It's Mid-February, and the Groundhog decided rather quickly to re-enter his den, after seeing his shadow. That means more opportunities for us at Cycling Center Dallas, to help you continue to improve your Stamina, Speed, and Strength through our Six-Week Series of Classes. Many of you begrudgingly participated in two days of testing, to determine your absolute highest-average-power outputs for three minutes, eight minutes, and later, twenty minutes. Read More
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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Coach Richard Wharton
February 11, 2014 15:34
July 29, 2013 12:13
A couple of weekends ago, our White Rock Lake studio was honored to host one of the two partners for some very powerful cycling and triathlon training and analysis software, David Tilbury-Davis. Mr. Davis is a triathlon coach with the British Triathlon Union (BTU), and will be relocating from his base in Spain to a new location outside of Houston this year. He came to Dallas to explain to an elite crew of coaches, what RaceDay Apollo is, and what it can do for the coach and the athlete. Read More
April 7, 2013 10:27
I am posting this today from our Richardson Location, where we'll be hosting an Open House, from 2 to 5pm, complete with food, drinks, music, and live demonstrations of the studio and trainers, but the story behind the studio really has to be the results that we're starting to witness as a result of the programming and participation. Read More
March 24, 2013 14:07
Quick question - what is the FOUNDATION for Power Generation in the body? Answer: THE CORE!!!! Now - WHAT THE HECK IS THE CORE?! I mean, there are SO MANY DIFFERENT ideas out there. What are we really talking about?! In a further discussion with Coach Kurt, we'll begin at, of course, THE CORE!!!! "To me, the Core is the link between Upper and Lower Body. This Link tranmsits force, back and forth. In most sports, energy is translated from the legs, through the core, to the upper body and arms. Most 'Striking' and 'Throwing' sports, as well as contact sports, are like this. For example - in a pitcher, a great pitch begins on the base plate. The foot is planted, the legs begin the windup, the energy is transmitted in to the torso as the pitcher literally becomes unbalanced, and the shoulders wind up the arms, to the point that the final extremity to touch the baseball, is literally the edge of the fingers. Imagine doing this 200x/day, for a 20 year career. It's absolutely astounding, especially when the pitcher can intuitively place the ball where he wants, and with different speeds and spins. For cycling, the exact opposite takes place. Energy and the source for high effort begin AT the core, as the body seeks a platform or foundation for stability up above and propulsion down below. The object is to get as little movement as possible in the bike, and get as much energy transmitted from the pedal platform in to the drivetrain. You're not trying to move the bike laterally, and you're not trying to over-emphasize movement in the sagittal plane of the body as well. A STABLE body is an EFFICIENT body. In a sport where literally millimeters and fractions of a second make a difference, as well as economy from an energy expenditure "angle", having a strong, stamina-related torso, will definitely translate in to more Speed, More Strength, and More Stamina. This post will be all about the abdominal muscles and how improving their performance can lead to better cycling. This is an overview of the musculature of the abdominal region in the human body. The outer layers consist of the external obliques, and the rectus abdominis. These are muscles of the outer unit of the abdominal region. The reason they are in the outer unit, is that they are large muscle groups, and are responsible for what we call "Global" stability. Think about it - the 'Guy Wires' that keep telephone poles upright, are critical to our infrastructure's daily maintenance. So, the Abdominals are critical in helping keep us upright and they're important when you're generating a lot of force. EMG's reveal that the abdominals are engaged in just about every single resistance training activity. However, it's important to note that they are engaged much more significantly when individuals are standing, versus sitting or lying. A bike, however, does not translate in to a seated position. You're still transferring force from the arms to the legs, and vice-versa. The next layer is the internal obliques, also considered an outer unit or global muscle. The final layer, and the deepest is the transverse abdominis. The transverse abdominis seen above is part of the Inner Unit, which includes the diaphragm, the muscles of the pelvic floor, and small intervertebral muscles of the lumbar spine, called 'maltifidi'. This is a circular muscle, as it wraps around the body, from back to front, above the hips and below the rib cage, almost like a girdle. When it contracts, it literally squeezes the organs and creates a smaller circumference. As you can see here, the multifidi, are attached to the vertebrae, crossing one or two each. They are responsible for 'inter-segmental stabilization' of the lumbar spine. This is a side view of the muscles of the pelvic floor. When they contract, they tend to LIFT the organs of the lower abdominal cavity upward. The diaphragm provides the 'Cap', or 'Cover' musculature for the abdominal cavity. When we take a deep, belly breath, the diaphragm pushes DOWN on the organs of the abdominal cavity. The transverse abdominis, the multifidi, the muscles of the pelvic floor, and the diaphragm, compose the 'inner unit'. The inner unit works like THIS: A deep belly breath is taken, the diaphragm expands and pushed down on the viscera. As we activate our transverse abdominis, a circular girdle is formed around the viscera, compressing it inward. The muscles of the pelvic floor, also on the same neurological loop, LIFT the viscera upward, and the multifidi, also on the same loop, activate to stabilize the lumbar spine. This creates a noncompressable "cylinder" that supports the lumbar spine, and allows for the reliable, transfer of force, between the lower body/pelvis, and the upper torso/arms. If you've ever wondered why it is that your entire 'gut' is THERE, this is the reason. NONE of this will compress, but when you perform high-force pedaling, this unit is a CRITICAL part of the pedal cycle! Now, all of this is overthinking it a bit. BUT, you HAVE to know this, in order to better apply exercises that will optimize this portion of your body. Here are a few questions for you:
- Which of the four abdominal muscles do NOT attach to the rib cage at some point?
- Which of the four abdominal muscles to NOT attach to the pelvis at some point?
- abdominal trauma or low-back trauma,
- any surgery to the abdominal or low-back area,
- a bike crash or injury to the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex,
- and even extrended, chronic gastro-intestinal disfunction (because these organs literally plug in to the same neuro-muscular 'socket').
May 21, 2010 10:07
Here in North Texas, rally season is in full swing, after what ended up becoming a weird, wet, and mostly colder spring that kept more riders inside than outside enjoying the rides. Now, I'm all for indoor training, but let's face it – we do what we do indoors two or three times a week, so that we can enjoy ourselves more fully outdoors when the weather is good. After what seems like a pretty mediocre first half of the cycling season for me, things in the past two weeks have been looking up, and my form is actually coming along pretty well. I'm proud of my strong rides in the last two rallies, and this is where the theme of today's title comes from. Here I am, almost 40, riding at the front of the pack, taking solid pulls, shedding weaker riders, and finishing strong, on what may be about SIX HOURS A WEEK of training. Maybe. Yet after the rides, when the top 10 or 20 of us are reliving the ride, recovering with drinks and food, and watching other cyclists come through the finish line, I am always approached by other cyclists with the perpetual question... “How can I get better at this?” It's a loaded question, and it can NOT be answered easily. But the simplest answer is the one that I'll borrow from Eddy Merckx, and will also augment. “Ride Lots” and “Train Smart”. The development of a cyclist mimics the growth curve of a human being... It resembles a lazy “S”. It's concave-curvilinear from birth through early adolescence, when it sort of flattens out, and then it becomes convex-curvilinear, where it starts to trend toward a flat horizon. The limitations of the curve are based on three things: age, the time limitations you place on yourself for training, and experience. Talent is also in there as well, though it's hard to measure when you need to focus on the previous three issues. Most of the people that come to me are older (above 35), have less experience, and really don't have that much time to train, given the mix of career and family obligations. “Ride Lots” becomes “Ride When You Can”, and that leaves us with the effort where I can help... “Train Smart”. Training Smart means that cyclists who want to improve need to go through systematic, dedicated, perpetual adaptation to higher intensities of cycling. In my studio, we use Wattage to measure that intensity. We use CompuTrainers and ErgVideos to give cyclists a 12 week protocol of Progression, hitting specific energy systems that improve specific aspects of cycling's demands. Cyclists go through 4-to-6-week “Meso-Cycles” where they will be challenged on one specific energy system in which they'll be optimizing their performance. Then, we test to see if it has led to a specific result, and change to a different energy system, on a different Meso-Cycle. Progression in intensity continues until the end of the Period, which is where we back off slightly, re-test, and then once again shift modes. Cyclists who use this protocol, show up for every class, warm up properly, come with the right attitude, pre-workout and mid-workout fueling strategy, and GIVE IT ALL in the time allotted, will see results in the following four areas of cycling demands. Stamina – Stamina is perhaps the most critical of all the values by which a cyclist can gauge improvement. Stamina means that you have the ability to ride further, longer, and stronger. Hills don't leave you exhausted. You don't bonk on longer rides. Think of Stamina as being the model by which your speed and efficiency both increase. Gaining Stamina is all about holding a steady pace at a moderately hard effort. Your rides get longer, if not necessarily faster. Speed – Speed is all about improving Stamina while also learning how to react to terrain and other riders' actions more quickly. Speed is about finding the right gear, at the right time, and pedaling early enough to get over terrain, or to bridge to the natural separations that occur in a group ride, with enough subtlety that it is barely noticeable. Speed is about being fluid. Speed is a reactionary response to a perceived demand. Strength – It's hard to define the concept behind “He's a Strong Rider”. Strong Riders mix Speed and Stamina to 'crack the whip' and tax their legs, lungs, and heart so that THEY dictate the terms to the terrain, the wind, and the pack, if they're riding in one. “Strong” riders are efficient, but they're also able to recover more quickly from hard efforts, or repeated hard efforts. They also derive strength from mental development, which is equally crucial. At the Cycling Center of Dallas, riders develop both physical and mental strength from workouts via the shorter, sharper intevals that we go through in certain meso-cycles, and the different (and decreasing) recoveries that they get in between those intervals. Skill – Skill is something that is mostly developed through experience, both indoors and out, but indoors, experience is gained from knowing just how hard an effort is, what cadence is best for that effort, and what it will do for the rest of the ride. I always tell my clients - “It's not the fact that you can do one, single effort at a certain wattage output. It's the fact that you can string together multiple efforts at a lower wattage that will help you define your improvement as a cyclist.” We'll talk more about meso-cycles and the “Four S's” in later posts, but for now, think about this – If you're a professional in a career outside of cycling, and you enjoy the sport for recreational purposes, but you feel you have room to improve, “Train Smart” is your best option. At the Cycling Center of Dallas, you'll be challenged every session, on a proven plan, and will continue to see improvements in your capabilities as a cyclist, through fitness, and fun!
September 6, 2009 13:48
With a new series of classes, and several new faces in class, I thought it might be a good idea to revisit warmup theory and application. [caption id="attachment_76" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="Just part of a complete warmup"][/caption] There are a few reasons why I like to see people at the Cycling Center of Dallas get in early, so they can do a proper warmup. First off, it sets the tone for a good workout. Hustling in at T-10 minutes, then rushing around as you throw the bike on the mount, put your shoes on, etc. doesn't prepare the mind for the intervals ahead. Second, remember the physics behind the physiology. The CompuTrainer, as well as your bike and body, need time to raise internal temperatures, increase heart rate, vasodilate the bloodstream, and increase the levels of lactic acid in the system. Now, you usually think of lactic acid as the enemy, but it's not. It's a valuable source of energy that just takes time to process after creation. Raising heart rate, intensity, and body temperature will also raise levels of lactate in your blood. Research (link below) has shown that a proper warmup will also improve performance. Finally, in order to get the best accuracy, the CompuTrainer needs about 20-25 minutes to get warmed up, and get the tire warmed up to a stable temperature for accuracy with our wattage-based workout. When you get in to class, give yourself at least 20 minutes. Use the first 10 minutes to warm up body, bike, and tire, then do a coast-down calibration. Ride for a few more minutes at a slightly higher load resistance, and recalibrate. If the numbers are similar, you're good, and no further calibration of the CT is necessary. But if you still have time left, try this: Perform anywhere from 1 to 3 30-second "spin ups", where you go out and increase resistance to above threshold, and pedal at a fast clip (110 rpm+) for 30 seconds. After that 30 seconds, drop the load, coast for a few minutes, maybe 3, then perform it again. Do it one more time as time permits... When class starts, you'll find yourself performing a better workout, for a longer period of time. Finally, don't forget - IF weight loss is your goal, then the extra 20-30 minutes will only enhance your calorie burn, putting you closer to a caloric deficit, and pending weight loss. Remember, that's IF your goal is weight loss. For everyone else, this is a chance to get a great warmup, improve stamina, and prepare for a killer workout. http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/cyclists-warm-up.htm
September 2, 2009 10:46
[caption id="attachment_62" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Prep for the Test, then Ace it!"][/caption] The ErgVideo FTP Time Trial is a test that is used here at the Cycling Center to determine your "Functional Threshold Power", or FTP. Functional Threshold is best described as the Average Power that you can sustain for 60 minutes. However, since we usually don't have the full 90 minutes that would be required for such a test (60 minutes plus a 26 minute warmup, give or take), we usually use the 20-minute test, and then make the assumption that the 60-minute power would be 95% of this 20-minute average. But part of the test is actually knowing HOW to take the test. This link from Hunters Moon at an English website called "Flamme Rouge", provides an EXCELLENT description of just how, and how NOT to perform a time trial. Check it out. http://www.flammerouge.je/content/3_factsheets/constant/ttstrat.htm
December 22, 2008 23:14
Every time I hit hills on the CompuTrainer, I'm reminded of that great poem about "John Henry and His Hammer". No matter how hard you try, you usually end up dead, and the hammer is still on the bike, or on the floor in the form of sweat and tears. But I KNOW they're working. They hammer your legs. They hammer your mind. They hammer your heart. And THESE hills. THESE Gatineau Park Redux Hills. Man, they are KILLERS. They start right at 95%, then slowly creep up to about 105-107% over about 2 minutes. Then, the last minute, they rise up to the 120's and 130's. Your heart rate is soaring. Your cadence is slowly dropping. You're fighting for breath, for speed, and for that last pedal stroke that will help you get THAT MUCH CLOSER to the finish.... But for me, tonight, it wasn't meant to be. Bam. I had to drop the numbers and.... Wait. Let's look at the numbers. My normal threshold is, what, 275, and this hill was at... 310???? 310???? GOOD LORD NO WONDER it sucked. But hey - you spent THAT MUCH MORE TIME at or above Threshold, and you held on longer each hill, and when you noticed that the Threshold was at 310, you dropped it to 290 and you actually made it over some hills, and... Not a bad workout! HEY! Cool! Never woulda thunk it! The morning classes are going to LOVE THIS PROGRAM!
December 19, 2008 20:17
There's something wonderful about pairs. I'm talking about pairs of cyclists, who are fairly evenly matched, usually in terms of performance, but also in terms of age, ability, experience, family and career track. I hate to admit this, but I purposely put people like that side-by-side, so that they can push themselves and each other to limits that would otherwise be completely dependent upon solo efforts. My psych 101 classes taught me that two people pulling a rope against each other will pull at 105% or more of the effort they would use to pull the rope against a machine or an inanimate object. So getting people who are naturally competitive, and putting them side-by-side, so that they can see each other out of the corner of their eyes, maybe even bump elbows, see the numbers in context, and even sweat on each other, can really bring out the best in people. Thursday night's class had two pairs of cyclists who fit this category. A pair of young women, teammates, one more experienced in indoor cycling than the other, but both of roughly the same age, and from similar backgrounds in the sport. The other pair were Masters men, one with gobs of experience, the other with an incredible zeal for the performance that he has gained and the fitness he has seen in the last several months. I paired these 4 folks together, male & female, and watched the sparks fly. The interval session was again sort of a non-traditional workout for December. We did 21 separate sprint intervals, most of them about 15 seconds long at 200% of threshold. I made SURE that the athletes did not start pedaling hard until they had met the beginning of the slope of the wattage load, and then they were better able to keep the pedaling below 25mph. The workout was teh extension of the technique protocol, and it placed emphasis on anaerobic power, sustained slightly longer than the 6-8 seconds that your ATP system is in use. But in this case, the power doesn't let up - instead, you tend to start losing speed. In the Real World, the power will drop, while speed will stay about the same, but by then, the race is usually decided. In any case, this was a great opportunity for those paired riders to work together, as well as against each other, and push themselves to the limits. The result was a fantastic workout that left all four riders sort of whimpering in the corner, but completely satisfied that they had exceeded everyone's expectations - their own, their 'buddy's, and their coach.... I'm convinced that this type of workout, while effective, is more effective in a group setting, and even more effective when the athletes are familiar with each other. I think we'll see these guys & gals continue to excel. It'll bear fruit this Spring, just wait, be consistent, and be patient. See ya'll on Sunday!
December 16, 2008 11:54
Monday night in Dallas was sleety, icy, cold, and... it was PERFECT WEATHER for an indoor training session! Four hardy classmates braved the weather and rush hour to get on their bikes and dip puddles on the floor as we went through some early-off-seaon Anaerobic intervals. The workout was simple.... One set of 27 60-second intervals at 122% with 60-second recoveries. All on, or all off. Another lung-buster. Sure, the first few were fine. The middle ones, not so bad, but felt. It was the last 10 or 8 or so that REALLLY got your attention. You see, these intervals play with your metabolic and recovery system like nobody's business. Every minute of effort, the first 20-25 seconds, your body is ramping up to meet the oxygen needs of the muscles, and to purge the byproducts of muscle contraction, and recycle the energy. But the last 20 seconds, you're fighting a losing battle. You're producing more byproduct than you can metabolize, and your body is trying desperately to regulate its' acidity by purging Co2 through the lungs. Then, when the interval is over, your body STILL has to purge that Co2 to get back to homeostasis. So everything is delayed-reaction. You don't start feeling normal again until 30 seconds in to the recovery, and you don't start getting desperate until thirty seconds in to the interval. The trick to these is training the body to recover as quickly as possible - the watts per interval are not as important. These are great race duplicators, they do wonders for your Vo2Max, and we'll be seeing a lot of these in January's sessions.