part 2/4 of this series
Efficiency is pretty easy to understand, it also happens to be where it is the easiest to make the gains. Some of it comes from working to learn the right form. It just makes sense to work efficiently. If you have a pace you want to go, it will be easier if you do it efficiently. Try running with one arm down the neck of your shirt for a mile if you think the efficieny thing is a bunch of hullaballoo. (This is what I do when my heart rate monitor isn’t cooperating and trust me, it is less efficient… of course I am frantically tugging the strap cause its slipping or licking my hand to get my skin wet so it starts working… and yes, I know I look funny but I want the thing working).
Another thing that improves efficiency is that your body adapts the muscles to what you do. You may have heard about fast twich and slow twich muscles. If you train and improve the wrong ones and then expect to perform well you will be dissapointed. This is why you cannot weight lift to run better, you must run (ok a long weight training regime might have you improve all sorts of things including running time, but the improvement is not from running more efficiently, it is from other areas). The muscles you use as you perform are the ones that are improved. The best way to gain efficiency is to first learn the proper form and then practice more and more. Until you get the sense that you can do it in your sleep and find that you can still perform as you let your mind wander you are not as efficient as you can be. Another way to think of it is you find yourself working out “in the zone” more often, the form you use is just second nature. You should eventually be able to still keep the proper form as you get fatigued, then you know you have been practicing enough. You can of course practice the wrong form and get this same feeling, it is more a sense of having learned your form as you practice it. You will need a coach or some video analysis if you want to begin the probably difficult task of having to unlearn the wrong form and so you can learn the right one. So go get a coach to make the most gains here.
To improve form is easy enough, you just learn it and then practiceas you learned it, that is properly. But can we make our muscles adapt faster or better? Sure thing. You will need to read more than what I have to share if you want all the details. I am not at a level where I need to get anything extra, I am still losing weight, that extra baggage gone is going to be the best thing I can worry about. Here are some articles to read more on the topic though:
Growing more blood vessels in your muscles just happens with exercise, researchers are trying to learn more about it to use it for curing disease:
We might know about muscle adaptation to exercise, but we don’t always know why:
Doing two workouts in a day with the second being with low muscle glycogen content sounds like a crazy idea to me, but this reaseacher has found it may help your endurance. To achieve this you simply workout in the morning after breakfast, and then don’t eat anything and work out again at lunch time before lunch. As long as you get a little boost of carbs just before the workout (think gatorade) so your liver glycogen doesn’t go too low (bonking) and understand that you will not be performing optimally because your muscles don’t have the normal amount of stored energy (hitting the wall), I can’t imagine it would do any harm, but it will definitely not be as easy to recover from. I actually have been focusing on a smooth recovery so I can work out twice a day three days of the week, this is the last thing I want to do at this point. I would put this in the list of try it to see if you like it cause you probably won’t:
So I have been learning all about form and the following videos either helped me learn or contain the same information that I was taught. I like to go through them once in a while, along with other new ones, to try and get little tidbits of wisdom that just flew over my head since I probably wasn’t ready. I am not going to regurgitate proper form in any events here, there are going to be hundreds of websites and books that will do a better job of it that I ever could. I like linking to the videos cause it is so much more helpful.
swimming efficiency: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYt8x_7uL48
more videos from the same guy who is Ironman Champion Dave Scott on all three disciplines: http://www.youtube.com/user/ACTIVEdotCOM
bike fit and proper form:
This is a 6-part series that shows a cool bike fit system, it gives you an idea about how important it is to get a bike that fits which is a large part of having the proper form: http://www.youtube.com/user/LindaTris
running form, now I admit this one is a little corny, but it is very helpful: