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The need for speed Part 2
Posted January 29th, 2008 om

Last we focused on the upper body and its effects on running technique and speed. Now it is time for the lower body to be dissected. Let us start with the hip, (the forces of power production are about seven times that of the ankle when sprinting)! In the hip area there are lots of muscles that in different ways affect running and speed production. Most important are the glutes and the hip flexors. The glutes are one of the largest and most power producing muscles in the body and combined with the hamstrings extend the hip and helps you move forward. Unfortunately, it is often deactivated and cannot fully deliver at its peak. This is mostly due to stiff and shortened hip flexors, a problem that is very common from too much sitting down or sports where you act leaning forward, eg. in hockey, golf etc. Stiff and shortened hip flexors will also lead to decreased stride length and disturbs the rotation of the spine, it will force you to rotate more to be able to keep your stride length and sprint at full speed. This unnatural rotation costs the system an unnecessary energy loss and keeps you from optimal performance in more ways than one. It is very important to have good flexibility in the lower core, the hips and legs. In order to be able to keep your foot longer on the ground during the stride you need to be able to fully extend in your hip, knee and ankle joints.

The hamstrings work in close connection with the glutes in the hip extension phase in running and therefore also become affected by any problems with the hip flexors. So you can see the importance of giving proper attention to it. Else you have no chance of performing at top level. But if you put proper attention to the stretching and lengthening the hip flexors, you should see to it that you strive to train the glute hamstring complex to work as one. This to ensure that you don’t get any strength imbalances between them. I often see this problem in athletes though. Often they have pretty strong glutes but lack sufficient hamstring strength and development. This leads to higher injury risk and faulty running technique. So it is very important to make sure your hip flexors are thoroughly stretched for optimal potential for speed and power in the hip area.
Balance between quadriceps and hamstring strength is also a big concern when you aim for speed. Most people will find that they feel more in their quads than in their hams when sprinting. This is very common and a indicator that you need to strengthen your hamstrings. If properly trained you should feel more in your hams than in your quads! If not then you know what to do.

Another common problem is insufficient flexibility in the quads. The flexibility of the quadriceps determines the ability to bring the ankle of the recovering leg past the knee of the driving leg at a height where the resting leg ankle is actually above the driving leg knee. This ability is not solely due to flexibility but also on core strength and calf strength.

The ankle is the last link to the feet and the ground so it is important that there is also good flexibility and strength around this joint. When sprinting at max speed you fully extend the ankle joint and therefore it is of importance that there are no limitations, in either muscles or structure. A lot of people would be helped if they received some soft tissue treatment around this joint and maybe even some chiropractic treatment of the joint. It is a very abused and neglected joint, considering its great importance in as well sprinting as everyday work.

Next time I will start to focus on how to train for speed. I will cover flexibility, strength, drills and running. So stay tuned!

The need for Speed! Part 1
Posted December 30th, 2007 om

Everybody who has ever been involved in some sort of sport knows the need of speed! In almost every sport it is a necessity in order to become successful. Even our ancestors were in need of speed, or they got eaten- or beaten to death by the enemy. So it´s in our blood. But even though it is such a necessity in sports I often see people who don’t have it developed to their full potential. They may train their strength (often focused around their legs), their agility, run their sprints and so on. But in order to become the fastest you can be you have to incorporate a lot of things and know a bit about how the body works and the mechanics of sprinting. In this article series I am about to share with you the things I consider to be of importance and try to make this complex and widespread area a bit more accessible to you. And just for the sake of confusing you (just messing around) I will go from upper body to lower body in this article series and finish up with a bit of training methodology for speed.

First and foremost I would like you to understand that the body works as a whole, and in sprint you need it to work in the forward direction and in a relaxed manner. Anything that deviates from this will to a certain level decrease your quest for optimum speed. I often see this in the upper body, both unnecessary rotational movements and tensing up. To clear things up a bit let us examine the upper body´s effect on sprinting.

Start with the shoulders, they should be able to move or “roll” fluently forward and backward with each stride, working into the opposite direction of the hips and legs. So if you don´t relax your shoulders but pull them up towards your neck, you will DIRECTLY affect your hips and sprinting abilities. This means you need to keep your shoulder girdle loose and relaxed to be able to generate maximum speed, this goes in all sports. It also goes for the “see saw” movement- technique I often see in many athletes while sprinting. Another problem that starts in the shoulder girdle is the see-saw movement across the body. This will transfer the force that is generated into an exaggerated rotational movement of the upper body, which will have several negative inputs on their running. First of all the core will have to try to stabilize and lessen the rotational force deriving from this movement, keeping it from translating through the body. This energy loss will also affect the core in its ability to stabilize and keep optimal alignment throughout the spine and the hips, for optimal sprint posture and mechanics. The core acts as a transition between the upper and lower body while sprinting and should also be trained accordingly – see earlier article.

So what then causes this faulty, energy wasting technique? As you may have observed a lot of athletes are “naturally” forward and inward rotated in their shoulders. This faulty alignment will of course also affect their arm movements, hereby making the see-sawing movement “natural” for them. Not good in any way! So if you recognize yourself then the first step here is to plan a corrective phase for your shoulders in order to (re)establish a natural pattern that is more in line what the body was designed for. I would start off with stretching the short muscles around the shoulder joint and then strengthen the muscles that are elongated and weakened. I would assume that some of the muscle on your short list would be chest, lats, front deltoids and biceps, while the rotor cuff, the middle and lower trapezius and the rhomboideus are weak and elongated. So if you start with checking them you should be on your way. I will address the training for speed part later on in this series, so stay tuned.

On to the arms then! The arms are important in developing speed. They actually precede the leg action when sprinting. So you need a strong upper body to be fast, just look at today top sprinters – not exactly what you would call sissies, are they!? This does not mean however that you should curl ´til you die; the muscles you need to train are the muscles around your shoulder joint. Which brings me to this week’s lesson- Which muscles attach and work around the shoulder joint?

Until next part train smart,


Stretching - The Basics Part 2



If you have read the previous part of this series you should have a basic understanding of the science behind stretching. In this installment I will focus on the more technical parts of it, and go into how to perform the different stretches in order to get the most out of them. The stretches I cover are primarily the static ones, since I see them being misused daily I would like to steer things up a bit. This part will be more directly accessible, I promise – more practical, less technical!

As you perform a stretch you should always strive for perfect posture- chest up, chin in, shoulders back and down, tighten abs and so on. You should also, in most of these stretches, try to look straight ahead and keep your body in a neutral position, no rotation if possible. Through these stretches we want the body to get back to its normal and “correct” posture and alignment, therefore no deviations allowed!

We will look at two different stretches for most body parts, one less beneficial that is commonly used and one that I recommend. If you are already using the latter one then great, but maybe there is still something you missed out on the performance, which I might be able to help you out with through this article!? I will focus mainly on the larger muscle groups, but if you find afterwards there are some muscles that didn´t receive the attention they deserved or if you have any questions about other stretches – please post a comment or email me.

Let´s start from the bottom up, shall we!?


When stretching your calves there is basically one thing you should strive for, which is to get as sharp an angle possible between the foot and the shin. I would also prefer you to place the pressure on the ball of the foot and not your toes; this to assure that you stretch your calves and not your toe flexors! You should also take into account that the calf consists of two different muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus, where the first one passes the ankle as well as the knee joint. This you must take into consideration - when stretching the gastroc you should always have a straight leg!
So when stretching the calves I suggest that you begin with straight legs and then bend the knee slightly in order to focus more on the muscle located underneath, the soleus.

One of the most common stretches is the one shown in fig 1, where you stand with your hands against a wall looking like you are about to push the wall away. This stretch is fine but you will have a hard time relaxing your calf enough to give it a real thorough stretch. I prefer the one where you place your foot against the wall (fig 2) and gently strive with your hips towards the wall, thereby sharpening the angle between foot and shin. This makes it easier to relax the muscles and you can calibrate the force of the stretch more easily.


When stretching your hamstrings you shall always see to it that your foot is straight and not rotated in either direction, this to ensure that you will stretch each portion of the hamstring equally. Keeping your leg straight is not as important, it works with a slightly bent knee as well. But the most crucial thing to ensure when stretching hams is that the movement takes place around the hip joint and NOT your lower back, I cannot stress this enough!!! Your hamstrings originate from your ischial tuberosities and not your lumbal spine, like some seem to believe. So when you perform your stretch always keep your lower back straight- try to think of yourself as a Swiss knife, opening and closing around the hip joint.

One of the most common stretches for the hammies is the one where you place your foot on a bench and bend over (fig 1). I would not recommend this. First of all people have a tendency to bend their lower backs more than their hips here, as mentioned above, and secondly they often end up rotating their foot outwards, opening up the hip. This will place more stretch on one part of the hamstring than the others. So I would suggest instead you sit on a bench, fig2, with one leg on the bench and the other one off, resting on the floor in a “hurdle” position, this will stabilize you hip joint and give you a much better and safer position to start out from. From this position let you body travel forward with your chest held high. And at any cost try to avoid bending your lower back!


The glutes are made up of several muscles, but for this article I will focus on the buttock as a whole. The most common stretch ought to be the one where you sit on the floor hugging your knee while trying to get it to your chest, fig 1. The stretch itself is not a bad one. But if you are tight and stiff in these muscles, you might not get the force you need with this one. So I use a derivation of it where you place your leg on the floor in front of you, fig2, and let your body weight do the job for you. I carefully lean towards the leg.


You have almost certainly stretched you quads by standing erect and trying to pull your heel towards your rear end, fig1!? This must, pardon me, be one of the most useless stretches you can do for your quads. Why? Well, first of all, you will separate your knee joint when doing this letting all the force push your knee cap into the joint. Secondly, if you do not have the abs of Jamo you will probably increase your lordosis, which will remove the stretch effect from the quad itself and instead put your lower back under that much more stress. And this is only some of the side effects I could mention about this variation. But let´s leave it at that.
What I do recommend is the version shown in fig 2. Here you reduce the stress on your lower back, ensuring you get the desired stretch in your quads by stabilizing your hip and focusing the pressure above the knee, to relieve the knee joint. For the best effect when performing this variation, try to lower your hip towards the bench while you pull your heel towards you buttock.


When stretching the lats the one thing that most people miss out on is the fact that the lats attaches to the hipbone, which means that in order to get a full stretch you need to bend over a bit for a slight flexion in the hip. This is a part you lose when you do the basic standing side-bending stretch, fig 1. So I prefer to use the one in fig 2 where you bend over your flexed hip as a large C and use your free hand to push away and to create a greater stretch in the lats.


An important consideration when trying to get the most out of a chest stretch is to focus it around the shoulder joint- leave that poor elbow out of it! Far too many just throw their hand up on the wall, fig1, with an overstretched elbow, or the opposite- bend the elbow but leave it hanging in the air, so to speak, while pushing their hand towards the wall, turning their upper body into the same direction. What this does is it removes the focus and stretch effect from the chest, in the first example putting more stress on the elbow, in the second one not stretching at all!

A better way is to put the entire lower arm up against the wall, fig2, preferably over shoulder height, supporting the elbow. Stand with your upper body facing straight ahead, chest up, straight back, then take a step forward with the same side leg, hereby preventing the upper body from rotating towards the wall.

The pectoral is a broad fan shaped muscle with its different parts attaching both to the clavicle, the sternum and the ribs (usually referred to as the upper, middle and lower part when benching). So think about this, if you train the chest in different angles, why not show it the same amount of respect when stretching afterwards?! You need to do this in different angles by the same reason you have to vary the training angle using an incline, straight and decline bench - to cover all the fibers. The most important part to stretch is the descending one, which have the greatest tendency to shorten and pull the shoulders forward. The higher up you place your arm the lower fibers you affect.

Front Shoulders/Biceps

A tight bicep and front shoulder combined with tight chest muscles is one of the reasons for internally rotated shoulders, which in time may give you tons of problems more serious than just a visually incriminating lousy posture. So please do not neglect these muscle groups, and make sure you perform the stretch correctly, in my opinion best done according to fig.2. Important notice: Make sure you grab the bar or support your hand with the palm facing up as you internally rotate your arm! The one in fig.1 is commonly seen in the gym, but it does not give you a sufficient stretch of the biceps, due to lack of rotation of the arm. It is also more beneficial to stretch one arm at a time as you pretty much always have a imbalance of flexibility between the sides, which will not be addressed when stretched together.


When stretching your triceps always see to it that your elbow points towards the ceiling, or the sky if outside ;-) and make sure you at the same time get your hand as close to your shoulder as possible. I often see the first part being done right (fig 1) but often the second part is not done correct, they just flex the biceps a bit to get a stretch in the triceps. But to give it a thorough stretch you need to use more force than that. Use a rope or something like it to pull your lower arm down towards your shoulder and back. At the same time use a wall to lean into, so you can get a real stretch in your triceps as seen in fig.2.


The most common neck stretch is the one where you grasp your head by the ear and tilt it to the opposite side. This version puts unnecessary strain on your cervical spine due to exaggerated lateral flexion. To avoid this simply sit down on a bench and grasp the seat with the hand on the side being stretched and slightly lean away. This to lower your shoulder girdle to initiate the stretch, so you don´t have to bend your neck as much to the side for a good stretch. It will also put less strain on your spine and save it for the future.

So now you only have to put this in use and keep stretching as a regular part of your work out. Please reread the first part to know what and when to use the different kinds of stretches.

Machines and Sport Specific Training
Posted November 7th, 2007 om

In a perfect world you would now be able to read an article about speed training or get the second installment of the stretching basics, but once again the world proved to be far from perfect as my regular computer crashed and I lost most of these two articles. I am a trainer, not a computer freak, so please forgive me for not making backups more than once a week… So sadly enough I am out of a pc for now, but just so you would not have to suffer the loss of something new to read on sport specific training until my new one arrives, I bribed one of my friends to lend me his computer for an hour or two. Here´s what I was able to put down for you in that time, I hope you will enjoy it and that it will be of use to you.

As a trainer and coach spending countless hours in different gyms, you often see stuff that makes you go - hum I wonder… Which is just what happened this last week, while sneaking in one own quick training session between clients.
I was about halfway done when a guy in his late teens came in to start his session. I knew he was from a school with a special sports program for talented individuals, I reckoned he was into either soccer or hockey. You can almost always sort them out by their training clothes… He started out with bench press on the Smith machine, without any previous warm-up, progressed to the machine leg press and, after that, the lat pull down machine. By now I was pretty curious whether he himself had designed the program, or if it had been given to him by the school coach. And ok, I was even thinking a couple of things I cannot print here…

Anyways, I walked up to him and checked if it was ok to ask him a question on who had helped him with his program and what his goal was? The response in order was: “The Coach” and “to get stronger for sports”… To clear things out I needed to know whether he had been specified to do the program as such or if he himself had been modifying it, changing the prescribed exercises. But no, he had actually been following the given program in its entity; he even showed me the print-out! On this I had to ask whether the coach had not told him that he would be better off substituting these exercises with real bench press, squats and chins or at least “real” lat pulldowns. The answer made me speechless (which is a rare happening)! He said his coach had told him that there was no real difference between these exercises and the ones he did, besides from being able to use more weights on the machines and still maintain focus on the muscle he trained! I felt the urge to give the kid a lecture and set him straight on some details, but being too short in time I had to restrain myself and just made a small mental note to call his coach and ask for his credentials…

Instead I will now have to give you dear readers the short version of the lecture on the use of machines in sport specific training. Which is – It sucks, big time!

When using a machine, you take away all core integration, all stabilizers and coordination between different synergists (muscles working as a unit), in short terms. This will make you more prone to injuries, overall weaker and less productive on the field. In my book that is not the way to train for optimum performance!

Picking exercises to increase your performance, you should use mainly those that put both your body and nervous system on toes, so to speak. Please don´t make the common mistake to confuse sport specific training with bodybuilding! Using a traditional bodybuilding program will often result in a big portion of non-functional mass, which can actually make you perform worse on the field! This is not to say that using bodybuilding protocols and combining them with “sport specific application able exercises” is useless- if done right you can get functional mass out of that, too. But back to the selection of exercises! As I wrote earlier they should keep both your body and nervous system on its toes, and to make it easier for you to choose the right kind of exercises next time, I will give you a foundation to stand on.

When choosing exercises to use as a base, you should look at two aspects. First- is this a natural movement for the body or a derivation of it? If yes to the first it will probably be an exercise that is ok to use. We have some original or “primal pattern” movements as one coach would say. They are to squat, to lunge, to press, to pull, to rotate and to bend. Always identify the most commonly used patterns in your sports and evaluate how well you perform them, and look for restrictions that might hinder your progress in them so you then can correct these restrictions and further your progress! I would then suggest that you include some variation of each pattern in your workout, in my experience there is always sometime you will need to perform one of these patterns in your sport and daily life. You should also pay some attention to get an even ratio of horizontal and vertical work when working with press and pull movements! People often have a tendency to do more horizontal pressing, bench variations, and vertical pulling, chins variations, in relation to their opposites. This will lead to unnecessary strength imbalances around the shoulder joints and actually make you weaker in both of these movements. So keep an even ratio. Now you have a bit of insight in which kind of exercises to choose on to the second selection criteria.

You should always strive for as much motor unit activation as possible. This is after all how the body responds to demands on the field - the more efficiently you can use your muscles the better you will do obviously!

So how do I know the level of neuromuscular activation? You can use what the old German strength physiologists call the Scale of Motor Unit Recruitment. There are seven levels of muscular activation and you should strive for at least level five or higher.

Compound vs. Isolation Exercises
(Neuromuscular Activity — NMA)

Level 1

Isolation exercise on variable resistance machine, like leg extension on cam type machine like Cybex and Nautilus machines

Level 2

Complex exercise on variable resistance machine, like leg press on Nautilus machine and their likes

Level 3

Isolation exercise with constant resistance machine, like Preacher curls with pulley and Pushdowns on a cable machine

Level 4

Complex exercise with constant resistance machine, like leg press on standard machines

Level 5

Isolation exercise with free weights, like incline curls and side laterals

Level 6

Complex exercise with free weights, like cleans, squats and other basic exercises.

Level 7

Complex exercise with free weights and an added uncertain factor, like dips on rings, rope climbing and such

Just to clear it out, for those who do not know, an isolation exercise is done over one joint and a complex over multiple joints.

Now you should have some basic knowledge on how to pick your exercises and know why you will never get the same results by using machines as with free weights or your own body! So put your knowledge to use and start training for performance now.

Had the Coach who constructed the kid´s program earlier known these basics, then his apprentice would probably have improved his chances for reaching his goal to perform better - and be functionally stronger!

Stretching - The Basics! Part 1
Posted October 25th, 2007 om

There is and will always be different opinions about the importance of stretching, and the benefits of it! But anyone who has spent some time in the fitness and sports industry knows its value. In this two part article series I will cover the stretching basics. In this first one will focus on the “technical” pieces while the second will be more about the “practical“ parts.

Most people tend to see ordinary stretching and flexibility training as one and the same, and far too many do not pay enough attention to this part of their training either, which is a BIG mistake! Almost everyone starting out, it may be the beginner just getting into strength training or the seasoned veteran starting over again after some time away, should pay ample amount of time with it in order to be able to perform their strength training exercises in proper form. Many simply do not have the flexibility and/or correct relationships of muscle length to do the lifting exercises as they should be done. I get to see this time after time. It is NOT the range of motion in one SINGLE muscle that is of interest here, it is the RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN muscles around a joint that is important. Each and every muscle in a joint NEED to be at “normal” length, so you can perform the movement around the joint as it was designed and not to put stress on the wrong structures! So the first thing to do and concentrate on is length balancing between the muscles around the joints! It does not matter if you increase the range of movement in your pectorals, chest muscle, if other muscles around the shoulder joint are off the chart, so to speak. Yes you may get a greater range of movement in your chest press exercise, but that may also stress your shoulder joint in a bad way and result in injury to it or its surrounding muscles!

So I thought I should sort things out a bit, give you an introduction and my two cents on how to integrate stretching in your daily training. I will focus on the most common types of stretching and try to explain the “best” use of them. But first let us have a look at some of the benefits you might enjoy by adding a serious and effective flexibility part to your training. I guess fellow tribe member Julien has done his fair share… And let us at the same time look at what exactly happens when you stretch a muscle.

Some benefits in no particular order:

1. Increased range of motion

2. Decreased recovery time

3. Lower risk of injury

4. Improved performance

5. Better posture

6. Less neck and lower back pain and problems

7. Better joint health

8. Less energy cost to the body

What happens?

The stretching of a muscle fiber begins with the sarcomere, the basic unit of contraction in the muscle fiber. When a sarcomere contracts the area of overlap between the thick and thin myofilaments increases. As it stretches, this area of overlap decreases, allowing the muscle fiber to elongate. Once the muscle fiber is at its maximum resting length, this is when all the sarcomeres are fully stretched, additional stretching puts force on the surrounding connective tissue. As the tension increases, the collagen fibers in the connective tissue align themselves along the same line of force as the tension. So when you stretch, the muscle fiber is pulled out to its full length sarcomere by sarcomere, and then the connective tissue takes up the remaining slack. When this occurs, any disorganized fibers are realigned in the direction of the tension. This realignment is what helps to rehabilitate scarred tissue back to health.

When a muscle is being stretched, some of its fibers lengthen, but other fibers may remain at rest. The current length of the entire muscle depends upon the number of stretched fibers. The more fibers that are stretched, the greater the length of the stretched muscle will be.

The nerve endings that send all the information about the musculoskeletal system to the brain are called proprioceptors. Proprioceptors inform the brain about the body position and its movements. They detect any changes in physical position, movement or displacement and any alteration in tension, or force, within the body. They are found in all nerve endings in joints, muscles and tendons, the proprioceptors related to stretching are located in the tendons and in the muscle fibers. So when you stretch your muscles, the body must adapt to this new position of location.

There are two kinds of muscle fibers- the intrafusal and the extrafusal muscle fibers. Extrafusal fibers contain myofibrils and are the ones we usually refer to when talking about muscle fibers. The intrafusal fibers, also called muscle spindles, lie parallel to the extrafusal fibers. These are the primary proprioceptors in the muscle. Another proprioceptor involved during stretching is located in the tendon near the end of the muscle fiber and is called the Golgi tendon organ. There is also a third type of proprioceptor, called the Pacinian corpuscle, it is located close to the Golgi tendon organ and is responsible for detecting changes in movement and pressure within the body. As stated earlier each of these three will be subjected to some kind of “disturbance” during stretching - as the extrafusal fibers of a muscle lengthen so do the intrafusal fibers.

The muscle spindle contains two different types of fibers, or stretch receptors, which are sensitive to changes in muscle length and the rate of the change. During a muscle contraction a tension change occurs in the tendon where the Golgi tendon organ is located. The Golgi tendon organ is sensitive to such changes and the rate of them, so these factors will affect your stretches in different ways. Read on…

The Stretch Reflex

When a muscle is stretched the muscle spindle records the change in length, and the rate of such, and sends signals to the spinal cord, which conveys this information. This triggers the stretch reflex, attempting to resist the change in muscle length by making the stretched muscle contract. The more sudden the change in muscle length, the stronger the reactive muscle contractions will be- plyometric, or "jump" training is based on this fact. This basic function of the muscle spindle is to help maintain the muscle tone and protect the body from injury. But this can also be an obstacle during stretching if done wrong. Therefore it is very important not to force your self or to do any hasty movements while stretching. One of the reasons for holding the stretch for a prolonged period of time is that as you hold the muscle in a stretched position the muscle spindle becomes accustomed to the new length and reduces its signaling. Gradually, you can train your stretch receptors to allow greater lengthening of the muscles.

So now back to the different kinds of stretching:

1. Ordinary Static Stretching - The most common type of stretching is where you hold a muscle stretched in a fixed position for about 30-60 seconds and thereafter slowly ease out of it. This is a great variation to use after workout or during the day to get your muscles elongated, or to keep them in their current state. I would suggest you do each stretch 2-3 times for best results.

2. PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) is often a combination of passive stretching and isometrics contractions. The use of contractions will trick the body into letting you go into a deeper stretch (see the different mechanisms above) and this is a very useful method for developing flexibility in a smaller time frame. As a trainer and therapist this is the way I stretch my clients most of the time. There are a lot of different PNF methods out there; here are some frequently used.
1. Hold-Relax are the most common method. You fire the tight muscle either against a fixed object or your partners hand for about 10-20 seconds. Then you relax and lightly stretch out the muscle to a new position and hold it there, repeating the procedure another 2-3 times.
2. Antagonist Contraction you passively lengthen the tight muscle to it end-range. Then you concentrically contract the muscle opposite to the tight muscle, the antagonist that is, to reach a new end range. This technique incorporates reciprocal inhibition - when one muscle contracts its antagonist relaxes.
3. Hold-Relax with Antagonist Contraction is in my opinion the best and fastest way to increase the range of movement in a single muscle by using a combination of the two methods described above. When you relax your tight muscle you will at the same time contract its antagonist.

These static stretches with prolonged holding positions are usually done in warm-ups, which isn´t all wrong - please read my warm - up article about this subject! But here the length monitoring cells in the muscle are stretched without the brain being able to monitor the actual change in length. So what happens in this case is that when you move out of this new position the information to the brain does not match the information already stored there for the “standard” movement, whereby the brain tries to figure out how to modulate the new movement to match the stored information. This can affect you in such a way that when you do an exercise your mind automatically miscalculates the information sent to it, as your regular and safe standard no longer matches your brains standard, which elevates the potential risk of getting injured from that exercise. This is more pronounced when doing fast ballistic movements. But of course there are exceptions to this rule, too, of not doing static stretching during warm up, which I will come back to this later on in the article.
I would suggest you use this kind of stretching primarily in rehab, after workouts or in separate sessions for increased flexibility and joint health and integrity.
Stretching directly after a work out may enhance recovery due to increased circulation etc., but I would not use it as the primary way to increase length in a muscle. After a work out the nervous system is at work for some time and it will negate the stretching effect. So if your goal is muscle length and flexibility then you do best separating it from any nervous system teasing training!
Words of caution though, never force your self into a stretch or perform it too quickly. A stretch should never hurt, it can be more or less painful but it should not hurt!!

3. Dynamic Stretching was also mentioned in my warm-up article, but here´s a quick recap. This method of stretching is based on larger movements done in increasing range of motion. You should do it in slow continuous movements. When you keep moving your brain constantly monitors the change in length of the muscle and makes the necessary adjustments accordingly

This kind of stretch is the one that I would suggest for warm-ups, but as I wrote earlier there are exceptions to the rule. I touched a bit on this in the warm-up article, but left out some information that I will share with you now.

But first let’s recap:

You use static stretches mainly to elongate specific muscles and use them in preventive, rehabilitating and restoration purposes. Dynamic stretches are primarily used as part of the warm-up to increase range of motion in a brain-friendly way, so to speak.

On to the exception now!

There are three types of muscles and they do not all respond to stretching the same way. A muscle in the body is comprised of both fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers. Fast twitch are best suited for power and speed, whereas slow twitch are used more in prolonged work situations. Your postural muscles are predominantly slow twitch, also referred to as tonic muscles. Your fast twitch dominant muscles are also referred to as phasic muscles. The third type is composed of fairly equal parts slow and fast fibers, so these muscles don’t fall into either the tonic or phasic group.

The interesting part is that the tonic muscles react to faulty loading situations in a very different way than do phasic muscles. When overworked to elicit a response your tonic muscles will elongate and weaken, while the phasic muscles shorten and tighten. But that is not all! The tonic muscles will also become more and more excited and try to do the work for the related phasic muscles. This is very important information, because a short tonic muscle will rob nerve energy from other important muscles and alter your biomechanics! So you could, and sometimes should, implement stretching of the tonic muscles in your warm-up, but best done in conjunction with dynamic to get the brain and body to work as a whole.

Here is an overview of common tonic muscles for you to see which muscles might be in need of stretching before a work out:

Muscle with tendencies to be short/tonic

Upper Trapezius

Levator Scapulae

Short Cervical Extensors

Pectoralis Major

Pectoralis Minor

Erector Spinae


Rectus Femoris


Short and long Adductors


I hope you got a bit of insight on stretching through this article, on what happens, what to choose and when, since stretching may be one of the more important tools, if not The most important tool - to help balance and align the body and its biomechanics.

So let’s now make time for some serious and well-planned stretching. In the next installment of this article series I will let you in on how to do the, in my opinion, best stretches, for you to reap the benefits you would like and could expect of stretching - not just going through the movements “for the good cause”, or worse, stretch the wrong muscles!

To be continued…

Hypertrophy basics and chest training template
Posted September 27th, 2007 on
My first few articles for myfittribe have focused on overall performance. So some of you might have got the impression that I only train athletes, which is not the case. To change that, I am going to give you folks an article about chest training. It´s not for the beginner but even as such you might get some ideas to try out.

First though, I want to give you some insight on why I choose to design the program the way I do. There are two kinds of hypertrophy, sarcoplasmatic and myofibrillic. Sarcoplasmatic hypertrophy is an increase of the non-contractile parts of the muscle fiber, the sarcoplasm. It stands for about 25-30% of the muscle volume. But even if the muscle volume itself increases the muscle fiber density per unit will decrease, and the strength enhancement will be negligible. This kind of hypertrophy is a result of conventional bodybuilding training in the 10-15 reps range. Myofibril hypertrophy on the other hand is an increase in myofibrils, the building blocks of the muscle cell/fiber, which in turn are able to contract and build up tension in the muscle. This kind of hypertrophy increases the density/volume of the myofibrils and therefore increases the potential for muscular strength. This is best done using heavy weights and low reps in the 1-5 rep range.

Low rep training with heavy weights also gives your nervous system an ample workout, something very underused in training. This will lead to increased neural connection with the muscle, better synchronization between motor units, increased activation of the contractile parts and less inhibition by the muscle safety mechanism, the Golgi tendon.

As an avid trainee you are most certainly aware of the difference between Type II and Type I muscle fibers, and know that Type II fibers have the highest potential for hypertrophy. When stimulating these fibers you need to keep them under tension for about 20-60 seconds, whereas the lower spectrum trains the Type II b and the higher the Type II a. So as you can see you need to incorporate heavy weights and low reps as well as higher reps with medium weight to achieve a complete development.

Another thing that increases muscle activation is the stretch shortening cycle and this is also a very underused and misused method in weight training. Let me give you an example: When performing a flye for the chest some people tend to keep their arms straight, which will actually lead to an increased activation of the biceps – which in turn will take away load from the chest! So it is VERY important to keep your arms slightly bent and still during this flye movement. Correctly used the stretch shortening cycle will make your workout even more productive.

You often hear people complaining about not being able to make a body part grow, no matter how hard they try. When you take a closer look at them you often see that one or more muscles in the near region working as agonists are “over” developed, while the targeted muscle itself is lagging. Now the reason for this is likely that the antagonistic muscle has a lower excitation threshold, which is often the case. This means that it will act prior to the other muscles in the movement. To minimize the chance for this happening you could try stretching the more reactive muscle before training in order to inhibit it slightly. After stretching a muscle it will weaken a bit for a short period which in turn will lead to a better activation of the targeted muscle.
You can also stretch the antagonist muscles, the ones doing the opposite motion, to decrease the risk of reciprocal inhibition.

Ok enough of the mumbo jumbo and let’s get down to business and use what we just learned. One way is to begin with a phase of more strength oriented training and to follow it up with a more conventional bodybuilding phase. Or you could mix them up like in the following template. The carry over from the strength oriented set will lead to the possibility to use a heavier weight than you normally would be able to do, thanks to the activation of the nervous system, as stated above.

Before weight workout do the following:

Stretch: Front shoulder, biceps, external rotators, rear shoulder, lats and triceps. You can also stretch these muscles in between sets.

Chest program based on once a week chest training (For people with good recovery it can also be done once every five days):

Each pair of exercises is done as a superset, only with the prescribed rest in between.

A.1. Incline dumbbell press, with a “twist” (when lowering the dumbbell let your forearms slightly fall out to change leverage and put more stress on your pectorals, and avoid extending your arms entirely at the top, to keep tension up.) 3 sets x 2 reps with 90 seconds rest. (When going for hypertrophy you are supposed to have some oxygen debt.)

A.2. Incline flyes, done with cables for maximum tension and range of motion – try to use as much muscle as possible instead of cheating with momentum when moving the weight. 3 sets x 45-50 seconds with 90 seconds rest.

B.1. Flat dumbbell press, see above for performance instructions. 2-3 x 2 with 90 sec rest

B.2. Flat flyes with cables. 2-3 x 45-50s with 90s rest.

Done right this will produce an incredible pump, and some serious soreness the next few days.

You should be aware of the fact that it only takes so long for the body to adapt to any kind of program so you should change it regularly, even if it feels good. For the average trainee I would suggest never to stay with a program for more than 8 times before changing it. If you are more experienced you might even change after 4 times! You ladies out there can use the 8 rule even being more routined, according to my experience a female can stay longer on a program without stagnating as much.

Try this out and feel free to change things around, using the information above.

Train Your Assets!!
Posted August 16th, 2007 on

I just finished looking through some pictures from a Fitness contest, and as the man I am I was of course looking at the derrière of the ladies. - Oh come on ladies you stare at ours to! The one thing that hit me again, as it always does, was that even where the contestants had well developed glutes and hams and had a low percentage of body fat, they very often still lacked that great glute/ham tie-in. The gluteals fold where too prominent in many cases. (The gluteal fold is the fold between the gluteus maximus and your hamstring to clear things out for those who need to be enlightened.)

Of course you can look great anyways, but if you are already setting aside a substantial amount of time on training, then why not use some of it in order to “correct” this minor imperfection?

I find that this is a problem more commonly occurring with athletes lacking a genuine athletic background, while the ones with the least problems are former gymnast and track and field athletes. For me this is not a surprise as both of these groups have a history of having done a lot of sprint type training. The kind of training that will put your hams and glutes to work in synergism during hip movement, the way they are intended to in the first place.

So you guessed it!? When a fitness contestant comes to me for help with this or to get ready for a show, sprint training is the order of the day!

Not only does it improve your glute/ham tie-in it also does the following:

Improves neuro – muscular connection
Balances out Quad/Ham imbalance
Increases EPOC, which will lead to greater fat loss
Strengthens your core
A word of caution first! If you are inexperienced or have been off-season from this type of training for a long time, please ease into it. Start with doing only one part of the program to begin with and then slowly add to it. And to all of you – please warm up properly! I am going to share with you a little secret here to get even more out of this, which in turn will even add to your progress in the gym when training hams and glutes.
- Stretch your hip flexors thoroughly before the session! This to ensure your ability to use your glutes and hams to the max, as shortened hip flexors is another reason for poor glute/ham tie-ins – but that is for another article…

So let’s go to work. You will start of with the 40 yard dash in a slight up-hill; this is to engage even more glute/ham involvement. You should start with 5 sets and gradually build up to 10 sets and keep your rest periods at 75-90seconds - we don’t want complete recovery but at the same time you need to be able to run at near maximum speed at every set!

A short note about form here, try to stay as erect as possible when sprinting and use your legs to drive you forward. If you need a more thorough explanation on how to sprint, please just contact me.

After about a 180 seconds worth of rest it is time for the famous Borzov jump. For those few of you who don’t now about this movement read on, you happily few who do, go to the progression for it right away.

The Borzov jump

The Borzov jump is a great exercise for developing explosive power. Technically it should be called a hop rather than a jump being a single leg exercise, but we have always called it a jump and will continue to do so.
Legend has it that the exercise was used by the great Valery Borzov, the Russian sprinter who won Olympic gold for his country in the 100m. The strength of the exercise lies in the fact that it involves so many movements that assist with speed and agility development.
And for those of you who are after muscle development it includes ankle extensions for the calves, knee extensions for your quads, as giving your glutes and hams a heavy challenge by all those hip extensions.
However, it is a relatively advanced exercise, and is suitable only for those with at least one year of plyometric training, so I strongly suggest that you use the progression I lay out for you.


Level 1
Just perform a rapid single leg squat, with the same action as the Borzov jump but without leaving the ground (2-4 sets of 6-12 reps for each leg, with a 75-90 sec rest.)
Level 2
As above, but only perform a half effort jump into the air, just slightly drawing the knee up to the chest (set and reps as above)
Level 3
Do the full Borzov jump as seen above, but with a rest in between each rep (set and reps as above)
Level 4
Continuous jumps as seen above (4 sets of 4-8 each leg and you will really know about it!)

And for the finale, hurdle jumps. Space out 5 hurdles with enough space in between them to be able to jump freely up and down over them, without hitting your knees in the hurdle or dragging the hurdle with you when trying to get over it! Set the height of the hurdle at a height that challenges you. If you are unsure just set it a little lower and work your way up from there. Perform 2 rounds of 2-4 sets with 75-90 seconds rest.

For you out there who train for speed and/or to improve your jumping ability, this is not the program for you! This is a bastardization of track training to improve amongst other things the glute/ham tie-in. But for you who are willing to give this a try, it might even give you a chance to show off your assets, while sprinting away from the competitors..!

Everything (and we mean EVERYTHING) you want to know about warming up!
Posted September 5th, 2007 on

I was actually about to write an article series for you on how to construct the “Viking warrior” athlete the way we do it here in Sweden. But after having dropped my jaw a couple of times too many last week while observing people warming up in the gym, I felt forced to write an article on how to do it in a proper way. So here it is my fellow tribe friends.

We all know that we should do some kind of a warm-up before we start to exercise. Even so a lot of people get to it without actually having a clue on what, why and how to do so in order to get the most out of the workout.

Usually they start out with some kind of a light aerobic exercise, on the treadmill or the bike, to follow it up with some light static stretching at the most, before they head into the gym. Or maybe they are doing my favourite- I just love the one where 50 fast reps are being banged out on the exercise of choice, like an epileptic penguin wobbling around! As a preparation before attacking the real weights

But if you ask me it’s like hunting for rabbit with a cannon, you know you have to use something but aren’t sure about what.

A correctly performed warm-up can lead an exceptional workout instead of a mediocre one. So it deserves your full focus and at least some good effort- it may even prolong you career as an athlete if you do it right!

The information I am going to share with you is actually the same kind I use on my top level athletes. If I say Sydney, Athens and Beijing you know which level I’m referring to.

But let us first repeat some basics before going into details. What is the actual function of a warm-up, what use will you have from it? Generally speaking it is to prepare your body for the coming workout or task at hand, and to help it perform optimally, hereby:

Raising your body temperature

Raising the heart beat

Improving your nervous systems impulses (coordination and reaction time improves amongst other things)

Increasing your muscle flexibility

Lubricating your joints

Facilitating your muscles

Improving your proproception

Preventing injury

In addition the warm up is also a perfect time to gauge your daily form and perhaps make some last minute changes in your workout program accordingly.

Ok back to the “perfect” warm-up. What does it look like? Let’s break it down into three stages:

Increasing body temperature

Dynamic stretching


1. Increasing body temperature

If possible I would recommend you to start your warm-up with skipping rope. It is easy to bring along and it is cheap, so there should be no problem to get one or use one. Also, by skipping rope you train your reactive strength, which puts you a foundation for the coming plyometric training.

And by judging your timing and coordination while skipping, you can also overview the condition of your nervous system at that time. If you fumble around and have bad timing while jumping and turning the rope (and I don’t mean by the reason of you being an inexperienced rope-skipper), then you may need to make some wise last-minute changes in your workout or warm-up program. Since bad coordination may be an indication of your body not being fully rested and/or you being on your way to overtraining.

I would suggest for this part to take about 5 minutes, or until you break a sweat.

2. Dynamic stretching

The Dynamic stretching part of the warm-up is the most important one of all, partially because it puts the foundation for your flexibility as well as improving your coordination, balance and re-activation of shut-off muscles. I will return to this in a while.

Many choose to do static stretching here instead of dynamic. I would not say it is entirely wrong if it is done so for any of the following reasons:

to stretch the antagonistic muscles to the one you are about to train, which can actually improve your workout even more.

to stretch specific muscles due to rehab.

I also often recommend static stretching for the beginner who may have some difficulties coordinating simultaneous movements.

But primarily I use static stretching after a training session, and if possible, separated from the actual workout. Now I know this is hardcore but if you want to get the absolute most out of your static stretching you should perform it in about 4 hours following a strenuous workout, by which time your nervous system is back into “normal”.

By performing dynamic stretching I’m going to increase my flexibility, lubricate my joints and strengthen my muscles in their full range of motion. This is highly useful in all sports, both as injury prevention and as a performance enhancement.

This part also activates muscles that usually may be shut-off due to years of inactivity. A common muscle to often shut off or become inactivated is the Gluteus Maximus or your butt, even amongst elite level athletes - believe it or not. Try the following: Stand up with your feet together and then try to squeeze each one of your buttocks one at a time. Did you succeed? Congratulations! If you did not, then don’t worry, you are amongst friends! Most people who try this tend to squeeze both buttocks at the same time. By learning to activate these powerful muscles more effectively you are going to improve your performance. Now how come?

The reason why we have a hard time using our gluteals effectively is because of our hip- flexors often being shortened by, amongst other things, way to much sitting down during the days – at work, at home with Oprah or Dr Phil and even at the gym – but I am saving that for an other article. This leads to inhibition of the gluteals by the neural connection between the two muscles, in a fancy way called reciprocal inhibition. This simply means that while one muscle fires the other one is reloading, in this case the gluteals are constantly reloading. When performing the dynamic stretching correctly you will teach your body to function correctly again.

When doing this part of the warm-up I want you to successively increase the range of motion in the exercises - but never force yourself, this will only lead to counterproductive results. It is also of importance that you engage the antagonistic muscle and not only use the momentum to do the work for you. I also suggest you use a broom shaft to gauge your posture. To get the most out of this part you should always strive after “perfect posture”, because if not your joints and muscles will not work in perfect synchronicity!


Now you are ready for the last phase, the transition. This phase prepares you directly for the work to follow. Let’s say you are about to Squat, just simply perform this exercise with progressively higher load, (a note here - don’t use high reps, 6-8 are plenty. Too many reps may lead to locally increased lactic acid production, which in turn prevent you from using your type II muscle fibres in their fullest! Not good if your goal is strength and mass!), while doing this take the opportunity to perfect your form.

To summarize

Skipping rope or use the bike or treadmill if necessary

Do dynamic stretching of the muscles you are about to train

Progressively use higher loads on the exercise you are about to do

As mentioned earlier this will prepare your body and enhance its ability to perform at a higher level. So do as my coming participants in Beijing, put some serious focus and effort into the warm-up!

Example total body dynamic stretching


Keep back ”straight” and flex the gluteals of the rear leg while lunging.

Lunges, Sideways

Hold your straight posture and take a large stride to the side.


”Hand walk”

Try to keep your legs as straight as possible.

The Scorpio

Try to touch your opposite hand with your leg.


Hold posture and keep your arms in line with your ears.


By contracting one side bend as far as you can without rotating.



Hold posture and squeeze your shoulder retractors in the bottom position.


Konditionsträning för kampsport – Hur man ”bäst” förbereder sig konditionsmässigt för en match!

Tillhör du dem som fortfarande tror att det bästa sättet att förbättra din kondition för kampsport är att ge dig ut och långlöpa? Det är inte ovanligt att jag träffar på tränande som kör löpning 3-4 ggr i veckan i tidsperioder på 30-60 minuter per gång för att förbättra sin kondition inför en match. Tanken är väl i och för sig rätt men resultatet blir inte optimalt! Och lägger man ner fyra timmar i veckan så vill man väl gärna ha lön för mödan?


Innan vi går vidare vill jag bara att du tänker efter: Hur ser en match ut? Består den av en enda lång rond där du hela tiden jobbar på samma intensitetsnivå eller är den uppdelad i perioder av lugnare och intensivare arbete? Jag tror att svaret är ganska självklart! En match är indelad i perioder med olika intensitet och har ofta vila mellan ronderna!


Nu till lite kort och grundläggande fysiologi. Alla personer har en fördelning mellan långsamma och snabba muskelfibrer. Fördelningen beror bland annat på gener och träningsmetoder.

De långsamma, även kallade Typ I, är de fibrer som tränas vid distanslöpning och liknande uthållighetsaktiviteter. När du använder dig av träningsmetoder där du ligger och arbetar på samma intensitetsnivå under tidsperioder på över 30 minuter, kommer du att använda, utveckla och rekrytera denna muskelfibertyp med dess hjälpande enzymsystem.


För den oinvigde kan det vara helt naturligt att ge sig ut och löpa eller ställa sig på trappmaskinen i en timme för att nå det uppsatta målet – förbättra konditionen. Problemet är bara att denna typ av träning även påverkar förmågan att explosivt använda benen. Denna typ av träning av de långsamma motoriska enheterna medför en nedsatt förmåga att generera explosiv kraftutveckling och anaerob uthållighet! Du blir uthållig och seg men tappar förmågan till snabba explosiva rörelser.

Vid kontinuerlig konditionsträning kommer du också att öka antalet mitochondrier i dina muskelceller. Mitochondrierna är enkelt förklarat cellens kraftverk som hjälper dig vid långtidsarbete. Problemet är bara att när dessa utvecklas sker det till viss del på bekostnad av de snabba muskelfibrerna och deras anaeroba enzymer.


Som kampsportare krävs att du gång på gång kan utveckla maximalkraft och explosivitet, inte förmågan att kontinuerligt vifta bort dina motståndare eller försöka springa ifrån dem! För att kunna göra det krävs att du utvecklar dina snabba muskelfibrer och förmågan att gång på gång kunna aktivera dem. Man skulle kunna jämföra med en sprinter och en maratonlöpare. En maratonlöpare kommer aldrig att prestera bra på 100meter och en sprinter kommer heller inte att prestera bra på ett maraton!


Men hur tränar vi då bäst för att kunna utveckla så mycket kraft som möjligt och höja vår förmåga att stå emot mjölksyra?

För att utveckla dessa komponenter ska du, som du säkert redan gissat, begränsa din aeroba träning och fokusera på träningsmetoder som gynnar dina snabba muskelfibrer och ditt anaeroba system.

Självklart har du en viss nytta av aerob träning, men det skall inte utgöra huvuddelen av din träning, jag skulle rekommendera dig att använda dig av det under en grundträningsfas, för att sedan ändra din träning till mer explosiv när du närmar dig tävlingen.


Hur ändrar du då på träningen för att få ut så mycket som möjligt av den?

Tänk igenom hur din match ser ut! Hur många ronder har den, hur lång tid pågår varje rond och vari ligger din styrka respektive svaghet – är jag stark men saknar uthållighet eller är jag ”svag” men har god uthållighet?


Ha de faktorerna i åtanke när du bygger upp ditt träningsprogram inför en föreliggande match! I mitt tycke är intervallträning den typ av träning som konditionsmässigt är bäst relaterat till själva matchsituationen. När man tränar intervaller så varvar man perioder av högintensivt arbete med lugnare återhämtningsperioder

Problemet här är att en del går helt överstyr när de designar sitt träningsprogram. Du har ingen nytta av att överdriva på något sätt; skulle en 100 meters löpare lägga sina intervaller på 1000 meter? Skulle inte tro det! Lägg den tiden på annat i stället, som teknikträning och övrig träning – kom ihåg att en dålig teknik kommer att kräva mer energi och göra dig tröttare, så satsa gärna på den!

Tänk på att när du utför dina intervaller skall det vara kvalitet före kvantitet, du kommer alltid att få tillbaka det du ger.


För att få lite hum om hur det kan se ut ska jag ge två exempel på upplägg.


1. För dig som är stark men behöver bättre korttidsuthållighet.
    Åtta veckor till tävling. Rond tid 120s
















































2. För dig med god uthållighet men som behöver mer snabbhet och styrka.
   Åtta veckor till tävling. Rond tid 120s
















































Som du ser, så för att utveckla styrka och snabbhet använder du dig av intervaller som är aningens kortare än rondtiden och tvärtom för att utveckla uthållighet!

Som komplement till intervallträningen kan du som tävlar och har din disciplin indelad i ronder också se till att din styrketräning förbättrar förutsättningarna för din lokala uthållighet. Den lokala uthålligheten är den uthållighet som du har exempelvis i armar och skulderparti till skillnad från den centrala som är hjärta och lungor. Genom att använda lätta vikter och explosivt utföra upp till 20-25 repetitioner med kort vila mellan seten förbättrar du din förmåga att repetitivt kunna utföra sparkar och slag under en match. Självklart har du lagt din bas av styrka (se tidigare artikel om hypertrofi), innan du använder dig av denna typ av träning!

Tillhör du dem som tidigare ägnat allt för stor tid åt distanslöpning kanske du kommer att sakna den positiva känslan du fick av alla de endorfiner som är associerade med distanslöpning. Men du kommer snart att glömma dessa när du känner hur din kraft och styrka ökar och när du står där som vinnare!

Repetitioner, hur många ska jag göra och varför?

  De flesta tränande utför 8-12 repetitioner per set oavsett övning (förutom magen som man gärna tränar med fler repetitioner – det verkar som myten om punktförbränning fortfarande lever kvar). Detta gör man oftast utan någon som helst fundering om varför. Det verkar nästan som om antalet reps vore en rekommendation från något statligt verk (kommer ni ihåg 6-8 skivor bröd per dag?). Men för att effektivt träna sina muskler måste man förstå följande; muskler räknar inte repetitioner utan känner bara av en belastning under en viss tid.

 Muskelanspänning som bibehålls under en specifik tidsperiod skapar de kemiska reaktioner i muskeln som ger dig de förändringar du är ute efter och precis som i kemilabbet så får man olika reaktioner beroende på vilka ”ingredienser” eller stimuli som man tillför. Ju högre belastning desto kortare tid klarar man av att genomföra ett set. Den tyngsta vikt du kan lyfta (1 repetition max) ger den högsta muskelspänning du kan generera, koncentriskt dvs. att det på grund av fysiska och kemiska orsaker är omöjligt att generera den spänningen under en längre tid. Om muskelns anspänning däremot är låg, som vid aerobiskt arbete, kan man i vissa fall utföra en övning i flera timmar.

 För de flesta tränande som är ute efter att få lite mer muskler, lite mer styrka och lite mindre fett bör musklerna vara under belastning i 40-60 sekunder till eller till dess att man nästan uppnår utmattning. Om man räknar med att varje repetition tar ca 4 sekunder så skulle det krävas ett set på 10-12 repetitioner för att komma upp i 40-60 sekunder. Det är denna teori som det vanligen rekommenderade antalet repetitioner (8-12 stycken) grundar sig i. Om man däremot ändrar på tempot på repetitionerna så att man antingen utför dem snabbare eller långsammare så får man ett annat resultat. Man kan variera antalet repetitionerna och tempot på olika sätt så länge som man håller oss inom den ovan nämnde tidsperioden. Det är alltså bättre att koncentrera sig på repetitionerna än att bara köra igenom setet så fort som möjligt. Resan genom setet är viktigare än slutmålet!

 Vid högrepetitionsträning (12 repetitioner eller fler per set) är det dock viktigt att repetitionerna inte utförs för långsamt. Det är nämligen så att musklerna innehåller både långsamma, Typ I fibrer och snabba Typ II fibrer. Hos en normal person är det ca 50 % av varje typ i musklerna med viss variation från person till person och mellan olika muskler. De intressantaste fibrerna för de som vill öka i muskelmassa är de synliga Typ II fibrerna som har störst tillväxtpotential. Det är viktigt att tänka på att om man tränar under för lång belastningsperiod så kan man inte använda tillräcklig tung belastning för att stimulera dessa fibrer och då uteblir muskeltillväxten.

Det kan också vara intressant att känna till att de Typ II fibrerna har en tendens att minska med åldern, vilket leder till minskad ämnesomsättning och därigenom en ökad fettmängd. Man bör alltså träna med 40-60 sekunders belastning för att bibehålla musklerna och öka ämnesomsättningen.

 För att återknyta till fördelningen av muskelfiber mellan olika muskler kan det vara intressant att känna till följande:

 Exempel på muskler som är Typ II dominanta (eller mestadels snabba muskelfibrer) är gastrocnemius, (yttre vadmusklen), hamstring, triceps och raka bukmusklerna (och ändå tränar de flesta dessa som de vore Typ I dominant med högrepetitionsträning) .

 Muskler som är Typ I  dominanta är exempelvis soleus, (djupa vadmuskulaturen, och transversus abdominis, (din djupliggande muskelkorsett).

 Enkelt uttryckt kan man följa regeln att när man tränar för att stimulera Typ II fibrer så bör man ha en belastning med vilken man kan genomföra ett set på 20-60 sekunder och när man tränar Typ I fibrerna så bör man ligga på en belastningsperiod på 50-90 sekunder.

 Alltså, tänk efter hur du vill träna dina muskler och lägg upp din träning utifrån det. Låt det inte bli en gissning! Uppskatta din belastningstid per set och beräkna din normala repetitionstid. Räkna sedan ut hur många repetitioner du bör göra. Detta kommer att göra att du optimerar varje set och din tid i gymmet. Lycka till!

Res på dig!

 Text - Magnus Ågren

 Hur du kan använda mer muskler, bränna mer fett, använda din mage, ländrygg och lårmuskulatur på samma gång genom att göra en enkel förändring i din träning.

 Varför sitter folk ned när de lyfter vikter? Låter nästan som en motsats, eller hur? Många svarar att det är så de har lärt sig att göra, att det är säkrare och mer effektivt. Effektiviteten skulle ligga i att du mer isolerat kan träna den muskel du vill komma åt, vilket till en viss del kan vara rätt!

Att sedan de flesta maskiner är byggda så att du är tvungen att sitta gör det naturligt att ta med sig denna vana (ovana?) till andra övningar.

 Om vi går tillbaka till att det skulle vara effektivare för att isolera muskeln när du sitter ned, låt oss då fundera över om det är vårt primära mål och om det bör vara det. Är du bodybuilder eller ”bara” tränar för att se bra ut då kanske det är rätt. Men om du tränar för att bygga funktionell styrka och må bra då finns det bättre sätt.

 Exempelvis så har man sett samband mellan svag multifideusmuskulatur, små muskler närmast ryggraden, och transversus abdominis, djup magmuskel, och ländryggsproblem. Visste du att genom att använda dig av stående övningar kan du träna dessa muskler effektivt, och att sittande varianter av dessa övningar nästan inte tränar de musklerna alls!?

 En viktig sak att notera är också att transversus abdominis (TA) är den första muskeln att aktiveras vid de flesta rörelser av armar och ben, i varje fall hos friska människor utan ländryggsproblem.

Detta betyder att om du inte använder dig av din TA, kan du skapa ett felaktigt rekryterings- mönster när du spänner musklerna, dvs. dina muskler kommer inte att arbeta i rätt ordning och med den timing som krävs för koordinerade, säkra och effektiva rörelser.

 Så om du tränar för att förbättra prestationen utanför träningslokalen bör kanske sittande övningar och maskiner användas sparsamt. Sittande övningar och maskiner fyller sitt syfte när det gäller att komma åt den huvudsakligt tränande muskeln men gör inget eller lite för de stabiliserande musklerna, både kring leder och i bål. Det är dessa små muskler som du alltid kommer använda ihop med de primära musklerna i det vardagliga livet, typfall när du bär hem matkassarna.

Så om du tränar övervägande sittande och i maskiner så kan det bidra till att skapa obalanser i styrka mellan dessa muskler, vilket kan leda till skador.

 En led är enkelt förklarat det ställe där två ben möts. Benen hålls på plats passivt, med hjälp av ligament, och aktivt, genom muskler. För att leden skall fungera optimalt så måste de primära och de stabiliserande musklerna arbeta samstämt. Om stabilisatorerna inte är proportionellt starka till de primära musklerna, eller om du har lärt dina muskler att arbeta utan dina stabilisatorer på grund av att du överanvänt maskiner och sittande övningar i din träning, kommer dina leder inte att kunna fungera normalt.

Leder som inte rör sig naturligt kommer att lägga belastning på strukturer som inte är gjorda för det, vilket leder till överbelastningar, och i längden inflammationer och ledförslitningar. Om dina primära muskler är för starka jämfört med den stabiliserande muskulaturen kommer detta att orsaka att mekaniken i leden förändras.

 Alla känner inte heller till att du utsätter din ländrygg för mer belastning när du sitter ned än när du står. När du sitter ned med naturlig kurvatur och utan belastning så ökar disktrycket i ländryggen med ungefär 40 %. Om du dessutom lutar dig framåt kan denna stress öka med så mycket som 90%.

Belastningen blir mycket större när du lägger till viktbelastning, speciellt om du använder dig av ryckiga rörelser vid start och/eller slut. Att belastningen på ryggraden ökar beror på att när du sitter kan du inte absorbera belastning genom att böja på knän, höft eller vrister, vilket du gör när du står.

 Förutom att bidra till leddysfunktioner så kan en överanvändning av sittande övningar skapa ett felaktigt rörelsemönster. Sittande övningar tränar de primära musklerna att arbeta utan de stabiliserande musklerna i kroppen. Detta kan bli som ett automatiskt rörelseprogram, ett program som du använder dig av utan att tänka på det.

Din hjärna arbetar inte med muskler utan med rörelser. Om du tränar din biceps i en enarms curlmaskin, till exempel, kommer din hjärna att programmera in denna rörelse och dess sekvenser. Så när du ska arbeta med din biceps i verkliga livet så kommer din hjärna att referera till denna rörelse. Vilket kan leda till skador när du skall lyfta en väska eller en påse på grund av att du inte tränat din arm att fungera ihop med din bål.

 Stående övningar är helt enkelt mer funktionella, när var sista gången du lyfte något tungt när du satt ned? Oftast när du skall lyfta något tungt så reser du dig upp så du kan använda dina ben och din bål ihop med armarna, så varför inte träna så då?

 Vill du träna din mage mer och eller dina lårs ”insida” eller ”utsida”? Enkelt - ställ dig upp när du tränar! Maskiner är utmärkta att ta till när du vill isolera en muskel men vill du träna för att fungera optimalt bör du ställa dig upp och träna!

Stor och stark, eller?

 Har du sett de på gymmet som är stora som hus men inte lyfter vikter som är mycket tyngre än de du använder?!  Eller har du kanske sett det omvända - tränande som inte är mycket större än du men som använder vikter som

är TUNGA. Detta är egentligen inte så konstigt som det kan verka utan beror ofta på hur den aktive tränar. Att jag skriver ”ofta” här beror på att man aldrig helt kan bortse från den genetiska faktorn, alternativt ”avancerade kosttillskott”

 Även om två tränande har tillsynes liknande fysik kan det finnas stora skillnader i den fysik de har byggt på grund av olika träningsmetoder. Med andra ord: all muskeltillväxt sker INTE på samma sätt.

 Det finns två väldigt olika typer av muskeltillväxt/hypertrofi, vilka stimuleras

av helt olika slags träning. Detta ger svar på frågan varför vissa är så starka som

de ser ut och vissa är bara ”All show, no go”.

De två slagen av muskeltillväxt är:

1.sacoplasmatisk- och

2.myofribrillär hypertrofi.

 Sarcoplasmatisk hypertrofi

 Sarcoplasmatisk hypertrofi är en ökning av volymen i den icke kontraktila muskelcellvätskan, sarcoplasman. Denna vätska utgör ca 25-30 % av muskelns storlek. Även om muskelns tvärsnitt ökar så kommer muskelfibrernas täthet per enhet minska, och själva styrkeökningen blir försumbar. Denna slags hypertrofi är ett resultat av högrepetitionsträning av


 Ett av de vanligaste felen jag som tränare kan bevittna är överanvändning av denna typ av träning inom idrottsgrenar där kraft och explosivitet spelar en avgörande roll. Ofta tränar idrottarna efter ett program som föreskriver 10-15 reps. Visst har även det sin plats i träningsprogrammet, men skall inte utgöra

huvuddelen av träningen, om målet med denna är ökad kraft och explosivitet .

 Visserligen kan även idrottare inom explosiva grenar uppleva vissa fördelar genom en

ökad massa; exempelvis kan en hockey spelare som lagt på sig något extra kilo muskler

klara av en smäll eller stå emot tacklingar bättre. Det kan också vara bra att ha lite

”i reserv” under en säsong för att motverka alltför stor förlust av muskelmassa,

eller att inleda träningen direkt efter säsongen med en högrepetitionsperiod för att

fortare återfå den muskelmassa som gått förlorad under säsongen. Vissa studier pekar också på att en större muskel kan ha bättre förutsättningar för styrkeutveckling vid påbörjning av träning för maximalstyrka.

 Det viktiga här är dock att ha i åtanke att denna typ av muskeltillväxt har väldigt lite att göra med sådana explosiva moment som hopp, löpning, kast och slag. Detta är anledningen till att bodybuilders, vars träning huvudsakligen stimulerar tillväxten av typ IIA muskelfibrer och orsakar hypertrofi av de icke kontraktila komponenterna av muskel, inte är de snabbaste eller starkaste av elittränande. Detta trots att de generellt har mer muskler än andra aktiva! Jag anser att denna typ av hypertrofi gynnar mer utseende än funktionalitet.

 Myofibrilär hypertrofi

 Myofibrillär hypertrofi, å andra sidan, är tillväxt av muskelfibern genom en ökning av antalet myofibriller, dvs muskelfiberns byggstenar, vilka kan kontrahera och skapa spänning i muskeln. Med denna typ av hypertrofi ökas densiteten av myofibriller och därmed ökar även förutsättningen för utveckling av muskulär styrka. Detta uppnås bäst

genom träning med tunga vikter och få repetitioner.

 Om man tänker på följande så får man en bättre bild av vad som krävs inom en hel del idrotter; det tar mindre än en sekund att slå ett slagskott, ett slag i boxning eller att hoppa på en retur i basket. Att utföra 1 RM tar ca tre sekunder& Som du ser är många idrotter explosiva i sin natur. Det är därför viktigt att dessa kvaliteter tränas på rätt sätt! Genom att använda sig av en repetitions mängd på 1-5 reps, träning för maximal styrka, så kommer du också att träna ditt nervsystem, vilket ofta är en bortglömd del av träningen. Den här typen av träning resulterar i en ökad neural transport till muskeln, ökad synkronisering av motoriska enheter, ökad aktivering av den kontraktila apparaten och minskad hämning av muskelns skyddsnät, Golgi senorgan. Den stimulerar tillväxten av de riktigt snabba muskelfibrerna typ IIB, vilket i praktiken innebär att rätt använd vid rätt tillfälle så kommer träning som leder till Myofibrillär hypertrofi utan tvekan att öka din förmåga att generera kraft och snabbhet. Det är vad jag kallar funktionell hypertrofi.


 Även om man inte kan se på en person hur han tränat för sin massa, så kommer det att märkas så fort han eller hon ska använda sina muskler. Som atleter tycker jag att vi skall försöka undvika att falla in i 3 x 10 reps-tränings-slentrianen. Det är alltid syftet med träningen som skall diktera det sätt du väljer att träna på, inte vanan eller det som de andra tränar. Detta kanske betyder att du skall använda båda typer av träning i ditt upplägg, beroende på mål som sagt. Men kom ihåg att hur mycket det än bränner när du kör ditt högrepetitionsset på bensparken så kommer de inte att bygga den styrka, kraft och funktionalitet som ett set tunga benböj gör!

 Magnus Ågren