We've talked about the new rules and how these change the game. What changes need to be implemented when it comes to Strength and Conditioning? Ariel Longo is a Sports Scientist, working with Panamerican Champion and Olympian Milena Titoneli.
In this episode, Coaches César Valentim and Ariel Longo discuss the changes and challenges to the conditioning programs as the new rules are being implemented in the game of Taekwondo.
How important is training your Endurance, strengthening your Core or work on reaction speed? Listen to Ariel's insights and how you can adapt your training to the new competition demands.
This podcast is supported by Hawkin Dynamics, Firstbeat Sports and Athlete Analyzer!
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Have you been looking for a Taekwondo Podcast with qualified people, who know what they're talking about, and who help you keep up with everything going on in the Taekwondo World? Well, you found it. This is the Taekwondo Podcast. Taekwondo news, competitions and other events, training, and sports science keeping the fans, coaches, and high-performance athletes up to date with the latest news and trends in Olympic Taekwondo. Let’s do this! This is the Taekwondo Podcast. And now your hosts Coach César Valentim and Peter Nestler.
Coach César Valentim (00:42):
Hello and welcome to the Taekwondo Podcast. We are a Podcast based out of Austria in English language for everyone out there who likes Taekwondo. In this episode, we talk with Ariel Longo, sports scientist, and strength and conditioning coach. We will discuss how the new rules impact S&C training for high-level Taekwondo athletes.
Welcome to our Taekwondo Podcast. I am coach César Valentim and with me is Ariel Longo, S&C coach to several Taekwondo players. Hi Ariel, how are you?
Coach Ariel Longo (01:17):
Hi, how are you? I’m fine. Thank you very much for inviting me to this podcast and I am very happy. Thank you.
Coach César Valentim (01:27):
It was something we have been talking about for a while. I am happy that you are finally available to be on one of our episodes. I know you very well, but for everyone out there who doesn’t know who you are, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Coach Ariel Longo (01:39):
For sure. I am Ariel, I am a conditioning coach and I work with many athletes on world championship and Olympic levels and now I work with many athletes for both modalities.
Coach César Valentim (01:58):
Yes, you do both Taekwondo and Karate.
Coach Ariel Longo (02:01):
Yes, both, but I started my business in Karate first and then I came to Taekwondo and now I work with both.
Coach César Valentim (02:06):
That’s interesting because you work with both National teams and Olympic athletes in two different sports that are very similar, but let’s talk about Taekwondo. This is afteral the Taekwondo podcast. You have been following up on the changes in the rules and your social media has some interesting videos of the exercises you have created. Can you share with us your thoughts behind those exercises?
Coach Ariel Longo (02:36):
Yes for sure. I created these new movements because I understand that high-level athletes need to adapt because the rules change all the time. But when I create one movement, I try to explain it to the people, but they don’t know when or how to use these movements, they only copy. This is the problem with people because people look at this and try to do it. But this is important, when you create a movement, you put behind it this concept about the training and you explain to the athletes why they do this. This is very important for the feeling inside the training. And I create these movements to help the athlete improve and adapt themselves to the new rules. Because I understand, after they change the rules, Taekwondo had a little change in the style of the fight and I think now the athletes need more agility, more decision-making, more reaction because is very intense and you need to improve your physical conditioning.
Coach César Valentim (04:10):
So you are saying that with the new rules the matches became much more intense and the speed, especially the reaction speed of the players needs to be developed a lot more than a few years ago?
Coach Ariel Longo (04:23):
Yes, perfect. I feel this and I read some articles and I remember 2011/12 the pacing for the fight was 1:2, 1:4 rest to effort and now I think there is more intensity than before. Because when the rules change all the sports, not only in Taekwondo, also in other sports, the dynamic inside the competition changed.
Coach César Valentim (05:11):
Well, you are talking about the rate of effort and rest during the matches and that was something, when I first read the rules, when I first tried them out in the club, noticed that the workload was much higher, so 1:1 on the work to rest, but when I saw the Pan American championships and I saw that the matches are interrupted very often because of the video replays for the head kicks, the work to rest changed drastically.
Coach Ariel Longo (05:39):
Yes. This happened in the Pan American championship and I saw this, when you have the video replay the problem with the rest is that the athletes wait a long time for the results and they use this for rest. But I think in the Grand Prix in Rome the rules will be more right and this is good for the athletes. The athletes need to prepare their bodies for the new rules because I think it is possible that the rules are better executed at this competition.
Coach César Valentim (06:22):
Yes, that is something I think we mentioned in the previous episode as well. After the Grand Prix in Rome, we will have a better understanding of the work and rest ratio, especially with the referees and video replays being much faster and not used so often as they were in the Pan American championships. But regarding the new rules and something that actually makes me wonder a lot is the clinch time. Before you had 4,5,6,7,8 seconds of kicking in the clinch, a lot of upper body strength, a lot of isometric strength, and a lot of resistance and now you are not allowed to stay so long and you are not allowed to stay in the clinch without kicking. That definitely changes the kind of upper body work that you have to use. What have been your adaptations to that kind of training?
Coach Ariel Longo (07:09):
The biggest problem for me in my fitness training and the training for athletes is the clinch. Because the athletes are fast but do not have enough resistance for the clinch. And now you need to fight inside the clinch and outside the clinch. This is very hard for athletes because some athletes lose weight and don’t have enough strength to fight inside the clinch. This is the first problem and for Taekwondo agility is very important and the metabolic system, the oxygen metabolism is very important too, but now for me, it is more than before, because you need to fight inside the clinch and outside the clinch and you need to move your body and hold the pressure of the opponent. Because when the opponent is losing, the opponent will come to you and you need to resist this. This is very hard now for athletes I think.
Coach César Valentim (08:26):
So you are increasing in your training plan the part where it comes to aerobic capacity and resistive strength?
Coach Ariel Longo (08:33):
Yes and I do this for anaerobic resistance, this is important. But I do a lot of resistance training with repetitions for athletes to do. And I put this in my plan. All athletes have more resistance training than before.
Coach César Valentim (08:54):
And you’re talking about not only the lower body but the upper body as well?
Coach Ariel Longo (08:58):
Yeah, for sure. This is another tip because the athletes think because it’s Taekwondo: “OK, I will train my legs, my knees more because I kick, I move.”, but when you clinch your arms need to move, pressuring your opponent and you need to use the arms a lot to gain space or close or fight inside or punch. And it is important to work your upper body because if you don’t train this you will lose your stamina inside the fight, and you will lose too much energy inside the clinch.
Coach César Valentim (09:42):
I saw from the videos that you have been posting on your social media, that you are working a lot on the core, especially on the frontal planes.
Coach Ariel Longo (09:51)
Yes, I the core. Many athletes talk to me: “ When am inside the clinch, I feel my body go back. When the opponent pushes me, I feel my body going back.” But after we work on the core, and in the core, people think that it’s only abs, but it’s not just this, it’s the back, all the middle of your body. You have specific muscles inside your body to work to improve your core. This is important for your block, when your opponent comes at you, you block, but you don’t move. Because when your opponent pushes you he has a specific strategy behind this, he pushes you to do a movement, not only to push you. And you need to stand strong to block this and use your force to combat your opponent.
Coach César Valentim (11:07):
Yes, I’ve seen your exercises. You focus a lot on diagonal chains, on front and back chains, and on the entire core workouts that allow you to go to the clinch and then go out or counterbalance the resistance from the opponent. Those are very nice tips. At the end of the episode, I will your social media accounts, so that you can share a little bit. Let’s take a little break, listen a little bit to our sponsors and partners from our podcast and we will be back soon.
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You're listening to the Taekwondo podcast. Now back to your hosts, coach César, Valentim, and Peter Nestler.
Coach César Valentim (15:18):
Welcome back, we’ve been talking to Ariel Longo, S&C coach. Ariel, you have moved to Rio de Janeiro recently and are working with some of the new players and coaches. What is your role in your new Taekwondo club?
Coach Ariel Longo (15:30):
I work now with one athlete specifically, which is Milena Titonelli and I support Diego with ideas, with new strategies for the fitness training. And I have worked with many athletes, not inside Rio de Janeiro but outside. They have many athletes, including the Brazilian national team in Taekwondo. But my work is with Diego, who is a coach for the Brazilian national team and I work with him to improve his club and help him with the conditioning training in the near future it is possible that we will work with Diego and with all athletes.
Coach César Valentim (16:41)
So, now you are only working with Milena. You have been working with her before, that’s the reason why you actually moved to Rio de Janeiro and now with the club, you are also talking about working with new athletes. What is your strategy on the techniques that you want to start using in a Taekwondo club that is starting from scratch with you?
Coach Ariel Longo (17:00):
I have many devices here and I use them for monitoring and understanding how the athletes improve their abilities better and I use these devices and technologies in my strength training, for example, the BST are some applications for reaction time and I use the …. for reaction time too. And I use many devices for controlling the training. My strategy and my plan inside the team is now to understand how the athletes feel when you combine fitness training and technical training. And some clubs have control only for Taekwondo but forget the fitness training. The important thing is to put both together and I try to help Diego understand this, because before Diego had Taekwondo alone, and after that Diego put conditioning training. But I try to connect both and explain to him how important it is to control both.
Coach César Valentim (18:44):
Yes, many clubs do that. They have Taekwondo training exclusively and then they send their athletes to the fitness studio to do some kind of program. Sometimes whatever they want to do, not even an integrated program and some other clubs try to use a more holistic approach. You have the technical part of the training and the partial part of the training that is a developmental phase to be also integrated as S&C, which is in my perspective the best solution. I know that Ramal and many other trainers do it, That the S&C is a part of Taekwondo training and sometimes the transfer is easier if you do a partial technique training. Other people prefer to have a more traditional S&C, a muscular group approach, and then do a specific training that doesn’t have too much connection or very little transfer, but again, that’s the development of the sport and I think it’s nice to see you take such an approach in clubs that are already bringing athletes. Bringing your expertise as well will definitely make them better and make them a powerhouse in Rio, because Brazil is a big country and I think there is a lot of room for improvement.
Ariel Longo (20:00):
Yes, and I think this is a new vision for us because you are a new S&C too, this is a new vision in our area because you understand the people, the professional people, and understand now how important this is. Before we thought: OK, I need the strength training for athletes, and no problem.” And now they understand my work is not to do the training but to control the training, control the load, control the physiology, control the stress. I need to control or try to control and after this, I do the feedback with the coach and I try to help him make a good decision for the next training. It is important to have this control close, day by day, training by training. If you control one training a week it’s good, it’s better than monitoring nothing, but it is important to control very closely, training by training is important.
Coach César Valentim (21:14):
Yes and especially these days athlete monitoring is much easier. When you do athlete monitoring with these tools that are collaborative you can have all different coaches from technical, to S&C to physiotherapists, to the medical department combined and have access to the data instantly with very cheap, very affordable solutions, like athlete analyzer or even heart rate variability with Firstbeat sports. There is no reason for you not to monitor your players and monitoring the load is one of the biggest concerns you have to have either as an S&C trainer or as a technical coach. In two days I am going to the European championships, actually, as this episode is going to be aired I am already in Manchester, and you have to make sure your athlete comes into optimal conditions to the big event. How do you do that if you don't monitor them? It’s guessing and guessing doesn't work.
Coach Ariel Longo (22:08):
Yes. Before the Pan American games I did, after Milena rested for a little time and recovered her body, I did the test for jump squats to understand the power, to understand whether she was tired or not, and I saw that her body improved, and the next day more and the next day more. And I thought: ok this is the perfect time for her to travel and go to competition, because of her body status. Of course, you need to consider jet lag, which is important too. I recently read an article review in 2021 about jet lag and you understand how many things you need to consider with the jet lag. It’s many things. It’s not only traveling, let’s say 6 hours or seven hours, but you also need to use compression for the legs, you need to drink a lot of water during the flight. It’s important not to get dehydrated during the flight. There are many things, but people don’t consider this and don’t understand traveling. Here it is hard for us. We have to cross the Atlantic ocean, so all the time it is hard for us when we want to go to Europe. It is not like for you, for example, you live in Austria, to France you can get very fast. From here it is too far.
Coach César Valentim (24:05):
Yes, that study was a very good study. It was a consensus study about travel fatigue and the effects of jet lag on athletes. And it mentioned the frequent short duration and the jet lag-like situations. It’s a very good one. We should probably do another episode just about those strategies and the results of that consensus study because it included dozens of specialists on sports medicine and sports scientists. As you know the countermovement jump to measure fatigue is amazing, especially when you have those little tools you can carry in your pocket, or a cell phone app that you can use. They’re not my sponsors, but I really love the output sports device, you know, we have played with it a lot. It allows you to have instant feedback with fatigue, also of course hundreds of other tests like power output, and reactive strength index, there’s so much you can do with those little devices. If I could, I would bring my Hawkin dynamics force plates with me every time. They are obviously the best tool in my toolbox, but it’s not practical when you go for a weekend competition to bring them just to do a test. But the tools are out there. Social media of course helps share the knowledge and get access to some information and talking about social media: if people want to know more about you or reach out, where can they find you?
Coach Ariel Longo (25:33):
Yes, my social media is Ariel_preparador, and on Instagram, I usually reply to all people, I don’t have a problem with this. And if you need some information from me directly I reply immediately.
Coach César Valentim (26:00):
Ok, we will make sure we link you to the podcast's Instagram page we will tag you Tuesday when this episode is aired on all our posts and Instagram stories. Thank you ariel. It was nice being here with you and everyone who was listening. This was the Taekwondo Podcast. If you haven’t already listened to our other episodes, they are available online, wherever you listen to your podcasts. We are releasing new episodes every Tuesday. Stay tuned, subscribe to our podcast, leave us a positive review and share it with your friends. See you next time!
You've been listening to the Taekwondo podcast, keeping the fans, coaches, and high-performance athletes up to date with the latest news and trends on Olympic Taekwondo your host coach César Valentim has all almost 20 years of experience with high-performance Taekwondo and has worked all around the world. As a Taekwondo trainer. Peter Nestler has been teaching Taekwondo for more than 20 years, and he's currently one of the top referees in Europe. We hope you enjoyed the show, make sure to like, rate, and review and we'll be back soon. But in the meantime, find us on Instagram @taekwondopodcast on Facebook @taekwondocast, and the website taekwondopodcast.com. See you next time.