The Secret Sauce to Making Fitness Gains in the Off Season 

November 12, 2015

Gone are the epic rides of summer only to be replaced with cooler temperatures, shorter days, and less time on the bike.  Aside from cyclocross, the 2015 cycling season is over, but, this part of the cycling season may just be the most important season of them all.  It’s the off-season.  It is dream season!  Now, is the time to leverage the off season for bigger gains in 2016.  In fact, there’s a saying in the cycling world, “the off season is where you can make the greatest gains” and at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we couldn’t agree more. 

There are tried and true methods for training during the off season. Many of which focus on the psychical aspect of training with specific cycling workouts in combination with other forms of exercise including yoga, running, and weight lifting.  But what about the mental aspect of training? Mental fatigue accumulates through the cycling season just as much as physical fatigue.  A key element in off season gains is mental pause, reflection, and planning.  

The post, Make Proper Goal Setting a Priority for Your Next Cycling Season highlights this fact offering 10 questions to evaluate the past season’s cycling performance.  In doing so, as a cyclist, it offers you time to pause and reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and make improvements to the upcoming year.  Armed with this insight, you’re better prepared to make better training choices now that lead to better performance in 2016.  

With that being said, what is the secret sauce to making fitness gains in the off season?  To make those gains, check out the posts, Making the Most of Your Off-Season and 10 Off Season Training Tips for Mountain Bikers to take advantage of the off-season period.  You might also enjoy reading Top 5 Apps for Cyclists for Off-Season Fitness Gains.  Using technology to track and build fitness can add an extra level of motivation as you benchmark progress.

All in all, making the most of fall season training is about keeping it fresh, trying something new, and also, targeting some fitness goals. The off season can be a great opportunity to get new bike parts.  During the season, the focus is on riding; whereas during the off season, there’s more time for mental wanderings and fun! Check out our daily closeouts and overstock items to spark renewed interest in your off season cycling program.

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4 Ways Technology Benefits Your Cycling Training

October 16, 2014

Using technology in your training benefits you in many ways: you can learn faster; get visibility to your training program and progress; quantify your work; and learn from your success.  What are some common and not so common ways to use technology to optimize sports performance?

Heart rate Training – Heart rate training has been viewed in many ways over the years, from very precise to not so precise. Now, a growing number of coaches and exercise physiologists support the use of heart rates as an important part of biological feedback, as heart rates are a direct reflection of what is happening internally.  The post, The Variables and Trends of Heart Rate Training,  walks you through the steps of learning your “threshold” heart rate range, setting up heart rate training zones, and identifying the daily variables that affect heart rate.  A heart rate monitor can be a great bio feedback tool and also help you to monitor your fitness, prevent overtraining, and take your performance to the next level.

Apps – Over the past year connected fitness devices — activity trackers and sensor-laden wearables — have consistently made headlines.  There are countless devices that connect back to companion smartphone apps and online dashboards enabling visibility, analysis, and planning for better training and performance.  To get an idea of what is available, check out two of our favorite posts including Apple’s picks for top 42 iPhone fitness apps and Top 5 Apps for Cyclists for Off-Season Fitness Gains.

Bike Fit – Leg strength, endurance, and fitness are at the heart of cycling speed, but without a proper bike fit, you are sabotaging your training efforts.  In a sport based on such a highly repetitive action, like pedaling, the first line of defense against injury is a proper bike fit.  A bike fit doesn’t simply consist of setting saddle height and bar reach. In today’s market, bike brands are designing some top-end rides for us to enjoy, but with these bikes come different geometries.  As such, it’s critical to dial in the fit and confirm you have the right bike parts for your optimal performance.

CompressionMedical compression stockings have been used to treat poor blood flow for many years.  Recently, the technology has been made available to cyclist of all levels.  While the many claim it is difficult to prove that an immediate performance gain from wearing compression garments, many do claim that it lowers perceived muscle soreness the day after a big day on the bike and they can reduce the swelling of legs after prolonged sitting.

There are countless more ways technology can aid in cycling training ranging from power training, cycling software, DVD’s, CompuTrainers, to nutrition and other bio feedback tools.  The main goal of them all is to assist you in dialing in your training to optimize your performance as it relates to your goals and objectives.  Need help figuring out which one is best for you?  Visit us at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop in Golden, Colorado or ask us on Twitter.


Battle of the Bulge: Weight Control in the Offseason

October 9, 2014

unnamedAs the cycling season draws to an end, many cyclist find themselves at their goal weight or race weight.  It feels great, doesn’t it?

There’s ease in choosing the right foods, maintaining portion sizes, and eating a few treats here and there doesn’t seem like a big deal.  Yet, for many, the transition to the Fall and Winter season means exercise volume decreases not only in sport but in life as well. There are fewer long rides, no lawns to mow and less walking about outside.

Combined with that, daylight hours decrease and it gets colder which leaves most of us less motivated and reaching for more processed, lower nutrient foods, eating bigger portion sizes; and as a result, we gain wait. Ugh! The dreaded Winter weight gain!  It warrants the question, Do Weather Changes Warrant Nutrition Changes?  Do hormones play a role? Experts say that cold weather increases the appetite for foods that warm the body quickly, like sugars and carbohydrates. Cold salads are less appealing. Creamy clam chowder and buttered cornbread is a much more pleasing choice when it’s chilly out.

But managing your weight in the off season isn’t a lost cause!  The post, 10 Ways to Manage Offseason Weight Control, offers suggestions to keep the pounds off.  Suggestions include easy options, as in, writing your food down in a food journal; consider the timing of your meals and intake; and limiting calories on easier exercise days.  As we’ve written previously, there are apps for cyclist to manage off-season gains.  Which ones are our favorites?  The Lose it app.  Lose It! allows users get a customized weight loss plan and then use the app to track food, measure activity levels, and connect with peers for group support to reach their goals. The bonus is that it can sync up with most of the popular fitness tracking devices and wireless scales on the market. It also has a large food database for easy reference. Best part – it’s free!

And Winter riding can be equally as fun as Summer riding given you have the right cycling apparel, you know how to dress for winter riding, and you have the right bike parts in your winter toolkit.  And while the trails may be covered in snow and the roads less scenic than the Summertime, have no fear of the trainer.   Don’t be a hater! There are means to overcoming trainer woes to keep activity up.

Just as much as the Spring cycling season inspires us to get in shape, tackle new challenges, and reach new cycling heights, the Fall season can inspire us too. Discovering new ways to nurture our bodies, maintain the gains we’ve made during the season, and re-energize for the season ahead.  With a little mindfulness, battling the Winter bulge doesn’t have to be such an effort.