Weekend Warriors: Train like Olympians

More and more Americans are on a quest to get fit—biking, running, swimming, and even competing in marathons and triathlons. But more often than not, most weekend warriors don't know the limits of their abilities.   Now, there is a new program that can get them the same advice and workouts as professional athletes.

25-year-old Julian Kyer is a serious cyclist who wants to constantly test his limits. 

"I'm competitive about it," Kyer told Ivanhoe.

Now, with the help of a program at the university of Colorado's Health and Wellness Center, Kyer undergoes a battery of tests—usually available only to elite athletes—to improve his performance while preventing serious injury and overtraining.

"The mask we wear when we're in the lab is the same thing as an emissions test on your car," Kyer explained.

For example, one machine measures the gas exchange in Kyer's body. The test shows how efficiently carbs and fat are being burned while he bikes.

In another test, tiny blood samples reveal the release of lactic acid, which acts like a temporary fuel source during intense workouts. Doctors then use the results to design an individual exercise plan.

"The majority of people that are entering these sports, they don't know how to train. They don't know how to eat, how to recover. They are all over the map," Inigo San Millan, PhD, Director, Sports Performance Program, Anschutz Health & Wellness Center/CU Sports Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, told Ivanhoe.

The tests revealed that Kyer needed to increase his ability to clear lactic acid and also increase his carbohydrate intake.  For Kyer, this meant more endurance training.

Dr. Inigo San Millan warns that restricting carbs in athletes can lead to overtraining and even muscle damage. 

Julian's power output went from about 240 watts to 270 watts. The more watts you produce the fitter you are!

"The average athlete, they are going to get a lot out of this kind of testing," Kyer said.

The cost of training like an Olympian is not cheap.  The initial test is 450 dollars.

A specific workout called lactate clearance interval ride is good for clearing lactic acid.  Cyclists should do the first half of their ride at their maximum sustainable power for a given duration and then they should ease back for the second half. It's also a good option for runners training for a 5k or 10k. 

ADVICE FROM AN OLYMPIC DOCTOR:  Although many people still enjoy the weekend golf tournament or neighborhood basketball game, weekend warriors seem to be stepping up their game. More and more people are turning to extreme workouts like running marathons and cycling.  So for the not-so-average weekend warrior, Gloria Beim, MD, the Team USA chief medical officer for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia, offers some advice.  She tells Olympians not to change anything.  She says not to start a new diet or take any new supplements.  The Olympic Games is not a time to start something new.  "I have had athletes tell me about someone from another country who is using this or doing that and ask whether they should try it. And I say, ‘No, not now.' During the Olympic Games is one of the worst times to change anything in your routine," Dr. Beim was quoted as saying. While the upcoming "color run" you may have this weekend isn't as intense as the Olympics, consider taking her advice and not changing up your routine too much right before your big event.  (Source: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20140204/avoid-sports-injuires-advice-tips-olympic-doctor?page=3)

NEW PROGRAM:  Student athletes at the University of Colorado Boulder are honing their athletic performance with help from experts at CU's Anschutz Health and Wellness Center.  Athletes from CU's football team and men's and women's basketball teams are participating in leading-edge testing and monitoring allowing them to get the most out of their training and perform at their best while preventing injury. The program offers a combination of blood tests proven effective in improving the performance of top athletes from around the world.  "We will monitor approximately 140 athletes, creating performance programs that work for each individual," Iñigo San Millán, PhD, director of the sports performance program at AHWC, was quoted as saying. "We can look at the cells in a blood sample and assess whether an athlete is fatigued or overtraining. The sample also tells us if there is muscle damage that may make an athlete more prone to injury." Dr. San Millán says that it is important to consider the recovery period part of the workout.  "That represents a shift in thinking but if an athlete doesn't have the proper food and time to give their bodies a chance to recover, these grueling workouts can do more harm than good." Doctor San Millán has worked with professional teams and elite athletes in soccer, hockey, baseball, cycling, and rowing. However, the program is available for the average athlete.  (Source: http://www.anschutzwellness.com/news/cu-athletes-work-smarter-build-athletic-success)

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            Erika Matich

Media relations specialist

University of Colorado Cancer Center