Mental Travelling Weekend: 24 Hours of Le Mans

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Cars, driving, sport and art: 24 hours of Le Mans soon to start.
Even if is very unhealthy to sit down for prolonged periods; in the immediate future I am not going, travelling, anywhere physically:
In about 24 hours I am going to sit down for 24 hours glued to my tv and watch 24 Heures du Mans.

Regrettably I will not be watching the event live, it is still on my To Do List (bucket list). The closest I yet have been to the 24 Hour experience was driving 280 km/hour in an Audi R8 aka popular safety car model of this race.

Like! Watch supercars, Audi and Corvette of course, and Danish motorsport superheroes, Tom K (24 HdM eight time winner, six times consecutively and only six-time winner of 12 Hours of Sebring) and Jan Magnusson (24 HdM four time class winner) plus four more danes competing in this years race.

Audi Motorsport Fitness

Audi R18 E-tron Quattro 24 Heures du Mans 2013.
Foto: Arnaud Cornilleau/ACO ©

Is motor sport really a sport? Yes, it is. It is a mind-body sport; a competitive sport with physical and mental work requirements; tactics, motor skills, concentration, speed, stamina and endurance.

Cardiovascular fitness
During a race the heart rate can be close to 200 beats per minute, so cardiovascular fitness is important for race drivers: Most important is driving the car, then endurance (and interval) training, e.g. running, rowing and cycling (all basic training must be safe to avoid injuries).

Strength endurance
High G-forces are present in motor sports, so the drivers must have adequate neck muscle strength endurance; the weight of the head and helmet amounts to approx. 6 kg; and with added G-forces during cornering and accelerations this amounts to ca. 30 kg.
Also strength, endurance and stability for the arms and shoulders, legs and back, core stability, is required.

Reaction time (responsiveness).
‘Motor’ skills; timing (force control); controlling the steering wheel, car, braking and accellerating.

Mental capacity
Problem solving (tactics)
Concentration (ability to focus)
Voluntary muscular control (contracting and relaxing muscles).

Periodize: Perfect Your Long-term Plan

Fitness and Strength training MacrocycleLong-term plan, macro cycle, an example (Aagaard, 2012).

Marina Aagaard, MFE

Top Tip

Reach your goals! Make a plan. What do you say?
For better programs and workouts, that is the way.
Outline the long-term, then the short-term, it’s simple, o.k.?

You want to optimize your workout results? Then periodization is for you. First step is to get an overview, to outline a long-term plan based on your main goal.
A long-term plan for fitness often is a ½-1 year plan.

A one-year plan can be created and outlined in many ways and be more or less complex according to your needs. Everyone, recreational exercisers as well as elite athletes, will benefit from some sort of general plan serving as a framework for planning training periods and more detailed weekly training programs.
The above model is just one example of how it can be done. The general principle, however, can be applied to any type of plan and will hopefully inspire you to make your own plan or periodization.

Macro cycle (½-1 year plan)

The first step in general planning or periodization is creating a long-term plan.
The timespan for the long-term plan depends on your goal. It can be several years, as in competitive sports, or ½-1 year.

In sports the plan revolves around the competitions, so the athletes can peak at the right time at the main competition.

In fitness and strength training the long-term plan normally covers one year, which means that the long-term plan is the same as a ‘one-year plan’.
The longest ‘unit’ in the long-term plan in some disciplines, eg. strength training and weightlifting, is called macrocycle.

In general fitness, with no competitions or matches to consider, the main goal, eg. strength, hypertrophy or fatloss, dictates the lay-out of the plan.

Periods and periodization

The long-term plan, the macrocycle, is divided into shorter, manageable periods. This is calles periodization.

Often a period in fitness planning is three months, but periods may be shorter or longer according to the exerciser (fitness and health) and specific goal for the given period. In a.o. strength training these 1-3 month periods are called mesocycles.

In the mesocycles the focus could be anything from basic training to sports-specific training, and the programs could be dedicated to improving one area, eg. basic strength or cardiovascular fitness, or several areas, eg. strength, coordination and mobility could be improved in parallel (requires some planning).
The goals of the mesocycles dictates the specific weekly programs, which in some sports are called microcycles.

In strength training you may have three mesocycles (and then maybe a sports specific period):
Basic training (structural strength), strength training and maximal strength.

For beginners it is imperative, that you have a basic training period.
This period is for laying the foundation, building strength and endurance – with prophylactic training with core and balance training – before moving onto advanced, heavy and complex training. Basic training may last from 6-12 months depending on how and how much you train, how well you recover and respond to the training program.

After basic, structural training, the training is progressed. The training becomes heavier and the exercises gets more complex and functional. Beginners move from machines to free weights and weightlifting. This phase may last from 6-12 months.

Maximal strength training is the next (last) phase in strength training periodization.
The goal is increased strength and power via heavy and explosive strength training – for athletes sports specificity should be considered.

When you reach your goal, set a new goal – this could increased strength or maybe maintenance with a varied program – and make a new plan.

You can read more about periodization in my blogs and this brilliant book about advanced periodization:

10-step Plan for Tip Top Periodization

Planning and Periodization Principle

Planning and Periodization Principle
(Aagaard, 2012)

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

No matter your level or goal more likely than not you will have more fun and get better results, if you make some sort of plan. You may plan in more or less detail according to your needs.

Based on theory and practice from international gymnastics and strength training, for your information and inspiration; 10 steps to periodization, that will raise motivation, training experience and results to a higher level.

You can find numerous books on periodization – and each of the 10 steps – however, from the below tips, you will get an excellent overview and be able to outline you own long- and short-term plan today. It does not have to be all that difficult and it may well be the start of a whole new approach to fitness and physical exercise.

  1. Needs analysis
  2. Capacity analysis
  3. Testing
  4. Goal setting
  5. Overall general plan
  6. Long-term plan 
  7. Short-term plan
  8. Week plan
  9. Workout plan
  10. Training 

1. Needs analysis (work demand analysis) 
Establish your mail goal, what is needed; what do you want from your exercise program? E.g. hypertrophy, fatburning, increased strength, better balance.
If your goal is improved sports performance, it is the requirements of your sport, the muscular and energy fitness needs of the sport, that dictates the plan; look to 1) the rules and 2) the sports’ results at present (scores, time, distance, aesthetic qualities, etc.).

2. Capacity analysis (screening, health and physical form)
You must define your present ability and performance level in comparison to your needs or the demands of the sport. Initially, before testing and training find out: How is your health, are you healthy and well, without illness and injuries, and how is your physique?
A poor health does not have to keep you away from fitness and sports, but you may need a special program designed by a therapist or training specialist.

3. Testing (general/specific)
Determine your strengths and weaknesses. Perform an assessment, a physical test; cardiovascular, strength, coordination including balance and mobility.
You can also do a sports specific test; reaction time, agility, tactics and technique.
Testing is essential for assessing your starting point, so you can make a better, specific plan – and testing (results) may increase motivation during workouts.

4. Goal setting (primary goal and secondary, long- and short-term goals)
Goal setting is crucial. Establish your main goal and time frame. Then establish long-term and short-term goals, e.g. the primary goals for each period. These goals serve also as markers of progress – is the plan working?

5. Overall general plan (or long-term plan)
Outline the overall long-term general plan (goals) for sport, exercise and lifestyle.
For elite athletes this could involve a career plan and a 8-12-year plan towards the Olympic Games.

6. Long-term plan (macroycle)
The long-term plan is a ½-1 year plan from the starting date to the target date or competition. The long-term plan can be illustrated as a sort of timeline or schedule diagram. This gives you an overview of each period, when and what, volume and intensity.
The long-term plan is an excellent guide, it tells you, when your goals should be reached and helps you create better short-term plans.

7. Short-term plan (mesocycle)
The short-term plans, mesocycles, are written into the long-term plan, so you get an overview of the structure, period goals, duration and volume.
This overview is essential, as it is the basis for creating the week plans, microcycles. Depending on the goal, e.g. improved fitness or sports performance, the periods may differ, e.g. from 1-3 months, with a varying number of microcycles.
It may turn out, that results deviate from the expected outcome, so the goals and content of each period need to be adjusted along the way.

8. Week plan (microcycle)
The week plan is a plan for all of your training during a week: A FIT-schedule with Frequency, number of workouts, Intensity, load on energy systems and muscles, and Time, workout duration.
Make a schedule diagram; it makes it easier to see how different modalities of exercise can be sequenced in order to obtain the best results; optimal load (volume) and optimal recovery with minimal risk of overtraining (or undertraining).

9. Program (workout plan, WOD, Workout of the Day)
Every workout should be based on a plan or program; e.g. two programs if you have separate cardio and strength workouts.
You can work out one or more times during the day.
The workout is based on exercises or moves aimed at reaching the goal of the day (week/period).
You may repeat the program during the week or you may have different programs depending on your goals and options.
Your program should include a warm-up, specific exercises for one or more physcial capacities and cooldown with stretching as needed.

10. Training
The training itself must be with good technique in order to provide the desired results. Also, in order to know if the program is working as it is intended to, you must stick to your workout plan.
However, it does happen, that your energy level fluctuates and ‘deviations’ occur; e.g. overtime at work, taxing study assignments, illness or holidays.
This means, that you will have to adjust your plan accordingly.

After a period of training, you may re-test yourself – or the person you are training – and revise your excisting plan or set up a new plan with new goals.

Happy planning and training!

In the deserts of Sudan and the gardens of Japan
From Milan to Yucatan, ev’ry woman, ev’ry man” …
periodize your programs, make a better plan; 
improve all your capacities and every skill at hand.


Ski Fitness for Skiers and Non-Skiers

Ski fitness with fun funtional fitness before skiing in Passo Tonnale“Hey you … are you fit to ski … (and everyday living)?”

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Good general fitness have a positive effect on everything you do,
that includes improving the fun factor, when you go skiing, too.

Top Tip  

Would you like to have better fitness and to shape up?
Would you like to experience skiing enjoyment non-stop?
Take your endurance, strength and balance to the top
with fun functional fitness, jumps and hop, hop, hop.

Here is a functional fitness program for general and ski-specific fitness with intermediate level exercises, hops and jumps.
For intermediate to advanced exercisers.


Important notice for skiers: It is best to prepare with a pre-season program well in advance, however, it is never too late to start with some sort of physical preparation. A little is a lot better than nothing!
But do not, unless you are an experienced exerciser/weightlifter, engage in heavy leg work or jumping immediately before a skiing holiday, because you will become very sore and have your skiing (and safety) impaired.

Are you going skiing and have not started preparing yet, then start with a basic program, eg. SKI FITNESS (1) presented in my blog post of November 2011. Enjoy.

Fitness To Go … also for Snow

Kitzsteinhorn Ski Fitness before skiingKitzsteinhorn, 3035 m, Hohe Tauern, Kaprun, Zell-am-See, Austria. Gletscher skiing.

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Whether you ‘just’ want to get into (better) shape this year or you are going skiing soon, here you have an effective express bodyweight program for strengthening muscles and bones; for becoming strong and stable in (almost) no time.

Top Tip 

Work out: Balance, strengthen and hop,
the way to peak; your fitness go way up!
Work out: Up, down, bend, extend and turn,
become strong and stable plus plenty fat burn …

A good workout is not just about having a good program, it also requires good technique.
It is better to do only a few repetitions with a correct, biomechanically sound, technique, than to do as many as possible with a poor, sloppy technique.
You should always feel in control of the movement and have a nice workout experience.
Keep your back straight (normal curvature) and knees and feet aligned. Happy workout.

Your express intermediate workout for everyday living and skiing, enjoy: SKI FITNESS 2.

Green, Blue, Red og Black

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Green, Blue, Red or Black?
All skiers now get ready for that snow attack!
Prepare, get ski fit beforehand, don’t hold back,
Become strong and stable, so you’re right on track.

Top Tip

Oh joy, it is that time of year …
the skiing season is drawing near.
However, are your knees a.o. to you dear?
Your skiing prep starts right now, right here.

However, that is not enough … the pistes are full of #¤%&!/@£$! …
So vital tips for all skiers: 1) Be/ski responsible2) Stay focused and attentive.

Too many have too little fun – and too much soreness and fatique – on their skiing holidays, and far too many get injured. Are YOU going skiing, avoid these (big) mistakes:

1) The bindings are set incorrectly.
2) Drinking alcohol before/during skiing. Do NOT mix drinking (alcohol) and skiing!
3) Fatique and poor shape – it is relatively easy to get started. Try this program (below)

Nordic and Alpine skiing are not quite the same. The first requires extra stamina and dynamic strength-endurance. However, both disciplines requires strength, stability and balance. You can get that with many forms of exercise … choose your favourite …

The best exercise program is the one that gets done, so if you are not used to working out and have limited time, then try this 5-10 min. homeprogram: SKI FITNESS. Start now …

Chew, chew! Life and Energy Anew

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

A nutritious balanced diet is essential for health, wellness, performance and looks.
Enjoy! Think health and performance. Forget about calorie counting and debatable diets.

Top Tip

Enjoy your meal, nice and quiet, slow (food) down. 
Enjoy the sight, colours rich, green, red and brown. 
Enjoy the smell, happy nose wrinkle, no no frown.
Enjoy the taste and energy, you’ll be strong and sound.

Chew your food good and well, chew 35 times per bite;
it helps your digestion, makes your stomach feel alright,
lets you taste your food better, from tasty to pure delight.
Chewing more, eating less, losing weight; yes, that’s right. 

Diet Right for Delight
Your diet impacts your performance during the everyday and sports and also your looks, not just the shape of your body, eg. fat distribution, but your skin, hair and nails …

To cut a long story short, you need ‘coarse, green, natural’ foods (including healthy oils) – in moderate amounts according to your Basal Metabolic Rate, BMR, and your Physical Activity Level, PAL. You need sufficient energy to perform well. You can find various counters on the internet for estimating recommended daily calorie consumption.

However, you may not need to measure, weigh and calculate. Think: How do you feel? Are you well and healthy, do you feel good, no digestive problems, sleep well, lots of energy?Then do not change too much … if the opposite is true, maybe you have an idea about what ought to be done! But no, no; do not go on a diet. Gradual lifestyle changes work better, last longer: Take small steps. Make no ‘sacrifices’, make new healthier choices.

Enjoy! My favourite: For the benefit of the environment and your health and wellness:
10 New Nordic Nutrition Recommendations from the research project OPUS, with a.o. Claus Meyer, co-owner of Noma, the World’s # 1 restaurant:

  1. Eat more fruit and vegetables every day (berries, cabbages, root vegetables, legumes, potatoes, herbs)
  2. Eat more whole grain – especially oats, rye and barley
  3. Eat more food from the sea and the lakes
  4. Eat meat of a better quality, but less of it.
  5. Eat more food from ‘the wild’
  6. Choose organic every time you can
  7. Avoid food additives
  8. More meals ‘in season’
  9. Eat more home-cooked food
  10. Throw away less food [reduce waste]Follow this link to read about OPUS.

Bon appetit!