Bob Seebohar has been a sport dietitian for over 15 years and specializes in stepping outside of the contemporary box of sports nutrition. The competitive triathlete and obstacle course racer is also the owner of eNRG performance in Boulder, Colorado, one of our many HOTSHOT retailers. Over the years, the athlete has racked up three college degrees in exercise science and nutrition and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, one of very few USA Triathlon Certified Level III coaches, and an exercise physiologist. Recently, he generously offered us his insight and expertise on exercise science and endurance training— specifically the importance of strength training and muscle building, triathlon and his stance on HOTSHOT for muscle cramps. Read on.
What are some of your foundational training tips for endurance athletes?
Of course, it will depend on the developmental level and how long an endurance athlete has been training but overall, I believe many endurance athletes too often follow a traditional periodization model that emphasizes long, slow miles with no intensity. This may be okay for beginner athletes, but certainly not for intermediate to advanced athletes. I prefer implementing a reverse periodization model with most of the athletes I work with as it focuses on improving strength first, and then speed, then endurance along the way. I have found that this has prevented injuries much better and improves speed and performance as long as the athlete has the structural integrity to support it. That is, proper strength in the tendons and ligaments, stability in the joints and flexibility in the muscles.
As an USAT Certified Elite Triathlon Coach, can you talk about triathletes and their susceptibility to muscle cramping?
Muscles fire in different biomechanical patterns in the swim, bike and run so it is only fitting that triathletes will be susceptible to muscle cramping if they did not train specifically at race pace intensities in training. Unfortunately, this goes back to my first answer regarding traditional versus reverse periodization. The former does not properly prepare an athlete’s muscles for the change in sports and different firing patterns. However, implementing more of a reverse periodization model provides a certain level of increased stress on the body and muscles with better fast twitch muscle fiber recruitment patterns, which will better prepare an athlete’s body for the transitions.
How have you seen HOTSHOT impact your athletes?
I work with many junior and adult athletes and have used HOTSHOT for those who have muscle cramps. I will say that HOTSHOT works well in muscle cramps. I have been using it more in junior athletes who have cramps in the upper body due to breathing and biomechanical flaws in the upper body movement patterns of running. Anecdotally, HOTSHOT has been working extremely well in reducing the severity of these types of cramps, which is very beneficial since many athletes do also get these types of cramps during races.
You say endurance athletes do many things wrong in their training programs – what are some of those problems?
Aside from the above points, I find that many endurance athletes do not emphasize strength training as much as they should. Additionally, nutrition practices are all over the board with athletes following many diets. My hope is that endurance athletes stop following diets and emphasize the control and optimization of blood sugar through proper macronutrient balances. This is a concept, which I created, called Metabolic Efficiency.
You emphasize strength training and the importance of heavy periodized lifting and overall strength for endurance athletes.
Absolutely. Far too many endurance athletes are scared of lifting heavy because they picture body builders getting big muscles and lifting for hours and hours in a weight room. The opposite is true. Lifting heavy with traditional strength exercises such as squats, deadlifts and cleans should not add mass to the body when done correctly and certainly shouldn’t take longer than 20-30 minutes a few times per week to complete. Doing 3-5 sets of 3-5 repetitions at a heavier weight is ideal for generating power and slowing the process of sarcopenia (the age related loss of muscle mass).
Endurance training and racing and muscle cramps align. What is it about HOTSHOT that makes it a vital part of any endurance athlete’s regime?
It really should be in any athlete’s plan if they have ever experienced a muscle cramp or, dare I say, do not follow a proper training program that emphasizes strength and a bit higher intensity to promote different muscle firing patterns. HOTSHOT and the initial research has taken the understanding of muscle cramps to an entirely different level from what we have understood about muscle cramping the past 20 years.
You were a 2008 Olympic Sport Dietitian — can you share any of the tips you used with your athletes?
Much of my duties as a sport dietitian for the US Olympic Committee was in the years before I was working with teams, coaches and athletes in their preparation. The biggest thing that I employed were my concepts of Nutrition Periodization and Metabolic Efficiency. Those are meant to align athletes physical training programs with their daily and training nutrition plans and to improve the body’s ability to utilize fat as energy at higher intensities of exercise. I worked mostly with endurance athletes leading up to the 2008 Games so you can imagine how important both of these concepts were.
*Bob Seebohar has been a sport dietitian for over 15 years and specializes in stepping outside of the contemporary box of sports nutrition. He has developed the concepts, Nutrition Periodization and Metabolic Efficiency and has been honored to be a sport dietitian for some great institutions (University of Florida and the US Olympic Committee) and currently owns eNRG Performance, which provides sports nutrition, physiological testing and endurance coaching services to athletes of all ages, sports and abilities. eNRG Performance has five sport dietitians, two exercise physiologists, two strength coaches, and five Certified Triathlon Coaches. They have locations in Littleton and Boulder, Colorado. He is also one of very few sport dietitians who specializes in working with young athletes throughout their developmental process.
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