All posts filed under: Books

A selection of books published by Human Kinetics.

How to choose the right strength training exercises for athletes

As a coach choosing the right strength training exercises for athletes can be a daunting task with so many options out there: free weights, exercise machines, isometrics, uphill ambulation with an additional load, drop jumps, self-resistance exercises, and so on. In this post, adapted from Science and Practice of Strength Training, we explore the various classes of exercises used for strength enhancement for both beginning and qualified athletes. Classification First, let’s start by exploring the different classes of strength training exercises. Exercises used for strength training are typically classified according to the change in muscle length. They may be static, or isometric, which literally means “constant length,” or dynamic, a category further divided into exercises with concentric, eccentric, or reversible muscle action. Dynamic exercises are also sometimes labeled isotonic (from iso, meaning “constant,” and tonic, meaning “tension”). The underlying assumption is that the muscle produces an unvarying amount of tension while shortening as it overcomes a constant resistance. This is not the case for intact muscles. If external resistance (weight lifted) is constant, the tension exerted by a muscle varies during shortening because of …

What is the coaching communication loop and how can you use it?

As a coach, how we communicate with our athletes is key. What we say, how we say it and when we say it can all influence a player’s performance. In this post we explore the coaching communication loop, examining what a coach should say before, during and after an athlete moves, adapted from Nick Winkelman’s The Language of Coaching. Coaching Communication Loop While the beginning and end of each training session allows for preplanned messaging, the middle requires an adaptable yet repeatable pattern of communication that can be molded to the learning needs of the athlete. To achieve this balance of structure and flexibility, it is important that coaches have a communication model that can circle the movement, providing guidance on what to say before, possibly during, and after an athlete moves. Recognising the necessity and utility of such a model, Nick Winkelman conceptualized the coaching communication loop in The Language of Coaching, which simply calls attention to the five most important coaching moments surrounding each rep or set of a movement. These five moments, represented …

How to achieve attention and focus in dance via online channels

In this post author of Attention and Focus in Dance, Clare Guss-West, writes about how to achieve attention and focus in dance when teaching or learning dance via online platforms. Many dancers and teachers are facing the prospect of further restrictive measures and moving into 2021 continuing to dance and learn through virtual means. In 2020 we all demonstrated tremendous adaptability and creativity, quickly developing new technological and presentational skills in order to adapt to the circumstances. For some dancing publics even, advantages were experienced as dance became more accessible and more dance-per-week than ever became possible. Let’s not fool ourselves however, dancing with a screen is a great resource to have in extremis, however in terms of our ability to attend to the learning material – it’s a very different experience. As dancers first and foremost we need to be patient with ourselves and try to understand the attentional frustrations that we are experiencing. Dancing with a screen is the equivalent of suffering sudden ‘sensorial impairment’ overnight. Live in the dance studio, we learn by taking …

How to design a program for maximal hypertrophy

In this post we explore how to achieve maximal hypertrophy from your training plan. Adapted from Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy we explore how to gain maximal hypertrophy across various major muscle groups. Exercise Selection Strategies Selecting the appropriate exercises is an important factor for maximizing whole-body muscle hypertrophy. For example, certain muscles have multiple attachments that improve leverage for movement patterns. Moreover, myofibers often are subdivided into neuromuscular compartments, each of which is innervated by its own nerve branch. Functionally independent muscle segments facilitate the central nervous system’s ability to fine-tune human movement for optimum efficiency during complex motor tasks. Importantly, these inter- and intramuscular architectural variances reinforce the need to adopt a multiplanar, multiangled approach to hypertrophy-oriented training using a variety of exercises. Maximal hypertrophy can be achieved only by systematically varying the exercise performed and fully working all aspects of the targeted musculature. We explore how to employ these strategies to maximize hypertrophy in various major muscle groups. Abdominals Crunch The rectus abdominis is the primary muscle responsible for carrying out spinal flexion. …

Attention and Focus in Dance: Interactive session

Clare Guss-West, author of Attention and Focus in Dance, recently led an interactive session at the virtual Dance Health Finland conference. Take a look at the session below (available until 31st May). The simple exercise examples Clare offers in this workshop are focused to help participants observe and compare what they think or feel during the internal and external cues. Clare encourages observations about the energy and effort required, asks questions to guide reflection about the differences experienced, and teaches for understanding about what is happening in the dance practice for the dancer. The session concludes with Johanna Osmala, president of Dance Health Finland, asking Clare a few questions to gain further insight into her work. Adapted from: Attention and Focus in Dance Clare Guss-West Buy the book

swimmers on body water

A Guide to Building your Triathlon Training Plan

Athletes are smart and inquisitive. So rather than simply diving straight into telling you what you’ll need to do to build your triathlon training plan, we want to ensure that you have an understanding of why you’re doing it. Having an appreciation for the principles of training program design will help keep you focused and motivated because you will know that it can help you to perform better. In this post, adapted from the second edition of Triathlon Anatomy, we look at the principles of training program design, to help ensure your triathlon training is safe, effective, and efficient, making you a healthier and faster athlete. The Art of Training There is a lot of science behind optimal training plan development for triathletes. As multisport participation becomes more popular, the research literature on best practices and training methodologies expands at a staggering rate. Although the science of effective training is certainly important, so is the art of developing a training plan. Yet despite the growing amount of literature and the science behind training plan development, …

6 common sports nutrition questions answered

Every athlete knows that physical training alone won’t get them to where they want to be. An athlete’s performance is determined by a number of factors, with nutrition being key. But with so much conflicting information out there about what athletes should or shouldn’t do when it comes to nutrition, we felt it was time to provide the facts. In this post we address 6 sports nutrition questions adapted from Advanced Sports Nutrition, so you can maximise your potential as an athlete. Question 1: As an athlete, is it true that protein is the most important macronutrient for me to consume? There is no hierarchy of importance in the energy substrates; all are critically important and fulfill necessary biological functions. However, there is a common belief among athletes that the consumption of protein is critical to athletic success, often to the detriment of carbohydrate and fat. As a consequence of the overemphasis on protein, the inadequate consumption of carbohydrate appears to be the most likely to result in poor performance.  Only a limited amount of …

male dancer leaping into the are

How to forge a successful career in dance

Building a career in dance isn’t always easy. Jobs are competitive, funding can be limited and roles often aren’t full time.  As a result, it’s important that as an aspiring dance professional you approach your career in the spirit of entrepreneurship in order to identify and pursue the most productive professional path for you. In this article we explore the challenges you may face and the qualities you will need to forge a successful career in dance, adapted from Ali Duffy’s Careers in Dance. Qualities for a successful dance career Self-motivation There is rarely a time in a dance career that does not demand your persistent drive toward the next goal or job or promotion. You must be prepared to keep pushing yourself throughout your career because dance requires you to be completely present—and completely you—every day. Resilience and self-care Since many jobs in dance are highly competitive, you will likely experience a lot of rejection in the field. As a result, many dance professionals highlight the necessity for resilience and strategies for self-care. It’s important …