Monday, July 26, 2010

Strength Training

If you're OVER 50, like me, you'll notice as the years pile're NOT getting any stronger on the bike despite how hard you train.  In fact, you may have noticed a few things: a) your FTP decreasing  b) your muscle mass decreasing  c) your overall strength and endurance declining c) your VO2max decreasing  d) your LTHR decreasing e) etc.  The only thing that seems to be increasing is your waistline and your body weight.  The other thing I've noticed, as I get older, is my intolerance for temperature extremes.  In the Winter when it's cold and nasty outside...I hibernate to my indoor trainer...for the most part.  In the Summer, when it's HOT, like it is now..I head for the Air Conditioning...whether it's to my indoor trainer in the cool basement or to the local gym. 

To "beat the heat", in the Summer, I get all of my cycling outdoor workouts done in the early morning.  I'm out the door by 0600 and I'm back by 1000 before it REALLY starts to get hot out.  The other thing I like to do at this time of year- to "beat the heat" is get back in the air-conditioned gym.  Why?  Not only is it a great place to escape the sweltering heat, it's a great place to tone-up those leg muscles you've worked so hard to develop over the Winter and the same ones you've neglected all Spring and Summer.  Remember, cycling is NOT a high load/weight bearing sport and the leg muscle forces used to generate power to the pedal cranks are typically NOT that high ( average around 25-30 lbf).  It's for this reason that many longtime cyclists develop osteoporosis later in life.  Therefore, to stave off the effects of osteoporosis (later in life), I HIGHLY recommend you get in the gym at least once a week for 1/2-1 hour weight/resistance training.

For Strength/Resistance Training I recommend high weight, low reps.  That's right, HIGH weight, LOW repetitions.  That doesn't mean your first trip back to the gym that you should start leg pressing 3 sets of 6-8 reps at 400 lbs.  It will take about 2-3 weeks to get your muscles back into condition and ready for the higher loads.  This WILL HELP retain the muscle mass you built up in the Winter and compliment your endurance training on the bike/road.  You won't get muscle bound or add muscle weight with only 1-2x (1/2 hour) training sessions per week.  I also recommend using machines such as the ones shown in the photo.  Why?  Although, free-weights require balance and develop the muscles better- they are NOT AS SAFE to use as the machines unless you have a spotter (which most people don't have).  Why risk injury and a sudden end to your racing season?  The other thing I recommend is perform cycling specific exercises working the legs and core.  For example, when performing quadricep or calf exercises, alternate legs in a cycle-like pedaling action.

So, when it's HOT outside..get inside (the gym) where it's COOL at least once or twice a week and wake-up those leg and core muscles.  Who knows, that might make the difference (between podium and no podium) in that final sprint of your August/September Criterium or Road Race.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Big Boy Watts!

So, you think you can ride a Stage of the TDF with the big boys do you?  I doubt it, unless you're a touring Pro.  Do you think you have the Power to lead out one of the best climbers in the World?  Here is a Power Profile of Team Saxo Bank's Chris Anker Sorenson leading Andy Schleck up the Pyranees.  Notice the speed, cadence and elevation profile.  Most importantly NOTICE the Power Output...that's 6 w/kg for 21 minutes.  I've tested many a strong rider, but NEVER have I tested one with a Power to Weight Ratio of 6.  That's BIGTIME Power!  What's your w/kg for 21 minutes?  3, 4 or 5 max?  And, is that fresh, or is that after 2 weeks of riding HARD each day, and 3-4 hours into a 5-6 hr. HARD race?  Pretty incredible if you ask me.  That's why they're Pros and that's why most of you reading this right now have 9-5 jobs OTHER than riding your bike.  Good reason eh? 

Wanna know/hear something even more humbling for all you pro wannabe r's out there, I'll bet you Chris Anker Sorenson's w/kg ratio isn't even one of the top 5 in the TDF.  Anybody know what the top w/kg would be for a 20 min. effort in the TDF?  Possibly 7 w/kg?

Power Profile courtesy of Hunter Allen and Peaks Coaching Group.  Power ON!  Coach Rob

Racing Weight

Are you at your optimum racing weight?  How do you know?  Just because you felt good and did well in your last event?  How do you know you couldn't do BETTER if you shaved off a couple extra pounds?  Rather than tell you the answers, I recommend you go out and buy Matt Fitzgerald's "Racing Weight". You'll learn what you should be eating, when you should be eating and how often you should be eating, to get lean, and perform at your best. 

You'll find out that the Weight Loss/Gain equation is a little bit more complex than:

Weight Gain/Loss= Calories In- Calories Burned

Rather, it's:

Weight Gain/Loss= Calories In- Calories Burned +/- Metabolic Rate

More importantly, you'll see that when you start drastically reducing your caloric intake (calories in) your metabolic rate actually slows down thus preserving your current weight.  That's why it's recommended that if you're going to lose do it sloooooooooowly.  BTW, did you know that body fat percentage is 64% inherited?  Yup, so you can thank your parents for that fat a$$- if you got one- like me.

Anyway, pick-up Matt's book..I think you'll learn how to optimize your race weight.  Power ON!  Coach Rob

Pacing on a Hill Climb

For the most part, when I train, I ride solo.  But, occasionally I like to get out and ride in/with a group.  After all, cycling isn't all training/'s social too.  At least I think it is.  Unlike most cyclists however, I don't ride in a group to measure my performance.  And, don't kid yourself if you say you NEVER do that.  I think we ALL do that from time-to-time.  The reason I said, "unlike most cyclists" is because I train/race with a Power Meter.  If I want to measure my performance on a training ride..I just download my file and analyze it. 

What I wanted to share with you in this blog is a lesson learned on my group ride this morning.  About 1/2 hour into the ride, we began to ascend a mile long hill climb that averages approximately 8% grade.  Two guys in my group hit the hill hard and blew by me.  My normal reaction was to chase, but I also knew the hill was approximately 1 mile long.  So, I let them go.  You can see that my power at the start of the climb was over 400w.  That is definitely L5/L6 watts for I backed it down to 320w which I knew is my L4/L5 watts range.  My Heart Rate was averaging L4/L5 bpm I know it's right where I wanted to be.  Sure enough, the guys that blew by me at the start were slowly being reeled in.  In a little over 1/2 the climb the catch was made and I actually blew by the same two guys that blew by me at the start.  What these guys got was a lesson in "Pacing a Hill Climb" with a Power Meter. 

So, there you go, the benefits of Training with a Power Meter.  Power ON!  Coach Rob

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Got Power?

Latest review from
" More than 15 years since SRMs first began appearing on Greg LeMond’s bikes, the “power” generation of scientific training is truly upon us. Power monitors are now no longer restricted to professionals, but are well within the reach of many amateur and age-group cyclists. And while they may not have the gee-whiz factor equal to that of a set of carbon wheels or slick frame, it is arguably the biggest bang for the buck for improving your cycling next to getting a good coach"

Need I say more?  If you're thinking about buying a power meter, you MUST buy Hunter Allen and Dr. Coggan's book.  You can find it at Barnes & Noble or Borders.  You can also order it online from

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How important is weight loss?

Yup, another weight-loss blog.  Why?  Because it's that damn important that's why.  That is, if you want to ride your best.  Let me give you a personal example- that just happened to me.  In May, I rode (my 16 lb. Trek Madone) on a group ride with a bunch of GOOD riders.  I weighed 174 lbs (I'm 5'11" tall).  During the rather hilly climb I was able to stay right up with the best of the climbers.  Just this week, I rode with one of these same GOOD riders on another group ride (over a similar hilly course) with my Cannondale bike that weighs 20 lbs.  I also weighed myself before the ride at 178 lbs.- 4 lbs heavier than in May.  Total weight (bike+body), when compared to May, was 8 lbs. heavier.  Guess what?  The same guy that I rode side-by-side with in May dropped my a$$ this week in a heartbeat.  Man was that demoralizing.  So, you can see how 4 lbs. here and 4 lbs. there can make a dramatic difference in performance.

Lance Armstrong was asked during a recent interview: what do you consider the most important piece of cycling equipment in preparation for the Tour de France?  Know what he said?  His bathroom scale.  That's how important weight is.   Not so much for the flat tour stages but DEFINITELY important for the Alp and Pyranee stages.

If you still don't think it's important, the next time you recreational riders go to a hilly race..take notice of who ends up standing on the podium the end of the day.  You will NEVER see a fat or overweight cyclist on that podium- trust me.

So, weight loss WILL make a dramatic difference in performance- provided you don't compromise your power output.  And, I'll even prove it to you myself in the next couple of weeks.  Currently, I weigh 178 lbs.  I'm going to lose 5 lbs. over the next 2 weeks then go ride with the same guy that dropped me this week, and I'll bet anyone that if I grab my Trek Madone (4 lbs. lighter than my C-Dale) and ride with this same person, I will once again be able to hang.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Road ID

If you've been glued to the Tour de France on Versus, like I have the last 5 days, you've seen enough commercials on Road ID.  You know, the one with Bobke and Levi sittin' around with their wives/friends/etc.  Question is: Do you have a RoadID?  If not, why not?  And, if you ride on the road solo about 90% of the time, like I do, it's probably a good idea to order a RoadID- right NOW!.  I did!  It just makes good sense...especially if you crash, or are hit by a car, and knock yourself out and can't tell the medical people that attend to you: a) that you have a rare blood type b) that you have known allergies c) that you have an underlying medical condition or d) your name- for that matter.  And, if you don't carry a phone, wallet, etc. with you, how will the medical folks know whom to contact? 

Lets face it, this (cycling) sport of ours can be VERY dangerous..especially if you race.  One minute you're upright riding fast/hard on the bike, the next minute you're riding slow/easy in an ambulance on the way to the hospital with a concussion or broken collarbone. 

I know a lot of you will say, "eh, when was the last time I went down on the bike on a training ride?"  Well, unfortunately, a lot of what happens to you/us on the road is NOT UP TO US no matter how careful we are.  Explain that to the kid that's driving their car while texting their buddy and not paying attention to cyclists out on the road (like you).

Look at it this way, it's a cheap $20 insurance policy for the bike that may save your life someday.  Check it out:   Power ON! Coach Rob

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cycleops Power Tap Demo

July is Cycleops Power Tap Demo Month.  You didn't know that?  That's because I just created it...haha. If you've NEVER rode with power is the time.  For the months of July/August, I'm offering a deal you can't refuse which includes:

a. 2 hr. demo ride on a Power Tap SL+ Power Meter w/ Mavic Open Pro wheel- with Coach Rob (that'd be me).  The ride can either be a fun ride or an FTP test.  I will set the Power Tap wheel/hub on your bike (provided you have a 10sp Shimano or SRAM cassette) and we'll head down to River Rd. (Rt. 29 in NJ) for a fun ride or an FTP test...your choice.
b. Post-ride power file analysis. 
c. Personalized presentation/briefing on how training/racing with power can benefit you.
d. Discount on a Power Tap wheel/hub if you want to purchase one and start training/racing with power and 1-month free coaching
e. If you do an FTP test, I will compute your Power Training Zones for you

What's the fee?  $75 cash or check.  For an appointment email me at:  Power ON!  Coach Rob

CdA Analysis

If you followed some of my earlier blogs you'll have noticed my desire to be able to compute my own Coefficient of Drag (CdA) using a Cycleops Power Tap power meter and an iBike iAero power meter.   When these two power meters are combined on the bike you essentially create a "poor mans wind tunnel".  That is, the iAero will calculate CdA with the help of the Power Tap.  These CdA calculations are continuous- in real time on the iAero display.  If you're a Time Trialist or Triathlon with a TT bike I don't have to tell you how invaluable this information least I hope I don't.

In an effort to arrive at some statistically significant data, I figured I would establish a baseline/control position on my road bike first...using iAeros Remote Wind Sensor (RWS).  I chose two positions: 1) in the hoods and 2) in the drops.  I figured I would do at least 10 calibration rides in each positioni with coast downs included.  And, the cal rides would start out at 2 miles rountrip graduating to 4 miles for better accuracy. 

The chart above includes data from my first six cal rides.  I still have four to go for 10 total.  You can already see that my CdA for the "hoods" and "drops" position is almost similar to what analytic estimates for somebody my height/weight (5'11"/175 lbs).

When I'm done, I'll transfer the computers to a TT bike and repeat the process by establishing baseline data first.  Then, I can compare different positions/equipment/etc. to see the affect it has on CdA.  The goal, of course, is to find the lowest CdA number without compromising my power output or comfort.

Pretty neat stuff- at least I think so.  Stay tuned for more data/stuff.  Power ON! Coach Rob

Ridin' the Heat Wave

When the thermometer nears 100F I can think of a dozen places I'd rather be than outside on the road riding my road bike.  That's right... I said places I WOULD RATHER BE than outside riding in 100F heat.  And, believe it or not, one of them is on the trainer in my cool basement.  That's how much I detest those Hazy, Hot and Humid Days of July/August.  Besides, if you're not going to be racing in the heat, why the hell train in it?  I see no benefit.  Did you know your power output drops dramatically in the heat?  A lot!  Just heard on Versus where Dr. Allen Lim (my mentor) said only a 1-2 deg C increase in core temp is enough to drop your wattage at least 30 watts.  Still don't believe me, come on over my house and I'll set up the trainer on my deck in 100F heat and you can have a go at it (FTP Test).  Then, wait a couple days after your rested and do the same test in my cool 68F basement.  Guess which test you're going to perform MUCH better on?  That's right Mr. Freeze..the one in my basement.  STILL don't believe me, I'll make ya a beer bet.  Haven't lost one yet.

Ok, ok, before you call me a wussy (or worse)..and BTW, our HS football coaches called us pussies when we had 2-a-day football practices in 100F heat and had to take a water break...I said I'm not enamored with riding in 100F heat- not that I wouldn't ride.  I didn't say I wouldn't go earlier in the day or later in the day when it's not so bad.  Just this morning, I joined my friend Mark Dean and his Tri-guys/gals at 0630 for a 1 1/2 hr. ride.  The temps were in the low 70s and it felt great.

I don't have to tell you to hydrate well before, during and after the ride too.  For longer rides, I'd pop an electrolyte pill or two.  It will also help to wear light clothes that don't absorb so much heat.

Another alternative, if you ONLY have time to go out when it's hot, is to ditch the road bike and grab the Mtn. bike and head for the thick tree cover.  I did that the entire month of August last year and had a ball.  You would not believe how much cooler it is under the tree cover.  Plus, you'll still maintain your biking fitness.

Stay Cool!  Power ON!  Coach Rob