May Street Bicycles is not your typical bike shop. I am not aware of any other bicycle shop that also provides strength training. Sure you can go to a cross fit gym, etc., however, my concern is do these fitness instructors have an endurance back ground? Often times I see instructors prescribe exercises and movement patterns to make the client a better lifter. My goal is to prescibe exercises and specific movements to help my clients become better endurance athletes. I recently came across an interesting article by Dr John Rusin on TNATION, titled Weight Training for Endurance Addicts. That reinforces my passion of strength training for endurance athletes. Below is the article. Although this article mostly addresses triathletes, it is applicable to all endurance athletes such ultra runners and cyclists. Enjoy...
Here's what you need to know...
That ink represents more than just a race – it represents a neurotically emotional and physical feat that necessitates a special kind of crazy to train for, let alone compete in.
This kind of insanity requires you to throw away all hopes of orthopedic health and any social life in order to have a chance to complete this 10+ hour nightmare.
Add to that the lack of cross training, intelligent programming, and restorative and regenerative therapies needed to minimize the damage caused by the training alone, and you have a group of Ironman competitors physically ruined for life.
It's a good thing traditional strength and conditioning is here to save the asses of triathletes and other extreme endurance athletes from long-term pain and injury. Proper training will allow you to get the most out of your body while reducing your time on the road, thus giving you a fighting chance to survive.
It'll involve minimizing your sport specific work and maximizing your body's strength and endurance potential by picking up heavy things and training like a real athlete for once.
The Problem With Traditional Tri TrainingMany naive triathlon programs focus solely on the swim, bike, and run. Triathletes shy away from any non sport-specific training because they live in mortal fear of the soreness produced by anything other than saddle burn.
It should also be mentioned that for the most part, triathletes don't do any type of cross training, even if it's been shown to yield optimal results come race day. Ignorance can only remain bliss for so long until it bites you in the ass.
An often-overlooked aspect of triathlon programs is the notorious requisite of clocking extreme training hours while rarely calling for a true rest day. The body wasn't engineered for repetitive movements at extreme frequency and intensities.
This causes imbalances, injuries from overuse, and in turn, lack of effective muscular activation and function. These are all bad things if your goal is to do this sport for the long run.
Orthopedic OutrageIt's no surprise that Iron-distance triathletes are some of the most injury-prone individuals on the face of the earth. The exponential workload and time spent training are enough to make the average lifter break into convulsions at the very thought of saddling up on the bike and going for a cruise.
But how and where does all this cardio carnage actually occur? The actual rate of orthopedic insult is largely unknown, but there have been a few recent studies published to shed some light on the issue at hand.
A study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that the average prevalence of overuse injuries (non-traumatic in nature) for triathletes training and competing was 56%. More so, substantial overuse injuries were found in 20% of Ironman distance triathletes!
The most common areas of pain and dysfunction secondary to triathlon training and competition are pretty evenly dispersed between the knee (25%), lower leg (23%), and lower back (23%).
To trump it all, these athletes' rate of illness was found to be higher than the average sedentary adult, especially within a period of five days after a strenuous workout. Since the average triathlete trains six-plus times a week, it can be inferred that these athletes are susceptible to illness on a daily basis.
In my professional experience as a sports performance physical therapist, I believe the injury statistics are lowball at best. After working numerous Ironman events, along with treating and training athletes competing at amazingly high levels, I've observed that nearly 90% of these athletes are broken down to one extent or another.
So if being chronically hurt, sick and lethargic sounds like a great time, it's as easy as signing up! Um, tell me again why you love training for the tri?
Enhancing the Energy SystemsIf you want to compete in a triathlon or similar endurance event without killing your body, you better enhance your anthropometric efficiency by any means possible. The simplest way to do this is by increasing your power-to-weight ratio.
Triathletes, for example, have to haul their emaciated carcasses around for 10+ hours during a race, making that ratio the difference between PRs and disqualification. Simply said, extra bodyweight in the wrong places results in the waste of precious energy, which then equates to slower times.
That extra soft tissue also requires the utilization of more oxygen to those areas, siphoning blood flow away from highly active musculature that's in dire need of nutrition.
The need for power and strength is an absolute necessity in a highly effective tri-training program. Having trained and coached through a 12-month period without sustaining a single debilitating injury, I can attribute this ultra health and performance to intelligently programmed strength and conditioning, most of which took place within the walls of my gym.
Triathletes must master a few key movements to yield amazing benefits for both performance and orthopedic health. These movements include overhead squats, deadlifts, front squats, and back squats.
Each movement can be repeated in sets of 2-6 with > 80% 1RM to gain strength and power without adding unwanted mass.
These movements are relatively easy to learn, pack some muscle armor onto the legs and posterior chain, and also emphasize core stability and posture, as poor dynamic posturing can result in increased rates of fatigue during sport-specific performances. Stick to the basics, master the movements, and reap the benefits!
Single-leg movements can also be specifically advantageous for cycling and running. These movements include lunges, step-ups, split jumps, and single-leg deadlifts.
Iron-distance triathletes are unilaterally dominant because of their focus on cycling and running. As such, unilateral exercises are extremely effective to correct left to right imbalances.
Single-leg movements utilizing heavy eccentric loads are especially beneficial as they increase vascularization, oxygen utilization, and growth factoring in the specific tissues being targeted. Eccentric focuses also counteract the tonic shortening of muscles that can happen with cycling and running.
Dr. Rusin continues his article with an example of strength training.
Rusin and I are in total agreement in regards to incorporating strength training on an annual basis. During the race season I prescribe strength training at least two days per week. Typically on Tuesdays I focus on upper T Spine mobility and stability with Hang Power Snatches, Overhead Squats to a box, Behind the Neck Presses, and Bulgarian Bag Swings (as well as Front Squats). On Thursdays we do Push Presses or Push Jerks or varied Bench Press work. As well as Back Squats to a box, Deadlifts from blocks or Hang Power Cleans. Also, Tuesdays and Thursdays we pull weighted sleds for upto thirty minutes. For tight hip flexors I am a big fan of splits squats. If you are looking to incorporate strength training advice or coaching I will be happy to help.
Yours in Cycling and Fitness,
President of Fun
May Street Bicycles is not your typical bike shop. Sure we sell awesome bicycles, provide bicycle repairs, and rental bikes all at great prices. But we do a great deal more such as dynamic bike fitting, metabolic testing, altitude training, and personal training.