Category Archives: Theory

DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) describes muscle soreness/stiffness that occurs 24 to 48 hours post-training.

DOMS creates microscopic tears of the muscle fibers. The amount of tearing (and soreness) depends on how hard and how long you exercise and what type of exercise you do. DOMS is most pronounced when you introduce a new training stimulus – a new activity, increased intensity or volume – or if you are new to physical activity in general.

“Your body is making adaptations to better prepare your muscles to do that activity again,” says Lauren Haythe, certified Kinesis Myofascial Integration Practitioner.

Yes, DOMS appears to be caused by trauma to your muscle fibers, but when muscles repair themselves, they get larger and stronger than before so that muscle soreness doesn’t happen (as severely) again.

NB: DOMS is not caused by the build-up of lactic acid.

Pre-workout Coffee

According to sale pitches from health and supplement shops, “caffeine is a powerful stimulant which can increase mental alertness and improve physical energy levels.” This is a well researched area and it has been shown on several accounts that caffeine has a positive effect on both endurance capacity and in reversing muscle fatigue (see references).

Caffeine and Biology?
Caffeine acts on the central nervous system, increasing alertness and concentration, which also stimulates adrenaline release and – in doses above 5mg/kg body weight – mobilizes fatty acid release. This means more fatty acids are used for energy and less glycogen, therefore increasing endurance. Caffeine can also increase the strength of muscle contractions which is advantageous for both anaerobic and aerobic activities.

The level of stimulation varies depending on several factors, including the amount used, the level of tolerance a person has to caffeine (as seen with habitual caffeine users), metabolism, and other drug use.

Coffee?
Drinking two cups of coffee an hour before exercise, may encourage your muscles to burn more fat and help you exercise longer and harder.

To make the most of its benefits, drink coffee with no or only a small amount of low fat milk, simply because milk slows down the absorption of caffeine.

If a person already drinks 3 to 6 cups of coffee a day, the pre-workout caffeine will do little for increasing energy levels or focus. The tolerance to caffeine will be so that the extra caffeine will make little difference. For the person who does not drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks (e.g. Red Bull and Coke etc) regularly, the caffeine might give a slight energy boost for the workout.

Are there Side effects?
When caffeine is consumed in large quantities, it’s side effects include anxiety, trembling and sleeplessness. If you are sensitive to caffeine, it is best to avoid it. Scientific research shows there is no link between long term caffeine use and health problems. However, there is a connection between raised cholesterol levels and heavy coffee consumption which is caused by certain fats in coffee.

Conclusion
To benefit from caffeine, follow the simple steps below:
1) cut (or minimize) caffeine out of your regular diet
2) consume two cups of coffee an hour before your workout
3) reap the rewards!

Appendix
Data from Bridge et al. (2000) show that caffeine increases endurance time at 75% VO2max. This study also demonstrated the positive effect of caffeine on athletes’ rate of perceived exertion during exercise for 45min. Similarly, Graham & Spreit (1991) reported an increased time to exhaustion in athletes exercising at 85% VO2max following caffeine ingestion at 9mg per kilogram of body weight.

Sparring Strategy

Great fighters need more than just technique, power and speed. They also need a good dynamic strategy. Strategy ought to be tailored to a specific opponent or situation. It is also good to have a “default strategy” – a strategy you automatically revert to without thinking about it. In my opinion, the best method of this is continuous attacking (some followers of Kung Fu also adopt this approach). When you are hit, automatically hit back nonstop until your opponent is no longer a threat. This will minimize the damage to yourself.

This line of attack relies on the use of combinations of techniques, not just the one hit wonders which often miss. This is one of the reasons why I think TKD (and other martial arts which practice patterns/forms/katas) is better than kickboxing. TKD teaches patterns (a sequence of movements against an imaginary opponent) which can be adapted for use in default continuous sparring.

One advantage of this strategy is that for the majority of the time, you are in the dominant position. If you land your first attack, then your opponent will likely be hurt or stunned, but even if you miss, your opponent is prone to be “on the back foot.” They will be reacting rather than acting, which means you get to dictate the fight.

Obviously, this strategy should be used with caution. You shouldn’t go running in all gung ho. Timing is everything. Pick your moment to attack carefully, as kicking and punching thin air is just a waste of energy.