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Roast Chicken & Veggie Pasta

Supermarket roast chicken is an easy protein source if you’re traveling, or haven’t got a lot of time or resources to cook. Of course you can have it as is, with some veggies, but why not mix it up or use the left overs for something a little bit different? Pasta, rice paper rolls or rice noodle salad, burrito bowls, chicken wraps…

Here’s our chicken and veggie pasta recipe to get you started. This is a great option for a pre competition meal (~4 hours pre event, or the night before), or recovery meal. Stay tuned for more recipe ideas!

Ingredients

  • Cooked pasta
  • Shredded chicken
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • Olive oil
  • Diced celery, carrot and onion.
  • Spinach leaves
  • Fresh or dried herbs, and or chilli
  • Basil pesto
  • Extra veggies.
  • *Zucchini, eggplant, capsicum and mushroom go well in this dish. But you can use anything you have on hand, even frozen vegetables will work. If you’d like to add broccoli, add it to the pasta water to soften, then stir through your sauce towards the end.

Method

  •  Cook diced onion, celery and carrot in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil until they soften (don’t let them get too crispy and brown). If you like bacon, you can add some chopped bacon at this point too.
  • Add a couple of tins of tomatoes, some tomato paste and any extra chopped veggies to the pan.
  • Rinse one of the cans with water and tip a little bit into the pan. Let it all simmer.
  • Once veggies are soft and sauce has thickened up a bit, stir through some spinach leaves and your shredded chicken.
  • If sauce looks like it’s getting too thick, add some water. If it’s too watery, keep cooking it.
  • You may also like to stir through some basil pesto, fresh or dry herbs or chilli at the end. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Add your sauce to cooked pasta, top with parmesan cheese and extra herbs if you like, serve and enjoy!

If your having this as a mid week or recovery meal and feel like you need some extra veggies, serve with a side salad or steamed veggies.

If you’d prefer a pasta bake, stir sauce through pasta, add to a baking dish, cover with cheese and bake until golden.

If you have any questions on this recipe or anything nutrition related – get in touch with our Accredited Sports Dietitian – Michelle Ryan

info@radcentre.com.au 

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Choose your own muffin adventure

Muffins make a great snack when you’re on the run! Grab one pre training or event, for morning or afternoon tea, pop them in your lunch box, or share some with your team mates at a tournament.  

Take our easy base, one bowl recipe then add your own flavours – your imagination is the limit! 

Mix-ins might include fresh, frozen, dried or canned fruit, chocolate bits, nuts, seeds, nut butters, cinnamon, muesli. Making muffins is a fab way of using up fruit that is a little bit past it’s prime.  

If you’re making them for pre event snacks, maybe keep the chocolate to a minimum. If you’re sharing or taking to school be mindful of anyone with allergies if you are adding nuts.  

You can even add some veggies like grated carrot, zucchini or beetroot.  

 

Recipe 

Basic Ingredients: 

  • 2 ¼ cups self-raising flour 
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar 
  • 3 tbs butter 
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 2 eggs 

Method:

  • Pre heat oven to 180C. 
  • Combine flour and sugar in bowl.  
  • Melt butter in a microwave safe measuring jug in microwave (about 30 sec on high).  
  • Add milk to butter.  
  • Add eggs to milk and butter (make sure the mix isn’t too hot or you will end up with scrambled eggs!). Mix to combine 
  • Add wet mix to dry, and stir until combined. Be gentle, don’t stir too much or your muffins will be chewy.  
  • Mix in your favourite flavour combo. Fresh, frozen, canned or dry fruit, chocolate bits, nuts, nut butter, muesli, even some grated vegies like carrot, zucchini or beetroot…. The options are endless! 
  • Pour mix into muffin trays and pop in the oven. Muffins are cooked when they are golden on top, they are springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean from the middle. Depending on the size of your tin this should take about 15-20mins. 

 

Need flavour inspiration? Here are some to start you off:

  • Mixed berry 
  • Banana, pecan, maple 
  • Apple, berry, oat crumble 
  • Berry, white choc 
  • Pear, strawberry  
  • Apple, cinnamon 
  • Pumpkin, sultana, pepita  
  • Dark choc, cocoa, beetroot and raspberry
  • Carrot, sultana, pecan, maple and cinnamon

Michelle Ryan – Sports Dietitian Ballarat

info@radcentre.com.au

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Exercise Induced Muscle Cramps

Most athletes will know the agony. Some more than others. One minute you’re playing your best game or sprinting to the finish line, the next your calf/foot/hammy/quad, has contracted involuntarily and you’re on the ground in agony. Damn cramps – how do I stop them?

Many anecdotes exist regarding what you can do to treat and prevent exercise associated muscle cramps, but what does the science say?

It’s interesting, that despite being one of the most well researched phenomenon’s in sport; we still don’t have all the answers as to what actually causes exercise associated muscle cramps, and how to treat or prevent them.

Currently, the two best supported hypotheses for cramps in our muscles are:

  • neuromuscular fatigue;
  • and tiny changes or imbalances in electrolytes.

The overwhelming evidence in exercise related cramp prevention is to ensure you are appropriately conditioned. Following your training and recovery programs and maintaining adequate fitness is the major key to avoiding cramps.

But is it that simple? What else can you try? The following suggestions are general in nature and not intended to take the place of individual advice obtained from a medical or health professional.

 

.

Electrolytes

If you’re a salty sweater, exercising in warm conditions or your diet is restricted or lacking in variety, ensuring you are getting enough electrolytes can be a good place to start. If you suffer from regular cramps, a simple blood test ordered by your GP may help identify any deficiencies. If you are deficient in something, speak to your doctor or sports dietitian for individual advice. It’s wise to prioritise food over supplements; make sure you include foods rich in potassium (fruits and vegetables), magnesium (nuts and seeds, wholegrains, dairy, leafy greens) and calcium (dairy, fortified dairy alternatives, bony fish) as part of your everyday diet. Whilst most people eat plenty of sodium, if you’re a salty sweater you may benefit form adding some salty foods like vegemite, bread, cheese, pretzels or crackers to you pre event meals. An electrolyte drink as your main source of hydration during sport might also be helpful.

Fuel

Make sure you’re adequately fuelled and have had plenty of foods rich in carbohydrate the day before and before you play or train. If fuelled well, time to fatigue is greater and potentially this may help prevent onset of fatigue related cramps. Food will also add some bonus electrolytes. If you are exercising for more than 60 minutes at high intensity, some additional fuel during your event may help. Try a piece of fruit, handful of jelly lollies, a sports gel or a sports drink at half time.

Hydrate

While dehydration doesn’t necessarily cause cramps in all athletes, you are more likely to experience them if you are dehydrated. Make sure you are drinking enough, but don’t over drink as this might disrupt the balance of electrolytes. Drink to thirst and aim for pale urine, if it’s dark yellowy brown – you need to drink more! While plain water is best for every day hydration, an electrolyte drink might be worth a try during exercise if you’re prone to cramps.

 

Pickle juice

Yes pickle juice; the stuff that soaks the green things that kids pick out of their cheeseburger. This is a relatively new suggestion in the world of cramps and while it may seem farfetched, there is some evidence to suggest giving this a go if you can stomach it and it’s practical for you to do. Current evidence suggests pickle juice won’t prevent a cramp, but can decrease the time of a cramp and discomfort following if you catch it in time. This is not a nutritional recommendation as it’s unlikely the pickle juice is even absorbed by the time it works. It’s thought that the juice triggers a response by activating receptors in your mouth/throat, disrupting the signals between your brain and cramping muscle – stopping the cramp. Drink/gargle a shot of pickle juice as soon as you start to notice a cramp, in addition to the other standard advice of your medical team (stretch, massage etc). You can get specially formulated pickle juice “shots” online, from sports supplement or health food stores.

If you’ve tried some of these things, still experience cramps and can’t work out why, check in with your dietitian. 

info@radcentre.com.au

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AFL Strength and Conditioning Programs

Are you strapping on your boots, turning up to training on Tuesday and Thursday each week, playing your game and wondering why you keep getting injured throughout the footy season, or why you aren’t getting any better?

Are you completing any additional work outside of what is just done on the footy oval?

There is only so much that you can do on the oval to improve and keep you injury free – it is important to include strength work to compliment all of your footy training. 

Getting along to the gym a couple of times per week is a great start and a really positive step in the right direction. 

But, if your gym session is just punching out some bench presses and bicep curls then you are missing out on a massive opportunity to improve. 

Luckily for you, we’ve put together the perfect solution.

It’s called the AFL Strength & Conditioning Program – Full Season 20 week block.

This program has been designed to build you in to a robust athlete, that is more resilient to injury, keeping you out playing footy.

Strength and conditioning for AFL plays a crucial role in an athlete’s performance!

This AFL training program has been put together by Chris Radford who has multiple years experience working within the AFL / VFL and NAB league competitions. Western Bulldogs – North Ballarat Roosters – GWV Rebels.

This program has everything included in it: Strength – Power – Injury prevention – Recovery. Everything all included to ensure you are at your best – with the program delivered through our online platform making it super easy to access everything on your phone.

All of the strength and conditioning exercises come with video demonstrations by one of our coaches.

If you want to make sure you’re playing footy, and not putting yourself at a greater risk of sitting on the sideline, then you DO need this.

Click the links below and bulletproof yourself from injury and increase your performance.

$19.95 per week (20 weeks)
$19.95 per week (20 weeks)

These two program options have been structured to get you physically prepared throughout the whole football season – With each options tailored to suit the demands of their game day roles. 


Both programs come with a FREE 7 DAY TRIAL!!

For those that are seeking the ULTIMATE support for their preparation then jump on our:

Ultimate Performance Program

Where you will receive a fully individualised program – unlimited access with our coaches, weekly phone/zoom calls to make sure you have all of the support you need. 

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AFL Strength Program Structure

With the majority of footy clubs finally settling into a routine and the 2021 season not too far away, now is a perfect time to get your weekly structure organised. 
It doesn’t matter what level of play you are involved in we all want to optimise our preparation so we can dominate on the weekend. Having a set football strength program structure that best suits your lifestyle is an important factor.
There is no 1 perfect formula and everyones schedule will be slightly different but hopefully this helps get you thinking of how you could potentially set your week up. One key focus is ensuring that you maintain your lower body strength & power work throughout the WHOLE season! This plays a crucial role in keeping everything strong and resilient, reducing your chance of injury throughout the season, while also assisting in your onfield performance. 

Below are two weekly structures that you can use to base your own training schedule around.

Conclusion

If you have any questions on how to structure your week let us know – we can also help with any of your programming too with our online structure we are currently looking after footballers all over the country with their S&C programs.

info@radcentre.com.au

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Sports Dietitian

First things first, what is an Accredited Sports Dietitian? 

The minimum requirements to register as an Accredited Sports Dietitian with Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA) are: 

  • Qualification to work as a dietitian (undergraduate or post graduate degree)
  • Minimum 2 years clinical experience
  • Further accredited sports nutrition studies
  • Ongoing professional development 

Working with a sports dietitian can help you to:

  • Learn how food and fluids influence your performance, recovery and wellbeing 
  • Identify any areas you may be at risk of undernourishing; by performing dietary assessment and nutrient analysis
  • Tweak nutrient intake and timing to optimise performance, training or recovery
  • Develop a plan for race/game/competition days
  • Fuel well while traveling
  • Navigate the world of nutrition supplements
  • Learn how to choose and prepare meals and snacks
  • Correct any nutrient deficiencies identified by your doctor
  • Get to the bottom of any gut issues you experience during sport
  • Develop a healthy relationship with food and your body
  • Hydrate effectively

Plus much more, so if you have any question or concerns that relate to food and eating (sports related or not), don’t hesitate to reach out.

Whilst a dietitian is trained in nutrition, science and bodies; they also recognise that YOU are the expert in YOUR body – so will work alongside you to find out what works best for you. 

What to expect at your first session with a dietitian at RAD: 

Michelle will spend around 50 minutes with you, getting to know you and your goals. She will ask questions about you including your medical and injury history, training schedule, food and fluid intake, how you spend your time outside of training and who your support networks are. You will receive a pre assessment form to fill in prior to your appointment to help with this. Then you will work together on establishing some long and short term goals and plans to get there. 

Depending on your situation (and with your consent of course!), Michelle may also work with your wider support crew; your coaches, team staff, doctors, surgeons, allied health and family members to help you meet your goals. 

Most athletes will require at least one follow up appointment with their dietitian to review and discuss their plans, others may need more regular contact. This will all be negotiated with you based on what your goals and needs are. 

Coming soon – Group sessions and cooking classes

Group presentations and interactive sessions can be arranged on request; for athletes, teams, coaches or parents. Please contact us for more info. 

We have plenty of ideas for the future of RAD nutrition, but we want to hear from you what would you like to see from RAD nutrition? Don’t hold back, you never know what might be possible 

Michelle Ryan – Sports Dietitian Ballarat

Email: info@radcentre.com.au

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Common Injuries and Injury Prevention for AFL Athletes

Author: Billy Jones

Introduction

Australian Rules Football (ARF) is an intermittent sport that requires great amounts of high-speed running, multidirectional agility and aerobic endurance. In the elite male competition (AFL), players can cover between 12-15km depending on the player’s position during the 120 minutes of match play (3). Due to the reduced match duration in the female competition, the players in the AFLW can cover between 3.5-7.0km per game depending on their positional requirements (1). The joints of the lower limbs, hip, knee and ankle, are most commonly injured with the shoulder being the most injured area of the upper limb (6). These will be explored further throughout the blog with preventative exercises provided for each. 

Hamstring Strains

The muscles of the hamstring group (semimembranosus, semitendinosus, biceps femoris) are two-joint muscles spanning from the hip to the knee. When the leg is fully extended during running the muscle is maximally stretched at both ends across the hip and knee which increases the risk of hamstring strain injury (2). As ARF is a running dominant sport this situation occurs constantly (2). To cope with the high-speed running demands of the game and reduce the risk of muscle strain it is important for players to strengthen their hamstrings eccentrically (contraction as the muscle lengthens). Furthermore, football coaches should ensure that sprinting is programmed into their training to better prepare their players for game demands. Listed below are hamstring focussed exercises that will improve hamstring strength and help to prevent injury during training and games. 

  • Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

  • Double Leg Hamstring Bridge
  • Eccentric Hamstring Slides
  • Hamstring Nordic Lowers

Knee Injuries

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) have been found to be the most commonly injured ligaments of the knee during football (6). They can be fully ruptured which in most cases requires surgery to reconstruct, or partially torn. Conservative management is also an option other than surgery for some athletes however, with the high contact nature of ARF and high forces that go through the knee, surgery is highly recommended. Other common injuries that can occur are medial and lateral collateral ligament tears and meniscal injuries. Many of the mentioned injuries can even occur simultaneously making knee injuries quite formidable. Injury to the knee can cost the athlete months away from playing their sport therefore, prevention through conditioning is key. Poor change of direction technique, knee instability, angle of landing and direct impact to the knee joint are risk factors for ACL and PCL injury. Training should be focussed around strengthening the muscles around the knee joint and improving change of direction and landing technique. Exercises listed below are some that can be done at home with minimal equipment that will help in reducing the risk of knee injury. 

  • Single Leg Squat
  • Split Squat
  • Single Leg Skater Hops
  • Drop Jump with Lateral Cut
  • Two Foot Change of Direction

Ankle Injuries 

Ankle ligament sprains are common in football in all levels of competition. There are various mechanisms that can cause these injuries with the most common being landing in a compromised position following a marking contest and the foot becoming trapped under another player during a tackle (6). Previous injury to the ankle is the main risk factor for sprains to occur. Evidence has suggested that risk is doubled for up to 1 year post injury which highlights ongoing dysfunction and the need for preventative exercises to be completed (4). Following initial ankle sprain the joints protective mechanisms that make corrections to joint position (proprioception) to maintain stability can be damaged, leaving the joint at higher risk of reinjury (7). Without intervention athletes may begin to experience chronic ankle instability which is painful and leads to consistent time away from the field (5). Implementing proprioceptive training such as balancing exercises has been proven to be effective in reducing ankle sprain injuries (7). Completing ankle focussed plyometric and resistance exercises is also beneficial in improving mobility and strength of the joint. Included below are exercises that can be done at home to ensure the ankle is ready for training and competition. 

  • Single Leg Balance – 4 Point Star
  • Single Leg Hop with Spin
  • Pogo Jumps
  • Ankle Hops
  • Ankle Inversion/Eversion

Shoulder Injuries

Due to the contact nature of the sport shoulder injuries occur frequently during training and competition. Injuries to the shoulder joint have accounted for 11.5 games missed per club per season (6). It is important that footballers strengthen the muscles around the shoulder to ensure contact does not result in injury (6). Contact during overhead marking, impacts to the posterior aspect of the shoulder during contested ground balls and direct contact to the anterior portion of the joint are all patterns that can lead to glenohumeral instability or dislocation (6). Increasing the strength and size of the muscles surrounding the glenohumeral joint and focussed rotator cuff strengthening are both ways to ensure stability of the shoulder. In turn this will lead to a more robust joint capsule which can deal with the rigours of ARF. Below are some exercises that can be completed to improve shoulder stability that can be done with minimal equipment. 

  • Banded No Moneys
  • Prone Shoulder External Rotation @90 Degrees
  • Push Up with Shoulder Tap
  • Banded Pull Aparts

Conclusion

Australian rules football is a physically demanding sport that requires multiple fitness qualities. As with all sports, injuries are always a concern as they can result in valuable time lost away from the playing field, so it is within everyone’s interest, both athletes and coaches, to work to avoid them. Identifying what areas of the body are commonly injured and the mechanisms that cause them is crucial for effective exercise prescription. Performing exercises such as those above will help mitigate injury and keep the athlete on the ground and away from the rehabilitation group. 

References

  1. Clarke, AC, Ryan, S, Couvalias, G, Dascombe, BJ, Coutts, AJ, Kempton, T. Physical demands and technical performance in Australian Football League Women’s (AFLW) competition match-play. Journal of science and medicine in sport21(7): 748-752, 2018.
  2. Foreman, Addy, Baker, Burns, Hill, Madden. (2006). Prospective studies into the causation of hamstring injuries in sport: A systematic review. Physical Therapy in Sport, 7(2): 101–109, 2006. 
  3. Harrison, P, Johnston, R. Relationship Between Training Load, Fitness, and Injury Over an Australian Rules Football Preseason. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 31: 2686-2693, 2017. 
  4. Owoeye, OB, Palacios-Derflingher, LM, Emery, CA. Prevention of ankle sprain injuries in youth soccer and basketball: effectiveness of a neuromuscular training program and examining risk factors. Clinical journal of sport medicine28(4): 325-331, 2018.
  5. Powden, CJ, Hoch, JM., Hoch, MC. Rehabilitation and improvement of health-related quality-of-life detriments in individuals with chronic ankle instability: a meta-analysis. Journal of athletic training52(8):753-765, 2017.
  6. Saw, R, Finch, CF, Samra, D, Baquie, P, Cardoso, T, Hope, D, Orchard, JW. Injuries in Australian Rules Football: An Overview of Injury Rates, Patterns, and Mechanisms Across All Levels of Play. Sports Health, 10(3), 208–216, 2018. 
  7. Schiftan GS, Ross LA, Hahne AJ. The effectiveness of proprioceptive training in preventing ankle sprains in sporting populations: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport: 18(3), 238–244, 2015.
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AFL Preseason Training Program

If you play footy, then you need this program.

Why?

Because the countdown is on back to games, and the chances are your training has slipped off.

Maybe not entirely, but there is NO WAY your body is in the same condition after stopping training and games for a whole season because of ‘Rona.

But with the season looking good – it’s time you got ready!

So… where do you start and how do you get ready? 

Luckily for you, we’ve put together the perfect solution.

It’s called the AFL Preseason Training Program.

This program has been designed to build you in to a robust athlete, that is more resilient to injury, keeping you out playing footy. Which then forms the base for us to capitalise on and improve your performance.

Strength and conditioning for AFL plays a crucial role in an athlete’s performance – the major aim for this 4 week block is to build a base foundation of running and strength work – that can be capitalised on when team trainings resume and when phase two of the program roles out. 

This AFL preseason training program has been put together by Chris Radford who has multiple years experience working within the AFL / VFL and NAB league competitions.

Western Bulldogs – North Ballarat Roosters – GWV Rebels

This 4 week program has everything included in it: 

  • Running
  • Agility
  • Skill sessions
  • Full gym program – strength, power and injury prevention 

Everything all included to ensure you are at your best – with the program delivered through our online platform making it super easy to access everything on your phone. 

All of the strength and conditioning exercises come with video demonstrations by one of our coaches. 

If you want to make sure you’re playing footy, and not putting yourself at a greater risk of sitting on the sideline, then you DO need this.

Click the link below and bulletproof yourself from injury and increase your performance in time for when footy season starts.

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Training the Female Athlete:

Hey ladies, ever wondered why some days you feel like you have lots of energy and you are on top of your game and other days you just feel really tired and slow? Ever struggled to manage your weight whether that be trying to lose weight or gain/maintain weight? Ever had your period stop and not known why? Well, be rest assured you’re not alone, the female body is a wondrous thing, however it is important that we respect that, and we adjust our training and nutrition to adapt to our ever changing bodies. Unfortunately we are often guided by training and nutrition information that has been researched with male participants as female participants are seen to have too much variability with the fluctuations in hormones throughout the menstrual cycle. The only problem being, is that we are not smaller versions of males, we are our own person with different and fluctuating needs, that means for us to be able to get the most out of our bodies and our training we need to adapt and change our training and nutritional needs in accordance with these fluctuations.

So yes ladies this post is going to talk periods and how best we can train around them to get the most from our training but also some dietary considerations we may need to make at different stages.

So lets discuss the menstrual cycle…..

Prior to puberty the development of both boys and girls is very similar with relatively the same body size, body composition and physiology (5). Once we hit puberty however there are key physical and physiological changes that occur for both sexes (5). Males have a significant increase in testosterone which results in increased muscle mass and height (5). While females have an increase in oestrogen which increases physical development, increasing fat tissue and resulting in the onset of menarche (or the menstrual cycle) (5).

A little more about the menstrual cycle. There are two key hormones that affect the menstrual cycle, oestrogen and progesterone (4,5). Oestrogen arises with the onset of puberty and the menstrual cycle it is produced to prepare the body for pregnancy (4,5). However, oestrogen also plays a role in bone and muscle strength as well as ligament and tendon stiffness. It helps to maintain normal cholesterol levels and affects brain, heart and skin health (4,5). Progesterone prepares the uterus for the potential of pregnancy by triggering the thickening of the lining in the uterus to accept a fertilized egg. It also causes the body to rely on fats for energy rather than glycogen, the body’s preferred fuel source (4,5).

A diagram depicting the fluctuations in hormones during the menstrual cycle:

There are four phases to the menstrual cycle each with varying hormone levels and consequently effects on the body.

Phase 1 (Period: Days 1-5):

Hormones and the physiological and psychological changes:

  • Hormones are at their lowest during this phase (4,5).
  • You may find you have changes in your mood leading to increased stress, potential accidents, poor reaction times and poor perception of exercise difficulty (4,5).
  • There is also a reduction in the body’s immune level response due to an increase in the bodies utilisation of magnesium and zinc (4,5).

Effect on training:

  • Initially during this stage it is important to allow the body to recover. It might be a good idea to reduce skill and precision training and include more simple low stress tasks (4,5).
  • You may initially want to reduce training volume load and include strength training (4,5).
  • As you progress to the mid to late stages of this phase you can include anaerobic and power-based activity, lactic acid based work and strength training (4,5).

Nutrition and it’s affect during this stage:

  • During this stage the body has a greater reliance on carbohydrates/glycogen for energy (3).
  • As the body is using more glycogen (carbohydrates) for fuel during this stage you may want to increase you carbohydrate intake (3).
  • You may also want to increase magnesium and Zinc intake during this phase to help increase the body’s level of immunity (3).

Phase 2 (Follicular Phase: Days 6-14):

Hormones and the physiological and psychological changes:

  • During this stage oestrogen levels are increasing to their highest (4,5).
  • Oestrogen has an anabolic effect for muscles and bones (building and strengthening muscles and bones), while there is also an increase in ligament laxity during this phase. Therefore injury risk is higher during this phase for injuries such as ACL and ligament related injuries (4,5).
  • There is an increase in glycogen storage as well as fat, protein, water and electrolyte stores (4,5).

Effect on training:

  • Include high intensity, low volume complex tasks (4,5).
  • Include anaerobic and power based activities as well as lactic acid based work and strength training (4,5).
  • Symptoms may vary during this stage from person to person but it is important to train appropriately, for some the focus may change to maintenance rather than improving physical capacities, however some may feel fine during this stage and be able to continue to push hard (4,5).

Nutrition and it’s affect during this stage:

  • As the body is using more glycogen (carbohydrates) for fuel during this stage you may want to increase you carbohydrate intake (3).
Some of the various symptoms women experience throughout the menstrual cycle:

Phase 3: (Ovulation: Days 15-23):

Hormones and the physiological and psychological changes:

  • Oestrogen levels start to drop before progesterone levels start to increase. Testosterone is at it’s peak during this phase (yes ladies we do still have testosterone in our body however we have much lower levels than that of men) (4,5). 

Effect on training:

  • Now is the time to do more strength and power training (4,5).
  • Intensity can be quite high during this phase (4,5).
  • Symptoms during this stage can vary from person to person so it is important to train appropriately according to your symptoms (4,5).

Nutrition and it’s affect during this stage:

  • If you are experiencing poor sleep quality during this phase you may like to increase your magnesium intake as magnesium levels have an affect on our sleep (3).
Example sources of Magnesium:

Phase 4: (Luteal phase: Days 24-28):

Hormones and the physiological and psychological changes:

  • Progesterone rises and oestrogen slightly elevates (4,5).
  • Progesterone causes increased inflammation and muscle breakdown, brain fog can also occur and temperature increases (0.3-1), therefore it is important to have adequate recovery during this phase (4,5).
  • There is an increase in glycogen stores in the liver and muscle tissue and a decrease in the blood stream. This will lead to a greater utilization of fat stores during this time (4,5).
  • There is a depression of blood lactate concentration (4,5).
  • There is the greatest retention of water, sodium, chloride and potassium during this stage potentially causing bloating (4,5).
  • There is greater protein breakdown during this stage leading to lower muscular endurance (4,5).

Effect on training:

  • Include high intensity, low volume complex tasks (4,5).
  • Include anaerobic and power based activities as well as some strength training, due to decreased blood lactate levels. Strength training may decrease however during this phase due to the increase in muscle breakdown (4,5).
  • Include low intensity and high volume aerobic work as the body has the ability to cope with low impact prolonged stressors at this time (4,5).

Nutrition and it’s affect during this stage:

  • The body has an increased reliance on fats rather than carbs during this time so it may be difficult to hit higher intensities for prolonged periods. It is therefore good during this phase to change the focus from long duration, high intensity work to working on more technical skills (3).
  • Maintain or increase protein intake to counteract  the increase in muscle breakdown (3).
  • There is an increase in sodium loss causing bloating, therefore you may want to increase salt intake during this phase to help reduce bloating (3). 
  • The body has an increased utilization of magnesium and zinc during this phase lowering the bodies immune levels. Therefore it is important to increase magnesium and zinc intake during this time (3).
  • Increase omega-3 fat intake to help manage inflammation (3).
Example sources of Zinc:

Now that we have some understanding of just how much the menstrual cycle can affect our training and just how important it is for us to respond appropriately to this to gain the most out of our training. We now need to take the next step and look at tracking our period and the symptoms that follow it. There are many great apps out there that can help you do this but one of my favourites is the FitrWomen app. This app allows you to track the days of your period but also the symptoms you may be having, it then provides you with some helpful tips on how best to train and fuel yourself during the various stages. One of the great reasons why we should track our period is that we are then able to learn about our bodies, know how we are going to feel at certain times, but also how best to fuel and adapt our training to allow us to get the most from our body during the various phases.

Oral Contraceptive:

Now some of you may be asking how does this change if I am on the oral contraceptive pill and a great question to ask. As we know the oral contraceptive pill is designed to prevent a Woman from getting pregnant, it does this by preventing the natural rise and fall of progesterone and oestrogen in the body throughout the cycle. This means that the two hormones stay at a stagnant level throughout the cycle until it is time for you to have your period at which time both oestrogen and progesterone drop (2).

So what does this mean for your training and nutrition. For the most part it will mean that these things can stay very consistent throughout the month with you experiencing less symptoms associated with the natural cycle (2). With the exception being when you are on the period phase where you will still experience all the same symptoms as usual (2). Even though your hormone levels are kept relatively consistent when you are on the oral contraceptive pill it is still important that we listen to our body and respond appropriately (2). 

A diagram of hormone levels when taking the oral contraceptive pill:

But what if I don’t get my period?

Some may think this is odd but it occurs far more often then you would think. When a female has an absence of her period it is called amenorrhea (1). This can occur when an individual has increased their training loads with inadequate nutrition (1). Meaning that an individual has increased their training load without increasing the volume of food they are eating as well making sure that food meets their nutritional requirements to fuel not only their body for every day living but also for their increased training load (1). It can be accompanied with an eating disorder, however this is not always the case, and can be due to a lack of education and awareness (1).  When there is a cessation of the menstrual cycle this can lead to fertility issues later on if not dealt with. It is difficult to determine the prevalence of this disorder however it could be as high as 50% of athletic populations (1). As with all previous nutritional information in this post it is only a guide and if you need more guidance with this it is best to seek the advice of an accredited Dietitian.

So if you only learn one thing from this blog post then I hope it is to become informed about your body and treat your body the way it deserves to be treated, with care. Remember that we are not a mini man nor are two women the same, so it is important that we do not compare ourselves and our abilities to other males or with each other and that instead we choose to further improve ourselves for ourselves.

References:

  1. Dusek, T. Influences of high-intensity training on menstrual cycle disorders in athletes. Croatian Medical Journal. 42(1): 79-82, 2001.
  2. Larson, B. Cox, A. Colbey, C. Drew, M. McGuire, H. et al. Inflammation and oral contraceptive use in female athletes before the Rio Olympic Games. Frontiers in Physiology. 11: 497-455, 2020.
  3. Manore, M. Nutritional needs of the female athlete. Clinics in Sports Medicine. 18(3): 549-563, 1999.
  4. Oleka, C. Use of the menstrual cycle to enhance female sports performance and decrease sports-related injury. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. 18: 318-326, 2019.
  5. Pitchers, G. Elliott-Sale, K. Considerations for coaches training female athletes. Professional Strength and Conditioning Journal. 55: 19-29, 2019.
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Development of Muscle Mass: How much is optimum for performance?

Increasing muscle mass is often the goal of resistance training programs for the general population. However, when designing training programs to increase muscle mass for athlete populations it is important to consider the potential advantages and disadvantages this may have on performance. 

Advantages of increasing mass:

  1. Generally, a larger muscle is a stronger muscle. This is especially true if the increase in muscle mass is the result of an increase in the amount of contractile elements of the muscle fibre ultimately increasing the force generating capacity if the muscle. Therefore, there is greater capacity for strength and power.
  2. The inertia of a body is proportional to its mass. Think of a basketball player under the ring attempting to hold their position for a rebound.  A player with more mass will be harder to move compared to a player with less mass.
  3. An increase in mass may allow an athlete to move with greater momentum which is valuable for collision-based sports. Momentum = mass x velocity there for an athlete with more mass running at a given velocity will have greater momentum and more chance to inflict damage upon their opponent. 

Disadvantages of increasing mass:

  1. Acceleration is an important speed quality for many sports. Acceleration = force / mass. Therefore, if as a result of training we have in increase in mass without a subsequent increase in the ability to generate force acceleration will be compromised. The same thought process can be applied to an athlete’s ability to decelerate, change directions and jump. Therefore, if we increase mass without consideration of force production important components of performance can be negatively impacted. 
  2. Increases in body mass leads to greater impact forces when running and jumping. The cumulative stress associated with the greater impact forces from these activities means that more recovery from training and competition will be needed. If additional time needs to be budgeted for recovery, then that time needs to be taken from other aspects of training such skill work or the development of physical qualities.
  3. Endurance performance is important for most sports. An athlete’s Aerobic power or VOmax is expressed in millilitres (mL) of oxygen per kilogram (kg) of body weight per minute –

(mL·kg-1·min-1  ). If an athlete consumes 4,000 mL·min-1 with a 70kg body mass the VOmax = 57.1ml·kg-1· min-1 . If body mass is increased to 73 kg with no improvement in Ouptake VOmax would decrease by 4% to 54.8 mL·kg-1·min-1.

Practical Applications

  • When prescribing training to athletes do not just assume that an increase in mass will be of benefit for the athlete. Carefully consider how the change will impact their performance.
  • If attempting to get a hypertrophy response, training with heavy loads (approximately 90% of maximum) that presents a neural stimulus for strength adaptation is recommended.

Note: The above information is a snapshot of a manuscript published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal that I co-authored with colleagues and students. 

Young W, Talpey S, Bartlett R, Lewis M, Mundy S, Smyth A, Welsh T. (2019). Development of Muscle Mass: How much is optimum for performance? Strength and Conditioning Journal. 41(3) 47-50

Full text: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329333781_Development_of_Muscle_Mass_How_Much_Is_Optimum_for_Performance

Author: Scott Talpey, PhD. CSCS, ASCA LII. Senior Lecturer & Program Coordinator Master of Strength and Conditioning Federation University Australia.