Cycling Performance Summit

Aside from the obvious enjoyment and benefits we gain from cycling – all those extra hours of training we dedicate leading up to a specific event, are usually to improve both our cycling performance and experience. Whether an improvement means finishing in the middle of the pack rather than at the back, winning your age category – or being on the top of the podium at the elite level; you obviously want to see a return on time invested.

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Monitoring Your Training

Monitoring training is a great way to keep track of what you have been doing, and identify what has worked for you and what hasn’t. Previously, weekly distance (kilometres covered in training), and hours spent training have been used to quantify training.

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Optimising Your Cycling Training

There are a variety of disciplines within cycling, each with their own specific demands. The three types we will look at here are Olympic Cross-Country (XCO), Cross-Country Marathon (XCM), and Downhill (DH) riding, and how to plan your cycling training accordingly.

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Planning Your Training

The purpose of all the hours we spend training for a specific event is to improve our performance. Depending on your current level of fitness and experience, improvements could mean finishing in the middle of the pack rather than at the back, winning your age category, or taking the top podium position at the elite level.

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“Running in heaven, feeling like hell” – The PUFfeR Experience

some anecdotes from PUFfeR runner & sports scientist from SSISA, Kathleen Mc Quaide writes about tackling her third PUFfeR.   This is the rather apt event slogan for the PUFfeR – which as you might know – is an 80km trail run from the Cape Point Nature reserve to the Waterfront – over the mountains! It begs the question – why would anyone seek to engage in an activity where you feel like hell – and believe me – within the scope of this 80km journey – hell in all of its manifestations… hits you squarely between the eyes. Who in their right minds would get out of a comfortable, cozy bed at 2am and get dressed in skimpy running kit (ok with a few extra layers on) – drive 50kays to get out to Cape Point Nature reserve entrance – then hop onto a dilapidated bus that may or may not get you to Cape Point then spits you out the other side in the freezing cold, windy empty car park – along with 140 plus others intrepid souls – so that you can run 80km’s over the mountains back to the waterfront – with a total altitude gain of almost three Table Mountain summits? Not only that – but we pay for this self-inflicted torture – which could include running into gale force winds, into driving rain and hailstorms – all of which hit us in 2012. Not to mention a high risk of falling and sustaining an injury. And the prize for this venture? In 2012, aside from an egg-sized haematoma on my cheek bone –... read more

How weight affects sleep in South Africans – UCT Sleep Study

How well do overweight and obese South Africans sleep, compared to their lean counterparts? The Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (ESSM) of the University of Cape Town, based at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) in Newlands, is investigating how weight affects sleep in South Africans Participant recruitment for the two groups is now open. Men with a waist circumference of 102cm or less or women with a waist circumference of 88cm or less in combination with a BMI of less than 25 will be categorized in the lean group, and for those who have a BMI equal to or greater than 25 and a waist circumference greater than the abovementioned limits will be categorized in the overweight and obese group. Participation involves two (for the lean group) or four (for the overweight and obese group) visits to the SSISA. During the first visit we ask you to complete a questionnaire and perform a fitness test. We will also measure your height, weight, body composition, resting blood pressure, fasted cholesterol and blood sugar. Finally, we will take a blood sample and a swab of loose cheek cells for DNA analysis. We will then ask you to wear a watch-like device that records your activity and sleep for the following seven days. The second visit is solely to return the device (a pick-up can be arranged). For those in the lean group, the study ends here (total of two visits). For those in the overweight and obese group, we will contact you 8 weeks later to perform the same tests again (total of four visits). That’s... read more

Male runners needed for UCT running research study

Are you a male runner with good experience in marathon or half-marathon runs? Would you like to learn more about your body composition, resting metabolic rate, insulin-sensitivity and markers of metabolic health? Would you like a comprehensive analysis of your diet, physical activity levels and sleep patterns, as well as your maximal oxygen consumption during exercise (VO2max)? The UCT Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine is recruiting participants for a new running research study. The aim is to investigate why some RUNNERS are able to remain lean while others seem to gain weight with age, with primary focus on metabolic and lifestyle factors. Eligible volunteers must Be 30 to 45 years of age Have a Body Mass Index, (weight divided by the square of your height), of 30–35 kg/m2 Have completed about 1 marathon or 2 half-marathon runs per year for the past 5 years Have completed a marathon or half-marathon within the past 6 months Have been running consistently for the past 6 months Volunteers will NOT be able to participate if they: Have significantly changed their diets within the past 6 months Have gained or lost significant weight (≥ 5 %) within the past 3 months During the study, participants will need to; visit the Sports Science Institute of South Africa in Newlands on 3 occasions have a body composition (DXA) scan, dietary and resting metabolic rate (RMR) assessment complete questionnaires on personal and family health history, sleep quality, stress, running training, and habitual and sports nutrition complete a 3-day food record and wear accelerometers for 7 days to measure physical activity and sleep have an... read more

Healthy participants required for UCT brain study

Researchers at the Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (ESSM) based at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa in Newlands, Cape Town are conducting some novel research on brain activity. The aim of the brain study is to better understand what areas of the brain become activated during exercise fatigue and how Ritalin (methylphenidate) affects this response. The first visit of about 60 minutes will take place at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa. You will be required to have a Structured Clinical Interview. Prior to the trial you will complete a Self-Regulation Questionnaire and Barratt Impulsivity Questionnaire. You will also complete a full familiarisation handgrip exercise trial and a 1-back and 0-back Task in a mock Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) scanner.   The second and third sessions will take place at Groote Schuur on two separate occasions, 7 days apart and will each lasting about 1.5 hours. A saliva sample will be taken and you will complete a Barratt Impulsivity Questionnaire and Self-regulation Questionnaire prior to taking either Ritalin or the placebo to ensure that there has been no use of psychostimulant substances. During session two you will be given a single dose of Ritalin or the placebo and 2 hours later complete the handgrip exercises and a 1-back and 0-back Task in the fMRI scanner. Session three is the same as session two – except you get the alternative of what you received in session 2 (Ritalin vs placebo). Those interested in being research participants of the brain study should: Be between the ages of 25 and 45 years Have a Body Mass... read more

Strength training for endurance performance

The benefits of strength training on endurance performance have long been debated. Previously strength training was thought to negatively affect endurance performance due to increases in muscle mass and the feeling of tired or heavy legs. However, recent research has shown that it is possible to improve endurance performance by incorporating well-structured strength training as part of your preparations. In this article we will explain the proposed benefits of strength training as well as provide some guidelines on what to look for in a strength training programme. How does strength training affect the determinants of endurance performance? Two of the most common methods of strength training are heavy strength training and explosive strength training. Both of these methods can improve endurance performance, but both promote different training adaptations. Heavy strength training is designed to increase or maintain the maximal force that can be produced by the muscles and is typically characterised by lifting loads that allow for 1 – 15 repetitions. Explosive strength training is typically involves accelerating lighter loads (sometimes only body weight) at maximal speeds. One of the most commonly reported ‘predictors’ of endurance performance is maximal oxygen consumption or V̇O2max. Measured in a controlled environment in a laboratory, large V̇O2max values have been associated with success in endurance-based sports. However, it is important to remember that the winner of a race might not be the competitor with the highest V̇O2max. Although there is a large genetic component to determining an athlete’s V̇O2max, it is ‘trainable’ and can improve following well-structured training. Interestingly, there is no evidence to suggest that adding strength training to an endurance athlete’s... read more

Morning-type vs. Evening-type Athletes

Morning-type vs. Evening-type: Scheduled race start time may influence participation and performance in South African and Dutch marathons Each person has a built-in biological clock that guides us in being active, perform specific tasks and sleep at specific times of day, known as our circadian clock. However, each individual’s circadian clock does not run synchronously with that of others. As a result, each individual prefers to be active, perform specific tasks and sleep at slightly different times, according to his or her circadian clock. This characteristic is what we call a person’s chronotype: morning-types (or early birds), evening-types (or night owls) and everything in between. A study in 2012 found that South African runners, cyclists and Ironman triathletes were more likely to be morning-type compared to South Africans that do not participate in competitive sports but who do go to the gym to exercise. The South African athletes from that study were also more likely to be morning-type than most other populations around the world. We could think of three explanations for this: 1) because the athletes are more physically active than the gym-goers; 2) because South Africa has a warmer climate than the countries from the other populations around the world; 3) because of the early endurance race start times (approximately 6 a.m.) in South Africa. We set out to explore which of these explanations may be true by comparing males who run marathons to males who train in the gym for fitness but do not run, from South Africa (warm climate and early race start times) and the Netherlands (less warm climate and later race start times).... read more

SSISA hosts Notre Dame Students in inaugural South African tour

The Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) was proud to host a group of athletes from the prestigious Notre Dame University in Indiana, U.S. The students on a three week visit to South Africa, began their tour in Johannesburg and concluded their trip in Cape Town, where they continued their rigorous training at SSISA in Newlands. For this group of 16 students this tour is their first trip outside of the U.S and a brief pause in their year-long training.  Consisting of 8 men and 8 women participating in football, swimming, fencing, soccer, volleyball, women’s basketball, and golf they represent some of the best sporting talent the Ivy League university has to offer “We wanted to give these tremendously talented students an opportunity to travel and engage with the wider world, while ensuring their intensive training regime could be met by a world class training facility and SSISA met all those requirements,” said Anre Venter Ph.D., Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Psychology , University of Notre Dame and South African expat. While the trip is a unique opportunity for these students, many of whom are tagged as future professionals in their respective sporting disciplines, it was also an opportunity for SSISA to participate in a partnership promoting excellence in sport on a global level. “This programme is an opportunity for SSISA to showcase our skills and facilities as a multi-disciplinary platform with a group of athletes unaccustomed to South African training methods. It means we are able to assess our offering objectively and collaboratively as professionals who share a passion for the continued development of sport,” concluded... read more

What is Grucox?

The Grucox center is a specialized training and rehabilitation facility located on the 1st floor within the Sports Science Institute of South Africa. It houses the state of the art Grucox eccentric  bicycle. These bicycles are unique in that the Grucox bike’s pedals are motorized by a special motor. You may think that this will make the workout easier? Unfortunately not. You train on this bike through resisting against the motor. This resisting motion, or eccentric training, has been shown to be more beneficial than traditional resistance training and has therefore become increasingly popular in rehabilitation, performance training, as well as general well-being. All rehabilitation and training sessions conducted at the Grucox center are monitored by a health care professional (physiotherapist or a biokineticist), with extensive knowledge in eccentric training for performance, rehabilitation and general well-being for all populations. What is eccentric training? During eccentric training the muscle elongates while trying to resist or slow down an opposing force. The muscle produces an eccentric contraction when lowering a weight. However, the Grucox bike is the only way to perform constant eccentric training.  What are the benefits of eccentric training on the Grucox? Greater strength gains compared to conventional resistance training (concentric). Eccentric training has been shown to prevent injury Training on the grucox bike is more functional Eccentric training improves muscle control Eccentric training indices minimal cardiac load with maximal muscle strain/ effort Low joint impact – ideal for older or ‘at risk’ clients Who should perform Grucox eccentric training? Anybody wanting to strengthen and tone their leg muscles. Runners and cyclist, as well as other sportspeople, will benefit... read more

Become a 10km, 21.1km runner with OptiFit or venture into trail running with us

Have you longed to be a runner but have convinced yourself that you are not designed to run? Think again! Our human physiology and indomitable spirits show we are definitely designed to run – but the trick is to progress gradually – allowing your body to adapt to the process.   OptiFit, which runs in association with the Sports Science Institute of SA (SSISA), has three running programmes – one for novices (12 weeks to your first 10km) – a 10 weeks to 21.1km programme for 10km runners, and then a 10 week trail programme for wannabe trail runners who can manage 5km on tar, preparing members to complete an intermediate level trail run of 15km. Recent research, conducted by UCT’s Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Unit on OptiFit’s 10km programme, found it to be extremely safe and scientific with members reaching their goal with no muscle damage or pain. Each course includes three sessions a week where you are trained by caring Sports Scientists/Biokineticists – who are themselves runners. During these sessions – we will help you master the skills and gain confidence on becoming a road or trail runner. We also provide you with useful tips about running gear, groups to train with and stunning events on the calendar. We do basic health and fitness assessments at the start and finish of the course and the entire group participates in their official target race – the Edgemead 10km run, the Winelands 21.1km or La Capra Goat trail run in Paarl (15km). The trail course kicks off late July and the 10km and 21.1km courses early September and... read more

How to stay healthy this winter

On the whole, your immune system does a remarkable job of defending you against disease causing microorganisms, but sometimes it fails and unfortunately you get sick. The immune system is precisely what it implies— it is a system and not a single entity. Therefore to function well, it requires balance and harmony throughout all the different areas. Many researches are exploring the effects of diet, exercise, age, rest, psychological stress, herbal supplements, and other factors on the immune response, but we all know that proper nutrition is vital and it takes more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away. Adding certain foods to your diet can definitely boost your immune system and keep you healthy during the fast approaching winter season.  Below are some interesting natural foods that can help boost your immunity. Yoghurt – Probiotics, or the “live active cultures” found in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs and remember a healthy gut equals a healthy immune system. Oats and Barley – These grains contain beta-glucan, a type of fibre with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities more potent than Echinacea. It boosts immunity; speeds wound healing, and may help antibiotics work better. Keep an eye out for the new FUTURELIFE® Smart Oats, which boasts 1 g of oat beta-glucan per 50g serving. Garlic – This well-known immune booster is a potent onion relative and contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. Tea – The amino acid that is responsible for this immune boost, L-theanine, is abundant in both black and green tea. Chicken Soup... read more

Risk Factors Associated With Shoulder Injuries In Swimmers

The UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine would like to invite you to take part in a research study which study aims to identify the genetic, familial and training history factors that may contribute to the onset of shoulder injuries.   Study outline: Although there is a high occurrence of shoulder pain and injury (tendinopathy) as a result of participation in sport, especially sports involving chronic overuse (such as swimming), the cause(s) of these injuries are poorly understood. Some researchers have suggested that there is a genetic component to tendinopathy. In an attempt to determine whether there is a genetic basis for shoulder tendinopathy, we are interested in studying whether certain genes are associated with these injuries. Additionally, we are also interested in the various other risk factors (such as swimming history, medical and familial history as well as other sports participation) that may also be associated with shoulder tendinopathy.   Participant criteria: We are looking for any swimmers over the age of 18 with or without current or previous shoulder problems.   Testing procedures: This project is being conducted by Mr Lee Hill, Dr Mike Posthumus and Prof Malcolm Collins from the UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human Biology at the University of Cape Town. Testing will take place either at the Sports Science Institute (Boundary Road, Newlands) or at your club or at a competition (I am flexible and will fit in with your time). The testing will take approximately 15-30 minutes of your time. Once you have completed the questionnaire we will need to confirm a diagnosis of rotator cuff... read more

Male Cyclists Wanted For UCT Research

Male cyclists are wanted for a study evaluating the relationship between intrinsic factors, performance, comfort and economy in relation to static and dynamic whole body kinematics in cyclists. Study outline The study aims to provide information regarding the changes in the joint angles from a static to a dynamic position as well as recording the various cycling-related outcomes during an hour long cycle between recreational and elite cyclists. Testing includes: Laboratory visits to test peak oxygen consumption and other measurements Two 60min steady state rides a week apart at 60% peak power output EMG measurements, oxygen consumption and 3D joint angle ranges will be taken. Participants should meet the following criteria: Males aged 18 to 45 years of age. 2014 Argus time of no longer than 4hrs30min. Minimum training load of at least 4 hours per week on average in the 3 months preceding the trial. No change to bicycle set-up in last three months, and be comfortable in current set-up. Subjects will only be recruited if the relative peak power output produced during Preliminary testing is greater than 3.6W/kg. Benefits of participating in the study include: A comprehensive report of all personal test results will be made available to each participant after the study.   DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: June 2015 If you are interested in taking part in the study and would like additional information, please contact: Wendy Holliday Email: read more

Vitality Elite Fitness Assessment (VEFA)

  Are you a runner, cyclist or triathlete who wants to run and ride faster? We’ve got the answer. We’ll measure what you’ve got, and then we help you to get those Personal Bests that you’re aiming for – and in the same way that the top professional athletes do it. This all starts with a Discovery Elite Fitness Assessment: Developed by the world-famous Sports Science Institute of SA’s High Performance Centre – this assessment offers you detailed information and customised data, and is available at accredited universities and High Performance Centres around the country. It only takes 90 minutes, and it provides a range of results: anthropometric measurements (like body fat percentage and more); an evaluation of your overall functional movement; a study of your flexibility and stability; and lastly, the performance data from a VO2 max test done on either a bike or running on a treadmill. Not only will you get all this incredible scientific data about yourself, you’ll also be given tools to improve your weaknesses – like corrective training programmes to address any mobility shortcomings, five individualised training zones as well as some guidelines to help you perform better in your chosen sport. Oh, and you get 10 000 Discovery Vitality points! Treat yourself like a high-performance athlete and head on to... read more

The Spirit of Comrades 2015

The Spirit of Comrades with insightful tips from top running experts By Kathleen Mc Quaide Sports Scientist and Strategic, Marketing and Relationship Manager of the Sports Science Institute of SA (SSISA)   Outside the majestic City Hall in Durban, strains of “Shosholoza” and “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” from an 22 000 strong choir will fill the air before the evocative ‘Chariots of Fire’ theme takes over – heightening the anticipation and emotion of the masses. The Max Trimborn cock will crow, the cannon will fire – releasing the adrenaline-charged, euphoric mass of humanity to commence their long-awaited Comrades journey. This is the scene that awaits us with about a month to go, as 22 000 runners, from all walks of life – but with a common mission in their hearts, begin their 87km journey, from Durban to Petermaritzburg, the “up run”, on Sunday, 31 May 2015. Nowhere else in the world will you see such a spectacle- and those who are strangers to the magnetism of long-distance running, will wonder what on earth draws up to 22 000 ordinary people from almost 60 countries worldwide, to expose themselves voluntarily to such torment. This is the Spirit of Comrades. As a six-times Comrades finisher and an avid long distance runner, it is the words of Prof Tim Noakes – that for me, best encapsulate why we do it….. “I know why this is all necessary,” he says “what common bond unites all Comrades runners. It is the need to look for the mountains in life. Skill, you see, is not our requirement, nor has your race got anything to do with... read more

Optimal Eating and Physical Activity to promote a healthy lifestyle

We refer to the ongoing and robust scientific debate concerning what comprises healthy eating so as to promote health and prevent and manage chronic, non-communicable diseases, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers. While there is common ground on various healthy lifestyle choices, it is our view that no absolute or definitive nutritional composition guidelines exist (particularly in relation to the issue of weight loss), and any eating plan needs to be considered in conjunction with environmental and social circumstances; individual health profiles and of course never underestimating the importance of regular physical activity*, and with due regard to sustainability. We acknowledge the pioneering work and leadership shown by Professor Tim Noakes in the quest for answers to this fundamentally important human desire; attaining and sustaining good health. That said, we also recognise the importance of opposing views in the dietary debate and the critical role ongoing interrogation plays in fuelling further research, discovery and progression. The extent to which the public debate has brought the importance of basic healthy dietary habits to the fore, is an obvious benefit of the current deliberation on the competitive merits of various eating plans. *Perhaps overshadowed in this debate, is that one of the most important health risk factors – is the lack of regular physical activity. Insufficient physical activity (less than 150 minutes of at least moderate physical activity per week), is the fourth most preventable cause of death and disability globally and ninth on the burden of disease list for South Africa. In a study published in the highly prestigious Lancet (2012), it was suggested that... read more

Last minute tips before your Half-marathon

Just a few days to go until the Old Mutual Two Oceans Half-marathon takes place. In the interests of helping you to have your best race possible – here are some valuable tips from our experts at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA). Training and tapering For dedicated, hardworking athletes, tapering is often one of the most difficult phases of a training schedule. It is a training phase where you decrease your training volume significantly but maintain your intensity with short sharp runs. So…the last few days before race day should look something like this: Tuesday: 7km (last 3km push) Wednesday: Rest Thursday: 4km with 10 x 100m strides to end with Friday: 20 min run – easy – do a few strides at the end Saturday: Race Tips for race day and the build up • Stay away from high fibre meals like curries and exotic food for at least 2 days before race day. • On race morning stick to the routine that you have been using in training. • Set two alarm clocks! • Lay out your running kit and all your goodies the night before. • Give yourself MORE than enough time on race morning. • Don’t try anything new on race day- nutrition-wise- new shoes, different pacing! • Even though you may be excited by the crowds and other runners- start off conservatively and run your own race. • During the race- drink to thirst – (usually about 400 – 600 ml of fluid per hour). It is very easy to consume more than is necessary, which will often result in a... read more

Some Common-Sense Principles for Successful Living

By Clinton Gahwiler (Sports Psychologist)     Fulfillment occurs spontaneously when there is a congruency between your personal values, and how you are actually spending your time on a daily basis. (What you are doing, should head you in the direction of where you want to be).   To be truly successful, recognize the importance of sustainability over time.   For sustainability – manage your energy levels appropriately. (Think of yourself as a reservoir of energy which in its natural state is full. As you go through life, certain things drain you, while others top you up again. Effective self-management is about managing this energy flow in a way that ensures an on-going balance between input and output.)   Judge your success and failure not on whether or not you achieved an outcome, but on how well you did everything that was under your control. (Holding yourself accountable for the un-controllables – which like it or not do also influence the outcome – is nonsensical and irrational).   Identify the main areas of your life, as well as the minimum time you should be spending per week on each of these. Commit absolutely to these non-negotiable minimums. (This should leave plenty of time to be flexible with everything else. If not, you have not been ruthless enough in identifying the bare essentials. For sustainability, remember to include things like rest, sleep, and time for yourself).   Stop waiting to feel motivated. (Commit to the non-negotiable minimums in each life area, the same way you do to things like going to work, cooking, or looking after your children.)   If guilt prevents you from doing this, distinguish between your actual responsibilities, and your own... read more

Health Benefits of a Holiday

by Kim Woolrich- Biokineticist and Content and Programme Manager at SSISA What happens to our bodies on holiday?   When you go on holiday and stop training for an extended period, the physiological effects of training do diminish.  This can be explained the principle of reversibility meaning that if you don’t use it, you lose it.   Detraining occurs within a relatively short time period after you stop exercising but is also dependent on your current fitness level.  Fitter, more experienced athletes take longer to lose the effects of training compared to people who are new to exercise and better trained athletes will also regain the benefits quicker once they start exercising again.   Some studies have shown about 10% of strength is lost after 8 weeks of no training and as much as 30-40% of muscular endurance is lost during the same period.  (Costill, D. & Richardson, A. (1993). Handbook of sports medicine: Swimming. London: Blackwell Publishing) Another study showed that muscular strength returned to pre-exercise levels after a 4-12 week break and that aerobic conditioning can be lost in as soon as 2 weeks.   Holidays are also an important time to bring balance into your life – spending time with friends and family, relaxing and allowing your body to recuperate for another season of activity. Constant work without taking any holidays, can lead to stress-related diseases or burn-out.   Why are holidays a necessity not a luxury?   Stress is a huge factor in most of our lives and it is a constant battle trying to balance everything we need to do – with too little time... read more

10 Motivational Tips to Keep You Moving

Read this article, digest it, implement the ideas, get active and hopefully you won’t look back! Motivated to Exercise? For sure! By Kathleen Mc Quaide You can’t argue with the fact that deciding to exercise regularly is arguably the best health investment you could ever make! “True in theory” – you say, “but where on earth do I get the motivation from?” Read this article, digest it, implement the ideas, get active and hopefully you won’t look back!  Sure – there are many obstacles that you can allow to block your way – but WHY? Why deprive yourself of a much better quality of life? So those who say “Exercise is too boring”, or “I’m in no shape to exercise” or “I simply don’t have the time” – CLEAR YOUR MIND, leave it open to re-set these thoughts and read on. Firstly – let’s get comfortable with the term exercise. Perhaps you equate this only with jogging, power walking, swimming, rowing, squash, cycling and stair stepping; all of which could be pretty intimidating. There is good news – other more gentle activities such as dancing, mowing the lawn, gardening and light sporting activities also qualify as exercise. According to an article in the journal “THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTS MEDICINE” (Feb 2000), moderate physical activities are definitely worthwhile and are highly effective in managing weight, promoting health and reducing stress. Furthermore, there is increased respect for the process of exercise or physical activity–doing something daily, regardless of the amount of fitness produced. This is GREAT news and makes the whole idea of health through physical activity so much more attainable.... read more

Walking Can be First Rate Exercise

Walking is fast becoming one of the more popular activities for health and fitness globally. It is a low-impact, all-round body conditioner with a low risk of injury, which is why it can be a first rate exercise. Walking is fast becoming one of the more popular activities for health and fitness globally.  It is a low-impact, all-round body conditioner with a low risk of injury. Walking also has many added health benefits – it tones muscles (including your all-important heart muscle), increases bone density and is a great way to lose extra weight and decrease your risk of suffering from chronic diseases of lifestyle. On top of this, is the fact that it is low-cost – all you need is a pair of good shoes, its accessible to most, it’s a great social activity and a very effective de-stressor that can lift your spirits and increase your energy. You can see why it is a winner! Keep reading and you will see just how easy it is to get into walking and be rewarded with all the associated health benefits. Getting started requires a good shock absorbing, supportive pair of walking shoes, perhaps a stopwatch and some comfortable clothing, other paraphernalia is optional.   PURCHASING THE CORRECT WALKING SHOES FOR YOU Here are a few basic tips: Purchase the right type of shoe for your foot strike. A salesman at a reputable sports store should be able to advise you. Usually walking shoes should be one size bigger than your casual shoes. Shop later in the day when your feet are a little swollen, since feet swell with... read more

How To Stay Healthy and Injury Free!

HOW TO STAY HEALTHY AND INJURY FREE – By Kim Woolrich, Registered Biokineticist PREVENTING INJURY Warm-up: Always ensure that you are sufficiently warmed-up.  A warm-up prepares the body for exercise and is thus determined by the type of exercise to be performed.  A good warm-up will consist of light cardiovascular exercise, sometimes stretching and specific exercises that mimic the type of activity to be undertaken such as arms and leg swings. Stretching: While researchers continue to look at the benefits and pitfalls of stretching, there is still limited and conflicting evidence to sort out these opinions. Many studies done on the effects of stretching before exercise have shown no benefits in decreasing muscle soreness and improving performance. However studies done on the effects of a warm-up followed by stretching showed improved range of motion in joints and consequently may reduce injuries. Stretching   While there is an important hereditary component to general flexibility, specific joints or muscles may become stiff as a result of injury, overactivity or overuse.    Many studies support the use of thirty second stretches as part of general conditioning to improve range of motion. It is best to customize your routine to fit your needs. Assess your body and your sport and make sure you stretch (and strengthen) in order to reduce muscle imbalances.  Thus it is important to stretch tight muscles groups, but remember that being too flexible can also result in injury.   Suitable Equipment: This includes suitable running shoes. There are so many different models of running shoes to choose from, that it is best to have your feet assessed by a professional such as... read more

Anti-Ageing Effects of Exercise

  Since ancient times, humans have been concerned with developing and preserving youthful vigor.  Today, there is enough understanding of the ageing process to attempt to delay it.  So, the question is, has the modern world finally found the long sought after elixir of youth?   Although many advances towards our understanding of the ageing process have given gerontologists new insights in potential anti-ageing interventions, public demand for these interventions is outpacing our current knowledge.     One of the simplest and possibly most effective methods for living a longer and fuller life is actually available NOW! Scientists have found the closest thing to an anti-ageing pill……….. REGULAR EXERCISE!!   Anti-Ageing Effects of Exercise:   The evidence is not anecdotal but research based. Studies at the National Institute of Ageing have repeatedly shown that regular exercise and strength training can have a profound effect on the rate of human ageing, and may even forestall the disabilities and diseases which were previously thought of as the unavoidable price of growing old.   Even if exercise is initiated late in life, it can still delay the effects of ageing. Here are some myths and misconceptions about ageing that need to be debunked:    Ageing is synonymous with debilitating chronic illnesses. Older people shouldn’t exercise, because it might hurt them or “ use up” what little strength and vitality they have left. Even if exercise won’t hurt, it can’t possibly help.  By the time someone is 60 or 65, the damage has already been done and can’t be reversed anyway, so why bother? Feeling “down” and being depressed is a normal part... read more

Mistakes People Make When Exercising

– By Kathleen Mc Quaide-Little, Exercise Scientist and SSISA Marketing & Media Manager THEY GLAMORISE EXERCISE   One of the mistakes people make when exercising is to glamorise it. Let’s face it, models exercising on the pages of health magazines look stunning and appear to be making minimum effort and yet achieving outstanding results! It all looks so easy – and yet when smart people hit the gym and its actually pretty hard work to get fit – they give up – because it seems too hard!   FACT: Becoming fit and keeping fit requires commitment, effort and exercising even when you don’t feel like it!  We find that many people look at sports stars and models in magazines and really glamorize exercise, thinking it’s always easy and always feels good. Even the most avid sportspersons and motivated exercisers, have days (or even weeks), when they feel lazy or demotivated, but they probably have a plan to deal with these feelings. REMEMBER, the enormous health benefits you receive from “putting in a little slog” make it well worth the effort.   GO FOR THE KILL!    Some “smart people” decide that when they start to exercise, they may as well do it in style and set themselves lofty goals such as running a marathon, or training seven days a week. Needless to say, it doesn’t take long for them to feel despondent, either because their goal seems so unattainable, or because they realise that they can’t possibly keep up with their rigorous programmes.   FACT: Set realistic, short-term goals (e.g. one a month). Exercise should be part of your lifestyle for... read more

Fight and Get Rid of Everyday Fatigue

– By Kim Woolrich, Registered Biokineticist & SSISA Marketing and Media: New Initiatives Co-ordinator DID YOU KNOW:   Exercise is a great way to increase your energy levels and fight off feelings of fatigue. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain thus delivering more oxygen and enzymes important for energy production.  Exercise is known to have positive effects on mental health and stress management. It improves sleep and immune function, elevates overall mood and well-being.   TIPS TO GET RID OF EVERYDAY FATIGUE:   To receive these benefits you don’t have to run 10 km’s a day – even a small amount of increased activity will be helpful.   Incorporate exercise into ever day living; on your lunch break take a walk outside even if only for 10 minutes, take the stairs, don’t sit for long periods of time – take a walk – have a stretch, play with your kids when you get home, take the dog for a walk……. Try to do moderate exercise 3-5 times a week for 30 minutes to 1hour. This can include walking, hiking, cycling, gym classes, strength training etc. And remember anything is better than nothing! Exercising first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day. It revitalises you for the rest of the day and there is a greater chance that you will do it than if you have to exercise after a long day at work. Exercising or just being outdoors is a fantastic energy booster.  Majority of us work indoors all day so get out there and feel she fresh air and sunlight on your... read more

How Much Should I Exercise?

– By Kathleen Mc Quaide-Little, Sports Scientist and SSISA Marketing & Media Manager   How Many Times per Week Should We Exercise and for What Duration?   When asking yourself “How Much Should I Exercise?”, the good news is you don’t have to do a lot of exercise for health benefits.  A brisk half-hour walk, most days of the week, is an example of sufficient exercise for significant benefits. In fact, research conducted by a world famous Sports Scientist (Paffenberger), showed that if one burns off an extra 150 calories (630 kilojoules) per day by being more physically active, one will benefit greatly. If we take the 150 calories as a “dose of exercise” required on most days, here are some examples of how much of each type of exercise listed below you would need to do. This is based on an average 70kg adult:    INTENSITY ACTIVITY SPEED (WHERE APPROPRIATE) TIME (MINUTES) Moderate Walking (moderate pace) 4.8 km/hr 37 Moderate Walking (fairly brisk pace) 6.4 km/hr 32 Hard Brisk walking 7.5 km/hr 21 Moderate Table tennis   32 Moderate Raking leaves   32 Moderate Mowing the lawn   29 Hard Jogging 8 km/hr 18 Very hard Running 9.6 km/hr 13 V. V. Hard Running 12 km/hr 8 (Extracted from Surgeon General’s report on health and physical activity 1996)   Alternatively, as stated in the guidelines issued by the ACSM (American Congress of Sports Medicine): Try to accumulate approximately 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise most days of the week.   Put in simple terms – try to take more steps each day! Notice the word – accumulate…     For example… You might find... read more

How Exercise Benefits Your Heart

By Kathleen Mc Quaide-Little (Sports Scientist and Marketing and Media Manager, SSISA) September brings with it positive hints of spring, with luscious fresh green vegetation, longer days and warmer weather. We contemplate shedding our “winter layers” attained through months of hibernation; we look forward to getting more active and emerging in summer, as fitter, healthier people! September is also Heart Month, which is ideal timing, since exercise is one of the best ways of shaping up your cardiovascular (heart) fitness.   You might ask – is being inactive really so bad for you? YES, inactivity is one of the four major risk factors for heart disease, on a par with smoking, unhealthy cholesterol and even high blood pressure. Scientific research shows that compared to physically active people, inactive people have up to twice the risk of suffering from a heart attack and three times the chance of dying immediately after such an attack.   Physical activity, on the other hand, can prevent or diminish the risk of developing chronic diseases of lifestyle (such as heart disease), thereby increasing longevity and improving your quality of life.   Just in case you need further convincing, here is how exercise benefits your heart:   Stronger heart Like all muscles, the heart becomes stronger and larger as a result of exercise, so it can pump more blood around the body with every beat. The resting heart rate of those who exercise is also lower, because less effort is needed to pump blood around the body.   Lower risk of coronary heart disease People who maintain an active lifestyle (equivalent to about 15km of walking a... read more

“Be Your Own Hero” Week 1

By Kathleen Mc Quaide-Little (Sports Scientist and Marketing and Media Manager, SSISA) Just over a year ago – we were bursting at the seams with excitement, patriotism, passion and admiration for our Bafana Bafana heroes, as they tackled top class teams in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  In 2011, all our attention is on our “Bokke” ‘who are facing their first World Cup Rugby match against Wales in Wellington this weekend. It is wonderful for us to have heroes – icons in sport who motivate and inspire us.   But it’s important to remember that whilst most of them are genetically gifted to perform at the highest level, they have also sacrificed much and toiled away for years, at grueling training sessions to accomplish the level of performance they have reached.  Sheer hard work and determination have helped to make them heroes.  YOU CAN ALSO BE YOUR OWN HERO – if we throw some dedication and commitment into the cause. It is exactly this theme that Tim Noakes, Professor of Exercise and Sports Science at UCT, marathon runner, mentor, researcher, and hero wrote about in a popular magazine article. In fact – we are going to borrow this theme – “Being Your Own Hero”- for the next 7 weeks as we help you on your way to achieving what you thought was impossible.    Noakes points out that anyone can be a hero if they get off the couch, put one foot in front of the other, and start working towards your impossible goal.  He adds – “it was in running that I learnt that, if I was prepared... read more

“Gearing Our Homes Up for Physical Activity” Week 2

By Kathleen Mc Quaide-Little (Sports Scientist and Marketing and Media Manager, SSISA) Last week – we introduced readers to a great goal for which to train – the “MySchool Move for Your Health 6km Fun Walk/Run” which is part of the Landmarks event on 6 November 2011. This week – we are kicking off with the first week of training guidelines . The six-week build up – forms part of the World Health Organisation’s “Move for Health” global campaign which strives to make people all over the world – fitter and healthier. We encourage all readers to become their own heroes as they realise a goal they thought impossible. Each week – we will also give you some practical tips on changes you can make in your life, home, school and environment that support your new HERO status. The focus this week is on your home!    Here are some practical tips to ensure that you and your kids accumulate (at least) 30 minutes of moderate physical activity almost every day (it can be done in 10 – 15 minute chunks).  Paste ideas of 10 – 15 minute exercise options with your kids on the fridge door. Teach your kids basic skills (cycling, hitting a ball with a bat, swimming), practise with them and encourage them.  Create exercise opportunities at home – swings, gymnastic bars, a place to skip rope, roller blade or ride their bikes. Make weekends active by walking at the beach or in the forest or mountains, cycling, playing cricket, throwing a Frisbee or playing bat and ball in the park.  Plan active holidays that include hiking, cycling, swimming, paddling... read more

Breast Cancer Awareness

By Kim Woolrich, Biokineticist & New Initiatives Co-ordinator, SSISA   Breast cancer is a cancer of the glandular breast tissue. Because the breast is composed of identical tissues in males and females, breast cancer also occurs in males, though it is less common.   SOME STATS Globally breast cancer, is the leading cause of death in women aged 35 and 55. Death from breast cancer has decreased by 20% with newer approaches to management – including early detection, self examinations, mammograms, chemotherapy and hormonal therapy. An adult weight gain of more than 20kg almost doubles the breast cancer risk. Overweight women have a 25% higher chance of dying from this disease, than women who maintain a healthy body weight. If cancer is detected early enough and before it has spread to tissues outside of the breast, a breast cancer sufferer has a survival rate of more than 95%.  For Breast Cancer awareness you first need to know the warning signs.   WARNING SIGNS difference in breasts size lumps unusual swellings puckering of the skin sores pain discharge   RISK FACTORS  Age – risk increases with age but the cancer tends to be more aggressive when it occurs in younger people. Sex – men have a lower risk, but the risk appears to be rising. Heredity – in 5% of breast cancer cases, there is a strong inherited familial risk. Diet – low-fat diets may significantly decrease the risk of breast cancer, as well as the recurrence of breast cancer. Alcohol – increases the risk of breast cancer, though meaningful increases are limited to higher alcohol intake levels. Obesity – Overweight and obese women (defined as having... read more

Tips to Keep your New Year’s Resolution!

By Kathleen Mc Quaide-Little (Sports Scientist and Marketing and Media Manager SSISA) Over the past few days, many of us would have been wracking our brains to decide what our New Year’s Resolution/s should be. Perhaps you’ve already given it a great deal of thought, have decided on a few resolutions and are now just deciding which are the most crucial to your life. If you are like the majority of human beings, these resolutions seldom last for more than a few days or weeks at best!   So what’s the answer – not to even bother making resolutions? No, I think it’s a good idea to identify things in your life that need attention and that maybe need to change. It is by dealing with challenges that you grow and there’s something rather appealing about starting the New Year with a clean slate. Research shows that the most time-honoured resolutions are losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising more and lowering stress levels. But what actually predicts success in sticking to these New Year’s health resolutions and making permanent changes.    In a recent study conducted by psychologists at the University of Washington, the following factors were identified as being very important in the “successful fulfillment” of resolutions, which are great tips to keep your new years resolution. Having a strong initial commitment to make the change. Resolutions are a process, not a once-off effort. They involve new behaviours that need to be practiced, until they become good habits and this all takes time and concerted input.  Having coping strategies to deal with problems that will come up. No change (even if... read more

The Truth About Weight Loss

By Kim Woolrich (SSISA biokineticist) & Kathleen Mc Quaide-Little (Exercise scientist & SSISA Marketing and Media Manager) Many people at some stage in their lives, attempt to lose weight.  It is important to know the truth about weight loss and to dispel any myths, in order to be successful long-term.   Firstly, let’s look at possible reasons for some initial weight gain during an exercise programme.   Weight gain in the first 1-2 weeks of commencing an exercise programme, could be attributed to an increase in blood and plasma volume. The body can make up to a litre of new blood plasma in the first 2 weeks, thereby contributing 1kg.   Weight gain 3-5 weeks after commencing a training programme,  could be due to an increase in muscle mass, but this is highly individual as people respond very differently.   Thus measuring your success by your weight on a scale alone, can be misleading. Circumference measurements and how loose or tight your clothes are, can be better indicators of fat loss (and potentially muscle gain).   Bearing this in mind, many people who embark on exercise programmes, feel that their extra energy expenditure gives them free reign to eat large volumes or to eat what they like.  This is not the case. To lose weight, you basically need to create a calorie deficit up increasing the intensity and duration of your exercise sessions and general daily energy expenditure and/or consuming fewer calories.    Let’s use our SSISA Boot Camp as an example. In one Boot Camp session of an hour, the average person can expect to burn about 500kcal. Needless to... read more


9 SHAPE team members, 6 different exercise programmes at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) and 2-3 months in which to pull out all the stops and SHAPE UP!     9 SHAPE team members, 6 different exercise programmes at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) and 2-3 months in which to pull out all the stops and SHAPE UP!     SHAPE, together with the experts at the Sports Science Institute of SA, took on 2012 with determination and gusto to find out whether their chosen exercise regime was indeed the “best fit” for them, bearing in mind their different lifestyles and passions,  personalities, goals, time availability and flexibility and of course,  their health and fitness goals.   These 9 driven and dynamic women identified their goals, received expert advice on programmes best suited to them and enrolled in a variety of SSISA programmes.     Get the full scoop on these ladies’ respective journeys by visiting the link below: Shape mag SSISA final article... read more

“Will Strength-Training Benefit my Running?”

By Kathleen Mc Quaide-Little, Sports Scientist and Marketing and Media Manager, Sports Science Institute of SA The answer is definitely YES. Strength training can: Increase leg strength. Increase strength and stability of the support muscles. Strengthen muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments. Enable muscles to be trained faster and further. Increase time to exhaustion. Decrease fatigue in the upper body and improve posture. Reduce incidence of injuries. Improve running economy. By Kathleen Mc Quaide-Little, Sports Scientist and Marketing and Media Manager, Sports Science Institute of SA Exercise #1:  Single Leg Dead Lifts   These single leg dead lifts are great for working on stability and leg strength. They also work the hamstrings and glutes, and are a great prehabilitation exercise for runners.    Start by balancing on one leg with the opposite leg bent up in front of your body at 90 degrees. Make sure to keep a slight bend in the supporting knee. Bend your arms in front of your body as if holding an imaginary box. Then, ensuring that your back is kept as straight as possible, bend from the hips, as if lowering the imaginary box onto the floor. Maintain a 90 degree bend in your lifted leg and don’t let it go further back than the supporting leg. It is important to keep pressure on all parts of the balancing foot. Return back to the upright position and repeat- 3 sets of 8-10 reps on each... read more

“What Upper and Lower Body Exercises are Suggested for Me as a Runner?”

By Kathleen Mc Quaide-Little, Sports Scientist and Marketing and Media Manager, Sports Science Institute of SA Note: You must please get a trained instructor to illustrate these exercises to you!    Upper body exercises of value are:   Using dumbbells: Bench press Bent-over rows Shoulder press Lateral raises Bicep curls Triceps kickbacks  Lower body exercises of value are: Two-legged squats/dumbbell squats Alternating lunges/step-ups/walking forward-lunges Hamstring curls Leg raises Calf/heel-raises Abdominal work If you have little time, preferably do the larger exercises, which combine muscle groups and therefore save time.   By Kathleen Mc Quaide-Little, Sports Scientist and Marketing and Media Manager, Sports Science Institute of SA   Exercise #2:  Walking forward lunges  Stand facing forward, feet a shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight with your head and chin up.  Place your hands on your hips while performing this exercise.  Activate your core muscles by drawing your belly-button in towards your spine. Lift your right foot up to a 90-degree angle (your leg will form an upside-down “L.”) Keep your knee and hip aligned, as well as your knee and ankle.  Inhale as you step forward, with your heel landing first.  Roll your foot down so that your toe touches the floor. Lower your back knee so it almost touches the floor.  NB: Your knees should face forward at all times and remain aligned while performing this exercise. Exhale as you use your weight and push up off your back toes and push your body forward to land your back foot in front to do another walking lunge.  Remember to keep your core muscles activated. Move forward with each lunge... read more

Walking for Health and Fitness

By Kathleen Mc Quaide-Little (Sport Scientist, Marketing and Media Manager of Sports Science Institute of SA) Walking can help you to shape up, and here are some ways to get started and then later to maximise benefits and keep your walking interesting.    Building a base and time on your feet Start off with about four, 30 to 40 minute sessions of brisk walking a week. After two weeks, extend each session by adding 5 to 10 minutes. After a month, add in another longer walk (1 hour), each week. This will provide an excellent base programme for health.  Many programmes advocate accumulating 10 000 steps a day (about 8km). Remember this includes all the steps you take just going about your normal day. An easy way to do this is to wear a pedometer. In a review article published in the November 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers at Stanford University found that people who used pedometers to monitor their daily activity, walked about 2000 more steps per day (about 1.6 km), compared to those who weren’t counting steps. They also showed statistically significant decreases in their body mass index and blood pressure. If 10 000 steps seems too steep a goal, then establish how many steps you normally take in a day. Increase this number weekly, by 500 steps per day and aim for this new goal until you are averaging about 8 000 – 10 000 steps per day. Increase your pace   Walking faster not only burns more calories, it also means more muscle recruitment and a better workout... read more

The Ins and Outs of Conditioning Training Programmes for Rugby Players

by JP van Der Watt: Biokineticist at SSISA In order to develop specific conditioning programmes and recovery strategies for rugby players, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the game and the unique demands of different playing positions. In a recent study on Super 14 rugby they concluded that the average rugby player covers between 4218m and 6389m in a game, depending on his position. Together with the distance they cover, the players also have to absorb very high impacts.  To make it clear how extreme these impacts are – let’s consider a 92kg inside centre. When this player gets hit front-on by another player – this equates to an impact of 9016 Newton. This is 901kg – almost one ton of impact, and only one of numerous hits they will experience throughout the game. Rugby players spend around 85% of their time in low intensity activities and 15% of their time in high intensity activities.    The physical demands of rugby are unique and not found in any other sport. It requires a balanced combination of strength, power, speed, agility and aerobic endurance. Here are some important fitness attributes needed to become a good rugby player.   Strength   Strength training has been a key component of rugby players conditioning regime for the past 15 years and the advantages gained are diverse. It involves training the body or part of the body against resistance which can include free weights, machines, medicine balls, bodyweight exercises, partner-resisted exercises or bands and tubing. Power   Rugby is mainly a power sport – because most of the activities involve a... read more

Tips to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

by Kim Woolrich – Biokineticist and New Initiatives Manager at SSISA Why are you not able to commit and stick to your resolutions? People often make resolutions impulsively without giving them much thought and the result is that they are often not realistic. People tend to make their resolution based on what is bothering them at the time or what is on their mind, once again resulting in unrealistic objectives. Lack of support to achieve their goal. This includes financial support and the support from family/friends. So how do you stay motivated? Firstly you have to be absolutely committed to your goal, you need to be the driving force not your friend, husband etc. Track your progress – monitoring your success (blood pressure, weight etc) tells you how you are doing and keeps you motivated. Identify possible problems which you may encounter and how you are going to deal with them – this is also when the support and help of family and friends can be very important. To stay motivated to exercise: Variety and enjoyment are key to sustaining exercise – try different classes, hike up the mountain, play tennis etc. Commit to another person(friend, colleague, trainer) – it’s easy to let yourself down, but not so easy to let someone else down Your exercise routine should be in your diary just as a meeting is, and try to do it at the same time every day. Is it right after you wake up, after work, after your coffee, after you have dropped the kids off at school?   Make it part of your... read more

The Final Countdown to the Cape Argus Pick n’ Pay Cycle Tour

By Alex Joiner Senior Consultant to the Discovery High Performance Centre – Master of Science in Human Kinetics and Ergonmics, CSCS (NSCA) With a couple of weeks to go until the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, everyone is talking about what they’ve done and what they are going to do before the big day. This can be an unsettling time for a cyclist of any level as it starts to create doubt in your mind as to whether your plan is the best to get you to the finish line or crack your PB.  But remember – you’ve done all the hard training, now it’s time to make the most of those early mornings spent out on the road by following a well-planned taper and pre-race preparation plan. Remember that exercise is a stress on the body and it’s important to trust what training you have done already. The last couple of weeks are about recovering and reducing fatigue rather than increasing fitness. It is unfortunately too late to gain any significant fitness improvements with about 2 weeks to go. This is where tapering comes into play. THE TAPER Tapering is basically a planned reduction in training volume, intensity and frequency. This reduction is determined by the amount of training you have been able to commit to up to this point. As with the majority of research, there are conflicting views on which type of taper works best. However, exponential, non-linear decreases in training load during this period appear to reap the greatest rewards. Training sessions during your taper should combine work at race intensity as well... read more

TWO OCEANS Racing Tips

By Kim Woolrich – biokineticist at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa Training hard is not the only factor to guarantee a successful race day. Correct training will ensure you peak at the right time, which is on the day of your event, and correct tapering will ensure you arrive fully recovered on race day. Peaking and tapering requires a fine balance between ensuring full recovery while maintaining performance adaptations.TaperingDepending on the length of the event, your taper will vary.  For long events such as marathons and ultra-marathons, the taper is usually around 2-3 weeks.  For a half marathon, 7-10 days is usually sufficient. During the taper, you should significantly reduce your mileage but maintain the intensity of your training.  This gives your body more time for rest and repair, but continues to maintain your fitness level.   The quantity of training is reduced, not the quality! A good guideline is to reduce your weekly training mileage by 25%, 2 weeks prior to the event, and by 50% in the final week.  It is also not recommended to have a complete rest day the day before your event, rather have your rest day 2-3 days before your event and ensure that you do a short run with a couple of pick-ups the day before.  Including these short sprints will ensure optimal muscle firing and recruitment.Individuals also respond differently to tapering, so it is important to figure out what works for you.  Remember these are merely guidelines based on research, but it is best to find out what works best for you.Race day tips•    Do not start too fast – try to... read more

Practical Application of the Athlete Monitoring and Assesment System: IKEY TIGERS 2014

By Robin Arkell, UCT S&C Caoch The UCT Ikey Tigers have been using the Athlete Monitoring and Assessment System (AMAS), developed by the High Performance Centre, at The Sports Science Institute of South Africa, throughout the course of the Varsity Cup 2014.    It has been a fantastic addition to our preparation, allowing for informed decisions to be made on an individual as well as a team level. Our pre-season preparation began in October for the 10 week Varsity Cup competition. It was therefore essential that we managed our loads correctly by balancing training stress and recovery. AMAS provides the opportunity to see the training load compared to recovery of each individual, which enabled me to make decisions as to whether a certain player would take part in training or if he would take part in a recovery session instead. The ability to provide evidence to the coach and player is an advantage of using AMAS. When they see it on paper it often makes sense as to why a certain decision regarding training has been made. Pieces of data that I have gained from AMAS and which provide me with the most practical use include:   • Fatigue Rating • Recovery score • Total training load and the ability to see the breakdown between different disciplines • Match load • Data export function (which allows one to export any data within the system for additional analysis as used for the graphs included in this article) • Muscle soreness ratings   During the competitive phase I have used the match load function in conjunction with the number of tackles... read more

10 Ways to Sneak Exercise into a Busy Schedule

By Kathy McQuaide-Little and Sima Lunga 10 Ways to sneak exercise into a busy schedule: With technology as it is these days – smartphones being the norm rather than the exception, global meetings just a Skype call away and e-mail exchanges at the rate of knots –  we are often instantly available 24/7. This can create immense pressure in our lives as people have come to expect instant replies and action. Sadly – with work just being one demand on us, not to mention all the other roles we may play in life – exercise is often the so-called “unnecessary element” that gets dropped from the schedule. BAD CHOICE! Let us help you find ones to activate your day. The  American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), advises that even just using your body weight in strength-training exercises is adequate so often you don’t even need equipment to sneak in these snippets of exercise in a hectic schedule. 1.    Home based exercise a.    There are lots of ways to get an extra work out at home. It is easy to increase your proprioceptive balance by practicing balancing on one leg while performing tasks like cooking or brushing your teeth. Once you have mastered this you can make it harder by adding small movements like calf raises or bending down to pick things up. Increasing proprioception has many advantages, like increasing your ankle stability which reduces your chances of falls and sprains. 2.    Office based exercise a.     Tricep dips, push ups and sit-to-stands as well as walking around are easy ways to get some extra work into your day at the... read more


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