| By Carl Barnett

It has recently been discovered that an un-swallowed taste of replacement drink versus placebo can spike the performance of one athlete over another. The anticipation of fuel can stimulate the areas of the brain which appear to have allowed their muscles to work even harder.

Until recently, physiologists thought muscles fatigued because of biochemical reactions within them. It was thought that lack of oxygen and lactic acid build up caused muscles to stiffen and fail.
Ross Tucker, a researcher at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa has extensively studied fatigue in athletes.

“Biochemical changes alone causing muscle failure is impossible because these changes are at their highest level at the end of exercise,” said Tucker.

Tucker, along with many other physiologists, now believes that fatigue isn't only taking place in the muscles, but also in the brain.

“The brain asks for and gets constant feedback from the muscles and other systems, especially about body temperature,” said Carl Foster, a professor in the department of exercise and sports science at the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse.

As the fuel drops and the body's core temperature rises, the brain recognizes the danger. It then starts reducing "the firing frequency of motor neurons to the exercising muscle, leading to a loss of force production,” said Ed Chambers, a researcher at the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Birmingham in England. Your legs and arms begin to feel as though they are full of cement.

This is where the importance of training comes into play.

“We've developed a specific style of training which incorporates mind and muscles to optimize physical performance,” said Jonathan Landsman, head trainer at the Early Hit Training Center in Glen Head, N.Y.
“Training is no longer simply an act of getting the muscles used to lactate,” said Tucker.

“Once your brain recognizes that you're not going to damage yourself,” said Foster, “it'll be happy to let you go.”

Carl Barnett

<p>Carl Barnett started the Early Hit Training Programs at Glen Head Racquet Club six years ago. He may be reached by phone at (516) 455-1225 or e-mail <a href="mailto:earlyhit@optonline.net?subject=Tips%20From%20the%20Tennis%20Pro%2...@optonline.net</a>.</p>