WINTER TRAINING: INDOOR RIDING & WEIGHT-LIFTING
I'm working up a winter weight-training programme for myself and figured I'd add some extra stuff for everyone else out there. Some people are stuck indoors due to weather, and the racing-season has ended, so changes in training are typical for recreational cyclists as well as racers. The types of workouts done is similar to the polar-opposites typically seen with on-bike training as well. On the road in one week, you may do all-out sprints as well as long-distance endurance rides. In the gym, we'll be doing both muscular strength-training as well as aerobic workouts. Due to the limited time one can spend in the gym or on a trainer/rollers, long endurance rides is NOT something that we can do in the winter, so plan your meals accordingly or else weight-gain will be inevitable.
Why? To increase muscle-strength of course. If your muscles are aching at your max average-speed during a TT, if the limitation on hillclimbs for you are your muscles and how cramped up they get, or if you can't ride every day because sore muscles requires a day off every other day, then weight-training will be of benefit to you. However, if your HR maxes out in sprints or on hills out well before your muscles even feel it, then you'd better off working more on your aerobic capacity. The common misconception is that weight-lifting will end up making you gain 30lbs of muscle and look like AHhhnold. Well, there's actually a vast and wide range between the average cyclist and Mr. Olympia bodybuilders. Building strength to a point somewhere in between will improve performance for most cyclists.
The actual benefits you'll get will depend upon your fitness-level. Beginning riders in their first 5-years have the most to gain from strength-training. Top level cyclists at 90-95% of your genetic potential won't have as much to gain. Yet, weight-training is also an integral part of their training in order to rebuild muscle-tissue that's been consumed for energy during a long season of racing. Lance did 8-10 weeks of weight-training in the winters.
The idea with increasing strength is to improve efficiency, specifically aerobic and lactate-threshold factors. Typically, the lower efforts relative to their max that you make the muscles work, the more efficient they tend to be in terms of power-output vs. oxygen consumed. The higher the muscles are exerting close to 100% max-effort, the more inefficient they are. The LT-lactate threshold is the transition point where your muscles can operate aerobically at a pace you can hold for a long time, vs. going anaerobic and eventually stopping you from lactic-acid buildup. Muscle-fatigue on long rides is also related to how high you are pushing them compared to their max. So if you can increase your max-strength of your muscles, previous levels of exertion will be at a lower percentage and you'll be able to generate power more efficiently. The trick is to balance strength vs. weight-gain.
There's been plenty of research and papers written on this subject, so I won't say more; you can reference them here:
Edmund R. Burke, Ph.D. (USA national-team coach) - Strength Training for Cycling
NSCA - Resistance Training for Cyclists
PTS - Strength Training: Building a Bigger Engine
Ultra Cycling - Resistance Training for Endurance Cyclists
The Lance Armstrong Performance Program: Seven Weeks to the Perfect Ride, he recommends 4-6 weeks of weight-training.
Carmichael Training Systems - Lance Armstrong's Nov 99 Training Log
SpokePost - Training with Periodization (Part 3 of 8: Hypertrophy Phase)
RunnersWeb - Multisport: Strength and Power Training for Endurance Athletes
Journal Of Applied Physiology - Explosive-strength training improves 5-km running time by improving running economy and muscle power
Journal Of Applied Physiology - Potential for strength and endurance training to amplify endurance performance
Trinity Endurance/Fitness - Cross Training for Triathletes - Part 1
CoachesInfo - Maximum Strength & Strength Training - Relationship to Endurance? Review Part 2
Strength training for distance runners - summaries several studies showing weight-training improves endurance
Power Running - Resistance Training for Runners
Aphrodite - Strength Training Improves Aerobic Power In Seniors
Here's some other people who recommend strength/weight-training during the winter-months:
Greg Lemond - mutiple TDF winner, Greg Lemond's Complete Book of Bicycling
Lance Armstrong - multiple TDF winner, The Lance Armstrong Performance Program
Eddy Borysewicz - USA Olympic Coach 1980-1984
Edmund Burke, PhD. - USA Olympic Coach 1984-1988, 20-year Director OTC-U.Colorado, High-Tech Cycling, Serious Cycling
Chris Carmichael - 1984 Olympic Cycling team, USA Olympic Coach 1992-1996, The Lance Armstrong Performance Program
Chester Kyle PhD. - Chief Scientist OTC, 1984, 1997-1998 Olympic Team Aerodynamicist/Physiologist
Indoor trainers vary widely in design and purpose. Most common are stationary trainers that clamp to your back wheel and gives you some resistance for riding. There are several kinds of resistance units, fans and magnetic/fluid. Fans simulate real-road riding the best and provides an exponential rise in resistance with speed (^2) which approximates real-world conditions the best; however, they are loud. Magnetic-resistance units provide a linear increase in resistance with speed (x2) and may not feel as realistic. They provide too much resistance at low-speeds, making you start out feeling like you're in too big of a gear, and as speeds rise, their increase in resistance doesn't go up as quickly as real-world wind-drag. So they feel too easy at high-speed compared to a fan-based resistance unit. Fluid-resistance units fall somewhere in between a fan and mag-unit. Rather than monitoring speed on a trainer, it's much more effective to monitor RPM, heartrate with a HRM and gauge workouts based upon heartrate, RPM and time.
Workouts with trainers are pretty much limited to aerobic workouts, forget about endurance unless you want to spend 2-4 hours sitting on a trainer like you would on an endurance ride. If you've got the mental fortitude for that, you may be able to do it. Otherwise, let's focus strictly on aerobic workouts.
1. steady-rate aerobics - this is a basic workout with 10-15 minutes of warm-up, then increase gearing and intensity to place your HR right at under LT and ride for 25-45 minutes, 60-minutes if you have willpower of a monk. Count on about a 300-500 cal/hr burn-rate.
2. aerobic intervals - simulates a hillclimb to work on the lungs. Pick a higher gear than normal so that you're in the 80-90rpm range for more resistance. Ride at a pace at your LT or slightly higher that you can barely hold for 15-20 minutes. Increase effort slightly in the last 2-3 minutes so that you max out your HR by the end, similar to blowing up at the top of a hill. Rest easy for 4-5 minutes and repeat another 15-20 minute effort
3. anaerobic intervals - simulates flat intervals on the road. You'll be aiming for 1-5 minute stretches at a steady speed above your LT with your HR increasing steadily to max-HR. Pick a gear that you'll spin at 90-110rpms at a speed that you cannot hold forever. Start with something that's 10-15% above your LT and hold that speed for as long as you can until HR maxes out. This may be similar to a 1-2 minute interval on the street. Rest easy for 3-4 minutes and repeat. An effort of 5-10% above LT may be held for a 3-4 minute interval. Record the gears you're using and resistance level so you can easily do intervals above your LT. Simplest intervals may be a set of 2-2-2-2-2 minute intervals, or you can mix and match to do a pyramid set of 1-2-3-4-3-2-1.
Rollers are a completely different beast with minimal resistance. Using high gears does provide more resistance and stabilizing effect from inertia of the wheels and rollers along with rolling-resistance from the tyres and bearings. While you can do aerobic training on rollers, its main benefits are in a completely different arena: pedaling form and neuro-muscular connections. An analogy can be made with an Olympic javelin thrower. Riding trainers and doing weights is like him practicing his throw by tossing his javelin hard and building up strength. However, riding rollers is like him testing and trying out different javelins to find one that flies the fastest and farthest.
The main benefit of rollers is fine-tuning your pedaling motion to be more efficient. Again, like with weight-training, those starting out has the most to gain. New riders tend to push only through a narrow 120-degree range of the crank's rotation using mainly the quads and glutes. There's a limit to how much power you can generate once you hit 100% muscle-effort, and muscles operating at 100% is not very efficient and are anaerobic. However, by adding more force to the other 240-degrees using the other 8 muscles that have been ignored, you can actually generate 3x the power at the same muscle-strength by spinning smoothly. Or another way to look at it is, at the previous power-levels, you can do that with just 1/3rd the muscle effort. They will be operating much more efficiently and require lower amounts of oxygen for the same power output. Part of this increased power is using the force that's normally required to push up other leg through the dead-spot to drive the bike forwards instead.
However, you can't just hop on rollers and ride. There needs to be a conscious mental strategy with modifying the sequence of muscle contractions to yield the smoothest pedal stroke. Learning which muscles needs to be recruited and learning the new motions can first be picked up with one-legged riding on the street. Use an easy gear like 38x17t so you can ride slowly. Get up to medium speed in that gear and pull one leg out (hold it to the side to clear the pedal; I like to rest it on top of the chainstay by the rear-derailleur). The dead spots will be quite obvious. Intentionally focus on the muscles that needs to be used to move the crank through the dead spots. Doesn't require more than 10-20 seconds of riding one-legged to learn the new motion. This new neuro-muscular connection is what you want to focus on when you ride the rollers. Repeating that motion over and over again actually makes new nerve connections and is eventually imprinted in the cerebellum where automatic motions are triggered.
Workouts on rollers can be similar to trainers with steady-state, aerobic and anaerobic intervals. Another good exercise is to start out in medium gears, get smooth and gradually shift into lower and lower gears. As the speeds slow down, try to maintain same RPM. The lower inertia will make everything feel more wobbly, so the practice maintaining balance and smooth pedaling motion. You can extend this even further by continuing the downshifting until you get into your lowest gear. Once you're smooth here, gradually increase the RPMs while maintaining smoothness; if you start bouncing, slow down a bit and get smooth again.
More advanced roller workouts can involve riding out of the saddle and doing high-RPM sprints. I won't mention anything about that here since anyone who's going to be doing this already knows what to do.
Combining Weight-Training w/Trainer workouts
Simple way to combine both aerobic trainer and weight workouts is to alternate the intensity. This can be done between different days of the week, like hard weight-workouts one day and easy trainer workouts the next. Then easy weight-training followed by hard trainer sessions. Or you can even do it on the same day at the gym. When you're doing hard weights, go easy on the bike and vice-versa. It's usually a good idea to warm up on the trainer before doing weights. You can also do an interval set or two while you're waiting for a weight-station to open up. At the very end, you can do a long aerobic session on the trainer to cool down.
Last edited by DannoXYZ; 10-22-06 at 10:24 AM.
Thanks Danno. I'll add in something about strength training and cardiovascular training from the vantage of someone training for weight loss later, since I'm at a 3 day conference right now (my eyes are glazing!).
Where do spin cycles work out in the scheme of things?
Our LifeCycle is on its last legs. I also find it pretty boring, especially with getting out there and actually cycling. I know that a spin cycle won't be as exciting as actually riding my bike outdoors, but, with the spin DVD's, it should be some improvement.
The reason I'm thinking about a spin cycle is that my whole family has used the LifeCycle for years. I'd like something that we can all use. I'm thinking of the Lamond very seriously, so if anyone wants to say yea or nay, please do so before I spend the money.
By the way, this thread is a good idea.
Hey, I think this thread will be helpful to me...
My issue is this: I just bought my first HRM (sorry Koffee but it's the Timex). I've only used it a couple times, but I think on the bike my leg muscles tire out way before my heart/lungs. However, while running, they seem pretty even. Here is the data:
While riding, I cannot get my HR above ~160 BPM without my legs burning. I would say that if I raised my HR very much above this, my leg muscles would reach failure in about 90 sec.
While running 1.5 miles for a physical test for my job, my HR was ~180 the whole time (8:40). I probably could have held this pace for another 6 minutes, not including the sprint at the end. My legs felt comparably as stressed as my heart/lungs. I'm guessing that I was at about 90% of my max HR for this, but I don't have that measured yet.
I think that if I did weight training this off season that targeted cycling specific muscles, I might be able to ride my bike at the 180 BPM for longer periods of time and would theoretically be faster. Is this correct?
I'm thinking of working mostly leg presses, squats, hamstring curls, and calf presses. Also need to work abs/core since cycling has essentially zero effect on those muscles unless sprinting/climbing.
LifeCycles... you mean one of these type of gym thingies? Those are fine, I think they actually make more sense for indoor-training because they're more comfortable. Just set the seat-height to be similar to your road-bike and it'll be fine. You can vary the resistance with the control-panel rather than shifting gears. They also have RPM indicators and some have heart-rate using sensor pads in the handlebars. The idea is to use road-bike RPMs and work out based upon HR and you want to structure your ride to fall on or above your LT depending upon the particular workout; it's way too easy to do a casual ride and just watch TV or somethin' and not get the most out of your time.
Originally Posted by KeithA
Yup, you made an accurate assessment of the balance between your muscular and aerobic systems; the muscles are lagging behind and strengthening them will balance them so that they are both maxed out at the same time. Actually, you want to have much more muscle-strength than that so you'll only be operating them at 50-75% or so at your VO2-max. Think about the pro-racer who can cruise at 400w at his LT, but can pick it up to 1500w in a sprint or break.
Originally Posted by sestivers
The difference between riding and running thresholds is also typical. Running requires more peak muscle-forces than cycling and the muscles tend to operate more inefficiently, thus requiring more oxygen than cycling at your limit, thus the higher HR. That's why on the max-HR test, most people hit higher BPM on the treadmill than bike.
You will definitely gain tremendous improvements in speed on the bike by doubling your muscle-strength this winter. You'll also want to work on leg-extensions, and backs in addition to the exercises you outlined above. There's a extensive list of cycling-related weight-workouts in the links above, I also use this site a lot: Bodybuilding.com. Here's a diagram I've drawn up (not really to scale) to illustrate the progression of strength over time with recreational as well as racers. Basically the idea is in the beginning, you can make much faster progress with some weight-training added to your yearly programme:
The cyclical nature of racing and strength is caused by the strenuous demands of racing, and your muscles actually get weaker as the season progresses. Racers are strongest in the spring and weakest in the fall. The variations in strength for racers is actually much greater than that, but I didn't want to have too many overlapping lines. Some of the strength/muscle-loss is due to insufficient recovery/building times and some is through atrophy due to muscles being disassembled for energy on long rides. You would then take a break from riding (maybe 100-150/wk) and work on your muscle-strength in the winter. Then start up in the spring with LSD rides since it's been months since you've done an endurance ride.
Last edited by DannoXYZ; 10-22-06 at 10:22 AM.
Well, hot dang!!! Yes, I'd like the set up in the picture you linked , but will probably have to settle on the Lamond.
Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
The LeMond bike is excellent. In fact, their booth at Interbike was four times as big as last year's. I think their bike gets better and better with time.
The Pilot computer is pretty cool too- the gyms that actually invest in buying the Pilots are the best ones to work in, since the Pilots have cadence, speed, and heart rate. I also spoke with Paul, the guy who built the bike, and he said at some point soon, they'll be adding in power. They just don't want to add it until they can find a way to do it in an economical manner so everyone can afford it.
They are also proactive with the maintenance too, so no maintenance issues as long as you raise the handlebars and seats, take the resistance off the bike, and wipe the bike down after every ride. If there's any problem, just call, and they'll fix it right away.
Danno, do you think you could offer up 1 or 2 different trainer workouts based on the information you've given? That was a most excellent explanation, btw.
Still no real internet yet, but when I do, I'll be offering up a few workouts based on power for the indoor trainer, depending on what type of training you're working towards. It was an awesome weekend of workshops given by Hunter Allen, featuring Joe Friel and Hunter Allen talking about training with power. I learned a ton, and I'm putting my notes together to put up something more comprehensive.
Believe it or not, Koffee, but when I was doing my google searches on spin cycles, your past posts came up and made me pretty interested. I've since test ridden a LeMond, but haven't yet pulled the trigger. It's still 75 degrees here today. I'm pretty sure that it'll do the job though and anticipate having one in my home in the next few weeks.
Yeah, I understand. Though it's pretty cold and rainy now, we have pretty mild climes, and I'm not quite ready to give in to the trainer talk either. I'm hoping to get in a ride tomorrow afternoon myself after I get back home from work.
Getting colder. Ordered the LeMond RevMaster. Although it'll never be like riding outdoors, I think I'll love and appreciate the machine. My wife, for the time being, refuses to get rid of our LifeCycle, but I'll win her over!!!
Got a pretty special deal on it as well.
I think the RevMaster is great. Did you get the Pilot too?
Yep, and I think it comes with clipless pedals as well. That was the special deal. $1100 with no tax or shipping. He says he does a finer job assembling and fine tuning the thing. He apparantly has written several tech manuals for many of the spin machines used in gyms. He tosses in a ton of extras like the computer and the pedals, for no extra charge...even some spin music.
The only things I might add are some spinerval DVD's and the heart monitor chest strap.
"He" being Paul? Great guy... friend of mine.
Rev is well known for their free shipping. I got the DVD too. Didn't need the chest strap. I have about 30 heart rate monitors at home already.
I think the guy I bought from is named James. He's located in Santa Monica and apparantly tunes 1000 of the machines a month for gyms and private owners.
James I don't know, but if he's anything like Paul, he's very likeable.
I'm sure you'll enjoy the Rev.
This is a great thread. How would you alter your advice for folks who want to concentrate on shorter track disciplines? By shorter I mean 200m and kilo with some mass starts for thrills. How much should (what is a good goal) I be pushing when I do single leg presses?
Also, what strength is needed to create the power needed to reach certain speeds on the bike? I just want to know if there is some standard criterion measurement that can be specified as a goal as opposed to proprioceptive effort indices or gym stats.
If your answer includes power measurement on the bike, is there somewhere that an effort has been made to look at distributions of these measurements across different cyclists. Is there a website that has power profiles, for example, of racers who contribute to the forum? I'm just trying to find out what is out there. Thanks.
It's difficult to know what kind of weights to suggest when we haven't seen you in action (probably never will, given the distance!), but I'd recommend a good personal trainer- preferably one with a NASM certification, since they are the best ones out there.
I don't know of a website where cyclists post their power stats online... perhaps Danno may know of one?
In my opinion, I don't think a standard criterion for strength can be used for individuals. When I train people, I train them as individuals- I feel every person is different and should be trained as such. It helps the person to focus on their goals and not someone else's. But that's my two cents.
quick question -- started doing Pilates for the first time this fall, along with spin classes -- my core was so weak! Do you recommend core training for biking? It seems that running uses my abs more than cycling (twisting? different leg motion used during running?) Or is my biking technique just not very good -- in other words, should I be using my abs more in biking than I (apparently) have been? I would think it would help in some of the leg motion....
Pilates? Or Yoga?
thanks -- great thread.
Danno -- so how do you do weights without bulking up? I've been going to the gym a few weeks now since we are only getting many less "rideable" days here in New England.
I've been doing mostly core-related things like back extensions, ab machines, leg curls, leg presses, squats, etc. I was happy with having lost weight during the season, but I am seem to be gaining some of it back! Should I be aiming for heavy weights w/ few reps or light weights/max reps?
Originally Posted by Deederdoll
Sorry. Somehow I didn't see this.
A strong core is definitely necessary- you have to be able to hold yourself upright, and a strong core will also help prevent against back pain. Core training will do every person some good. A pilates class a few times a week would definitely work your core, but if you can't do pilates, try doing some ab exercises and some back exercises instead.
If you're looking to gain mass and bulk up, you'll have to lift heavier weights with less reps. BUT if you're looking at muscle maintenance and muscular endurance, then you'll be looking to do lighter weights with more reps. I get the feeling you want the muscular endurance, so focus on light weights and more reps. So, for instance, if you do leg curls, and you're wanting muscular endurance, and you find that 70 pounds is not too heavy, then you can do 3- 4 sets of 12- 15 reps, and if you do 12 reps, by the time you get to the 9th rep, you should feel fatigues, and by the 12th rep, you should feel like you have to work very hard to get that weight through the full motion of the exercise. If you decide to shoot for 15 reps, by the time you hit that 12th rep, you should feel some fatigue in the muscle, and when you get to the 15th rep, you'll feel like you have to work to get that last rep out.
Originally Posted by jazzy_cyclist
Working out with light weights doesn't mean it's easy, but it does mean that you're focusing on fatigue through repetition, not through the heaviness of the weight.
You're doing both 200m and kilo? I'm not sure if there's a way to optimize weight-training for both. I kinda got stuck in between myself during the 8-years I did track before they closed down Dominguez Hills. The two guys I hung with that did kilo were Marc and Joe ; two riders who couldn't have been built any more differently. Marc looked like a football linebacker and Joe was a 130lb climbing twig. Yet, both their kilo times were within a second or two of each other.
Originally Posted by abm1213
Marc definitely had the power and his first lap was about 3s faster while Joe made it up on the last lap. Marc tended to focus more on aerobic training and only did weights in the winter. Joe did weight-training year-round. Rory helped us all out a lot with training and his programme wasn't that different than most road-racers. He did have an extra 2-3 weeks in the gym near the end to develop strength and power a bit. This last phase has more heavy-duty lifting with a day in the 2-3rep range. Otherwise, the beginning was the same.
Bulking up takes time and in the beginning, you build strength faster than bulk. This is done through recruiting dormant fibres in the muscles (building nerve-connections to them). The existing fibres also increase in size, so it's about 50/50. However, in order to build bulk, you have to do max-lift workouts with 5-8 reps for a long time, months and years at a time. Max weight-gain from lean muscle-mass is about 1-3 lbs/month if you're a heavy-duty competition body-builder. With just 8-12 weeks of cycling-specific training in the gym, you'd be lucky to gain 2-lbs of muscle, yet you can easily double or even triple your strength if you're a new rider. Be careful with the diet though, because it's easy to eat an extra 500 calories a day when you're not riding much. This adds about 1-lb/week of blubber resulting in a 12-15lb gain over the winter in fat that you have to work off in the spring.
Originally Posted by jazzy_cyclist
As to the actual workouts themselves, I would suggest reading the above links and devising your own programme based upon your personal knowledge of which muscles tend to get overworked and sore on your rides. The sequence I like to use is to start with low-weights/high-reps and gradually build to high-weight/low-reps, then speedwork:
Week 1-3: low/medium weights, 12-15 reps, 3-days a week max with recovery day in between
Week 4-5: medium weights, day1: 7-12 reps, day2: 10-13 reps, day3: 12-15 reps
Week 7-9: medium/high weights, day1: 5-7 reps, day2: 8-10 reps, day3: 10-12 reps
Week 10-11: high weights, day1: 1-4 reps, day2: 5-7 reps, day3: 7-15 reps
Week 11-12: speedwork w/high weights, day1: 3-5 reps, day2: 5-7 reps, day3: 7-10 reps
This last stage is a very cycling-specific workout where you stop building strength and develop power. The weights aren't increased as you get stronger, rather you push them faster. Machines are preferred for safety. You want to overlap the last two weeks with the beginning of your base-miles/endurance rides in the spring if the snow has thawed sufficiently.
Last edited by DannoXYZ; 10-22-06 at 10:30 AM.
Thanks, all. Good ideas here.
Koffee and others,
Thanks for the advice on LeMond RevMasters. I honestly thought it would bore me, even if not to the point of tears as does my LifeCycle. The Spinerval DVD's make sure you don't get bored. The pacing and dynamics of the workout constantly shift. I'd do an hour on my RevMaster way before I'd do the 24 minute cycle on my LifeCycle. Moreso, some of the Spinervals last up to 2 hours.