Cross Train for Extra Gains in 2017 

January 12, 2017
Yoga and Stretching at Peak Cycles/ BikeParts.com

Yoga and Stretching at Peak Cycles/ BikeParts.com

 We all know that cycling is the best sport out there, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t dozens of good reasons to mix it up with a few others.

In fact, when the weather is cold and the days are long, many cyclist are more apt to consider cross training to maintain fitness while minimizing those cold, bone chilling rides outside.

There are ways that cross training can help you to improve your fitness.  Not only can cross-training flat-out make you a better cyclist through core support and enhanced focus, but it can also help your body in tons of ways cycling can’t—like building up bone density and strengthening underused muscle groups. At Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, here are two of our favorites. 

Yoga – Some of the most elite cyclists use yoga as part of a successful training program, including 2012 Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins. Wiggins’ benefits from the focus it brings to his cycling, while others, such as pro mountain biker and Olympian Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, use yoga to gain strength. From power to endurance, athletes at all levels are incorporating yoga to gain an edge over the competition, and prevent injury.  The next question – how to get started? Check out our post, Yoga and Cycling: What’s In It For You? for ideas and inspiration. 

Strength training – For some cyclists, strength training is a welcomed part of the training process; however, for others, it is a necessary evil. Many cyclist wonder if they should train year round?  Answering these questions, the post, Year-Round Strength Training for Cyclists  states , “one of the main goals with sport-specific strength training is to target your prime movers as well as the assistance muscles that support your prime movers. With proper strength training, each time you press on the pedal, your primary group of muscles (those that take on the majority of the load) will be stronger and have a stronger group of assisting muscles to help produce power. Since you are only as strong as your weakest link, the stronger system you build as a whole, the more potential you have for cycling specific gains.  For ideas and inspiration on strength training, read our post, Why Year-Round Strength Training for Cyclists Matters.  

Bike parts – Hmmm? You might be wondering, how does cross training apply to bike parts? Well, consider doing different types of workouts and rides on different bikes.  Use your road bike for intervals, your mountain bike in the nastier weather and to do drills to improve bike handling, and race your fat bike on the snowy days.  Mixing it up keeps it fresh! So, get started cross training to make 2017 one of your best years yet! 

Advertisements

Motivation for Trainer Riding – It’s an Inside Job

January 28, 2016
Cycling Motivation from BikeParts.com

Cycling Motivation from BikeParts.com

“I love riding the trainer!”  – said no one – ever!  The trainer can be a love / hate relationship.  As a training aid, you love it because it offers training options during poor weather and winter months.  Yet, on the flip side, trainer rides can be boring, lead to muscle- specific fatigue, and basically, offer uninspired riding.  Ugh. Is there a way to make it work?  Yes!  There is!  With a mixture of planning and dose of discipline, you can motivate yourself to get in quality trainer rides.  Here’s how. 

First and foremost, set up your trainer right.  Having the right equipment and bike parts can make your indoor workouts less boring and more effective. When we’re talking about equipment, sure, we mean having your road bike on the trainer, but we’re also talking about having a fan, a trainer tire, a riser block, a sweat towel, a trainer mat, indoor riding clothes, a cadence sensor, a power meter, and a heart rate monitor.  You might not think all of these cycling accessories  add up to a great trainer workout, but according to the post, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Trainer, it can make all the difference in the world.  Aside from the actual cycling components, setting up your trainer right means creating an inviting cycling environment. Do you need bright lights to keep you motivated?  An upbeat playlist? Be mindful to the “little things” that either inspire you or detract you from getting on the trainer.  By noticing those elements that dissuade you, you can take actions to create a better trainer environment for yourself. 

Another way to make riding indoors work is to shorten your ride and add strength training to your workouts.  One way to do this is to avoid long rides on the trainer all together. Year round strength training for cyclists matters and substituting your indoor rides with strength training will do more for your cycling later on in the season than doing another trainer session.  In fact, a one hour hard trainer workout will do more to improve your cycling and race fitness than 2 to 4 hours easy on the trainer. So, plan your time on the trainer accordingly and substitute ride time for strength training time. 

Sometimes seeing is believing!  Keep your motivation strong with visual effects.  Pop in a DVD training video or select a few YouTube clips to get your mind in the game.  Posters, a vision board, books, maps, apps, or pictures of upcoming races can trigger your motivation to not only get on the bike, but maybe even dig a little deeper than you would have otherwise.  If that doesn’t motivate you, another option is to focus on form. One way to improve form is by not rocking your hips while seated and spinning. Maintaining level hips, along with a tight core will place more emphasis on the leg muscles, working them just a little harder through the revolution. This will lead to increased leg strength over time. The torso, shoulders and arms also need to be engaged at all times. Focusing on strong arms, bent elbows and a strong upper torso will increase upper body muscle endurance, being of great value on race day.  Shifting your mental focus to your riding form can make the minutes on the trainer tick away faster.  

Granted, trainer rides will never replace the joy of cycling outside. However, you can take pride in that you are getting your rides in and building your cycling base for the season ahead.  


Motivation and Planning – The Key to Making Cycling Resolutions Stick 

January 7, 2016

Make it Happen in 2016It’s tough being a bike rider from January through late March. The holidays are over, the winter weather is in full swing and the idea of keeping up the motivation to exercise on a cold winter day instead of curling up under a warm blanket on the sofa can be difficult. Sometimes lack of motivation rears its ugly head during these challenging times despite our best efforts to press on.  Yet many cyclists, both competitive and recreational, have committed to New Year resolutions but are battling regular demons whether that is general fatigue, lack of time, seasonal illness or just plain boredom.  What can a cyclist do?

Granted, the amount of downtime you can afford to take in winter depends on your goals for the coming year. If you have a century ride, a bike trip, or a hard race scheduled for June or July, you can probably get away with a layoff.  On the other hand, if an athlete wants to maintain fitness over the winter it it’s important to you get your motivation in gear now to make these gains and keep your cycling training on track.  Here’s how.

Define your goals.  What do you want to accomplish in 2016?  When? How do you know you’ve reached your goals?  Making SMART  (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound) goals not only boosts your chances of attaining your goals, but you also become a better cyclist in the process.  The trick is to really dial those goals in. As in, a goal to consistently hitting heart rate zones or power zones for specific workout.  Use cycling accessories that are available to you – as in power meters and /or heart rate monitors to provide objective feedback.  Our post, The Best Training Aids to Launch into Spring Cycling, dives into the benefits of training with power. You may also want to check out our post, Heart Rate Training – What You Need to Know for our staff picks at Peak Cycles Bike Shop. Based on your goals, you can then get an action plan together by defining your training objectives.

Define your training objectives.  Now that you have your sights set for some events in 2016, it’s time to take inventory of your abilities to meet your goals for these events. What are your strengths?  What are your weaknesses?  For every area of improvement, decide what activity is needed to improve that.  If you have poor bike handling skills, then schedule time each week for bike drills.  If your core is week, schedule time for yoga or strength training. And, if you are like most cyclist, you could use a little stretching. Make time for stretching to improve your flexibility.

Define your approach.  Get a game plan together of how you plan to train and race.  Again, taking stock of last year’s performances, where can you improve?  Some cyclist focus exclusively on race day performance and evaluate results on a single day. However, take a look at how the days leading up to your event impacted the result.  How was you bike nutrition? How was your sleep? Did you have a race strategy in place? Were you familiar with the logistics of the event, as well as, the course profile itself?  All of these factors impact day of results.  Take time now to review and plan ahead.  Experiment with new ideas, products, and approaches. As in, maybe try a new on bike nutrition product. Experiment with different bike parts and bike components.  Consider designing and refining a pre-event routine, like a race day ritual.  This thoughtful process brings a fresh approach to 2016 and keeps you motivated through the winter months.

Ultimately, motivation for keeping your resolutions is not something that can be given to you. Rather, motivation must ultimately come from within.  Just like the passion you have for cycling.  Dig deep, find what inspires you, connect with that and pedal your way to a successful 2016 cycling season.  Happy New Year friends!


When Lack of Training Motivation Rears Its Ugly Head – Do this!

January 15, 2015

training motivationIt’s tough being a bike rider from December through late March. Keeping up the motivation to exercise on a cold winter day instead of curling up under a warm blanket on the sofa can be difficult. Sometimes lack of motivation rears its ugly head during these challenging times despite our best efforts to press on.  Yet, this time of year, many cyclists, competitive and recreational, are fighting regular demons whether that is general fatigue, lack of time, seasonal illness or just plain boredom.

Granted, the amount of downtime you can afford to take in winter depends on your goals for the coming year. If you have a century ride, a bike trip, or a hard race scheduled for June or July, you can probably get away with a layoff.  On the other hand, if an athlete wants to maintain fitness over the winter it it’s important to you get your motivation in gear now to make these gains and keep your cycling training on track.  Here’s how. 

First, it’s important to review your goals for the coming year and create a supportive environment that supports your goals.  Is there a time of day that works best for you?  Then, schedule your training time.  Do you train better with a partner?  Then, enlist the help of your family and friends.  Is your bike riding properly?  Check out your bike components, determine which bike parts you need, and get your bike in proper riding condition.  Your primary objective in creating a support structure is to foster an environment in which you are supported and held accountable. This makes sitting on the sofa eating bonbons a little less attractive and harder to do!

Also, keep it fresh! Winter is a time to build for the year ahead.  Trade saddle time for gym time to gain core strength.  The primary focus when it comes to strength exercises for cyclists is to train in a similar motion to cycling with lower and upper body, while increasing overall core strength and muscular endurance. Check out The Best Strength Exercises for Cyclists or 7 Hip and Core Exercises for Endurance Athletes to get you started and also – to keep you motivated through the winter months.

Another option?  Focus on nutrition.  Many subscribe to the idea of eating pasta and carbs for fueling training and racing.  Yet, there is a growing shift in nutritional information towards a strong focus on vegetables, fruits and lean meats as fuel.  Consider experimenting with your diet and nutrition as a means for making gains in your 2015 cycling program.  For ideas, read Five Ways To Get Started With the Paleo Diet.

Everything else aside, if you still don’t feel compelled to train through the winter, then at least feast your eyes on bike parts, cycling accessories, and new bikes.  Or, bring your bike in for service at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop.  At a minimum, you are fueling your desire to ride when the weather improves!   But, what it boils down to is that an essential element to being a successful athlete is staying motivated throughout the year.  Remember, cycling is supposed to be fun.  Set small goals, create a supportive structure and atmosphere for your training environment, and you’ll be amazed at what you can do in 2015!

 

Mid Season Cycling Tips for Staying Healthy and Strong

July 17, 2014
John Polli racing strong and healthy.

John Polli racing strong and healthy.

Enthusiastic recreational riders and competitive athletes can make mid season training errors.  Namely, taking on too much physical activity, going too fast, exercising for too long or simply doing too much of one type of physical activity can strain your muscles and lead to an overuse injury. It’s easy to do during the summer months as the season beckons us to participate in outdoor activities. Yet, there are ways to enjoy ourselves and still stay strong all year long.

Pay attention to your equipment.  Yes, it’s true.  The right bike parts can make a difference in injury prevention.  A good bike fit  can make all the difference as well.  Periodically, review your setup.  Fit impacts comfort but also technique which is crucial to preventing overuse injuries.  Your body’s position on the bike affects how you ride. It affects how much power you can efficiently deliver to the pedals. It affects how comfortable you are on the bike. Bottom line, be mindful of your bike components and bike parts.

Strength train the whole year through.  Year round strength training matters. “One of the main goals with sport-specific strength training is to target your prime movers as well as the assistance muscles that support your prime movers. With proper strength training, each time you press on the pedal, your primary group of muscles (those that take on the majority of the load) will be stronger and have a stronger group of assisting muscles to help produce power. Since you are only as strong as your weakest link, the stronger system you build as a whole, the more potential you have for cycling specific gains.”

Add yoga to your fitness routine.  Some of the most elite cyclists use yoga as part of a successful training program, including 2012 Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins.  According to the post, Yoga for Cyclist, cyclists need to focus on leg strength, which many poses in yoga target, but they also need to focus on flexibility and lower back strength.

Rest and recover.  Plan a day of rest once a week into your training schedule. No running, biking, swimming or strength training. Your body needs a day to recover. It will not hurt your performance, but will actually help it and is critical in muscle recovery.

Ultimately, training is all about stressing your body with hard workouts, and then letting your body adapt to that load.  The summer months invite us all to push the limits but with a little mindfulness, you can balance pushing the limits while staying healthy and strong.


Why Year-Round Strength Training for Cyclists Matters

October 10, 2013

strengthFor some cyclists, strength training is a welcomed part of the training process; however, for others, it is a necessary evil. Yet, to avoid injury as well as get stronger on the bike, strength training is becoming a critical aspect of year round training.

With that being said, how should you train year round?  Is it a good idea to hit the weights while racing?  Are there certain strength training exercises to accompany different aspects of the racing year?

Answering these questions, the post, Year-Round Strength Training for Cyclists  states , “one of the main goals with sport-specific strength training is to target your prime movers as well as the assistance muscles that support your prime movers. With proper strength training, each time you press on the pedal, your primary group of muscles (those that take on the majority of the load) will be stronger and have a stronger group of assisting muscles to help produce power. Since you are only as strong as your weakest link, the stronger system you build as a whole, the more potential you have for cycling specific gains.

Another major goal with strength training for cyclists is to train more muscle aerobically. This includes the muscles in your legs and the muscles in your arms and core. The more aerobically trained muscle you have, the more potential you have to clear lactic acid, and the less overall body fatigue you will experience. A weaker core and upper body that fatigues fast will result in poor form and cause you to slow no matter how strong and aerobically trained your legs are.”

From this, we can see the importance of building a stronger core through year round strength training.  But what exercises are best for more core strength?

The best way to train all parts of the body is through working with a full range of motion while strength training. A bench press, for example, will only work your arms and shoulders through a fixed range of motion. A great way to gain core strength and work full range of motion with many repetitions and longer durations is through practices that primarily use body weight such as yoga and pilates, for example. Ashtanga and power yoga are styles of yoga that are faster flowing, continuous, and challenging. Yoga is hands down one of the best way to work for aerobic strength gains throughout the entire body. Not only do you focus on many repetitions such as with pushups, squats, and lunges, you work each joint in a full range of motion while doing so, which focuses on core endurance, stability, and flexibility.

In a nutshell, a core group of muscles that fatigues less will allow you to work with increased power ranges for a longer period of time while riding a road bike or mountain bike. With more range of motion, increased flexibility, and a stronger core, you will not only feel better before, during and after each workout, you will be slightly more productive as well. The time you spend working on it now will greatly pay off throughout the entire year.