Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December Rides

12/30/08 - BrewCrew Winter Paced Ride
I conserved more energy this ride sitting mid pack for the first half and then went up front for some good long pulls on the second half. At the end I felt fresh.

MotionBased Ride Data

12/27/08 - Easy Spin
While visiting family in Kentucky I took the opportunity to slip out for a short spin. The weather temperature was great and I was able to wear cycling shorts and short sleeve jersey, but the wind was intense going out. Coming back was the sweet reward of a good tail wind.

MotionBased Ride Data

12/24/08 - Christmas Eve Ride
Due to training my legs on Monday and it turns out that my wheel slipped out of alignment, I struggled the last 20 miles of this winter paced ride. There is no doubt that my legs were extremely fatigued before this ride and when the intensity of the group pace increased the second half it would be too much for me to handle. I dropped out of the pack with Diane dropping back to provide some encouragement and shield me from the hard winds.

MotionBased Ride Data

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter Ride With The Brew Crew

Me & Diane before the chilly start

MotionBased Ride Data

Diane was back on the bike to lead the Brew Crew out for a nice winter ride. It has been a number of weeks since I have been able to ride with the crew and today I would guess close to 20 riders and most of Team B mixing in. It was good to see some of the friendly faces that I have not seen in weeks and especially good to ride with them again. I believe the starting temperature was close to 28 degrees Fahrenheit and it must have been in the 40's and very pleasant toward the end. Good thing because I forgot my winter cycling jacket and had to wear a thin wind shell.

The ride was mostly flat with one pretty good climb at the 30 mile mark. I didn't fair too well on the climb nor the last miles going in, but I was expecting to fall off. My legs were tight all week with using the cycling trainer through the week and with training my legs with weights on Monday. Cramps on the last 10 miles of the ride were a good indication as well of the fatigue. Earlier the group had split with a number going back to ride with Bill. I was in the front so I didn't realize the group had split and those that came up to the front were starting to put on a good pace. I held on the best I could until the cramps started. At that point I dropped off and finished the remaining miles alone at a milder pace.

No matter how it ended for me the ride was still great and it was a good day out with the crew. The sun was out and the weather pretty pleasant for this time of the year. A pretty good way to finish out the year with the crew and maybe I will get to squeeze in one more ride with the Brew Crew for 2008.

Except for Jamie, she is a slacker wasting away on some tropical beach. Yeah like that is more fun than riding with the Brew Crew. Just kidding Jamie!! We hope you're having fun.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hope and Faith

This is a time when many will be tested in their hope and their faith. For me I was very fortunate that in 1996 my focus of hope and faith was changed for ever. At the age of 32 the Lord Jesus Christ showed me who He is and from that time until present my perspectives have changed. Now I see many around me wonder not only about a few weeks from now, but they wonder about the day to come. Many around me are losing their jobs and the stress of how to provide for their families is their main concern when only a few years ago many seemed to only have the stress of which brand of large screen TV to get. Many of us have enjoyed great times of prosperity, but in that prosperity we all too often get caught up in self absorption and materialism. Now the focus has changed and many do not know where to turn.

There is a place to turn and it my solid faith and belief that Jesus Christ is the place to turn. The opportunity to turn to the One that can help in a time where we need hope for tomorrow. Perhaps those who read this may not believe, but the change of heart that I had in 1996 from a very hopeless time of my life gave me a new hope in tough times like now. I am not sure about my job, but I do not rest in that. I will rest in Him who has provided for me for the past 12 years.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Strength Training - Part 2


The first of the series was the principle of progressive overload and as I was thinking of the 2nd part this morning training at my gym I had assurance as to why I should write about range of motion. Thinking through the many mistakes I made during my early days as a newbie to the weights I witnessed a personal trainer working with her client just a few feet away. I have seen this far too often by those who are new to weight training, but for a person who is supposed to be qualified as a trainer leading their client in the wrong methods is unsettling. What I witnessed was the client being directed in one-legged squats using only her own body weight. That part is perfectly fine, but what I saw was the client only squatting about 2-inches in travel distance.

Think about it. I mean really meditate on that with the most basic knowledge of physiology. Does that make sense? How much muscle stimulation is involved?

One of my most distinctive memories regarding this subject is like a mental monument and greatest lessons I was blessed to receive as I started my lifting career. Like many I was caught up in being able to squat big poundage, but my focus was only on how the weight bar looked to the gym crowd (if I am to be honest-vanity and ego were involved). The day that changed me forever concerning lifting I had warmed up doing squats and had weight far greater on the bar than I could handle. My range of motion like many that do squats was only a few inches (some call half squats). A more experienced lifter came over and without talking to me started unloading the plates from the bar. At first I was angry because I thought he was attempting to take over the bar and squat rack, but then he looked at me and said, "You are not doing any more squats until you do them the right way." Since the guy have very impressive leg musculature my anger subsided quickly and my attention was on every word he spoke. He had me work on technique for several weeks with an empty Olympic bar until my form was near perfect with my back upright and slightly arched, the point on my hip traveling below the pivot point on my knees. From that point forward I worked on progressive overload and my strength increased throughout the range of motion. Over the years my legs became one of my strongest assets because I was willing to let go of ego and listen to a person about using full range of motion. This applies to training all muscles groups.

I see people all the time with all sorts of lifts that use a very limited range of motion. I would say that better than 50% of the less experienced lifters make this mistake and I even see some very experienced lifters make this mistake. I have known national level bodybuilders use partial range of motion, not because they are working on a weak point (I will clarify in a moment), but because they find that particular exercise discomforting. I believe that is the reason many use a partial range of motion and why this particular trainer this morning allowed the client to use a limited range. Because most people find training properly to be discomforting (or in their words "painful"). If you are a cyclist that has progressed with training in zones L4 and above you can relate to this. You know that those zones and above are very discomforting. I am careful to use the word discomforting and start using that phrase yourself because discomfort is not the same as pain. Pain is a signal from your nervous system warning you that something is wrong. It could be tendinitis flare up, muscle cramp, muscle strain or something that lets you know you need to stop. Discomfort is only that, but discomfort is that progress area or to me that working zone. The more you train the less discomforting it will become, but that is adaptation and in order to keep progressing you may want to keep the pressure on until you reach a point of periodization or a time to back off for a short period and let the body relax a little before starting the next period.

I mentioned that I would clarify my statement about using partial range of motion to work on weak areas. I see this more often among competitive power lifters than I do of any other group training with weights. In the case where a power lifter may use a partial range of motion might be due to a sticking point. For instance many lifters have a sticking point on their bench press when it comes to competitive lifts. Some have a sticking point at the bottom of the range or it may be near the lock out position just before completing the lift. In those cases the lifter may set aside a set or more with focus on that sticking point and work on a limited range of motion to potentially strengthen the muscle group at that point, but for the most part these lifters will still maintain full range on most sets because a full range of motion is expected as the judges watch the lift and determine if it was a "legal lift" or not.

Sometimes I see new lifters go too far on some exercises. Again this is something one only needs to meditate with the basics of physiology and determine when the range goes too far. The best example I can give is the barbell curl. I see people swing the weight up to their chest until the bar is touching their chest. In that position the biceps, which is the group they are working is not involved at this point. This position is actually a resting point for the biceps. The other resting point is with the arms fully extended at the bottom. At the bottom your forearms and hands are only involved from gripping the bar, but the biceps are not involved. So the full range of motion for the barbell curl in this case at the bottom is just before the arms are fully extended down to the point on the upper range just before the bar becomes unweighted on the biceps. This is something you will have to judge for yourself as you perform the lift and as you perform any lift.

Working on technique and concentrating on the stress load of the muscle through a full range of motion will help in increasing real strength through the full range, whereas, partial range of motion does not fully stimulate the muscle group quite as well. You may need to reduce your working weight for a while like I had to do with proper squatting form, but as you work your way back up the results in true strength will be very satisfying.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Strength Training Principles for the Cyclist

From The Cycling Addiction

Over 25 years of weight and strength training experience as well as 10 years competing in the NPC Bodybuilding organization. Below are some of the highlights through the years.

NPC Georgia Bodybuilding Championship 1st Lightweight Class (pictured above before competition)
NPC Coastal USA 1st Lightweight Class
AAU Southern Kentucky Bodybuilding Championship 1st & Overall winner


First, let me be clear to say that strength training is not necessary for the competitive cyclist and this has been proven by many top sports physiologist and coaches. Look at the most successful professional cyclists and you will see a physique that looks fit, but somewhat frail and anemic in comparison to strength related athletes. Having a reduced frontal area and less body mass will help in the overall scheme of tour racing, where sprinters are typically a little more muscular than the lighter weight climbers they are still not as massive as most pure strength athletes. I don't not profess to know enough about the specifics of training for cycling events, but I do know that in most sporting events training with specificity is crucial to success. In other words there is the old phrase, "If you want to be a better cyclist than ride your bike." That seems like such a simple phrase and yet it is the nature of a competitor and some coaches to experiment with other types of training in order to gain an edge over the competition.

Is strength in the sense of strength like a power lifter crucial to a cyclist? The answer is no, but do not confuse strength with power. Cyclists need to be powerful and those that work on pushing their threshold are working on improving power, which is why using a power meter can be such a useful tool to the cyclist in measuring improvements and training within certain zones.

If you are like me and maybe you see yourself as a recreational cyclist or if you are a competitive cyclist that would still like to train for strength despite what is stated above concerning training specificity, then I will include over a period of time a few general principles that may be helpful. I will not go into specific details like describe a training routine because even then the goals are specific to the goals of that person. For example among strength athletes, power lifters do not train like Olympic lifters and bodybuilders do not train like football players. Each has a specific program that include some form of strength training for that specific goal.

The first principle of strength training is compared to most other types of training in a sense that it is progressive. If you are a cyclist and you are familiar with threshold training you will know about the different training zones. Use that knowledge and apply it to strength training. You know that training in different power zones equates to a certain percentage of the functional threshold. A power lifter getting ready for a power meet may train 80 to 90% of their maximum lift during their last few weeks of preparation. If you are not familiar with that type of training I use the simple phrase, "If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting."

For example if a guy tells me he is going to start strength training at home and he has a set of 25 pound dumbbells and plans to set up a program centered around those dumbbells will he be successful. Only if he is starting from an untrained state will he be successful until his body has adapted to those dumbbells. After that he will not progress without adding more resistance (progressive overload). Another example of progressive training using cycling would be a guy who has been sedentary most of his life and just started cycling and wants to ride with his friends on an organized century so he rides once a week and no greater than 15 miles. Will he be ready to ride 100 miles with his friends who are all veteran cyclist that train over a 100 miles a week? You know that guy will probably not be successful without being a little more progressive each week with incremental expanded training miles. For true strength one will set up a training program that will be progressive in nature by adding more repetitions and more resistance.

Adding repetitions alone will not work. If the guy above wanting to increase his bench press by 100 pounds can he do it with just adding more repetitions using the 25 pound dumbbells? The answer again is no. More likely he will just increase his endurance level with adding more repetitions, but it would be unlikely he would be able to step up to the rack and successfully use those 100 pound dumbbells. If the guy were incrementally going up the rack over a period of weeks or months and were then able to handle the 100 pound dumbbells for 3 reps his strength now has increased enough to the point his warm up weight will no longer be the 25 pound dumbbells, but perhaps his starting warm up weight may be 50 pound dumbbells. This is the obvious measure of gained strength over a period of time, much in the manner a cyclist will use a power meter to determine if he or she has improved their functional threshold.

This first blog entry was based on my experience with those asking my advice in the manner described above. I have had more than a handful tell me they are going to add strength training to their off season and then describe their plan. Just because you pick up some weights now and then doesn't mean that you are going to gain strength. For those that train in that manner it would be better to say I am weight training and not say I am strength training unless the goal is to be incrementally progressive with adding more resistance as the body adapts over a period of time.

One mistake I have seen in general among the majority of people starting to train with weights is the assumption they will look like a very muscular bodybuilder. Muscular size does not necessarily equate to muscular strength. I have witnessed power lifters that looked as skinny as some cyclist and be pound for pound the strongest guy in their weight class. Getting muscular like a bodybuilder takes a lot of dedicated effort, proper nutrition and good genetics. So do not be too scared of becoming overly muscular. If you feel as if you are gaining too much size you can either stop lifting or stay with the same or less resistance and your body will sieze in gaining size.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Summer of Fun 2008 - By Quellet Cycling

This is footage with the main guys from our Group B taken through the summer of 2008 and what a great year it has been riding with the gang and with the larger group known as the "BrewCrew."

Camera Guy and cycling bud - Quellet Cycling