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erg fear rowing

Overcoming Erg Fear

With the last few head races of fall complete, this article is for the many rowers who turn with mixed feelings to the erg for winter training. RowingRelated wrote a great article here exploring some of the reasons that many rowers are afraid of the erg, the consequences of erg fear, and how coaches and rowers continue to facilitate erg fear in rowing. A crucial observation in the article is this:

“When compared to other endurance sports like cycling, running, swimming, etc., I have not encountered an equal level of disdain for such fundamental mental and physical endurance training. A track runner might complain if he or she had to be on the treadmill all winter long, but the idea would not strike fear into his or her heart…” [RowingRelated]

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All About Overtraining

Overtraining comes in two main forms, chronic and acute. Chronic overtraining is fairly rare and traumatic, but acute overtraining has broader symptoms and affects many athletes. Acute overtraining can be caused by training with too high frequency, intensity, and/or volume, or by failing to recover sufficiently from training via sleep, diet, and lifestyle. Overtraining is not to be feared, but recognizing overtraining symptoms is key to better managing your training, recovery, performance, and mental state.

The Internet pendulum swings rapidly on the subject of overtraining, and a brief survey on the topic will reveal attitudes both of constant fear of overtraining even in the lowest volume training situations and macho “there’s no such thing as overtraining” attitudes. The reality lies somewhere in the middle and the polarity of opinion is mostly the result of a lack of understanding of what overtraining actually is.

First, let’s clear up what overtraining is not. Overtraining is not overreaching. Overreaching is a strategic training period as part of a taper cycle when fatigue will be incurred past a recoverable level. Many athletes will experience this as a natural part of a training traincycle. This period is strategic, intentional, and should be carefully monitored by the coach and athlete. The athlete overreaches for a short period of time (2-3 weeks) during which time fatigue is very high and performance is diminished, then training is scaled back for another short period of time (1-2 weeks) to allow for recovery before a peak performance. This is the strategy of tapering to produce an immediate short-term spike in performance for a peak event.

Overtraining is different from overreaching in that it is not strategic, does not have a performance purpose, and is the result of a mistake or error on behalf of the coach or athlete.

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Lifting for “Retired” Athletes

I frequently get the question from former teammates and athletes I’ve coached, “what do I do at the gym now that I’m not training for a sport?” I’ve written on the discussion of retirement from sport, known in sport psychology as “athlete transitioning,” and my goal for this article is to provide more of a practical how-to guide for lifting for athletes after competitive sport. Read on for how to adjust training, learn to design your own training program, and find new goals to chase down and new ways to enjoy physical activity and strength training after sport.

Note: There is no great word to describe the athlete who no longer competes in organized or performance-focused sports. “Retired” has a negative connotation of age or frailty. Many athletes who have been invested in their lifestyle as a competitive athlete for so long will take offense to the terms of “non-athlete,” “recreational athlete/exerciser,” or even “normal person.” “Post-transition athlete” sounds clinical and like beating around the bush. I’ll typically stick to “retired athlete” in my writing, but just know that this is more for lack of a better term.

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youth strength training coach with young athlete teaching the squat exercise

Youth Strength Training

Youth strength training represents one of the greatest windows of opportunity in an athlete’s development. Properly planned and instructed, strength training has the potential to improve young athlete performance in the short and long term, as well as offer an enjoyable way of engaging with physical fitness for life. In this article, we’ll review some research around youth strength training, discuss some common myths and misconceptions, and build a plan for enjoyment of physical activity and long-term athlete development beginning in childhood.

Key Points: Commonly cited problems with youth strength training are typically due to an inappropriately advanced training plan, poor instruction, or lack of supervision by the coach. Young athletes can learn developmentally appropriate physical training fundamentals and build gradually on those skills as their training capacity increases. Coaches of young athletes should focus first on enjoyment of and engagement in physical activity, then on developing general athletic movement fundamentals and building a foundation for future performance improvement.

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youth strength training coach with young athlete teaching the squat exercise

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