• Can You Hear What Your Body is Saying?

      Have you ever wondered why certain training protocol might be extremely difficult for one athlete, leaving him wrecked for over a week, but to another athlete, it may be easy? Of course, it’s dependent on a huge number of factors from work capacity, energy systems, fundamental capability, fatigue tolerance, and so on, and so on. So how do you find out which athlete you are and more importantly, which way you should train? For that, you’ve got to be able to train according to your body’s needs.

      Listen closely…
      There’s some trouble with the whole “listen to your body” concept, if you ask me. I agree that it’s great in principle, but in application, it often falls apart and athletes use it as an excuse to be lazy. “Listening” can be difficult to do, especially when the body speaks in whispers and we are hard of hearing.
      For the past couple of years, the RTS R&D team has been working on a “megaphone” for the body so that it’s easier to read the signals. The Reactive Training System as a whole is centered around the law of individual differences, but this megaphone takes it a giant step forward.
      We call it TRAC. It stands for Training Recovery Assessment Computer. It is composed of a series of tests lasting about 10 minutes. These tests are performed first thing in the morning when you wake up and require little or no special equipment – just your home computer. The tests are then analyzed by the TRAC software and a report is generated telling you how much stress your body is under, the status of your central nervous system, and your level of adaptive reserves.
      What does this have to do with listening to your body? TRAC allows you to “hear” what your body is “saying” to a much better degree than you could before. And it also removes the subjectivity, and consequently removes laziness from your training. On the flip side, it will tell you clearly when you are overtraining or when your CNS is spent. It even gives you recommendations on how to modify your training based on your TRAC scores.

      Building an efficient machine
      During some of the trials of the TRAC software, it became apparent that people have varying skill levels when it comes to subjectively listening to their body. This much you would probably guess. But what surprised us was that high level powerlifters weren’t necessarily good at knowing how their bodies were responding to the training. Some lifters were actually pretty bad at it!
      What I personally got from this in my training was the trust in the TRAC system that allowed me to train more efficiently. While it wasn’t absolutely required to use it to improve, when I did use it and followed what it said, I improved more. This sped up my gains and improved my recovery. It also taught me to keep my GPP training within appropriate limits. This made sure we got better, but didn’t drain ourselves for our main training sessions.

      By now if you’re thinking this is a sales pitch for TRAC, you’re not totally wrong. But consider that the tool was initially developed for me and my team to be the primary users – we developed it because it was something we wanted to use. And there are other products out there that can perform similar functions, so it’s not like we have the market cornered on this technology.
      However, when we found that we had a surprisingly accurate means to assess the recovery of our bodies – one in which greatly enhanced how productive our training was – and it was very inexpensive, we couldn’t help but share it with the world.

      Some nuts and bolts
      If you’re wondering how a tool like TRAC works, here it is! When you first wake up in the morning, you perform a few very short tests; the Orthostatic Test, the reaction time test, and the tap test.
      The orthostatic test is a heart rate test that measures differences in your heart rate due to changes in posture. You start the test lying on the floor. After the “resting” portion, the athlete stands up. Heart rates are taken at various points during the test and entered into the computer.
      The next test is the reaction time test. Reaction time is determined based on a five-trial reaction time test. The tap test is also assessed. The tap test measures how many times you can tap the spacebar in 10 seconds. Some of you may be familiar with a low-tech version of the tap test, but it’s important to note that we have found that there is more to it than just how many taps you get. The variance in tap intervals and also the number of pauses in tapping is also important to the overall picture. Data from reaction time tests and tap tests are automatically entered into the data entry page.
      The software on the website “gets to know” each athlete and makes a determination based on the individual’s results, not a static database. This is really important because it’s very easy for a database to not be representative of a particular athlete or group of athletes. And since you are the athlete that you care about most, if the database doesn’t include you, that just injects inefficiency into your program. However, with the user-learning algorithms used in TRAC, this won’t be a problem. It will learn who you are an assess you based on that information.
      As a whole, the battery of tests take about 10 minutes to perform and require no special equipment. This is a huge benefit for TRAC users because it means it is quick, inexpensive, but most of all effective beyond what we could be by ourselves. It’s proven to be an extremely effective “megaphone” for my body and the others who have tried it.

      Listen up…
      If you are the type of person who just trains to get in better shape, you probably don’t need TRAC. Honestly, you can afford to be inefficient with your training. But if you are a competitive athlete, especially if you’re interested in pushing your limits, you can’t afford inefficiency. Every inefficiency you have from technique flaws to nutritional habits has to be tuned. TRAC is another tool you can use to make sure that you don’t have wasted potential. It’s a high quality test to help you stay on task and avoid overtraining – and it’s based on real physiological inputs and not just speculation.
      If you’d like to learn more about TRAC, click here. Thanks and I hope you’re able to get your training on TRAC soon!