Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Weight Loss...the right way!

Whether you're losing weight to be more competitive on the bike or whether you're losing weight to just look/feel good and be healthier...there's a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it.  I'll discuss both ways.

Here's the wrong way to lose weight: and that's through one of these so-called "New Diets" that promise that you'll lose x amount of weight in x amount of time.  I'm not doubting that they won't work, the problem with these fad diets is that you'll end up gaining all the weight back...sooner or later.  The other wrong way to lose weight is through one of the new "gimmic" exercise programs that are advertised at your local health/fitness club.  Again, I'm not doubting that they won't work, the problem with these new fad exercise programs is that they're NOT for life.  And, most of them do more harm than good- especially if you're overweight.  The reason why the health clubs need to advertise these new programs is to stay in business.  That's because everyone looking to lose weight is always looking for the magic that requires less work..and the fitness centers are advertising this.

Ok, now here's the correct way to lose weight...and that's through eating healthier and smarter and working out daily.  The best part is, it doesn't require any special foods or a fancy gym membership.  For exercise, I recommend three exercies..two of which you can do in your home.  They are: cycling (on a trainer or exercise bike), elliptical training and swimming.  The reason I don't recommend a treadmill and running is because it's too high impact and if you're overweight, you'll ruin your knees.  I'd recommend walking fast, but most people won't walk fast enough to do any good.  An elliptical trainer is a great piece of equipment.  There are plenty out on the market.  All I can say is buy a good one..a commercial grade one.  They start at around $500.  An inexpensive one will only break on you, rust or be unstable.  The second piece of home equipment is an exercise bike or a trainer for your road bike. Again, buy a good one.  If you're lucky enough to have a membership to a health club that has a pool...swimming is a great way to lose weight and get in shape- quickly.  Healthy eating is not only eating healthy foods but eating the correct amount.  I know people who are overweight from eating too much healthy food.  Remember, your weight is determined by the amount of food (calories in) you take-in daily minus what you burn off in exercise.

Just a note, if you're overweight, out of shape, or haven't exercised in a while, I HIGHLY recommend you visit your doctor and get a physical exam.  The last thing you want to do is engage in any kind of exercise program and have some underlying health/heart issue that you're not aware of.

After you have the right exercise equipment the next thing you need to do is: make a goal.  i.e. you want to lose x weight in x amount of time.  When you make a goal, make it realistic.  If you don't you're only setting yourself up for failure.  I recommend not losing any more than 1 pound per week.  Let's face it, you didn't gain more than 1 pound per week so why expect to lose more than 1 pound per week?  So, a good weight loss goal would be 20 pounds in 20 weeks.  If you start now, you'll be 20 pounds lighter by June..the time you start shedding your Winter clothes and revealing more of your body.  That's my goal: 20-in-20.  I know I can do it because I've done it eating healthier and exercising (with the same equipment I recommended above).

So, for now, get your equipment, gym membership, etc. in order and make a goal.  The next blog I'll be talking about "motivators" and a "support group" something that is essential for you meeting your goal.

Until then, POWER ON!  Coach Rob  

Friday, December 26, 2014

Weight Scale

One last thing and then I'll keep quiet until next week (New Years).  If you're going to set goals/objectives for your training program (whether it's weight loss, power gain on the bike, better cardiovascular shape, etc.) you need good accurate measurement tools.  I already mentioned a Heart Rate Monitor to measure cardio output..and for you cyclists a Power Meter on the bike, or on a Computrainer or Stationary bike at the gym.  Power output is in Watts.  If you're using a stationary bike at the gym that gives Power Output (in watts), just realize that most are not very accurate.

 For those of you looking to lose weight, you MUST have a good bathroom scale.  Here's an accurate one for just $25 if you don't already have one.  We'll be measuring our weight at least weekly.  Me, I like to weigh myself a couple times daily when I'm actively involved in a training program.  You can see how your weight varies from morning to night.  I'm always 2 lbs. lighter in the a.m. than the p.m.  For me, jumping on the scale is a motivator.  Keep in mind, you're not going to see any weight loss for the first couple of weeks when engaged in any program.  And, sorry ladies, for some reason, men lose weight faster than women.  I know it's not fair..but it is what it is.  Some people have a higher metabolic rate too..they just burn more calories at rest than others.  Again, I know it's not fair but it is what it is. 

One more thing.  You didn't gain 20-30 lbs overnight so don't expect to lose it overnight either.  I hate that when I hear people say they've been working out for a week and haven't seen any results.  Give it time.  Your body is NOT's got a great memory.  It doesn't like change and it will resist losing weight when you start a training program that burns calories.  How does it resist?  By making you tired so you slow down or fall you burn fewer calories.  You will also get more hungry when you start a training program- of any kind.  It's your body's way of want to play the weight loss game?  I can play that game.  For every workout, I'll make you more hungry so you eat more than what you used to and balance out the calories burned.  That's where the self-discipline comes MUST resist the urge to eat/drink more while actively involved in a training program.  You'll see what I mean when you start working out.  All of sudden you start craving all kinds of food and everything looks and smells good.

Until next week, eat/drink whatever you want..the party is almost over..for this year anyway. 

Power ON! Coach Rob

The Time Crunched Training Program (TCTP)

It doesn't matter whether you're a cyclist, runner, swimmer, or all three (triathlete) when you're short on training time there is no better program to help you meet your goals than the Time Crunched Training Program (TCTP).  Since I'm a cyclist, most of my workouts are/were designed around Chris Carmichael's Time Crunched Cyclist book.  Lets face it, if you have a job, where you're working 40-50  hrs. (or more) per week, and you only have 6-8 hrs. per week to train- you are considered "time-crunched".

In the absence of "time", intensity is the key to performance and meeting your goals/objectives.  Let me repeat this again and highlight it (it's that important): In the absence of "time", intensity is the key to performance and meeting your goals/objectives.  Even if you're an endurance athlete..more frequent short intense workouts will benefit you more than less frequent long endurance workouts.  If you don't believe me, ask the many cyclists or triathletes that follow Chris Carmichael's Time-Crunched Cyclist/Triathlete program- with success.

Having said this, I'm not advocating jumping in the pool or on a bike or treadmill and going like a bat out of hell for 30 minutes- to start.  If you do, chances are you'll end up puking or worse taking an ambulance ride to the hospital.  Even TCTPs require that you ramp-up to the requisite intensity SLOWLY.  That may require that you ride, run or swim slowly at first for a few weeks- each time increasing the intensity until you reach your optimum/maximum intensity.  (We'll cover intensity later on).

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention which is very important (that I neglected to mention when buying/using training equipment) and that is buying a Heart Rate Monitor.  You don't need a fancy one.  Just one that shows your real-time Heart Rate in bpm.  It is imperative that you are training in the correct zone for your workouts/training to be effective.

So, if you don't have a Heart Rate Monitor..go buy one online- NOW.  I like Polar or Garmin.  They have good ones that are Bluetooth that talk to your watch or to your iPhone (via a free App). 

Power ON! Coach Rob  

Training Program

Before you start a training program there are three things you absolutely must have: 1) a goal/objective 2) the time to train and 3) training equipment.  We'll start with training equipment.  For training equipment, you have three options: you either buy equipment and train at home, train at a local gym or do both.  I recommend doing both.  Why?  Because there are going to be days where you just don't have the time to travel to the gym or you just can't get to the gym (e.g. inclement weather).  And, it's good to get out of the house, socialize, etc.  Besides, I don't know too many people that have a 25m indoor pool at home.  For home training equipment, I highly recommend the following: a. elliptical trainer b. stationary bike c. dumbbells d. Abdominal machine e. fan and f. stretching mat.  If you plan to train/workout at a gym, forego the free-weights and opt for the weight machines.  The risks of training with free weights (especially heavy ones) far outweigh the benefits.  Besides, weight machines are made a lot better than the first Universal Weight Machine I used in High School.  The reason I recommend an elliptical trainer and stationary bike at home is because they are easy on the joints..especially if you're overweight.  The last thing you want to do is jump on a treadmill or other impact machine when you're overweight.  That's just a recipe for disaster.

Ok, now for training time or scheduling your training.  I hate to say it but the best time to train is the first thing in the a.m. when you wake up.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, so you say you're not a morning person.  Who is? Why are mornings a good time?  Because your body is glycogen depleted from 7-8 hrs. of sleep and you can start burning some fat instead of leftover carbs for energy.  Mornings are also a good time to workout because you're going to have to take a shower anyway (at least I hope you shower before work)..might as well get all sweaty and you're less apt to skip a workout in the a.m. before work than after work when you're tired.

How often should you train/workout?  It depends on your goals/objectives.  If you're a cyclist that is looking to compete in racing, you'll want to workout at least 5 days per week for one hour with a strict workout plan and a day on the weekend when you have 3-5 hrs.  If you're just trying to lose some weight, improve cardio, etc. 3 days per week for 30 minutes and a day on the weekend when you have 3 hrs. should suffice.  The 3 hr. session on the weekend is for endurance.  If you only have 30 minutes devoted for training daily, you'll have to make that training brisk (fairly intense)- to make any difference.  I'll get into training intensity later on (future blog).  For now, lets just say you should be sweating pretty good for a 30 minute workout.  For training zones, that would be L3/L4..with a little L5 mixed in.  (Do a Search on Training Zones for the definitions of Training Levels/Zones)

Lastly, you must decide what your goals will be for yourself.  To lose weight?  To increase power output on the bike?  To improve Cardio?  And, your goals should be realistic based on the time and effort you're willing to put into your training program.

So, there you have one week to set your goals, set up your training equipment in your home or join a gym.  We start January 1, 2015.  Here's looking at a new you for 2015.

Power ON! Coach Rob
Its ironic that my last post was the same time last year.  I was motivated to get in shape last year- and I ended up doing nothing.  Just one excuse after another- I'm too tired, too much (international) business travel, not enough time, too busy, whatever.  I'm sure I've used just about every excuse there is.  This year, I have no excuses.  Well, I'm sure I can/could think of them..but I'm not going to let them deter me from "getting in-shape" for 2015.
So, what does "getting in-shape" actually mean?  For me, it's losing weight, increasing muscle mass/ toning via weight training at the gym 2-3x per week, eating right (laying off the junk food), building-up my cardio-vascular system through cycling training, getting 7-8 hrs. of sleep each night, laying off the booze (not completely), keeping my doctors appointments (eye, dentist, family doc for physical exams, etc.), indoor swimming, and regular stretching.  To do this effectively it takes work and a lot of self-discipline. It also requires visiting/joining a good gym that has a swimming pool.  It's not easy to do it right..initially it's a lot of work..after a while it becomes routine.  But, when you're "in-shape" you'll know'll feel it.  It's hard to describe the feeling..but you just feel good.  And, if you're eating well (clean), having a greasy cheesesteak hoagie with fries will make you feel like crap afterwards.  

I'm fortunate to belong to a good (local) gym that has a swimming pool.  I belong to Cornerstone Gym in Doylestown/Warrington.  I've been a member for over 15 years.  This year I'm also fortunate to have a new job that will allow me to exercise regularly. It's been a while since I've used my Computrainer setup in my basement at home (for the bike) and my elliptical trainer.  For those of you that are just starting out, I highly recommend a good gym that's been around for a while.  If they've been around for a while, it's for a reason.  If you can join a gym that has a pool, all the better.  A pool is therapeutic.  I honestly believe swimming has prevented me from having surgery on my torn rotator cup.  For some reason, it just made it better.

The subsequent blog posts are not designed to brag about my training program or show pics of my svelte physique in progress.  I've seen a bunch of people do that lately on Facebook.  Who cares that you're using Joe Blow's latest rope training program and you lost 20 lbs.  The following posts will be "our" journey.  It's no fun embarking on a journey all by yourself.  It's not to say it can't be done..I've done it before.  Back in 2005 I lost 50 lbs. (from 225 to 175 lbs), by eating well and exercising and got in the best cardio condition of my life.  I was biking, running and swimming daily.  But that was 10 years ago and not today.  Today, I'm fat/overweight and out of shape.

But, that's all going to change!  Power ON!  Coach Rob 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


It's 2014 and exactly one year since my last post.  No, I'm not dead..but at times I felt like I was dead in 2013.  Just zero energy and zero motivation to exercise or get on my bike and ride.  I didn't race in 2013, and I gave coaching a rest as well.  But, I did continue to officiate and moto-ref.  This year will be my 5th year as an USA Cycling Official.  And, it will be the year that I upgrade from Level C Official to Level B.  I have enough experience to upgrade, I just haven't filled out all the required paperwork.  Last year was the first year I marshaled a Pro Cycling Race on my moto.  What an experience.  You get to see the race from an entirely new perspective when marshaling versus officiating.  Marshaling is much more relaxing because there isn't the responsibilities like there is with officiating.  Although I didn't bike much last year, I did get to bass fish a lot.  I traveled to Lake Erie in the Spring of 2013 and got to fish my home lake (Lake Wallenpaupack) in the Poconos at least 2-3 times per month.  I caught a LOT of nice bass this past year.  And, I got to catch some BIG bass.  I hope to do the same in 2014 as I'm planning trips down to the Potomac River, Wash DC. in the Spring and the 1000 Islands, NY in the Summer.  That's in addition to fishing my home lake.  These (Potomac and 1000 Islands) are two places I used to fish a lot (back in my tournament days) and look forward to going back. It's always more fun to fish with friends than it is to fish tournaments.  In tournaments, you're normally matched with someone you don't know and there is a lot of pressure to do well.  Not to mention all the time and $$ you need to spend in preparation for the tournaments.

I'm not planning on coaching in 2014 but I am planning on getting back on my bike, both my Mountain Bike and my Road Bike.  I think my racing days are over however.  Although, sometimes I wonder if I did start training seriously again if I could compete with/in the Masters 55+ group for a podium spot.  It's not that it's not as competitive at 55+ there are just fewer guys racing in that age bracket.  Besides, I just don't have the time or dedication/motivation to race like I used to.  My new job has me traveling internationally now so it becomes more difficult to train.  And, the fact that I'll be officiating a lot more than I did in the past.  Last year I officiated 12 races.  This year, I plan on doubling that.  There's just not enough time to do everything.

If you're racing this year, this is the time of the year to get everything in order:
a. Order your racing license.
b. Get your bike tuned up and order the parts you'll need for 2014.
c. READ your 2014 USA Cycling rulebook.  Know the rules.
d. Get your kit ordered from your team/club.
e. Start the hi-intensity training..especially if you're racing starts in March.
f. Start watching what you eat/drink.  Say goodbye to the junk food.
g. Lose some weight.
h. Fine tune/adjust your training plan.
i. Make your goals for the 2014 racing season.
j. Mark your 2014 calendar for the races you want to enter.

Good luck with your training.  If you want some (free) advice with your 2014 training, email me.

Power ON!  Coach Rob    

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

For me, the New Year is about leaving the past behind and looking forward to a new start.  2012 was NOT a particularly good year for me with respect to fitness.  Not only did I lose fitness but I also gained 20 lbs...not a good combination for a cyclist.  That is why I'm looking forward to 2013.

Most of you should already be a month or two into your cycling training for 2013- especially if you're training for the Tour of the Battenkill or other event in the early Spring.  If your event isn't until May/June then NOW is the time to get started...don't procrastinate any longer.
For NEW athletes, i.e. ones that haven't engaged in a hi-intensity cycling training plan before, the key is to start slowly.  If you start too quickly you'll either burn out or injure yourself.  If you're a SEASONED athlete, i.e. you've been racing/training the last 5 years and riding continuously through the Fall, the key is to start with higher intensity workouts.  You can skip a lot of the speed/skill drills and Tempo rides that the newbies normally engage in..and start right into Sweet Spot Interval Training.

For everyone, now is also a good time to visit the doctor and get an annual physical..especially if you're over 40.  Get a full blood workup too. If anything, you can use these blood results to compare from year-to-year.  It's a good baseline- if you will.  This year, I was surprised that my cholesterol wasn't high.  I expected it to be off the charts since I pretty much stopped training and started eating/drinking crap for a year.  I was lucky I suppose..but I'm not going to press my luck.  It's time to knock off the alcohol (ok maybe not knock it off but limit it) and start eating "cleaner".  When I say "cleaner" I mean NO junk food, desserts, sweets, etc.  Nothing but good Carbs from fruits/vegetables.

When starting a cycling training plan, it's imperative that you not only start eating better but resting/sleeping better as well.  For supplements, I don't go overboard.  This is what I take during hi-intensity cycling training and why:
a. Multi-Vitamin and Mineral- normally you get all the Vitamins and Minerals you need with a good diet.  But, sometimes I'm on the road for business and can't eat as well as I need to.
b. Whey Protein- I mix whey protein  with chocolate milk for a good post-workout recovery drink.  I actually drink 1/4 before my workout and 3/4 post workout.
c. Omega 3 Fatty Acids- these are good for your immune system..especially during the Winter when everybody seems to be hacking/sneezing/coughing/etc. and sick with a cold.  Getting sick will set you back in it's imperative you have a strong immune system during training.
d. Nitric Oxide/Creatine- I take this prior to hi-intensity workouts (Threshold and/or Anaerobic Capacity)..not normal (Tempo or Sweetspot) workouts.  Taking this really does allow me to go harder/longer.  Hell, even if I just think it helps.
e. Baby Aspirin- I take one a day.  Just make sure it's baby aspirin not full strength.  There is medical evidence that shows that aspirin is linked to lower cancer risk, heart attacks and strokes.

That's about it for supplements.  No need to go overboard.  The important thing is to eat healthy.  The only other thing I do during the Winter months is to reduce my Carb intake.  As most of you know, Carbs are vital during the racing season...especially if you're an endurance athlete.  However, if you're looking to lose 20 lbs. (like I am) reducing your Carb intake is a quick way of doing it..especially since most of your Winter Training consists of workouts that are less than 1hour in duration.  I never heard or saw anyone bonk in a hour spin session or interval training class over the Winter due to Carbohydrate/Glycogen depletion.  I've come close on an empty stomach..and felt like dogsh$t..but never truly bonked where I was completely glycogen depleted and couldn't finish the workout.

Good luck to all of you this year.  I hope you meet your 2013 goals.  Happy New Year.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Friday, November 30, 2012

How much do you sit per day?

I never realized how much the average American sits on their a$$ each work day until I read a recent newspaper article.  So, I decided to add up the hours I sit (on a normal "work" day).  On an average work day, I'm upright (standing) for only 3 hrs.  That's pretty sad.  Actually, it's alarming.  Naturally, on the weekends I'm probably upright for twice that.  But still, that's an awful lot of time sitting on my a$$.  And, I don't have to tell you the health risks of a sedentary lifestyle.  Here's a good article to read from Men's Health Mag:

Well, what can you do about it during the work week?  Here's a list of suggestions:

1. Take a brisk walk in the morning- at least 1/2 hr.  If you have a dog, there ya go..good excuse.  You may have to get up a 1/2 hr. earlier- so what, just go to bed earlier.  Don't have a dog?  Borrow a neighbors dog.  I'll bet you the neighbor would love to have someone walk their dog in the a.m.

2. Take a brisk walk at lunch- at least 45 minutes.  There's always some place you can walk at work.  And, you still have 15 min. to eat lunch at your office desk or cafeteria.  If the weather is bad, and you can't walk, get in your car and drive some place.  At least you'll get exercise walking to/from your car.

3. Get your hour workout in before/after dinner.  In the Summer you may be able to get a 2-3 hr. workout in.  If not, at least get a brisk 1 hr. walk in.  If you can't get your workout in before dinner, get it in after dinner...just GET IT IN.  If you can't, at least grab the neighbors pooch and go for another brisk walk.  Notice I said "brisk" walk?  There's a big difference.

4. During the day, take more breaks.  Drink plenty of water because it will force you to take pee breaks.  Get up every hour from your desk and walk around.  Every other hour, get up walk outside for 5 minutes.

5.  If/when you talk on the phone at home..stand up..don't sit. 

6. Take the stairs whenever you can.  Stay away from elevators, escalators, etc.  If you have to use an escalator, walk up the steps.

7. Ok, here's one I'm guilty of: opt for the bar stool or chair when going to a restaurant/bar instead of a booth.  By sitting up on a stool/chair you're using more ab/lower back muscles.

8. Instead of emailing or calling a co-worker, get up out of your desk and pay them a visit.  Stand, don't sit while visiting.

9. Instead of rolling your office chair over to a bookcase, filing cabinet, trash can, printer, etc. get up and walk over.

10. If you really want to make a difference, get a stand-up desk or balance ball chair to sit on at work.  Don't laugh, I've seen them..and the people that are using them are fit...go figure. ha  I might replace my office desk chair with a balance ball chair.

Wanna be fit, don't sit!  Power ON!  Coach Rob