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Monday, March 31, 2008

Warming Up

Today some ideas on warming up for any sort of activity.

One reason we warm-up is to optimize Muscle length and flexibility. A good warm-up should allow us to get into our most efficient and/or comfortable position, which will allow for proper movement during the main workout. We can think of runners doing things like butt kickers, strides etc. to move through the range of motion and 'loosen' up their muscles. A cyclist would be concerned about things such as gluteal activation and low back flexibility that allow for proper pelvic tilt, proper seat height and a comfortable reach to the bars.

Something that we have been implementing into more and more of our training programs is an active flex routine prior to starting our strength or bike workouts. Any athlete would benefit from proper muscle flexibility and activation (it is not uncommon to see active flex and 'pre-hab' activities, such as foam rolling, included in the warm-ups of Major League Sports like Basketball).

- My personal experience has been that when I precede my bike workouts with movements of these types I am always surprised at how I immediately feel more comfortable on the bike and ready to move quickly through my bike warm-up (I find I am ready to precede to my main workout quicker after these usually).

- Note that these are NOT static stretches and that we are actually moving through the range of motion to create the positions pictured below. (ie. a walking lunge with minimal time spend holding any given portion of the movement ).

Give the following movements a try before your next workout and let us know what you think .. (4-10 reps per exercise/side works well usually)

Hip Lift - lay on back, hug knee to chest and then perform a glut raise/hip lift keeping knee at chest, push through heel .

Walking Knee Hug - moving forward if room, alternately bring knee to chest and hug to chest

Lunge Elbow to Instep - start standing and then perform a good lunge, once in lunge bring opposite elbow to inside of foot, back up to lunge then to standing and repeat other side.

Backward Lunge with Twist - lunge backwards then perform a movement as if you are throwing a ball over your shoulder, follow hands with eyes. (should twist to side opposite the backwards foot)

Forward Lunge with sideways bend - again bend away from the back leg to stretch the hip flexor

Airplane / standing hamstring - can do as a walking motion, alternately go from walking to the shown position, work on balance

Stay Flexible !

PS. If you are interested in learning more about flexibility, mobility or Strength training email about coming to visit us at our new facility !

Monday, March 24, 2008

Training Camp - Case Study

The goal on camp really depends on your race goals for the season but as mentioned in my last post we often find ourselves at a camp with goals that do not match our training over the months before and, even worse, goals that may not be the best contributors to our race/performance goals (ie. relatively huge hours compared to what we will maintain at home and compared to our short races). Anyone who has been on a camp has either experienced or seen someone who has increased there training volume and/or intensity only to become injured or ‘burnt out’ for several weeks after the camp. These keen athletes must then watch their fitness erode while their more conservative camp buddies continue to progress logically through blocks of training after the camp as weather at home improves.

To help with understanding this philosophy of using the training camp as a periodized / purposefully portion of your season rather than doing a huge illogical week I thought I would share my progression into my 2008 training camp. Steve did a great job of getting me ready for my training camp this year despite a snowy Ontario winter.

In the 3 weeks before leaving for camp we increased my training volume about 10% a week towards the goal hours for the ‘big’ week at camp. Most importantly, though, we toughed out a few tough indoor/snowy sessions that would allow for a smooth progression into the training we wanted to do with the first week down south. Since my goals for the early season revolve around MTB races less than 2 hours our goals for the first week at camp were to get in a long race specific intensity workout (close to race duration) and also a low RPM Force Interval workouts in the range 20-25min.

With these goals in mind the weeks before camp built the race specific workout up gradually (15-20min/week is likely enough but will vary with person and amount of duration needed). For the Muscle Tension we used 2min max efforts at uncomfortably low RPM (different depending on client age/ability but usually somewhere 55-75rpm with more experienced, injury free athletes typically being on the lower end). These are best done on a steep hill but with snowy Ontario weather I did a few of these on a quality Cyclops Fluid Trainer. Over the weeks before we just added to the # of repetitions working towards the goal of 20-25min for the camp week.

So upon arrival to camp my ‘big week’ was actually not abnormal but instead the increased training load and intensity was just the next logical step from the previous few weeks. Hope this bit of a case study helps you guide your training. Consider your goals for the week and work back 3-4 weeks to ensure your training camp will be successful and beneficial to the season ahead.
As always please feel free to ask any questions about setting up your camp training progression, or any training question, via the comments feature of this blog, we would be glad to share our opinions’

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Spring Training Camp

For a 'lucky' few athletes we are approaching the season of Spring Training Camp. As our own climate battles to come back to more favorable weather, many athletes will use March as a time to escape for a week or two to get in some warm weather riding. Often athletes will boast, prior to their departure, that they plan on doing 'x' amount of miles or hours and more than often this goal is quite a bit higher than the training load they have been doing over the past weeks and months. While many of these riders come home with what seems like positive gains in fitness, the consequences of such sudden and large increases in training load are seen more obviously in the 'other' riders that return home with negative consequences such as overuse injuries (tendinitis etc.), infections (ie. respiratory) or mental symptoms (burnout/lacking motivation). A consequence that is less obvious is the mid-season burnout experienced by the keen Spring Training Camp athletes that 'spend all their pennies' pulling the group around down south only to find their performance and motivation decreases come the end of May.

Many SNPD athletes make one or two trips south during the season and we try to a) make realistic and planned objectives for their trip and b) make sure they have put in a few weeks of work that lead into the 'big week down south'. This may mean the athlete rides less than they would like down south with the objective being to carry their training progression after they return home (hopefully to warm weather!). By making the camp a planned and logical part of the yearly training plan vs. a large, out of place week, the return home, regardless of weather will be much easier to deal with. The quality of the training while down south should be the focus vs. trying to cram in as much time on the bike, which often results in a mix of maximal efforts and low end recovery mixed into Long rides.

Typically an 8-10hr / wk athlete may do the following leading into a week long trip down south
- wk 1 = 9hrs w/ 2 days of Tempo (40min per), 1 day of high end/ ie. MAP or CP6 work)
- wk 2 = 9 hrs w/ 2 days of Tempo (50min per), 1 day MAP
- wk 3 = 9 hrs w/ 2 days of Tempo (60min per), 1 day MAP
- wk 4 = 21hrs w/ Tempo/Threshold each day, endurance low end (even recovery) mostly interspersed with high end / maximal efforts usually randomly dictated by group.

Another way to look at this trip would be the following:
- wk 1 = 9 hrs w. 2 days of Tempo (40min per), 1 day of high end / Map work
- wk 2 = 11hrs w/ 2 days of Tempo (50min per), 1 day MAP
- wk 3 = 13hrs w/ 2 days of Tempo (60min per), 1 day MAP
- wk 4 = 18hrs w/ 2 days of Tempo (80 min per), 1 day MAP, focus on steady endurance while riding (save recovery for coffee shop!)
* Note often can increase the trip week a bit more then normal due to decrease in 'life stress'

The important component of today's post is to consider your week away as a chance to get in some QUALITY training in a warm climate. Ideally the week will be a bigger/more challenging week but it should also be a logical progression from the weeks and months before your trip. The training camp should also lead into the next block of training/racing once you have returned home, which will help you reintegrate into your home environment with purpose and sustained motivation. Rather than trying to meet a lofty mileage goal try planning your month so you can ramp your training up and have your mind and body ready for the challenge of your Spring Training Camp.

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