Monday, July 26, 2010

Strength Training

If you're OVER 50, like me, you'll notice as the years pile're NOT getting any stronger on the bike despite how hard you train.  In fact, you may have noticed a few things: a) your FTP decreasing  b) your muscle mass decreasing  c) your overall strength and endurance declining c) your VO2max decreasing  d) your LTHR decreasing e) etc.  The only thing that seems to be increasing is your waistline and your body weight.  The other thing I've noticed, as I get older, is my intolerance for temperature extremes.  In the Winter when it's cold and nasty outside...I hibernate to my indoor trainer...for the most part.  In the Summer, when it's HOT, like it is now..I head for the Air Conditioning...whether it's to my indoor trainer in the cool basement or to the local gym. 

To "beat the heat", in the Summer, I get all of my cycling outdoor workouts done in the early morning.  I'm out the door by 0600 and I'm back by 1000 before it REALLY starts to get hot out.  The other thing I like to do at this time of year- to "beat the heat" is get back in the air-conditioned gym.  Why?  Not only is it a great place to escape the sweltering heat, it's a great place to tone-up those leg muscles you've worked so hard to develop over the Winter and the same ones you've neglected all Spring and Summer.  Remember, cycling is NOT a high load/weight bearing sport and the leg muscle forces used to generate power to the pedal cranks are typically NOT that high ( average around 25-30 lbf).  It's for this reason that many longtime cyclists develop osteoporosis later in life.  Therefore, to stave off the effects of osteoporosis (later in life), I HIGHLY recommend you get in the gym at least once a week for 1/2-1 hour weight/resistance training.

For Strength/Resistance Training I recommend high weight, low reps.  That's right, HIGH weight, LOW repetitions.  That doesn't mean your first trip back to the gym that you should start leg pressing 3 sets of 6-8 reps at 400 lbs.  It will take about 2-3 weeks to get your muscles back into condition and ready for the higher loads.  This WILL HELP retain the muscle mass you built up in the Winter and compliment your endurance training on the bike/road.  You won't get muscle bound or add muscle weight with only 1-2x (1/2 hour) training sessions per week.  I also recommend using machines such as the ones shown in the photo.  Why?  Although, free-weights require balance and develop the muscles better- they are NOT AS SAFE to use as the machines unless you have a spotter (which most people don't have).  Why risk injury and a sudden end to your racing season?  The other thing I recommend is perform cycling specific exercises working the legs and core.  For example, when performing quadricep or calf exercises, alternate legs in a cycle-like pedaling action.

So, when it's HOT outside..get inside (the gym) where it's COOL at least once or twice a week and wake-up those leg and core muscles.  Who knows, that might make the difference (between podium and no podium) in that final sprint of your August/September Criterium or Road Race.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

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