A High Intensity Week

My third week of training (the third microcycle) is the most intense week for training with an intensity of 90-95 percent.

Similar to the previous two weeks of training, the 4 days workouts haven’t changed much. The only exception is that the volume was reduced and the intensity increased.

Sunday’s and Thursday’s trainings were designed for the anaerobic alactic system consisting of drills with maximum intensity for ballistic power and maximum strength. Tuesday’s and Saturday’s trainings were designed to stimulate the anaerobic lactic system and maximize aerobic consumption with drills for power endurance.

During Monday, Wednesday and Friday, light aerobic training and technical drills were completed to stimulate a better regeneration that leads to a superior training adaptation.

After my warm up and dynamic stretching time, I performed the first circuit:

  • 4 sets of different karate explosive drills performed at maximum intensity (in less than 10 seconds) with the work to rest ratio of 1:8. For each 10 seconds of the drills, I rest about 75-80 seconds before completing the next exercise.

The second circuit was designed as a Ballistic Power Circuit performed on the Smith Machine at 30 percent of maximum load (1RM) with rest interval of 60 seconds between exercises. The exercises were as follow:

  • 10 Jumping Squats
  • 10 Ballistic Bench Press at 45 degree
  • 10 Ballistic Bent Over Row
  • I repeated the circuit 3 times.

The last circuit was designed to maintain my maximum strength with a circuit training of a pair of exercises performed at 85-90 percent on maximum load with rest interval of 60 seconds between each pair. This gave me enough recovery time for the regeneration of phosphates to be able to repeat the circuit for 3 times at near maximum intensity. The exercises were performed as follow:

  • Machine Leg Press x 3 repetitions followed by 6 Bunny Forward Jumps
  • Machine Bench Press x 3 repetitions followed by 6 Plyo Push Ups
  • Chin Pull Up x 10 repetitions
  • Dips x 10 repetitions

I ended the session with 10 minutes of light aerobic running on the treadmill followed by static stretching in a hot tub.

Cheers,

Mario

Karate and Krav Maga?

Yet another busy day! Yesterday I was teaching self-defense classes at two community centres: False Creek in Granville Island and University of British Columbia Recreation Centre. Teaching not only allows me to impart my knowledge to my students, but gives me a good tactical workout at the same time!

At False Creek Community Center, I taught a family anti-bullying self defense class from 1:00-3:00pm and then ran quickly to teach a Krav Maga class introduction at Israeli Self Defense from 3:30 -5:30.

Karate is a huge part of my life, but I am also an authorized instructor with Israeli Krav International, an international organization that promotes self-defense tactics used by Israeli Special Forces.

Krav Maga self-defense, or “contact combat,” is a non-competitive martial art, developed in Israel for national defense and civilian protection. Experts consider it as the most effective self-defense system in the world. Since the Israelis are one of the best nations in karate, boxing, muay thai, kickboxing, jujutsu, wrestling, and in performing grappling techniques, they have created the most effective system of protection that works in real life situations. Due to its effectiveness, this system was adapted to and utilized by Norwegian Military, the Swedish Army and is part of the Commando Course for Close Combat Training (CCT) of the German Army.

Anyone – kids, youth, women and seniors – can be empowered by these strategies as they are easy to learn and hard to forget.

Israeli Krav International (IKI) is led by 5 DAN expert, Moshe Katz, who endorses many strategies used by the Israeli Border Police Patrol. He instructs these tactics in his regular seminars in Israel, Europe, North and South America. I am a certified coach and a tactical instructor representing this organization in British Columbia.

There are many styles of Krav Maga taught by different organizations, but I choose to teach with IKI specifically because it best fits with my self-defense specific requirements.

Krav Maga benefits my personal training in ways other than simply fine-tuning my self-defense approach. It most definitely assists my training for karate with the short burst of high intensity drills used by the Elite Special Forces. It has also helped the development of my High Intensity Functional Interval Training conditioning program (H.I.F.I.T.). As you have read in previous posts, this functional training has been adopted into my periodization program which improves maximum oxygen consumption and cardio conditioning as well as training the Anaerobic Lactic Acid System.

Ultimately, karate and Krav Maga are both important to my fitness routine and physical conditioning. If you want to learn more about my fighting skills and Karate/Krav Maga Strategies, keep stay tune for future blog posts!

For more information about Israeli Krav International or are interested in taking some of my self-defense classes, please check out the website or ask me questions by commenting below!

Cheers,

Mario

THANK YOU TO OUR DONORS, SPONSORS & SUPPORTERS!

In less than 3 weeks (or 19 days exactly) I will be fighting at the 2012 Karate BC Provincial Championship! My excitement can only be building and all the hard work that’s put into promoting the event and training will hopefully payoff. But, before I get too ahead of myself, I want to take this time to thank all of you who have been so generous thus far – with your time, effort and your contributions.

Thank you very much to everyone who has donated to BC Children’s Hospital or Children’s Hunger Fund! Your support, whether big or small, means everything. With one step at a time, we can help change the lives of children who are in poverty or are plagued by sickness.  The kindness that you have shown is overwhelming and I am truly appreciative of the sincere support you’ve been giving.

I want to say a huge thank you to my sponsors and supporters!  Your faith in me has been very encouraging and without all the work you have put into this event and its promotion, none of this would have been possible. These organizations and companies are more than just businesses; they are using their resources and influence to give back to people in our community and help them succeed.

The sponsors include: teccrab online services inc., Denman Fitness Center, Stay Classy, INTERNeX International Exchange, Meta Communities.

Supporters: Vancouver Romanian Association, Vancouver Sports Massage, Thera-Roll, Federatia Romana de Karate, Richmond Olympic Oval, LifeMARK Health, Las Vegas Karate – Do, Dr. Hal Brown Naturopathic Physician, International Martialarts Association, DURA SEAL, USANA Health Sciences, VANPRINT, Canada Trust, Maximus Martial Arts, Arawaza, TACTIX, MAX SANTÉ, IRON LAB, HumanMotion, ULTRA ELECTRIC LTD., Sinclair Travel, Israeli Krav International.

Last but not least, thank you to the organizers – BCIT and KARATE BC – for putting on this event year after year so that the best talent in the province karate has a chance to showcase their craft!

Thank you again to everyone who has been involved in the journey to achieving my goals – to compete and win the 2012 Karate BC Championship and to raise awareness and money for research in childhood diseases and in providing hope and food to hungry children and families. Please continue to spread the word about this event as we  can use all the help we can get to help children in need!

Cheers,

Mario

Supercompensation – Part 3

Tactical Workout 

To accommodate my crazy schedule and with the competition being only 3 weeks from now, my workout plan has become ever-changing. 

Today, I went for an intensive strength and power workout with a lot of tactical drills designed to stimulate my Anaerobic Alactic System. After a regular warm up of light plyometric exercises, I performed some of my tactical karate fighting skills at near maximum speed.

First, I performed a circuit of simulated fighting of 4 explosive combination techniques and  2 exercises designed for speed (Bench Step & 45 degree Plyo Push up), executed in 6-10 seconds with a rest interval of  60-90 seconds of total rest between each technique. I tried to keep the ratio of work to rest interval at 1:8, to allow enough recovery time to restore my phosphocreatine stores. I repeated this circuit for a total of four sets. Then I realized my time was limited because I had in schedule another appointment so I finished off the session by stretching in the hot tub.

Supercompensation – Part 3

After going over the first phrase of supercompensation in the previous post, today I will talk about Phrase Two

In Phase Two, the muscle glycogen stores start refilling its sores and protein synthesis take place. These processes are dependent on the type and intensity of training performed as well as the amount of carbohydrates and proteins consumed during the initial compensation phase. The glycogen stores can be fully replenished in the following 24 hours while the protein synthesis increases by 50 percent in the next 4 hour with elevation above 100 percent in 24 hours.

For those who are confused about what protein synthesis is, it is a process in which cells manufacture proteins, from amino acids using information encoded in genes. There is a false belief that proteins are only building blocks for muscles, but in fact, they are involved in many cellular functions. This includes creating enzymes, producing antibodies for the immune system, binding with other molecules for an easy transportation (such hemoglobin transporting oxygen) and many other essential functions necessary for life.

The intensity of the workout and oxygen consumption also play an important role on protein synthesis as it can increase nervous system and hormonal activities. It is a direct result in the improved metabolism and rate of energy expenditure following intense exercises.

An increased in oxygen consumption after an intense workout  is created an Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), with an increase of up to 500 percent in growth hormone which is our anti-aging hormone. This is EPOC can remain elevated up to 36 hours following an intense exercise.

Currently, I am preparing for my intensive week workout and put into practice what I intend to educate people about the importance of healthy living with proper nutrition and functional fitness.

Cheers,

Mario

Supercompensation – Part Two

In my spare time, I teach self-defense and karate classes to kids. I love being able to introduce them to a sport that is so important in my life and also, enabling them transfer this confidence they gain into real life situations! The competition is coming up so soon and I am very excited, but getting ready to compete doesn’t mean giving up all your responsibilities in your life.

A Rest & Recovery Day

After a very intensive workout done yesterday, for lactic acid tolerance and to improve my maximum oxygen consumption with exercises for power and power endurance, a recovery day with light aerobic exercises and stretching was all that I needed.

At the gym, I choose to progressively walk fast on the treadmill machine for 20 minutes, to remove the lactic acid and other metabolic waste and to speed up the regeneration process. This low intensity training was followed by light stretches and some massage.

Supercompensation – Part Two

As I mentioned yesterday, our bodies are always seeking to maintain a state of homeostasis and constantly adapt to the stress from its environment. With proper recovery time and proper nutritional approach, and in anticipation of the next training session, the adaptation that occurs with the training will adjust to a higher level of fitness.

Every athlete is unique and reacts differently to the training stimulus imposed so there might be a different specific period for supercompensation for each individual. According to the science of “Periodization” laid out by the expert Dr. Tudor Bompa, there are 4 phases of supercompensation as a general rule which I will explain below:

Phase one occurs right after training in the time frame of 2 hours, where the body is experiencing extreme fatigue.

With high intensity workouts, muscle glycogen and phosphocreatine stores are reduced or even depleted and the accumulation of high levels of lactic acid, and inorganic phosphate, may alter the muscle contraction.

Additionally, due increased over stimulation, fatigue to the Central Nervous System can lead to the reduced neuromuscular activation and impaired impulse propagation necessary for muscle contraction.

Another interesting phenomenon that happens at the muscular level, especially with intense eccentric exercises for maximum strength or power, is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or (DOMS). Also known as muscle fever, this is manifested with pain and discomfort when the muscle is stretched or contracted. The soreness and stiffness usually increases in intensity in the first 24 hours after exercise with peaks from 24 to 72 hours.

This is why it is very important to consider the duration of the various biological regeneration processes that take place during the recovery phase. In the first 3-15 minutes when training is completed, the ATP and phosphocreatine store are replenished. With proper nutrients at the right time, this energy stores might increase above regular levels.

That’s it for now, stay tuned for what happens in the next two days after the intensive workout ends!

Cheers,

Mario

Supercompensation – Part One

Workout: Maximum Oxygen Consumption for Power Endurance

The last two days of rest were just what I needed for my body to recover and supercompensate after a series of intensive workouts! There are only 22 more days left until the big competition. Yesterday, my focus was to improve my Maximum Oxygen Consumption while training for Lactic Acid Tolerance with exercises for power and power endurance.

The training was almost similar with the workout done last week for power and power endurance (see this blog). This time there are fewer exercises to perform, but at a higher intensity (85-90 percent of maximum). Of course, an intense warm up and dynamic stretching are mandatory prior to a demanding workout.

I performed 4 sets of simulated fighting at a higher intensity with an interval rest of 2 minutes between sets. This is a good challenge for my maximum oxygen consumption, but it will be even more intense for next week. After I finish my first circuit, I decided to skip the medicinal ball power endurance circuit, but I performed the dumbbell weight power workout 4 times at higher intensity instead of two times like last week. I ended my training with static stretching for the major muscle groups in the hot tub.

Introduction to Supercompensation 

As I promised, I will introduce you to the training effects of supercompensation also known in sports as General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS).

An intense workout will create a certain level of fatigue stimulating many metabolic reactions in the body including a cardiovascular, hormonal and neuromuscular response. After the workout, the body try to get back to its homeostatic state. Homeostasis is the body’s property to normalize its internal functions. In other words, after an intensive workout the body need some time to return back to its normal biological function.

This is a period of compensation where the body, normalize its internal environment such as temperature, heartbeats, respiration and regulate other metabolic functions necessary to the survival of the human being.If enough time is allowed for the body to disperse fatigue, to rebuild its damaged muscle cells and replenish its glycogen stores, the body will recover and adapt to a higher level known as supercompensation.

In fact, supercompensation is the connection between an intense workout, the nutritional status of an athlete and the time allowed for regeneration that may lead to a greater physical adaptation. As supercompensation occurs, an increase in the homeostatic level takes place and a greater athletic efficiency is experienced. According to the science of periodization and athletic performances, there are 4 phases at which supercompensation can occur.

Anyways, I have to go prepare for another work out right now. To learn more about supercompensation, come back in the next few days!

Cheers,

Mario

Rest & Recovery – How Much Do You Need?

At the moment, my life is quite demanding with many things that need to be accomplished in a short period of time. Yesterday was supposed to include a medium/high intensity specific workout to stimulate the anaerobic lactic system and maximum aerobic consumption with drills for power endurance. The stress I have running, to make things happen, can be tiring. By the afternoon, I realized that I could not complete my workout. As a diehard James Bond fan would say, “Tomorrow Never Dies”.

Since this has become another day of activity rest I would like to develop this subject further.

Recovery known also as regeneration is a process that involves many individualized aspects such as:  Training Volume & Intensity, Mood & Motivation to Train, Fatigue & Muscle Soreness, Quality & Time of Sleep, Proper Nutrition, and many more.

Just to begin, I will introduce 3 different phases of recovery.

The first phrase is the recovery time between sets while exercising. The restoration of Phosphagen and Glycogen in the working muscle is related to the intensity of the workout and to the time rest between sets.

The power of a working muscle is maintained as a result of the continuous production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) through anaerobic or aerobic manufacture of energy and the availability of phosphocreatine and glycogen as fuel for energy production.

Nearing maximum intensive bouts of exercises, the ATP and Phosphocreatine stored in the muscle cells can almost deplete in a matter of seconds. More than half of the ATP can be re-synthesized   in approximately 30 seconds with full restoration in about 3-5 minutes. Phosphocreatine can be fully restored in about 5-8 minutes. Both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems contribute to this restoration.

The second phase of recovery occurs after the workout where the body is replenishing its glycogen stores, removing metabolic by-products, and starting to rebuild its damaged muscles and tissues.

However, this restoration happens at different time intervals depending on the type and intensity of the exercise performed. For example, a high intensity workout creates an excess of post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) that keeps the metabolism elevated for up to 36 hours. EPOC is manifested with increased breathing and heart rate, the need for more oxygen, elevated core temperature and other related physiological function.

The first two hours after a workout is when nutrition and supplementation play an important role. A balanced diet, with sufficient ingestion of carbohydrate to restore glycogen and an adequate intake of proteins to regenerate muscle cells, is critical in the 2 hour time frame. Also, eating specific nutritional supplements designed to decrease inflammation and reduce the damage created by too much oxidation at the cellular level can play an important role in faster recovery time.

The third phrase is the long term recovery phrase which must be part of a well-designed periodization. It can have a supercompensation effect resulting in peak performance. I will go more in-depth into the accumulation of fatigue, restoration and supercompensation in another blog.

Until then,

Mario

Research for our Future – BC Children’s Hospital

Firstly, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been so generously donating to BC Children’s Hospital or Children’s Hunger Fund, those who have spread the word about my event and the wonderful support of my sponsors and supporters! You have all been such a great source of inspiration to keep working hard on achieving the goals that I’ve set for the 2012 BC Karate Competition in only 24 days.

As you may have read, my younger daughter was sick with a viral infection and a high fever. She has since gotten much better and is resting at home – thanks to the care of my wife and to BC Children’s Hospital for always being so reliable.

I really appreciate the fact that we can always count on BC Children’s Hospital, whenever one of my daughters is sick. As a parent, it is always difficult to see your children suffering from pain because all you want is the best for them.

Yesterday was designed to be a day of rest and recovery from my previous high intensity strength and power workout. Resting properly in between workouts is just as important as the workout itself. However, sometimes it is easy to forget that your body needs some down time especially when you have a huge competition coming up. With this occasion, I would like tell you more about BC Children’s Hospital and why I chose them as one of the charities I support.

Other than being such an integral part of my family, I’ve also seen the wonderful work of BC Children’s Hospital through Adrian, my close friend’s son. Adrian is also good friends with my two daughters so when we found out that he was diagnosed with leukemia, a type of cancer affecting the blood, bone marrow and the lymphatic system, we were devastated. Of course, his parents were extremely distraught as Adrian was put into intensive medical care at the hospital immediately.

In the beginning, the aggressive treatment seemed to weaken Adrian even more with rapid weight loss, but the medical personnel clearly knew what they were doing.  Adrian started gaining weight, feeling better and started playing again as time passed by. Now, 11 months after the initial diagnosis, Adrian is cancer-free and full of energy like before! He is still under the supervision of the oncologists at BC Children’s Hospital to make sure his health is completely restored.

Without advancement of research in leukemia, Adrian would not have been able to receive this level of special care and treatment. This is why I chose BC Children’s Hospital as one of my charities.

Research is so vital in understanding the root causes of childhood diseases and helping seriously ill or injured children. BC Children’s Hospital strives to achieve better health for our children and ensure that they receive the best care possible. They work with renowned researchers and with organizations such as the Child and Family Research Institute, University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University.

Again, thank you for all your support and kindness.

Please learn more about BC Children’s Hospital here and your generosity will be very much appreciated.

Cheers,

Mario

Competitive Phase – Redesigning my Training Program

As part of my periodization plan, I divided my trainings into a specific macrocycle, each one lasting between 2 -6 weeks, depending on the phase of training and the goal of the phase: Preparatory or Competitive. Each week of training (a microcycle) has a high, medium or low loading pattern and each day was specifically designed for training a different purpose: energy system, strength, power, power endurance, agility and reaction time.

Presently, I am on the competitive phase with a time frame of only 5 weeks between the two competitions: Zone 5 Qualification on October 14th and the BC Provincial Championship on November 17th and 18th.

With a limited time frame, I designed my microcycle weeks as a 4:1 loading pattern with the first 4 weeks designed to fine tune my technical and tactical skills while maintaining strength and power. The fifth microcycle before the competition time are 8 days of tapering where I will decrease the training load to about 50 percent to remove fatigue and stimulate a supercompensation of my performance.

Last week, I completed my first microcycle using a medium 80-85 percent load training. This first week was designed as 4 days per week workout using tactical karate specific drills with the focus on training one energy system per session.

In my second week of training (the second microcycle), I redesigned my training as 4 days per week workouts at a medium/high 90 percent intensity with Sunday and Thursday training the anaerobic alactic system, with drills of maximum intensity and strength. Tuesday’s and Saturday’s trainings were designed to stimulate the anaerobic lactic system and maximize aerobic consumption with drills for power endurance.

Note: My first day of the second week (microcycle) was designed as a Anaerobic Alactic Circuit with tactical karate fighting skills, combined with Power and Maximum Strength using a medium/high 90 percent intensity and adding one more set to the tactical and power training. This increased intensity on all circuits was strategically planned for this week. During this week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday are regeneration days of light aerobic training and technical drills designed to stimulate a better regeneration that lead to a superior training adaptation.

After my warm up and dynamic stretching time, I performed a circuit:

  • 4 sets of different karate explosive drills performed at maximum intensity, (in less than 10 seconds) with the work to rest ratio of 1:8. For each 10 seconds of maximum intensity drill I rest about 75-80 seconds before completing the next exercise.

The second circuit was designed as a Ballistic Power Circuit performed on Smith Machine at 30 percent of maximum load (1RM) with rest interval of 60 seconds between exercises. The exercises were as follow:

  • 10 Jumping Squats, followed by
  • 10 Ballistic Bench Press at 45 degree and
  • 10 Ballistic Bent Over Row

I repeated the circuit 3 times.

Last circuit was designed to maintain my maximum strength with a circuit training of pair exercises performed at 85-90 percent on maximum load with rest interval of 60 seconds between pairs. This gave me enough recovery time for the regeneration of phosphates to be able to repeat the circuit for 3 times at near maximum intensity. The exercises were performed as follow:

  • Machine Leg Press x 4 repetitions, followed by 4 Bunny Forward Jumps
  • Machine Bench Press x 4 repetitions followed by 4 Plyo Push Ups
  • Chin Pull Up x 10 repetitions
  • Dips x 10 repetitions

I ended the session with 10 minutes of light aerobic running on the treadmill followed by static stretching in a hot tub.

Cheers,

Mario

Children’s Hunger Fund – Why We Need to Help

If you have been following my blog, you will know that after six month of big help, my mother-in-law went back home to Romania. Now, I have to divide my time and organize everything well to be able to keep on with my training as well as my work duties and family responsibilities.

This means that I have to reschedule and reorganize my training sessions to keep up with my night security job, teaching self-defense classes and fitness boot camp, taking my kids to and from school and preschool, and finding a babysitter who is willing to help when I need the support and getting enough rest and being able to perform better. Yes, it’s a little crazy, but that’s why life can be so exciting!

While I am working on my training plan, and rescheduling my time to better fit my needs, I would like to introduce you one of the the charities I want to help, Children’s Hunger Fund, and the reasons why I am fighting in the 2012 BC Karate Championship.

In 1999, I wanted to open a charitable organization with the intentions to help children in Romanian orphanages. Growing up in Romania, it is not difficult to see how many unfortunate children are abandoned on the streets due to losing parents, famine, war and diseases. Currently, there is an estimated 13 million children worldwide who are orphans and it is a serious problem. Regrettably, my lack of management skills and resources, inadequate time and other problems did not allow me to continue with this dream.

This is why I was so excited when I learnt about the work that Children’s Hunger Fund does. Children’ Hunger Fund is a Christian organization dedicated to help poor kids around the world, including thousands of orphan children in my country of origin: Romania.  Since 20 years ago in 2002, they have been delivering hope to needy children.  With the help of its partner USANA Health Sciences, Children’s Hunger Fund has provided to more than 43,000 children in Romanian orphanages with regular shipments of food, clothing, nutritional supplements, medicine, and hygiene products.

In fact, Children’s Hunger Fund have helped distribute more than 1 billion dollars in food and other resources to serve the needs of more than 10 million children in 72 countries worldwide. They have many programs and projects that are designed to meet the specific needs of those in need. This includes responding quickly with disaster relief in the recent tragedies of Haiti and Japan, distributing toys and school supplies to underprivileged children, building medical clinics in poor countries and providing clean water to those who do not have the access to. Not only do the children receive the much needed resources, but more significantly, they receive the love, care and encouragement they need to succeed.

Please learn more about Children’s Hunger Fund’s fight against hunger here and your support will be very much appreciated.

Cheers,

Mario