Nick Cooper: Programming for Speed

Strength and conditioning coach for the English Institute of Sport and head of S&C for TASS Nick Cooper provides a succinct overview of the components needed to enhance an athlete’s speed. He covers general and specific preparatory exercises, the components of actual running training, a brief discussion of why weightlifting and plyometrics transfer to running speed, as well as a few extra tips such as markers to progress to running drills.

General and specific preparatory exercises are the two distinct categories of strength training for speed. General preparatory exercises are those that build an ability to tolerate the forces of running, but can also utilise movement patterns similar to running to benefit speed. They include olympic lifts and their variations, as well as dynamic lower body exercises such as jump squats and loaded single leg landings.

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Kjær et al. (2009): structural changes and function in human tendon

Tendons are pretty important. They are the connective tissue that help transfer force from the muscle to create movement of the skeleton, or in fact prevent excess movement if the body is subject to external forces that need to be resisted. Tendons withstand huge mechanical loads, and there tends (haha) to be higher tendon injuries in athletes who do a lot of jumping (example used in the article is elite volley-ball players).

The authors (of which there are many) discuss how tendons respond to loading, with a particular focus on collagen. Collagen is the predominant matrix protein found in tendon tissue. Quite simply, acute exercise increases the rate of collagen synthesis. The more collagen, the stronger the tendon right?

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Little intro

I’ve been pondering.

Pondering. What a word. I’ve been thinking about starting to write things on this blog page of my website for a little while. Was planning on writing a little bit each day about the EXOS Performance Mentorship I recently undertook in Budapest, Hungary. The way it turned out though… A combination of a not-so-compatible sleep pattern and long days spent in lectures and working out (both of which I loved), meant my evenings were sleepily spent eating and watching Peaky Blinders. Imagine – season 3 is available in full on Hungarian Netflix, but when I get back here and try and watch the 4th episode, not only is it not on UK Netflix, but only two episodes are on BBC iPlayer.

Anyway. I decided today while reading an article about tendons, collagen and contractions, that I will start writing little summaries/commentaries on articles, books, book chapters.

One of the reasons I can’t be bothered posting on social media is I’d rather spend the time, however little it would take, doing something else. Not that I always use time productively, but filming and editing a video then posting it on Instagram with an insightful caption takes a small bit of conscious effort and time. I guess I’d rather enjoy my gym session and really engage with the training techniques I’m using without thinking too much about having to film it. And then I’d rather use the little bit of conscious effort for reading or learning.

I probably will get back into it at some stage but with work at the gym (personal training), and work at home (programming and postgrad applications), taking up a fair portion of my time, I’d rather prioritise growing myself than growing a social media following, which just the thought of it feels draining.

So. The thinking (pondering) is that writing a quick commentary on a piece of reading I’ve found interesting will be useful. I often write scribbled notes in a notebook anyway, so this is just an extension of that process. Reflecting on what I’ve read and putting it into my own words is an invaluable part of learning. Then maybe it will turn out to be of interest to some people out there. And if not, the time has still been well spent, and I can look back through a now public notebook and remember all the cool things I’ve learnt about.

First post – the article about mechanical loading and tendon structure. What an exciting start. Phenomenal.