Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Here we talk about all things cycling - training, wattage, group rides, bike rallies, triathlons, weather, coaching, coaches, nutrition, ponderings, musings, and equipment! If you have a topic or a question, send us a note and we'll try to answer for you!
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cyclingcenterdallas
14:07

Abdominal Training and Cycling - Why the CORE is so CRITICAL.

Sprinting Quick question - what is the FOUNDATION for Power Generation in the body? Answer: THE CORE!!!! Now - WHAT THE HECK IS THE CORE?! I mean, there are SO MANY DIFFERENT ideas out there. What are we really talking about?! In a further discussion with Coach Kurt, we'll begin at, of course, THE CORE!!!! "To me, the Core is the link between Upper and Lower Body. This Link tranmsits force, back and forth. In most sports, energy is translated from the legs, through the core, to the upper body and arms. Most 'Striking' and 'Throwing' sports, as well as contact sports, are like this. For example - in a pitcher, a great pitch begins on the base plate. The foot is planted, the legs begin the windup, the energy is transmitted in to the torso as the pitcher literally becomes unbalanced, and the shoulders wind up the arms, to the point that the final extremity to touch the baseball, is literally the edge of the fingers. Imagine doing this 200x/day, for a 20 year career. It's absolutely astounding, especially when the pitcher can intuitively place the ball where he wants, and with different speeds and spins. For cycling, the exact opposite takes place. Energy and the source for high effort begin AT the core, as the body seeks a platform or foundation for stability up above and propulsion down below. The object is to get as little movement as possible in the bike, and get as much energy transmitted from the pedal platform in to the drivetrain. You're not trying to move the bike laterally, and  you're not trying to over-emphasize movement in the sagittal plane of the body as well. A STABLE body is an EFFICIENT body. In a sport where literally millimeters and fractions of a second make a difference, as well as economy from an energy expenditure "angle", having a strong, stamina-related torso, will definitely translate in to more Speed, More Strength, and More Stamina. This post will be all about the abdominal muscles and how improving their performance can lead to better cycling. Image This is an overview of the musculature of the abdominal region in the human body. The outer layers consist of the external obliques, and the rectus abdominis. Image Image These are muscles of the outer unit of the abdominal region. The reason they are in the outer unit, is that they are large muscle groups, and are responsible for what we call "Global" stability. Think about it - the 'Guy Wires' that keep telephone poles upright, are critical to our infrastructure's daily maintenance. So, the Abdominals are critical in helping keep us upright and they're important when you're generating a lot of force. EMG's reveal that the abdominals are engaged in just about every single resistance training activity. However, it's important to note that they are engaged much more significantly when individuals are standing, versus sitting or lying. A bike, however, does not translate in to a seated position. You're still transferring force from the arms to the legs, and vice-versa. The next layer is the internal obliques, also considered an outer unit or global muscle. Image The final layer, and the deepest is the transverse abdominis. ImageImage The transverse abdominis seen above is part of the Inner Unit, which includes the diaphragm, the muscles of the pelvic floor, and small intervertebral muscles of the lumbar spine, called 'maltifidi'. This is a circular muscle, as it wraps around the body, from back to front, above the hips and below the rib cage, almost like a girdle. When it contracts, it literally squeezes the organs and creates a smaller circumference. Image As you can see here, the multifidi, are attached to the vertebrae, crossing one or two each. They are responsible for 'inter-segmental stabilization' of the lumbar spine. Image This is a side view of the muscles of the pelvic floor. When they contract, they tend to LIFT the organs of the lower abdominal cavity upward. Image The diaphragm provides the 'Cap', or 'Cover' musculature for the abdominal cavity. When we take a deep, belly breath, the diaphragm pushes DOWN on the organs of the abdominal cavity. The transverse abdominis, the multifidi, the muscles of the pelvic floor, and the diaphragm, compose the 'inner unit'. The inner unit works like THIS: A deep belly breath is taken, the diaphragm expands and pushed down on the viscera. As we activate our transverse abdominis, a circular girdle is formed around the viscera, compressing it inward. The muscles of the pelvic floor, also on the same neurological loop, LIFT the viscera upward, and the multifidi, also on the same loop, activate to stabilize the lumbar spine. This creates a noncompressable "cylinder" that supports the lumbar spine, and allows for the reliable, transfer of force, between the lower body/pelvis, and the upper torso/arms. If you've ever wondered why it is that your entire 'gut' is THERE, this is the reason. NONE of this will compress, but when you perform high-force pedaling, this unit is a CRITICAL part of the pedal cycle! Now, all of this is overthinking it a bit. BUT, you HAVE to know this, in order to better apply exercises that will optimize this portion of your body. Here are a few questions for you:
  1. Which of the four abdominal muscles do NOT attach to the rib cage at some point?
  2. Which of the four abdominal muscles to NOT attach to the pelvis at some point?
The answer...... CORRECT!!! Because NONE of them DO NOT attach to the pelvis and the rib cage. So now what you have is a better understanding of the entire "Force Loop", which dictates in to propulsion. It's NOT all legs and lungs and heart! You have to have a dyamic, non-compressible center which will reliably transmit force while still keeping everything else functioning!!!!! The question you should be asking yourself now is - Is the abdominal training that you were taught or are currently doing, reflective of how the abdominal inner and outer units ACTUALLY WORK?! In our experience, cyclists are chronically under-educated about just how to PROPERLY train the CORE for propulsion purposes. Now, don't forget - most of you who will read this are NOT professional cyclists or athletes. BUT, you have many other activities in  your life which will require a strong core. As I sit here and type, I find my shoulders to become slouched, and my breathing more shallow. I blame that on gravity, but it can be easily reversed over time with proper core training and functional movement. We refer to this at CCD as isolation/integration/3-Dimension training. We begin by Posture Analysis and Movement Assessment (see previous post). Transverse abdominis/ inner unit function CAN be assessed. Some of the things that can affect this function include:
  • Pregnancy/C-Section,
  • abdominal trauma or low-back trauma,
  • any surgery to the abdominal or low-back area,
  • a bike crash or injury to the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex,
  • and even extrended, chronic gastro-intestinal disfunction (because these organs literally plug in to the same neuro-muscular 'socket').
If ANY of these apply to you, or you have chronic back pain, have trouble controlling your pelvic position while cycling, feel unstable in the core area when doing anything, be it cycling or otherwise, or if your performance has truly hit a wall, including a weight-loss plateau, then you should definitely consider a core-function assessment with Coach Kurt, at Cycling Center Dallas. So now you know just how important we think CORE training really is. That said, every individual is unique, and it's too easy to fall in to the trap of following a dictated plan from a magazine or a trade journal. The worst thing you can do is follow "Joe Knows" program from the gym. You know "Joe", he's the guy who's always at the gym, and when someone asks about something with regard to training, the answer is always "Ask Joe, Joe Knows. He's been training here for over 30 years!" However, Joe doesn't have 30 years of experience. Joe has 3 hours of experience, because he does the SAME THREE WORKOUTS and has been doing them for 3 hours a week, FOR THIRTY YEARS!!! There IS a better way. And that begins with time spent with Coach Kurt, having him perform a professional assessment, both off and on the bike. Once that's done, you'll both perform a series of exercises under his professional supervision, so you can better understand which muscles are engaged at each part of the propulsion program. We are going to continue to expand upon this, but that should leave you with plenty of food for thought. We haven't even touched on how this all works in cycling and other sports, but realize that as much as we love to watch cyclists pedal, every pedal stroke has it's foundation in the trunk. You have to have a platform for the physics of the muscles to contract and move the legs and expand and contract the lungs. Contact Coach Kurt directly for a free 15-minute core assessment, so that we can help you determine the best course of action for your improvement. When I was racing mountain bikes, and then road bikes, people frequently remarked on my lack of motion, and efficiency. I contribute this directly to the years of core training Coach Kurt provided me, and I am convinced that it can help you as well. Coach Kurt can be contacted at: 214-533-2634, or at CoachKurt@me.com. He is also available late mornings on Tuesday and Thursday at the Cycling Center Dallas North Location, as well as by appointment.

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cyclingcenterdallas
16:49

Cycling for Fitness Clinic

Jan52012 (47 of 54)What: Cycling for Fitness Clinic. Where: Cycling Center Dallas 1373 West Campbell RD Richardson, TX 75080 (Right next to Richardson Bike Mart). When: April 20th,  9am. Who: Novice and intermediate cyclists who want to learn more about how to use their bicycles to increase fitness, lose weight or improve their health. What you need: A working bike, comfortable workout or cycling attire, water and towel. Part 1: Learn the basic rules of the road, get information on how to ride outdoors and on the roads safely, basic bike checks, learn how to shift and properly use your gears. Also, Learn how to set up the bike on a trainer and practice clipping in if you have cycling shoes(not required). Part 2: Walk through and participate in an indoor training performance class. We will explain and walk you through how the technology will help you progress in your goals for increased fitness and health, or increased strength and stamina. You will also get a workout so come prepared to sweat a little and bring a bottle of water and towel. All levels welcome but this class will be tailored toward beginner cyclists as well as a those who want to learn more about indoor training concepts using wattage. THIS IS AN INDOOR ONLY CLINIC SO IT WILL BE HELD RAIN OR SHINE. Sign up here: https://www.bikereg.com/Net/19063 Contact tracy@cyclingcenterdallas.com

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cyclingcenterdallas
13:34

The Holistic Approach to Cycling Performance, Part I - Posture Analysis

When I started coaching twenty years ago, I was privileged to begin at a time when what we knew about performance, and what we didn't know about performance regarding cycling, left a wide gap of knowledge that needed to be filled. Fortunately, in 1996 and 1997, I returned to Dallas, where I hired a Personal Trainer, so that I could become a better mountain biker. Coach Kurt Chacon helped me understand that just because I was skinny and had a high metabolism, it did not mean I was going to be a stronger mountain biker. Texas Mountain Biking required a LOT of upper body muscular endurance and core strengthening, and over six months, Coach Kurt helped me gain about 5 lbs of muscle, which aided me towards getting several Top 10 finishes in my category in TMBRA. We forged a friendship that has now led to Coach Kurt becoming one of the Coaching Professionals at Cycling Center Dallas! This post is going to expand upon the synopsis above - in order to improve ALL of your cycling demands, you have to focus on ALL of the Physiological Requirements, and it ALL begins by assessing your body's composition and physical structure. Recently, Coach Kurt performed one of the first assessments in our newly opened Richardson Studio. The gentleman undergoing the examination was in his 60's, had about 8 years of consistent cycling experience, and had reached a plateau that he wanted to surpass. Coach Kurt followed this protocol to determine what this rider's core strengths and weaknesses were on a biomechanical level. The assessment began with the rider standing upright against a solid-colored wall, beside a plumb line. Upon observation, it became immediately noticeable that this cyclist had serious postural deviations from normal populations. Posture ALWAYS begins at the feet. The plumb line is spotted roughly between the heels. Image The plumb line should ideally run through the umbilicus, bisect the sternum, chin, nose and forehead. From the waist down, you can see an immediate offset between left and right. The left foot is closer to the median, and upon discussion, Coach Kurt learned that this rider placed all his weight on his left leg. Looking further up, he determined muscular differences, and upon further discussion, Coach Kurt learned that he had broken his right hip and had it pinned back together. Favoring one leg over another had led to pain and chronic arthritis in the left knee. ImageMoving up from the pelvis, the photograph reveals a torso that is shifted to the left. The right hip is markedly higher, and the right shoulder is markedly lower. Diversion from the sternum is also much more obvious. ImageEyes, teeth and ears, should ideally be perpendicular to the plumb line. Obviously, his torso is shifted to the left, and his head is tilted back to the right to compensate for the left torso shift. In just this sagittal plane view, this rider definitely has needs that extend beyond "Watts". How would a bike shop fit a bicyclist with these deviations?? Good Question! Now, let's approach this client from the coronal plain....Image Once again, we begin at the feet. The plumb line starts at the lateral malleolus, which is the "bump" on the outside of your ankle. Ideally, the plumb line should run through the hip joint, the shoulder joint, and right behind the earlobe. As you look at this photo, you can tell immediately that this client has shifted his entire center of gravity forward. Image Moving further up the frontal plane, the plumb line would ideally pass through the hip joint, and the chromium process. This individual instead, despite his perception that he is standing upright, is instead flattened in the lumbar region, is kyphotic in the thoracic region, and is body-weight forward. Unfortunately, as cyclists age, if they do not pay attention to these critical muscle groups along the back and spine, gravity has a tendency to 'win', due to positioning. Being over the handlebars is the same gravity strain as sitting over a keyboard, or driving in traffic. Musculo-skeletal diligence is required to maintain proper posture for effective propulsion, and this cyclist is already facing several form-induced performance handicaps. ImageLooking at the lateral, upper view of the frontal plane, the plumb line would again, ideally be located just behind the ears. This individual is about 8cm or more out of the plane, and look how the head juts forward almost beyond the torso. Image The final part of the posture analysis comes once again from the feet. Notice that in this individual, the right leg's vastus medialis (the thick muscle that you see when you pedal from 3 to 5 o'clock on a pedal stroke), almost touches the plumb line, while the left musculature is at least 2cm lower. The right foot is again forward, and there is very little development of the rider's soleus or gatrocnemius. This implies that the rider has been literally depending on too few muscle groups to perform the work necessary to propel a bike forward. ImageNow take a look at this image. Technically, this would be Scoliosis, but when a professional looks at the muscle imbalance and postural deviations in the trunk, one begins to think this is a Scoliosis of function rather than structure. In other words, this IS a musculo-skeletal imbalance that CAN be improved!!!! One of the most famous physio-therapists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Pavel Kolar, says, "You may not be able to alter morphology, but you CAN live a pain-free life." This individual has unfortunately developed a number of muscular compensations to avoid previous episodes of pain which may have resulted from his injury and rehab that did not take an athlete's perspective. Image In this final photo of the Posture Analysis, the viewer can really see how the right shoulder of this cyclist is below the left. The spinous processes of the lower thoracic vertebrae are visible. This is often referred to as "Naked Spine", and it reveals where the Kyphosis is the most severe. You can see Scoliosis that is concave on the right. The head is also shifted left, but tilted right. From the epicenter of the trunk, even with a scoliotic spine, some of it should be on the plumb line. The fold of the scoop of the Supra-Iliac, reveals that the right side is also higher than the left. Not shown, but revealed during the assessment, was marked deltas in stride when Coach Kurt had the individual walk. Future videos of this individual will be taken to show gait imbalances which directly translates in to pedal stroke imbalances. Finally, it was revealed that this individual suffers fatigue in one leg over the other. Can the reader guess which one? Based on this assessment and overview, it shouldn't be too difficult to determine. With all this information in hand, Coach Kurt now has the ability to compare this to range of motion in all his joints. Video analysis of this individual on a stationary trainer and performing basic functional movement assesments further revealed that, in coach-speak, this athlete was "pedaling with one leg". The imbalanced power output, combined with the significant postural deviations, leave the coaches at Cycling Center Dallas with the impression that this individual is metaphorically 'riding down the road sideways'. One might think that this assessment leaves the athlete in a dire situation or with limited prognosis for improved Stamina, Strength, and Speed. BUT, NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF THE BODY TO ADAPT TO NEW STIMULI AND RETURN TOWARD AN OPTIMAL STATE! This individual has agreed to multiple training sessions with Coach Kurt which will focus exclusively on joint mobilization, flexibility and target strength training. Evidence is revealing that static, traditional resistance training methods may not be the best way to enhance posture, balance, or performance. THIS is the reason that I hired Coach Kurt when I was a Bike Gypsy, and it is the same reason that his knowledge is so valuable today. Cycling Center Dallas takes a Holistic Approach to Cycling Performance, and our professionals have over 60 years of combined experience to help you optimize your performance through an optimal body. It literally begins in the mind, and extends through to the tissue, the bone, the muscle, and the DESIRE. Let us help you, help yourself. Call Coach Kurt at either 214-533-2634, or email him at Kurt@cyclingcenterdallas.com to set up a free consultation. Technology, Application, Attention, Success. We focus on YOU.

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