CrossFit has opened the eyes of the Endurance sports community that Strength Training MUST be a part of their training....but WHY does it work?
***To begin 2018 I'm trying a less formal blog-post format, more "what's on my mind" posts than "planned and researched" posts, although we will have a good number of those. Let me know what you think of the new format in the comments below!***
As those in the Northeast bunker down for the next 2.5 months of winter (sorry all, I think it'll be the end of March this year folks), one thing that I'm happy for, aside from a great Islay Scotch and my Chemex Coffee maker, are my collection of Kettlebells.
Why do I love the Kettlebells so much? Because they serve us endurance athletes to a high degree. Just one or two Kettlebells of varying weights allows us to add external resistance to some basic moves we should be able to master, or at least take time to work on, in order to keep our body in a happy balance.
These moves are:
- Shoulder Press
- Eastern Squat
- Kettlebell swing (these are killer!)
- Bent over rows/ supported rows
These 4 movements allow us to have a fighting chance to make significant strides towards balancing out our bodies hip and shoulder joints- two joints that are often made a train wreck thanks to the sport of cycling hours on end in a closed-off position.
They are a fantastic way to begin to work on maximizing your on-bike performance, although there is much more that goes into a properly balanced Strength Training program of cyclists.... But you'll have to stay tuned for more on that!
Don't forget to subscribe to the HVTraining Youtube channel for some really interesting and higher level videos on how to tune in your Nutrition so you can maximize your on-bike results. We'll be covering a nutrition topic that many endurance athletes have been neglecting over the last 10 or so years....
If you're a beginner LIFTER (less than 2 years of strength training) forget "sport specific" movements/work, as our first job is to help make you GLOBALLY stronger at the Basic 5 movements:
Training with Power has become THE way to train. Trickling down from the pro cycling ranks, this revolutionary technology has literally redefined our understanding of our training, how efficient we are, and how much improvement we've made, for lost.
If you're like most riders or triathletes, you're simply riding with your powermeter and using the ranges based off of a Functional Threshold Power field test to ensure you're riding is done at the needed intensities. But what if I told you that your powermeter is capable of telling you FAR more about your abilities, your training's effectiveness, and, perhaps even allow you to tap into an unknown natural gift you have?
Well, it does, and I am!
But how do you begin to better understand your bodies energy systems and their abilities?
With a simple Power Profile Test, which can be done on your own (preferably outside on a safe road) with your powermeter, some water, a little bit of on-bike food, and a desire to better understand your abilities.
I don't need a power profile.... Do I?
Some riders, and most triathletes, may be saying to themselves
"I don't need to know my power profile, because I'm only riding at one intensity/ Threshold & Tempo/ for fun / for fitness."
The only one of these riders above that we may give a pass to, are those who are riding for fun. If you're in any of the other categories, ESPECIALLY if you're riding for fitness, the Power Profile can tell you a lot more about where your riding is missing on giving you out massive rewards in your abilities and performance. (yes, we know you're riding for fitness, but let's be honest, EVERYBODY wants to be there first up that climb!) The Power Profile allows you to understand your strengths & weaknesses- perhaps some you didn't even know existed, and affords your the opportunity to refocus your riding to be more well-rounded.
One such area, as highlighted by Joe Friel's book "Faster After 50" are the highly explosive 5-15 second efforts that put pressure on the ATP-PC energy System, and the Neuromuscular system. Not only do these efforts help maintain fitness in those over 50, but when planned properly in a training plan, they can also maintain lean muscle mass!
Talk about a win!
So how do you do a Power Profile Test?
The Power Profile test can be done in PLACE of your regular FTP Testing once or twice a year. Here at HVT I usually have my athletes perform one in the beginning to mid-base period, and if we feel it's justified, another one just before we get into their last build before their peak/specialization period.
Testing your Power Profile more than once a year isn't really necessary for the vast majority of riders in the world, unless you're looking to make a leap to a whole new level or kind of riding (i.e. making the jump from highly competitive road cycling to Cyclocross- two COMPLETELY different sports).
POWER PROFILE TEST PROTOCOL:
Find a road that is quiet with no stop signs or intersections, as we need each efforts to be uninterrupted. Ideally this testing should occur at the same time of day, as well as the same point in a training block, as we want the test to be repeatable and reliable.
The Power Profile testing we do here at HVT is based off of the Allen & Coggan Power Profile Test.
Beginner riders take 15-25 minutes of endurance riding
Intermediate & Advanced take 30-45 min, depending on you current average ride times (if you're usually under 2 hours, stick with 30 minutes)
then 3 x 1 min Fast Pedaling (light gear with high cadence, but not quite bouncing in the saddle), with 1 minute easy pedaling in between efforts.
5 minutes easy riding
5 minutes LACTATE THRESHOLD (97-102% FTP)
5 minutes Recovery (<65% FTP)
1 minute ALL OUT (> 140% FTP)
5 minutes Recovery (<65% FTP)
10 minutes Endurance (self- selected cadence)
5 minutes ALL OUT (Start from 18-20mph, Get out of the saddle and ATTACK HARD, and make sure to NAIL the last 45 seconds as if you're just ahead of the group heading to the finish line!)
10 minutes Recovery (<65% FTP)
1 minute ALL OUT (start from 18-20 mph, PUSH HARD ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE END!)
5 minutes recovery (<65% FTP)
1 minute ALL OUT (ONE MORE like the last one!)
5 minutes Recovery (<65% FTP)
2 x 15 seconds SPRINTS from 15mph & cadence of 85-90 to start!
2 minutes easy pedaling in between efforts
15-20 minutes easy riding c.d.
Look ahead at the next week or two of riding- As it is the holiday season, you'll probably be at an irregular time in your training schedule, so wait until after the new year to do the test. Remember, we want to perform the test at the same time in a training block, and preferably on the same roads and in the same conditions.
To understand what the Power-Profile test means, check out our video, and leave a comment below letting us know how you did!
Strength Training is for EVERY Cyclist, and can significantly boost performance...IF done correctly!
You may be sitting there with your jaw in your double espresso thinking “Who the hell is this guy?!?!? CLEARLY he doesn’t get what the “cycling life” is all about… didn’t he read Phil Gaimons book???”
Yes, I read the book. Yes, I’m a cyclist. Yes, I no longer spend all my money on bike shit.
And here is why you shouldn’t either.
Let’s make one thing crystal clear first: I am in no way a financial specialist or expert, nor am I receiving any payment for writing this piece. Over the last 10+ years of coaching cyclists & triathletes, I’ve realized that only a tiny, tiny segment of riders and triathletes ages 18-45 are saving for retirement, and many are spending as much of their money as possible on bike related stuff, instead of having a long-term view. This is simply a post trying to help others get on track to enjoy things down the road, by taking small, easy actions now.
Cycling is quickly becoming one of the sports outside of golf where much business and networking occurs. It’s funny that so many cyclists are broke, or simply “in between buying new bike stuff”, as some of my friends and athletes would say, yet many riders are closing business deals of all sizes while riding. Talk about a juxtaposition.
So why should you stop buying new parts and stuff for your bikes, buying more stuff for riding and racing your bikes?
Because your retirement won’t save for itself.
Yes I used the “R” word...But hear me out, this isn’t a post that will make your eyes glaze over, or give you a massive migraine. We’ll keep this short and simple, with a few SIMPLE and EASY actions that you’ll take today.
Let’s start with Why
Why should you care about you retirement? Well, aside from the obvious answer of you may or may not want to HAVE to work for the rest of your life, let’s think about a real example:
Think about the “old fast dude” who is always super chill, and who rolls up every 6-12 months to the group ride on a new top of the line Colnago, Pinarello, or whatever bike that you’re drooling over and constantly trying to draft behinds so you can see it up close.
Don’t you want to 1. Be that FAST when you reach his age? 2. Not have to think twice to purchase a bike like that when you’re older? 3. Be that relaxed and chill while enjoying life?
We ALL want to be FAST, FIT, forever CHILL, and have a beautiful stallion as we ride more and get older. But as of right this second, every penny you earn is going towards the “right now, right here”...who’s taking care of yourself for 30 years from now? Sure riding and fitness are constantly on your mind, but what about your financial health?
While you may be fast on the bike, when it comes to saving for your retirement you’re still in your car trying to put on your bibs with your towel wrapped around your waist and legs while the race is already ⅓ to halfway over…...Let’s change what you’re doing now, so you can start making some major improvements in your FTP for your retirement fund.
If you’re one to read, you can pick up one of the following books which won’t bore you to tears, and will give you REAL, EASY, ACTIONABLE steps to help you get on track to enjoying being “That old fast guy with a sick bike, and legs to back it up.”
1. I will teach you to be rich by Ramit Sethi- Targeted to 20-30-somethings, this book is fantastic for those who want a plan that they can automate, set, and forget. This book is written in basic english, so you understand what’s going on. It’s set up in a 6 week plan, so you can read a little each week, take an action step, and have everything good to go without a second thought.
2. The little book of common sense investing by Jack Bogle- This is for all ages, who are looking to cut the crap, and get down to brass tacks. A quick read, you’ll be left wondering how it could be this simple, and why you didn’t start sooner.
3. A simple path to wealth by JL Collins- Similar to I will Teach you to be rich, this book is for those in their mid 30’s-50’s, written in simple terms, and easy to understand.
4. A random walk down wall street by Burton Malkiel- This one is more for those who really enjoy learning about a topic so they understand it beyond the surface. Perhaps this could be called the “Textbook for investing” for modern times, this book helps you make sense of investing, the terminology, and start to explore the world of finance on a more serious level.
Your 401(k) isn't as good as you think it is....
While many of us have our retirement savings “all taken care of” by the 401(k) offered by our companies, these are often riddled with hidden fees that suck out much of the growth from the money we do invest. Do your research and find out how much you’re paying in fees. As “Small” as 2.5% per year in fees can have a devastating effect on your retirement fund. We're talking about eating away at well over 35-40% of what you COULD end up with, if you did your homework to find the best possible low-cost/low-fee 401(k).....YES, you have the right to do so! Don’t be surprised to find that many of the fees are hidden in “legalese”, let alone deep within 60+ page documents.
To learn more about the 401(k) hidden fees and retirement funds, you can watch the Frontline Special “The Retirement Gamble”. It’s a great look at what’s really going on with retirement funds, and people like you and me.
How to get started, TODAY
If you’re not one to read books and just want a few core principles, it comes down to these 3 basic things:
- It really can be as simple as taking 5-10% of your pay each month, and automatically transferring it over to an investment house that offers low-fee index funds, such as Vanguard or Dimensional Fund Advisors.
While many of us barely have time to get our riding in, let alone even THINK about investing, Vanguard and Dimensional Fund Advisors offer some pretty solid “set it and forget it” kind of funds, such as the Target Date Funds (TDF’s) where you invest in a fund that will automatically rebalance your investment portfolio as you get closer to your retirement date. As always, do your own research, and consult with a professional to make sure you get it right for you and your situation.
You can Open an investing account for FREE here:
Vanguard is my personal choice, as there are no fees to invest/purchase, and as you accrue more money into a specific fund, thresholds are met that drop the costs down even further.
Again, I’m not a finance expert, so take this with a grain of salt: I’d personally start with a Roth IRA (Independent Retirement Account), as you pay taxes now (known rates) so the money you accrue is ALL yours, and not 50%+ going to Uncle Sam when you go to draw it out (or at some absurdly higher tax rate that we could never guess). Look into the rules and regulations that apply to Roth IRA’s as you won’t be able to easily dip into the account if you need some cash between now and retirement, and there are also maximum amounts you can put into the account each year, etc.
Check out I will teach you to be rich by Ramit Sethi for more on how to do this.
2. The sooner you get started, the better off you’ll be- Let’s just say that Compounding Interest is a fantastic invention, but one that you can’t take advantage of unless you’re investing! If you’re in your early 20’s CONGRATS! Even “just” $150 a month can grow to significant amounts by the time you’re in your 50’s, and really put you ahead of the game!
If you’re thinking “I don’t have $150 a month to put away”, then start with $50, or $20 and work your way up. These small amounts, with the help of compounding, give you a big leg up in the long run, and set you up to make bigger contributions as you get older, with far less pain.
Don’t make the same mistake I did, and keep telling yourself “I can’t afford it”. (I missed out on probably a once in a lifetime opportunity of getting into investing for retirement during the 2008 financial market collapse. Not because I was afraid, but because I kept telling myself that I couldn’t set aside $50 a month...boy do I regret that. But live and learn!) Automate small amounts to come out from your paycheck each month so they’re automatically invested, and you’ll make it much less painful.
STILL struggling to make it happen? Treat it like a tax. You’ll learn how to adjust and live within your new earnings because when it comes to taxes, you don’t have a choice but to pay them. Aim for 10% of your monthly pay as a good starting point.
3. Play the long game- Don’t get into any of this day trading stuff that is super risky, and takes a lot of time/effort. Indexing and using low-fee index funds makes the game a lot simpler, puts the odds far more in your favor...so much so that the world’s top Investors like Warren Buffet recommend it for the average investor!
Why take a guess/gamble on which company will be the next Apple or Amazon, and instead own them all!
A portfolio as simple as a low-fee S&P 500 Index along with a Total Bond Market Index and Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) may be enough to have you rolling. Talk with a Financial Fiduciary to help you determine the proportions of your portfolio, as this can have a big impact on your performance. NEVER go all-stocks, or all-bonds! If you’re not sure what to do, you can go 50-50 (That’s 50% S&P 500 Index, and 50% bonds made up of Total Bond Market Index and TIPS).
If you want some help to figure out what’s best for you, you should seek out a Financial Fiduciary- this is super important, as fiduciaries are required to put YOUR needs first and foremost. You must make sure to differentiate between a financial broker and a 100% Fiduciary. Always ask first, making sure they don’t have any secondary motives, such as receiving kickbacks/commissions for your purchasing specific funds. That’s a conflict of interest, and well, ruins the whole fiduciary thing.
If you’d like to learn more, check out the books above, or, if you’d like a longer read, you can pick up a copy of Tony Robbin’s “Money, Master the game”.
Either way, get started NOW- even with seemingly small amounts- as time and compounding interest are your friends as you move forward. But you have to get started to take advantage!
Ignoring saving and investing for your retirement is like heading to the start line of your peak race with 2 flat tires, a rusty drive train, and the brakes locked up. You can work really hard, but you're clearly at a huge disadvantage, and won't win.
Not the post you expected from a cycling coach, huh?
Life INCLUDES the bike, but we must make sure to keep a healthy balance.
Tell me, do you invest? Have you started to build up your Retirement fund, or are you still putting it off?
What’s keeping you from getting started?
Are you guys as stoked about the TrainerRoad video on Strength training as much as I am?
I doubt it!
Not only is TrainerRoad a great tool to help Cyclists and Triathletes who aren't ready for 1 on 1 coaching to get some solid fitness, but it also has a great reach into the endurance community.
While I've been talking about strength training for cyclists for the last 9 years, knowing deep down that the time for change is ALMOST here.....this video with currently 69,000+ views, tells me the time IS here.
Today we hit on the TOP 3 RULES when it comes to Strength Training that you MUST keep in mind!
There are some rules to Strength Training for cyclists...
While the blog post that goes along with the video says there are no "hard and fast rules when it comes to strength training for cyclists", there are quite a few rules that apply to strength training in general that we MUST keep in mind. These are the top 3.
1. Specific Adaptations to imposed Demand
Whatever you program the body to do, is what it will do. This is super important as we get into strength training, as when we start off coming from loads of time on the bike, we must make sure that we work to find a happy balance for our joints, so they can perform on the bike, and stay healthy off the bike.
If you're looking to improve your strength for riding, or anything for that matter, you must impose that demand (do strength training) at LEAST 3 days a week in order to see results and progress. This means finding the right balance for YOU and YOUR needs for the different times of year. Simply hitting the gym 2x a week for a 2 hours strength session may be enough to help you see some small increases for a short time, but it won't be enough to stimulate the changes you're seeking!
For true beginners in the weight room, 2x a week for 60-75 min quality sessions may prove to be enough, however for the vast majority of us we will require 3 days a week regularly in the gym, in order to see results. More is not always better, and we must also keep in balance your riding,. Many riders with whom I've worked have found that a 60 minute gym session with a good 10-15 minute warm-up has allowed them to have absolutely fantastic results, and to maintain their abilities on the bike.
Find what works for you, and stick to it. You should see progress regularly and consistently, and be feeling better after your strength work, not worse.
2. Training is useless if your recovery sucks
We don't get stronger from the workouts we do, in fact, we are actually in a weakened state afterwards. We get stronger by getting the nutrients and rest we need after a workouts, so that the body can repair and adapt.
Strength training 4x a week PLUS riding 12 hours PLUS working 40 hours PLUS.... if you're not getting your sleep and nutrition on point, you'll see poor (if any) results.
3. Progression, progression, progression!
Many of the exercises shown in the video are very advanced, and require large amounts of range of motion, stability, and strength to perform properly. Specifically the Pistol Squats and Spiderman Pushups require an immense amount of core strength AND mobility at the hips.
While the mobility at the hips is a long post in and of itself, the core strength is a big issue for many of us, as we tend to have poor connection of the ribs and pelvis, leading us to perform these exercises with poor technique which can lead to pain,discomfort, and loss of time on the bike- something we very much want to avoid.
4. (BONUS) Work within the Range of Motion you have, SetTing yourself up for success, not injury
This is something many athletes, regardless of sport, tend to miss. While it is really good to go through a full range of motion for an exercise, pushing beyond YOUR range of motion to where you lose technique or proper alignment of the joints and body parts is only going to make your risk of injury increase.
There are a large number of Triathletes and Time Trials in particular with whom I've coached (after they hurt themselves), and seen in the weight room trying to "mimic my position on the TT bars".
There is a time and a place for being as "sport-specific" as possible, but with weight lifting exercises, especially ones such as the deadlift and bent over reverse flies, are not them.
Strength training should be done in the ranges of motion you have, and IN POSITIONS THAT SET YOU UP TO SUCCEED. This is something that Loren Landow really impressed upon me during the week or so I spent with him back in 2014. It's something that many cyclists and athletes as a whole, struggle with.
Simply: If you cannot maintain a good posture and alignment for an exercises, set yourself up for success by either staying within the positioning and range of motion you CAN safely work through....or change the exercise. When it comes to exercises, just as with scotch & wine, there are many different "flavors" and within those flavors, many different variations from which to choose from.
For example, If you cannot keep your spine straight for a barbell deadlift from the floor, raise the bar up off the floor using plates or risers to a point where you can keep your spine straight, abs & lats tight, and use your glutes and hamstrings, NOT your back.
Set yourself up to win, and you'll reap benefits.
Try to go outside of your abilities, and you'll find yourself injured or in pain.
You have tons to gain and tons to lose (pun intended), set yourself up to win.
The Trainer Road video is a testament to the work that coaches who have been teaching the immense value and necessity of Strength Training for cyclists carries with it, like Harvey Newton and myself, which has helped to push the world of cycling forward in it's realization that proper strength training for cycling is a MUST.
We are finally entering the time where the average athlete is ready and willing to take heed, and finally hit the weights. This video is a fantastic step forward to getting the message out to the masses, and to get riders EXCITED about lifting. I just want to try to ensure that many folks won't try these exercises and wind up putting themselves into positions they can get hurt.
ALWAYS start at the lowest level of an exercise, and work your way up. If you're not sure about an exercise, start small, and slowly work your way up. Remember, being injured only sets you back, "Keep the money on the field".
If you want to learn more about Strength Training for Cycling and Triathlon, sign up for the Human Vortex Training Newsletter to receive expert tips and advice.