Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Weight Training for Cyclists

If you've been frequenting gyms like I have since High School..you'll have noticed that equipment in the gyms are changing all the time.  Why is that?  That's because the sales/marketing folks have to keep inventing new ways of getting our fat assees in their gyms or their gyms go out of business.  And, they do it by coming up with a new piece of equipment...or toy...that looks "cool". Who cares if it works.

Back in the day, gyms didn't have any machines per se. Most of the equipment was: free weights, peg boards, medicine balls, kettle bells, dumb bells, inclined boards, weighted balls, swiss balls, etc. Most gyms resembled dimly lit (concrete floor and wall) dungeons instead of the carpeted, bright, chrome and glass, TV and stereo wired, electronic health clubs of today. But, does that make the gyms/health clubs BETTER today? I don't think so. If anything, most modern health clubs today are reverting back to the functional equipment of yesteryear. If you don't believe me, go to a relatively NEW or popular gym in your area and take a look around. You'll see ropes, kettle bells, medicine balls, swiss balls, free weights, etc. And, you'll notice that not too many people are working-out on the weight machines. They are either lifting free-weights or using the treadmills, bikes, elliptical trainers, etc. Why is that? That's because most people don't know how to use the machines.  So, they just use what's easiest to use: a bike, a treadmill, an ellipitcal machine, a ball, a dumbbell.  You think I'm kidding? I'm not. There is nothing wrong with using the weight machines such as Nautilus, etc. In fact, I highly recommend that you do...since they are a lot safer to use than free-weights, or kettle bells.

But, before you engage in ANY resistance training (with machines) at the gym know what the hell you're doing. If you don't, you'll end up hurting yourself and setting your training back even further. What I mean by that is, when you get ready to do leg extensions on a machine, for example,..know the correct seating height position and leg position on the machine. If you don't set the machine up properly, you're not going to be isolating the muscle properly. Also, know the correct weight to use, the correct motion/speed, and the correct repetitions. I can't tell you how many times I see people using too much weight and jerking the weight with other muscles in order to lift the weight. This is not only counterproductive, it could lead to injury. Lastly, know how to breathe correctly. If you don't, you'll get light-headed. Trust me! Don't be afraid to ask one of the personal trainers or employees how to setup a machine properly or how to lift a particular weight properly. That's what they're there for..but yet I NEVER see anyone ask. If you don't want to ask, go on the web and check out some videos. Here's one from VideoJug (of Canada and the UK). It seems elementary but it covers all the basics: properly positioning of the machine, movement and breathing. http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-exercise-your-thighs-using-a-weight-machine-2

I shouldn't have to tell you the advantages of an off-season resistance training program for cyclists.  All you have to do is Google the subject and you'll get plenty of good articles on the benefits from reputable cycling coaches.  Working out at the gym in the off-season will NOT make you "stronger on the bike" per se, but what it will do is strengthen your core and ensure that both your legs have equal strength/balance to push the pedals when you get on your bike. (If it did make you stronger on the bike, you wouldn't have to ride your bike, just go to the gym for a workout instead)  Resistance training will also strengthen the tendons/ligaments/muscles in your legs and prep them for the hi-intensity interval workouts on the bike beginning in February (provided you started your training in December).   And, for those of you opposed to resistance training in the off-season, it will NOT put on additional weight in the form of muscle mass.  You're hardly in the gym long enough or with enough frequency to generate any "appreciable" muscle mass.  In fact, with resistance training, you'll end up burning more fat (and calories) and replacing it with muscle. 

For you skinny guys, I promise you they won't laugh at your skinny-ass frame when you walk into the gym..that is, as long as you keep your shirt on and don't start flexing in the mirror..ha. 

And, that's the skinny...Power ON!  Coach Rob

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