Monday, November 24, 2008

Key strengthening excercises for XC and endurance riders

Strength and cross training in the mountain bike world has been slow to catch up to its road counterpart. The evolution of the mountain bike particular to xc and endurance racing to ride as light as possible along with the increased technical nature of the trails we are now needs to make sure that their body can actually hold up.

Alone the evolution of the bike frame and components requires some better thought in to the strength and conditioning programs that have long been used. These days the rider is may be navigating a bike no more then 20 pounds across some harsh terrain for a good distance and needs the physical attributes to handle such a ride.

Along with the recommended cross training on a road bike to get in the miles, sprints, and hill work; here are a few strength training techniques that riders should include in their training;

Neutral glute bridge:

Optimize range control of your gluteus maximus and improved stability in your oblique. Helps in moving the bike foward and mantaining stability in various positions.

1. Lie on a firm surface with hands on front of hips to monitor hip position.

2. Lift pelvis using both legs, then raise one leg as shown.

3. Hold this position for 10 seconds, before returning to the start position.

4. Be sure that the pelvis is held level. This is the key. One side may be more difficult to do than the other.

5. Repeat 10 times on each side with a break between every lift.

2. Pullups/chin Ups Many xc riders have a weak upper body; which takes its toll when its a long ride on a aggresive trail. Good upper body strength is nescessary in navigating down the trail and maintaining control of your bike.

1. Straighten your arms all the way at the bottom and allow your shoulders to come up by your ears as well. Cross your legs at the knees to maintain balance while contracting your core.

2. Pull ups indicate that your palms are facing away from you and chin ups indicate that your palms are facing towards you. Both have their place in a program but I almost always start people out with chin ups as they are easier learn how to initiate the movement by pulling the shoulder blades down.

3. If you can do more than 8 reps in a set then strap some weight to yourself.

Plank to push up

As mentioned above most MTB riders need some more upper body strength; and a strong torso as well. This is one of the best exercises to strengthen the shoulders the core, and adding a little something to the lower back all at the same time.

1. Start in a plank position; have your hips lowered and tucked along with your abs contracted; and the belly button sucked in.

2. Keeping the core tight; push your body up into a push up position; hold and then lower back down. Perform as many as you can while maintaining good form.

For an added bonus; add a bosu for an element of instability.

So instead of thinking about that new component or bike to make things go faster; think about what is driving the bike. Strengthening and conditioning will allow you to ride longer, faster, and make the ride just that much more fun.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Staying motivated in the off season

A layoff period is recommended during the training year; usually after a major milestone race or when the racing season has come to an end. Its when to restart the training and get back into the groove the daily routine that many of us push off.

For me the layoff period won't happen now until after December 6th; since I'm doing a late season race competing in the North Face endurance run; but usually I would take a few weeks in October/November off and start training again in mid-November to give myself about 12 weeks of a build cycle leading up to the racing season. This year is going to be a challenge; and I may not see much of a layoff period; looking at my calendar and what training program my coach has put together for me.

For those who are trying to get back into a routine; and your finding that life is getting hectic and your pushing that run off one more day. These workouts and suggestions can help you gradually get back into your training habit may it be for running or cycling.

Get some races on the calendar; plan out a few 5K, 10K, and even half marathons early in the year just so that you have some milestone to aim for leading up to either that marathon or triathlon. For cyclists the season can be extended by racing in cyclocross races; which is short in distance and is great for endurance building. Additionally start planning on what you intend on competing in for the up coming year; this provides that little shot of motivation when you start to look at a laid out training plan.

Start with short runs or rides; build up with five to twenty minute bursts of sprints or fast pace to give you that energy boost. Alternate with every sprint or fast run a spin or slow jog for a couple minutes. This will help in building back up a base until it things start to feel more natural again.

Change up the routine by scouting out new trails or routes to run or ride; this adds new excitement maybe allows you to see new neighborhoods or the outdoors that has a little more of the season to show. I would race with a group between blocks doing something called the Santa ride; sprinting from one house to another using the holiday decorations as a marker.

For the more competitive athlete who feels that they need extra motivation to get out; check out the site trainingpeaks; it provides you access to a variety of coaches who have designed training plans that may be suited for you. The cost various; for me I think its around 99.00 to 150.00 dollars for a 12 week training plan. Getting the daily reminders along with money paid out is motivation enough to get back into things.

Find a group to run or ride with. Check out the local bike or running shops; always a bulletin board that have meet ups for rides or runs; find one that suits you.

Schedule the training and group activities on your calendar; that way your more likely to stick with them. Easier said then done? I have found that by scheduling these on my calendar; I have kept up with not skipping a run or ride, its become part of my daily routine. I also will lead a group ride; which makes it less likely to skip since others are then waiting on you.

Again make it fun; get back into the routine slowly if you need to. Find a workout that fits into your schedule that will help you gradually get back into the routine and not leave you feeling slugish.