Another month has been and gone and we're approaching Autumn now... As usual, the team have been brushing up their knowledge and keeping on top of the latest research and trends in health and fitness. Here are five things they learned in August.
1. Want to improve your athletic performance? Work on your emotional intelligence.
We all know that top athletes and sports people have their own sports psychologists, but it turns out they could play a vital role in their success. Emotional Intelligence, or "EI" is crucial to athletes: it helps them motivate themselves over the long-term, it helps manage the emotions of teammates, and it helps them to manage under pressure. A recent study by Laborde, Dosseville & Allen found that EI is associated with better athletic performance, but also with a higher level of physical activity, so if you're lacking motivation, why not try training your brain?
2. The optimum load for greatest power output is different for upper and lower body exercises.
Science still hasn't managed to prove the best way to train for maximal power, however a recent study suggests that when training for power, upper body exercises should have a load of 40-50% of the 1RM, and lower body exercises should be closer to 60%. The study was carried out in elderly people however, so it will be interesting to see what the results are if it is carried out in a younger population with a stronger training history.
3. Looking to boost your performance during strength training? Don't do cardio first.
We have known for a while that concurrent training can limit progress in terms of muscle size, strength and power when compared to just resistance training alone. This has now been confirmed further: in a recent study, researchers concluded that doing aerobic exercise before strength training limits performance in terms of repetitions and bar speeds. The longer or more intense the aerobic exercise, the greater the limitation on the strength training session.
4. Regular meal patterns are best after all; well at least that's what a recent study reveals.
There are so many diet variations out there: eat six times per day, don't eat after 4pm etc, but a recent study has shown that having a regular meal pattern leads to a small improvement in the thermogenic effect of food (TEF) - meaning that your body burns slightly more calories digesting food when you eat it regularly. It also lead to greater insulin sensitivity, another positive. So, whatever diet you are sticking to, eat regularly. This study was conducted with participants eating six meals per day, but three meals with three good snacks may well lead to a similar result - future research will tell!
5. Strengthening your hips could help with jumper's knee
Many recreational runners, especially females, suffer with Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS), pain in or below the knee, also known as jumper's knee. Working to strengthen the hips can help with both the treatment and prevention of the condition, according to recent research. The best results came from addressing abductor and external rotator muscle groups, so exercises like X-band walks, seated bent knee external rotations and side lying leg raises would be good exercises to include in your programme if you suffer from PFPS.
To see what gems we find out next month, watch this space!
This blog post first appeared here.