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. 

 boneblogcrashpic

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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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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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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Tracy
08:47

Functional Movement Summit Write up


I have separated the blog into two separate blogs. The blog tab on the main menu of the website will now drop down into a Cycling Training blog and a Strength Training and TRX blog. Not those of you who only want one information on one or the other, don’t have to sort through blog post on both topics. Richard will be the main contributor to the cycling blog, and will be putting out some really great content on the Xert software, the Moxy, and Q and QXL rings. I will be posting content on strength training, TRX, functional training for cyclists, and related stuff.

The Summit 

Last weekend I attended the Functional Movement Summit, in Orlando Fl.  It was four days of Class IMG_0775_copyA presenters giving sessions on topics such as the importance of the foot, evolution of the squat, reducing clients’ back pain, and the “why” behind what we do in functional movement training.  There were also several sessions with information on providing a better experience to clients and the business side of running a top notch studio.  I was already familiar with several of the presenters, through books and DVDs they had released, and I was super-exited to learn more from them in person.   


I decided to write this up, not only to let you guys know about some of the cool stuff I learned and will bring to our sessions and classes.  But also, because it was so much information, this will help me remember more of it, and give me a chance to go through it all again now that I am back home.


Thursday’s pre-conference lectures consisted of two 2 ½ hour lectures.  One of them was given by Gray Cook, who is one of the original developers of the software that I frequently use to help spot movement dysfunction, and which gives me some direction on correcting the problems (this is the system I use at the studio to identify and fix bad movement patterns; many of you may have had a workout with me already in which this software was used).  This lecture was great; I learned about several new screens for motor control and postural integrity that I plan on utilizing for certain populations.  He is also rolling out a new course on these two subjects, which I fully intend to take at some point in the future.   I have seen him lecture several times, and I have spent numerous hours watching his training videos. Yet every time I hear him I feel like I learn completely new things (as well as new ways to use old things).


The bottom line here is that every person is an individual with individual strengths, weaknesses, and possible issues.  No matter what their goal, or limitation, or deficiency, there is no one size program that will be the most effective for everybody.  His approach is all about solving each individual case by looking at all of the layers that make up that particular individual, to find the best path to get them to where they want and they need to be (improved performance, just feeling better, moving better or preventing injuries in the future).  


To illustrate this, he used the example of a volunteer from the audience who wanted to increase his IMG_0766_copyvertical jump to enable him to dunk a basketball (the volunteer was once able to dunk, but now cannot).  It was clearly a hit to his ego, and that was a big deal to him. After running through the assessments, it was determined that although the basic movement patterns were functional, he had some moderate pain and mobility limitations in his right ankle joint. These prevented him from being able to perform an effective counter movement before the jump to make use of the elastic energy.   It was amazing to see him work through the process, like fixing a car by looking first at each individual part, and then analyzing how each part interacts with all of the other parts, in order to identify the source of the problem. To truly fix a movement problem, you need to look beyond the symptom of the problem, and peel the layers off one by one until the problem is identified.  Some of the approaches to improving movement and poster seemed so obvious after seeing them. Such as the examples he used of one arm carries from overhead to down by your side, and the farmers walk, which is a two arm carry. 


The next lecture was presented by a guy named Rick Mayo. He runs a successful studio that is a larger version of the TRX and Strength Corner I have at Cycling Center Dallas.   I share his philosophy, and have implemented in my space at CCD many of the things he does, so it was a relief to see that I have been on the right path all along.  His studio does have some systems that I felt were better organized than those which I have right now, so I plan to use what I learned about his systems to better organize, program and structure the workouts I will use for small group classes from now on.  He also had some great tips about marketing through Facebook, so I intend to get some more relevant content and information out for you guys through our FB page.   I enjoyed his talk so much, and got so much valuable information from it, that I chose to attend his lecture the following morning rather than the sessions I had previously decided to attend.

Posts on the upcoming sessions and more to come....


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Tracy
11:54

Think you can't do push ups? Think again....


trxsmall_copyThe push-up is an all-purpose movement that develops strength in the upper body and stability throughout the core and torso.

It is a GREAT exercise.  It can also be a difficult one, especially if you haven't developed the core and upper body strength to be able to push yourself up off the ground.  

"I can't do push ups" 

Is something I often hear from clients when I introduce a push up movement to their workout. More often then not, it is not that they can't do them, but they just haven't found the right variation for them.  Doing them on a suspension trainer can help you easily find the right level of resistance for you, whether you are beginner to very advanced.  

If you have no problem cranking out push ups, skip to the feet suspended version and the spider push up shown in the video below.   You will not be disappointed. 


The push up is usually one of the first exercises I have people learn on a Suspension Trainer, because it is such a basic movement that works a lot of muscle groups.  It is also very easy to adjust the difficulty level.  You don't have to worry about being able to lift more body weight then you can handle.


Here are examples of two levels of resistance during a Suspended Push-Up. The more upright you are,
the more body weight you are supporting with your legs and not having to push with your arms. If you want more resistance, simply step back further to load more weight onto the straps. All the angles in between the hardest and the easiest (most upright) can be used to load any desired amount of weight onto the straps. You can even change resistance mid set!

vectors_copy



Push-Up Hands Suspended
300b_Pushup

This is the best version to start. The all-purpose pushing movement increases both strength and stability of the upper body and core. It will help to give better support and control of your body as well as improve power transfer through the core while on your bike.

Primary focus: Chest and Shoulders.

Steps and Notes:

Facing outward, hold the end of each strap in each hand, and get into a shoulder-width or slightly wider stance, and keep a straight body position from your head to your feet,

Allow your arms to bend and lower your body until your elbows reach 90 degrees and are aligned with your shoulders.

Push yourself back up to the straight-arm position, exhaling as you do so, and maintaining a tight core and straight body from head to ankle

 

To make it harder, step back to load more of your body weight onto the straps.  To make it easier, step forward to support more of your body weight with your feet.

 

Push Up – Feet Suspended

This is a progression of the previous push-up variation.


This version requires torso and upper body strength, as well as proper timing of the stabilizer muscles to maintain a straight body. 
Get into push up position with your toes in the cradles. 
Start by straightening your legs, which will lift your knees off the ground and moving your body as a unit.  Go down until your elbows bend to approximately a 90 degree angle. 
At the bottom, push through the floor to raise your body back up to the starting position as one unit. 
Become proficient with the traditional, un-suspended push up first before this things one.   Advance to
feet suspended push-ups at that point

309b_Suspended Push Up From Floor  309c_Suspended Push Up From Floor


Watch this Video for even more variation of the Push Up movement on a TRX Suspension Trainer, from every beginner, to very advanced!  Sigh up HERE for a small group strength class to get some hands on practice and learn some new TRX movements and more!



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Tracy
16:20

The Best Stretches for Cyclists - Hip Flexor and Quadricep Stretch


Why we lose flexibility and why it matters
cyclingmuscles - hip flexors

Cycling and running are both very repetitive
activities. Cycling in particular works muscles for extended
 periods of time and because you are seated, from a shortened position. In addition, many of us have professional lives that require a large amount of time seated at a desk or in a vehicle. This is even more time you are putting your muscles in a shortened state.  

If this sounds like you, you may be at risk for increasing tightness in muscles that need to function at their optimal range of motion. If your range of motion or position is limited by tight muscles, it can affect everything from your swim stroke and run stride to bike position and overall posture and breathing capacity.
 
Adding in some stretches a few times per week during a cool-down or anytime during the day will help you move and feel better both on and off the bike. 

 

The Hip Flexor and Quad Stretch we will talk about today is a great one for cyclists because of the extended seated position required on the bike. If you are a runner or triathlete, this stretch is important to ensure the range of motion you need for full extension in your run stride. Triathletes in particular need to have that range of motion IMMEDIATELY after coming off the seated bike position and transitioning to the run leg. 
 

Hip Flexor and Quad Stretch


Targeted Area: The quadriceps are located in the front of the leg and from the knee to the hips. The Hip Flexors are located just above the knee up to the area just above the crease in your hip.   

This is a good stretch for cyclists because the position on the bike results in the hip flexors and front of the upper torso staying in a shortened position for much of the time.

This is a good stretch for runners, especially because mobility of the hip flexors is important for full extension during the run stride. Eliminating tightness in the shoulders and chest also creates good posture that is needed for optimal breathing during the run.

Finally, this is an even more important stretch for triathletes. Because of the time you spend on the bike, muscles that need full mobility for the run often get tight. These stretches help develop mobility in both the hip flexors and upper front torso. Both which are important for optimal run mechanics and for enhanced breathing during the running segment. 


Increase your flexibility in this area by doing the following stretch 2 -3 times for 30 seconds apiece after your ride, at the end of your day, or during an active recovery session. 


Start by kneeling down on one knee, and this may be enough to give you a good stretch.  If you don't feel it yet, elevate the back foot until you feel a gentle stretch in the front of the leg and up toward the crease between your hips and thigh.  The height you elevate your back foot when doing this stretch will depend on the flexibility you have in the front upper thigh muscles of that same leg.

504a_Hip Flexor Stretch 1_copy  504b_Hip Flexor Stretch 1  504c_Hip Flexor Stretch 1_copy

1. Kneel down in front of the suspension trainer on one knee with the other knee out in front of you, foot on the ground.  Use a pad or towel under the downed knee for comfort. You will be stretching the front of the leg of the downed knee.
2. Focus on good posture and “making yourself tall”. Reach upwards toward the ceiling with the same hand as the leg you are stretching to increase the stretch. You should feel a stretch in the upper part of the front of your thigh.
3. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
 If you don’t feel the stretch, you can elevate your back foot to make things a little more challenging.  If you are flexible enough, reach back and grab the back foot with your opposite hand. 



Here is another version that can be done on a Suspension Trainer:

1. Stand facing outwards holding one of the straps in each hand.

2. Move forward until you have tension on the straps. Reach up and extend one arm toward the ceiling and the other down towards the floor. Kneel down on the knee that’s on the same side as the raised arm.

3. Adjust your position forward or backward until you feel a gentle stretch in the front of your upper thigh and in your chest area. Hold for 30 seconds on one side, and then switch sides.

Contract your abdominals during the stretch to set your hips in the correct position and prevent your back form arching. 

505a_Hip Flexor and Chest Stretch  505b_Hip Flexor and Chest Stretch  505c_Hip Flexor and Chest Stretch

  
Check out our video of the Hip Flexor and Quad Stretch to get another view and see the progressions.


 



If you enjoyed this and found it helpful, perhaps you have family, friends or training buddies who might like it too. Please feel free to forward them this email—they can opt in HERE, to get on the email list.  Also, please be sure to check out and "like" the TRX and Strength Training at Cycling Center Dallas Facebook Page.  

Check the class schedule if you would like to take a Small Group Strength or Performance Cycling Class. You can also contact me directly by replying to this email to come in for an individual session, get some instruction, or just learn some new things. 

Thanks, and let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

Tracy Christenson
Cycling and Resistance Training Coach
Cycling Center Dallas
214 773 6503
www.cyclingcenterdallas.com

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Tracy
13:21

Master the Plank to Become a Stronger, More Solid Athlete


You’ve probably heard of The Plank and have done it or are currently doing it as part of your program.  And that’s a good thing.

A stronger, more stable midsection can result in better overall posture. It can also contribute to stronger bike positioning and improved run mechanics. When your core is strong, you have a more solid platform for your legs to propel you forward, whether in cycling or running. Core strength also helps delay fatigue and allows for more efficient transfer of power from your upper body to your legs during movement both on and off the bike.

Targeted Muscles: Core, Arms and Shoulders


Tracy trx 101015-0047_copy2HOW TO DO A THE PLANK

1.       Start in a ground position, facing down.

2.       Make a concentrated effort to tighten up the muscles from your toes to your shoulders.

3.       Raise your body up as one unit, so only your forearms and toes are in contact with the ground.

4.       Your body should form a straight line from shoulders to ankles.

5.       Engage your core by sucking your belly button into your spine.

6.       Hold with good form until you get tired.

 
Just starting out?
Modified Plank_copy1

If you are new to strength training, or it has been while since you have done it, go ahead and start with
 a modified version until your body develops the ability to hold the more advanced version.To do the modified version, simply hold the position from your knees instead of your toes, as shown below. When you can properly hold this position for a full minute, progress to the standard position. When you move up a progression, initially reduce the amount of time you attempt to hold the position, then 





The Plank and TRX Suspension Training.
Hold your plank rowandtricep

The Plank Position is the FOUNDATION of most movements on a suspension trainer. That’s because most movements require stabilizing the body as part of the exercise. So… every movement during the suspension workout is also strengthening your core.  

That’s one reason why suspension training is so much more relevant to athletic movement than regular sit-ups and crunches. Developing the strength and stability required by the Plank Position is crucial to performing movements on a suspension trainer with good technique. Here are two examples of the Plank Position being used to support proper technique in other movements.

Compare the straight body position held in the two movements on the suspension trainer shown above, and the plank position at the top of the page.



Suspended Plankallplanks_copy


Here are 3 variations (progressions) of the traditional Plank exercise that can be done on a suspension trainer.

Progress to the straps only after you feel you have mastered the traditional version of the Plank. Note: good form during suspension training movements is EXTREMELY important. Hips need to stay up, don’t let the lower back sag, and keep shoulders soft and back flat (no rounding of the back). It’s easy to start losing form with fatigue, so make this priority focus. Doing Plank variations in front of a mirror will allow you to self-monitor your form.

There is no need to hold the position for minutes at a time. Work up to sets of 45-60 seconds and then progress by adding additional sets or by doing a more advanced progression.

 

Want more information on suspension training and other function training tools?  

Sign up here for the multi part email course below. 


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Sign up to get emails introducing you to fun, effective, fitness methods that can be used anywhere, at any level.  You will receive an email every day fro the first 5 days as part of the introduction. At that point you will receive an email every week or two with tips, a featured exercise, or a workout idea or article.  Please don't hesitate to contact me if there is anything in particular you would like to get information on! 
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Check out the video below for examples of the Plank Variations on the TRX Suspension Trainer, included the Suspended Saw...which I think is one of the most advance progressions(if you are doing it right!). 


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