Here’s 5-step Science Based Action Plan to Ensure your Cycling Enjoyment and Safety
By CEO Robert Forster, PT
1. Nutrition and Hydration
Hydration and nutrition play a huge role in the successful cycling experience. On the bike you will burn a lot of calories and sweat out a lot of fluids. You need to think about your hydration and nutrition needs before, during and after rides. Before a ride, be sure your tank is well hydrated and fueled. The rule of thumb is to drink at least 16 ounces of water in the one or two hours before a ride and adjust from there for hot or humid weather. Be sure to have eaten a meal or snack two hours before as well. On the bike, if you are going 60 minutes or less then 20oz of plain water will get you through the workout. If you are going longer than 60 minutes then a sports drink is appropriate with electrolytes in a 10 per cent carbohydrate solution. You need to consume 4-5oz every 15 minutes for a total of 20 oz. per every hour of riding. You will never be able to consume all the calories that you burn during a workout, nor should you try as it will result in gastro-intestinal distress, i.e. bloating, cramping and gas. Typically, if you consume 100 calories per hour in a gel, bar or natural food you will avoid the dreaded and dangerous bonk. This is when your muscles shut down because all the muscle fuel is spent and you will have difficulty making it home. You will need more for big days of climbing. After rides there is a 30 minute window when your body is optimized to start replenishing fluids and calories. If you start the process in this 30 minute post ride period and then eat a meal within the next hour or so, total recovery of muscle energy supplies can be accomplished in 4 hours. If you miss this window you risk being hungry all day and not still not being recovered for your next ride. Drink fluids liberally until you feel satiated. For peak performance, calculating your exact requirements is critical as small deficits in hydration and calories will affect performance drastically. This can be accomplished with metabolic testing which has become practical and affordable for the amateur cyclist over the last several years. VO2 testing and Resting Metabolic testing will provide an accurate snapshot of your personal physiology and help us map out an efficient nutrition and hydration plan to maximize your performance and weight management.
2. Body Position and Mechanics
Your body’s position on the bike affects how you ride, how much power you can efficiently deliver to the pedals, and how comfortable you are while riding. Just because the salesman at the bike shop made a few adjustments to get you on your way doesn’t mean you are set up correctly on your bike. How do you know if you need a professional bike fit? Discomfort on long rides is a good indicator that your bike is not set up to match your anatomy. Typically tightness or pain in the low back, neck or knees is the first indicator that something is not right. Pushing through pain is a certain path to a more long lasing injury that will prevent you from riding. Once you are in a good position on the bike, the way you turn the pedals is paramount to performance and injury prevention. You will need toe cages or a system to clip into your pedals to use all your leg and hip muscles in the pedaling effort. If you are not attached to your pedals then the quadriceps muscles in front of your thigh will do the majority of the work and fatigue quickly, very likely leading to damage of the knee cap and associated structures. A proper bike fit entails measurement of all the applicable joint angles of the lower extremity, pelvis, spine and shoulders to be sure the muscles can produce optimal power and protect the joint structures. It is paramount to appraise bio-mechanical deviations and imbalances in motion that can otherwise build up into injury as mileage begins to increase. A Spin Scan analysis of your pedal stroke exposes where you are deficient and variances in power output between each leg. Correcting these along with proper shoe choice and cleat placement will improve your power and stamina and help prevent injury.
3. Heart Rate Training
Heart rate is an accurate indicator of how hard your muscles are working to keep the bike rolling. Cycling in specific heart rate zones is the most productive way to improve your metabolic efficiency, i.e. how well your energy production system works. Even if you are not interested in racing and more interested in keeping up with friends on the climbs or improving your health and maybe losing s few pounds, you need to learn where to keep your heart rate in training to maximize workout results. Everyone’s heart rate is as personal as a finger print. No formula exists to tell accurately what heart rate will produce the best results for you and comparing your friends heart rate has absolutely no correlation to who is more fit. The only accurate and efficient method to arrive at personalized heart rate training zones is via VO2 testing. This test will let you know your optimum target heart rate for 100 % productive workouts. It will produce an exact personalized heart rate prescription from which to design your cycling program for the best results. With this knowledge, you have ability to monitor and manipulate exercise intensity to create an effective training program. It will allow you to cycle longer and stronger with less effort.
4. Training Plan
If you love cycling and want to keep riding for life or if you are interested in being the best you can be, then sooner or later you will learn that your riding can’t be haphazard. Your riding should be organized and planned in advance and not by your whim each day. Periodization Training was created by the “Soviet Sports Machine” during the cold war and was designed to achieve fitness gains throughout the training cycle, while avoiding injury, performance plateaus and burnout. Periodization training develops your fitness in a scientifically rational sequence where the fitness gains of each phase build on those of the previous phase and prepare you for the next. Recovery is key and must be built into each week, each month and in the yearly training cycle. There are three workouts each week that progress your fitness and two or three recovery workouts that prepare you for your next important workout. This is referred to as the Hard/Easy Principle of training. Easy workouts promote recovery better than rest alone.
5. Strength and Flexibility Training
Many cyclists forgo strength and flexibility training for more hours in the saddle. Stretching is the most important training adjunct to optimize workouts and recovery while avoiding injury. A well-designed strength training program that follows the principles of Periodization will not only create proper biomechanics, and decrease the risk of injury by stabilizing your joints, but is the quickest path to improved speed and climbing performance. This is not bodybuilding, or the weight routines a typical personal trainer would prescribe. Only a safe and effective cycling specific program based on Periodization training principles will assure program effectiveness and sustainability. When done properly, a well-designed strength and flexibility program will make you faster, improve endurance, and increase bicycling longevity. Whether you are riding for performance, travel and social enjoyment or to improve your health and manage your weight, the sooner you realize that science has the answers to help you achieve your goals, the less you will be frustrated you will be. The effort to dial in your physiology, improve strength and flexibility, and create a meaningful training schedule is not as hard as you might think. You are already doing the work, why not train smarter and not harder and harder to overcome obstacles to your success. You can greatly enhance your experience and provide for years of sustainable growth and enjoyment.
PEAKRIGHT© COMPREHENSIVE CYCLING PROGRAM
If you are interested in improving your performance, and preventing injury, we will design a periodized training plan for you, complete with a
• Head to Toe Structural Exam
• VO2 and RMR Metabolic Testing
• Nutritional Consultation and Daily Nutritional planning
• As well as a Functional Health Consultation
• A daily Periodized strength, flexibility, and Recovery program
• A science based daily heart rate training program to meet your goals
• An Expert Bike Fit and Technique analysis
Our programs have been honed over 35 years in the results driven world of elite athletics, and with thousands of athletes who have chosen our science based approach to achieving complex performance goals. Our purpose is make all your workouts 100% productive toward your goals, take all the guess work out of your training, and build an injury resistant body for life long cycling success.