By Ryan Cooley
As technology continues to push the mechanical limits of the modern-day motocross bike, the need for the physiological limits of the bike's pilot to progress is more important than ever. The modern-day athlete is more fine-tuned today than ever before in history, thanks to a constant search for new ways to achieve physical limits that were once considered impossible. Achieving the body's maximum potential is something that most of us will never understand, but to the professional athlete, it's a way of life. Enter Carl Linton, founder of CVAC (Cyclic Variation in Altitude Conditioning). Together with our pal Doc G, Linton and his CVAC crew have brought a whole new level of training and conditioning to the sport of motocross.
What in the world is CVAC, you ask? Cyclical Variations in Altitude Conditioning is a passive exercise in which a person sits in a space-age pod for a 20-minute cycle of dynamic changes in air pressure. Basically speaking, the changes in air pressure simulate the affect of putting your body through the roller coaster ride of severe altitude changes in very short time intervals. You've heard of endurance athletes training in high-altitude environments, right? The purpose of this, in a nutshell, is to acclimate the body, enabling it to work harder in situations of lower oxygen levels. This can occur thanks to our body's natural ability to achieve balance via adaptation, and the adaptive mechanism of most importance to athletes is that which allows the body the ability to carry more oxygen. You see hypoxia (exposure to decreased oxygen) stimulates the production of red blood cells. Red blood cells carry hemoglobin, and hemoglobin carries oxygen, an athlete's best friend. With more oxygen our bodies can be pushed to higher limits and function more efficiently. The process of acclimation, unfortunately, is a slow one under normal circumstances. Full development and the rise to maximum hemoglobin levels during acclimation can take many months of hard work. Enter CVAC…
In theory, CVAC is similar to training for prolonged time periods in high elevations; however, participants can reap the training benefits in just a fraction of the time, and with little effort. Each session in the pod contains a number of maneuvers involving transits to target pressures. The arrangements of the targets are designed to fit each individual body's requirements, and ultimately lead to the body performing better in all areas. We could go more in-depth into the science behind the results that are being experienced with CVAC, but we don't want to put you to sleep, so you'll have to take our word for it.
So what are said results? They are plentiful, but in general, athletes who use CVAC are experiencing increased breathing capabilities, greater stamina, increased strength and flexibility, better focus and concentration, injury resistance, and reduced recovery times. Sounds nice, huh? We think so, and so do a number of today's top motocross stars. Enter Doc G…
Some of you may remember the interview that our fallen soldier Big E did back in the April 2003 issue of TWMX on Dr. H. Rey Gubernick, better known as “Doc G” to those in the know. Over the years, G has put the crack on some of the world's best MXers, surfers, skaters, and BMXers. His continuous, progressive desire to heal and offer the best resources available in sports medicine led the CVAC team into his Costa Mesa, CA, office (Mesa Verde Medical Associates). Now, in addition to his already potent arsenal of healing and training techniques, Doc G's got the bubble! Actually, he's got two. “Last year Grant Langston had a very good experience in the machine after having ACL surgery,” says G. “I was working with Grant at the time and his experience was my first exposure to CVAC. The surgery put a limit on GrantѺs activity level, and I was amazed at the results he experienced from just a few sessions in the pod. So when Carl approached me with the opportunity to do more research with the machine and the athletes that I treat, I was stoked! Currently there are only four CVAC machines being used, and two of them are now right here in my office.”
Thanks to Doc G's high-profile clientele there are now some pretty elite athletes undergoing treatments and general training sessions in the pods. Among the MXers benefiting from G's pods are Team Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Ivan Tedesco, who spanked everyone at Anaheim 1 just prior to print, and Yamaha of Troy's Josh Hanson, who looks stronger and faster than ever. “I've been going to G's five days a week for the last month now,” says Tedesco. “The results weren't instantaneous, but for about the last two weeks or so I've noticed some great improvements. When I go mountain biking I don't feel like I get winded as fast and my muscles don't burn and fatigue as bad. Maybe the biggest benefit though has been with recovery. After a hard day of training, a session in the pod makes me feel really refreshed and better prepares me for the next day. It's given me the feeling that my training is at an all-new level, like everything's been bumped up a notch. I am definitely going to keep it as a part of my regular routine!”
Hanson has experienced similar results… “I've been sitting in it for a couple months now, and it's really been helping! It's helped expand my lungs and allows me to take deeper breaths when I am riding. I really feel like my stamina's improved since I've started in the pod. Doc G really has his stuff together over there, and I am stoked to have that as a part of my program.”
In addition to the known fitness and cardiovascular improvements, the CVAC pods have been producing some other extraordinary results, ranging from reducing inflammation all the way to reducing asthma symptoms. “Everyone, top athlete or not, can benefit from CVAC,” says G. “I am fortunate enough to be treating a lot of top-level athletes, so that's where the majority of our focus has been. It's much easier to track their results because they're so active, especially motocrossers. We're experiencing some astounding results, and people are simply becoming more fit. Hematocrit levels are increasing, VO2 max levels are increasing, recovery times are faster, and my guys are able to train harder than ever before. They're without a doubt becoming better-conditioned athletes.”