Training To Race So Far…
It has been a while since I wrote about anything related to my racing. The problem is that while most of the country has some nice weather to ride, the Northeast has been cold, cold, cold. That has not stopped me from riding my bike outside at all, but this spring is really dragging since I am looking forward to doing some racing soon.
A few teammates have been going out to the Rochester early season Giros. These are low key races where thankfully Tyler Hamilton will not be competing. Gee, that guy sure loves to race. The most recent race report of the Rochester Giros can be found here.
Matt, Jason and William have been going to races every weekend so far. They certainly have the itch to race and are getting some good experience in during these training races. If my timing works out I will join them next week and give a race report.
So, what do I do in the meantime to make sure that I am ready to race? Like many other weekend warriors, I have a family, full time job and web logs to maintain, so I do’t have endless hours to devote to training. Add to that a few pounds that I need to lose in the meantime and you have a need to focus on training done right.
My training consists of a few different activities. Spinning Class, Weight lifting (squats, leg curls etc.) Cardio work and some bike trainer work.
I do not spend endless hours on the bike trainer. This is different than most other weekend warriors. I do not have a bike setup with a TV, and I am not sick of watching last years Tour de France. Bottom line, I do not do much riding on my trainer. There are a few sessions that I do on a trainer and rollers, but the longest session I’ve had is about 1 hour. When I do ride the rollers or trainers, I try to do interval work which varies each time. Plus, on the rollers I try to focus on smoothing out my pedal stroke to try and get smooth circles.
My Cardio work is mostly done at the gym. I am lucky enough to have a gym available to me during lunch and I definately take advantage of that. I currently work at a University, so the scenery around the gym is great motivation to keep in shape. For my cardio work I use the Stair Master machines. The time varies depending on what else I plan on doing during the lunch hour, but I always do interval training and keep it challenging each time. The Stair Master is tough and it works well with cycling muscles. I find that it helps my climbing quite a bit. The bottom line is that the Stair Master gives you the most “bang for the buck” when doing cardio work, at least for me. Other machines are simply not as challenging for me, and I feel like I get more of cardio workout than compared to an elliptical machine. Plus, Stair Masters are not very popular, so there is never a signup or wait to use one.
Elliptical machines are not bad though. They may be a great way to cross train your pedaling stroke. The motion of the elliptical machine helps to train your legs to shuffle. When you pedal a bike, your natural tendancy is to stomp up and down. With occasional use, this muscle training from the elliptical can help you pedal circles naturally. I found this benefit accidentally two years ago. The smoother pedaling motion helped me get up hills better than I ever did before.
Not all cyclist subscribe to weight training, but I swear by it to benefit my cycling performance. I have always incorporated weight training during the winter time and have had good results. When I did not use weight training, I would feel that I lacked power or the extra snap in my pedal stroke. For me, weights are key to my winter prep. Lately, I have increased my weight training time and balanced that with my cardio work. Usually I will focus on legs, with some upper body work to keep strength even overall.
Last week, my weight training consisted of Monday: squats and leg presses, Wednesday: Leg Extensions and Leg Curls, Friday: Squats and Leg Extensions. Today I did Squats, Leg Extensions and Leg Curls.
It is important to work the quads and hamstrings. Hamstrings are probably the most undervalued muscle. They are not easy to show off like quads, but they are key to cycling, so leg curls are your friend.
Squats are a great overall weight training exercise since they work many different muscle groups. They work those extra muscles help support you quads and hamstrings.
Free weights are better than Nautalis-type machines. If you are crunched for time, chose the squats first.
Free weights force you to concentrate on the movement your are doing and help build the supporting muscles.
Finally, if you can get to a Spinning class do it. These classes are fun, and interesting ways to help your cycling. There is no other place where you are encouraged to spin up to 200rpms. When you spin this fast, you tend to smooth out your pedal stroke. You get to really develop your fast twitch muscles which will help your sprinting abilities. But Spinning isn’t all about high rpms, you get a very challenging workout and get lots of out-of-the-saddle ride time. Some compare a one-hour spinning class to a Criterium type effort. If you have never attended a Spinning class, you must try it. It will help your cycling improve.
This is a 50,000 ft view of what I do in my training program during the winter.I will follow up with more details very soon.