INTERVIEW: Isaac Wilkins on client goals

Isaac Wilkins on client goals

Chris Beardsley (@SandCResearch) interviews Isaac Wilkins (@IsaacWilkins), a successful facility owner and an evidence-based strength coach.

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Chris: Thanks for sharing your knowledge in this interview, Isaac. What client goals do  you come across most? What do your clients ask you to help them achieve and what areas of research do you look at to help achieve these client goals?

Isaac: Hey Chris, thank you so much for the opportunity in this interview. I love the stuff you guys are doing and I think it’s been a missing piece for a lot of fitness professionals out there.

We have grown and developed at Relentless into a varied-goal facility. We program for each client individually, which has allowed us to handle different client goals within our basic system and structure. For example, a little while ago I had a training group that consisted of a high school football player looking for speed and size, a 50 year-old male executive rehabbing post-knee surgery and trying to lose the belly, three adult strength enthusiasts, and a 75 year-old who was preparing for a trans-USA bicycle ride. Since they are all programmed individually (we don’t use cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all programming) they can be training and sharing camaraderie at the same time while pursuing different client goals.

My areas of research towards the achievement of client goals are constantly shifting and expanding as I develop personally and interact with more clients and other professionals. Earlier in my career. I spent a lot of time on biomechanics and nutrition. Then I moved on to programming/adaptation. After that it was rehabilitation and soft-tissue methods.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been spending a lot of time in motivational psychology, addiction study, and the science of coaching and education. I’ve learned that all the great programming and nutrition in the world doesn’t matter if your clients don’t follow through! I’ve also been doing a lot of research into business systems, team management, and leadership as my business continues to grow and thus my team is getting bigger and bigger and I have to wear more hats.

I certainly still read and keep up with all of the other areas (and your research review helps immensely) but my emphasis shifts as my needs shift. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time watching videos or sticking my nose in a book and chasing down new ideas!

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Chris: What are the biggest misconceptions that clients come to you with regarding how they should go about achieving their goals?

Isaac: There’s a lot of misconceptions about pretty much everything in the fitness world, so it’s hard to pick one. I guess the biggest issue I see initially is that most clients don’t even really have a clear view of what their goals are. We often spend a lot of our early consultation time just getting to the meat and motivation of exactly what they want to accomplish.

If someone has a clear (and hopefully quantifiable) view of exactly they want to accomplish then not only is it much easier to create a plan to hit it but also it’s much easier for them to stay on track, or even to know if they’re on track in the first place!

For example, if a client comes in and says “I want to lose some fat and feel better” or another says “I want to get bigger and stronger for football” then those are going to be a really vague and subjective goals. However, if we can nail it down to “I want to drop 20 lbs of fat so I can come off my high blood pressure medication” and “I want to gain 20 lbs of lean mass and squat 335lbs because that’s the average for All-Conference players at my position” then based from where they are now and their history we can apply the science and experience we know to those programs.

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Chris: What outstanding research question would change what you do with clients, if it were solved?

Isaac: Oh, wow. That’s an amazing question right there. I’d love to have an analysis of our current culture, which is clearly trending towards weakness, obesity, hormonal illnesses, immune and developmental disorders, and cultures of both past (including our own even 100 years ago) and present that looked at all the various factors: nutrition, food quality, environmental changes, and lifestyle. It’d be interesting to see if we were degrading because of a handful of major issues/changes (which we could then rectify) or if it was a “death by 1000 papercuts” thing.

I have some hypotheses, as do lots of other people, but I haven’t seen a lot of real data. Of course, I know that much of that data would be impossible to get. A large study investigating that question, though, could give us some great insights into both health and performance.

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Chris: What do you see as the main differences between an evidence-based coach (like yourself and your coaches) and one who doesn’t put the research-reading time in? Where do you see the biggest improvements in practice?

I think that an evidence-based coach has the leg up for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, they are working with some real data. As long as you understand the flaws that can happen in science and take everything in with a critical eye it gives you some stuff to build your own theories and experiments on where the rubber meets the road: In the gym with clients.

Secondly, if a coach is “evidence-based” in that they regularly read research and look for things to apply within it then that means that they’re actively trying to get better. Unfortunately, in the fitness business it isn’t a given that a “fitness pro” (said somewhat tongue-in-cheek) is going to be focused on improving and developing as a professional. Clients of trainers who don’t regularly seek to improve through research and testing are at best subject to the same old system, which may or may not work, and at worst are subject to whatever new exercise their trainer might have picked up off YouTube that weekend.

There’s nothing worse than going into a place and seeing every single client doing the same weird fad exercise that day. You know that there was no thought to a program and instead the focus with that trainer is on “cool” and not being bored. That’s a disservice to the clients that trust them.

As for the biggest improvements I see in practice, the biggest improvement is simply looking at everything with a critical eye. Research and other people’s anecdotal evidence gives you a jumping off point and ideas to follow with your clients. However, it’s then up to the professional to make constant adjustments and evaluations of how things are developing. For example, I might see a fascinating study with some really interesting results based on 15 college-aged, trained males. I can then try something similar with one of my groups of 40 year-old, untrained women. The results may or may not replicate, but either way I now have some more evidence to work with moving forward.

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Chris: That’s great insight into how to help achieve client goals, thanks Isaac. We appreciate your time.

Isaac: Thank you so much for reaching out to me, Chris. Again, I appreciate everything you guys are doing!

Isaac Wilkins is the successful facility owner of Relentless Strength Training and an evidence-based strength coach. Please follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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INTERVIEW: James Fisher on the scientific process

James Fisher

Chris Beardsley (@SandCResearch) interviews James Fisher (@jpfisheruk), a researcher and sports science lecturer based in the UK. He is currently wearing a moustache for Movember to raise money for charity.

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Chris: Thanks for your time, James. Many of your publications have been to make points about the scientific process, the peer-review process, scientific authority, or the correct interpretation and use of statistical analysis. What are your main concerns about the way in which exercise science is currently being carried out?

James: This originally came about from some of my initial publications being rejected without review by what I considered industry-leading journals. Whilst I respect their thoughts I was very much left feeling that because I wasn’t a somebody, that my voice and my research was being overlooked. This prompted the paper “Truth in Authority, or Authority in Truth”. This article discusses that we sometimes believe things as a product of who has said them rather than the supporting science.

In addition, we discussed the difficulties of publishing in peer reviewed journal articles and some of the potential biases or limitations to the publication of data. For example the file drawer is a phenomenon where statistically non-significant data (i.e. p > 0.05) is far less likely to be published in comparison to statistically significant results (p < 0.05). Of course, statistical significance does not necessarily mean clinical or meaningful significance and in fact non-significance can be as meaningful as statistical significance. Later in the article, we also discussed perception of quality of research based on the journal it is published in – again a contemporary issue with the growth of open access journals, which might not have an impact factor, or whose impact factor might not be as high.

I’ve also published a couple of letters to the editor looking at scientific process and terminology as well. I think it’s important to respect that even as scientists we can challenge each other’s perspectives, that data might be interpreted based on statistical significance and/or effect size, and more so meaningful significance.

My comments around statistics have really been to highlight that often there are too many variables to be able to determine a single statistic and still consider all variables. In the case of meta-analyses, they’ve received a lot of criticism in scientific publications, and while I’m not necessarily for or against them I tend to feel that a meta-analysis doesn’t ask the right questions to provide a single answer. Randomized controlled trials should be considered on their own merits based on the quality of the methodological approach not just gutted for data which is then used in a meta-analysis.

I’ve also published a commentary on the practical application of resistance training studies, in which I hoped to highlight that some studies have so little control of the independent variables that they’re near impossible to replicate or take anything meaningful from. There is great value in studies which replicate real life variation but they lack scientific clarity and as such they potentially lack value to practitioners.

In my opinion, science is an area that requires peers and colleagues to challenge perspectives to help the forward movement. I have critiqued multiple pieces and in return received criticism of my own. Non-scientists should realise that this isn’t personal – I think there is a mutual respect amongst peers in this community. It is, if anything, essential so that we don’t all just agree with one another and blindly follow pre-existing perceptions.

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Chris: How do you think we can improve the scientific process and the research system to make it more rigorous, less prone to human error and interference, and produce higher quality results?

James: I think the research system is moving in the right direction already. For example in 2014, the editors of the Journal of Sport Sciences announced that they would no longer be publishing research without 95% confidence intervals and/or effects sizes and that “p” values would no longer be sufficient.

As research progresses in the area of health and exercise science, there are greater expectations to be more rigorous as a product of more authors publishing commentaries, letters to the editor and critiques of previous research, as well as the competitive element of publishing research and the standards of peer review. As with most areas there will likely always be a spectrum of quality and scientific rigour but there is certainly an onerous expectation with editors and reviewers. Authors should be clear not to attempt to mislead and report only that which their data supports and review articles should discuss ALL relevant research citing evidence for and against perspectives.

I often consider the peer review process: some journals are double blind (the reviewer does not know who the authors are, and the authors do not know who the reviewers are), while other journals use a single-blind process (the authors do not know who the reviewers are, but the reviewers know who the authors are).

I think there are strengths and limitations to blinding the process but I wonder if a way to progress the quality of scientific publication might be to name the reviewers on the published piece. This might occur at the end of the text (following the reference list). Certainly, I can imagine that some exercise scientists might take greater care in their review process if they knew their name would be in print as having reviewed the article. In this situation they would be somewhat accountable for that publication. As such, critiques or discussion around that article would be able to name not just the authors, but the editors and reviewers who reviewed and accepted the publication.

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Chris: Including the reviewers’ names at the end of a publication is such an incredibly good idea. I can’t believe it has not been done yet! How do you think we could improve our education of people at all levels about exercise science (from personal trainers through to sport science graduates)?

James: The exercise industry is challenged by being a scientific industry that can potentially be dominated by fashion, and of course business, and money. Exercise is so closely related to health that most of what exercise professionals do is more devoted to improving quality of life and preventing illness or injury. In this case, we might be likened to healthcare professionals but as a product of the industry most trainers do not act as such, and of course few are treated as such.

Education is obviously essential within this process as well as understanding of the role of exercise professionals, but it is the responsibility of those professionals to remain current with their knowledge, with appropriate methods of exercise and appropriate application of exercise variables.

Arguably, societal fashions challenge this attachment to knowledge suggesting greater importance on new methods or fads irrespective of their evidence base or qualities, which is likely the reason why exercise professionals are not given the respect they might be due. It might be that they infrequently act as “health care professionals” or even “professionals” at all but certainly even less frequently are they or the industry treated this way. Unfortunately, it might be these new fads and fashionable methods, which draw attention and with it clients and money, that serve to devalue the industry from a professional standpoint and probably only have short-term value from a financial perspective.

Perhaps in the medical industry general practitioners should be better educated on the merits of different types of exercise to better support the public requirements. Perhaps the mainstream media should be more focused on evidence for their training recommendations. After all, it is only a small percentage of people who exercise who actually seek the advice of exercise professionals. Magazines and general practitioners are the areas that the lay population look to for information about exercise.

Personal trainers and exercise science graduates would hopefully have developed critically analytical qualities towards reading and interpreting research, but they need to continue this and develop their knowledge beyond their qualifications. It might be that an emphasis on higher quality industry qualifications is necessary. To be a health care professional or be seen as professional at all I would expect to see the industry move more towards evidence-based practice, which relates back to my comments about learning and knowledge.

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Chris: What guidance can you offer to people whose occupations revolve around using exercise science on a daily basis (S&C coaches, personal trainers, etc.) to help them identify the best quality evidence and to implement it in their jobs?

James: People using exercise science on a daily basis need to remain current with research and evidence-based practice and need to retain a critical perspective on everything whether it be a new technique or pre-existing method. It is unfortunate that we place standards on journal articles and that some of the journals charge for access to their publications.

The concept of open access, of allowing anyone to read the research publications seems far more appropriate and might encourage exercise professionals to spend more time learning and re-learning. Of course it is their responsibility. Mainstream exercise organisations or facilities should encourage or reward this knowledge; even through the likes of staff reading and presenting back to other staff, as well as conference attendance or even writing articles.

With regard to identifying the best quality evidence, I don’t believe there are hard and fast rules. I think they have to have an understanding of scientific processes and methodological approaches to research which of course doesn’t necessarily come with certain qualifications.

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Chris: That’s great. Thanks for your time, James.

James Fisher is a researcher and sports science lecturer at Southampton Solent University in the UK and formerly a Strength & Conditioning coach for elite athletes. Please follow him on Twitter.

 

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INTERVIEW: Tim Egerton on sport science mistakes

Tim Egerton Sport Science

Chris Beardsley (@SandCResearch) interviews Tim Egerton (@SportSciTutor), an experienced sports science lecturer in strength and conditioning.

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Chris: In your experience, what areas of research do sport science students tend to have the most incorrect preconceptions about when they start a sport science course?

Tim: This is actually rather a difficult question to answer, since it really does vary according to the particular areas of interest of each student within sport science. However, I would say that sport science students do initially have a tendency to over-estimate the importance of certain indirect research findings.

For example, many sport science students interested in hypertrophy training seem to place a great deal of importance on findings relating the exercises and recovery periods that provide the greatest acute hormonal response to training. However, little consideration is given as to whether this is actually the right question to ask. Before getting caught up in which protocols maximise hormonal responses we should probably determine whether those hormonal responses are actually important for hypertrophic adaptation. This is actually quite a good example, because there seems to be a growing body of evidence in support of the notion that acute hormonal responses are not as important as they were previously assumed to be.

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Chris: What are the most common mistakes that sport science students make in their assignments? How can they prevent these from happening?

Tim: My main experience in lecturing at universities is with sport science students who are studying strength and conditioning. In this context, a particularly common mistake relates to how sport science students present work on evidence-based program design. A student might typically be required to submit a piece of work that presents a strength and conditioning program, or part of a strength and conditioning program, along with a needs analysis and an evidence-based rationale for the training program. In order to best explain the type of mistakes sport science students make here, it is worth first discussing the purpose of a needs analysis and also what evidence based practice entails.

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#1. Needs analysis

A needs analysis is used to identify the training needs of a given individual athlete or team of athletes in order to improve their performance in a specific sport or event. This almost seems so obvious that it is not worth stating. However, this is exactly where I see most mistakes being made.

There is a difference between identifying the characteristics of a sport and actually identifying what needs to be developed in order to  improve performance most effectively in that sport.

For example, many sport science students get hung up on citing papers that make an attempt to determine the relative contribution of different energy systems to performance in a given sport. This type of information usually appears in the needs analysis but is rarely useful in determining which physical characteristics, if developed, will have the greatest positive impact upon sporting performance.

It would be more useful to identify research that identifies how different physiological variables correlate with performance in a given sport. This at least provides some kind of a basis for being able to say that emphasising the development of one physical characteristic over another should provide a greater transfer effect. Of course, even this is a limited approach, since we all know that correlation does not prove causation. Better still would be to cite experimental studies that have actually determined how changes in certain physical characteristics are associated with changes in sporting performance. Unfortunately, this type of research is far and few between. However, it should be possible to identify a range of useful research for most mainstream sports.

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2. Evidence-based program design

Undertaking an evidence-based approach to program design should follow the needs analysis process. I believe these two steps should be regarded as two separate processes although some people treat them as one. The needs analysis is the process of identifying the qualities that need to be developed. On the other hand, evidence-based practice, in the context of strength and conditioning, is the process of using the best available evidence to determine the optimal approach in developing those qualities identified as being important in the needs analysis. This is something that is rarely done well.

For example, sport science students often present a case for the development of hypertrophy in an athlete or team. There also seems to be a common theme in the rationale for the hypertrophy programme that they design. As previously mentioned, this theme is based on research into the exercises and recovery periods that produce the greatest acute hormonal response. This is often in the absence of any discussion of whether or not acute hormonal responses actually represent an important mechanism underpinning hypertrophic adaptation. The better sport science students actually place LESS emphasis on mechanistic studies and MORE emphasis longitudinal training studies that have an inherently higher level of evidence.

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Chris: Great stuff, Tim! You know how that obsession with mechanisms at the expense of RCTs really grinds my gears as well! Moving on, though, what are some basic errors that sport science students make when trying to get to grips with research methods and statistics? 

Tim: The most common basic error that I have seen sport science students making in statistics is that of failing to check that a set of data actually meets the necessary assumptions for the statistical tests that are being used.

Most of us know that certain assumptions, such as a normally distributed data set, need to be met if particular statistical tests are to be appropriately used. As such, it is always surprising to see how many students run their statistical analysis without prior determination of factors such as the normality of distribution. This is critically important, because the validity of any findings is dependent on the appropriate statistical treatment of data.

The next most common basic error that I have seen is by sport science students is probably the inappropriate use of t-tests. When comparing means from two sets of data, the t-test is completely appropriate. However, it is not appropriate to use t-tests when dealing with 3 or more sets of data. This is because using t-tests in these circumstances requires each set of data to be used in multiple comparisons, which increases the chances of making a type I error.

For example, if a sport science student were interested in setting up an experiment to measure power output in the bench press under different loading conditions, it would be appropriate to use a t-test if the difference between a heavy and light load condition was being investigated. However, if a moderate load condition was being investigated in addition to the heavy and light load conditions, each condition would need to be compared twice, thus rendering the t-test inappropriate. In this situation Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) should be used instead.

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Chris: What areas of research should sport science students consider working in? Where are some of the most exciting areas of research at the moment?

Tim: I’m going to answer this in a slightly roundabout way, so please bear with me. In my previous answer on common mistakes made by sport science students, I was a little critical of mechanistic-based research. This is because it is rarely realized by students that this type of research is a lower level of evidence compared to longitudinal training studies when it comes to informing program design.

For example, one researcher might observe the molecular response to a particular endurance training session when performed in a glycogen depleted state compared to when the same session is performed in a non-depleted state. This researcher might find much greater levels of molecules such as pgc1, AMPK and PPAR∂ as an acute response to training in the glycogen-depleted state and therefore conclude that glycogen-depleted training is much more effective for endurance development. However, another researcher might perform a longitudinal trial in which two groups performed the same type of training sessions over the course of a 12-week program. One group would perform the sessions in a glycogen-depleted state and the other group would perform the sessions in a non-depleted state, and endurance performance would be tested in both groups before and after the twelve-week program. If the results from the two groups in this study were significantly different, this would represent a much higher level of evidence. This is because the researcher has actually looked at an outcome measure that is of direct interest to the coach and/or athlete, as opposed to investigating a potential mechanism underpinning that variable of interest.

However, despite the limitations of mechanistic-based research for the purposes of evidence-based strength and conditioning, it is actually an extremely important aspect of sport science research. In actual fact, it is the driving force behind advances in sports science research because it generates hypotheses. In other words, the findings from acute studies lead to the generation of hypotheses regarding the mechanisms that underpin long-term training adaptations. The generation of these hypotheses creates a need for longitudinal training studies in order to test those hypotheses with respect to actual performance measures.

So for those sport science students wanting work in an exciting and rapidly evolving area of research, molecular exercise physiology might well be worth considering. But at the same time, we really need the longitudinal trials to go hand in hand with the acute studies. So for those wanting to undertake research that is more applied in nature, I would encourage investigation into the transfer of training. As I noted above, there is a lack of good research into training transfer. It is not too difficult to find correlational research. But we really need to take things a step further and look at how changes in physical qualities are associated with changes in sporting performance. There is some good research of this nature, but much more is needed.

Chris: Great insights, Tim! Thanks for your time. 

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Tim

 

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INTERVIEW: Rhys Ingram on Taekwondo

Rhys Ingram Taekwondo

Chris Beardsley (@SandCResearch) interviews Rhys Ingram (@RhysIngram), an S&C coach for GB Taekwondo at the English Institute of Sport (EIS).

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Chris: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, Rhys! I am glad to be sharing your knowledge about S&C for Taekwondo with people. What areas of research (e.g. biomechanics, training, recovery, nutrition, etc.) have you found most useful for programming S&C for Taekwondo? To what extent do you think it is valid to draw on research into other martial arts?

Rhys: Hi, Chris, thanks a lot for inviting me to interview on here! When it comes to looking at the research for Taekwondo, we try and cast the net as wide as possible. There’s not a huge amount of research specifically on the sport itself and the game is changing so rapidly these days with the various rule changes, that much of the work that has been done and published is too far removed from modern World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Taekwondo.

As a result, my colleague Duncan French and I regularly pull information from research done in numerous different fields and across many different sports. There are obvious ones like Karate that we can look at but when you break the sport down into its fundamental constituent parts, it involves high intensity actions, large ranges of motion, huge exhibitions of lower body power in all planes of motion, evasion, change of direction and much more. So we attempt to look at what the research can tell us about each of those factors and then take from it what is valid and applicable to our own situation. I think this is where the art of coaching blends with the science.

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Chris: When programming for S&C for Taekwondo what mistakes do you see other people making that good knowledge of exercise science would help avoid?

I think in the UK we are fortunate that much of the S&C support being provided to athletes at all levels is of a good standard. The British Taekwondo coach education programmes and junior development systems have done a great job of getting the word out on how best to physically prepare Taekwondo players.

From a wider sporting perspective, I think many S&C coaches would benefit from having a more open mind with regards to how we progress and overload athletes. We’ve all been guilty I think, of looking to simply add weight to the bar or increase the number of reps or even to raise the height of the box we jump onto. Yet if you fully scrutinise these methods, few of us would believe that the extra 5kg on our personal best or jumping onto a box that is 5cm higher this week will have a significant and noticeable improvement in performance in competition. So it is risky to value your worth to an athlete or team on these variables.

A lot of my recent research has been into what role the neuromuscular system has in training, in the way in which it adapts when stressed in different ways and the subsequent effect this can have on your athletes’ physical preparedness. Understanding this has reopened my coaching toolbox and enabled me to challenge my athletes in new ways with cognitive and visuo-motor progressions to a lot of the exercises and drills we were already doing. Not only have we seen great athlete buy-in with this new approach but our test scores continue to improve. From a Taekwondo perspective as well, this has helped us to continue to progress our athletes in the gym, without risking the hypertrophy associated with other methods of overload, which could ultimately prevent our athletes from competing in their chosen weight category.

Other than that, I think within fight sports something that’s improving but still has a long way to go is our general understanding of how the energy systems interact with each other and the best way to manipulate them through the training process so as to have the most optimal net-effect on adaptation. Previously, you would see a lot of brutal circuits being done for conditioning. A lot of these would be done for short bursts of high intensity effort in an attempt to replicate the sport. However, this was done with little recognition of what impact this would have on the athletes speed/power characteristics or how the energy systems could be better manipulated in order to give you specific adaptions that could benefit the athlete on the mat. There is more to metabolic conditioning than general work capacity and I think there’s a strong enough body of research out there to help us prescribe targeted interventions in this way.

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Chris: Being realistic, very few dedicated studies are going to be performed into &C for Taekwondo or even in Taekwondo athletes. Given that, what questions do you think researchers should explore that will help the sport most?

Rhys: This is a difficult one. I’m a firm believer in the idea that in order to ask questions about how best to train your athletes for your sport, you first need to understand some of the basics of your sport. Currently, no one has truly quantified what an athlete is exposed to at a physiological level in a Taekwondo competition. We know our current group of athletes extremely well and have a good understanding thanks to the technical coaches and the rest of the support team where they need to improve physically so as to benefit on the mat, but on some levels it can be a very subjective thing.

Some sports are much more quantifiable and less chaotic than Taekwondo so this is the not an easy task but I’d love to see physiological profiles of what an elite Taekwondo match looks like. What heart rates do they reach, what blood lactate profiles, how does this change across a day where they might fight 5-7 times? Even movement analysis of how the athletes negotiate the mat and each other during a fight. Just to add to the challenge, this would differ greatly across the various weight categories as well so that would have to be something that was looked at. It is unlikely that a movement/agility session for our 100kg heavyweight male should replicate that of our 49kg female athlete but an objective measure of how they are different would be extremely valuable.

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Chris: Moving away from S&C for Taekwondo specifically, what guidance would you offer to younger S&C coaches who are looking to make sure that they develop sound knowledge of evidence-based S&C?

Rhys: Great question, I think they just need to pick a topic, any topic and then be as inquisitive as possible. We can’t be an expert in everything, but very few jobs require you to be. In an interview setting, or even once you’re in your role, being able to demonstrate that you have taken the time to understand an aspect of your work at a greater level is extremely valuable.

Access to research, especially first-hand research, is so much easier now than it was even when I was doing my Masters in 2010. Then, you either had to trust other coaches interpretations of an article, when they were quoting in a blog, or you’d have to spend hours negotiating PubMed or Google Scholar. This is never fun, especially if you have very broad, generalised search terms. Now however, with the right mind-set, there are so many opportunities to really get to know a subject.

The neuromuscular research I have been doing came from reading a tweet that a colleague put out linking an article about skill acquisition. From there I just continued to delve deeper in an attempt to make sure that I fully understood all the terms and principles discussed in that paper and that in turn lead me to other pieces of research that have all subsequently had an impact on my coaching and programming.

It’s great that social media allows us to see what our peers are reading. Also, things like the Strength and Conditioning Journal are valuable because they help us keep track of the latest research. However, if we only ever take each paper at face value we can miss huge amounts, not least the ability to fully understand why certain conclusions were drawn, how they differ to the rest of the body of research currently out there and if this all fits with the population we work with and are therefore relevant to your daily practice. It’s similar to assuming you have a full understanding of what is happening in the world today, having only read the titles of each article in the newspaper and not the article itself.

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Chris: Thank you so much for your time putting these responses together, Rhys. We really appreciate your time! I am sure that many people will have learned a great deal about S&C for Taekwondo from this interview.

Rhys Ingram is a Strength & Conditioning Coach with the English Institute of Sport, working with GB Taekwondo. Please follow him on Twitter or visit his website to get in touch.

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