“Open Ready!” Physiological Indicators of Workout Performance
Fitness is defined as the quality or state of being fit. It seems odd to define “fitness” using the word “fit”. So, exploring the good book of Merriam-Webster, we find that “fit” is defined as being adapted to the environment so as to be capable of surviving; made ready. If you have fitness, you are supposedly sound both physically and mentally. Good thing every year 5-weeks of workouts double check to see how “fit” we really are.
“Open” season is well underway with athletes of all levels, from all around the globe, competing to test their fitness levels against others as well as themselves. Seems appropriate as most of us are testing to see if we are capable of surviving the workouts and if our last year of training has made us ready both physically and mentally.
As we enter our scores on our phones, still laying on our backs recovering from the workout, it is astonishing to see the speed and strength some athletes are displaying during these weekly workouts. Questions we begin to ask ourselves:
“What makes them so good?”
“How can I train to get better?”
What makes these athletes so good at their craft comes down to their physiology. The athletes that make it to the show in Madison, Wisconsin have trained day in and day out, sometimes, if not usually, twice a day. Their training is focused on eliciting the most positive and relevant adaptations to their physiology to enhance performance in their sport.
Commonly described, an athlete with an “engine” competes will in workouts. But, what does that mean? Is there anything scientifically published articles to support what makes someone good at working out? What makes someone finish workouts faster or get more reps? Is it aerobic capacity...strength...an “engine”? Let’s dive deeper into the scientific literature to see why some “Open” athletes perform better than others and how you can use this information to tailor your training to improve your performance.
Physiological Indicators of Performance
Now, we’re not going to beat around the bush. To our knowledge, there has been only 3 studies that have examined which physiological performance measures best indicate performance on workouts.
So, what you would think would be common knowledge at this point is actually a newly explored frontier in the field of exercise science and human performance.
Findings suggest that it is not just one physiological indicator that predicts performance on workouts but a wide range of physiological variables. This is why competing in this sport may be so challenging; you have to focus on training numerous physiological variables that are all in no way the same.
So, what are the variables?
Research indicates that you do need and engine, and we will clear up what that actually means here in a second. But, you also need strength, aerobic capacity, anaerobic power, and it helps if you have some more experience as well.
Examining these physiological variables more closely, we can start to see that there is a trend towards anaerobic performance predominating over aerobic performance. But before we dive into how you can focus your training, let’s discuss each of these variables in more detail and how they may predict workout performance.
“The Engine” is a pretty vague description of an athlete that can exercise really hard and not slow down. Basically, they are able to sustain a high maximal intensity without fatigue.
Before late last year, this was just somewhat of an assumption and observation made by athletes and coaches. However, a study has recently been published that indicates an athlete’s ability to fight fatigue may actually predict performance on a workout.
This study was published in the journal, Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, and had competitive athletes complete four-consecutive Wingate Anaerobic Tests. A Wingate test is performed on a cycle ergometer (an expensive exercise bike) in which participants or athletes pedal as hard as they can for 30-seconds against a resistance. Now, 30-seconds may not seem like a long time, but it’s brutal! Think of it like trying to get as many calories as you can on an assault bike in 30-seconds, but the resistance is harder. #Feeltheburn
What researchers revealed was that higher anaerobic power and a lower fatigue index across the consecutive tests was important for better workout performance. These findings support the observations and assumptions that those who can fight fatigue at maximal intensities may perform better at workouts.
Aerobic Capacity, Anaerobic Peak Power, and Experience
Now, the last study only examined results from just one physiological performance test. Albeit, it provided unique insight as the test was performed consecutively in one visit. However, examining both aerobic and anaerobic performance may help athletes and coaches in the design of their training programs.
Athletes, in a study published in the journal, Biology of Sport, were asked some descriptive information about their experience participating in competitive exercising and were assessed for their maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max) using a graded exercise test and anaerobic power using a Wingate test.
Findings indicated that experience was the greatest predictor for both a workout that was completed for time and for as many reps as possible. Though, aerobic capacity and anaerobic peak power were essential for performance on a workout completed for as many reps as possible but not for time.
Though this study examines more physiological variables than the first, it leaves many unanswered questions with numerous physiological variables unexamined.
Within all the “Open” workouts there comes a point where we look at the workout and know where we are going to stop because we just can’t lift that amount of weight. So, we lay there gasping for air and admire the person next to us lift “all the weight” and it’s quite impressive.
It’s no wonder that strength is a predictor of workout performance. Again, this has been common knowledge but has only had 1 study publish about it. So we have some catching-up to do on the research side.
The one study published in, The Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine, took things to a whole new level looking at both aerobic and anaerobic performance variables. Athletes completed a graded exercise test to assess aerobic capacity (VO2max) and with that test researchers also examined the lactate and respiratory compensations thresholds. The two threshold during exercise where our body starts to produce lactic acid and ventilation, or breathing rate, increases dramatically. Athletes also completed a strength and Wingate test as well.
So this study took the extra steps to examine several variables by performing multiple tests. And what they found was quite surprising. There were some moderate and strong relationships between the physiological variables and workout performance, but that strength was the biggest predictor of performance!
These findings contradict the previous study mentioned. This requires more research to be conducted to give us a clearer and more definite answer to understanding the physiological performance measures that indicate optimal workout performance.
How PowerDot Comes In To Play
Sifting through these studies and research that has been published on the physiological variables that best indicate workout performance we can start to see a trend. This trend is toward anaerobic power and strength which have a strong relationship to one another. Meaning, athletes who train for and have greater anaerobic power and strength will perform better on workouts. This is where using your PowerDot comes in to play.
Using PowerDot before a workout and during training days can help enhance performance in your next competitive workout.
For instance, neuromuscular electrical stimulation (PowerDot), when used with proper duration, intensity, and stimulation frequency, is recommended as an immediately effective warm-up for explosive sports activities. This is great news! PowerDot takes the duration, intensity, and frequency guesswork out of it for you as there is a warm-up setting already scientifically designed to prepare you for your next workout. Properly warmed-up muscles facilitates more rapid and forceful muscular contractions as well as enhanced utilization of energy.
PowerDot stimulates both Type I and Type II skeletal muscle fibers. Adding PowerDot to your training enhances the contraction strength of your muscles eliciting greater strength adaptations. So with PowerDot, your body reaps the greatest amount of benefits possible, especially when it comes to improving your strength.
Now, the strength adaptations can start becoming noticeable within just the first month but the enhanced performance from a proper warm-up utilizing PowerDot is immediate. It’s never too late to add PowerDot to your training today and improve your “Open” performance now and down the road.
Explore the PowerDot Smart Muscle Stimulator here.