training to properly address this limitation in conjunction with the ongoing training. There are many tools on the market that can assist with respiratory training. Some are more effective than others and we will get into these tools in later posts.

Stay tuned!

 

The Three Main Physiological Systems

In our last blog we introduced the limiters to Elite Athletic Performance. Now we can delve a little deeper into why they each matter to being able to maximize your training. We can break the limiters down to either a supply or utilization limitation. You are the owner of the most complex piece of technology you will ever have, your body.

Respiratory

Your respiratory system is made up of your lungs and the inspiratory and expiratory muscles. They are solely responsible for being able to take in oxygen (O2) and expel carbon dioxide (CO2). This entire gas exchange is primarily done by the lungs. As you breathe in the lungs take in O2 and through a series of alveoli in your lungs is able to dissipate the O2 into your blood cells.

Why is this important?

Primarily we want to understand that oxygen is an integral part of being able to perform your best on race day. Without being able to appropriately utilize the air we breathe we will be at a distinct disadvantage from those that are able to utilize their O2 more efficiently. If you are able to breathe out during spirometry testing a volume of say 8lt/breath and only are capable of achieving exhalation of say 4lt/breath during testing then you aren’t even using 50% of your respiratory capacity. This would severely limit your athletic performance.

Cardiovascular

Our cardiovascular system is made up of the heart, blood vessels (arteries, veins and capillaries) and the blood. The blood contains vital nutrients and O2 brought in by the Respiratory system. The veins and blood within carry these essential nutrients to all parts of your body and then returns with waste products like carbon dioxide (CO2) so they can be removed.

Why is this important?

Muscular contraction is the end game with athletic performance. The longer you can sustain muscular contractions the better your chances of wining the race. The capillaries are responsible for final delivery of O2 to your muscles which assist in contraction. Proper training can increase the number of capillaries available at the muscle and such can influence oxygen delivery and utilization.

Metabolic

Your metabolism is the process which refers to a breakdown of nutrients and compounds your cells are able to utilize for energy. Your body secretes enzymes to break down food you consume into sugars, proteins and fats. The cells in your body are then able to use these in the different energy systems to fuel (create ATP) athletic performance. You may typically hear things like anaerobic and aerobic when discussing fuel systems. We will delve a little deeper into fuel systems and why anaerobic and aerobic isn’t exactly correct, in the next blog.

Why is this important?

Your mitochondrial density is the most important part and structure of the muscle specific to muscle metabolism. Think of it as having a bunch of nuclear power plants in your body (and by a bunch I mean Millions) which drives creation of ATP. The number of mitochondria within the muscle is vital to the creation of energy that will fuel your performance.

The ability of the human body to supply oxygen and nutrients from the lungs and through the blood to the muscle for utilization is the difference between winning and losing the race. Your body is a complex network where these systems must interact in order to produce maximum energy for athletic effort. It is much more complex than “push harder” or “train more”. While all of these systems are 100% trainable, knowing where your limitation(s) exist has t be the first step. Without appropriate testing you could very well be training a compensator rather than a limiter to the detriment of overall performance.

If you have ever hit a plateau in your training then you have most likely been training a compensator. Stay tuned for more on how we can better focus on limiters to maximize our training and performance.

Know Your Limiters

Why Start with Testing?

Using proper testing to gather data and understand what physiological limiter/s you have is the first step in achieving elite athletic performance. Any protocols based on anything other than data acquired from testing is a generic protocol and will result in at best generic results. Does this mean you should complete abandon your training protocols? Absolutely not. What testing will allow for is a much higher efficiency in your training protocols.

Think in terms of your car. If the A/C in your car stopped working, would you change the tires? Probably not, because this wouldn’t fix the issue. Identifying whether your limiter is metabolic (muscular), Cardiac (cardiovascular) or respiratory (pulmonary) is going to allow for more focused training protocols to rectify that specific limiter.

What is a limiter?

Simply put, the limiter is the why behind your performance. You couldn’t hold that 6 minute mile pace? Why? Couldn’t hold the prescribed watts on an interval ride? Why?

Your ability to use breathe oxygen to fuel physiologic responses that will result in muscular contractions is the foundation of athletic performance. Everyone is going to be limited by either supply or utilization of oxygen in the body. The supply side of the equation can be broken down into 2 separate categories:

Respiratory (pulmonary) where your lungs are synthesizing O2 from your environment and supplying it to the hemoglobin in your body.

Cardiovascular (cardiac) where the hemoglobin now supplied with O2 is being delivered to the working (contracting) muscles by the heart and vessels.

Once the O2 has been delivered to the working muscles now it is up to our metabolic system to unload and utilize the O2 at the muscle.

The utilization part of the equation is:

Metabolic system (muscle). How well is your muscle able to utilize the O2 delivered to create energy which will be used for muscular contraction.

Each of us will have some sort of limitation in one or more of these areas. Once identified we can put in place proper training to correct the limitation and improve overall athletic performance. To what level that performance will be, will be dependent on how severe the limitation(s) may be. If you want to learn more about these systems and how the interact stay tuned for the next blog!

 

 

Testing for Elite Athletic Performance

Quality of Life

Most of us are after a level of fitness that will allow us to enjoy a high quality of life. Whether going on adventures or just playing in the backyard with the grandkids, we are simply trying to stave off the nursing home. For us a daily routine of functional fitness that keeps us mobile and builds our cardiovascular system is priority numero uno.

Elite Athletic Performance

For those of you looking to compete in the sport of CrossFit then we will need to dig deeper in order to be able to fully maximize our potential and win on race day. If you fall into this category then you will want to stay tuned because we will break down why your training could very well be ALL WRONG.

Every single one of us has a physiological limiter at some level of intensity. Every. Single. One. From Mat Fraser on down there will be some limiting factor that will rear its ugly head at a specific intensity in a specific modality or mix of. The point of testing is to find this limiter and train it until it no longer is. The problem with most CrossFit protocols is that you simply don’t know what your limiter is.

Think of what is holding you back to achieving the performance you want. Chances are you are thinking of either specific movements, combination of movements, strength numbers or benchmark times. While it is good to know and understand all of these metrics, they are the wrong metrics to be focused on. It is misguided to think that a 2k Row ‘test’ or Fran ‘test’ will give you the reason ‘why’ you achieved the times you completed them in. Why did you complete Fran in 2:38? Why was your 2k row time 6:42? Simply trying to analyze the times you completed these workouts in will leave you with little to base future training on. You usually hear blankets statements such, as do more intervals, move heavier loads or get more proficient at butterfly pull ups.

There is physiology behind why you achieved those times and proper testing is necessary to determine what your physiologic limiter was. In order to attack limiters with specific training protocols, rather than generic training programs you need data first. To set the wheels in motion we need to have a few basic terms defined.

What is the difference between test, analysis, measurement and assessment?

Test – requires a device or product designed to accurately test a specific set of variables (cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic fitness).

Evaluation – is comparing the data collected during the test and comparing them to norms (VO2peak scored compared to ACSM guidelines for VO2 max by gender and age) to rank the athlete accordingly.

Analysis – figure out WHY they scored what they scored (fatigued at the end of the test due to poor respiratory fitness) that specifically leads you to be able to identify what physiologic limiter needs to be addressed. (in this example it would be respiratory training)

Assessment – used to evaluate the effectiveness of your training protocols. This will assist in being able to adapt your protocols as necessary to maximize efficiency and results.

If you are not able to analyze and determine why athlete did poorly then it is not a test, it is an assessment. Training built on this could very well lead to training compensators rather than limiters. Anything less than true testing is simply guessing and could result in inefficiencies in your training protocols.

Running is the Worst Exercise to Lose Weight

“Ok, I am going to get to work and lose some weight.” Millions of Americans say these same words every year, motivated to get in shape and drop a few pant sizes. In the United States, a nation with the highest obesity of any in the developed world, running is and has been the most popular ‘workout’ activity. The reality of it all is, as far as losing weight/fat, running is the least efficient way to do so.

Muscle Burns Fat

Resistance has been shown to be the best method for losing fat. Why is this you ask? Muscle needs more calories to work and nothing builds muscle like resistance training. Add to that the fact that your body is smart (big surprise, I know). Your body when faced with repetitive training like say, running, will adapt. Day after day your body will begin to burn less calories for the same amount of work.

Increased Chances of Injury

Approximately 10 millions runners clocked in at least 100 days of running, according to a recent study looking at risk factors and the mechanisms of knee injuries in runners. This is associated with a high risk of injury with up to 50% of runners reporting an injury. This could result in a quick derailing If you are just getting started with your fitness journey. If you happen to start using running to shed a few unwanted pounds, this could result in an even higher rate of injury. Those extra pounds could actually cause an even quicker lower extremity injury.

Metabolism Adapts

As mentioned above your body when confronted with the same rate of work will adapt to utilize less calories. This is a simple survival mechanism we are all born with. Calories mean life we want to hold on to as many as possible for that rainy day, bummer, I know. You must routinely not have a routine! Being able to constantly vary your workouts will go a much longer way to keeping your metabolism firing on all cylinders and burning the most efficiently.

We are all Unique

Like little snowflakes, we are all unique. What works for one may not work as well for the next. This is where getting a knowledgeable trainer and nutritionist can come into play. Furthermore, proper testing must be done in order to analyze what your body is currently doing and how to get it moving in the right direction. Without metabolic testing and analysis you are simply shooting darts in the dark and hoping you hit the target. The biggest question is, are you even shooting darts at the right target?

Moral of the Story

Test, Measure, Evaluate and Analyze. This is the only way to craft the fitness program that will best work for you and your weight loss goals. Anything less is a generic plan and will give you only generic results. Check with the Coaches at Revolt Fitness or the Nutrition Consultants at RevEssentials to get started.

Best Type of Workout for Weight Loss

Aside from dieting, exercising is one of the most common strategies employed by those trying to shed extra pounds. It helps burn more calories, which plays a crucial role in weight loss.

However, with so many types of exercise, one can easily feel lost on what type of workout would be the most effective for their weight loss journey. The answer might surprise you…

It depends.

We are each different with varying degrees of fitness. Our bodies are unique and respond to different stimulus in different ways. There are some foundational truths we can count on to get started.

  1. Resistance training is KEY. Resistance training is the most effective workout for boosting your metabolism. Plainly stated lean muscle  burns fat and resistance training is key to building lean muscle.
  2. More Muscle = Higher Metabolism, the higher your metabolic rate the higher your caloric burn will be throughout the day as you complete your regularly scheduled life activities.
  3. Create a Calorie Deficit. The more calories your burn through a higher metabolic rate the greater the calorie deficit will be, even if you eat the same food. This calorie deficit is the main driver of weight loss.

Contact one of our coaches to get the help you need and start your journey!

 

Get Motivated

Sometimes you need someone to help find the motivation to keep working hard towards your goals. If you feel like you’re stuck or you’re ready to take your training to the next level, an experienced coach at Revolt Fitness can help you find ways to challenge yourself by!

  • Helping you find and train for competitive events: Our coaches help you be fit for life. If you are thinking about doing your first competition we can also help you find one or train for it. Other non-crossfit events are also a fun way to challenge yourself. Whether training for your first 5k, marathon or triathlon our coaches can help.
  • Pushing your limits: If you want to blast past a plateau, go heavy with your weights and hit a new PR. Our coaches can help you choose the right weights as well as spot you as you do more challenging exercises so that you can stay safe.
  • Being a workout partner: A coach can also engage in the workout with you, adding a competitive element to your workouts or helping you with partner exercises.

You’ll find it’s very hard to slack off with one of our coaches cheering you on and pushing you to do just one more rep. You may even find you have hidden strengths to tap, which can motivate you even more.

Contact us to get started now!

Where to Start?

If you have ever walked into a Globo Gym and stared around the place without any idea as to what to do next, then you are not alone. We’re not born knowing how to exercise, or how to design a complete program that includes cardio, resistance training, intervals and mobility which specific exercises to do for each of those, and how to fit it into a busy life schedule. Facing this first task can be so overwhelming that many don’t ever take the first step.

The coaches at Revolt Fitness can help you with the basics. We help you every step of the way be designing workouts based on frequency, intensity time, and type of workout and manipulate these elements over time. We can help you navigate the process every step of the way, which includes:

  • Suggesting activities that work for your body, schedule, and available equipment
  • Helping you figure out how hard to work during exercise and how to monitor your exercise intensity
  • Showing you how to choose exercises, weights, reps, and sets
  • Using different tools (such as a heart rate monitor or activity tracker) to enhance your workouts
  • Teaching you how to get the most out of your workout, while also making sure you don’t overdo it

You have made the decision to get fit and improve your health. Let us help you get started by teaching you the right way to exercise to avoid injury and maximize results.

Is Personal Training for You?

There are many great reasons to think about personal training with one of the coaches at Revolt. If you’ve been exercising consistently for several weeks or months and aren’t reaching your goals (whether you are seeking to lose weight, improve your performance at crossfit, or build strength), there are a few ways personal training might be able to help.

  • Evaluate your current program: By looking at what you’re already doing at Revolt, we can suggest ways to change or tweak your workouts to make them more efficient and effective. The more personalized your fitness routine is, the better results will be.
  • Examine your goals: We recently sent an email for progress meetings with your coach at Revolt. If you took advantage of this, awesome! If you want t schedule your progress meeting you still can and we want you to, it’s free! We can help you set some goals that are realistic and how to achieve them.
  • Help you stay motivated: Knowing you have an appointment with your personal coach can help you stay disciplined maintain motivation to exercise.
  • Push you a little harder: People often don’t see results because they’re not working as hard as they could. Having someone to challenge you (and cheer you on) can make a difference.
  • Hold you accountable: Your personal coach can help you set weekly goals, then check in on a regular basis to see how you’re doing.
  • Teach you: Whether you want to learn how to do certain movements better, gain a new skill or how to do a new exercise, your coach can help by giving you 1 on 1 coaching for an entire session.

It may be that you are getting results—just not in the way you expected. You might be gaining muscle and losing fat, changing your body composition while your weight stays constant, for instance. Our coaches strive to see your situation more clearly from the outside and offer you a new perspective.

If you are interested in personal training and want to learn more chat with one of the coaches at Revolt.

Your Fitness Tracker Can Help You Lose Weight

With so many fitness trackers on the market it may seem daunting to finding which one will work best for you. They each have their own pros and cons with varying degrees of effectiveness. They can help you set goals, track sleep and heart rate. Some go even further and track mood, to which extent of accuracy is to be determined. While the features of these devices continues to grow there is one specific feature that can truly help you in losing weight, tracking your calories consumed and calories burnt.

Losing weight can be a challenging task with many winding roads that lead to dead ends. So much information on the internet and fad diets can lead to frustration and weight gain rather than the intended result. Without getting into the benefits of certain ‘diets’ over others we will focus on the math of losing 1 pound.

Using a broad stroke of 500 calorie daily deficit to equal a 3500 calorie deficit for the week. 3500 calories happens to be the equivalent of 1 lb of body fat. Now I say here that this is a broad brush stroke simply because we are not taking into account, gender, size, fitness levels and so on. All of these details do matter and when taken into account will help in the task of losing weight.

So where does my fitness tracker come into play?

Well simply put, if we can track the calories being consumed on a daily basis and subtract the calories being burnt then we hopefully create a healthy deficit that will result in natural weight loss. While the calories that need to be consumed will be different for each of us and how many calories our bodies burn will also vary, a deficit will result in body fat being lost. Couple the right nutrition plan with a fitness program that allows you to maximize the calories your are burning and you will be on the your way.

Well how many calories should I be burning?

It depends on many variables and a nutrition consultant would best be able to assist in specializing a plan for you to properly lose weight in a natural and healthy manner. So get your fitness trackers ready for the next challenge at Revolt Fitness.