Athletes, have you ever considered why your body can perform nearly the same load that both limbs can do with just one? Or even consider why the sum of the loads done on each limb individually can add up to more than the sum of the load done when both limbs work together? That is the definition of the BLD (bilateral deficit).
Oftentimes when we’re training on two different squat or deadlift progressions, the BLD occurs. People are able to lift at least 60% of their overall bilateral strength unilaterally. This means that an athlete’s regular max deadlift load might be 315lbs but then can lift 190lbs on a single leg deadlift. The same thing can happen on squat progressions. The neuromuscular necessities when performing a bilateral exercise is much greater than unilateral exercises, which means the brain works much harder for exercises that ultimately give you less output. This is one of the reasons why sports’ fundamental movements are trained. Unilateral strength and conditioning training prepares you better for your particular sports, hence why it is prioritized over bilateral training.
Bilateral strength and conditioning training is not forgotten. We utilize different variations in exercises to train for bilateral strength and power based on an athlete’s position in their particular sport; we consider which movements mainly occur in that position. When we look at an ice hockey athlete versus a track and field sprinter, or a defensive lineman in football versus a soccer midfielder, they will require different progressions of both unilateral or bilateral exercises. However, from the movements that occur most in a game, we know that bilateral power and strength based exercises for a defensive lineman might be more beneficial than training unilateral exercises and so on.
When we think of strength and power activities we also need to think about proper nutritional intake. Every athlete needs to focus highly on their diet in order to perform within their expectations. It is a very important part of performance enhancement and recovery. Dieting can easily become complicated when overthought, however, generally speaking, having tight control over your macronutrients is key. High performing athletes should always make sure that 55-60% of their daily energy intake are clean carbohydrates, 15% from animal derived proteins and 25-30% from clean fat intake. These percentages can be distributed throughout the day by frequent meal servings and snacks in between meals.
Carbohydrates are the number one source of energy in the body, which is why the quality of which one’s you are eating is so important. When dieting, always try to focus on eating less processed sugars and heavily starchy foods. Try to substitute more fruits, vegetables, or whole grains in big portions to help curb cravings. Blood glucose levels are important for better performance in the gym and on the field, so try having some fruits or mineral induced drinks about an hour before exercising instead of drinking caffeine or sugar. Athletes that want to gain weight should focus on a caloric surplus: intaking more than you’re expending in energy. If losing weight is your goal, you’d want to be in a caloric deficit: expending more energy than you’re intaking. But remember - don’t starve yourself!
Proteins, formed by amino acids, are the building blocks of the body. Therefore, proper protein intake leads to faster recovery and better gains. When dieting, focus on getting proteins derived from animals/dairy products. For athletes with different lifestyles who focus on plant based proteins, supplementation may help with getting more complete proteins: proteins that carry more essential amino acids. When training, the timing of protein intake is very important. Having a light source of protein 30 minutes before and after exercising will help with proper muscle growth and recovery. Athletes that have hypertrophy goals should be very wary of their protein intake timing and serving size (0.9 - 1.8g of protein per pound of body weight), however, for strength maintenance and recovery, about 0.7 - 0.9g of protein per pound of body weight post training is recommended.
Lastly, fats, also known as the energy storer, are very important for the body. Fats are broken down into three types (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated). Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oils, peanut oils, and avocados. Although labeled as fats, these fats are considered healthy for intake up to about 15% on a daily caloric scale. Polyunsaturated fats are found in nuts, seeds, salmon, tuna, and corn. They can be great options to implement into your diet up to about 15% on a daily caloric scale. Saturated fats are found in animal products such as dairy, beef, and poultry. Generally speaking, saturated fats are most likely to be naturally in your diet. However, it’s only recommended to have up to about 10% of these kinds of fats on a daily caloric scale.
Now, there is one more type of fat that all populations should be wary of… and that’s the big ol trans fat. Everyone loves trans fats. The packaged cookies and chips, candy, fried food, fast food, huhh love it!!! BUT, stay away from it!!! Unless you want a first class ticket to diabetes, cholesterol, or other chronic diseases later on in life.
Coach Andy Louis and Coach Katie Sailer