When working with clients I use a simple process to find a starting point for training and nutritional programming
- Access the requirements of the task or goal
- Access the current limitations or weakness to performance
- Training the difference
- Supplement appropriately
Applying this to myself I looked at the split times
- My first 100m wasn't great compared to the mid-section (200 – 400m)
- There was a significant drop off over the last 100m
With this in mind the largest improvements in overall performance would mostly come from improving power output over the first 100m while limiting the drop in power output over the last 100m.
These are the two reasons I supplemented my training (typical off season Crossfit programme with Creatine JB and Xendurance. The reasoning was simple; Creatine has a proven track record of improving top end strength, power, power endurance (Kreider et al, 2017). This is why it is the perfect supplement to help improve the first 100m of a 500m row (or rowing sprints in general) as it requires the largest burst of power to overcome the resistance of a static flywheel, which then sets the pace for the remainder of the distance.
Xendurance was used to prevent the build-up of lactate that accumulates during anaerobic metabolism leading to acidosis that ultimately limits the muscles ability to forcefully contract, as a result performance starts to decline. Delaying this process means being able work for longer before metabolic fatigue sets in, hence improving overall power output and performance.
The outcome of this training cycle was 5kg personal bests for squat, front squat and deadlift (without deadlifting since March). The numbers for rowing specific intervals progressively improvement for both power output and lactate tolerance, this didn't stop them from hurting any less, if anything it made it hurt more due to the ability to push harder for longer
This all resulted in breaking the British record for max distance in a minute, followed by taking a second off my previous 500m time to set a new British record that has stood since 2012. The largest improvements came over the first 100m (6% increase in power output) and the last 100m (5% less decline in power output), which is a testament to using the right product for the right purpose.
Anecdotally, I generally felt less beaten up by the heavy lifting which has typically been an issue for me in the past and felt I handled the volume and intensity of the conditioning work significantly better than previously. I am looking forward using Xendurance as I aim to improve over longer distances on erg and my attention shifts back towards competitive Crossfit.
Kreider et al (2017) International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine; Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition201714:18
About the author: Paul Johnson, MSc, BSc, SENr
Paul has provided nutritional coaching and support to athlete in a wide variety of sports including competitive Crossfit athletes, international weightlifters in the masters age group, MMA fighters and recreational crossfitters and fitness enthusiasts just looking in improve health and body composition
In addition to Paul's experience in sports nutrition, he has a strong background in personal training, while his day job sees him delivering exercise referral sessions with particular focus on cardiac rehab, heart failure and adult weight management"