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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Tracy
18:29

Bone Health and Cycling: Part 2


This is part 2 of the blog on Bone Health and Cycling.
READ THE PREVIOUS POST HERE.

The following section is especially important for those who cycle as their main force of exercise to stay on top of their strength training.  However, ANYONE concerned about improving or maintaining bone strength will gain much from the following information.


 

Put Forces on your Bones to Make Them Stronger

 
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The aspects that account for bone strength include bone mineral density, content, bone size, and thickness.  When muscles contract they pull on the bones to which they are connected. These forces provide the stimulus for bones to grow both thicker and denser. Maximal strength training and impact forces are the best way to provide this stimulus to your bones.  A bone needs to experience a tenth of the amount of force needed to break it in order to be stimulated to create increased bone density (1).  Remember this key factor in your strength work. 

 

Don’t be afraid to lift relatively heavy weights , and add some plyometrics and impact training into your program.   Some examples of these things might be jumping rope or any kind of jumping or, even punching a bag for fun to provide some impact for your upper body.  Adding these things to your program AFTER developing a foundation will ensure that you are ready for the higher forces that these often place on the body. Strength training results in your body’s ability to actually increase the amount of muscle fibers that are fired when asked to, as well as how fast they are able to fire.  Both of these things result in the muscle being capable of producing more force, which in turn, means more forces exerted upon the bones to which they are attached.


In addition to providing greater forces to stimulate bone growth, strength training also reduces risk factors that result in broken bones by increasing muscle mass and improving balance.  This is especially important in older populations at any activity level. If you have better balance, more strength and muscle, and stronger bones, all of those things come together to make you more physically resilient and stable. You will be better prepared to handle unexpected that unexpected gust of wind or pothole due to increase core and total body strength and stability.   If it happens that you are involved in a crash, your bones are less likely to crack under the impact.  Now, you have two ways of staying off the injury list.


How to Strength Train for Strong Bones.

Put random forces on your bones to stimulate growth. Some research has shown that the best results in the short term come out of subjecting bones to high forces in a more random fashion. Shorter term training programs of more random high intensity forces on your muscles and bones have actually been shown to be more effective than programs that progress over time.  Now, this is contradictory to a program you might put together for performance gains, but it is still something that should be considered if you are concerned about improving your bone strength.   Also, these are short time results.  It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t periodize your program, as longer periods may be needed to produce the benefits to bone density in that case (2).   If you are following a periodized program and want to make sure it addresses your bone health, my suggestion would be to continue to do so.  However , make sure to include one or two exercises that target bone health regardless of what the overall program goals are. The goal of these movements is to provide the forces on your bones to stimulate adaptation.
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Select exercises that involve large muscle groups.  The movements involving the larger muscles or multiple muscle groups are all good choices, assuming an adequate amount of resistance is used. This is because the larger muscles can produce more force than the smaller ones.  Multiple muscles working together will also be able to generate more total forces on the bones as well as provide forces in multiple planes of motion. 


Allow for longer rest periods between sets to allow for greater force production. Circuit training is a type of training program where individuals are performing movements, one right after the other with little rest, and then repeating the circuit multiple times.  It has NOT been found to be as effective for bone and muscle growth This reason for this is due to the lower amounts of resistance used, because of the short rest periods, and the forces you can push are lower.  Circuit training may still help with bone health in the long term and is still great exercise.  However, if stronger bones are your goal, design a program that involves more strength, higher forces and longer rest intervals.  This will allow for more maximal forces to be produced during the sets.

If you are someone who likes to attend group circuit classes or are not as comfortable lifting heavy weights, or with high forces, research argues against that.  In addition, if you are a cyclist or long distance runner who doesn’t utilize strength training or doesn’t lift heavy weights for whatever reason, you are also at risk. This is especially true for lighter and leaner individuals. 



Choose movements to load key areas of the body.

The shutterstock_104557892_copyresults of studies support that bone density is site-specific.  This means that all of the bicep curls and chest presses in the world will not help you increase bone density in your hips and pelvis as much as doing lower body movements that put stress on the hips and pelvis. Lumbar spine stress is achieved by loading weight on the back, such as doing deadlifts or squats with weight (done with proper form), and by performing sit-up type movements and back extensions. Stress on the femur occurs when legs are put under heavy load or impact forces. So if you want strong bones in your hips, legs and spine, make sure you are including movements that target those areas. Or conversely, if you have a particular area you are concerned about, make sure and give that area some more love with some additional site-specific exercises.


Include Jumping, Sprinting and Plyometrics in your program.  Plyometrics are movements that enable a muscle to reach maximum strength in as short a timeframe as possible.  In addition, the movements make use of the elastic properties of the muscle to generate an even more forceful contraction. They train the neuromuscular system to fire off more fibers, which also creates more force. An example of a plyometric movement would be Jump Squats or Lateral Cone Jumps. The faster the muscle is stretched and lengthened as it controls your deceleration, the more energy is obtained from the elastic properties of your muscle fiber, and the stronger the following contraction will be (3).  Any of the plyometric or jumping exercises are good choices for stimulating bone growth because of the high forces of the muscle contractions, as well as impact forces they generate.


Impact sports in which loading is applied unevenly and at a high rate also provide more stimulus for bone growth.  So if you participate in sports such as tennis, basketball or other activities that involve jumping, accelerating or quick changes of direction, you have a definitive advantage when it comes to maintaining strong bones.  If this is you, strength training as also crucial to ensure your muscles and tendons can handle these high, and changing in directional forces .


In addition to suspension training movements, consider adding movements where the spine is placed under load, such as squats with a bag, bar or employ the use of a standing machine. Loading up a leg press might be beneficial for the hips, but will not put the necessary compression forces on the spine which are lacking the most in cycling and are the most important for cyclists to include. The “Farmer’s Walk” (an exercise where you are simply carrying heavy weights), heavy kettle bell or dumbbell, or barbell work, kicking, punching, or flipping heavy bags, jumping rope, high intensity running, shuffling or cutting, and jumping, are also all good additions that will stimulate bone growth.  These things can supplement your suspension training program as well, if you have access to additional equipment. An example of this would be performing a suspended squat jump, followed by a suspended pushup with high resistance, and a sprint to the end of the block. These would be three extremely beneficial exercises to stimulate bone growth.


Conclusion: If you are concerned about your bone health, it doesn’t mean you need to turn your program upside down.  Simply include one or two random exercises that stress your legs, hips and lumbar spine in a random manner with some impact and force. If you are just starting to strength train, or have knowledge that you already have low bone density or osteoporosis, the more explosive exercises should be phased in gradually as you improve your strength and fitness level. Always develop the foundation before adding higher intensity, or more specific work to your program.  Just keep in mind that being consistent and including bone building activity in your program during the long term will produce benefits. 

References

1.       Essentials of Strength and conditioning NSCA editor Thomas R Baechle

2.       Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research:  November 2008  Physiological Adaptations to Strength and Circuit Training in Postmenopausal Women With Bone Loss.  Brentano, Michel A; Cadore, Eduardo L; Da Silva, Eduardo M; Ambrosini, Anelise B; Coertjens, M; Petkowicz, Rosemary; Viero, Itamara; Kruel, Luiz ] .

3.       Jumping into Plyometrics : Donald A Chu, PhD




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Tracy
14:09

Bone Health and Cycling

 

Cycling has a variety of health benefits and is definitely a good thing to do for your body. However, the research has shown that it does not help create strong bones. In fact, it may even decrease your bone density, depending on the amount of cycling training you do.  So, if your solo form of exercise is cycling, you may end up with weaker bones than someone who is not even active!  The good news is that you can counteract this with some cross training and strength training.

 

Why isn’t cycling good for my bones?  
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This is a lot of research out there on bone health and a fair amount on cycling and bone health.   There are several reasons that have been consistently given in the research for cyclists having lower than normal bone densities.

 

Cycling is non-weight bearing. The primary reason for cyclists having low bone density is that it is a non-weight bearing activity. High level cycling in particular has been shown to have negative effects on bone strength because of the amount of time cyclists spend training and riding.   You are spending a lot of time seated, with no compression forces on your spine and pelvis.  Even though it may feel like you are pedaling hard at times, the forces you are putting into the pedals are also not distributed in a way that puts significant strain on your bones, which is needed for bone growth.

 

Recovery time also non-weight bearing. In addition, necessary recovery time from hard cycling usually involves additional non-weight bearing activity of sitting or lying down.  Most cyclists reported avoiding weight bearing activities during recovery periods as a way to help enhance recovery from training.

 

Cyclists generally have lower body mass. Cyclists also generally are lighter, and low body mass is also a risk factor for osteoporosis and osteopenia. This especially applies to women, who in general have lover body mass, as well as to cyclists, who are consistently striving to obtain a low body weight in order to improve performance.

Cyclist have an increased risk of fracture due to crashes or falls. Whether you compete or just ride for fitness and fun, chances are at some point you will take a fall, or be involved in a crash. This applies to any level cyclist, whether you ride solo, with friends, in groups, or compete in rallies and races.

 

Research on cycling experience and bone density risks shows...

 

If you are a road cyclist, especially if you train hard or have been training for multiple years, you are more likely to develop osteopenia or osteoporosis.  This puts you at a higher risk for fractures; a risk that continues to go up with age and training. More masters were classified as osteoporotic compared to age-matched non-athletes, and the percentage of these increased significantly after a seven-year period.(1)   So, for those of you in the category (which may be the majority of people reading this), you are not only more likely to be at risk, but the risk factor also gets higher as you get older and complete more years of cycling training.

 

In 2012 there was an extensive review of 31 studies on the subject(2).  The findings were that adult road cyclists who train regularly have significantly low bone mineral density in key regions.  This was found to be true when comparing the cyclists to control populations of both athletes in other sports as well as non-athletes.    Areas of the lumbar spine, pelvic and hip regions, and femoral neck were all key areas found to have lower values in road cyclists than the controls. 

 

Included in this review were only a few studies involving amateur cyclists or low level cyclists. Differences in bone mass were not found between the cyclists and controls when comparing with low level cyclists.  However, studies that examined elite cyclists, or those training at high levels for numerous years, consistently found low bone mineral density in the elite and experienced cyclists.   

This further supports that the level of training and years of training are strong factors in you as a cyclist being at risk for low bone density.

 

Junior Cyclists. Most of the differences in bone health were considering those older than 17 years of age.  It is worth saying that the observation is cycling in the early years of life does not negatively affect the bones.  However, it doesn’t positively affect the bones either.  Participation in other sports has been shown to positively affect bone growth more than cycling does.  

 

Translation: allow juniors to train hard and train often, but make sure they are getting some cross training as well, to create maximum bone growth.

 

Differences found with different cycling disciplines.

 

Road cycling at a competitive level might be more detrimental for bone health than mountain biking and recreational forms of cycling.  This is due to all the reasons stated previously.  Long hours on the bike, non-weight bearing. No impact forces, low forces in general while pedaling, and lots of time off your feet trying to recover from training.

 

Mountain bikers were found to have higher bone mineral density than road cyclists.  One reason given for this was the vibrations endured off road. Depending on the level of mountain biking, the increased short durations of high force to get over obstacles may also help out. 

 

Sprint trained cyclists have stronger bones than boneblogpic2distance trained cyclists.  This makes sense because of the large forces they generate for short periods of time.  The leg muscles are creating high forces, which in turn puts high forces on the bones they are connected to.  The high forces for short durations are similar to the demands of weightlifting.  However, keep in mind that as a non-weight bearing activity, as hard as you might go as a sprinter, compression forces on the spine are still not present.

Triathletes and Duathletes: the combination of cycling and running counteracts the negative effects on bone mass that cycling alone may result in.  Duathlon and triathlon training do not have the same negative effects as cycling training alone.  

Ok…I may be at risk for low bone mass, what should I do about it?

Strength training and putting impact forces on your bones is the number one thing you can actively do to promote bone heath and bone density. 

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We all want strong bones that are resistant to breaking;
especially as we age.  This is even more important for a cyclist.  Let’s face it, a crash or fall at some point in your cycling life is likely to happen.  Stacking the odds in your favor by including activities to maintain and stimulate bone strong is your best line of defense against a fracture if you do happen to hit the ground at a greater impact than you would like. 

 

 In the next blog we will cover:

  • Why strength training improves bone health
  • What the research shows.
  • What type of strength training to include in your program if you are concerned about your bone health.  

 

Part 2 of this blog is posted HERE

References:
1. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: March 2011
Longitudinal Changes in Bone Mineral Density in Male Master Cyclists and Nonathletes. Nichols, Jeanne F1; Rauh, Mitchell


2. Cycling and bone health: a systematic review
Hugo Olmedillas, Alejandro González-Agüero Luis A Moreno, José A Casajus and Germán Vicente-Rodríguez BMC Medicine2012



 


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Coach Wharton
09:47

Hydration Isn't Just About Better Performances - It's About Survival

It’s been a challenging summer, to say the least, as we’ve progressed in to a malaise where the days may or may not be getting hotter, but the nights are almost certainly not getting as cool. The issue of staying hydrated is becoming a full-time concern, and I’m almost to the point where I’m perpetually helping myself to scoops of NBS Nutrition, even while in the studio and office, to stay optimally hydrated.


In order to understand whether your body is properly hydrated or not, I’m a liberal user of, and proponent for, Pee Strips. Yup - strips that you pee on to determine your hydration status, among other things. Cycling Center Dallas and Online Bike Coach spend hours looking at extrinsic information, like Watts and KiloJoules, but too often, the intrinsic information is ignored. Reagent Pee Strips allow us to determine things, like a body’s PH levels, Leukocytes, Protein elements in urine,, and most importantly, Specific Gravity.


Specific Gravity is basically a way to see how much extra ‘stuff’ is coming out with your watered urine. It’s no longer enough to have a look in the bowl and determine whether ‘Clear and Copious’ or ‘Dark and Clouded’ is the best determination. Instead, when you pee on the pee strips, the chemicals are reacting to what’s in your urine, and the results are pretty revealing. Distilled water has a Specific Gravity of 1.000, and most healthy humans have SG’s in the 1.005 - 1.015, but basically, the further out you go from 1.000, the more dehydrated you are.


At the studio and online, we have been emphasizing the need for hydration as a critical element to training performance now for years. If you read back on this blog, you’ll remember that I suffered a serious heat stroke in late June of 2010, and later that year, met Dr. Stacy Sims at the Olympic Training Center, and she changed my world. Nowadays, we not only focus on hydration on an individual basis, we use it as part of the training strategy. Right now, at the studio, I have two clients who have incredibly high sweat rates, and they routinely post Specific Gravities that are in the 1.030 range and worse. They’re both triathletes, and they’re both concerned about the stigma associated with CamelBacks and drinking to a schedule. As a coach, I’m going to go out on a limb and make a bold claim;


If you TRUST YOUR COACH, then understand that you’ll be a STRONGER, FASTER, MORE EFFICIENT cyclist by drinking THE RIGHT MIX, ON A SCHEDULE THAT KEEPS YOUR SPECIFIC GRAVITY IN THE 1.005-1.01 RANGE, THAN ANY AERO, WEIGHT, OR SOCIAL PENALTY YOU MAY SUFFER FROM WEARING A CAMELBACK.


There - I said it. Now, I’m going to back it up with an event that happened this weekend, just to drive the point home.


My wife’s travels over the summer left me working the studio, and I was unable to ride as much as I have wanted, so upon her return, I was able to drive down to Fredericksburg, Texas, the second weekend of August, to ride with a friend who lives down there. He knows all the roads, is a past State Champion, and is making the most of small-town life. He’s a great guy, and lives humbly, so I thought this would be the best companion for a lot of LSD (Long, Slow, Distance) rides of 2-4 hours, out in the countryside. I got down a day early, and we planned on departing around 7am on Friday Morning, to ‘beat the heat’.


Well, we’re definitely human. We ended up talking and catching up all night, went to bed late, and slept in. We rolled out around 9:30, and, well, August 12th just happened to be - THE HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR IN TEXAS. So at our speeds and with our relative levels of fitness, HYDRATION… WELL-UNDERSTOOD AND COMPREHENSIVELY PREPARED-FOR HYDRATION, was FUNDAMENTAL TO OUR SURVIVAL on that day.


I rolled out with a 70oz Camelback, and two 24oz. Chilled water bottles. My friend rolled out with…. 2 24 oz water bottles with neoprene coozies wrapped around them. We rolled out just as the heat began to hit, and made it to a town called Comfort, after roughly two hours. Now, we did get water at a filling station, but the route back to Fredericksburg left us climbing, with maybe a slight headwind, and we ended up suffering as the heat of the day wore on. This road is also incredibly remote, so we were going through our fluid ounces at a higher rate. Eventually, I inadvertently separated myself from my friend, and climbed up to an overlook where there’s a small State Park that protects an abandoned tunnel, which has become a famous bat cave, home to about 19,000 bats.


I found a cool spot, drank up the rest of my Camelback, and downed another bottle, so I was at well over 100 oz. in just about 3 hours, and waited. It took about 10 minutes, and when he showed up, he looked just ragged. Fortunately, there is a Hole-In-The-Wall restaurant about 200 meters up the road from this lookout, and my friend knew the owners. We rolled over there ---- and spent the next two hours in the A/C, drinking lemon water and recovering. Even after that, in the 8 miles home, he STILL didn’t feel or ride well, and cramped on all but the slightest of efforts. We spent that afternoon and evening keeping him in a cool shower, and drinking to recover. A quick step on the scale showed that he’d lost about 6 lbs, which, for a skinny guy, is REALLY dangerous.


Me? I drank the other bottle, and then made a poor-man’s carb drink by mixing a flat Dr. Pepper with water, which I also drank on the 40 minute ride home. I then immediately drank a recovery drink, and took out a pee strip. The result? Well, it was a life-or-death issue. Here - take a look.


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And here it is compared to the baselines you get on a reagent strip container.

IMG_1741

So - after FIVE HOURS in the sun, in which temps hit a peak of 111 DEGREES… I was STILL HYDRATED at a SPECIFIC GRAVITY of 1.01. How much did I drink? 70+24+24+24 = 142oz, of which all but 24 of those ounces was NBS Hydration (remember the Dr. Pepper trick). Also - Look at the Leukocytes. I actually WAS burning fat, which was the mission for the weekend. Furthermore, look at the PH levels. That’s purely from the NBS. If I had decided to attempt some hard intervals, I would have been prepared for them internally, since intensity leads to lactic acid and increased Co2 output. Being slightly alkaline can help offset some of the challenges those efforts bring.


Here it is - Sunday morning, and my friend still hasn’t really recovered from the heat stress. It reminds me of that life-altering day in late June, 2010, when I drank the wrong drink, didn’t drink enough of it, and suffered a life-altering heatstroke that left me with impaired vision in one eye and a higher likelihood of migraines overall. I just hope this message gets across to others; you CAN exercise in the heat - you just have to be EXTREMELY prepared for it, and honestly, DRINK your way out of it.


PS - I honestly feel sorry for the Dallas Cowboys… They’re getting umpteen million dollars for a Gatorade Sports Science Institute in their new facilities in Frisco, and I can’t believe they’d be using almost 50-year old information and higher concentrations of sports drink, to their detriment. One can only hope that every sports franchise, in a warming world, will see just how powerful these new, scientifically based sports drinks, can change your cycling for the better.



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Coach Wharton
19:30

What Xert Sees That We Don't See - Just Yet...

The more I work with Xert, the more impressed I am. We're looking at a program that has the potential to shift the entire paradigm of training for cyclists, from basic recreational cyclists, to competitors, to top-level athletes. Here's just one example. 

Kurt Chacon is mentioned in this blog from previous years, when he helped riders understand that cycling is not just about legs and lungs, but is instead a Holistic sport that requires the entire body. Sure, certain muscles are emphasized, but that's at the expense of other muscles and parts of the skeletal system that can help reduce fatigue, reduce wasted effort, and transmit power to the pedals as well. 

When you look at Kurt, he doesn't look like a cyclist. He's larger, more muscular, and the impression is that he might be better served with a more short-distance sport, but here he is, a recreational cyclist, capable of a solid power output and endurance in the 3-5 hour range. That said, he loves his anaerobic intervals, and has studied the information that has come out of XertOnline.com. 

The intervals we built for the class, based on this Xert protocol this month, are HARD. REALLLY HARD. They're in the 200 to 300% of FTP range, and they're anywhere from 15 seconds to 2 minutes. People that have been coming to the studio for years are now commenting that they're actually SORE from the workouts, and they're having better rides outside. So we plugged in Kurt's information from a ride to see what's actually happening per the MPA model. 
Kurt Chacon MPA Map Xert Online
In the image above, BLUE is Kurt's MPA, while RED is his wattage output. The intervals began at 200% for 15 seconds, and went up by 20% in reps of 5. There was a 45-second recovery that I specifically placed at ZERO watts, so that the cyclists could pedal or coast/rest in order to recover; it was their choice. 

If you look carefully, you'll see that Kurt's MPA dropped substantially as the intervals increased in intensity, and for the entire duration of the effort, MPA never returned to full capacity. However, let me zoom in on something that I am fascinated by - the 4th and 5th intervals of each set. 
Zoom In on Interval 4
On interval 4 of the first set, and almost every set thereafter, MPA actually dipped BELOW the interval's Peak Power, but it did it JUST AFTER the interval ended. 

You can see it even more clearly on the 5th Interval. Here is a close-up.

Fifth Interval Close-Up Xert
Here, you can see that while Kurt was able to complete the interval, his MPA and wattage actually touched, though there was no breakthrough, but he continued to suffer as his power backed off, and the MPA dropped further. 

Now scroll back up and look at he first image. Intervals 4 and 5 for most of the sets revealed an MPA that dipped BELOW the intensity of the interval, but did not INTERCEPT the effort. In my opinion, this was probably one of the BEST workouts he, or any client, could have performed. He accomplished the task, finished each progressively harder interval, but saw a dip in his MPA, from which he basically never really recovered. So for this athlete, this was probably the most COMPLETE workout in recent history. The breakthrough will come, probably next week, when we attempt 1 minute intervals at 160% of Threshold. 

Performing intervals that are STRAINFUL, yet REPEATABLE, allows for greater adaptation and confidence. Up until Xert, however, we only had the W' model to predict what the 'penalty' was for an effort, and even the developers of that protocol admitted that shorter, harder, more repetitive intervals didn't work with the model. MPA does, and I continue to be amazed at how uncannily accurate the Xert model is, for EVERY athlete. 

We'll see how his testing goes next week and again in a traditional effort in September. Until then, grab a registration on Xert and see for yourself. It's pretty fascinating. 




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Coach Wharton
10:02

What's on my Garmin? THIS SCREEN is Pretty Much All You Need.

Okay - I'm finding that I'm using this XertOnline stuff more and more, so here's my usual screen. If you care about wattage, about physiology, and about getting MORE out of every ride, this is a simple way to set things up.

Garmin 1000 Screen Xert

It's got my MPA and Power on the first 3rd of the screen, my Fat and Carb use in grams in the middle, and Xert's "Focus" and "Strain" on the bottom.

Obviously, I'll use MPA and rolling 3-sec power most, because it'll tell me, based on color schemes (Green, Blue, Black, Yellow, Red) what general 'Zone' I'm in, and basically how much Power I have left in the tank. I've described some of the details of this on a video I posted months ago, and it's also up on my YouTube page, so hopefully that explanation will help. Here are the links: https://youtu.be/7tbfbe_0D0Y and https://youtu.be/P1u3oLroef4.

Basically, if your power is Green, you can go forever. Blue is Tempo-ish, Black is Threshold-ish, Yellow is Vo2Max-ish, and means you've got less than 3 minutes of MPA left, and Red is Anaerobic, and it means you've got less than 30 seconds of MPA left. If it's Purple, congrats! You've had a fitness breakthrough!

Now, for the Fat and Carbs area on the screen, this is an interesting way to look at how we USE STORED AND INTERNAL ENERGY to GENERATE POWER, which in turn, helps us GET FIT. It also tells the cyclist just how freaking hard it is to actually BURN FAT. Remember, 1 gram of FAT yields 9 Calories, while 1 gram of Carbs yield 4 Calories. Our bodies prefer burning the Carbs, so this teaches you how to ride slower and in a zone that will burn more fat, thus preserving the carbs and teach the body how to better use that stored fat. Finally, I actually use it to help stave off bonks and also to try and stay on top of my hydration. If you know how many grams of food and sugar are in your pockets and bottles, you can come up with ways to mentally stay on top of your stamina through an eating and hydration schedule. The Carbs area turns red when you're mostly burning Carbs, or red when you're mostly burning Fat, and it's tied in to the information Xert puts in to your Garmin Express Code, so it's unique to every individual. Finally, if you're in to Polarized training, then THIS APP IS FOR YOU. I'll tie it in to the 3rd app next.

Now for the last 1/3 of the screen, I include "Focus" and "Strain". I don't want to get into debates about specificity, but readers, I have to tell you - this is a pretty darned cool app. If you've signed up for your free account with Xert, it'll ask you things like "What type of athlete are you?" And you look at a power-duration curve and basically think about where your strengths and weaknesses are, and make a selection. In this image, I selected "Breakaway Specialist", which in Xert's world means the focus will be on optimizing 5-minute power.

Xert Power Profile


Now, when I go for a ride, as soon as the app gets enough data, it starts telling me where my "Focus" is, in terms of minutes and seconds. Ironically, it doesn't take much to get that "Focus" in to the lower numbers, from 1-4 minutes, and it's MUCH HARDER to get the Focus in to the numbers that are higher. Now, where the tie-in comes is this: Let's say, like me, you dabble (and I do mean dabble) in the Ultra-Marathon Cycling World, and you're looking to train for great power over 2-6 hours at a time. Well, here's your truth-teller, right here. You'll be pedaling and generating so little power that you'll be S L O W, and your "FAT" grams ID in the middle will be RED, RED, RED, while your 3-second wattage in the UPPER screen will be GREEN, GREEN, GREEN. It's boring, it's embarrassing, it's risky when it's hot, you hate yourself, you hate everyone else that's passing you and probably having more fun, and you hate your coach for forcing you to do these "Old School" rides. But that FOCUS will help. Furthermore, if you're really wanting to hit your FOCUS goal, you can literally ride as hard or soft as you like, knowing that this is really a good way to "Focus" on specificity. We all waste our time on rides; that's actually kind of the point of riding - it's dynamic. But this FOCUS can really help you hit your goals, or truly see how hard a group ride is, let's say, in your current condition, so you can then "Focus" your workouts using Xert's workout generator.

Finally, you've got "Strain", on the bottom. Like KiloJoules, Strain only goes UP. Now, it's NOT KiloJoules, but it's KiloJoule-esque, and if you put yourself through low-strain rides, it'll creep up, but if you put yourself through high-strain workouts, it'll jump up. Call it a new way to measure volume. Some of my indoor 60-minute workouts are in the 175 range (with a FOCUS down in the 2:30 range), and some of my longer, 3-5 hour rides with clients, at their speeds, are in the maybe 300-350 range.

SO - to sum things up on this screen....

  • MPA is there to tell me what I can do RIGHT NOW, THIS INSTANT.
  • Rolling 3-sec Power is there to give me an idea of zones as well as output. 
  • Fat Grams tells me what I've burned, and if it's red, it's my primary source of energy. 
  • Carb Grams tell me what I've burned, and if it's red, it's my primary source of energy. 
  • Focus is there to help me understand what I'm getting out of a ride,
  • Strain is there to tell me how much volume I've accomplished or not.
If you own a Garmin 520, 820, 920, or 1000, then I urge you to open a subscription at Xertonline.com, and go through the process of establishing your fitness profile and training goals. We've been working with Baron BioSystems, the creators, on this technology for months now, and have been implementing it with several clients who have seen incredible results. In my opinion, it's the most convenient way to best determine just what you're accomplishing on a ride, and how solid your fitness or fatigue is as well. With the cost of power meters dropping to around $400, an entire setup can be had for less than $800, and you'll be able to take your fitness and knowledge from your indoor training at Cycling Center Dallas, to the outdoors, where it counts most. 

Enjoy the ride!

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Tracy
16:10

Functional Movement Summit Write up Part 5



Squatting

OK, I know some of you guys cringe at the thought of a squat. You may hate doing them because they IMG_0898are hard. You may hate doing them because you don’t have adequate hip mobility, or lack mobility in other areas that effects the movement chain. Both of these things can be fixed with a little work (well, actually that is only half true); they are always going to be hard if you are doing them right. However, there may be a third reason that that you dread squats, which is that you are just not built for them, and this is not something you can change.

Mike Boyle touched on this in his lecture and provided a reference, which inspired me to research it further. Although I was aware people had different pelvis and femur structures, it was always more of a vague afterthought for me. After seeing the evidence in pics and doing a little more research, I now have a clearer understanding of how bone structure of the hip and femur effects squatting ability.

Take a look at the two femurs in this picture. The structure of the heads are very differefemurnt. This causes them to fit into the hip sockets differently, and at different angles. The hip sockets of different individuals can also have very different structures. Here is a link to an article which was referenced in the lecture, which I think you will enjoy if you find this interesting:

http://themovementfix.com/the-best-kept-secret-why-people-have-to-squat-differently

So those who feel the need to squat with a wider stance, or with toes outward versus straight ahead, or are unable to go as deep as others, may have structural reasons behind these things that makes certain stances and variations a better choice for them; just something to consider.

Although I would still make it a priority to work on having good hip mobility and strong legs that can push weight and support you, we will also listen to what your body is telling you and let it guide you in doing squats in the best way for you.

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Tracy
13:56

Functional Movement Summit Write up Part 4

The Sessions:

Eric Cressy: 10 years, 10 lessons: How to Perform Better in Training & Business

Mike Boyle: The new Functional Training for Sports Starts with Why? 

Eric Cressy and Mike Boyle are two of the biggest names in my industry, and I attended both of their lectures and hands-on sessions today. The IMG_0806combination they have of both scientific knowledge as well as understanding of what it takes to be a great trainer and a great coach is why they are among the few that rose to the top of their profession.


One of the biggest priorities I have when working with clients is fixing dysfunctional movement. If something is not functioning properly, there's no way you can build on top of it effectively, no matter what your goals are or what you're trying to do.
Getting to hear so many different people talk about the way they approach things helps me put a lot of tools in my toolbox. Coaching and training is a combination of an art and a science. Having the knowledge, and having been exposed to so many different ways of looking at a problem and breaking down what may be behind it is, is what I love about going to events like this. They give me more options in my toolbox to make use of, if the first (or second) approach doesn’t end up being as effective as we were hoping, or I might learn a differently way of explaining something that makes more sense to the person I am trying to explain it to. thumbnail_IMG_0808


If I can get somebody moving better, feeling better, and faster by doing the right things, by saying the right things, and by using the right systems, I can add more value to the experience of the session today, and provide something that they will take with them that
 may add to their quality of life long after they have walked out the door. And that is probably the most rewarding part of what I do.

I will share a few things I learned in Eric and Mike’s
sessions over the next few posts.

Flexibility and stretching 

“Stretching isn’t about today’s workout; it’s about preventing an injury six months down the road.“

This was taken from one of the IMG_0823_copyslides but I thought was a great quote. One of the controversies about stretching is that research has shown that stretching results in an increase in elasticity of the muscles for a period of time afterwards, and that has been shown to reduce power outputs in the range of 5-7%. This is the very reason I usually use a dynamic warm-up before training session and save the static stretching until afterwards.

However, Mike Boyle was adamant about this being a non-significant factor when the goal is long term movement abilities. He stated that the anti-stretch research is not compelling, and the health benefits far outweigh any short-term power reduction. I was glad to hear him voice this stance. He also included this comment in his lecture:

“Tightness of the anterior hip structures results in increased compressive loading to the facets during the push-off phase of the gait, since the femur cannot be brought back into hyperextension. Therefore, the lower extremity is placed behind the body by extending the pelvis under the lumbar spine”


Translation: If your hip flexor (the muscle you use to raise your leg up) is tight, your leg can’t extend back as far and your pelvis has to compensate for that, which in turn puts more stress on the lumbar back area it’s connected to.

I include both static stretches and movements that stretch the muscles by working them through full ranges of motion.  When working with some of my clients I could (and sometimes do) make an entire workout out of these stretches and movements.
The people with limited mobility have commented IMG_0831 on how hard they felt they were working during these sessions. I love to hear that, because I know they are getting a multitude of benefits out of the session, increased mobility being the priority. 

So, if you are someone who spends a lot of time at a desk or in a car for your job, take note.  There is a good chance you are starting to lose mobility in your upper T spine, hip flexors, and hamstrings.

I can show you some things to counter that, most of them needing minimal or no equipment and can be done anywhere.

Hearing the best of the best give information on what I am already doing is reassuring, but also keeps me on my path and reinforces the need to include both stretching and mobility work in the small group and private sessions I do with clients. Now I will confess I do, and have had a handful of clients that just do not need it.  In these cases, I don’t do much mobility work beyond recovery to work out some soreness, and we generally substitute stability work instead.


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Coach Wharton
16:33

Using Xert's MPA and Time-to-Exhaustion Apps, and the Strain/Focus and BioShift Apps, in REAL-TIME, on my Garmin 1000.


Clients and Prospects;

I've been using XertOnline.Com's ConnectIQ Apps for a couple of weeks now, and I am really excited about what they're telling the cyclist. The MPA as a model for power and duration is really solid, so I built two videos explaining just what's going on, and how it can be used for training. Have a look, and leave your comments on the YouTube channel. 





And here's the work on the Strain/Focus and BioShift Optimizer App. 








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Tracy
17:43

Functional Movement Summit Write up Part 3

Session: “The foot 101”

This session was great.  It brought more life and footmore knowledge to concepts I have already been using, and that I believe are extremely important.  I've always been a big fan of bare foot running as a tool to increase foot and ankle strength.  One piece of information that stuck with me was this:

“There are 206 bones in the body. There are 26 bones in each foot.  52 bones total.  ¼ of all the bones in your body are in your feet”

Your feet are a big deal.  The bottoms of your feet provide the stability to the ground and the signals that are sent to the rest of your body. If things are not right with your feet, that can create a whole host of other issues through your entire body.

In this hands-on session, we looked at the foot structure of a few volunteers with foot issues.  He demonstrated how to check mobility of the calcaneus, metatarsals, and big toe, which we looked for with asymmetries between feet. We then went on to some barefoot mobility and strength exercises, all designed to increase mobility and increased strength of the tensile tissue and bone through all the vectors of force that your foot has to deal with in the real world. We got to watch him demonstrate, then participated in numerous exercises. The foot mobility and strengthening exercises were all done barefoot and included the following:

Inverting and everting the foot in a standing position

Squattingfoot2

Standing on one foot and doing a floor touch

Hopping from side to side.

Hopping forwards and backwards.

Hopping and adding a twist.

Lunging movements in each of the movement planes (sagittal, frontal and transverse)

Hopping in place

Skipping

 A variety of shuffling drills

 

Although nothing was super brand new, I did catch myself thinking at more than one moment during the session, “what a great idea; how come I never thought to do that?”  Working the foot through so many different force planes and force vectors is so much more effective for strength and mobility than simply jogging barefoot, which basically works the foot in just one plane of movement (sagittal).   They are all things that can be done as part of a warmup or in between other things.

 

It left me with some great ideas on how to incorporate them into some of my small group classes in individual sessions to help strengthen, rehab, and prevent foot issues. I also realized that I was neglecting including these things in my own training. And I plan to make use of them for myself as well. 

 

 

 


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Tracy
17:37

Functional Movement Summit Write up Part 2



Day 1 

This was the actually first day of the summit.  All IMG_0787_copy1the vendors were set up, and had some cool stuff they were showing off.  Free Motion was also having a challenge on one of their incliner treadmills to see how many feet you could climb in 5 minutes.  It looked like fun (and hard) and I thought I would probably throw my hat in the ring and try it out before the end of the weekend.

 

Since I registered for this conference, I planned on going to a hands-on session that was titled “Ropes, Bags and Body Weight”; 3 of my favorite methods of core and strength training for multiple reasons. The guy presenting had created a bodyweight and battling ropes training system, and had a video that was available on performbetter.com.  I love the ropes, and had my eyes on a set-up of new sandbags with 7 different grip options that you can adjust the weight of by unzipping and adding fillers to it. I am always looking for new ideas to keep things fun and effective with functional training both for myself and my clients. However, the session was only offered once, and happened to be at the same time as another one-time session given by the speaker from the day before.

 

The speaker I previously mentioned talked about the best practices of the most successful businesses in our industry, and everything he said really resonated with me. Since I decided that I probably needed information and advice on the business side of things more than the training side of things, I switched my plans and decided to attend that session instead. I was OK with it, since one of my concerns with going to “Ropes, Bags and Body Weight” was that I wouldn't learn anything new.  I love the topic, I have already done so much in terms of attending seminars, reading and learning about the practical use of these things.  I have even been in a situation where I went to a day-long course on a similar topic, only to end up teaching the material to those that were in my small group, which was frustrating considering how much I paid to be there.  Ultimately I am well aware that the business side of things is a weak link and my training knowledge is a strong link, so I decided to go to the business talk.  It was great and built upon the session from yesterday as well.  I wrote down a to-do list during the session of things I plan to do to improve my programming, and the structure of class offerings. I also took down the contact info for possible further consulting.

 

There were too many sessions to do a write-up on each one, so I am going share below the few I thought I got them most out of.

 

Session: “Core Connections”

 This was an interesting, hands-on session. The name of the session pretty much summed up what it was about, but we went through numerous movements and got to feel how energy was transferred to the core and opposite sides of the body work together during movement. I got several new ideas for exercises, and particularly for partners in group exercises. None it was brand-new stuff, but one of the great things about coming to the IMG_0784_copyseminars is it teaches you how to use old movements and concepts you already know in brand-new ways.  This adds variety and fun to sessions as well. The importance of training your body in multiple planes of movements vs traditional crunch and ab machines was discussed, and then we participated in doing some of the movements (which was the fun part).  Several tools and approaches were presented to not only strengthen the core, but to improve power transfer through the middle and the way the opposing sides of the body work together to generate force and provide stability. Some of the movements we can to experience included:

Passing items to each other while holding the straight arm plank position.

Chops with an elastic band - one partner anchors the band overhead and the other perform a full body chop toward the group, including a split squat of the lower body.

Medicine ball rotational passes which included the split-squat movement.


I was also introduced to, and played with, a new toy I had not yet heard of, called the active motion bar. It was really fun to work with and adds a new concept to traditional bars.  Check out the video that explains what it is.  



I ordered one and when I go it I liked it so much I went ahead and ordered the rest of the set.  Come on by for a small group class or private session if you want to try it out! 


 



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