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
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

 

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Coach Wharton
18:09

Prepping for the Paluxy Pedal! Hilly Terrain and How to Conquer "THE WALL!"

Paluxy Pedal 66 Mile Route 2014
This month at Cycling Center Dallas, we will be focusing exclusively on helping our cyclists prepare for the Hills and Dales of the potluck seat pedal, which will be held October 4, down in Glen Rose, Texas. The route has changed somewhat in the last few years, as the Somervell County Sheriff will no longer allow the route to cross US Highway 67. In order to accommodate the riders and continue to take advantage of the great terrain out there, they have given us a great course with lots of rollers in the first half, and then a magnificent, challenging false flat climb back towards the town. Both the 65 milers and the middle distance cyclists, will also get to experience the challenge known as quote the wall". While the wall is billed as the steepest quarter mile in North Texas, it is a great opportunity for us at Cycling Center Dallas to help all of you prepare through our specialized training protocols.
 
Looking at the profile in a more detailed method, we agreed that the majority of the climbs were in the two minute range of duration. Furthermore, with the long false flat in the middle of the route, we have incorporated several longer duration threshold intervals to help our riders better prepare for the constant load that will be placed on them as they climb out on US Highway 147. Here are some examples of the training profiles.
Intervals to Help Conquer the Paluxy Pedal Rally
In this example, you can see that we have focused on multiple two minute intervals with two minute recoveries, and each interval in a set of four increases in intensity. These intervals will mimic the energy demands that can be required in the first 25 to 30 miles of the 65 mile route. We will also be challenging our clients by switching from what I call fixed gear mode, to course mode. In course mode, through PerfPro studio, we can set a slope, and the wattage goal is then independent of the cyclists power output. In other words, the cyclist has a goal, but the cyclist is required to achieve that goal through finding the right combination of gear, cadence, speed, and intensity. Cadence is compromised and it takes a fine touch to achieve the wattage goal for the interval.
Here, after a good warm-up, the riders are subjected to multiple one minute intervals, with intensities that are descending, and climbing. When we look at wattage training files from real world rides, the rides are often very stochastic in nature, but they tend to look almost like a cutlery set. There are steak knives, butter knives, and knives with serrated edges or flat tops, almost like a butcher knife. Coach Noel has built this workout to help cyclists become more savvy in their application of power, and also their ability to recover.
In this example, our coaches looked at the final quarter of the rally, and came up with some intervals that are both threshold and anaerobic or supra-aerobic in nature. The recoveries are a little bit longer, and the intensities are deceiving, because the duration in which the riders are working right at above their threshold, will have them tapping into their final energy reserves. Attempting this workout in the course mode is the ultimate challenge, and we urge you to sign up today so that you can witness the gains and learn the concepts of knowledge and power for yourself.
Now - here is the secret to "The Wall"! 

  1. STAY WIDE - FIRST TO THE RIGHT, and THEN, IF YOU CAN, GO LEFT! The route is slightly longer, but it's also a bit less steep. This is a good rule of thumb for any steep climb with turns - stay wide... it's worth the extra 10 feet or so.
  2. SHIFT IN TO AN EASIER GEAR EARLY!!! If you don't, all sorts of things can happen, including dropped chains, the inability to shift at all, broken chains, rubbing, just stuff you don't want to deal with. So shift with your left hand early, and use EVERY GEAR in your rear cassette. 
  3. PEDAL TO THE TERRAIN. Sometimes pedaling requires that you grind. Sometimes you can spin, and some times it's in between. FEEL the hill, and SHIFT to meet the slope.
  4. Stand when you have to, but when you DO stand, COMMIT to the CLIMB. Standing is more powerful, but it's also more taxing on your body. If you get out of the saddle, keep your chest out, your chin up, and your cadence steady.
  5. When seated, try to keep the front wheel lighter through less pressure. Less pressure gives you the ability to put MORE pressure on the rear wheel. You don't want to 'wheelie' up the climb, but just try to keep the gravity on the back end of the bike. 
  6. As mentioned earlier - focus on good form. Keep your back flat, your chest out, your chin up and looking at the Event Horizon, and keep your shoulders relaxed. You will NOT climb this at an epic pace. It's a grind. Watch the video for more pointers. 
  7. SMILE! Seriously - it releases better hormones and energy, and lowers your anxiety. 
  8. IF you have to dismount, make SURE you CLIP OUT EARLY, and GET YOUR BUTT between the SADDLE and the STEM. Bend the knee that is still clipped in, and land on your free leg's heel. That SHOULD translate to a safe dismount, but remember, a bicycle is most stable when it's moving, and that critical moment when you're balancing off of one pedal only can be hazardous. That said, if you train at Cycling Center Dallas ----- you SHOULD be able to climb it ALL THE WAY!!!

 
The Paluxy pedal is one of the best rallies of the year. It occurs at a time when the heat of summer has finally passed, and fall is in the air. Glen Rose is a beautiful little town, with some great restaurants, and the hospitality down there just cannot be beat. Fossil rim wildlife preserve is famous for its preservation efforts, and there are plenty of hotels where you can stay, and make a weekend of this great event. So join us at Cycling Center Dallas as we train for the terrain in Somervell County. You can sign up for the rally through this link, and you can register with us by clicking here.



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