Strength Training Archives - Link Endurance

6 Strength Training Tips for a Better Bike

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bike strong

As a triathlete or cyclist, be it for fitness or to win your age group, part of the training goal is to become faster, stronger, and more efficient on the bike. Yes, even if you “just want to finish” your particular race, you want to get off the bike and not be totally wiped out for the run. We often hear the terms: “dead legs” or “rubber legs” referred to as how we feel coming off the bike. This could be because you simply pushed beyond your limits on the bike, which is often the case in newer endurance athletes, but there could be another caveat to your fatigue: bike strength.

Yes, we know that if you want to get better at cycling you need to ride your bike; time in the saddle. But you also need power and strength. Power to climb hills, battle head & crosswinds, and of course, power to do well and win. But what if you are traveling and can’t ride your bike? You can strength train. Also, if you just cycle all the time, you run the risk of developing muscular imbalances that could lead not only to slower bike times, but to injury down the road. Proper Functional Strength Training is a needed addition to any endurance training plan. Specific to the bike, you should focus on building power and symmetry throughout your lower body. You need movements that not only target your quadriceps, but your glutes and hamstrings as well. Here are 6 rules for bike strength that I prescribe to my clients and recommend for you as well.

Let me say this: YOU WON’T “GET BIG” FROM LIFTING HEAVY WEIGHTS. In fact you may find that you lose body fat and simultaneously get faster/stronger. This study from The Journal of Strength and Conditioning research shows that heavy strength training 3 days per week for 8 weeks increased cycling economy/efficiency in the test subjects. When lifting heavy I recommend 3 sets of 4-6 repetitions of a squat or deadlift. This can be done 1-2 times a week. Before you begin lifting heavy though, be sure to meet with a certified strength coach/trainer that will assess any imbalances you may need to correct before loading your body with heavy weight.

You sit most of the day. You sit on the bike. Don’t sit when you lift. Instead, perform functional movements such as: squats, deadlifts, step-ups, and lunge variations. Using these movements gives you the best opportunity to utilize those underworked muscles in your lower body; primarily your glutes.

I know I just said lift heavy, but you will need to vary your intensity to stimulate different energy systems and motor unit recruitment. I will typically have an athlete perform one heavy day and one high volume day each week, depending on their training cycle. High repetition sets of 25-30+ reps with short 30-45 second recovery intervals are a great way to increase strength, but also a great way to teach your legs to use lactic acid for energy through a process called The Cori Cycle.

If you want to become more efficient on the bike, and be able to run strong off the bike, you need symmetry in your lower body. EVERYONE has one leg that is stronger than the other. Incorporating single-leg movements, such as: lunges and step-ups, into your training plan will ensure that you are building strength and endurance in both legs equally, which can save you energy and increase bike power.

Say what??? Multi-planar or multi-directional are “fancy” words for “not just forwards and backwards lunges”. Incorporating Lateral Lunges, 45-Degree Lunges and Curtsey Lunges will build balance and strength throughout your lower body. These movements can also increase balance and mobility both on and off the bike. You can perform one of these movements each time you train or you can combine all 3 as one set. See the videos at the bottom of this article to learn how to properly perform these movements and how to put them all together.

Earlier I mentioned strength for battling head & crosswinds. Core strength is a key component to being stable during windy conditions. More over you need a strong core for efficient power transfer from your legs to the pedals. When I say “core” in this case I am referring to you rectus abdominus “abs” and your deeper stabilizers of the spine, transverse abdominus, multifidi, & pelvic floor muscles. If you are looking to build a strong core be sure to incorporate balance training and movements like plank, side plank, cable/band pot stir & anti-rotation press, & glute bridges. At a minimum, you should be able to hold a plank for 3 sets of 60 seconds without failing or feeling pressure in your low back. Crunches and sit-ups should be avoided as the repetitive spinal flexion can contribute to degeneration of disk later on.

Now that you have an understanding of what movements to use to for bike strength, let’s put it all together. Here are 2 sample workouts that take about 20 minutes and can be performed virtually anywhere. Note: I recommend waiting at least 48hrs in between strength workouts to ensure proper recovery.

**This workout is best done during off-season or low volume weeks as the heavy weight is more taxing on your muscular and nervous system***
***This workout could be followed by an aerobic “zone 2” or “training pace” ride the following day, then a recovery day after***

5 minute foam roll (focus on calves, quads, & glutes)
5-10 minutes mobility work/dynamic warm up (see videos at the bottom for dynamic warm up demonstrations)
3×6 DB Deadlift
3×10 Anti-Rotation Press
Rest 60 seconds and repeat
2×8 DB Lateral Lunge
3×60 second plank
Rest 60 seconds and repeat
1×10 Body Weight or DB Step-up to Balance (I always like to add a balance component to each session)
1x 8-10 Push-up to Shoulder Extension (can be done on knees)

**Your goal & focus with this session is continuous motion, meaning no pauses at the top/bottom of any repetition**
**Although it is high rep, it shouldn’t be easy. If your set calls for 25 reps, the resistance should be enough that you cannot perform 28 reps**
***This session can be used in both off & in-season as it requires less time to recover and is less taxing on your nervous system***

5 minute foam roll (focus on calves, quads, & glutes)
5-10 minutes mobility work/dynamic warm up
3×25 Body Weight or DB Squats
3×40 Mountain Climbers (20 each leg)
Rest 30 seconds & repeat
3×8/8/8 Alternating Curtsey/Lateral/45-degree Lunge (feel free to change the order or do 1 set of all 3 movements)
3×15 Cable/Band Pot Stir
Rest 30 seconds and repeat
3×20 Push-up to Rotation (10 each side)
2-3×15 Single Leg Glute Bridge
0-30 seconds rest and repeat

There are MANY ways to alter these sessions by adding alternate movements, changing the order, etc. This is just one example. Before you begin this or any strength program I highly recommend you meet with a qualified coach to assess your form and help create a plan that best fits YOUR individual needs. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.

Dynamic Warm-up #1
Dynamic Warm-up #2
Dynamic Warm-up #3

Episode 45: Benefits of Ginger, Frozen vs Fresh Foods, Anti-rotation Press, Pot Stir

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In this episode I discuss several extroardinary benefits of ginger. You will also learn when to, and why, you should choose frozen fruits and vegetables over “fresh” produce. Finally, I talk about 2 of my favorite ab/core stability exercises that just happen to be a total body movement in all wrapped up into one move!

Click here to listen.

To see the demonstration video for the Pot Stir and Anti-Rotation Press click here.

45 Degree Lunge

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This is part 2 of in the series of multi-directional lunges. The 45 degree lunge is excellent for increasing range of motion through the hip, increasing balance and dynamic lengthening of the inner thigh/hip flexor. Remember as always your FORM is key. Start out with body weight only. Click here to see the video.

If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.

Episode 40: Benefits of Chlorella and Benefits of the Lateral Lunge

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If you like to eat sushi, tuna (fresh or canned), or any other fish, then you need to know about the whole food supplement chlorella. Fish can be laden with heavy metals that are harmful to your health. Incorporating chlorella into your meal will help rid your body of these dangerous toxins. Also in this episode I discuss the first part in a series of “multi-directional” lunges, the Lateral Lunge. I have a video demonstrating exactly how to do this movement along with progressions.

Click here to listen or download from iTunes for later. Just search “Eat Real and Move”

Click here for the direct link to order Sun Chlorella, or visit www.sunchlorella.com to learn more.

If you like what you hear please share with a friend :-).

I would love to hear from you so if you have a question or comment please leave it below. You can also go to iTunes and leave a review.

Episode 39: Why You Need to be Strong

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In this episode, I discuss several reasons why you need to lift heavy weights often. If you are an athlete, it will help increase speed, power, and efficiency. For the every day person, lifting heavy can increase mobility, increase testosterone, improve core strength and actually enhance your quality of life. I address these topics and more.

To listen click Here.

Check out my article on Why you Need to Squat

Here is a great article on lifting heavy for better running

Click here to read how lifting can increase running economy

I would love to hear from you. If you have a thought or comment on this episode leave it below.

“T”-Spine Corrective Exercises

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Cycling, swimming, running, improper strength training and sitting at a desk all day can lead to some pretty bad upper back, or T-spine, posture. Left untreated, this forward shoulder/head posture can potentially lead to deterioration of your Thoracic Spine and possible nerve damage and shoulder immobility to name Just a few. Here are 3 simple movements that you can do anywhere to help prevent/correct the dreaded forward shoulder posture. To see the video and start correcting your posture click here.