Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Don't Hold Your Breath

Or do hold your breath. It seems to help some athletes.

My friend and aspiring pro-surfer Rylan passed along this article from the WSJ concerning what training big wave surfer Mark Healy does to avoid dying in the course of his work.

And I say that seriously as death is a real possibility in that sport. Having surfed a couple of sizable swells in my day I can tell you that being gassed while out in bigger waves is absolutely no fun at all. I can't even imagine being out in 20+ foot waves and getting pounded.

The old saying "fatigue makes cowards of us all" comes to mind here.

The WJS article touches on Healey's time honored tactic of exercising while holding one's breath, and otherwise deliberately restricting oxygen while moving. Otherwise known as hypoxic training. Hypoxic training is fairly common in sports such as mixed martial arts, and involves such things as sprinting while breathing through a snorkel.
And you thought that guy on the treadmill had just escaped the insane asylum.

Though the verdict from the strength and conditioning world is not in yet, I think there is some value in looking at the training of such athletes and picking out what may be beneficial for the rest of us.

What I've found is that a key component to improving one's fitness level is improving your ability to recover faster from hard efforts. Otherwise known as anaerobic work (interval work). Basically the goal is to push hard enough so that at some point you have to stop, be it sprints, complex lifts, or everyone's favorite: Burpees!

The result is that not only do you improve your ability to recover from hard efforts, but also put your body into oxygen debt (EPOC), which thus raises your metabolism and aids in fat loss. Jogging or other steady state aerobic work will not do this - for evidence just look at most people trying to lose weight by doing aerobics classes. It's more than likely they'll look exactly the same a year later.

Mr. Healey also does mixed martial arts and kettlebells as a part of his training. Both of which are not only effective but fun (in my perverted mind anyway). The article also touches upon what he does for injury prevention (kettlebells for shoulder health), which I will address in a subsequent post.

No comments: