Strength training during cycling season; thoughts?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by tanna, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. tanna

    tanna New Member

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    Hi,
    I was/am a lurker. I have been perusing my copy of The Complete Book of Long Distance Cycling as I prepare for a double century. The book details a plan to get me there, and I am doing well following the program. Interestingly, there is only day of zone 3 training per week, and that leaves me underwhelmed since it's zones 2 and 1 for the other 5 days of training. By the way, authors Ed Pavelka and Ed Burke define zones 2 and 3 to be 65-84% and 85-94% of max heart rate. It's not that I find zone 3 easy. I find it excruciating when it combines with intervals at zone 4. I was just used to feeling more spent on more days when I trained kickboxing, which I realize involves different muscle groups and energy systems. Since I have no kids and, for the time being, no work, I have enviable amounts of time and energy. I have also had enough base miles. Next year, I plan to race in long-distance events for the fun of finishing well, and that is my primary goal. Given my predicament, here is my question: Would it be inadvisable for me to begin a full-body "home workout" program à la P90x? I would schedule things such that I would not have to do a lower-body strength workout or plyometrics the day I am supposed to be resting from the previous day's zone 3 ride. I have been noticing that my upper body is losing its robustness, and I have always had great success with strength training and plyometrics. I am 24. Enjoy the day. Thanks for your insight
     
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  2. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

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    Just a note on my credentials so that you know that I have some experience on the subject of "strength training." I have over 30 years invested in study and application of strength training both in competition and consulting others for competition. I no longer consult, but I am still very much involved with lifting on a personal level. I am also an avid recreational cyclists that does attempt to train in similar manner to those that train to race. (Attempt being the key word)

    I am not familiar with the book/plan you are using so I really cannot comment on that part. What I can tell you is that losing physical size is actually a benefit to a competitive cyclists. Observe the typical successful cyclist for physical stature. Most all are ectomorphs and once in a while you see one that is a little more muscular, but that is not as common.

    Even though I train with weights weekly there is and has been no observation that weight training has had any benefit to cycling progress. Coming into cycling in 2004 I expected my muscular size to make it tougher and with strength training my legs were very well trained to hit very low rep very heavy weight that lasts only a few seconds. None of that "strength" that I brought into cycling has helped at all. It does not transfer to endurance cycling and you doing a double century heavily leaning to endurance and aerobic conditioning where sprinting probably would not be a factor. I struggled last week to hit my goals for cycling training because my legs did not recover fast enough from leg training at the gym. So far I seem to alternate each week between having a good cycling training week and a good strength training week. Even if you avoid training legs whatever is trained will share recovery time. If you are blessed with great genetics to gain muscular size you will then have to increase power output to a greater extent to carry that load up a hill. Watts/kg is potentially impacted in a negative sense.

    That being said I do think P90X is a very fine program for general fitness for the average person so I am not knocking that type of program.

    If you are feeling underwhelmed for the training plan than perhaps you might want to consider incorporating more L4 (Coggan's Levels is what I am familiar with) into your routine, but then that changes you from following the book. You indicate you already have enough base miles in your program and it sounds like you are becoming bored with the current cycling program. Throwing in other type of training activities may spice things up a bit, but it may also cost you for that goal you are seeking next year. I am rather new to cycling training as well, but everything that has been pounded into my head is to improve functional threshold and some good methods of accomplishing that goal. I too want to do better at long distance events even though it does not fit my genetics, but as I improve the ceiling of my FT I can then travel for a longer distance at a faster speed with less effort. If that makes sense. I personally do not have enough time in my week to accomplish this goal with long hours of low intensity training and end up on a steady diet of L4 training, but with your ample available time you might meet that goal with lower intensity training at a high volume if it doesn't get too boring and burdensome doing this day after day.

    As an opposite picture of this when I competed in strength activities I avoided any aerobic training because it was a distraction to my ultimate goal of training to improve my 1 rep maximum lift. I am huge believer in sports specific training and if you really want success to this goal like you mention, focus specifically on cycling.

    There will be other opinions and some that will certainly disagree with me on the "strength" training aspect (I actually call P90X and like training as general fitness training because it is not focused on improving 1 rep maximum lifts) so take my thoughts as just one opinion of many, but I hope it will help in the discussion. Certainly there will be more experienced opinions on the aspect of cycling training.

    Best wishes
     
  3. tanna

    tanna New Member

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    This is great advice, and thanks for taking the time. I am glad you included personal experiences.

    I am a mesomorph, and I expect to never vie for a podium position. I don't have the mindset to train for competitive racing, and I think it would deplete the fun and (sense of) accomplishment out of riding long distances using my body only.

    I am more troubled by the prospect of losing explosive power, since I wish to be involved in kickboxing as much as long-distance cycling. Both are hobbies, and both are pleasurable, and I want to be fairly competent at both.

    Therein lies my problem, since the combined training requirements and results are sometimes conflicting.

    Here is a study that might interest you: http://www.ergo-log.com/strengthtraining4cyclists.html


    Quote: According to sports scientists at Lillehammer University in Norway, cyclists benefit from continuing their weight training during the competition season.

    I am not sure how I will proceed, but I will probably have to train strength.
     
  4. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    I agree. The only lifting credentials I have btw were an interest in bodybuilding for a several years at a younger age eventually able to hack squat the 240lb rack for reps, and similarly on the Universal leg extension machine was able to move the stack of 160lbs for reps. My legs were jacked but it didn't help my speed on the bike one single iota.

    I started racing as a tender lad of 15. The weight training started at age 16 and went till 23. Started road racing again at age 24 able to move a whole lot more weight than I could as a teen but my sprinting speed was pretty much still the same as I recall and if anything I became a slower ascender with the additional 15-20 lbs of muscle. This is pretty subjective advice so please take it with a grain.

    Personally if it is benefit on the bike you are after I would focus my off bike work on core exercises like planks, etc. A lot of P90 seems geared that way but I don't know any more than I've seen on the telly.


    Edit: Events where explosive power are required like pursuit and team pursuit and track sprinting which unlike road sprints can often initiate from a near stop would be good candidates for weight training imo.
     
  5. tanna

    tanna New Member

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    Quote: Personally if it is benefit on the bike you are after I would focus my off bike work on core exercises like planks, etc. A lot of P90 seems geared that way but I don't know any more than I've seen on the telly.


    I have trained P90X, and I learned lots from it. It also worked to make me stronger, more flexible, more explosive, etc. It does not stress planks as much as suspension training programs like Rip 60 and TRX.

    I am going to complement my cycling regimen with strength training on the suspension trainer. It will be high reps all the way, and I will keep it aerobic, so as to not deplete my glycogen for times on the bike.

    It will not necessarily make me a better cyclist, but as long as it does not hurt my progress, I will be happy.

    Folks, thank you.
     
  6. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

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    Just in this short discussion I think you have basically answered your own question and that is good because you have the better idea of specific goals. Your second post really helped give me some insight that it wasn't just about doing cycling races in long distance events as described in the first post, but also kickboxing. I would call what you are doing being crossfit and that is what I am after as well in kind of a different way and neither of us are doing the franchise form of crossfit, but still a worthy goal of maintaining good general health and the ability to be decent in more than just one activity.

    As a side note I thought it was interesting a couple months ago on a triathlon forum some members really trash talking the CrossFit games about a mutlidiscipline sporting event and yet that is exactly what triathletes are. Really weird for them to talk a mutli faceted event when that is exactly what they do. I think their biggest beef were the announcers claiming that the crossfit competitors were the greatest athletes in the world and I agree that is a stupid claim. People become good at what they train and especially if they have matched their genetic ability to that event. (Usain Bolt is a world class sprinter, but he will never be a world class marathoner. He has matched his genetics with good training to a certain event.) The more events you begin to include that has potential to lead away from specificity the harder it becomes to accel against like genetic folk focusing fully on the one event, but if you accept this is going to happen you go with it understanding that will be the outcome.

    I guess I am old school so my definition of strength training is very refined compared to what a lot of people call strength training. P90X will improve strength when coming from a sedentary life or because there are movements that the body has yet experienced or yet to adapt. Strength (and endurance) training is always progressive in whatever movement the person is going for. If it is dips than one aspires to improve 1 rep max and if their favorite is deadlifts it is improvement of a 1 rep max even though like cycling you train with submaximal weight. As the body adapts the load must be increased otherwise you are no longer training strength you are just training to maintain or to prevent strength loss. I once heard a guy use the phrase, "you are either training or detraining." It is one or the other. So I am kind of old school in the definition of strength, however, I realize now days the definition seems to have a much broader term and use. I guess I need to change with the times. This is where I struggle when cycling purists and coaches talk about a few winter weeks of "strength" training because what gain is there to train a few weeks and then stop? First, the gains will be minimal and second the gains will be losts just as quickly. Training has to continue or it is just about meaningless.

    The part that I highlighed in your quote seems to baffle me, but maybe I am not seeing the full picture of what you intended. It seems to contradict.

    If you are training P90X for instance and you say you will keep it aerobic than you will be burning more calories than a traditional strength program that is anaerobic low rep, heavy weight type of routine. Training heavy for a few minutes will use up a lot less caloric energy than a P90X type of workout. The problem that I have with training heavy in the morning and then doing L4 intervals in the evening on the rollers is more to do with muscular soreness than with available glycogen. For instance I trained my legs last Monday and it was tougher to get into and hold L4 because of muscular soreness (the discomfort of holding L4 is about twice what it would be if I did not train legs. L4 feels like L5 or L6 even though it is not). I trained legs yesterday and I hope this week will be a better week, but if not it is what it is.

    But don't let what I say distract from doing P90X. Just adjust your caloric intake to fuel both training events. My daily calorie intake is pretty high to maintain my current bodyweight and training/recovery goals.

    That is the issue and the challenge. Training in anything, whether it be specific or multifaceted, you learn to manage the load. Having a coach really helps, but you have a unique combination of interest between long distance cycling events and kickboxing so it may be left to you to find the path. In time by trial and error you can find the direction. I find that keeping a daily log helps me. I no longer track lifting because I have been doing so long and my diet as well. I can look at the portion of food and know about how many calories and macro nutrients are available. Cycling is new so I use a power meter to gauge and track my training along with an application like WKO+ and I use my blog as a training log for the longer weekend training rides since longer distance events are my goal as well. Training is a long term activity and it is a summation of weeks, months and years. In amongst all those days there will be plenty of days of frustating workouts and then there will be days you are so excited you just about cannot contain yourself. The successful competitors that I know are the ones that endure the good and the bad days together and just keep plugging along as if failure was not an option.

    Biggest thing that picked up from your statement is to not lose the fun is whatever the path you choose. I had fun back in the day when I competed, but I did have to follow certain training principles and specifics to have hope of winning. When I retired from competing it was a sad time, but it was also a very great time because now I get to choose how I want to train even if it rubs a bunch of people the wrong way in their beliefs. It only matters to me how I progress. How you go forward should only matter to you. Plus you are young and have many years to change direction if you want.
     
  7. tanna

    tanna New Member

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    Quote: The part that I highlighed in your quote seems to baffle me, but maybe I am not seeing the full picture of what you intended. It seems to contradict.

    I was under the impression that when working anaerobically, the workout is fueled by glycogen, which is of more limited supply than fat from the body or glucose from whatever one is chowing down.

    Thus, what I meant was that when I would strength train, I would work at an intensity that could not deplete my glycogen reserves, meaning I would work at 50% to 80% of max heart rate doing push-ups, crunches, planks and the like. I would use that glycogen during the next day's ride.

    Am I entirely wrong in my understanding of how the body fuels itself?

    Given the volume and intensity of cycling, it is impossible for me to get motivated enough to do a full P90x workout. I doubt my body would adapt to it even if I could muster the will. I strength train everyday now, and I alternate between a day of working chest+back+shoulders and a day of legs+abs. I use a suspension trainer, and everything is derived from a plank-like stance.

    Quote: I guess I am old school so my definition of strength training is very refined compared to what a lot of people call strength training. P90X will improve strength when coming from a sedentary life or because there are movements that the body has yet experienced or yet to adapt. Strength (and endurance) training is always progressive in whatever movement the person is going for. If it is dips than one aspires to improve 1 rep max and if their favorite is deadlifts it is improvement of a 1 rep max even though like cycling you train with submaximal weight.

    P90X's claim to fame is that it continually forces the body to do movements that the body has yet to experience or yet to adapt to. They call it muscle confusion. P90X also requires users to increase resistance as one grows stronger, but undoubtedly, the focus is on muscle endurance rather than the one-rep max.

    Is training with submaximal weight to the point of exhaustion only conducive to maintaining strength and increasing muscle endurance? I understand that one's maximum bench press won't improve no matter how many clap push-ups one does, but what of metrics such as "explosive strength?"

    Thank you for all your insight. It's always great to read about the experiences of fellow cyclists.
     
  8. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

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    You are correct in your thoughts. The trouble in these discussions is getting all those discussing to a point they are discussing the same thing. That is why I wanted to point out my stance or view is that of a traditional old school type lifter, but to be even more specific that it is more in line with power lifting movements - squat, deadlift and bench. I trained and consulted in a gym that had world class Olympic Lifters that had set world records. It had world class powerlifters like the late Dave Pasanella and Curtis Leslie that both were squatting near or at 1000 lbs. It had national and pro bodybuilders and the gym was owned by one the of the world's most popular Olympic Lifting coaches for USA women. Not to mention all of those like myself that were top notch local and national level athletes. If you gather all of those people together to have a big round table discussion on strength and how to gain strength there would be some similarities and some agreements, but there would be a lot of disagreement as well. Part of the disagreement will become the definition of strength and much of the disagreement will become the definition of it. Yet all of those people have had great success despite different training principles and different training philosophies. Yes, there is science in that mix.

    From my perspective it really comes back to specificity and that part I cannot get past. For me it always comes back to specificity.

    You adapt at what you train. Like you said about P90X is the same claim to fame for the CrossFit franchise. CrossFit makeup is to always train without structure so that each day you don't know what you are going to do until you get there kind of theme. But I say that is a load of crap because in the disorganization there is still specificity even if they think there is not. They do chin ups. They do deadlifts. They do clean and jerk. There are some things they do train regularly even if it is not a regular schedule. When they get to competition they can do chin ups because they have trained chin ups. The difference comes when they throw in something completely random like a version of a triathlon. They looked horrible in doing that triathlon. Sure they have some good cardio conditioning and they did make it through the event, but when compared to people that actually train specifically for triathlons it was pretty pathetic. The CF's then looked pretty amazing when they get to events that they train like deadlifts, clean & jerk and pushing a weighted sled because many of them train that. Just like you will become good at P90X if you follow the video in a progressive manner and those movements. Let's say that I train in power lifting and I have progressed well, but then you and I have some sort of P90X competition against you after you have done many months of P90X? You would probably do better than me because the strength that I gained in specific movements like bench, squats and deadlifts are not going to be the same as what you have gained training randomly through the P90X. You will be able to hold a plank far longer than I could because though I have a strong core from doing deadlifts and squats it is not the same as actually adapting to doing planks.

    So it is a very difficult topic to discuss. If Tudor Bompa and Dr. Mel Siff had disagreements on the terms, philosophies and science than it really is a difficult topic. Current day world class strength coaches like Dave Tate and Charles Staley having a disagreement on Box Squats. http://staff.washington.edu/griffin/box_squats.txt

    As far as glycogen use in anaerobic training that too goes to the type of training. So I am talking about a few sets of heavy squats to improve strength, whereas, you are talking about P90X that is how many minutes of virtual continual movement? I forget how long the DVD session lasts, but for improving strength in squats during my offseason was very heavy weight for low reps. Each set was no more than 6 reps lasting less than 10 seconds and could have up to 10 minutes of rest between sets. I don't think I used much glycogen during the strength training periodization, but then again that is under my definition of strength training. During my pre season preparing bodybuilding competitions I would often train with heavy weight while being intentionally carb depleted. I did that for many years and could still lift fairly heavy while being on a very low carb diet. For instance I had no trouble doing 405 lbs x 8 reps while being carb depleted, but I doubt I could have made it through a P90X workout while being on that same carb depleted diet.

    My point goes back to comparing apples to apples and when it comes athletes in different activities the definition of aerobic and anaerobic, power and strength seem to take on different meanings during the discussion.

    What is important is find what works for you to meet your goals and if you want specificity even if you are talking long distance cycling and kickboxing at the same time.

    In the late 90's at near the peak of my "strongest" days in the gym I was also sparring with a Muay Thai kickboxer. As far as I know, and he rented a room from me so I had a pretty good idea of his training methods, he never did any sort of resistance exercise. Not a single push up or any other type of exercise. All he did was fight and spar. The power in his kick was incredible. The first time I held a bag for him to practice kicks he almost broke one of my ribs because I did not take his kicking power seriously. It literally lifted me off the ground and pushed me back about 4 feet. Yet absolutely no training outside of fighting, practicing technique and sparring many hours. Years later he was a sparring partner to several big name MMA fighters in the UFC.

    Specificity for Bob in what he did for kickboxing seemed to work quite well.

    I have a female coworker that looks incredibly anemic and thin. I doubt she could squat her own body weight and probably could not do but a few push ups. She really looks fragile and actually looks like a girl that should be walking the super model runway. She is very attactive, but very feminine in appearance. Yet she has won her age category in almost every triathlon she has entered this year by doing specifics of running, biking and swimming. She has trained, adapted and succeeded in her event with specific training and strength does not seem to be a factor or an interest to her.

    I know this doesn't answer questions and it probably creates more questions. There are many roads and cross roads to the discussion.
    Best wishes.
     
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