You've taken a nice relaxing but active October, but now it’s November. The days are getting shorter and colder. There is just not enough time to get outside and train, and you've got a gnawing feeling that your fitness level is dropping with the temperature. Concerns about your fitness level and an eagerness to begin training again are an excellent indication that the recovery phase has been successful. If you still feel burned out and lethargic you probably need more recovery time. Stay off the bike, find some other aerobic activities, reduce the intensity, and most importantly have FUN. Now, what if you are eager to get into training cycle again? Hit the weights.
Weight training (or resistance training) is becoming widely recognized as an important tool for achieving both peak performance and overall fitness. As recently as the late 1970's “weight lifting” was thought to be the bane of U.S. cyclists. The belief was that any training that was not cycling specific and performed on the bike, led to a lack of speed, added bulk and impaired performance. Coaches reasoned that extra muscle meant unnecessary weight and thus was a handicap. This philosophy began to change when Eddie Borysewicz began coaching the US National Team and rode away from the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles with a saddle bag full of medals. In the decade and a half since, weight training has become an essential part of the National Team Program.
Okay, that's nice, but what about you? A resistance training program can help improve your performance and general fitness whether you are a racer, tourist or commuter. The program should be designed to improve muscle imbalances and overall body strength, as well as develop cycling-specific muscles. There are some basic principles that must be understood for success. Core strength (chest, abdomen, upper and lower back) should be emphasized before extremities. When exercising one muscle or group of muscles, always work the opposing group as well. When working with external resistance, particularly free weights, ALWAYS have a partner, and when learning a new movement, start with VERY light weight. Make certain that you are performing the movements correctly before increasing the work load. Work safely, don't strain. Stay within your ability to correctly perform the exercises.
Strength training programs designed for cyclists will generally consist of six distinct phases. The plan will begin with a transition phase. The purpose of this phase is to begin adapting the body to the rigors of strength training. It is characterized by relatively light intensity exercises that utilize body weight such as push-ups, crunches, chins and dips. The hypertrophy phase is next. Its purpose is to develop muscle tissue and increase lean body mass. Moderate amounts of weight and intensity are used, with the major muscle groups being emphasized. The hypertrophy phase is followed by the strength phase. Now you begin to develop strength and train the muscle tissue you've developed. The weight and intensity in this phase are high. Cycling-specific muscle groups begin to be emphasized in the power phase. Moderate to heavy weights are used in combination with explosive movements. The last phase of training before the cycling season gets into high gear is the endurance phase. Lighter weight is used in combination with higher reps. Cycling-specific muscle groups are again being targeted. The maintenance phase completes the cycle. The goal of this phase is maintain muscular fitness throughout the season, with a focus on non-cycling muscle groups. Intensity is light.
The above is a rough outline of a basic strength training plan. If you are wondering whether a strength training program will help your riding, the answer is a definite yes. How you can best design a program to meet your needs? Contact the coaching staff on the Voice-Tel Info Line at 329-1848 ext. 3.
Interested in starting a resistance program this winter? We have just set up a club discount with the Down Town Athletic Club. Any Louisville Wheelmen Club member can join the DAC for $35.00/month individual, $55/month family with six months minimum, no enrollment fee. Also, we will offer a residence training seminar through the DAC in November. Call the Wheelmen Info Line at 329-1848 ext. 3 to get the details.
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