Coach Shayne Attains Top National USA Cycling and Training Peaks Certifications

After over a year of education and testing, GC Coaching’s Owner and Head Coach Shayne Gaffney has become 1 of 3 coaches in New England and 1 of less than 75 coaches in the United States to attain his Power Based Training Certification furnished by USA Cycling.  This is a massive honor and achievement and will benefit all of the athletes coach Shayne works with.  Coach Shayne has also passed the Training Peaks level 2 certification and has become 1 of only 120 coaches in the world to achieve this.

Shayne is currently only accepting Intermediate, Advanced, and Professional athletes.

New Monthly Price Plan Structure

The new monthly price plan structure is as follows:

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Monthly_Plans

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Our new plan structure aims to provide more opportunities for athletes who are searching for flexible budget options. They are all-inclusive ranging from intermediate athletes, to those who are advanced and professional, requiring more on-demand feedback and analysis.

 

HOW TO RECOVER BETTER, FASTER

Editor’s note: this is #4 in a series of articles focused on training advice for Zwifters. In each article, coaches bring their experience their experience to the table and answer a single question. Here is this week’s…

WE ALL KNOW THAT PROPER RECOVERY IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF ANY TRAINING PLAN. WHAT CAN I DO TO “BOOST” MY RECOVERY: THAT IS, RECOVER MORE AND RECOVER FASTER?


RICHARD STERN, RST SPORT

Your recovery starts prior to you finishing your current training session, since you want to be eating and drinking through that current session or towards the end.

Guidelines for Eating and Drinking

If you’re on the turbo trainer, Zwifting away, it’s quite likely that the session has been intense. This will have eaten into your glycogen stores (the body’s carbohydrates) and they will need replacing. If the session has been less intense you may need more ‘mixed’ foods. Evidence shows that consuming 1.0 to 1.5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body mass (e.g. 70 to 105g if you weigh 70 kg/154 lb) within an hour of finishing will help you recover faster. Additionally, consuming up to 1.5 times the amount of fluid lost in session will help you rehydrate (make sure the fluid has electrolytes in). To calculate your lost fluid, subtract your post ride (nude) mass from your immediate pre ride (nude) mass and multiply that number by 1.25 to 1.5. This is the amount (in litres) you should aim to drink. For example, if you started your session at 70 kg, and finished at 68.5 kg (1.5 kg difference) you should aim to drink 1.875 to 2.25 L of fluid. This fluid could be combined with some of the carbohydrate you’ll need.

It’s also important to get some protein in after exercise, although the evidence shows that carbohydrates are far more important.

Other ways to help your recovery process are to gently cool down on the bike, maybe doing some post-ride stretches/yoga, and perhaps even getting in a cheeky quick nap if you’re really tired! Last: don’t make your session too intense. Try to finish some/most sessions with something to spare, rather than being on your knees!


ROB MANNING, TAILWIND COACHING

Training stress created by riding, intervals, and accumulated fatigue pushes your body beyond its comfort zone. During recovery, your body makes itself stronger in order to handle increased training demands in the future. You can help support your body by adding a couple of tricks to your arsenal.

1: Sleep! Your body needs rest to rebuild. The more and harder your training, the more sleep you need to recover from that effort.

2: Eat! When you’re expending thousands of calories doing intervals, you have to replace them. It’s ok to run a few hundred calorie deficit if you’re trying to slim down, but being a thousand calories short will hurt your ability to get stronger. Make sure those calories come in the form of muscle building proteins and high-quality carbohydrates to replenish all the muscle tissue you beat up during training.

3: Supplement! Training takes a LOT out of you. Supplementing with essential nutrients can enhance your body’s natural recovery processes. Some of my favorite supplements are BCAAs, Glutamine, Vitamin C, Creatine, magnesium, zinc and a high-quality protein supplement. Each one has specific biochemical effects and can improve your ability to recover from a hard workout block.

4: Move! Most people think recovery is all or nothing, but moving is a great way to help your body recover. I tell my back injury patients that moving helps to push inflammation out of tissues and prevent muscle stiffness and shortening. Athletes are no different. The occasional recovery ride or even a walk with the family dog can help to loosen and flush out your legs, getting you ready for the next big block.

Don’t neglect your recovery! You wouldn’t want to put in hours of quality work just to sabotage it by wasting your recovery time.


SHAYNE GAFFNEY, GC COACHING

Proper recovery comes down to three things for me: diet, hydration, and rest (sleep)… I haven’t found there to be a magic “boost” or anything otherwise.

Diet: Protein and carbohydrates are paramount for recovery, especially at the right time.  Hoffman and Falvo (2004) found the best protein to consume after exercise is whey protein, since it has the highest rate of absorption, and in the 10-20g range, because your body can only absorb approximately that much per hour.  Overnight, casein protein works best as it has the slowest absorption rate.  In between, soy, egg, meat, etc. proteins are best as they have a medium absorption rate.  Carbohydrates should also be consumed directly after exercise when they will be absorbed best by the body, the amount continues to be up for debate, but it is generally accepted that 1-2g/kg of bodyweight is sufficient after a long and intense workout.  Protein and carbohydrates should be consumed simultaneously as they have a synergistic absorption relationship.

Hydration: Hydration levels have an effect on many things, including recovery.  The next time you ride in the heat or do a longer and more intense Zwift ride, I recommend figuring out your sweat rate.  This will give you a better idea of how much fluid you should be consuming on the trainer / in the heat and will prevent dehydration from occurring and a resultant decrease in recovery rate.

Rest: The highest release rate of growth hormone and muscle repair occurs when we are sleeping.  Sleeping is also important for mental acuity (should I attack or not!?) as well as motivation, so if you can only do one thing for your recovery, get some shut eye!  As the old adage goes “Don’t stand when you can sit, don’t sit when you can lay down, and don’t lay down when you can sleep.”


TROY DELFS, MOMENTUM CYCLING

Cyclists as a whole tend to be a bunch of ‘Type A’ overachievers: athletes who regularly push themselves to the limit and keep close track of their weekly data like ride time, distance, elevation and training stress score (TSS). These are all very important metrics and if you want to become a great rider, you do need to put in a significant amount of quality saddle time.

However, to benefit from your hard workouts, you need to allow your body sufficient time to rest and recover.  Recovery can be enhanced by things such as good nutrition, compression wear, ice baths, massage, yoga and numerous other recovery tips and tricks. To me however, there is only one recovery method that really matters and that is SLEEP!

Sleep is the most underrated pillar of health and the one that is most often neglected.  The amount of sleep required each night may vary by athlete, but I can bet that almost every person reading this post does not get enough sleep on a regular basis. A good night’s sleep or a quality nap provides your body with, among other things, a surge of Human Growth Hormone, which aids in muscle regeneration.

If my athletes are ever feeling overly fatigued or on the edge of illness and they don’t feel like riding then I always suggest they listen to their body and take a pass on the workout. What I do demand of them in this situation, though, is that in lieu of their ride they lay down and have a nap instead of riding.

So, next time you are having a post ride espresso with your training partners, instead of bragging about who put in the most K’s last week, I suggest that you also brag about who put in the most ZZZ’s!

This was originally posted on ZwiftBlog.

Everything You Need to Know About a Broken Collarbone

You hear it. The awful sound of carbon snapping and bikes and bodies scraping along the road. You are now flying through the air, having detached from your bike completely, launching head first towards the ground. Suddenly you come to a stop, sit up to dust yourself off, and upon standing realize something is terribly wrong. You cannot lift your arm and instead it just hangs lifeless by your side. Worse still, your shoulder is becoming more painful by the second.

A million things go through your head of what may have happened, but you take your hand and run it along your collarbone only to realize there is a large bump in it that was not there before. Unfortunately, you just joined a large contingent of other cyclists who have had to deal with broken collarbones.

Fear not though, bones will mend and your fitness will return! This post will discuss the different varieties of collarbone breaks and what is typically done to repair them to get you back on the bike as quickly as possible as well as give examples of rehabilitation exercises and a return to riding protocol.

Collarbone 101

Your collarbone (clavicle) is a long thin bone that runs from your breast bone (sternum) to your shoulder blade (scapula). Its purpose is to act as a strut between the two attachment points and the shoulder blade fixed to allow the arm to move about unrestricted. For the purpose of this article, we will divide the types of breaks it into three sections: medial (towards the breast bone), shaft, and lateral (towards the shoulder blade). These are the three places the bone can break or fracture, with the severity and location of the break dictating what is done to expedite healing.

Dealing With a Broken Collarbone

Once the collarbone break is confirmed with an x-ray, the doctor will recommend seeking further advice from an orthopedic specialist. Upon meeting with the orthopedist, they will advise you either to go under the knife and have the collarbone reduced surgically with plates and screws. If the pieces of bone have not separated far and are relatively lined up well you are luck and will not require surgery.

Non-surgical

If you are fortunate and the pieces of collarbone are relatively close together and line up well, you will be placed in a sling for 6 to 10 weeks. Every case and orthopedist is different – normally you will be instructed to keep your arm and shoulder as still as possible to encourage the two pieces of bone to mend with the only exercises being pendulums and possibly passive range of motion to discourage the shoulder from freezing.

Surgical

In other cases, surgery is necessary because the two pieces of bones are separated so much and/or are not lined up well.

recovering-from-a-broken-collarbone-part-1-05117-pre-op

Here is my collarbone post-crash. As you can see, the two pieces of bone are very far apart and not lined up well at all. Surgery, here I come.

Surgery is done as soon as possible and involves placing a plate along the length of the collarbone to reinforce it, and screws to align the bones up again and keep them in place. This is called a collarbone O.R.I.F. (Open Reduction Internal Fixation).

recovering-from-a-broken-collarbone-part-1-05117-post-op

Here is my collarbone after the surgery. You can see the surgeon used a plate and screws to affix my collar bone back together to allow it to heal properly.

Similarly, once the surgery has been performed you will be placed in a sling for a set amount of time, but can usually progress faster and move your arm more as the metal plate is providing structure and support for your collarbone. Again, each case and surgeon is different.

Rehabilitation Exercise Suggestions

Once you get the clear from the surgeon to remove the sling and begin using the arm again, you can begin to work on regaining your lost range of motion and strength. You will also usually be sent to physical therapy for expert rehabilitation and guidance. The following is what I recommend to my patients, but should only be followed after being cleared by your surgeon and/or physical therapist. You can perform a Google image search and find pictures of all of these.

Range of Motion Exercises

  • Pendulums: Perform two minutes each of front to back, side to side, and both clockwise/counter clockwise circles.
  • Supine shoulder flexion with cane: Perform 2 x 20 reps staying in a pain-free range of motion.
  • Supine shoulder external rotation with cane: Perform 2 x 20 reps staying in a pain free range of motion.

Ideally, perform these exercises two to three times per day until functional range of motion is regained.

Strengthening Exercises

  • Sidelying external rotation: This exercise helps strengthen the rotator cuff.
  • Prone “I”, “T”, “Y”, and “W”: These exercises help with middle back strength and to regain scapular stability. Start on a flat surface and then progress to a ball.
  • Standing shoulder flexion and abduction: These help to strengthen the deltoid and regain functional reaching.
  • Rows: Either with bands, cables, or machine. This helps to increase arm and middle back strength. Be sure to focus on engaging the muscles between the shoulder blades and to keep your neck relaxed.
  • Lat pulldown: Either with bands, cables, or machine. This helps to strengthen the latissimus dorsi which is involved with many shoulder motions.
  • Wall push-ups: These help to maintain pectoral and deltoid strength. Start on the wall and as you feel stronger gradually lower the surface until you reach the floor.
  • Shoulder wall flexion: This helps to regain functional overhead motion.

Ideally, these exercises should be performed two to three times per week. Always keep within a pain-free range of motion and be sure to not push into pain. Also, start with just the weight of your arm until you can perform the exercise through the entire range of motion. After this is accomplished, start off with very light weights and gradually progress until functional strength is regained.

Resuming Riding

Resuming riding can occur anywhere from 3 to 12 weeks after a collarbone fracture depending upon:

  • The type of rider you are. Professional cyclists have a contract to uphold and need to keep themselves in tip-top shape to be re-signed next year. For this reason, you will hear of some professionals returning to training in less than 3 weeks and competition 4 weeks, whereas recreational riders usually returning around 15 weeks1.
  • How the fracture was repaired. Going the surgical route usually means a return to training sooner than the non-surgical route. However, this is not a guarantee, especially if the surgeon is conservative, or if the fracture sustained is serious.
  • Aggressiveness of the treating doctor’s protocol. The more aggressive the protocol, the quicker you will be able to resume training.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to resume riding, you will have lost a significant amount of fitness which can vary depending upon how long of a break you needed off the bike. Fitness lost will come mainly from your cardiovascular system and more so from your body’s ability to utilize oxygen, aka VO2 Max, to the tune of a 16 percent decrease in VO2 Max after a three month hiatus. You will also lose mitochondrial density, overall blood volume, and possess a decreased Functional Threshold Power (FTP).

With that being said, do not assume you can begin repping out 20 minute efforts at your pre-injury FTP, or have the power to create a break and maintain the gap your first race back. Regaining your fitness usually takes as long as losing it, so if you needed to take 8 weeks off the bike, you can safely assume it will take 8 weeks to get back to your previous fitness levels. Fortunately, the more fitness you have pre-injury and the longer you have been an athlete will result in a less fitness loss and a slower decline.

Getting Back in The Saddle

Once you get the nod to return to cycling from your doctor, there are a few key steps you can take to make your transition back to the bike as smooth as possible.

Indoor Riding

Your first ride will probably be on a stationary trainer as you will likely still be in your sling. Have a friend, teammate, significant other, etc. set your trainer and bike up for you in a comfortable space that has lots of windows, a television, fan and as many other creature comforts you need as you will be spending at least the next few weeks on the trainer. You should have zero expectations for the first ride except to get your legs to turn over in circles again. I would also suggest keeping the output in the active recovery zone until you can comfortably spin for an hour. Since you will be in your sling riding, expect the need to either stop and stand up, or sit up to relieve pressure from your bottom and give your other arm a rest from holding you up.

Once you can spin for an hour, you can then begin to increase the intensity of the rides. Here is the blueprint I suggest:

  • Warm-up: 15 minutes steadily progressing from Active Recovery zone to Endurance zone
  • Main set: 2 x 10 minutes at Endurance zone with 5 minutes easy spin between
  • Cool-down: 10 minutes at Active Recovery zone

You should ramp up the time spent at Endurance zone slowly; 2 x 10, 3 x 8, 3 x 10, 3 x 12, etc. spinning easy for half of the active time between sets. Keep the main set at Endurance zone until you can comfortably spend an hour in it.

Outdoor Riding

Once you receive clearance to remove your sling and place weight through your arm again, you can usually resume riding outdoors again. The following is what I did my first few rides back and what I suggest to my athletes:

  • Choose short loops. Performing short loops close to home instead of long out and back loops will provide you with the opportunity of stopping at multiple points if your shoulder becomes sore and tired. If you feel good, do more than one loop.
  • Select roads that are smooth. Riding over potholes and rough pavement will not feel good for a while. The better the pavement is, the longer your ride can be as your shoulder will stay fresher.
  • Keep the elevation gain minimal. Standing up places greater stress through the shoulders and arms which will lead to faster fatigue. Choosing flat routes will allow you to stay seated longer and will keep your shoulder from tiring out.
  • Group riding. Riding in a group, and especially racing, is going to take time as you need to regain your confidence in your ability to bump shoulders and push off other riders. I suggest riding only with those who you trust and can predict what they will do. Doing so will allow you to relax more and give you the opportunity to call for a rest break if your shoulder becomes sore.

Breaking your collarbone may feel like the end of your racing and riding career, but I promise you it is not. If you can keep your head up, stay patient, and not become discouraged once you start riding again, it is amazing how quickly your fitness will return. For me, breaking my collarbone wasn’t the end, rather the beginning!

Resources

  1. Taylor, F., Watts, A., Walton, M., & Funk, L. (2013, June 14). Return to Biking following Clavicle Fracture Fixation. Retrieved May 04, 2016, from https://www.shoulderdoc.co.uk/news/view/1614
  2. O’Mara, K. (2014, March 27). How Long Does It Take To Get Out Of Shape? | Competitor.com. Retrieved May 04, 2016, from http://running.competitor.com/2014/03/training/how-long-does-it-take-to-get-out-of-shape_70267

Downloading Workouts to Zwift from Training Peaks

You will notice a .zwo file attached to your workouts
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To use the custom workout file, click the link on the paperclip on the workout and save the .zwo file to your computer’s /Documents/Zwift/Workouts directory. Now when you start up Zwift you will see the workout  under the Custom Workouts category in the workout picker.
And remember, the custom Zwift workouts are here:
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Then:
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For those using the iPad / iPhone versions, read this for directions: http://zwiftblog.com/copy-workout-files-zwift-ios/

Zwift Workout: Breakfast Returns (30/30s) 🤢

With race season rapidly approaching for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, it is time to leave the Base Phase and begin adding in the supra-threshold efforts that the Build Phase brings.  A 30/30 workout is one of the most effective ways I have found to improve an athletes anaerobic prowess, lactate clearance, and ability to produce the necessary power during a criterium, twisty TT, or stochastic group ride / road race.

WARM-UP:

10 minutes gradually increasing your power and cadence, then 3x 30 seconds @110+ RPM @115% FTP with 30 seconds @Active Recovery to ready the legs, and finally 2 minutes free ride to ready the mind.

MAIN SET:

-3x (10 minutes alternating between 30 seconds @130% FTP @110 RPM, and 30 seconds @70% FTP @65 cadence).

– Stay in the same gear for the 30 second OFF interval, just slow the cadence down to produce less wattage. Then JUMP hard and fast to get back up to the 30 second ON interval wattages in the same gear.

-Cool-down then stretch!

HOW TO DO THE WORKOUT:

To use this custom workout file, click the link below and save the .zwo file to your computer’s /Documents/Zwift/Workouts directory. Now when you start up Zwift you will see this workout (called “Breakfast Returns (30/30s)”) under the Custom Workouts category in the workout picker.

Download Here

WE’RE HIRING!

GC Coaching is looking for an experienced cycling coach!

TITLE: Associate Cycling Coach

REPORTS TO: Head Coach (Shayne Gaffney)

FLSA STATUS: Commission Only (paid monthly per athlete you coach)

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS:

  • USA Cycling Level 2 certified coach, or higher
  • Category 3 racer, or higher
  • Bachelors degree, or higher, in exercise physiology, biology, or equivalent
  • Current background check and Safe Sport certification through USA Cycling

PREFERRED EXPERIENCE / SKILLS:

  • Experience using Training Peaks
  • 1-2 athletes proven to have prospered under your coaching supervision, with accompanying data files, race results, and letter of recommendation / testimony
  • the ability to motivate others
  • excellent communication skills.
  • the ability to give tactful, positive advice and constructive criticism
  • organisational and planning skills

ABOUT US:

Based in Woburn, Massachusetts, we offer cycling coaching services to many disciplines including  road, track, cylcocross,  mountain biking, BMX, and triathlon. Through personalized training programs, we work together with our athletes to customize the right program for them to reach their goals.

What separates GC Coaching from other coaching organizations is the level of personal communication our athletes receive. By combining our coaches personal passion for cycling with their background in health and fitness, we provide consistent feedback and ongoing coaching updates so our athletes always confident and know what to reach for next.

Our philosophy is fitness equals consistency, over time.

APPLYING:

All interested candidates should send a letter of introduction and their work/education and athletic resumes to: info@gaffneycyclingcoaching.com

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Zwift Workout: The Baffling Beau 😘

This is one of my favorite classic anaerobic workouts to help develop that top end power.  This workout is best done towards the end of your Base Phase and during your Build Phase after you have a solid aerobic platform to work with.  This workout is 1 hour long.

WARM-UP:

10 minutes gradually increasing your power and cadence, then 3x 30 seconds @110+ RPM @115% FTP with 30 seconds @Active Recovery to ready the legs, and finally 2 minutes free ride to ready the mind.

MAIN SET:

Set 1: 10x (40 seconds @Anaerobic @110+ RPM w/ 20 seconds @Active Recovery Zone @comfy cadence)

-Rest for 5 minutes

Set 2: 10x (30 seconds @Anaerobic @110+ RPM w/ 30 seconds @Active Recovery Zone @comfy cadence)

-Rest for 5 minutes

Set 3: 10x (20 seconds @FULL GAS @110+ RPM w/ 40 seconds @Active Recovery Zone @comfy cadence)

-Cool-down then stretch!

-Happy Valentine’s Day! 😘😘😘

HOW TO DO THE WORKOUT:

To use this custom workout file, click the link below and save the .zwo file to your computer’s /Documents/Zwift/Workouts directory. Now when you start up Zwift you will see this workout (called “Inverse Sweet Spot w/ Bursts”) under the Custom Workouts category in the workout picker.

Download Here

Zwift Workout: Inverse Sweet Spot w/ Bursts

This workout involves A LOT of time spent at Sweet Spot (SST), so be ready to sweat!  Workout time is 1 hour, 6 minutes, and 10 seconds with a TSS of 76.

WARM-UP:

10 minutes gradually increasing your power and cadence, then 3x 30 seconds @110+ RPM @115% FTP with 30 seconds @Active Recovery to ready the legs, and finally 2 minutes free ride to ready the mind.

MAIN-SET:

This workout consists of decreasing interval lengths @SST with a burst @VO2 Max at the end of each one.  So, this will start off moderate, become difficult, and finish down-right nasty by the end!

COOL-DOWN:

Gradual decrease in power and cadence, then stretch!

HOW TO DO THE WORKOUT:

To use this custom workout file, click the link below and save the .zwo file to your computer’s /Documents/Zwift/Workouts directory. Now when you start up Zwift you will see this workout (called “Inverse Sweet Spot w/ Bursts”) under the Custom Workouts category in the workout picker.

Download Here

Why Does Riding the Trainer Feel More Difficult Than Riding Outside?

This is a common question I field from the athletes I work with, and especially those who are committing to a Winter training plan in the pain-cave for the first time.  Riding the trainer can feel more difficult for 3 reasons mainly: the human body becomes less efficient at cooling itself, your motivation dwindles due to not having the wind in your hair and the road moving underneath you, and overcoming the resistance of a trainer is very different compared to overcoming the resistance of the wind/road outdoors.

Problem 1: Inefficient Cooling

This is, in my opinion, the main reason why riding the trainer can feel harder compared to riding outdoors.  The human body has an extremely finite temperature range it can operate efficiently at.  We know that 98.6 degrees F is what’s considered “normal” body temperature, however push that up just 1.4 degrees F and you feel feverish, have chills, and cold sweats, this is called hyperthermia.  The opposite can also occur in cold and/or wet temperatures when your body temperature dips below 95 degrees F, this is considered hypothermia.  For the sake of this article, we will focus on heat dissipation and avoiding hyperthermia, especially while riding the trainer.

While riding the trainer, the human body is stationary.  However, it is still creating vast amounts of body heat primarily via the metabolic needs of the leg muscles.  As the human body is only ~25% efficient at producing energy (the rest is lost as heat) the core temperature can increase rapidly after the onset of exercise.  If the core temperature increase is not stopped or at least slowed down, hyperthermia occurs which leads to:

  • An increased pulse rate.
  • Blood being diverted away from the working muscles and towards the skin in an attempt to dissipate heat.  This leads to the muscles not receiving as much oxygen and other crucial metabolic needs which lowers the muscles force production.
  • The brain literally “cooking” which leads to decreased motivation, concentration, and overall pain tolerance.
  • Significantly increased sweat rate in another attempt to dissipate heat which can lead to dehydration and the cascade of accompanying exercise inefficiencies that go along with it.
  • As this goes on, exercise eventually becomes impossible and you are forced to stop.

So, from the above, we learned the body cools itself in 2 ways mainly: sweating, and diverting blood flow to the skin.  So, in order to combat hyperthermia, we need to figure out how to make these processes more effective.

External Regulation – Sweating:

Sweating (or perspiration if you are a sophisticated lady 🙂 ) is the process of your body creating fluid on the skin via its sweat glands. The purpose of sweating is for thermoregulation (cooling) by way of convection and evaporation.  Unbelievably, the body can sweat up to 2 liters per hour during intense exercise in hot environments!  So, we need to embrace the sweat (ew!) and get rid of it as quickly as we can to keep our bodies cool.  When riding outdoors, this happens naturally due to wind created by your forward movement, you MUST create this artificially indoors through the use of a fan (and in a perfect world, more than one).air-2260_1920

Ideally, the fan’s wind should blow over as much of your body as possible.  Also, make sure you are replacing all of the sweat you are losing and maintaining your body’s hydration level.

Internal Regulation – The Blood:

As previously stated, as the body heats up it diverts blood towards the skin and away from the working muscles which decreases the muscles ability to produce force (watts).  Decreasing watt production spells disaster for any race situation, or key workout, so how can we keep our body cooler from the inside out?

1. Pre-Cool Yourself:

I am sure you have seen the pros at the large races warming up for a time-trial while wearing what looks like a bullet-proof vest:

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Image Credit: icevests.com

This isn’t for safety, this is a vest filled with ice, or placed in the freezer so the gel in the vest becomes ice-cold.  The theory is if you can pre-cool the body before the race, you delay the onset of hyperthermia which improves race performance.

2. Use Ice-Cold Fluids

This is similar to pre-cooling your body, but this can work during the event or workout.  If you can ingest chilly fluids, you will cool your body from the inside out.  Another way to cool yourself efficiently is to spray the cold water on your head as well as on the tops of your hands since there are many capillaries near the skin surface in these areas.  I do not recommend doing this indoors though, unless your significant other is a hard-core cyclist like you are!

3. Put the Trainer in Cool Environments

Exercising in the basement (cooler than the main house usually) or in an air conditioned room makes your body’s thermoregulation attempts more effective since the air temperature will be further from your core temperature.  So, do yourself a favor and put the trainer there!

Problem 2: Motivation

The trainer has also been called “the drainer” by many athletes due to its innate ability to suck the life out of the most motivated of athletes.  This is due to some athletes not utilizing the trainer efficiently, some coaches over-utilizing it, and not having the right tools to make it a bearable and even enjoyable experience.

When I prescribe workouts that the athlete will perform on the trainer, I limit them to 90 minutes and ensure they are not just steady state spinning for the entire time (think intervals).  The trainer is there to get in, do the work, and get out.  If you are spending 2+ hours spinning at Zone 2, you are not only wasting your time, but also mentally draining yourself!  Sometimes the long workouts on the trainer are necessary to do, but these workouts should ideally be few and far between.  Do your long endurance/tempo steady state rides outdoors.

With the advent of Zwift, things have changed for the better and now the trainer is actually becoming enjoyable at times.  I try to have all of the athletes I work with use Zwift for their structured training over the Winter since it is so much more engaging than a video, or staring at the basement wall for hours on end.  If you haven’t used the service before, I highly recommend it!

Problem 3: Resistance

This problem is becoming less and less of an issue with the invention of the smart trainer and especially the direct-drive versions.  With the majority of the “dumb” trainers, or the trainers where you leave your rear wheel on, the trainer is exerting resistance via the drum onto the wheel throughout the entire 360 degree wheel revolution.  The spin-down also tends to be very short as compared to riding outside which decreases your rest breaks and makes it harder to get the drum spinning up again.  These factors alone and combined force you to work harder than if you were cruising down a road and only having to overcome the minuscule rolling resistance of the tires (obviously wind-drag is a much larger factor).

Here, Hunter Allen gives an excellent explanation of what I am referring to above:

So, there you have it.  Riding the trainer really can be harder than riding outside, and it isn’t all in your head!  However, if you take some steps and are more proactive/prepared when riding the trainer, the differences between the two don’t feel as bad.

6 Simple and Effective Core Exercises for Cyclists and Triathletes

Having a strong core is essential to going faster on the bike.  You can make your legs as strong as you like, but if you can’t maintain stability in your torso and apply all that force and power you are generating to the pedals, are you really maximizing your return on time invested and going as fast as you can?  Heck no!  I have seen the difference having a strong and stable core can make in an athlete (including myself) and the following exercises are some of my favorites and the movements I recommend to my athletes.

The Rules:

  • Core work should ideally be done 1-3 times per week.  I like to have my athletes do a lot more during the preparation phase and gradually reduce to 1 time a week by their build phase for maintenance sake.  Some athletes need more core work though, so always do what works best for you!
  • WARNING: These exercises can make you REALLY sore the first time you do them.  I would not increase the number of reps and / or time holding a position until you can perform them without soreness.
  • Try and do these in front of a mirror the first few times so you can spot any breakdown in form / weakness in a certain muscle group.  Always try to maintain good form throughout the exercises and if you do notice a breakdown, stop.

#1 Planks:

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Make it easier – Bend your knees:

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Make it harder – Tripod – Lift one leg up:

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  • Start on your stomach.  Keep your feet hip width apart, on your toes or knees, and elbows directly under your shoulders.  When ready, lift your butt until there is a straight line from your shoulders down to your ankles or knees and hold.
  • The most common breakdown in form is dropping of the hips towards the ground, once you see this, stop.
  • A good goal for planks is to be able to hold one for 3 minutes, after this, progress to the tripod position.

#2 Side Planks:

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Make it easier – Bend your knees:

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Make it harder – Extend the elbow:

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  • Start on your side with your elbow directly under your shoulder.  When ready, lift your hip off the ground until you form a straight line from your shoulders down to your ankles and hold.  Repeat on both sides.
  • The most common breakdown in form is dropping of the hips towards the ground, once you see this, stop.
  • A good goal for planks is to be able to hold one for 3 minutes, after this, progress to the elbow extended position.

#3 Bird Dogs:

  • Start on all fours with hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips.  When ready, lift and extend the right arm and left leg, hold steady for a few seconds, and repeat on same side.
  • Make sure you don’t rotate from your hips or shoulders here!
  • A good goal is to be able to perform 2 sets of 30 repetitions total.

#4 Superman:

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Make it easier – Hands by sides, legs on ground:

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  • Start on your stomach, when ready lift up both arms and both legs off the ground and hold.
  • Once your shoulders / legs start to fall towards the ground, stop.
  • I like to start by doing repetitions of these first.  Once I can do 30 repetitions straight through, then I will start doing static holds with a goal of 3 minutes.

#5 Dead Bugs

  • From the position on the left, slowly lower and extend your left leg and right arm to the floor, repeat on same side.
  • Your focus here should be on keeping your lower back in contact with the ground throughout the movement and maintaining a neutral pelvis.
  • A good goal is to be able to perform 2 sets of 30 repetitions total.

Make it harder – Both arms and legs

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  • Same as above, but this time lower and extend both arms and legs at the same time.

Make it easier – Lumbar spine press (90/90 position)

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  • Lift your legs to a 90/90 position (hips flexed to 90 degrees and knees bent to 90 degrees).  Press your back into the floor, draw your belly button in towards your spine, and hold.
  • A good goal is to be able to hold this position for 3 minutes before progressing to the Dead Bugs.

#6 Bridges

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Make it harder – Single leg bridge

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  • Start on your back, feet flat and hip width apart, arms extended with palms resting on floor.  When ready, squeeze your butt and lift your hips up until a straight line is formed from your knees to your shoulders, hold for a few seconds and slowly lower back to ground again, repeat.
  • A good goal is to be able to perform 2 sets of 15 repetitions.

Enjoy your washboard abs!