Friday, November 30, 2007

Training Update Strengh phase almost done

Well I did the queen workout of the strength training workout the other day. This is the Heavy day of Week 2 of the Strength Phase. In this workout the last set is 2 reps at 100% of the 1Rep Max (1RM) that all the workouts have been calculated from.

The workout goes 5 reps at 85% 1RM, 4 reps at 90% 1RM, 3 reps at 95%, 2 reps at 100%.

It is really neat to be able to complete 2 reps at a weight that you'd originally established as a 1rep max. It's sort of theoretical in my case, because I don't go about setting the 1RM in a true 1 rep fashion. I either take a wild guess, or do reps of 3 or 4 and extrapolate.

My squat isn't the best when I get up to these higher weights. It's more of a mental thing as I am just tentative and don't go down as far as I should. I just sort of picture a full body implosion. Leg press went fine as did hamstring curl which in years past I haven't done so well at.

Throughout my weight workout I up the weights (or lower) as necessary. In hypertrophy, if I can the 6 sets at 12 reps and it feels too easy, I'll start upping the weight by a little.

During week one of strength I do 4 sets at 6 reps of progressivly harder %s. It all went pretty well, and I upped weight a tad. By this time I don't seem to get and real soreness from the workouts, just a dead fatigued feeling in the legs. It is hard enough that I'll only workout 2 days a week with 2 days in between. I've started to ride for an hour on the off days a day after lifting the legs are totally dead. No snap whatsover on the bike.

I noticed that when riding during hypertrophy that the legs had some snappieness to them even though they felt very fatigued from the lifting. In strength phase the are just logs. But that will change in another few days as things start to transition into the power phase.

For upper body I continue to just mix it up. Some reps on this horizantal chest press machine which I like because it puts my arms in a cycling position. Upright rows sometimes. Wes turned me onto these external rotator excercises. Which are hard as heck. Literally 5-8 lb dumbells with full teeth gritting.

When I get into the power phase next week I'm going to switch to pushups and try to aim for some clapping pushups to get that quick power push. I'm hoping this will help when mtn biking and working the bike on the terrain, pushing down to eek out speed off the trail. I'l also do some hang cleans (light weight) just to get that hip thrust motion.

And also comes more riding. Right now I've just gotten on the bike a few times for an hour or so. Mainly in the mornings just to try and get used to the cold a little bit. But soon comes some sprints, Muscle endurance intervals and long miles.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

cold feet tips

saw this article at on cold feet.

It didn't address the main issue I usually have which is clammy feet that sweat just enough to get really cold. I posted a question to the roadbikereview forum and someone suggested Certain dri.

The chemical toe warmers that many people suggested are probably the only thing that has ever really worked for me too. A pair of the small ones sandwiched on top of my toes under the bootie or toe covers can make it just bearable for 3hrs.

Maybe a helmet cover might be a good option to try out too.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Interesting handlebar setup

I was reading an old issue of Mountain Bike and saw a small skills thing from Mark Weir. He rotated his riser handlebar forward so that the Sweep of the bar sweeps more up than back. It looks pretty wierd. I also saw this tip on a video tip at Mountain Bike Magazine online (see video Dial in for more...)

By rotating the bars forward and getting the bar to sweep more up than the traditional back, it really promotes an elbows out position. This is something that Gene Hamilton, who've I've worked with in the past really emphasizes. In fact he considers elbows out to be the number two thing to vision in terms of the fundamentals. The elbows in position is a carryover from the early days of XC racing and the road riding influence on mountain biking. The narrow bars of the early days as well as the position of riding on the bar tops or hoods from a road bike promoted the elbows in position.

Elbows out helps to open up the ribcage more and promotes better breathing and it also provides a much more stable platfor for controlling the bike.

The rotation of the bars sort of forces your elbows into wide postion as opposed to having to really think about it which I liked. I rotated my bars a fair amount to try it out. The problem when I tried this was that it also elongates your cockput. In effect it increases the reach to the bars. It was enough to not feel good overall. It might have worked had I had a shorter stem to try. I then cut the difference and rotated them about halfway between my original setup and what I just tried.

That felt much better. My elbows stayed out more easily, and my reach felt better. I'd like to try a shorter stem with a more rotated bar to see how that feels. I run a 70mm stem right now. Which is pretty short from an XC perspective, but I like the short stem/long top tube combo. I'd like to try a 60mm stem with the bars rotated way forward.

Bike tech notes

Random bike setup tech notes....

I tried something a little different this year. I put the 100mm fork onto the hardtail. My hardtail was built about 10 years ago and has a steepish head tube 71.5 and was built around a 70mm fork. This prooved to be a super quick telepathic combination until you made a mistake or got tired. And on terrain like Brush that can happen a lot.

Since then I put a Black 80mm SPV on it and it has felt really good. Nice manners but still quick. I've been wanting to try a 100mm on it to make it more of an all around setup for some of the bigger downhills like Beast and Old Farm, while hoping that it can still climb and single track.

The 100mm fork has about and 1" taller Axle to Crown A/C compared to the 80mm, so I dropped 1" of spacers.

Just sitting on the bike felt ok, not too tall. Steering was slower, it required a lot more hip action, muscling to get the bike to corner. But it was also more stable. Climbing wasn't too bad, but it did require more body english to keep the front wheel down. A good thing was it forced me to get better at the 'floating' type of pedaling where you float your butt right above the tip of the saddle in order to maintain the precious balance bewteen keep the front wheel tracking on the ground and maintaining traction in the rear. I was able to climb some stuff that I hadn't in a while.

Those cleans weren't because of the bike it was because of better positioning.

But overall, I didn't really like the 100mm on there. Maybe the head angle got to be too slack, or maybe it just wasn't designed for that big a fork. For whatever reason it just didn't feel balanced or right. I'm still not giving up on a 100mm fork/hardtail. I think that a more modern geometry hardtail specifically designed around a 100mm fork might still be a really good bike for this terrain. Maybe a 71degree head tube/73 degree seat tube built around a 100mm?

Anyway it just felt like I was doing a disservice to the hardtail by not playing to it's stengths which are quick accelerations and quick handling. It rides pretty well with the 80mm fork and downhills better than you'd think compared to a XC dually.

So I put it back on the Azure. Which brings up my second topic: falling in and out of love with the Azure once or twice a year. I've seen this pattern emerge with my dually vs the hardtail. Where I lose the love for it a little and feel like it might not be better than a hardtail.

I'm pretty sure that overall I'm faster on the Azure. It downhills faster, in the long run it mitgates against fatigue from trail chatter, and it climbs technical terrain very well. The hardtail is slightly faster on smoother climbs, and it generates the perception of being faster but my speculation is that it isn't that much faster on certain sections. But I've found that every 6 months or so I have to go through this whole process of getting myself to realize this fact.

I think what happens is that over the course of several months of riding the dually, is that I start to get a little complacent. And stop 'working' the bike. You know pumping the transitions, weighting and unweighting with the bike and just riding aggressive: attacking in stead of just being a passenger. This promotes the feeling that the I am not getting enough out of the dual suspension to overcome the weight penalty of it.

So I then go to the hardtail. And am immediately rewarded with instant feedback from each pedal stroke. It just shoots forward up the hill. The handling is a tad quicker so single track carving brings a big smile, although it also can bring a face full of dirt too. Riding a hardtail around here forces you to be 'on it' especially on the rocks and chatter and technical climbing. So my riding gets a little more aggressive again. I'm forced to do it. And I start attacking again and riding better.

I then go through the requisite steps of thinking of a new hardtail, or getting some issues on mine fixed. Specing out parts, thinking if I should sell the dually, thinking of a Ti hardtail, maybe a single speed, etc...Start checking out ebay, etc..

But the fatigue also starts to set in, and I see that I can't keep up on downhills as easily, and on climbing I see small loses in speed with each root that I don't have the timing or energy to unweight properly for.

And then I'll pull out the Azure again. I'll start from scratch. Go through my whole setup routine for the suspension for the fork and rear shock. Go through the itterative process of setting rebound. And then ride. The aggressiveness from riding the hardtail carries over and I'm rocking and carving and back in love with the Azure again. Just like that, until the process repeats itself in another 6 months or so.

So, conclusion. I love my Azure. I love my hardtail. I need both sometimes. One helps the other. Please remind me of this next time I even think about selling the Azure.

Friday, November 16, 2007

3rd week adaptation

3rd week charm hit the other day. I was able to up my weights. I added a little bit and what I had been doing on my heavy days I'm now doing on my light days.

Only two more sessions of Hypertrophy left and then onto strength. The last sessions went great even with the additional weight. I've only upped by 5% or so. I've made that mistake too many times of making too big of a jump when I'm feeling good.

We did a mtb ride the other day and I was surprise it went really well. It was on the 2nd day of a 2 day rest block though. I recall in the past trying to ride in hypertrophy and it being worthless. So that was nice to see.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The beauty and ugliness of blocks

A tenatnt of Dave Morris's training is the Block. In hypertrophy as well as during the regular riding Blocks in the form of Micro blocks and Macro blocks form the basis for the overall structure of the program.

Right now in hypertrophy the block structure looks like this.


What I've seen is that day B is harder than Day A and Day E puts me on the edge. By Day G and the next Day A I'm ready to rock. This past week on the Day E of the block I was worked. Again I seemed to get this mini flu or something and felt like and did curl up in a chair for a little while.

I also wanted to get out on the mountain bike just to enjoy the cooler weather and I'm not sure that was such a hot idea. It was sort of fun, but also not so fun cause when you can't ride well sometimes it isn't fun and I was really flailing. Yesterday (Day G) I went for a short ride and it was much more fun. I was actually steering and moving the bike well.

The first thing that goes when I'm lifting is my leg spin. It's not so much the lack of power in the legs as it is the nice turnover. They just feel more like pistons up/down rather than that the sweet cycling turnover.

Today is back to Day A and the second week of Hypetrophy. I'm hoping to up my weights a little bit this week as I'm starting to adapt and this is the week where the magic happens.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Commuter bike

I've got 3 bikes. Given my current situation it is probably the most bikes that the garage can handle. It's not just me. My wife has 3 and my kids have one each, plus skateboards/scooters.

My bikes right now are a Full suspension mountian bike, rigid mountain bike and a road bike. Both mountain bikes have Stans and run real low tire pressure and full knobbies. I don't really like to ride them around town too much cause they just feeel so slow on the pavement. Fire roads no prob, but riding home at the end of the day is a drag.

I've ridden my road bike sometimes, it faster and feels more fun, but I would't ever want to leave it locked up outside. And riding road shoes/pedals in the town with constant stops/starts is a pain. I could swap out pedals to flats but it would become such a pain I wouldn't do it.

my goal is to ride in once or twice a week. I have not been anywhere near that goal. Once aweek when I have my class might be reasonable if it is not icy or raining.

Regardless, I've been contemplating another bike. dedicated strictly for commuting, but I'd like the side option of running in cyclocross cause you never know.

The choices are
-a rigid mtn bike
-a road bike
--cyclocross bike
-hybrid/performance hybrid

I'm really into these new performance hybrid bikes. Like this one
Or this:

Except I'd like cantilever brakes on the slight chance that they could be used for a cross race.

I just have a thing for these exotic frames built around flat bars. I think it's just cool that there is enough of a market now for something like this that companies are building these kinds of bikes. My issue with the design transition between roadbike bars and flat bars is that I dont think you can just take off the old bar and put a flat bar on and be done with it. The road bar offers the most bang for variety of hand positions. Take away the hoods and the drops and you are left wit just the tops. Which = a flat bar. I ride hills on top of the bar top all day long. But most regular riding is done on the hoods or drops.

I tried one time taking a cross bike and putting a flat bar on it. It felt awkward. Really scrunched up. It felt great on long climbs but elsewhere just didnt worked. I even attemted a 150mm long stem from the vintage pile. It helped with reach but the bike steered like crap.

So I think I want some sort of flat bar road bike. 700c wheels. I'm strugglig with how long a top tube to go. My road bike was custom built with a shorter than normal top tube. So it's actually easy to look for bikes with a longer top tube that I coud use with a flat bar. And I'm looking at frames that are about 3cm longer in the topube. Which would put me bar position between the bar top and bar hoods while using the same length stem on the road bike. I'm not sure if 3cm longer is too long and if I should stick with 10-20cm longer. Or if I go 3cm if a shorter stem would be needed.

One thing I've found with road bikes is that stem length doesn't work the same as with mtn bikes. With mountain bikes I'm a fan of long top tubes and short stems. Short as in 70mm. But with a road bike I found that shorter than 90 was bad as it didn't weight the front enough. 110 seems right for me on a road bike. Not quite sure what a flat bar road bike should be. Split the differenc I guess. I'ts just a commuter anyway.

Here is a drawing of the road bike:
Here is the mtb (some #s are off but itsclose)


Here is the Kona Dew hybrid bike

I'm liking the dew.

I dunno. It's always a thrill to bring a new family member into the fold, then the same issue of space an always working on bikes crop up. It's sad that it takes a new set of wheels to ge me more motivated to commute, but whatver helps can't be all bad.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

more hypertrophy notes

Just some thoughts on this phase of lifting

There are 6 sets. And the book calls for 1.5-2mins rest between sets. I used to rush the rest, now I take it all and then some. The workouts take a long time but the rest helps a lot in completing the workout.

I'm definitely fatigued after today's workout. Today was a 'light' day where the weights are 5% less than yesterday. But back to back workouts make it just as hard as yesterday. My lower back especially feels tired. Squats, leg curls and stiff legged deadlifts all fatigue the lower back.

Any riding done during this period is just spinning around for me. The toll on the body is huge during this phase and it is important to realize that I'm not going to be riding well at all for the next few weeks and not to let it get me down if the legs feel like wood when on the bike.

I will be very hungry all the time!

The workouts call for 10-12 reps. In the past I've typically done 10. But I worked out with a friend and he was going for 12 every time. If you can do more than 12 than add weight next time, less than 10 and decrease weight. I'm trying to do the same and go for 12. Need to remember that the next phases of interval training are dependent on the work I'm doing right now. These weight room workouts are creating the foundation for the power development that comes later. So I need to make the most of the workouts and do my best each and every time though know to call it quits if I'm going to do something that might hurt me, like on squats, etc. If the form gets bad than I'm doing too much weight.

There is always a debate about if strength training is the best use of time. My workouts seem to take a long time given the # of sets right now and the amount of rest per/set. So from only a time perspective it's not a good comparison. The key for me though is power development. My limitations always seem to be in the legs. So from the perspective of my own power development I still believe in the strength training component for developing a sound foundation with which to turn into cycling strength and cycling power development.

There are also issue with regards to increasing muscle mass. The definition of hypertrophy is to increase the size of muscle fiber. Sort of a negative thing from the perspective of the weight conscious cyclist. But again the way I'm looking at it is that bigger muscle fibers can make more power. Later in the strength phase we'll be focusing on increasing the strength of the fibers than in the power phases the focus will be on recruiting more fibers but right now the focus is on making the fibers bigger.

1) make the fibers bigger
2) make the fibers stronger
3) recruit more fibers when activating a muscle

I do not follow the exact same routine for the upper body as I do the legs. I only do 3 sets for upper body. The program calls for lat pulls and dumbell press. But I've been in/out of the weight room since highschool and want to do different things for upper body. I've been using this one press machine for chest/tris that seems to put my arms in a similar position as on the bike. I've also been doing different things like upright rows, single arm hanging snatches, inverted rows, dips, pullups, etc.

basically pick one or two excercises and do them every other time at the gyn. So not a whole lot.