Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gettin fat- already? 20 Tips to keep weight off

Sorry, but I just love this picture.  I'd just like to know what bike would support all of that- FAT!

It didn't take me long.  Not even one month has passed from the end of the 2010 racing season and I've already put on 5 pounds.  I saw a friend before one of my Mtn. bike rides today and he said, "hey, are you wearing pads?"  I didn't know what the heck he was talking about.  (When I first started Mtn. biking I did wear a hip pad because I had fallen on my hip and bruised it pretty good, so the question didn't seem that odd.)  I said, "No, I'm not doing any technical Mtn bike riding today".  Then, after I started riding I looked down at the leg warmers I was wearing and I could see why he asked.  The leg warmers were choking my fat thighs and making it look like a constricted sausage..bleh.

For me, it's not a laughing matter (well, it is but I don't laugh) because it's hard as hell for me to take off those pounds....especially since it's getting colder outside, less light to ride, holidays right around the corner, etc.  And, the only way I'm going to be competitive for the 2011 racing season is if I lose weight.  For me, it's NOT an option to lose weight- it's mandatory.

So, I put on a few pounds and I'm getting heavier/fatter.  Now, what do I do to shed it?  Well, I've been in this boat before..except I weighed a helluva lot more.  I'll tell you some proven methods for losing weight over the years.  Here they are:

1.  I travel more than anyone I know.  In fact, I'm on the road (living out of my suitcase) at least 3 weeks out of the month...every month of the year.  It's tougher on the road because all kinds of food just seems to end up under your nose.  Every hotel I stay in has cookies at the front counter- FORGET ABOUT EM.  Don't even look at them.  This is coming from a guy that LOVES cookies.
2. When on travel, find a gym and workout daily.  Most of the hotels I stay at have deals with the local gyms.  Take advantage of the FREE gym passes.
3. When travelling by car DO NOT stop at fast food restaurants.  The stuff is crap.  If you have to stop, stop at a Wawa and get a sandwich.  If you don't have time and have to stop at a fast food restaurant..choose them wisely.  I'll stop at a Chic Fil A from time to time.
4. At business meetings, bring your own snack because you can count on donuts, pastries, bagels and just about every other 400+ calorie snack being on-hand.  The meetings I attend have nothing but junk food and candy.
5. If you have to park at an office building, park the farthest away you can from the front door and once inside..NEVER use the elevator.  Always use the stairs..even if it's 3-4 stories high.
6.  When you eat more frequent smaller meals rather than stuffing yourself at one sitting.  I'm often guilty of this.  I miss breakfast and eat a HUGE lunch and then snack on junk (or beers) for dinner.
7.  Knock-off the booze.   If you have to drink beer while you're out at more than 2 (300 calories max).
8.  Keep a daily journal of EVERYTHING you put in your mouth.  Count the calories in.  It's a pain in the a$$ keeping a the less you put in your mouth..the less you have to record.  Trust works.
9.  Make a goal and stick to it.  Use a contest, a cycling event, whatever... for a goal and something to shoot for.  I lost 40 lbs. in 2003 from a best body contest.  I didn't win..but I met my goal.
10. If you can squeeze two workouts in a day- DO IT!  Keep your body metabolism high.
11.  Knock-off the dairy.  Lately I've been drinking too much half-n-half in my coffee, too much cheese in my sandwiches and dinner plates, and too much ice cream.  Knock it off..or as a minimum reduce it.
12.  Knock-off the carbs.  This is one time of the year when you (the cyclist) really don't need carbs in your put that roll down doughboy.
13.  Drink water.  I'm not a soda person but I am a Gatorade fan.  Gatorade is loaded with High Fructose Corn Syrup- a chemical that is not processed very well in your body...especially when you're not working out.  You just don't need the extra carbs when you're not working out so dump the Gatorade in the off-season.
14.  If you go out with the family to eat at a local restaurant, only eat half your dinner and get a "to-go" bag/box for the other half.  For me, leftovers sometimes taste better a day later.  Plus, the important thing is, you're only eating half the calories in one sitting.  Lets face it, most restaurants put too damn much on the plate.  They sell you on "quantity" NOT "quality".  Well, they don't sell me..but they sell 95% of the population.
15. Find a friend/athlete in the same boat as you.  Keeping your weight off doesn't have to be a solo project.  Find someone at work that likes to workout and meet them at the gym.  It's a lot harder to blow off a workout when a friend is meeting you at the gym or coming over your house.  That's what makes Weight Watchers so successful for some people.  It's not about the magic (gross) food they eat that's the support group that works.
16.  Walk as much as you can and walk fast wherever you go.  Walk the dog, walk to the store, walk to work, take a hike on the weekends.  Just walk!
17.  Weigh yourself daily.  It's a good motivator to keep your weight down.  You'll actually look forward to it after a while- rather than dreading it.
18.  Include weight training when exercising.  Throw in some resistance/weight training with your riding.  Unlike cardio training, weight training continues to burn calories AFTER the workout.  Plus, weight training will help ward-off osteoporosis.
19.  Get lots of rest.  Contrary to what most think, when you rest your body burns calories- while it's repairing those tired muscles.
20.  Keep riding.  Ride often and have fun.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Off-Season Cycling Training..a time to re-charge the batteries

Traditionally, October/November is the start of the off-season for most cyclists..depending upon whether you're still racing Cross or not.  This is a time for relaxing, recharging the batteries, spending time with the spouse/girlfriend (or both..haha), doing those MUCH NEEDED chores around the house- you've put off since May/June, cross-training (running, swimming, hiking, fishing/kayaking), etc.  It's not only a "physical" break but it's a "psychological/mental" break as well.

Lets talk about "recharging the batteries" because I think the battery analogy is a good one which pertains to cycling racing/training- especially this time of year.  Specifically, we'll talk about NiCad battery charging/discharging because NiCad (chemistry) batteries are known for their "memory effect".  That is, when you repeatedly discharge NiCad batteries to a certain level (lets say 50%) and re-charge them fully they end up losing their capacity after a while.  Instead of recharging back to 100% of full capacity they may only recharge back up to 95% of full capacity.  Think of your training load (frequency, duration & intensity) and its effect on your overall fitness analagous to battery discharging and its effect on battery capacity.  When you train during the week and race on the weekends during the summer, your training load is pretty high.  Rest will re-charge your batteries to full-charge and get you back to peak fitness.  But, is this full-charge in August/September (at the end of the race season) the same as the full-charge in May (at the beginning of the race season) when you were at your peak fitness level?  I have power data from various athletes that says, "No, it's not".  I've seen a lot of athletes that have an FTP of 300w in June (their peak) and by the time August rolls around it's more like 290w.  That's not a fair assessment though since a lot of that could be attributed to "burn-out" though..that the athlete is just "mentally" spent instead of "physically".  Personally, I think the reason for the FTP decline is a combination of both "mental" and "emotional" burnout.  But, you get the point.

October/November is a great time to let the batteries discharge to say ONLY 80% during training- instead of the routine 50% during the racing season.  When you rest and re-charge the batteries back up to 100% you'll get rid of that memory effect that you created during the summer and reach higher capacities (FTP).  Notice I didn't say to discharge the batteries down to only 98% instead of 80%.  Doing that is analagous to doing nothing during the off-season. i.e. sitting on your a$$ drinking beer and watching football on TV.  You don't really want to do that, trust me..been there done that.  And, likewise, you don't want to run the batteries down to 25% either (high training load)- which I consider too much too soon for the off-season.  Albeit, running batteries down to near nothing (which is similar to a high training load) will also get rid of the memory effect...but as I said, I don't recommend that during the off-season or you're a candidate for injury.    

Simply stated, by getting more rest, spending less time (duration and frequency) on the bike and cross-training during the off-season, you'll break the memory effect created during the Summer and realize a higher fitness level/capacity the following Spring.  Additionally, you'll prevent mental burnout by the time the Spring rolls around.  You can still ride hard during the off-season but I'd reserve that for indoor interval training and shorter rides outside.  I'd utilize a progressive resistance/power training program for that though.

Power ON! Coach Rob

Sunday, October 24, 2010

2010-2011 Indoor/Outdoor Training

The days are getting shorter and colder.  Pretty soon that nasty Winter weather, we love so much, will be upon us. haha.  For most of us, that really doesn't deter us from getting outside and riding at least once on the weekend...unless of course it's freezing rain which not only makes for miserable riding but UNSAFE riding conditions on the road. 

For 2010/2011 Winter Training, I will be riding outside on Sundays..whether it's with my road bike or Mtn. bike.  In fact, I just installed a couple bike mounts on my utility trailer this weekend.  I'm going to rig the trailer so I can carry five Mtn. (or Cross) bikes- in addition to cross-country ski equipment- for some Winter cross-training fun with my cycling buds.  BTW, if you're local and you're interested in joining us, send me an email and I'll let you know when we're going and if we have any room.  The idea is to get a morning workout with the bikes and an afternoon workout with the skis.  If there is more snow than dirt..then it will be more skiing than riding..or vice versa.  Anyway, I'm not going to let the weather deter me from getting out at least one day on the weekend this Winter.

Now, I will also be riding inside on Saturdays- whether it's with my wife spinning at the local gym or setting up shop at one of the local bike stores (LBSs).  The indoor riding at an LBS will be with Networked Computrainers- with the computer connected to a projector and projecting the Virtual 3D Video ride onto a large projection screen.  I truly believe the future of indoor training is with Virtual 3D reality video hooked-up to trainers like the Computrainer...especially for HARD interval workouts.  Why not have FUN while you're working HARD.

If you're interested in either training: Saturday or Sunday, email me and I'll let you know when/where we're going to train.  It should be fun..after all, isn't this why we train/race- in addition to keeping in great shape?  It's why I do it. 

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Too much...too soon!

For many of you, you're either in your seasonal training plan "transition phase" and you're about to start training for 2011 or you're still training/racing Cyclocross.  For the former, rider BEWARE!  I just want to warn anyone that is coming off a month or so layoff to take it easy at first when you get back into it..otherwise you're going to end up hurt- like me, and be forced to do NOTHING.

Let me explain.  I really didn't race much this Summer, except for the training races I entered on travel in Southern Maryland.  I had reached my first peak in June and my second in August.  After August, my training rides started getting shorter, the intensity of the rides dropped (since I wasn't racing anymore), and the frequency of the rides started to deminish.  Therefore, my riding fitness was definitely declining.  (BTW, these three components (frequency, intensity and time) make up your weekly cycling training.  An easy way to remember is FIT; Frequency, Intensity and Time (duration)).  In addition to my declining riding fitness, I haven't been in the gym maintaining my core and leg muscles for at leat 4 mos.  So, what do I do?  I go out on a 3 hr. HARD ride with two of my strongest friends and HAMMER it with them.  At least I was smart enough to cut off some of the ride (i.e. shortcuts) to spare my tired legs.   I follow-up that ride, the next day, with a 1.5 hr. gym session working on improving leg strength and core strength.  I can't tell you how weak my core muscles and my leg muscles were compared to four months ago.  It's easy to tell because weights have numbers on them and I was nowhere even close to lifting what I had been able to.  (HINT: that's why you should be riding with a Power Meter if you don't, because the numbers will tell you what forces you're pedaling against and how you compare.  Numbers don't lie- they are what they are.)

Well, you can probably guess by now..that this recent training dose was MAXIMUS OVERLOADUS which not only led to overtraining but led me right to the Chiropractor's office.  I was in extreme pain for at least a week.  I couldn't ride a bike let alone walk.  My lower back was toast.  I was on a daily prescription of: pain meds, anti-inflammatories, massages, hot/cold packs, inversion therapy, electronic stimulation, etc.  Granted, I have two herniated discs in my back which obviously made matters worse.  When you have herniated discs, like I have, your spine relies on your back muscles to compensate for its weakness.  (BTW, there are a lot of cyclists out there that have herniated discs that don't even know it).  Furthermore, any lower back muscle spasm just seems to aggrevate any nerve in the area..especially the sciatic nerve.  Put simply..I was one hurtin' cowboy that was sidelined with no training for at least a week or two- and near complete bed rest.  It was no fun (and still isn't)..and definitely not good for someone trying to lose weight in the off-season...cause you aint burning too many calories laying in bed compared to when you're exercising.

Anyway, the moral of this story is: take it easy when you're in your transition phase of training.  You don't want to increase your training volume any more than 10% per week and you definitely don't want to go HARD for 2-3 hrs. like I did or jump back into the gym after a long layoff and try to lift what you once did.  It's the time of year to recharge the batteries..not take them off charge and run the hell out of em like I did.  Otherwise, it's a recipe for disaster.  It will set you back.  Even if you don't hurt like I do, you will definitely lose fitness if you don't rest/recover after a hard workout.

So, do as I say..not as I do!  Power ON!  Coach Rob

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Developing your 2011 Training Plan

Developing a cycling training plan is actually pretty simple.  You design a workout(s) that loads/trains the appropriate muscle group (or trains the targeted energy system) you're trying to develop, you rest and recover- giving your body a chance to recuperate and adapt and you get stronger.  Then you just fit these workouts into your busy lifestyle/schedule and voila- you have a cycling training plan.  This fitness level of human body in training (of rest, recover and adapt) is also known as "supercomposition" and consists of four (4) periods: intial fitness, training, recovery and supercomposition.  (see chart)

Supercompensation, in sports science theory, is the post training period during which the trained athlete has a higher performance capacity (or fitness level) than it did during the training period. 

The difficulty for an athlete (or coach) when developing the training plan is applying the appropriate load during training, ensuring adequate rest/recovery and correctly timing the next training load- to take advantage of the supercompensation period.  If the next training load takes place prior to the supercompensation period then "overtraining" will occur.  This is why I'm constantly screaming at some of my athletes to ensure they get proper rest after hard training efforts or races.  If the next training load takes place after the supercompensation period (i.e. you sit on your a$$ for 3 days after a hard traning/racing effort) then you're basically starting from the beginning and you pretty much wasted your training time.  The goal of a good training plan, is to take advantage of the peak fitness created during the supercompensation period.  i.e. to build on the increased fitness level.

Here are just some of the questions coaches/athletes need answers to when developing a "good/effective" training plan:
a. How much of a load should be applied? i.e. How hard should the workout be? Threshold, VO2max?  How long should the load be applied? 1-4 hrs?  How frequent should the load be applied? 2-4 days per week?  When should it be applied?
b. How much rest/recovery is adequate between training/races?  is 24 hrs adequate? 2 days?  What if I have a stage race and can't get 24 hrs. rest/recovery?
c. How does proper post-training nutrition affect recovery?
d. Do I work on improving one energy system per week e.g. Threshold or can I train both VO2max and Threshold in the same week?
e. Can I improve Endurance and Strength/Force concurrently?

To be honest with you, it's not easy developing an "effective" training plan.  It's because every athlete is different not only in age/physical makeup/etc. but in how they adapt to training loads.  That's why it's imperative for coaches to know their athletes.  For some of my athletes, I can give them 2-3 tough workouts on successive days before they need a day of rest.  For others, they need a day of rest after EVERY hard workout.  What helps me immensely is taking a look at athletes Power Meter files.  When I look at an athletes downloaded Power Meter file I can tell how hard and how long that athlete trained/raced.  Without that information, I can only go by how the athlete feels/reacts- which is NOT very accurate.  Or worse, I have to go by what an athlete says- which is NOT accurate...haha.  You wouldn't believe how many times I email an athlete AFTER a tough workout and say, "so how was that 2x20@ L4 workout last night?", and they'll say, "it was ok?".  If they say that I know they either a). didn't do the workout or b) didn't do it in their true L4 zone/level.  Because if you're truly doing them at L4, they suck/hurt..period.  I know, I do EVERY workout I prescribe to my athletes...even Tabata intervals where I feel like puking afterwards.

Anyway, good luck with your 2011 cycling training plan.  If you're an athlete that I coached and need help with yours, contact me and I'll give you some FREE advice.  If I never coached you before you can always hire me for coaching and I'll develop your training plan for you.  BTW, I teach all of my athletes my coaching philosophy (which is based on Joe Friel's, Hunter Allen's, Dr. Andy Coggan's and Dr. Allen Lim's research.  These guys seem to talk the same language and are the free-worlds experts in exercise physiology and power meter racing/training) and how to coach themselves with the help of a Power Meter.  I think every athlete should know how to coach themselves.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Are Sprinters Born or Made? (Follow-up)

Saw this quote today and had to post it.  I think this pretty much sums up the "Made" or "Born" debate from a previous blog:
"You can turn a slow donkey into a faster donkey, but you can never turn a donkey into a race horse"

I love it!  Power ON! Coach Rob

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2011 Training Goals

Unlike most athletes, I have already started my 2011 Training Season.  That's because I plan on racing Battenkill in April 2011 and I only have 6 mos. of training.  For most of you, RELAX there's plenty of time, unless you have an early season "A" race, you really don't need to start your training until November/December 2010.

There are basically 3 metrics that I'm concerned with during my cycling training.  They are: body weight (lbs), Functional Threshold Power (FTP) (watts) and w/kg (pronounced watts per kay-jee).  Of the three, the most important is w/kg.

Althought I haven't raced Battenkill before, I have talked to athletes that have and I've also seen the Battenkill elevation profile.  Based on that, I already have a good idea of what my w/kg  needs to be in order to be competitive in the 50+ Masters Race I'll be racing in.  I'm guessing to hang my w/kg needs to be close to 4.0.  That's only because there are some pretty decent climbs where I know the men will separate themselves from the boys (or should I say the FAT boys). 

As extra motivation, and a daily reminder, I've made up a graph of these 3 training metrics and I've plastered it to my refrigerator door.  It's a daily reminder of where I am and where I want to be (my goals) in April 2011.  I know if I can meet my goals...barring any mechanical failures during the race..I WILL BE competitive in my Masters age group.  Even if I'm NOT competitive during the race...I won't be disappointed because I know I'll already have met my goals.  The rest is just icing on the cake. 

So, go ahead, make a chart/graph like mine and plaster it on your refrigerator door with your 2011 goals.  You'll think twice about grabbing that 2nd/3rd beer or quart of ice cream.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

USA Cycling Power Based Training Certification

Just checked online and discovered that I am the only USA Cycling Level 2 Power Based Training Certified Coach in the State of Pennsylvania.  And, I am only 1 of 3 coaches in the entire tri-state area.  Why is that?  To be honest with you, it takes a lot of time and a comittment...not to mention keep the certification current.  I know a lot of coaches, who were certified at one time, just don't keep current.  That's a shame because Power Based Coaches are getting smarter all the time..learning new improved training methods for getting their athletes to perform at their best and achieve their goals.

According to USA Cycling, "The Certified Power Based Training certification is a specialty certification for USA Cycling Level 2 and Level 1 coaches. The coaches must pass a comprehensive exam on using power as the basis for designing and evaluating training.  These coaches also have demonstrated a dedication to continuing their education and their professionalism by completing at least 4.0 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) within a 2-yr period."

Additionally, all "current" coaches have a Criminal Background Check that includes:
a.  National Criminal Database search
b.  All available state sex offender registries search
c.  Social security number verification
d.  Address history records
e.  OFAC federal terrorist database search
f.  Additional single county search(es)
g.  Motor vehicle records
h.  Recommended for all volunteers/employees who transport youth
i.  Credit history check
j.  Recommended for all volunteers/employees who handle your money
k. Education verification
l.  Employment verification

To some of you, knowing that your Coach has passed a criminal background check is NOT such a big deal.  To others that have kids that are IS a big deal.  At least I think it is.  I wouldn't want some pedaphile coaching my son/daughter.  Nor would I want a coach driving my son/daughter to a rce if I knew he had 2 prior DUIs and several recent speeding tickets.  BTW, in addition to having a Criminal Background Check by NCSI, I also had an FBI Criminal Background Check as part of my Security Clearance at work.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Time to get back in the gym!

For some of you, the gym is about as foreign as an ice skating rink.  (Well, at least for me an ice skating rink is foreign)  For me,  the gym has been a part of my life since I was in 8th grade- playing sports.  Regardless of which camp you're currently in/from...if you're a cyclist, you can only benefit from spending time in a gym- especially this time of year.  If you don't already know, I'm a HUGE advocate of weight/resistance training for cyclists.  It's not that I believe that resistance training will necessarily make you a stronger/faster cyclist..but what I do believe is that it will make you a healthier cyclist.

BTW, I do think that weight/resistance training can make you a stronger cyclist...especially if you're getting up there in years like me (the over 50 crowd).  Research has shown that most people lose at least 1% muscle mass per year after the age of 40- that is, if you lead a relatively sedentary life.  There is new medical evidence that seems to indicate that if cycling is the only athletic activity in your life, you might be wasting the foundation of your body and turning into a broken hip waiting to happen.

A recent study published in an issue of Osteoporosis International reports severe bone loss in 27 male racers ages 40 to 60 who'd trained an average of 12.2 hours a week for 20 years. At an average age of 51.2 (when a typical man has no bone loss at all) the cyclists' average hip and bone densities were 10 percent lower than those of a control group of moderately active, non-cycling men of similar age.

"Clinically, 10 percent thinning is significant-not good-almost frightening," says the study's author, Jeanne Nichols, Ph.D., a San Diego State University professor of exercise and nutrition. "Ten percent bone loss today will lead to a much higher than normal fracture risk with age." Translation: The debilitating bone fractures normal men become susceptible to in their 70s and 8Os may happen to these superfit guys in the next few years.
If/when you do get back into the gym, why not take your smart phone with you.  Not only should you have some (upbeat) downloaded songs (on your phone) to help you get through some hard workouts, you should have your workouts downloaded as well.  If you have a Crackberry, like me, there is a cool FREE App called GymTechnik that keeps track of your exercises/workouts.  Check it out online:  I haven't downloaded it yet, but I will.  I'm hoping I can track my body weight, FTP, workouts, etc.
If you want some advice on weight/resistance training workouts for cyclists..send me an email:  There ARE specific workouts for cylists that will not only develop your legs but will also help develop your core.  But, you have to do them correctly or you may end up hurting yourself. 
Power ON!  Coach Rob


Woo hoo...I just found out I became a member of Sports  Sports is a professional action sports photography group...comprised of some of the best action sports photographers in the world.  To become a member, you have to be sponsored (by an existing member) and your work/photos must be reviewed- and of course, you have to pay dues/membership.

Being a member of Sports Shooter will allow me to bill at a higher rate when I do jobs for Action Sports International.  Not to worry, I'm not going to bill a higher rate for jobs that I shoot freelancing (locally).

Check out my page: 

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Overload and Recovery

All of the athletes I coach know that I'm constantly harping about getting proper rest after a workout.  After all, your body (muscles in particular) ONLY gets stronger after you stimulate it with a load and then let it rest and recover afterwards.  Up until now, there was no way that I am/was able to monitor how much rest (sleep in particular) my athletes were getting.  Sure, I could ask them.  But, do you think they're going to tell me they were up til 1 a.m. drinking after a long day of training or racing?  I don't think so.  Or maybe an athlete really thinks they're getting 7-8 hrs. of quality sleep each night when in reality they are only getting 5 or 6 hrs.  Maybe they don't remember when they're wife/gf (or both) woke them up when they came to bed late, or when they got up at 1 a.m to pee (after all that's what happens when you drink), or the dog barking at 2 a.m., or the newspaper delivery at 4 a.m., or the trash truck at 5 a.m.  Maybe that glass of wine they drank or cup of coffee they drank before bed negatively affected the quality of sleep. there IS A WAY for me, or athletes themselves, to monitor how much "quality" rest/sleep they're getting each night with a new device called "Zeo".  I first heard of Zeo from Dr. Allen Lim (one of my mentors) at Interbike 2010.  Zeo can tell you how much "quality" sleep/rest you're getting. For more information on Zeo, go here:

Oh, so you don't think there is any correlation between the "quality" of bedtime sleep/rest your'e getting and physical performance?  Well, according to the 2008 Better Sleep Month (BSM) national survey, sponsored by the Better Sleep Council (BSC):

-  Respondents getting nine hours of sleep or more are more likely to engage in higher-intensity workouts (biking, running, weight lifting, etc.).
-  Seven in 10 (70 percent) report that they are not getting the recommended amount of sleep needed each night (7.5 hours or more) to perform at their best each day.

"Sleep deprivation impacts us physically, which can negatively affect our coordination, agility, mood and energy," says Dr. Bert Jacobson, professor and head of the School of Educational Studies at Oklahoma State University (OSU) and the lead author of the new study Grouped Comparisons of Sleep Quality for New and Personal Bedding Systems. "Research shows that sleeping better and longer leads to improvements in athletic performance, including faster sprint time, better endurance, lower heart rate, and even improved mood and higher levels of energy during a workout."

I think it would be pretty cool to buy Zeo and see how much "quality" sleep I'm getting each night.  Well, I don't have to buy Zeo, I can tell you right now...NOT MUCH.  Sometimes I drink coffee, wine, beer after dinner and I'm usually working in my office until midnight.  Not to mention getting up each day at 0600.  So, what's with that?  A coach that doesn't practice what he preaches?  Do as I say, not as I do?  Well, that's all about to change.  I'm going to practice what I preach.  I think I am going to buy Zeo.  After I use it, I think I'll have the athletes I coach use it as well for a week or so.  I'd really be interested to see how others are sleeping..more importantly how much "quality" undisturbed sleep they are getting.  If you're interested in trying it..let me know and I'll loan it to you...that's after I try it.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

Monday, October 4, 2010

Are Sprinters born or made?

I'm always amazed at how the "tall skinny guys" are always asking me, "How can I be a better sprinter?"  Equally as amazing are how the "short heavier guys" are always asking me, "How can I be a better climber?  Although for some "heavy guys" the answer is more painfully obvious- LOSE SOME WEIGHT DUDE! 

It's actually pretty funny when you think about it- the "skinny guys" can't sprint and the "heavy guys" can't climb.  i.e. both camps want to do what they're not good at.  Before I give you the good/bad news for both sides lets take a look at your body composition.

Basically, you’re born with muscle fibers in certain proportions which will affect how successful you are at either developing as an endurance guy (also include the climber group), or a sprinter guy.  (BTW, road sprinters are actually aerobic endurance guys too.  Only the short-track sprinters are the true so-called anaerobic sprinters)  Most bodies have 50% of Type 1 (or slow twitch muscle fibers) and 50% of Type 2 (or fast twitch muscle fibers A and B), but many elite athletes (world class endurance cyclists and sprinters) can have up to 80% of one or the other.  Obviously a sprinter with 80% fast twitch fibers will have a better chance of being fast than somebody with only 30% fast twitch fibers.

If you want more information on Muscle Fiber Types and how they work, here is a pretty good link that will help explain it in detail:

For me, I don't have to perform a muscle biopsy to know, I'm pretty much a 50-50 guy.  I suck at both sprinting and endurance/climbing..haha.  Actually, the reason I'm not such a great climber is because my a$$ is too fat...but I'll be working on that this Winter- reducing it. 

Your muscle fiber composition is already built into your genetics.  Yes, you can adjust your training and slightly sway the middle of the road muscle fibers (Type IIa) to one side of the fence or the other.  But, you are NOT going to turn Type I muscle fibers into Type IIb or vice versa.  However, having said that, training can change the amount of area taken up by the fiber type in the muscle. In other words, there can be a selective hypertrophy (growth/increase in size) of fibers based on the type of training.  If you do try to turn Type I's into Type IIs or vice-versa, you're only going to demoralize yourself with hard training where you'll see minimal to zero improvement.  I've seen/heard of "skinny guys" that are predominantly composed of Slow Twitch muscle fibers buying track bikes and going to the Velodrome and doing sprint training every other day in hopes of becoming a Sprinter.  Sorry guys, aint gonna happen. You will NEVER turn into a Sprinter..I don't care how hard you train.  Yes, you will become BETTER at sprinting..but you will NEVER be a Sprinter.  Hey, don't be mad at mad at your Mom/Dad.  

So, before you beat up your Mom/Dad for your genetic curse..why not alter your training and race strategy to take advantage of what (strengths) you do have?  For example, say you're one of those "skinny guys" and you've resigned to the fact that you're going to race Criteriums.  (Not particularly because you want to but because they're close, your buds do them, they're kinda fun, they're fast, chicks dig em, etc.)  Instead of trying to compete against those "heavy guys" (that are most likely sprinters) in the final 200-300 meters why don't you race your strengths (now there's an idea) and put a serious hurt/acceleration on the hilly portion of the Criterium?  (Provided the hill is long enough to separate the sprinters from the climbers)  Remember, if the "heavy guys" are normally good sprinters they're NOT normally good climbers.  And, although it may hurt you to hit the hills hard, it's going to absolutely throttle the "heavy guys".  BTW, there are a few exceptions..which is why I said "normally".  Mark Cavendish, probably the worlds best sprinter, is actually not a bad climber.  He only looks bad in the Alps/Pyranees because the other Tour riders are excellent climbers..and the fact that the climbs are miles long at 8-10% grade, not 300m long like most hills in Criteriums.  Or, another strategy for you "skinny guys" would be to only sign-up for hilly Crits.  There is nothing wrong with that. 

Likewise, if you're a "heavy guy" stay away from hilly road races (and Oreo cookies) where you WILL BE dropped.  Instead, stick to the flat/fast road races and Crits where you have a better chance of standing on the podium after the race.

Remember, your cycling gift or curse is stop beating yourself up (or your parents) for not being better at one discipline or another.  (BTW, why does everybody want to be what they're not? haha)  Instead, train your weaknesses and race your strengths..and have fun!  Isn't this why you ride/race?  I hope so. 

So, are Sprinters born or made?  I think they're born.  POWER ON! Coach Rob