Saturday

Endurance Athlete Weight Training Workout

A good quick workout for not just endurance athletes but for all athletes is listed below. I have been doing this workout 1-2 times per week. It is quick and really gets down to business in terms of building strength, stamina, and does not build bulk.

Warm-up: (In this order)
1) Foam roll
2) Stretch

Complete step 3 and 4 2 x's with 1 minute rest between sets and exercises.
3) Lateral Side Steps (With inner tube.) 2 x 60 steps left and right side combined.
4) Jumping Rope 1-4 minutes x 2 sets

Main Set:
1-Arm Kettle Bell/Dumbbell Swings 2 x 25 reps. Rest 1 minute between sets.

Dead Lift 2 x 15 reps. Rest 2 minutes between sets.

The final 2 exercises are to be done as a superset with limited rest between sets. I like to rest 15-30 seconds between these but some can go straight on through with rest. Rest enough to be able to complete the superset.

Super-Set:
Chin-Ups 1 x 5-10 reps depending on ability & Push-Ups OR Dips 1 x 5-15 reps depending on ability. Keep alternating chin-ups with push-ups with limited rest until you complete 3-4 rounds.

Cool Down: In This Order.

1) Foam Roll
2) Stretch

YOU ARE DONE!

This workout takes about 30 minutes with most of the time being spent warming up. Also,,,I like to complete my dead lifts with the device below. I am not a big fan of straight Olympic bar dead lifts as they require perfect form to avoid injury and most don't have perfect form especially when fatigued. I like to use a TRAP BAR which is the method I recommend and prefer when it comes to dead lifting.

Sunday

Divorce by Triathlon

Being a psychologist in addition to being a health/fitness coach I tend to always be analyzing human behavior and what motivates individuals to do what they do. After all, no matter what we do has some sort of benefit to us either directly or indirectly. Skinner was always one of my favorites and I tend to shy towards the behavioristic models/theories of human behavior.

Having had a great deal of training and experience in working with individuals with suicidal tendencies/ideation, I was always aware of the phenomenon of "Suicide By Cop". If you are not familiar with "Suicide by Cop" it is the phrase used for individuals who are suicidal and decide to break a law that will involve police intervention. When the intervention comes in the form of an officer upholding the law the suicidal individual either draws a gun or makes a some sort of threat towards the police that will end in that individual's death. This is obviously a no win situation in that one person who needed help doesn't get it and the officer who is trying to do their job is left with the guilt of taking a life.

Where does triathlon fit into this equation? In reading blogs, knowing, coaching and being a triathlete myself, and combining all this with my background in psychology and behaviorism, I couldn't help but begin to draw some comparisons in this type of human behavior. It is a common and well known fact that Ironman distance triathlons or any ultra distance race (running/cycling) requires a great deal of time, commitment, and dedication to training. Those that take this challenge on know all too well what the are embarking upon. For some, this challenge and level of commitment maybe a way of building their self-esteem, feeling of purpose, feeling of accomplishment, or some combination of all three. For me it was mostly for the feeling of accomplishment and self-esteem. I am sure there were other factors involved that I am still unaware of that were playing a part in possessing me to wake up at 4am and ride my trainer and then run an hour at lunch time, only to bike another 2 hours outside after work. This type of behavior definitely warrants a psychological explanation though. I feel it was mainly a way for me to escape some things I was dealing with at work and also a way to feel that I was progressing in my life. After all, Americans are achievement junkies and I am no different.

Anyways, getting back to the high divorce rate in triathlon/endurance sports. I began to think that some maybe training for a host of reasons. One of them that came to mind is the idea of what I call "Divorce by Triathlon". Much like "Suicide by Cop" the individual begins to cause a situation in their relationship with their significant other that forces the desired result. In this case that result is divorce. When you have an athlete training especially for ironman distances it is not uncommon for them to put in 15-20 hours of training a week for months on end. This puts a great amount of stress on that person's spouse especially if they have kids and a job on top of everything else. Usually, the spouse tolerates this for the race, the triathlete finishes the race, calls themselves an "Ironman", and everyone goes back to life as usual. However, some don't stop there. They find that this lifestyle is quite nice and decide to continue to race and train for future Ironman events. No we are entering into a new realm I believe. This is no longer a one time event but a lifestyle change. Enter "Divorce by Triathlon".

Now there is no end in sight to the individual's training, racing, and time away from their "old" life. Most spouses tolerate this depending on their ability but ultimately the end result is "Divorce by Triathlon". The non-competing spouse becomes frustrated and problems begin. In my opinion it is not fair or reasonable to expect this from one's spouse. I know because I did it and have come to realize that it wasn't worth it.

I feel that some are able to compete at the Ironman distance and live a reasonably normal life. However, I feel these individuals are in the minority. I often wonder how many lonely wives, husbands, children of triathletes are out there wondering when the insanity is going to end. I know this is not going to go over very well with most Ironman distance competitors but I am also here to say that there is a life of excellent and outstanding fitness out there in case YOU decide to follow it. There is no shame in sprint distance or Olympic distance events. The belief that longer is better is in my opinion obsolete at this point IF your goal is to be a healthy individual. You will also find that a great many retired professional triathletes have come to these same conclusions. There is more to life. Being exceptionally fit does not mean you are exceptionally healthy. The two concepts are not the same.

Friday

4th of July Weekend

Just wanted to drop a quick post leading into this 4th of July weekend. I remember last year at this time I was trying to juggle traveling, family obligations, training for the Musselman 70.3 race and basically burning the candle at both ends. Sometimes you don't realize how far you are pushing yourself until you finally take a step back. That is what I decided to do almost exactly one year to this date.

After having a decent performance at 2009 Musselman 70.3 and then running the Presque Isle Duathlon one week later I realized I needed a break. Actually, I realized I needed to drop down in the distances I was competing at for several reasons. I think most come to realizations on their own. People close to me were telling me I was pushing myself too hard but I didn't want to hear it or admit it. Finally, I realized I needed to listen. Since last year I have cut back on my training and focused on being HEALTHY. There is a big difference between being the most fit or the best in your age group and being healthy. I realized that after pushing myself to the extreme and being extremely fit that I was not actually very healthy. Something had to change.

Since last year I returned to the weight room on a consistent basis, only trained on the bike 2-3 times per week, and ran 1-2 times per week and many times didn't run at all. To my surprise my performance on the bike didn't suffer much and I was a much healthier happier individual. My future goals include competing at shorter triathlon and cycling distances and focusing on fun and health rather than winning.

I feel that many out there want to win their age group and that is okay. I also feel that you can be very healthy/happy and still win your age group. However, for me, I needed to sacrifice a great deal to be competitive and after performing to what I thought was my limit I decided to change gears.

As a coach, father and husband I have found my performance in these other areas of my life has substantially improved. I am sure I will return to the sprint and Olympic distances soon but hope to approach these events with a different perspective. I have learned a great deal on how to do this from the athletes I coach. I am greatly impressed by their discipline as well as their consistent ability to surprise not only me but themselves as well.

Wednesday

PMC and Planning



Above you will find what I commonly do as a coach with ALL my athletes that desire to get this type of detail and thought put into their training plans. This particular athlete raced an 8 day stage race in Europe last year around the end of May. He is scheduled to do a similar race in Europe but this time on August 30th. So we still have time to build his chronic training load (CTL) at a safe and manageable pace.

Last year his power to weight ratio on the bike was just outstanding. He road beyond his dreams during that stage race and was a top performer in not only his age group but overall. We collaborated quite a lot based on how he was feeling and how his training stress balance (TSB) was responding to this training stress.

The real value of a power meter used in coordination with a program like WKO+ is that we are able to look back at last year and determine what kind of training stress and CTL are required to get a desired result. This athlete does not want to invest the amount of time he did into his training as last year so we were able to come to a compromise on his CTL goal prior to his race. We came up with 63 tss/day for his goal CTL prior to his peak period. We may come in slightly above this or slightly below. However, we feel that we will approach his performances of last year with a CTL approaching 70 tss/day.

Now the hard part...I as a coach will be developing and continuously tweaking his schedule to get him there. As we roll into June and July I hope to partially re-create the type of stress you find in a 5 day stage race that includes over 30,000 feet elevation gain. See profile below:



Hopefully this year he will be able to bring his Power Tap along for a few days of this event. Last year we were concerned about the weight of the wheel and the hassle of brining it. So he decided not to bring it. If your Power Tap is not built into a high end wheel then you will usually find yourself weighing the pros and cons of bringing your Power Tap along or not. In last year's case we decided to go without. Probably a good decision since he is not riding the same course this year. However, if you are going to be riding a similar course year after year and you don't have your Power Tap built into a Zipp 404 or other high end wheel then it is a good idea to make the sacrifice and use the Power Tap wheel. The data gained during these events is invaluable as you prepare for the following years race in terms of identifying and improving your limiters and also realizing the kind of kilojoules needed to complete the event.

PMC and Planning




Above you will find what I commonly do as a coach with ALL my athletes that desire to get this type of detail and thought put into their training plans. This particular athlete raced an 8 day stage race in Europe last year around the end of May. He is scheduled to do a similar race in Europe but this time on August 30th. So we still have time to build his chronic training load (CTL) at a safe and manageable pace.

Last year his power to weight ratio on the bike was just outstanding. He road beyond his dreams during that stage race and was a top performer in not only his age group but overall. We collaborated quite a lot based on how he was feeling and how his training stress balance (TSB) was responding to this training stress.

The real value of a power meter used in coordination with a program like WKO+ is that we are able to look back at last year and determine what kind of training stress and CTL are required to get a desired result. This athlete does not want to invest the amount of time he did into his training as last year so we were able to come to a compromise on his CTL goal prior to his race. We came up with 63 tss/day for his goal CTL prior to his peak period. We may come in slightly above this or slightly below. However, we feel that we will approach his performances of last year with a CTL approaching 70 tss/day.

Now the hard part...I as a coach will be developing and continuously tweaking his schedule to get him there. As we roll into June and July I hope to partially re-create the type of stress you find in a 5 day stage race that includes over 30,000 feet elevation gain. See profile below:

Tuesday

Fatigued



Here is a file analysis of my workout this morning. Based on how I am feeling and also my performance and heart rate data I believe that I am a bit overly fatigued right now.
Based on this workout and the results gained I feel a few changes need to be made in my training. First off, I have been doing weights on the same day as my two hard bike rides. At the beginning of the year I feel this was extremely beneficial. This maybe because my aerobic capacity could not keep up with my muscular endurance and as a result I was not fatiguing my muscles as much as I am today. I was able to then proceed to the gym and put in a good effort. However, As I changed my training to go from 2 x 20 minutes and 5-7 x 5 minute efforts for the week to 2 x 20 min and 1.5 hours of mountain bike climbing (2,300 feet elevation gain), I am quickly beginning to realize that I can no longer maintain the weights on the same day. In addition to this I am beginning to feel that my weight training needs to change from continuous heavy and challenging sessions to more strength maintenance in nature. The primary change that precipitated everything has been the addition of the challenging mountain bike day along with the 2 x 20 min effort and the long 3-4 hour ride on the weekend. At some point I want to bring in the 5-7 minute efforts and keep all other rides. I also want to maintain 2 weight training workouts per week. Again, these weight workouts will most likely become more and more focused on maintaining my strength but also begin to include more plyometric training as I have read and noticed in my own experience that plyometric training seems to enhance and improve overall Functional Threshold Power (FTP).

Again, all this analysis would not be possible without a power meter. I would most likely have continued on with my intervals not knowing that my output (Power) was declining. I most likely would have rationalized away my lower heart rate input (162 bpm rather than my usual 170+ bpm) during a typical 2 x 20 minute effort. And, I would have begun to enter an over trained state. Based on my performance management chart, I am able to corroborate all this data along with how I am feeling and avoid the pitfalls of over training.

Friday

Jumping Rope




Well, the ideas are coming at me hard and fast today. Just finished my strength training workout. Maybe that's why. Strength training has a way of cleansing the body and the mind of impurity.

Anyways, I have a pretty elaborate warm-up that lasts for about 20 minutes before I even slap a plate on the bar. Part of that warm-up includes jumping rope. I am slowly working my way towards 15 minutes non-stop of rope jumping. I have a long way to go though but I am making progress and I like it. At my best cycling and triathlon fitness levels I don't believe I could have even jumped rope for 1 minute straight without having issues. Mainly with breathing but also with foot strength, coordination/balance and the common muscle pains found in most triathletes.

I have read different opinions on jumping rope. It isn't for everyone, but it is hard to argue with an activity that has stood the true test of time. People have been jumping rope in one form or another since 1600B.C.. In modern times it has been used as a method to improve muscular endurance, speed, agility, coordination and aerobic capacity mainly in the sports of boxing, wrestling, and mixed martial arts.

Jumping rope is not an easy activity as most athletes come to find out. You may think you are in excellent shape but I challenge you to try to jump rope for 10 minutes straight. It is not an easy activity. However, jumping rope can be very beneficial to the endurance athlete just as it is to those in power sports. In my opinion jumping rope is a form of plyometric training. If done correctly there is limited stress to the lower limbs (not much more than performing a jumping jack). It can be done just about anywhere. It only requires about a $5.00 investment to join the jump roping club. It improves foot speed, foot strength, coordination, eccentric and concentric muscle reaction and is the single best way for runners to improve their foot strike. After all, it is hard to jump rope with a heel strike. It is pretty much impossible to jump rope if your legs are not directly under your center of gravity.

All in all, jumping rope rules. Not sure why more athletes (endurance or otherwise) don't do it. Might be because it is really really really hard and let's us know what kind of shape we really are in...

Lance vs. Floyd

My thoughts on this.... I thought riding your bike was supposed to be fun? My hats off to all those clean weekend warriors and Cat 5 to Cat 1 riders never picked up by pro teams. You guys are the real heros of the sport of cycling. Just for the love, hard work, and pure enjoyment of the sport. You keep the sport alive. Pure and simple.

Pacing




This is a power profile analysis of an athlete who is training for a time trial ascent. I have commented on his pacing as he enjoys to really let loose within the first 3-5 minutes of his 20 minute intervals. As is shown in the illustration he cranked out about 437 watts for 5 seconds at around 15 minutes 20 seconds (3 minutes into his first 20 minute interval). He averaged about 235 watts for this effort. His second 20 minute interval was about 5 watts higher and he averaged 240 watts. He still let loose and hit 380 watts for 10 seconds at around the 40 minute mark (again 3 minutes into his second 20 minute effort) but improved his second 20 minute effort by 5 watts. I usually see the second 20 minute effort decline by 5-10 watts in average power. Is this coincidental? I think not. I feel that even though he red lined things a bit for 10 seconds on his 2nd interval he still stayed below 437 watts. Bottom line is....you pay the price when red lining yourself at the BEGINNING of a time trial. I want him to get habitual about going out easy and finishing strong. If I see him cranking out 437 watts in the final 2 minutes of his 20 minute efforts than that tells me a couple things....One, we probably need to increase his goal wattage for that workout AND two,,,he is learning to pace himself...which is critical to having the time trial performance of your life.

Monday

Melting Pot

I have taken 3 very interesting articles I have read and tried to weld or melt some common threads together from all three. The first article I read was the Sports Illustrated's (SI) article by David Epstein. The main idea that I took away from this article is that, at least to this point in time, genetic factors are not the end all when it comes to sport performance. However, David mentions that genetics play a critical role in how individuals respond to training loads. The SI article goes on to point out that although genetics are important, and that there are some common traits among world record holders at 100 meters as well as elite Kenyan and Ethiopian distance runners, these traits are not consistent across athletes. A big factor in sport performance continues to be training load and environment and how they apply to the INDIVIDUAL.

I then read Alan Couzens' thoughts on training load in his TrainingPeaks.com article. His observations in coaching indicate different types of athletes respond very differently to similar training loads. Alan has found that the athletes he trains respond quite differently to certain training loads when preparing for an Ironman distance triathlon.

Alan's observations and findings correlate quite well with David Epstein's thoughts on this topic. Alan's graph below depicts the amount of TSS/day in terms of Chronic Training Load (CTL) one can handle in order to obtain the desired performance results. Alan's is attempting to quantify and make some sense out of what David Epstein's article brings to light.



Various athletes depending on build and body type, sex, age and experience respond differently to the loads listed above. That explains Alan's wide range of training stress required to complete an Ironman event and/or qualify for Kona. It is possible for a middle of the pack age-grouper to be training as hard as a pro at the same distanced event. Obviously, these two athlete's are going to get entirely different results.

Alan goes on to state in his article that a coach must be intimately aware of how the athlete is responding to the training being prescribed and then make adjustments in his or her program accordingly. Otherwise, the athlete may not be getting the most bang for their training buck. This idea directly ties into David Epstein's article on genetics and training. David states that some athletes respond quite differently to training loads based on genetic factors.

I then came across this IDEA article (May 2010) written by Jason R. Karp Ph.D.. Dr. Karp states in his article:

"Establish your client’s one-repetition maximum (1 RM, the heaviest weight he or she can lift just once) for each muscle group. Have that client do as many repetitions at 80% of 1 RM as possible."
"
< 7 reps: muscle group = > 50% fast-twitch fibers
> 12 reps: muscle group = > 50% slow-twitch fibers
7–12 reps: muscle group = 50-50 fast-twitch and slow-twitch fibers
In addition to the above method, discuss the following with your client:
1. Are you able to do lots of repetitions when lifting weights, or do you fatigue after a few?

If the former, you probably have more slow-twitch fibers. If the latter, you have more fast-twitch fibers.

2. Are you better at sprint and power activities or at endurance activities?

If the former, you have more fast-twitch fibers. If the latter, you have more slow-twitch fibers.

3. Which type of workouts feel easier and more natural: (a) long, aerobic workouts and light weights with lots of reps or (b) sprints and heavy weights with few reps?

If you answered (a), you have more slow-twitch fibers. If you answered (b), you have more fast-twitch fibers.

4. Which workouts do you look forward to more: (a) aerobic/endurance workouts or (b) anaerobic/strength workouts?

If you answered (a), you have more slow-twitch fibers. If you answered (b), you have more fast-twitch fibers. (From observation, people tend to get excited about tasks at which they excel, while they feel more anxious about tasks that are difficult.)"


Based on this article I realized that it may be possible to have a simple test to determine your muscle type. Then, after taking sex, age, and training experience into account set out to develop a program that takes into consideration one's genetic muscle type, sex, age, athletic goals.

For example, if your muscle type is fast twitch type A or B, you are young (Under 40), male, and have a decent amount of training experience, your planned chronic training load (CTL) measured in TSS/day would be on the low end of Alan's scale if training for an Ironman. Alan's scale could be adjusted for cyclists, runners, or triathletes. The main thing is that there is a loosely standardized method of identifying one's physical factors and how they may relate to the amount of training stress require to obtain a desired performance. So in my above example, I would know not to prescribe more than "X" amount of TSS/day to a middle of the pack Ironman triathlete who is larger in build, fast twitched, male, and under 40.

Now, are these ideas going to work every time? Most definitely not. However, at least a coach could consider these things and rather than push you harder and harder to the point of injury,,,realize that you might be one of those athletes that respond better to less training stress. As a coach, I feel it is always best to slowly ramp up the training stress and see what is working based on the athletes feedback. However, if I already have an idea about what an athlete can tolerate I am that much further ahead of the game. I can avoid pushing that athlete too hard and it also reminds me as a coach that everyone one is totally different when it comes to response to training. Again, more is not always better.

Friday

Interesting Article

Read this article

It is a long one but a must read for anyone who trains and/or competes in any sport.

Please leave your comments.

Muscles Used When Pedaling



The value of these two diagrams created by Stephen Lardson (USA Cycling Coach) is just outstanding. I have gotten several requests for references on this diagram so here is what I have found for those of you doing research projects at university.(Morphed Bianchi Camaleonte IV 2006, Ridley Damocles 2006, Garmin, Mac)

It really lets you know what muscles are working and when during the pedal stroke. One observation I can make is that the hip extensors are used during the power stroke. However the glutes nor hamstrings are neither a dominant muscle group being used during cycling during the POWER STROKE. They are used on the upstroke. One take away with this is that cyclists usually develop strong quads and have weak glutes and hamstrings. You can actually see this if you attend any USA Cycling event and just look at most cyclists body types out there. This is not meant to be a put down to cyclists as I am one myself. However, I often hear cyclists complain of lower back issues and this may be a reason why.

1) Weak Glutes: The gluteus maximus and minumus are two extremely important muscles in terms of structural support and the application of force to either the ground or pedal. They are not dominant in cycling as can be viewed from the diagram above and need to be maintained in the weight room through progressive resistance training.

2) Weak Hamstrings: Again, this muscle group is used in cycling but not as much during the power stroke with the exception of the knee flexor on the upstroke. Again, this muscle group needs to be maintained in the weight room.

Ironically, both muscle groups above are crucial in not just supporting the back but in supporting our entire body structure when we are not on the bike. Cycling is a great sport but it does have some critical detractors that must be identified and compensated for in the weight room. After all, you are sitting down when cycling and those muscles used to support your weight when standing are not being used when cycling. These must be strengthened at the gym through the application of 1-2 strength training sessions specifically designed to maintain these muscle groups.

Most athletes go to the gym in order to strengthen those muscles already used in their sport. In this case you will find cyclists doing squats/leg presses, maybe lunges, and in most cases you won't find cyclists at the weight room at all. This is more of a cultural condition of the sport but I digress and will save this idea for another post.

Basically, cyclists and most other atheletes go to the gym to primarily strengthen those muscles ALREADY used and developed in their chosen sport. Lowered Crossed syndromes develop in that your strong muscles get stronger and the weaker muscles get weaker and tighter. This leads to overuse injuries. Ahh,,,but you say, "I am a triathlete and I get all my muscles worked because I do all three sports." Not so fast. Although sprinting requires glute and hamstring activation, distance running does not. Neither does swimming. So again, you are not working your glutes or your hamstrings while running at slow speeds or swimming. Sorry to break this to you. This is why so many triathletes' bodies begin to break down. They are only working certain muscles in certain planes of motion (Sagittal Plane) in the case of running and cycling. They are neglecting frontal plane or side to side movements for the most part. Frontal plane movement needs to be addressed at the weight room in order for weekend warrior triathletes to continue to compete with fewer injuries.

Whoa, I really got into this one. Sorry about the jumping around but all this stuff ties in together. SO in a nutshell...get your ass to the weight room. You don't have to lift heavy weights and you don't have to neglect your sport's power muscles but please don't neglect the already neglected support muscles.....especially your glutes. Plus,,, just about everyone enjoys seeing a nice butt now and then so join in.

Tuesday

How To Lose 20 lbs.

I often get the question of how one can "lose weight". Usually most people want to lose at least 10 pounds and quite a few want to lose even more. Exercise is often a great way to start. However, before you even begin to lift that first dumbbell or before you go out to buy your gym membership, you may want to sit down with a friend or a coach and have them ask you a few pointed questions.

GETTING STARTED:

A common question I like to ask a client who is just starting a new way of life is, "Where do you want to be in 3 months?". Then I ask them where are they right now. This usually helps to identify the gap they presently face between where they are now and where they would like to be in 3 months time. I usually use 3 months time since most people have difficulty focusing in on goals that are beyond 3 months in duration. In coordination with this though is identifying your health/fitness "Dream". This is not always easy to develop but is most crucial in staying with a training program. Some want to be able to one day complete a triathlon or marathon. Others may simply want to be able to play with their grand kids. However, it must be something that makes their hair on the arms stand up. It has to scare them a little but also inspire them.

Once we identify their fitness "dream" we can get to work on their gap we can begin to cut things down to size and discuss the feasibility of losing "X" amount of weight in 3 months if that is their goal to get them to their "dream". We also discuss the 2-3 most major obstacles getting in the way of the client's progress. 9 times out of 10 they include some combination of the following three areas of one's life that needs to be adjusted (time management, diet, and exercise). I have found that most individuals over-estimate the amount of exercise they need to do and under-estimate the affects nutrition has on their overall appearance and/or results.

DEVELOPING A PLAN:
Everyone is different but based on a client's response to the initial questions above we usually begin to identify what their "Fitness Dream" is, what is getting in the way of that dream, and how we can begin to develop a plan of attack.

This is where organization and knowing what to do becomes important. When should you push yourself? When should you rest? How long should you rest? All these variables become important to your success. Your plan is much like building a house. If you have a strong motivational foundation you are more likely to continue to do that. If there is one secret in becoming fit and healthy it is consistency in diet and training.

Everyone usually starts out with the best of intentions but ultimately becomes sidelined by either an illness, injury, or outside responsibilities (Job/Family/School). This is where a plan becomes crucial.

Plans can be written on paper or be developed by your coach through any one of the several training platforms available on-line. I like to use Trainingpeaks.com to deliver daily workouts via e-mail to my clients. It is useful as an organizational tool but also as a communication tool. We can track their training and nutritional progress and also find a source of motivational articles and topics at a common source. However, for those of you just starting out and who can't afford a coach you may want to consider keeping a workout log and a diet log on a website and/or in a journal. Be sure to write everything down. After all, what is measured usually improves over time. Be sure to plan in sufficient rest and never add more than 10% to your training volume at any one time. It also helps to continually change up your training intensity and volume on a weekly basis to keep things new and interesting. Again, the most important thing is consistency and small incremental improvements that are powered by your plan, measured, and tied into your fitness/health "dream".

ADJUSTING THE PLAN:
With any plan, it is just that. A guide to your goals. However, things happen and plans are meant to be changed. Changing your plan based on how your body is responding to the training is critical in maintaining your progress and keeping you moving forward. A common mistake with most self-trained individuals is that they get into a training rut and do the same things day in and day out. At first this will work. Unfortunately, over time your body will adapt to this training and you will not get the same bang for your buck when it comes to training time. At this point you or your coach will want to change gears and tweak your plan accordingly.

MAINTAINING YOUR NEW LIFESTYLE:
Once you have made the necessary changes in your plan and you realize you have been now training for 3 months it soon becomes time to re-evaluate your goals. Did you get to where you were trying to go? Are you closer to your "Health/Fitness Dream"?
What can you improve upon and what is up for the next 3 months? Usually a weekly phone call or email from your coach will keep you on the right track. I have also found it crucial to get those close to you on board in order to support healthy lifestyle changes. For example, if you are trying to eat healthy but your husband is constantly buying cookies and cake you are going to have a much harder time than someone who is loosing weight with their spouse who is also eating healthy. Let those close to you know what you are doing and why you are doing it. Usually, they will support you but it takes a team effort, communication, and hard work. Imagine if your entire family began to be more active and fit.

Monday

Efficiency



Above you will see a client's WKO+ file in which I have taken their average power, average cadence and average heart rate to help determine which cadence produces the most power at the lowest heart rate. As you can see there are several workouts listed above. I have commented on some of the emerging relationships between these three factors. We are attempting to determine at which cadence he is most efficient. Right now it appears to be around 77 rpms but we must continue to monitor these factors as his fitness improves.

He is scheduled to compete in a multi-stage race in France this summer. The mountains are going to be brutal. If we can determine the cadence he can crank out while getting the most power with the lowest heart rate he is going to have quite an advantage over those that are red lining it as they hit the mountain stages.

Periodized Stretching? Why not?

We have periodized running/swimming/biking/weight training, and periodized diets. Why don't we periodize our stretching and warm-up routines as well? There is quite a bit of controversy when it comes to stretching. Does it not make sense to periodize your stretching and warm-up routine?

BASE I-III
During your less intense base period stretching can be somewhat more static in nature with stretches being held for 10-15 seconds in duration. Performing these types of stretches before and after training is ideal. Foam rolling can also be incorporated into your warm-up along with 1 or 2 core movements (I like the plank, chin-up, or push-up). I usually follow the core activation phase with a short plyometric phase just prior to my main training set of running, cycling or weight training. As you progress through Base I to Base III training phases slowly reduce your stretching hold times until you are only holding your stretch for 1-2 seconds by your final Base III phase. You can slowly increase your activation exercises and plyometric warm-up as you progress through your Base I - III phases. Remember though to do very little plyometric warm-up and always step down off the box if doing box jumps. I never go over 25 box jumps in a single warm-up session and always precede box jumping with some light rope jumping. I feel that for masters level cyclists and triathletes this little extra plyometric activity pays big dividends as the season progresses by maintaining power levels on the bike and continually reminding the legs of that extra stress they receive in competition.

BUILD I & II
During your more intense build I and II phases of training your stretching can be more dynamic in nature with stretches only being held for 1 second or less. I know many physical therapists like holding a stretch for about 1-2 seconds as this reduces the micro tears in the muscle fiber. See what works for you.

As you progress through your build I and II phases your stretching routine in both your warm-up and cool down periods will become more and more dynamic until you are ultimately performing leg swings, arm swings, and isolation stretching of about 1 second. Definitely avoid long holds at this point in your training and use the extra time available due to shorter holds in order to hit more and more body parts.

This sounds like a great deal of time but in reality you can foam roll, stretch out and activate your muscles in about 15 minutes if you really get to it. Avoid over stretching in all phases but especially in you build I and II phases.

Washington Camp MTB Ride

This is increasingly becoming my favorite ride. Here is the link to a googlemaps video of this 1 hour hill climb. I is right behind my house and really is a spiritual ride, very peaceful ride where you can settle in on your mountain bike and get about 2,000 feet of climbing in almost everyday if you like.

Thursday

Balanced Training Solutions Cartoon

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Single Leg Split Squat

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I just recently posted on TP about performing single leg split squats and thought I would add this video to anyone interested in what I was talking about. I use to be a gym rat who loved to through on the weight in the back squat until my knee finally started crying out.

I ultimately got into triathlon to prove to myself I could still run again. However, after years competing in triathlon and neglecting the weights I began to actually feel less athletic....not more, due to the repetitive nature and tearing down this sport can have on one's body.

Since rededicating myself to becoming a multi-dimensional athlete I knew better than to return to my bodybuilding days where packing on useless muscle was the goal. I wanted to become an athlete who could do a lateral single leg squat if necessary or sprint 100 meters at top speed or bike 100 miles at a competitive pace. I have also found that quite a few endurance athletes are searching for these qualities as well. This exercise above is just one of the movements that you can do to both improve your performance and also your overall functional strength.

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Wednesday

State of the Exercising Mind

There are relatively few studies that have proven the link between exercise and the reduction of anxiety and depression. However, anyone who has returned from the gym, a long bike ride, or a successful competition realizes the powerful affect exercise can have on one's mental health.

As we say in psychology,"Normal is a setting on a washing machine.". Being normal just doesn't exist. Some problems are more debilitating than others but for most of us we are able to get out of bed and face life. Some days better than others.

I have always wondered what role exercise plays in not just our physical health but also in our mental health. It is quite apparent to me that endurance training provides relief for those suffering from most anxiety disorders and possibly even depression. The danger of using exercise as an intervention for common mental inhibitors is the same as using medication. The right amount is critical. Too much and you get all kinds of negative things happening. Not enough, and you don't get the maximum benefit of the exercise. In addition, you need the right amount but also at the right time to prevent boredom and excessive mental fatigue.

There seems to be many parallels with exercise and medication for both physical problems as well as mental problems. Many, if not all, physical ailments can be either eliminated or lessened by a reasonable amount of exercise coupled with a healthy diet. What is the most common thing your doctor says when you enter their office? Do you exercise? Do you eat right? However, rarely does a psychologist and/or psychiatrist prescribe exercise in oder to reduce anxiety or lesson depression. Why not? In my opinion exercise has as much positive benefit to one's mental health as it does to one's physical health.

Another related aspect psychology has with medicine is the prescription of medication. The quick fix. Just take this pill and you don't have to do anything. You will feel better. Lose weight. You will be happy both mentally and physically just by taking a couple pills everyday. Again, it is well established that taking pills to improve one's general health (blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity)works. However, it also well established that changes in diet and exercise can provide almost the exact physical health benefits. But again, very rarely is exercise and diet prescribed to one suffering from generalized anxiety disorders, depression not otherwise specified, and a host of other DSM-IV disorders that are commonly treated with medication.

On the other hand, exercise, just like medication, can be abused. Too much is not good either, nor is it very healthy. For many, exercise can be used as a socially acceptable method of avoiding life's responsibilities and facing life's inevitable challenges. For many, training for long distance triathlons, ultra-distance marathons, and the like are not as much about challenging themselves physically as they are about avoiding some mental aspect in their life and/or dealing with possible post traumatic stress that has never been resolved. A may also be a form of narcisism. Either way, these events are definitely less about physical fitness than they are about some other factor in one's life that is being compensated for. Is this bad? I really don't know the answer to that. I believe it isn't so bad if the only one being affected is the person in these types of events. However, a father who is never around for his son or wife and/or a wife who avoids her husband or daughter in order to train is definitely not healthy from a psychological perspective. Is it possible to do both? I imagine so...especially when considering shorter endurance events and the reduced commitments necessary to train and be competitive.

Thursday

Nutrition and Marketing

I am not a nutritionist but it doesn't seem to require to be one in order to realize that something is not adding up when it comes to what nutritional/power drinks and bar companies are trying to sell you. As with most reading this blog entry, I too was told to use brand "X" or brand "Y" in order to get the best competitive advantage. 4 to 1 protein to carbo ratios, drink at least "X" ounces of brand "Y" sports drink while cycling in your next triathlon....We have all heard this. Again, many times even the coaches spewing this are well intentioned and are just telling you what they feel is the best advice available...However, where do you think they are getting this "advice" from? Right...the sports nutrition companies. Most research is performed by these companies and is skewed in their favor of course.

In addition to the questionable usefulness of these products, there is the expense. They don't come cheaply. The sugar content in most is not much better than your run of the mill candy bar (Milky Way, Snickers) and the ingredients are anything but healthy. Of course, we are sold the myth that there is some secret nutritional supplement that will give you the edge over your competition...Well, guess what???There isn't. Sorry to tell you that but it is the truth. On your next long ride take a banana or orange along with plenty of good old fashioned water. You will be further ahead nutritionally as well as financially due to the extra money you will save by not buying brand "X" nutritional bar/drink. If you want a real power drink take a few oranges and squeeze your own orange juice. If you want a real nutritional bar take a piece of fruit along with you on your next ride. It doesn't "look" cool...I know, but it works.

One Arm Dumbbel Snatch

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One of my all time favorite moves in the gym. This just gets it all in one movement. Remember to first build stability then strength then power. This movement can only be done after you have first built up your stability and strength for several weeks or even months. Start out using light weight but once you have the movement down progress towards more challenging loads. Note the explosiveness of this movement. It encompasses balance, agility, strength, power, coordination, speed and quickness all in the same movement and all within a split second. This has to be one of the most athletic movements you can perform in the gym....and best of all...all you need is a dumbbell.

Box Jumps

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Please view this video to see the correct way to do box jumps. Also note the section on stepping down rather than jumping down.

Mt. Lemmon Ride

Click here to view the Google Earth path for the Mt. Lemmon climb. This is a great ride and will definitely get you ready for the season.

Nogales MTB Race Course

Click HERE to view and download the upcoming Nogales MTB race course coming soon. This is only half the course. Note...yellow line on the Google Earth video is the Mexican border. ALSO,,,be sure to click the little blue "play" circle on your Google video controller to view the entire course highlighted with a blue line.
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Wednesday

Whipple Observatory Ride Mapped

H
Here is the Whipple Observatory Ride mapped out.  If you don't have time to sit there and watch the google earth video here is another way to get an idea of some of the great riding opportunities that are available in Southern Arizona.

Whipple Observatory, Arivaca, Sonoita Wine Country, Patagonia & Pena Blanca Lake Rides

I have google earthed two major rides in my area. Pena Blanca Lake & Patagonia. Arivaca Sonoita Wine Country ride and Whipple Observatory Ride. All leave from my house but can be easily accessed from either Nogales, AZ or Rio Rico, AZ. I believe Southern Arizona to be one of the best kept secrets when it comes to limitless year round cycling. Here are two commonly used road bike routes. They may look flat but they are anything but....enjoy the view and be sure you have google earth downloaded. You must also register with this linked sight in order to view. If you are ever in this area these rides are a must. March - May & October - December are usually the ideal conditions for biking but if you leave early enough you can complete all these rides during the summer months and be home before the heat really kicks in. These roads have relatively low traffic and are biker friendly. Many bike/vacation tours frequent this area and ride these same roads during the spring and fall.

Thursday

Bonk

I had a funny experience this morning with my usual Thursday computrainer interval day. I got up at 5 am foam rolled, stretched (active), and did a plank for 1 minute and 1 plyo movement and I was ready to go. I had a great night sleep and thought.....here we go...on my way to a new PR for my 30 minute time trial wattage. Got on and warmed up and went for it. About 5 minutes in I realized my 30 minute time trial was quickly turning into a 3 x 5 minute session with 3 minutes rest. I felt horrible after the first 3 minutes. I soldiered through,,,just like a good endurance athlete does. At least I had the sense to just cut it short. Anyways, I thought, what happened. I felt good, had a good nights sleep...what could have gone wrong? Then I realized this can be explained.

The night before I ate a decent meal at 4:30 pm. Then I basically relaxed for the rest of the evening. I thought....I need to lose some weight so I am not going to eat anything tonight even if I get hungry. By 8 pm. I was feeling a bit hungry but sucked it up. Then the crappy interval session happened this morning. What I had come to realize was that I broke one of the training rules. DON'T TRY TO LOSE WEIGHT DURING INTENSE TRAINING. It is a good formula for bonking. Now if I had done a 2 hour recovery ride at 150 watts instead of my 30 minute TT attempt I would probably have had a great workout, increased my body's ability to burn fat (according to Bob Seebohar...see post below), and gained some base endurance.

The moral of the story is.... intense interval training or competition phase is not the time to decide to lose weight. First off you will bonk or just have sub par efforts. Secondly you will probably not lose much weight anyways as your body will rebel and you will end up doing what basically amounts to a tempo ride at max effort which really sucks from a mental point of view.

Early in the season is the time to get your diet under control and coordinate that with your base training. More to come on this issue as I digest more of Bob Seebohar's book. Again, what Bob is espousing isn't really anything new but he has a knack for explaining it and presenting it in a way that is easier to understand and a way that can be realistically incorporated into one's life without counting calories and obsessing.

Wednesday

"Metabolic Efficiency Training" Book Review


After meeting Bob Seebohar and attending his clinic on Nutritional Periodization and Metabolic Efficiency Training and Testing at "TriFest 10" this past weekend I have begun to re-evaluate my athlete's, as well as my own nutritional needs. Bob's book is exceptional and sheds a new light and common sense approach to helping athletes and fitness professionals develop a periodized nutritional plan that is easy to follow and that makes sense.

Bob's first 4 chapters are dedicated to determining one's personal Metabolic Efficiency Point (MEP). This can only be done by being tested on a metabolic cart that measures both oxygen uptake as well as carbon dioxide output. This is the point where we stop obtaining your energy from fat and start to burn more and more carbohydrates.

Bob's theory is to determine where that point is (MEP) and then introduce training sessions and dietary changes that are periodized and designed to move that MEP forward in order to "train" your body to burn and rely more and more on fat stores for energy rather than carbohydrates. As a result, you will experience less GI distress from over feeding during your races and as a result be able to dial in your nutritional plan more accurately for your event. For those that don't race you will be able to lose more weight in a healthy and safe way.

One of the coolest things about Bob's book is that he provides a realistic nutritional plan that is based on a visualization of a plate of food. No calorie counting or obsessive counting of fat grams.
Based on this plate you are to fill certain portions of it with either lean protien and healthy fats, fruits and vegetables and yes....some whole grains depending on what training cycle you are in.

Bob turn's the supplement world and sports nutrition world up on its head with some of his pre and post training dietary recommendations.....But you know what....he makes perfect sense and reinforces what most have known all along....Less really is more. I have included my own example of Bob's Preparatory Cycle Stage of his periodized nutritional plan. It is very simple....First, get tested to determine your MEP (If you even have one,,,,, as some do not due to too much intensity in their training.) Then determine at what paces or power outputs you are burning the most fat at. Then train at these recommended intensity levels in your Base I and II periods and follow this nutritional plan below. No need to count calories or grams of fat....just get a circular plate of average size and fill it according to the pie chart you see below. Get Bob's book to see how the other nutritional stages are organized or visit his site to learn more.






I realize this graph is difficult to read and for some reason can't be enlarged. The blue section is made up of carbohydrates obtained from fruits and vegetables and should encompass most of your plate during all your meals in the Prep or Base stages. The red section is made up of lean protien and healthy fats. Notice no whole grains or sports nutrition products are to be used during this Prep Nutrition Cycle. Something most sports nutrition marketers would argue against...However, those products are introduced later in the periodization cycle....but not to the extent that most are using them at the present time.

Monday

Tri Fest Conference

I just got back from attending the TriFest 10 conference at TriSports in Tucson. I went into this conference really not expecting much more than just receiving my 7-8 CEU's for my USAT and USA Cycling coaching licenses. Boy was I pleasantly surprised. I received so much more than that from an array of outstanding coaches and experts in their respective fields. Click the link to the left and scroll down to the "Conference" section in order to view presenters. From the first presenter ,Tim Hawkins from windhawk to the last presenter, Tom Demerly of TriSports.com, the entire conference was top notch and extremely informative from a coach's point of view. Getting bike fit secrets from Tom Demerly and open water swim race strategies and specialized swim training techniques from Steven Munatones just blew me away. I can't wait to get with my athletes to share this information.

Quadrant Analysis of 5 x 5 minute Workout


It is sure nice now that WKO+ 3.0 has the new quad analysis feature. Prior to this one had to do it the long way and copy the data out from a csv. file. Anyways, quad analysis is a neat little tool that kind of tells you what you already suspected but just couldn't quantify. Now you can see your efforts in a pretty little graph. More than informative,,,,I find quad analysis extremely motivating to myself and the athletes I train. It helps to organize your neuromuscular efforts into 4 different quadrants and can reveal what you already know but what your coach may not know. From there a coach can start to direct your training to address some of your neuromuscular limiters on the bike. To read more about quadrant analysis click here.

Sunday

Functional Movement Screen

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If you are serious about improving your movement patterns and continuing in any given sport then you will want to check out the above video clip. Try these movements at your gym in order to improve your core stability and strength. This is part of the Functional Movement Screen that is very useful in identifying any weak links in your movement patterns. Again, all athletes move differently but this screening is useful in identifying certain movements that can lead to injury. Follow the link above in this video if you are interested in learning more about the Functional Movement Screen and how paying attention to those muscles not commonly used in endurance sports can keep you in the game for years to come.

Friday

Power Profile FTP




This is a power profile chart of an athlete from June 2009 and today. The yellow bars indicate that this cyclist is on par with his FTP levels of about 6 months ago. What is more exciting is that it seems that his progress from 6 months ago is being carried over into this season. It is expected that his FTP for this year will be significantly higher this year.

Thursday

Chronic Training Load


I thought I would post my current Chronic Training Load (CTL) graph for anyone interested. Following the blue line can be an eye opening experience for as I have realized that my gains early on last month were steady but it is now time to step things up just a notch. Typically, you want an increase of about 5-8 TSS points per week. I had 3 rest days per week for a while and have decided to now kick that back to 2 rest days in order to keep my CTL climbing at a rate of about 6 TSS per week. I always felt that 4 rides a week for me were the magic number. One long ride, two intervals days with varying intensities, and a climbing day. Riding 6 days a week may work for others but I would rather spend the other 2 days in the weight room or with the family since the extra 2 days only seem to add to my fatigue and I do not get the same amount of bang for my training minute as I would by spending that time in the weight room. Anyways,,,I am off topic now. Bottom line is what you measure usually improves,,,,but be conservative and have patience with your CTL gains. Your blue line should look a bit like a stair case leading you to your fitness goals.

Y-Balance Test

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The Y-Balance test (illustrated above) is a simple evaluation that I perform with all my initial local and visiting clients in order to determine their strengths and limiters when it comes to returning to sports after a long lay off and/or injury. It is also a good activity to perform with chronic endurance athletes who have developed muscular imbalances due to the constant and repetitive nature of their sport. This test is unique in that it identifies your dominant side, flexibility and limiting muscular development. By the way, the gentleman in this video is not me. It is the inventor of the Y-Balance test. If you follow the link above you can go to his site and buy your own and/or view more video's on the benefits of this useful tool.

On-Line Training


I am often asked how does on-line coaching for fitness and/or competitive sports work? It is really quite easy with the help of TrainingPeaks.com. As your coach I would first send you a "Coaching Invitation" to your email account. If you were to accept the invite you would be added to my "Coaching Client Account" and have a free TrainingPeaks.com membership compliments of me. From this point you would then complete several questionnaires on TrainingPeaks.com and several emailed from me in order to help determine your strengths and limiters, time available, work/family schedule, fitness goals, and any events you are interested in particpating in.

Once we have an idea of where you are currently at and where you would like to be in 3-6 months we then begin to build your Annual Training Plan. This is you customized plan that is built around your goals, strengths, limiters, and any events you are considering. The "Annual Training Plan" drives your "Weekly Calendar" (please see above). The calendar depicted above is several weeks of training that is developed by me as your coach. This plan is a living organism that changes based on your schedule, response to training, and your goals and objectives. Each of the workouts depicted above are emailed to you daily. You are able to comment and download workout results directly back to me in order for me to determine if the workout met our goals. Each workout has meaning and a purpose. This promotes motivation, goal based training, and a way to accurately measure progress.

The most common way of measuring your response to training is by using a heart rate monitor. We initially have you do a field test to determine your 30 minute average heart rate (Lactate Threshold Heart Rate) and from here we determine your heart rate training zones in the run and/or the bike. Daily workouts are based off of heart rate training zones in order to precisely communicate to you what level of exertion you should be putting out for that given workout. If you are a triathlete we do not use a heart rate monitor to measure effort in swimming but use pacing and stroke rate to determine levels of exertion in the pool.

If you have a GPS system for the run or a power meter for the bike I am also able to closely track your progress, response to training, training stress, and race performance. Examples of these types of analysis can be viewed within this blog.

5 x 5 minutes with 1 minute rest.


This workout was so so. Felt tired most the way through and especially fell apart on the last 2 intervals. 82 rpms seemed to be my most efficient rate. I went out too hard on the first interval but feel that muscular endurance was my limiting factor and not aerobic endurance. I will have to look at the quadrant analysis for this one but I am guessing I am mainly in quadrant II with low cadence and higher power. Wanted bigger gains on this one but that seems how it works. 5% gains here and there and then all of a sudden a big jump. Fatigue was playing a factor here since I just completed a 2 x 20 minute effort 2 days ago.

Wednesday

2 x 20 minutes


If you are tired of the same old story then roll some intervals. Change is good and mixing it up with intervals is the way to go not just for your body but for your mind. Above is a WKO+ file analyzed by yours truly. I have been experimenting with using a lower cadence early on this year to help transfer strength gains in the gym over to the bike. After I get my power up to where I want it to be (It really is never high enough.) I plan on increasing my cadence and possibly bumping things up even more. At the minimum I will be able to maintain the power output easier if the cadence jumps up 5 rpms or so. If you take a close look at the above file you will begin to understand how using a power meter and WKO+ together can become very motivating and eye opening. I have compared this years results with last year on the bike and was surprised how far ahead I am just by doing varied interval workouts during the week. These workouts don't take more than 60 minutes and let me tell you....they do the trick. Granted, you won't be smelling the roses on any of these workouts but you will be getting stronger.

Saturday

Happy New Year

Have Hope!
Click Above To See What A Little Hope Can Do!