Tuesday
Nov172015

150 Years of Rowing Faster - Professor Stephen Seiler

Published on Jun 15, 2015

150 Years of Rowing Faster: What Are the Sources of More and More Speed?

Professor Stephen Seiler discusses how rowing has a 150 yr. + competitive history and that examining results from historic races like Oxford-Cambridge (est. 1829) and the world championships (est. 1893) reveals a linear increase in boat speed by 2-3% per decade. Boat velocity increases if propulsive power is increased and/or power losses are reduced. Over time, the propulsive power capacity of elite rowers has increased. Part of this increase is a result of recruiting athletes from a population that has become taller (1-3 cm per decade) and heavier. 


Speaker Biography
Professor Stephen Seiler (PhD FACSM earned his doctoral degree from the University of Texas, Austin, but has lived and worked in Norway for nearly 20 years as a university teacher and researcher. He is currently Professor in Sport Science and Dean of the Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences at the University of Agder in Kristiansand, Norway. 

Professor Seiler also serves as senior research consultant to the Norwegian Olympic Federation. In 2013, he was elected to the Executive Board of the European College of Sport Science.

His work has influenced and catalysed international research around training intensity distribution and the “polarized training model”. He has published over 70 peer reviewed publications, and written over 100 popular science articles related to exercise physiology and the training process. Professor Seiler has given over 100 scientific lectures around the world and is also a founding editorial board member of the International Journal of Sport Physiology and Performance.

Improving Performance Naturally: Sports Science & Medicine Conference for the World’s Leading Sports Scientists and Medical Practitioners in Rowing

The Sports Science & Medicine Conference was held for the first time at the SAS UK & Ireland company headquarters in Marlow. The conference had delegates attend from a variety of Sports Science and Medical disciplines, who travelled from within the UK and around the world – all attracted by an exciting programme which boasts an impressive list of speakers from the leading edge of research and practice. The event was supported by UK Sport and FISA and proved to be a great success.

Tuesday
Nov172015

Altitude: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly - Professor Greg Whyte

SSM Conference 2015: Altitude: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly - Professor Greg Whyte

Published on Jun 15, 2015

Altitude: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Professor Greg Whyte explains the positive and negative impact of training at altitude on subsequent athletic development and performance. This is an area of growing research and the extant literature is presented to demonstrate the good, bad and ugly aspects of altitude training. 

This discussion includes an investigation into the underlying physiological processes of the adaptations, whilst making reference to endurance performance. The discussion covers how to prepare for altitude training, what the optimum level of altitude is to encourage positive training effects, how to properly monitor athlete and the importance of this. Information is also provided about how to simulate altitude training to gain the same positive effects. 

Speaker Biography
Professor Greg Whyte (OBE, PhD, DSc, FACSM, FBASES) was awarded an OBE in 2014 for his services to Sport, Sport Science & Charity, and was voted as one of the Top 10 Science Communicators in the UK by the British Science Council. Professor Whyte is an Olympian in modern pentathlon, and is a European and World Championship medalist. 

He is an expert in the field of sports and exercise science. Graduating from Brunel University, he furthered his studies with an MSc in human performance in the USA and completed his PhD at St. Georges Hospital Medical School, London. Professor Whyte is currently a Professor of Applied Sport and Exercise Science at Liverpool John Moores University and Director of Performance at the Centre for Health and Human Performance. Former roles include Director of Research for the British Olympic Association and Director of Science & Research for the English Institute of Sport. 

Improving Performance Naturally: Sports Science & Medicine Conference for the World’s Leading Sports Scientists and Medical Practitioners in Rowing

The Sports Science & Medicine Conference was held for the first time at the SAS UK & Ireland company headquarters in Marlow. The conference had delegates attend from a variety of Sports Science and Medical disciplines, who travelled from within the UK and around the world – all attracted by an exciting programme which boasts an impressive list of speakers from the leading edge of research and practice. The event was supported by UK Sport and FISA and proved to be a great success.

Tuesday
Feb042014

Unexplained Underperformance Syndrome

UUPS - unexplained underperformance syndrome - Rod Jaques

The ‘unexplained underperformance syndrome’ (UUPS) is defined as a history of objective loss of performance, without a medical cause and despite two weeks of rest. This definition was arrived at by a group of experts in Oxford in 1999. They chose to call the syndrome UUPS as opposed to ‘over training’ to avoid restricting the cause to training per se.

UUPS is almost exclusively a condition of endurance athletes, commonly occurring after a period of heavy training and competition. There is often a his-tory of frequent minor infections.

Anecdotally it is thought that between 2% and 10% of elite endurance athletes suffer significant episodes of UUPS during their sporting careers. Often the condition occurs insidiously and remains undiagnosed for many weeks. The athlete typically will have sought advice from many quarters and have tried short periods of rest without success. Ideally the diagnosis of UUPS should be one that both athlete and coach agree upon.

Fatigue is the key presenting symptom. This fatigue persists despite rest and leads to underperformance. The athlete may lose motivation and often complains of sore muscles and poor sleep. Sometimes they may experience a loss of libido and appetite. They also often become depressed, and when this is clinically significant, it requires pharmacological treatment. It is often difficult for the athlete to determine whether the depression is the cause or the effect of the UUPS, but in my experience, if you do not treat the depression, you are likely to delay the resolution of the syndrome.

The onset of UUPS may coincide with upper respiratory tract infections, particularly viral. It is common, in taking the patient’s history, to find that they have trained intensively through a viral upper respiratory tract infection, leading to symptoms of fatigue.

Less common symptoms of UUPS include:

  • stiff, sore muscles
  • nocturnal hot sweats
  • minor changes in bowel habit
  • an elevated heart rate at a given intensity of training
  • an elevated resting heart rate.
  • an inability to alter pace at the end of a race.

Sometimes the athlete has difficulty in raising his/her heart rate in exercise and a profound loss of motivation. It is important to stress that none of these symptoms are diagnostic or consistent across all UUPS subjects. Chronic fatigue syndrome is distinct from UUPS in that it is a more severe condition in which sufferers usually cannot even contemplate doing sport, and they recover less quickly.

Despite much ongoing excellent research work, there are as yet no unequivocal diagnostic serological (blood analysis), physiological or psychological markers for UUPS. Observations have included raised stress hormones and reticulocyte (immature red blood cell) counts, increased cortisol to testosterone ratios, raised neutrophil to lymphocyte ratios and lower branch chain amino acids. Some researchers have shown a relative loss of sympathetic neural tone in athletes with UUPS; this is the part of the nervous system which, among other things, increases heart rate. A loss of heart rate variability (HRV) occurs during morning postural testing and this reflects the loss of sympathetic neural tone. This may be useful in monitoring rehabilitation intensity during recovery from UUPS because the loss of HRV can be quantified and recovery thereby monitored.

Mood scores, whilst a helpful psychological tool in confirming the diagnosis, are neither sensitive nor specific. Serological markers may in future help provide a more accurate clinical diagnosis.

UUPS must not be confused with other medical causes of under performance. There is an extremely long list of differential diagnoses for fatigue in athletes, many of which can be excluded by taking a good history and (less importantly) examination of the athlete. Over the last 13 years I have seen 83 cases of athletes presenting with symptoms of UUPS, of which five (6%) had other medical causes. (Some clinicians report higher figures , but this may reflect the fact that many athletes I see have been through a medical screen prior to their consultation with me.) These included two cases of Epstein Barr infection (glandular fever), a Coxsacchie B myocarditis, an iron deficiency anaemia and a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. As a consequence of this I regularly perform a full blood count, ferritin, thyroid function test, ESR, urea and electrolytes and other blood tests as indicated by the history and examination. A pre- and post-exercise flow loop spirometry test, if the athlete can manage it, is helpful in the initial battery of tests.

The key to managing UUPS lies in a multi-disciplinary approach by a team of sports specialists, including physician, nutritionist, psychologist and physiologist. An experienced nutritionist should analyse a nutritional diary and the athlete’s carbohydrate ingestion before, during and after exercise. It is important to be able to rule out an eating disorder: the SCOFF questionnaire may be useful(1).

Many athletes with UUPS have coincident social, financial, domestic and career stresses, which a psychologist will need to explore. Physiologists with experience in heart rate variability monitoring can lead athlete and coach through the pulse-dependent rehabilitation that follows, and an early meeting between them is good practice.

The successful resolution of UUPS depends on clear communications between the multidisciplinary team and the athlete, their coach and family. It is really important to give the athlete a clear understanding of what is happening, and to make time to answer their questions throughout treatment and rehab. In my experience, recovery to full training often takes 10 to 15 weeks, during which time there should be regular team meetings, and meetings with the athlete and coach.

Psychological support throughout the whole process is very important to address the concerns of the athlete, family and coach. It is difficult for the athlete to accept that there is no ‘quick fix’ for UUPS and experienced consultation skills are required to address questions on the aetiology of UUPS where our know-ledge is, at best, incomplete. The multidisciplinary team must reflect regularly on the athlete’s clinical status, changing management swiftly when appropriate.

Table 1 Score symptoms
DateFatigueMuscle achesMotivationUpper respiratory tract symptomsOtherTotal
Range 0-10 0-10 0-10 0-5 0-10  
1.02.03 5 5 6 5 8 29
2.02.03 5 6 5 4 6 26
3.02.03 5 6 4 4 5 24
14.02.03 2 1 1 0 1 5

There is no published evidence (to date) that one programme of management of UUPS is better than another. What follows is a pragmatic approach that has been adopted in the south-west region of the EIS, and which is regularly revised. Our strategy is based on symptom scoring and pulse-dependent rehabilitation (PDR). The athlete is asked early to score his/her symptoms in certain key areas (see Table 1). Significant symptoms are scored 1 – 10, less significant symptoms are given less weighting and are scored 1 – 5. Daily totals are collated (high is ‘bad’, low is ‘good’) and used to determine the progression of the PDR programme. We leave one column for ‘other’ symptoms that may be specific to the individual athlete’s history.

The PDR programme is agreed with the athlete and coach, and starts with a few weeks of complete rest, during which time the nutritionist and psychologist work with the athlete. The rate of progress thereafter is governed by improvements in the heart rate during exercise. The physician incrementally increases the volume and intensity of exercise based on heart rate response (see table 2).

Table 2 Pulse-dependent rehab programme for a triathlete
WeekPlan
1 Rest
2 Rest
3 HR <120; 20 mins turbo training; 2 days off
4 HR <130; 20-25 mins TT; 2 days off
5 HR< 140; 30 mins TT; alternate days run 20 mins; 1 day off
6 HR < 150; 30 mins TT; run 20-30mins, swim 2k; 1 day off
7 HR 150-160 add short sprints (<10 secs)

 

In institutes of sport and high performance centres the prevention of UUPS should be high on the agenda. A detailed review of the prevention of UUPS is beyond the scope of this article but the main issue is education of athletes and coaches. Overall attention to the ‘basics’ of sports exercise physiology; periodised training, carbohydrate and fluid replenishment and a holistic approach to athlete-centred training intensity are fundamental to maintaining the good health of the athlete.

Reference

  1. 1. Morgan JF, Reid F, Lacey JH, The SCOFF questionnaire: assessment of a new screening tool for eating disorders. BMJ. 1999 Dec 4;319(7223): 1467-8.
Tuesday
Jan142014

2013 World Rowing Coaches Conference: Tallinn, Estonia

World Rowing Coaches Conferences are hailed as the leading source of high quality coaches information and resources for the top coaches from around the world. 

This years 2013 World Rowing Coaches Conference was held in Tallinn, Estonia. 

 

The 2013 World Rowing Coaches Conference Talks:

Johan Foldin: 'My Experiences'. 

Annelen Collatz: 'Coach the Coach - practical psychological work'.  

Teet Seene: 'Age-Related Changes in Skeletal Muscle'.

Dr Malcolm Brown: 'Phasing in preparation of triathletes'.

 

Tuesday
Jan142014

Phasing in preparation of triathletes

Dr Malcolm Brown was the Olympic Team Leader in 2012. His talk on phasing in Triathlon looked at certain factors that lead to Great Britain's success over the last few years, lessons that are applicable to rowing. In multi-sport, there are key factors to consider. Training volumes and specific periodization across three disciplines. 

Key points were covered: 

- Leadership and coaching. 

- The Training environment.

- The Culture within that training environment. 

- Building at team for international competition. 

- Progression.

- Training structure and periodization. 

For more on Malcolm Brown's talk: Phasing in preparation of triathletes

Thursday
Dec052013

Age-Related Changes in Skeletal Muscle

Teet Seene presented on "Age-Related Changes in Skeletal Muscle: Strength Development Through the Lifespan".  Here Teet talked about how skeletal muscular development begins when the baby is born. It was highlighted that at the time of birth, a babies muscular contraction velocity is the same throughout all their muscles. 

However, from this point on, that's where the differentiation between the different fibres starts: Slow twitch and fast twitch. The most intensive developmental phase for skeletal muscular growth is in this first  28 days of life.

Teet has found that this is due to the high levels of anabolic hormones present in the neonatal period. Teet states that protein synthesis rate is higher than protein degradation. Factors like insulin, growth hormone and glucagon play a role here.     

This is due to the high levels of anabolic hormones, which muscle is sensitive to. Seene then went on to explain the structure of muscle fibres, their oxidative capacity and molecular structure. He did however state that the "Human organism is ready for strength development from late puberty".

These sparked questions, which were duely addressed in the slides on the following:

- When should coaches encourage strength development? 

- Does the potential for strength development change?

Teet highlighted that, although adults in their forties can win World or Olympic medals, they experience reduced muscle strength, mass and VO2 from the age of 30. However this can be be maintained if effective strength training is encouraged.

For more on the topic, see Teet Seene's presentation on: Age-Related Changes in Skeletal Muscle: Strength Development Through the Lifespan.

Tuesday
Nov262013

My experiences - Johan Flodin

Johan Flodin, has been awarded the 2013 World Rowing Coach of the year. For good reason: He is the man behind Norway's incredible World Championship results where the men's double scull and the men's lightweight double scull won gold.

Flodin is a former Olympian himself, having raced in Atlanta in 1996. Following which, he worked with 2010s World Champion women's single sculler: Frida Svensson. Only after London 2012, did Flodin take the position as the Head Rowing Coach in Norway. 

Johan Flodin's talk

Flodin's talk covered the following topics:

- Norway structure: Two main centers with 4 regions. One paid coach with 11 athletes in the elite group. 

- Long term development: A review of the structure. 

- Training: Focussed based all year strength and power program. Personalized training program vital for success in athletes. Important to have variety in the training program. Athlete care is vital due to limited numbers.  

- Planning: A periodized model for physiological development. 

- Technique: Keep it simple. Basis off the Italian rowing of the 80s. Economy of rowing.  

- The environment: “Performance is the sum of all behavior. It is what we do every day; it is our environment,” Flodin says.

For more: Johan Flodin's presentation

 

Friday
Nov222013

Coach the coach - practical psychological work

Dr Annelen Collatz, who presented on "Athletes and Coaches" at the 2012 coaches conference, presented on "Coach the coach - The German Concept".

Introducing the tasks of a Rowing Coach, Annelen highlighted how broad these tasks are. The importants of the German "Coach the Coach" concept is to develope the coach through these broader roles. 

Using the national team coaches, Annelen and the fedaration have deturmined what competencies are required for development. 

For more: Dr Annelen Collatz: Coach the coach

Wednesday
Nov062013

Visual and auditory / acoustic feedback to optimise rowing technique and boat acceleration

Schaffert's presentation followed on from Matte. Here she saught to bring to the attention of coaches the science behind listening to the boat run. In particular, the causal relationship between movement and sould. He presentation, the Visual and auditory/acoustic feedback to optimise rowing technique and boat acceleration’ looked at this relationship and how a crews perception of it can be enhanced. 

 Key points in Schaffer's presentation: 

- Sonification: The synthetic transformation of data from the boat's movement into sound. 

- The Accrow system used by the German team boats. This creates a specific sound which reacts to each phase and rhytm of the stroke there by creating an intuitive understanding of how the boat is moving. 

The results of which, Shaffer stated that there was a significant increase in mean boat velocity and qyalitative changes in boat acceleration. 

Further reading: 

New Measuring and on Water Coaching Device for Rowing: Klaus Mattes, Nina Schaffert (2010). Provided by the Journal of Human Sport and Exercise online. 

More talks for the Youth Coaching Conference:

Arne Gullich's presentation on Considering long term sustainability in talent promotion – Implications for talent development in rowing.'

Marc Swienty's presentation on the Olympic training centre and rowing boarding school Ratzeburg: Structures and objectives.’ 

Mario Woldt on Actual aspects and considerations of ethics in sport.

Klaus Mattes on: ‘Diagnostic of rowing performance and technique to optimise technique training

Nina Schaffert on: 'Visual and auditory / acoustic feedback to optimise rowing technique and boat acceleration'

 

 

Wednesday
Nov062013

Diagnostic of rowing performance and technique to optimise technique training

We were fortunate enough to have Klaus Mattes present on the topic: Diagnostic of rowing performance and technique to optimise technique training

Mahe Drysdale and Ondrej Synek was used as examples as to how rowers can apply technique under different conditions and importantly, during different segments of the 2000m race, whether it be at the start or in the last 250m. Using the 2013 World Champion, Synek, and the 2012 Olympic Champion, he went onto note how individual characteristics of internationally successful rowing teams can be misinterpreted as "a development of rowing technique".

Mattes explained the following:

- How rowing technique can be tested with the help of biomechanics.

- How results from these biomenchanical measurements can be interpreted.

- Using biomechanical feedback from racing.

Key areas that were identified were:

- Biomechanical measurement such as force angles in the gate, foot stretches and the boat.

- The rowing angle, stroke phases as well as boat velocity.

Using these, Mattes explained that the graphs used from elite German crews highlighted that these different measurements before and after feedback could positively impact on the cure and therefore boat speed.

For more on this topic: 

More talks for the Youth Coaching Conference:

Arne Gullich's presentation on Considering long term sustainability in talent promotion – Implications for talent development in rowing.'

Marc Swienty's presentation on the Olympic training centre and rowing boarding school Ratzeburg: Structures and objectives.’ 

Mario Woldt on Actual aspects and considerations of ethics in sport.

Klaus Mattes on: ‘Diagnostic of rowing performance and technique to optimise technique training

Nina Schaffert on: 'Visual and auditory / acoustic feedback to optimise rowing technique and boat acceleration'