Wednesday, December 12, 2012

winter training. Spinning classes? really...


    As winter roars on, day light become more scarce, holidays keep coming and time to train becomes, well, non existent. It is vital to maintain a structured training program that keeps you motivated, improves your weaknesses and gets you ready to achieve next seasons’ goals.
Spinning classes are a great way to beat the winter cold. They’re offered at many gyms and if not at yours look to another club near by. Most clubs have a drop in rate that will allow you to take a class as a non-member. One problem that many triathletes and cyclists have with these classes is that they are unrealistic, an aerobics class on a bike.
The classes at Rallysport where I teach in winter are anything but. True cycling workouts and rides. Accurate power meters on every bike make these classes the best I have seen. 

  There are ways that you can turn a less than ideal spinning class into a great endurance and technical workout for you and your needs.
First off this is your workout not the instructors. If you’re doing the 10 minute “climb” in the saddle then stay in the saddle no one is going yell at you.  Further more, you control the tension, on the fly wheel, right? You control your intensity.  Then keep it at your intensity not Joe spinner’s next to you who doesn't even commute to work. 
Many times these classes are only one hour long. To short for you? Come early or stay late. Try to push past that key 70’ mark. I will be doing a webinar at Training peaks HQ on how to find your weak areas and talk about some tools and methods for maximizing your time in the winter months. This we will talk more about this there. Don’t miss it!  January 8th! 

  Spinning classes offer one of the greatest opportunity to work on technique. For starters you don’t have to balance the bike, steer,  be wary of traffic etc. Take this “stabilized” time to really focus on your pedal stroke. In the beginning of class take a few minutes to pedal with one leg. Do 2x30 seconds on each leg. Then, take some 30” or 1’ intervals to really focus on a perfect pedaling, both legs, smooth and efficient.  Most spinning bikes have semi fixed or totally fix cranks. This will carry your legs through the circle even when they start to wear out and get sloppy at the end of class. This is a great time to do some fast pedals (30 sec. bursts of high cadence, low resistance, in the saddle sprinting).  These are for technique, not power. This will recruit fast twitch muscle fibers when they are most tired, training your legs to be the fresh at the end of a hard ride or race.  This makes you more prepared for that inevitable attack at the end of a road race, the hills coming into T2 or the 3 minutes you have to close down in the run for first place at a local triathlon.  

Look be realistic. If you live in a state with 4 seasons its cold in winter, the roads are icey and it gets dark at 5pm.  trying to train to many hours will have you burnt out before the first training race in spring. Consistency is KING! this big picture and be in for the long haul. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Weight Training, Winter and the Real World.

My last post on Strength training, lifting weights, performance and training in the real world fell short of Nobel prize writing and was more of a rant. The topic has come up again in my training seminars, amongst friends and I have been pointed to some recent studies as well.
Too long and technical for you. Here are the basic conclusions and findings.
strength training with weights increased “endurance” and power at VO2 by 7%. This study was done with trained cyclist which is nice.
This will be short and to the point. First off there is more than one way to skin a cat. And even more ways to train for an endurance event.
~“But ek you said weights would only increase your max power by 2%.”No, I said the people I worked with only had an avg. increase in max power of 2%. I have always been a proponent of “strength training” just not with weights. This study was done as one group doing x amount of “endurance” work which was a specific intensity based on there Vo2. (first of all they should have used threshold here) The strength training group had the strength work ADDED to their endurance work.
So, more work and high intensity work at that made this group “stronger”. No surprise there. The 7% is surprising to me. A very significant gain for sure. I would like to see their workout and progression for sure! 
The more athletes I work with the more benefit I see with strength work. With my athletes its done on the bike. With specific intervals, done a specific way. This work has resulted in big gains in max power. And while I have never tested the endurance gains from it the improvement seems to be across the board not just in max power. Is this seemingly increase in endurance from the strength work? Or other training done? I don’t know.
The biggest advantage I see to my “on the bike” strength work is that it saves time. Lots of time.
It can be done without additional hours in the gym. And the gains I have seen have been in 6 weeks or less instead of 3 months. That’s half the time. So now the athlete may do another 6 weeks of some other training depending on their strengths, weaknesses, resources, time to train, etc…
"Time. Time is your worst enemy, your best ally and is the biggest issue EVERY athlete deals with."
Time in the day. Amount of time per week to train, and how much time one has from now (the day they start training) until race day. Further more. What did you do last year? The year before that? How about the last 10 years? This is a bigger discussion on periodization…
The real world.
So ek what if I do your on the bike strength work and lift weights?” good Q. what will happen to your quality of training? On the bike strength work 3 time week. Plus weights 2 times a week. Not sure you can get a maximal effort every workout on that sch. I could do squats every day but they would suck after 2 if not 1 day.
~from Coach Nick. “On your point of real world practicality, that is exactly WHY I weight train in the winter. For a 9-6 working stiff, there are very few hours available to me to train on the bike. Core and weight training gives me extra training time that frankly probably wouldn't happen at all if I was sticking to just the bike.
very good point. Nick is a roadie. All riding all the time. One can only sit on a trainer for so long. but if time is THAT short why is one still getting "burned out" or board?
I would rather go to a spin class sit in back and do my strength work (my own workout) on the bike with some pumping tunes, good looking ladies and some other hard working peeps to motivate me. brings up another point on motivation. what motivated you?? This is an important issue.
~Triathletes please don’t tell me you need more to do than the 3 sports you all ready have! If you’re getting burned out or board trying to be an expert at swimming, biking and running you need help.
~“But XYZ pro lifts weights?” good for them. If you want to be like XYZ pro, go ahead and lift. Let me know when you get a pro contract and then we will re think your winter training. 
~I was at a team meeting in Boulder , CO and Tim O’donnell was there. (pro triathlete) He was asked “do you lift in the winter?” “yes I do”, he said “but only core and some stability stuff” this is a guy who is a pro.  he trains and thinks about training 24-7
~doing core work and lifting in the gym are 2 very different things. core, always important do it!
~There are no magic bullets. I hear this every year. “I’m gona xyz this year” its gona make me soooo strong. This is my year!" You’re on the right track. By all means CHANG IT UP!! Take a chance, do something different!! But there are no secrets here. You wana get faster at something. Then get out there and do THAT something!!
Lifting weights is NOT bad for you. In fact it’s quite the opposite. I feel that for reaching your best as a cyclist, triathlete, mtb’er, etc. there are better ways to use your time.
There’s that word again. Time. 
This is a very argued topic and I am not saying there is one perfect way to do anything. but this is where the art of training and coaching come into view. there are only 24 hours in a day and so many days from now to race day?
Leave some more Questions and real world situations in the comments!Leave muscle fiber this and hypertrophy that at the door. I want real world. Something we can use in training, out there in the rd. or some results you have had.