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
10:10

Why your day job is hurting your cycling training (and how to fix it)

guyatdesk


If any of these describe your lifestyle, this blog is for you:
  • If you are a working professional with a demanding job that requires a lot of time at a desk
  • You travel a lot for work.
  • You spend a lot of time driving for either work or family obligations.

One of the most common issues I see with working professionals who are also amateur or recreational athletes is the negative effects on posture that they bring into their training. 

Here is an example:

Jim came into the Cycling Center Dallas studio the other day to start training. He is a recreational
cyclist who wants to be able to ride with his favorite groups, but also wants to look good, get some muscle tone, and not have to worry about tweaking something in his spine, which sometimes holds him back.  He is a working professionalbadbikeposition and work demands often take away his training time.  He is very serious about his career and usually ends up spending A LOT of time at his desk. 

Long hours at the computer and in a car have left obvious marks on his posture.  Tight shoulders, tight chest muscles, a lack of mobility in the upper spine…i
t could be any one of those or all of them.  At this point it doesn’t really matter, because whatever is causing it, the effects on his movement are going be the same.  

We spent several sessions addressing this issue by working on corrective movements throughout his workouts and/or after his workouts. I also gave him a couple of quick and easy, specific stretches to do at home. Within a few weeks, his range of motion and posture were noticeably better.  He was more aware of it, and his positioning looked better on the bike.  He also remarked that the pain he felt in his neck and shoulders during the last half of long rides was significantly lower.  He was definitely ecstatic about his progress and results after our sessions.

If you have tightness in your shoulders, torso or back, it could be affecting your training.

 



Try this test at home:markshouldertestnormalrtarmup

1.  Stand tall with your arms loose at your side

2.  Make a fist in each hand, and in one motion place your right hand over your head and down your back as far as possible.  At the same time, take your left fist up your back as far as possible like this image shows:

3.  Have someone take a photo of your hands behind you (if you don’t have anyone to take the pic, set up your phone to take a video and then replay, pause and take a screen shot).

4.  Switch hands and repeat, with the left arm up top, and right arm down below.

 



Now….look at the pics of both sides.  What do you see?  markshouldertestwide

If both fists only have a small amount of distance between them and are pretty equal in that distance.  You probably don’t have anything to worry about. 

If there is a large gap between the fists, like this image shows, you probably have either tight shoulders, tight chest muscles, or you are lacking mobility in the upper part of your spine. It could also be “all of the above.”  All of these are limiters to both performance and everyday quality movement.






If you see there is a difference in the distances between your first and second image, like this....You not only have tightness and mobility deficiencies, you also have an asymmetry between the sides 
markshouldertestnormalrtarmupwithlineof your bodymarkshouldertestwidewithline.  Asymmetries are bad.   They cause bad things to happen because one side of the body is having to keep up with the other, even though it’s at a disadvantage.  This causes compensatory movement patterns and unequal forces on that body.  Which often leads to additional imbalances and increased risk of injury.

Tight muscles in the chest and back, or a lack of mobility in the upper spine (or both), can negatively affect your bike position, and if you are a triathlete, your run and walk mechanics, and extension in your swim stroke.  If you have imbalances mobility and flexibility.

This type of posture could also result in decreased aerobic capacity throughout any activities you do.  Think about it… is it easier to breathe when you are hunched over, or standing up tall, allowing the expansion of the diaphragm?


How to Fix It

If you find you are not able to get your fists anywhere close to each other, or there is a large difference in the range of motion between sides, don’t worry, there are things you can do to start correcting this. Depending on the severity, and the ultimate causes of your lack of mobility and tightness, you may need a more extensive corrective program, but here are a few stretches and exercises to get you started.  
 
The first 2 stretches are for chest and shoulders.  I think the pics speak for themselves on showing what you need to do.   The last stretch is awesome and I feel most people need to perform it, so I will give that one some special attention.

Chest stretch:
Hold about 30 seconds
sbcheststretch
This will lengthen and increase flexibility of the muscles in the front of your shoulders and chest.

 
Shoulder stretch:
Repeat 20-30 seconds each side
 
behindthebackshoulderstretch

This will work the shoulder muscles through both and internal and external rotation.


 

 

Thoracic spine stretch:

Tight shoulders may not be the cause of a round back and shoulders.

If you have poor mobility in your thoracic spine (upper back), you are forcing the surrounding areas to take up the slack in that area and perform duties they were not meant to do.  This creates harmful compensations. 

Below is a great stretch for the Thoracic spine. Try this one after long rides or a long day at the office. It will probably feel unbelievably amazing!

1. Lay on on your right side with your left leg bent and slightly forward of the right leg’s knee, and resting on a foam roller (use a rolled up towel, or any kind of block if you don’t have a roller).

2. With your left hand, reach across to the gap between your left hip and elbow. Place that hand on the rib-cage. Then, twist gently back toward the floor with the left shoulder. Keep your left knee contacting the foam roller or towel.  

3. Attempt to get your shoulder blade of the left side as close to the floor as possible, and then extend the left arm out to the side.

4. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side. 

tspinestretchme  tspinestretchmarkandtravis

Keep the knee on the roller.  This will make sure you are working the mobility in the upper spine, and not opening up the hip to get there.

 

Try these stretches either after workouts, on recovery days or after you have spent a lot of time seated.

See which ones feel the most challenging for you.  The odds are that this is also the one you need to do the most.  If you have an asymmetry, work the tighter side one or two more times.

And don’t push through pain. If any of the movements cause pain, back off how hard you are straining.  If you still find there is pain with movement, there may be another issue going on.

Although there are other areas of your body that tend to exhibit pain and tightness when you have to sit all day or have poor posture, I have found the Thoracic spine is one of the more common and easily corrected areas with cyclists whose daily activity is creating pain, which presents limitations on their cycling.

Stay tuned for more articles and posts, and contact me if you have any questions, need a more extensive program, or are interested in setting up a full functional movement screen and corrective exercise session.  my email is: tracy@cyclingcenterdallas.com

 

Creative and Functional Fitness Tools- Free 5 Part Email Course

Introduction and instruction on how to use methods such as Suspension Training, The Rip Trainer, and Elastic Resistance. Learn how to start using use each of these tools in any location to increase strength, stability, lose weight, or improve performance.



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Tracy
19:08

Tools and Methods for Fitness while Traveling. Part 1:Suspension Training

 

This post offers all the information you need to get a toned core and full body strength if you find yourself on one or more of these categories:

·         You Travel frequently

·         You have limited time for training

·         You would rather not workout in a gym facility

·         You're already engaged in endurance training and need strength and core work to  supplement that activity.  


Travel can throw a monkey wrench into the best-laid fitness plans. Although the occasional break in routine can be a good thing, repeated or unexpected interruptions in your training can result in poor consistency, as well as the added mental challenge of having to get back on the wagon and get the forward momentum rolling  again.  

When you add up all the other stresses of travel, such as such as too much sitting, irregular or poor nutrition options, unfamiliar sleeping situations, and time zone changes,  and you don’t have workout options easily available, it’s easy to throw in the towel and resign yourself to temporary defeat.  Some of the same challenges can present themselves to the time-crunched professional who is attempting to train and balance work, family, and a fitness schedule. 

Having the resources and the plan to keep your fitness priorities a part of your routine on the road, can keep you from slipping off the wagon, keep you feeling good about your training, and will counteract some of the negative effects and general stress of travel.  This article goes over some of the tools to help you stay on track when on the road, or when your schedule gets too chaotic and too many things are competing for your time.
  
Each training tool is linked back to an online library of exercises, as well as instructional videos for several movements that you can use as resource to plan a workout in your hotel room, an empty conference room, a nearby park, rest stop, or anywhere you happen to be!

Suspension training

Suspension training was created as a way to train and maintain conditioning with limited training space or equipment.  The equipment is lightweight and easy to store and throw into a suitcase or gym bag for travel.  This tool can be used anywhere, from the hotel gym, to a local park, the pool deck, or within your house (or hotel room).  Unlike traditional weight training that often focuses on specific muscle groups, suspension training targets movements and requires the body to stabilize itself in all planes of motion during each exercise. 

Suspension training uses gravity and your own body weight as resistance through pretty much any type of movement you can think of. You can improve or maintain functional strength, balance and core stability, coordination, power, and flexibility in many ways that are extremely relevant to general fitness and daily living activities, as well as cycling, running and swimming performance. 

There are several suspension trainers on the market and they generally work on the same concepts.  We will be using the TRX suspension trainer for the purpose of demonstration.  It can be anchored to fences, trees, poles, rafters, or anything you can get to that is stable enough to hold your weight. The handles should be about 6 inches off the ground when anchored, and there are extenders you can use if up find your anchor is too high.   


How to set up a Suspension Trainer in your home
A door anchor will be needed to anchor the suspension training as shown here:

TRXhomesetupmultipic
The solid square piece goes on the backside of the door and the nylon piece has a loop on the end of it. This is the piece to which you will connect the suspension-training device.  Just make sure the door is either closing toward you, or locked so it won't accidentally pull open when you have your weight loaded on the suspension band.  




We have put together some resources to help you develop a plan of action if you are traveling or just want to start incorporating some strength work into your routine.  

Examples of a few fundamental movements that can be performed on a suspension trainer 

       


Resources for Suspension Training
 
A video library of movements that can be performed with the suspension training can be found HERE.

Some movements that complement each other along with more detailed form instruction and short clips you can follow for practice and repetition can be found HERE

Cycling Center Dallas, under Coach Christenson's leadership, has suspension trainers and offers intro sessions as well as group classes, check the schedule for class times and descriptions.

If you would like to purchase your own, you may do so from the TRX Website or just google 'suspension trainer' (make sure to check out the reviews to make sure its decent product).


 

Tools and Methods for Fitness while Traveling. Part 2:Elastic Bands and the Rip Trainer


 

 

 


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Tracy
19:08

Tools and Methods for Fitness while Traveling: Part 2 - Elastic Resistance and the Rip Trainer


band_copyElastic Bands

These convenient devices are a versatile, lightweight tool that can be used for simple movements for beginners, and can increase in difficulty all the way to complex, multi-planar movements for more advanced or specific training.

Bands are inexpensive and easy to transport.

The resistance given by bands and tubing is elastic, which is a unique element to this mode of training. As elastic stretches, resistance increases so the load put on the muscle increases throughout the movement. This is different from traditional weight training, and other modes of body weight training, which rely on gravity.

The versatility of bands also allows you to perform exercises from a sport specific position or when mimicking a sport specific movement (i.e. swim stroke, or golf swing).

When performing any exercise the resistance can easily be adjusted depending on how close or how far away you are standing from the anchor point. If you want more resistance…step further away from the anchor, which adds tension. If you want less… take a step closer to reduce tension. Bands also come in a variety of thicknesses and tensions that provide a large range of resistance.

Bands can be anchored with a standard door anchor at ground level, chest height, or from the top of the door depending on the exercise being performed.  They can also be tied around or hooked to anything stable such as rails, fencing, tree branches, whatever you can find that is accessible.



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  • High Anchor: Resistance level will be coming from above.  Good for pull-downs, triceps extensions, and high to low chops.

  • Mid Level Anchor:  Resistance angle will be at about chest level. Good for Presses and Rows, flys, reverse flys and rotational core work.

  • Low Anchor: Resistance angle will be coming from the floor.  Good for shoulder presses, bicep curls, upright raises, squat presses and low to high chops. 


The Rip Trainer:riptrainerpic

I wanted to give this tool a shout out because it is one of my favorites.   Personally, not many exercises that I do give me quite the combination of core and full body resistance and strength, than some of the movements I can do using this tool.

At the core, it’s simply a bar with an elastic band attached that can be anchored in that same way any band can, to a door anchor, or anything else that is stable and available.  You get the stability of pushing the resistance through a solid bar, and the flexibility of moving through any plane of movement you wish.  Exercises can be performed asymmetrically for increased core stability and awareness,  and sport specific movements such as a golf swing or slap shot can be mimicked more realistically, or movements can be combined or stacked on top of each other, for a more demanding or cardio-focused workout.  

The only drawback is that you will need more space for some of the exercises than a hotel room might offer. You also may need to purchase an additional band if the medium resistance back that comes with it is too hard or too easy for you.  The bands come in Light, Medium, Heavy, Xheavy and XXheavy.


Ready to progress?

We have provided a video library of these exercises Here.  Feel free to browse through to get some ideas or select a series of exercises to put together a workout. 

We do have a couple of videos providing more detailed instruction of some of the movements HERE

Just starting out?

Start Simple: A pressing, a pulling, a rotational and a lower body movement makes for a great beginner's full body program.

Get creative! Increase the number of repetitions and reduce rest times between sets, perform more complex movement, increase the resistance of the band or the speed of the movement.




Tools and Methods for Fitness while Traveling. Part 1:Suspension Training








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Tracy
17:17

Exercise Pair up: TRX Push-ups and TRX Rows



This video goes to go over two exercises that work well together. One being a TRX push up and the other being a TRX row. They pair well together because one being a pushing exercise and the other being a pulling exercise allows you to work opposite sides of the body with each exercise. The video starts by showing the starting position for a TRX push up. You can adjust the amount of body weight you have on the straps by where you're standing. If you're just starting out or you're new to exercise, you can step forward to take some of the weight off of the straps and allow you to lift a little bit less during the exercise. If you're a little more advanced or you want to progress, you can simply step back and lower more of your body weight onto the straps. Always keep a straight torso in line with your hips and shoulders and legs.

As you see in the video, I'm keeping my body straight throughout the exercise. At the bottom of the exercise, you want a strong ninety degree bend in your elbows so you don't want to let them fold inwards and you don't want to let the hands come out. You're looking for that strong right angle and holding that position. The elbows should not go behind the shoulders, and they should stay relatively close to shoulder level. When you reach the bottom position, go ahead and engage the muscles of the chest and the core and push back up to the starting position.  One common technique error I see with people is they find that the straps are rubbing on their arms creating some friction. If you find that's happening to you, simply raise your arms a little bit higher to bring the straps up off your arms and that should take care of that problem.  

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The next exercise is going to be the TRX row. For this one you need to shorten the straps. Shortening the straps allows you to get underneath the straps a little more which is required for this one. The same concepts apply as the push up exercise. If I wanted to go a little bit heavier or lift a little bit more weight during this exercise, I would simply step underneath the straps a little more and load some more of my weight onto the straps as you saw me just do.
  
The bottom position is the starting position and my arms are fully extended. Basically it comes down to keeping good posture. I'm keeping a strong connection with my shoulders to my torso, a flat back and my hips are in line with my spine and my legs and my head is also in line with my spine. Then I simply pull myself up, letting my arms fold until my elbows are at my side right there.

Now that we've gone over the form, try them out by doing 1-3 30 seconds sets of each one. Alternate between the TRX push-ups and the rows. Feel free to do these by themselves or combine them with other exercises you find to make a full workout. 


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Coach Wharton
17:16

Coach Kurt Chacon's Videos Are Now On Our Webpage!

Click on this link and you will better understand our holistic approach to a better body for better cycling! http://www.cyclingcenterdallas.com/TRX-and-personal-training

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