Basics of Speed Development

The basketball player that gets to the loose ball, the tennis player that gets to a drop shot, and the football player that bursts through the line on his way to a touchdown. In the world of sport, the athlete that has speed usually has a major advantage over others. Today athletes seem to be utilizing speed more then ever before. Are some athletes just born with speed? Is speed only something that those few athletes can truly use? NO! Speed can be improved in any athlete, if they train correctly and with intensity.

Sure genetics play a large part in how fast someone can be, but we are not always looking to make our athletes the fastest, just faster then they are now. As Frank Costello, former strength coach of the Washington Capitals, says “a slow athlete may not become fast, but he or she may become faster.” This article will cover some of the basic concepts to help improve any athletes’ speed.

To improve speed we must break down the components of speed development. They are flexibility, running form and technique, stride length and stride frequency. Other components that will help are reaction time, acceleration, strength and power. We will focus just on the first four main components of speed.


Increasing ones flexibility is key to improving ones speed. They are several ways to improve flexibility and the best way is dynamic flexibility. Sprinting is dynamic so that is why we at Explosive Performance always stretch our athletes dynamically. Dynamic flexibility is repeated swinging movements that warm the muscles and stretches them at the same time.

Examples of dynamic flexibility exercises:
1. High knees
2. Butt kicks
3. Knees to chest
4. Carioca
5. Carioca with high knees

Other stretching techniques:
1. Static Stretching: This technique is the most common of all flexibility exercises. With proper form the athlete will hold a stretch for at least 30 seconds and preferable 60 seconds. Techniques of static flexibility can be obtained through Explosive Performance.
2. Proprioceptive Neuro Muscular Facilitation (PNF): This is used a great deal by professional trainers and coaches to increase flexibility. It is excellent for rehabilitation or to work on extremely tight muscles. It is mainly done with a partner and is most beneficial with someone who has done it before. To learn more on how to perform PNF contact the trainers at Explosive Performance.

Running Form and Technique

This is of course a key component to improving speed. “An athlete can only run as fast as his or her technique will allow,” says Tom Shaw, former sprint coach at FSU. Without proper form an athlete can not properly execute the drills and exercises that help improve speed. But you must Remember, we are not trying for perfect form, just proper form.

Six Basic Rules of running form:
1. Run pretty and be efficient (no wasted energy)
2. Elbows 90 – 110 degrees (relaxed, not locked; hands drive behind hips and go to shoulders)
3. Neck, shoulders, arms, hands relaxed
4. Stay on balls of feet (drive feet under center of gravity, pushing not pulling with legs)
5. Keep acceleration lean (Straight line from ear to ankle)
6. Keep head up (look where you are going)

These are only the basics to look for in proper sprint form. To truly improve sprint form, an athlete should be evaluated by a certified speed and conditioning trainer.

Stride Frequency

Improving stride frequency is said to be the most important component to improving speed. Stride frequency is the number of strides taken in a given amount of time. If we can increase the number of strides we take, we will most likely increase our speed. Keep in mind that we do not want to sacrifice proper form just to increase stride frequency. The most common way to improve stride frequency is Sprint-assisted running.

Sprint-assisted running drills.
1. Downhill running (slope must be no greater than 3 – 7 degrees)
2. Assisted running with bungi-cords (pulling athlete faster then the normally run) This needs to be done with a certified speed and conditioning trainer with the proper training.
3. Must keep Proper form, or drills will be useless

Stride Length

Stride length is the distance covered in one stride during running. We must try to increase stride length without pulling with the leg. Meaning we must not reach out and try to pull ourselves forward using our hamstring muscles. Sprinting is always a pushing movement not a pulling movement, so we must use the quadricep and gluteal muscles to perform this action. If we can properly increase stride length we will definitely increase speed. The most common way to improve stride length is to do sprint-resisted running.

Sprint-resisted running drills:
1. Running steps
2. Running uphill (no more than a 35 degree slope)
3. Weighted sleds
4. Parachutes
5. Manual resistance (partner resists athlete as he/she sprints)
6. Bungi-cord resistance (usually done with a partner)
7. Must keep Proper form or drills will be useless

If an athlete works on these areas and learns the drills and techniques from a qualified sprint trainer, he or she will improve their speed. An athlete must be dedicated to their workout and have a well-rounded program that includes strength training and proper nutrition.

For more information on this or how TrueAP can design a program for your team or program call Rob Rose at 703-568-5657 or

True Athlete Performance is one of the leading sport-specific training providers in the nation. Established by Rob Rose, TrueAP has grown from training a few hundred athletes a year to training over 2,000 athletes each year. Specializing in first step and reaction training, Rob Rose has developed a professional performance staff with degrees in the field of exercise science and certifications from nationally recognized organizations that certify trainers to train athletes. With their proven training techniques and methods, the TrueAP staff has improved athletes of all levels, youth to professional. With a Focus on form and technique first, each athletes realizes his or her potential immediately and then focuses on improving their overall athletic ability. Given hard work and dedication, each athlete can improve to his or her maximum potential. TrueAP will continue to make progress in improving the training and being a front runner in the field of athletic training.

Don’t Just Train…TEACH!

Don’t Just Train…TEACH!

                It was summer; 1995.  I had just started out working as a trainer at a local gym and was observing a speed and agility session conducted by another trainer.  He was training an athlete named Carl Banks, a former NY Giants player that had just signed with the Washington Redskins and wanted to get some extra training.  These sessions, and then the ten subsequent, I observed, and actually sometimes participated in, were inspiring.  I learned so much watching and participating in these sessions that it made me realize what I wanted to do with rest of my life.  I wanted to train athletes.

                Fifteen years ago, I founded, and have since been running, an amazing training company, which has trained over 3,000 athletes. Along with a successful training company, I have also developed a training program design that has ensured each and every client’s improvement in the most efficient way.  This training program we offer might seem similar to other programs performed by other trainers and companies that one might encounter, however, we emphasize one crucial component over anything else, which other companies don’t:  WE TEACH!

                Training an athlete is important, but my trainers at TrueAP and I feel that teaching an athlete proper form and technique of our drills and exercises are the key aspect to improving performance.  We focus on six main dynamics and strive to teach an aspect of these areas in each session.

TrueAP Sports Performance Dynamics:

  1. Flexibility: Warming up properly and cooling down are key essentials in improving flexibility
    1. Dynamic Flexibility. TrueAP developed an efficient program to properly warm-up a client prior to working out, practice or competition.  See Our Dynamic Flexibility Manual at Click on manuals.
    2. Static/Partner Flexibility: TrueAP developed a perfect way to cool down our clients after a TrueAP session, practice or game. See our Static-Passive Flexibility Manual at Click on manuals
  2. Linear Speed: We have several exercises and drills to improve our clients overall straight ahead speed.
    1. See our Linear Speed Manual at Click on manuals.
  3. Agility: Improving the ability to change direction quickly and effectively is an essential component of the TrueAP training program.
    1. See our Agility Manual at  Click on manuals.
  4. First Step and Quickness: These are really two different dynamics that we have combined, due to the fact a good number of drills for First Step can be considered good drills for quickness too. 
    1. See our First Step-Quickness Manual at . Click on manuals.
  5. Power: This dynamic is essential in the development of any athlete.  It focuses mainly on jumping, but what TrueAP main focus is the landing.
    1. See our Power Manual at . Click on manuals.
  6. Core-Balance Training: Improving a clients core and balance is another essential element to improving the first 5 dynamics. 
    1. See our Core Manuals at . Click on manuals.


TrueAP Components of TEACHING a drill:

The training staff of TrueAP focuses on the following components when teaching any of our drills.

  1. Describe drill with main focus/dynamic
  2. Demonstrate Proper execution of the drill
  3. Run client through drill
  4. Have athletes focus on specific area of drill (examples)
    1. Stay Low
    2. Push don’t pull
    3. React
  5. Run drill with explanation of how to make it Sport-Specific for each athlete (examples)
    1. Add a lacrosse stick
    2. Jump up like you would in a header for soccer
    3. Add a side shuffle for basketball instead of a sprint.
  6. Reinforce each set with key components. (examples)
    1. “Stay low!”
    2. “React Quick!”
    3. “Push off the outside leg!”
    4. “Arms, Arms, Arms!”

It might seem like a lot of time, but when added in properly throughout the drill it flows perfectly.  The athlete responds to this type of instruction better than any other. 

Remember, anyone can train, but not everyone can properly teach.

If you want some other ideas on how TrueAP teaches and trains our clients, email me at


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Don’t forget to look for my video blog on this topic.  I will go through some great exercise techniques and exercises for you to try.


Rob Rose

Sprained Ankle…Pulled Muscle…R.I.C.E.

Sprained Ankle…Pulled Muscle…R.I.C.E.

                I hate to admit it, but I turned my ankle the other day.  I was playing flag football with the TrueAP staff; I was running and cut really quickly. As I cut, my foot stayed planted in the turf, and my shin (tibia and fibula) kept moving.  This put a great amount of stress on my ankle ligaments.  Well my ligaments lost! I quickly realized I had the most common ankle sprain, an eversion sprain.  This type of sprain is when  you sprain the ligaments on the outside ankle bone (lateral malleolus). 

                So, now what?  Well, as a trainer with over 15 years of rehab experience, and as my friends at The Jackson Clinics would have inevitably advised me to do, I decided on the following:

*Disclaimer: These are recommendations for a minor ankle sprain or pulled muscle.  If at any time, you or someone with you, feels the injury could be more severe, get to an emergency room right away!

  1. Stop Playing: Though you might feel that you are OK to continue, you probably are not.  Your body will react to an injury and send a lot of adrenaline and endorphins to the area.  Thus making your ankle feel a little better.  It is NOT! It is weak and you could injure it more if you continue.
  2. Take off your shoe: A lot of athletes try and keep their shoe on to help prevent swelling.  No need.  Your ankle is probably going to swell weather you like it or not.
  3. NOW R.I.C.E.!
    1. Rest: Get off the field and sit down somewhere away from the action of the game.  Make sure you are comfortable.  You may lie down if you are feeling lightheaded too.
    2. Ice: Get some ice on it IMMEDIATELY! The quicker we can get ice on it, the sooner we can decrease the swelling and even soreness that will come in the next few hours and days.

                                                                           i.      It is important to keep icing for the next 48 – 72 hours or more.  Use ice according to the 20/20 rule.  20 minutes on and 20 minutes off for at least 24 hours.

  1. Compression: As soon as you can, wrap the ankle.  An ace bandage is perfect for this.  The bandage should have an elastic feel to it, so it does not cut off circulation. 

                                                                           i.      When wrapping the ankle. Start at the bottom of the foot and wrap up.  This will help to make sure the swelling moves away from the injured area.

  1. Elevation: Get the injured limb up above the heart.  It is best to lie down while you elevate the limb.
  2. Get back to Playing: If you stick to items 1 – 3, you will decrease the amount of time off the field and get back to playing the game you love.

Items 1 – 3 will be utilized for other injures such as:

  1. Muscle strains: Also know as a muscle pull.
  2. Sore muscles from lifting or new workouts.
  3. Knee Sprains: These injuries usually requires you see a DR. right away.  Though you should do items 1 – 3 as you are on your way to DR.

If you want some other ideas on how to deal with acute injuries, email me at


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Don’t forget to look for my video blog on this topic.  I will go through some great exercise techniques and exercises for you to try.


Rob Rose

The Key Word in Athlete Performance Training

When you think of speed training what word comes to mind?  Speed? Agility? Quickness? Sure, all of those would be perfect, but the key word in athlete performance training is… Efficiency!  I have been training athletes since 1997 and from professional to youth, they all come to True Athlete Performance and me for the same thing – for us to make them a better athlete.  The best way to do that is to make them more Efficient

To improve efficiency in speed we focus on:

  • Form and Technique: Proper form helps to ensure no wasted movement.
  • Stride Frequency: Improved frequency increases the number of strides in a given distance.
  • Stride Length: Improved length increases the distance covered each stride.
  • Strength: Increasing strength will help to ensure maximum power output from the key muscle groups in sprinting form.
  • Core Stabilization: A strong and stable core will help to provide the proper foundation for increasing speed.

To improve efficiency in agility we focus on:

  • Form and Technique: Proper form helps to ensure no wasted movement.
  • Programmed Agility: Drills help to ensure and emphasize proper form.
  • Random Agility: Drills that help to develop the proper sport-specific agility needed for sport.
  • Flexibility: Improved flexibility will help to ensure proper range of motion in cutting properly.
  • Core Stabilization: A strong and stable core will help to provide the proper foundation for increasing speed.

To improve efficiency in quickness we focus on:

  • Form and Technique: Proper form helps to ensure no wasted movement.
  • Arms:  The faster the arms move, the faster the feet move.
  • Reaction Time: The better you react the quicker you respond to any athletic movement.
  • Ground time: The quicker you get to the ground and the quicker you get off the ground the quicker you are.
  • Core Stabilization: A strong and stable core will help to provide the proper foundation for increasing speed.

In all, improving efficiency in athletic movements will help to guarantee improved play on field or court.  Remember, we don’t just train players – we train athletes! 

For more information on this or any of Rob’s TrueAP Blogs, contact Rob at – “Where True Athletes Train.”

Muscle Soreness in Athletes

Question:  Why am I so sore?

Sore muscles –  this is a painful thing at times for our clients, but a great sign for our trainers. 

In order to build and strengthen muscle, we must tear the muscle fiber.  Not a huge tear, such a muscle strain: (A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon in which the muscle fibers tear as a result of overstretching. Strains are also colloquially known as pulled muscles. The equivalent injury to a ligament is a sprain). But what we call a micro-tear. 

When muscles are asked to do more work than they are accustomed to, they suffer minor ruptures or micro-tears. You’ll feel these micro-tears as muscle soreness. 

So, if you are properly training, you should be sore.  It is this soreness that helps us to build the muscles and improve strength and power.

Why am I more sore the two days after my workout?

This is very common with most exercise programs and it relates to what we just discussed.  Those micro-tears do happen right after a workout, but you might not feel them repairing until up to 24 days after the workout. 

This is better known as D.O.M.S.  Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness.

Delayed onset muscle soreness was first described in 1902 by Theodore Hough, who concluded that this kind of soreness is “fundamentally the result of ruptures within the muscle.” (1) 

That tissue damage may relate most directly to soreness, as it may increase the sensitivity of the pain receptors, and cause pain with stretching, activity and touch.  The delayed onset of the soreness may also occur because the inflammatory response: (Inflammation is a protective attempt by the organism to remove the injurious stimuli and to initiate the healing process.)(2)

Another common explanation is the presence of Lactic Acid built up in the muscle.  This is considered unlikely to be correct since lactic acid is removed from the muscle within an hour of intense exercise, and cannot therefore cause the soreness which normally begins about a day later. (1)

So, what do we do to help relieve this soreness?

  1. Cool down properly after exercise – Static stretch – hold for AT LEAST 30 seconds!!
  2. Ice down after an intense workout.
    1. When I was a Student Athletic Trainer at GMU, I recommended that athletes sit in an “Ice Bath” for about 10 minutes after a hard workout or practice. 
    2. Since most of us do not have access to an Ice Bath, just stick with ice packs.
  3. Drink a lot of water. 
    1. Muscle is comprised of mostly water (70%)
    2. It is recommended that you drink a min. of eight (8) – 8-ounce glasses of water each day.
  4. Sleep
  5. Exercise the next day
    1. Exercise alleviates the symptoms of soreness.
    2. Light warm-up or jog should suffice
    3. More intense workouts are beneficial too.

If you want some other ideas on how to alleviate soreness, email me at

Also, check out our NEW store!!  We have a few manuals covering the topic of proper warm-up and flexibility, which will help reduce soreness and improve performance.  Visit – ALL products are 25% off for a limited time only!


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Don’t forget to look for my video blog on this topic.  I will go through some great exercise techniques and exercises for you to try.


Rob Rose

Improving Vertical Jump!

How Can You Improve Vertical Jump?

Vertical jump is a measure of total body power.  For those in the performance industry it is the physical test that correlates most significantly with an athlete’s actual on court/field performance.

Give me an athlete that has a good vertical jump, and most likely that athlete will have a quick first step, a strong core, and good linear speed.  In our True Athlete Rating (see definition of TrueAP Rating Below), vertical jump is the most prominent of the four tests we conduct.

Of course we know vertical jump is an essential component of such sports as football, basketball and volleyball where jumping plays an integral part in every play or point.  I think few would argue this, but at True Athlete Performance, we feel it is a key component of EVERY court and field sport we train.

Although athletes in baseball, softball, lacrosse, field hockey, and hockey seldom need to jump vertically during competition, training these athletes to improve their vertical jump will improve their overall body power and explosiveness.

To improve your vertical you will need to focus on these 3 key components:

1.       Land Correctly: By concentrating on the landing we emphasize the muscles that help to decelerate in any jump (Glutes and Hamstrings).  This will not only help to ensure injury prevention, but will also help to emphasize deceleration before an explosive movement upon landing.

2.       Use your Arms: The arms can I be as much as 25% of the vertical jump.  With the emphasis on a quick back movement of the arms (as the hip drops before exploding up) and then an explosive up movement (to help propel the body up), we will improve each vertical jump.  NOTE: Watch a collegiate or pro volleyball match.  Watch their hitting approach jump.  These athletes utilize their arms the best of any other athlete.

3.       Strong Core: If an athlete maintains a strong core, they will be able to focus on the muscles to explode the body up.  As an athlete prepares to jump, they need to keep their head up, chest up and keep a strong core.  This will ensure an efficient, explosive jump each time.

If an athlete can focus on these three key components, they will learn to have a very powerful vertical jump.

If you want some other ideas or techniques to increase vertical jump, email me at


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Don’t forget to look for my video blog on this topic.  I will go through some great exercise techniques and exercises for you to try.


Rob Rose

How to Improve Strength Quick!

What is the Most Efficient way to improve strength for sport?

Strength is defined as, “The maximal force that a muscle or muscle group can generate at a specified velocity.”  Or in more layman terms for all of us; “how much weight you can lift, at any speed.”

I have been training athletes of all levels since my years at George Mason University (1990 – 1995).  Yes, I was on the 5 year plan!

What I learned was this:

In order to increase the strength in any muscle we must tear muscle fibers (micro-tears).  Every time we tear the muscle fiber, the muscle heals.  When it heals, it increases both size and strength.  This is mainly where our muscle soreness comes from.  So being sore, is not such a bad thing.

So, in all my years since graduating GMU, I have been teaching, no… rather preaching the same thing:


The slower you perform each repetition:

  1. The more tension you put on each muscle
  2. The more muscle fibers you recruit.
  3. The more muscle fibers you tear(micro-tear)

Hence, the more size and strength you gain.

There are two main movements when lifting.

  1. Positive (concentric)
  2. Negative (eccentric)

Using the bench press as an example:

Pushing the bar up and away from the chest is the positive movement, while lowering the bar towards the chest is the negative movement.

**The negative movement is 40% stronger than the positive of any lift.**

What does this mean?

 If your max bench press in the positive movement is 100lbs, then you could support up to 140lbs during the negative movement. 

If you have ever failed while attempting a 1-rep maximum bench press, you have experienced this effect.  You were able to control the weight on the way down, but then failed to lift the bar back up.

Why is this important?

If we were to challenge (or you could say “max out”) the negative movement of a lift, up to 40% more tension could be applied to the muscles.  This increased tension causes more muscle fibers to be recruited, giving us an increased potential to increase strength and even size.

The negative movement is mostly forgotten in lifting.  Most athletes will explode up on the positive and let it fall down even quicker on the negative.  To optimize increases in strength, we need to do the opposite!


  1. For every lift you perform, lighten the weight by about 25% of what you are currently doing.
  2. For every lift, increase the amount of time per repetition, but do the same number of repetitions per set that you would normally perform.  When focusing on strength, I suggest giving yourself a rep range of 2-6 repetitions.  If you cannot complete 2 reps with correct form and speed, then decrease the weight.  If you can complete more than 6 reps with correct form and speed, then increase the weight.
  3. Each repetition will be a total of 7 – 10 seconds, no matter how many reps.
  4. The positive or first movement is 3 – 4 seconds.
  5. The negative or second movement is 4 – 5 seconds. THIS IS THE BIG ONE.

Do this for 3 straight weeks with every lift, every set.  I promise at the end of this you will be stronger and on your way to being bigger. 

If you want some other ideas or techniques to increase strength, email me at


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Don’t forget to look for my video blog on this topic.  I will go through some great exercise techniques and exercises for you to try.


Rob Rose

Summer Recipes

Two keys to any fitness program are exercise and nutrition. Here are some tasty, healthy summer time recipes for you to try!

Grilled Chicken Breast with Cucumber and Pepper Relish

Grilled Chicken Breast with Cucumber and Pepper Relish

Total Cooking time – 1 hour 30 minutes

Makes 4 servings



1 cucumber – peeled, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1/8 cup chopped red onion

1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon chili powder

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts


In a medium bowl, prepare the relish by mixing together the cucumber, parsley, chopped onion, bell pepper, and red pepper flakes. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix the cumin and chili powder with the olive oil. Rub the mixture onto the chicken, and place in a shallow dish. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 1 hour. Prepare the grill for medium heat. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill chicken 8 minutes per side, or until juices run clear. Serve with cucumber relish.

Nutritional Values per Serving

Calories: 205 | Total Fat: 9.8g | Cholesterol: 67mg
Pineapple and Banana Smoothie

Pineapple and Banana Smoothie

Total Cooking Time – 3 minutes

Makes 3 serving



16 ice cubes

1/4 fresh pineapple – peeled, cored and cubed

1 large banana, cut into chunks

1 cup pineapple or apple juice


Place ice cubes, pineapple, banana, and pineapple juice into the bowl of a blender. Puree on high until smooth.

Nutritional Values per Serving  Calories: 313 | Total Fat: 0.9g | Cholesterol: 0mg

Chipotle Strawberry Cocktails

Makes 6 servings

Fresh strawberries are kicked up with zesty green onion and chipotle pepper and covered in a tasty lime coating that brings it all together.


3 cups sliced fresh strawberries

1 avocado, cut into small dice

1 green onion, minced

1 tbsp snipped cilantro

1/2 tbsp chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce

1 tsp lime juice

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp lime zest

Garnish, toasted pine nuts


In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients until well mixed. Divide among 6 martini or wide mouth champagne glasses. Garnish each with nuts.


Mandarin Orange Honey-Roasted Cashew Salad


Makes 4-6 servings

Iceberg and romaine lettuces combine with celery, green onion, mandarin oranges and purchased honey-roasted cashews in this salad.



1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tablespoons white vinegar

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon red pepper sauce (or to taste)


1 small head iceberg lettuce, torn

1 small head romaine lettuce, torn

1 cup diced celery

2 green onions, chopped

1 can (11 oz) mandarin oranges, drained

1/2 cup honey-roasted cashews


Mix dressing ingredients in small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. In large salad bowl, combine lettuces, celery, green onion, oranges, and cashews. Pour chilled salad dressing over salad and toss. Serve immediately.

Roasted Sweet Potato and Green Onion Salad


Total Cooking Time

1 hour

Makes 8 servings



4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound each)

1 bunch green onions (white bulb and 3 inches of green)

1/2 cup olive oil, plus extra for brushing the potatoes and green onions

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley


Brush the potatoes and green onions with olive oil. Roast the potatoes until tender. Roast the green onions until softened. When cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes and finely chop the green onions. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil, the mustard, vinegars, and honey, and season with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes, green onions and parsley and mix until the potatoes are coated with the dressing. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

Over Training

Today’s athletes continually push their bodies harder and longer in an effort to become better on the field or court.  There becomes a tendency, however, to push themselves even more when performance seems to come up short of expectations.  Coaches and athletes alike, in an effort to achieve optimal performance, overlook the basic premise for training: to create an effective program there must be a harmonious relationship between work and rest.  Recovery between training days becomes critical in determining whether performance will be improved or remain stagnant and eventually decrease.

 For the purpose of this article the following definitions will be used (5):

Overload:  a planned, systematic and progressive increase in training with the goal of improving performance.

Overreaching:  unplanned, excessive overload with inadequate rest.  Poor performance is observed in training and competition.  Successful recovery should result from short-term (i.e., a few days up to one or two weeks) interventions.

Overtraining syndrome:  untreated overreaching that results in chronic decreases in performance and the ability to train.  Other problems may result and may require medical attention.

A sufficient amount of overload through training is necessary to lead to physical adaptations ultimately resulting in improved performance.  However, inadequate rest between hard training sessions or during extended periods of increased volume (time spent training per day, week, or month) will lead some individuals into a state of overtraining.  Studies have indicated that just 10 days of increased intensity is sufficient to cause a reduction in performance (1).  Therefore, a properly designed training program providing adequate rest is required in order to prevent overtraining.

Causes of Overtraining

  The most prevalent causes of overtraining are 1) inadequate rest or recovery and/or 2) a dramatic increase in either the time spent training (volume) or how hard the athlete trains (intensity).  When an athlete trains too hard or too long before a solid foundation is established the body will not be able to recover which may lead to a gradual decrease in performance. Other conditions that may make an athlete more susceptible to overtraining are (5):

  • Frequent competitions, especially high intensity quality efforts
  • Monotonous training
  • Pre-existing medical conditions (i.e. cold or illness)
  • Poor nutrition, a reduced intake of carbohydrates or water
  • Environmental conditions (i.e. altitude, humidity)
  • Psychological stress at work, school, or home

Reducing the chance of overtraining, in light of these other factors, revolves around a well devised training schedule.  The responsibility, therefore, to prevent overtraining rests with the strength and conditioning specialist.  Nonetheless, even the most precise program needs to be continually monitored and adjusted according to the responses of the individual athlete.  Since no two athletes will respond similarly to the same program much of the responsibility is placed on the strength and conditioning coach to know and understand the limitations of each athlete.
Signs of Overtraining
 So, what signs can one look for to determine if an athlete is becoming overtrained?  Unfortunately, there is no method that is 100% reliable.  However, the following signs may help identify, as early as possible, an athlete in a state of overtraining (2-5).


  • Unexpected drop in performance during practice or competition unexplained by illness or injury
  • Mood disturbances
  • General fatigue
  • Significant changes in sleep patterns
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme muscular soreness following hard training session
  • Weight loss (with no deliberate attempt)
  • Increase in resting heart rate
  • Lowered physical resistance as indicated by continuous cold, flu, headache, etc.

 When signs of overtraining become evident the athlete must be rested for one or several days.  At a minimum the training is to be decreased in intensity and/or duration.  Several days of light activities may be a sufficient treatment for overreaching, however, longer durations of rest (i.e., several weeks) are required once an athlete has developed overtraining syndrome (6).  Therefore, the best treatment for overtraining is prevention. 


As mentioned already, a properly designed training program is an essential component for preventing overtraining.  During the more intense periods of the training year or following hard sessions adequate rest is crucial.  Some suggest a minimum of 24 hours recovery time between hard training days for any one particular type of overload (2).  However, coaches may find it difficult to convince their athletes to completely rest for fear of becoming detrained.  One suggestion is to mix easy, moderate, and hard training days to allow the body to rest.  Therefore, the athlete continues to train while the body will be given sufficient time to recover before entering the next hard training session.

Education for coaches, strength and conditioning personnel, as well as all athletes is essential.  Professionals in the field need to be observant of the signs mentioned and understand how to take appropriate action to prevent further decrements in performance.  Individual athletes should become aware to the responses of their bodies.  Keeping a log may help some to pinpoint trends which may exist in their training schedule that tend to cause a state of fatigue and staleness.


 Strength and conditioning professionals need to be in tune to their athlete’s responses to various training stimulus performed.  Prolonged periods of high intensity work without proper recovery will, sooner or later, create a decline in performance.  By properly designing a training schedule overreaching may be kept to a minimum and overtraining syndrome will be kept at bay.  However, constant monitoring is essential for even the most well devised programs.

Complete rest or reduced intensity and/or volume is required for athletes experiencing a sudden and unexpected drop in performance.  Since other stresses, other than the training stimulus, may further compound the overtraining condition each case will need individual attention.  By increasing our knowledge and understanding of overtraining coaches, parents, and athletes can become more aware of even the slightest sign of this complex condition and take the appropriate actions.

 For more information on this or any of Rob’s TrueAP Blogs, contact Rob at – “Where True Athletes Train.”