As “lockdown” training continues we took some time to catch up with Russel’s strength and conditioning coach to talk about this particular aspect of the training regime and what effects the pandemic has had and the adaptations that have had to be made.
Interview with TeamTaib and Aaron Turner
Name: Aaron Turner
Profession: Strength and Conditioning Coach
Years in the Industry: > 10 years
Aaron has been working with TeamTaib and Russel Taib since 2018 with workouts, and latterly with the new challenge of adapting those programs to the Health Authorities advice and guidelines regarding restrictions imposed by the pandemic of Covid 19.
TeamTaib: Hi Aaron, firstly a big thank you for all the work and effort you put in to help Russel Taib progress in his athletic development. The results of your input are there for all to see and we are very grateful to have your expertise added to the training mix.
To start, we would like to ask a few questions about yourself.
What motivated you to go into strength & conditioning?
Aaron: I felt I could make a difference to the lives of athletes and help them navigate through the mountain of training information available, separating myths from facts.
How did you get started?
Aaron: I was initially on a path for IT study, when my father came home one day with a flyer about careers in fitness, as he knew I enjoyed exercising. Once on my new path of study, I met some influential academics that encouraged me along the endless pursuit of knowledge…Fast forward 15-years, with two diplomas, two degrees, a Level 2 Coaching accreditation, and a PhD underway, I guess I still haven’t stopped.
What is your coaching philosophy?
Aaron: Ensure the athlete has the right to progress. This means that I ensure an athlete has developed optimal technique, and undertaken the right amount of training load, when I consider progressions in the gym.
TeamTaib: The current pandemic has had a major impact on all sports people around the world. This has posed a challenge for athletes and brings a unique set of parameters that you and your athletes have to adapt to for training. Despite this, you have adapted to the circumstances very well and tailored a home-based program for Russel while all gyms are currently closed.
What do you feel are the key points under this new training regime?
Aaron: Core and stability will form the focus of our early preparation, which we can do effectively from the home or outdoors environment. Though we will also ensure tendon loading is sufficient, particularly around the knees, hips, and ankles. The running preparation will be the main proponent of tendon loading, and the home strength training will aid this.
Most athletes fear losing their hard-earned gains having built muscle and strength. How resilient is strength and aerobic conditioning? And how long a layoff period is viable before we would start to see a decline?
Aaron: Unfortunately, our physiology is very economical, and is quick to reverse physiological and structural adaptations that are no longer being used or used to a lesser extent. That is because these adaptations are resource demanding from a physiological and metabolic perspective.
The loss of physiological and structural adaptations resulting from a lack of exercise stimulus is termed “detraining”. While every athlete is unique, which is reflected in detraining research, generic decline values are available. Specifically, for strength, 1-week of no training will set you back 2-weeks of adaptation. Moreover, for aerobic fitness, 1-week of no training will set you back 4-weeks of adaptation. For example, if you stopped aerobic training on March 7th, then tried to recommence aerobic training on March 14th (that same year), then you would be as aerobically fit as you were on February 7th (approximately).
As a sprinter without a gym to currently use, what can be done to mitigate a decline in power?
Aaron: The good news is power development can be achieved by both increasing strength and increasing velocity. So while targeting both elements is ideal, when training without gym access, most athletes will be targeting velocity improvements. This is achieved via low loading exercises, often body-weight, that improve what some coaches call the “mind to muscle connection”. Specifically, the goal is to improve how fast an athlete can execute a specific movement. Many athletes will be familiar with the associated prescriptions already, having performed jumping and bounding exercises, which can also be modified with light weights from around the house (e.g. water bottles, small dumbbells, books).
What do you believe are the best ways to maintain strength without a gym?
Aaron: Perform a home-based gym program and eat a balanced diet that has sufficient energy to prevent/limit muscle loss.
What advice would you give to athletes regarding their diet and nutritional regime during this pandemic?
Aaron: With such a major disruption in training schedules, it often affects eating and meal preparation routines that are typically based around training. This can result in meal skipping or aimless snacking. The goal is to adapt, and establish new meal preparation routines and meal timings, to ensure the body is still adequately nourished.
While you can get an efficient strength workout using your bodyweight, investing in some basic equipment can help by giving you more exercise possibilities. Can you briefly talk us through the “home kit” you advised for Russel for those reading this?
Aaron: The main items I wanted Russel to have in his home exercise kit were some light weights, such as a pair of small dumbbells or a medicine ball, an ab wheel, and resistance bands. The weights will be combined with single-leg exercises to increase strength and power, while the bands will be used for stability. The ab wheel was imperative as, aside from core conditioning, it aids in hip flexor, chest, back, arm, and shoulder strength/power, which is important in the sprinting action.
TeamTaib: Many thanks for your time and input Aaron, and here at TeamTaib we hope our readers may have found some of the information useful – without giving away too many elite athlete/trainer secrets – to help everyone stay safe and fit whether an elite athlete or just a supporter at home in isolation in need of some exercise!