Monday, 7 January 2013


YOGA tips for cycling
Hammering in the drops of your handlebar can shave more than three minutes off a 40km (24-mile) ride. But that means leaving the comfort of your brake hoods to hunker into an aerodynamic tuck--a position few recreational riders find comfortable for very long.
The solution: yoga, the quickest route to balanced strength and flexibility. "Cyclists are notorious for having tight hips and hamstrings, which makes generating power in the aerodynamic position difficult," says Lara Garda, R.Y.T., yoga and fitness consultant with the University of Pittsburgh. "Yoga improves range of motion in your hips, strengthens your core, and minimizes muscle imbalances so you can ride longer, climb better, sprint faster and feel better on the bike."
What's more, yoga improves balance, body awareness and muscle control, all of which will make you a better bike handler. "If you devote 15 to 20 minutes to yoga stretching several days a week, especially on days you ride, I guarantee you'll see results in as little as a month," says Garda.
Garda recommends the following four poses for better cycling fitness. For the best results, perform each stretch three times, holding the pose 30 to 60 seconds. Remember to breathe deeply throughout each move. If you stretch beyond the point at which you can comfortably breathe, back off. A good stretch causes mild discomfort, but never pain.

DOWNWARD DOG Start down on your hands and knees, feet flexed so that the bottoms of your toes are on the floor. Press your hands and feet into the floor, raising your hips toward the ceiling, until your body looks like an upside-down V. Then simultaneously lift your tailbone toward the ceiling and lower your heels to the floor as far as comfortably possible. Hold. Then release.  
Cycling Benefit: Stretches and lengthens tight calves, hamstrings and low back muscles, so you can tuck more comfortably.

BUTTERFLY Start seated on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your knees and pull your feet in, so the soles of your feet are touching, knees out to the side. Keeping your back straight, lean forward from the hips. Grasp your feet with your hands and deepen the stretch by gently pushing down on your knees with your elbows. Hold. Then release.  
Cycling Benefit: Relieves tension in inner thighs and hips, for smoother pedaling in the aero position.

RABBIT Start in a kneeling position, with the tops of your feet flat on the floor, toes pointed behind you. Sit back on your heels and lower your chest to your thighs. Stretch your arms behind you and grasp your ankles with your hands. Pull your navel to your spine and drop your head until the crown of your head is on the floor. Hold. Then release. 
Cycling Benefit: Provides a maximum stretch along the length of the spine and strengthens abdominal and back muscles, so you can hammer in the drops with greater ease.

HERO Start in the kneeling position, sitting back on your heels. Lift your butt slightly and move your feet apart, placing them on either side of your butt. (Keep your knees together.) Place your hands behind you by the soles of your feet. Lean back about 45 degrees. Hold. Then release.  
Cycling Benefit: Increases flexibility in the quads, hips, knees and ankles for improved range of motion all the way around the pedal stroke.

“The better you are at using lactate for energy,” says Gladden, “the better your exercise endurance.” You can teach your body to use lactate more efficiently by putting in lots of miles. But upping your intensity will do the trick in less time. Structure your rides so you spend 10 to 20 percent of the time going hard, at an exertion level of 70 to 80 percent (or higher) of your all-out effort.

CROSS TRAINING. not dressing
Here are coach Matheny’s three tips for starting a cross-training plan.

Know your goal.
Running, jumping rope, and hiking are great ways to make your bones strong and they also make you faster. Yoga and other activities that engage muscles in a three-dimensional plane will open up areas that tend to be tight in cyclists: hips, groins, shoulders, and chest.
Start slowly. You probably have a trained cardiovascular engine, but your joints, connective tissue, and musculature haven’t adapted to the new activity. While you might have the cardiovascular fitness to run for an hour, your body will hate you the next day. Start small and increase exercise duration by only about 10 percent each week.
Be kind to yourself. You may be a really great cyclist, but when you switch you may feel slow or inefficient. Give your body time to adapt.

Bike Fit (Old school)
not strictly fitness but had no where else to put it

An old rule of thumb that was in use years ago for frame sizing was;

Inside leg measurement, from groin to floor minus 10". Therefore an inside leg measurement of 34" would lead you to consider a 24" frame. This was before the advent of compact frames, but should not present a problem as most bike shops can provide equivalent size estimate between the two types of frame.

As to reach; When you have the correct saddle/pedal position with regard to height and backwards/forwards position of the saddle, when you position your elbow on the nose of the saddle your finger tips should be touching the rear of the handlebars. This may indicate that a different top tube is required or a different stem is required.

Not exactly scientific I know, but using the above has always seemed to work and I have always been comfortable with the bikes and frames I have bought.

Upper Body Training
Cyclists rarely give their upper bodies much thought, but the stretched-out position of road riding places a unique stress on the muscles of the neck, shoulders, and upper back. By strengthening these areas, you’ll become more resistant to fatigue. Here are some exercises I recommend. Do two or three sets of 10 reps twice a week in the off-season, or once a week if you’re putting in big miles on the bike.

Standing Shoulder Press Stand with your knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand so that one end is touching the outside of each shoulder and your palms are facing forward. Inhale, then press the weights up as you exhale. Keep your chest high and eyes forward. Don't roll your head down or hunch your shoulders. Return to the starting position.

Pull-Up Grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width, palms facing forward. Pull your body toward the bar until it touches your chest just below the collarbone. If it's been years since your last pull-up, don't be surprised if you can do only one (or none). If that's the case, use the standing lat pulldown machine, which will let you lift a lower percentage of your body weight. Gradually transition to pull-ups as you gain strength.

Squat Row with Cables Hold a cable handle in each hand and walk backward from the machine far enough that you can complete the movement without losing tension on the cables. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms extended at shoulder height, then lower your hips into a squat. Return to a standing position while pulling back on the cables until your wrists reach the sides of your chest. Extend your arms as you lower back into a squat.

Prone PressMost cyclists will find this challenging enough without weights. Stand with your knees slightly bent and feet shoulder-width apart, then lean forward so your upper body is 30 to 45 degrees from vertical (press backward with your hips for balance). Raise your arms so your hands are at shoulder height and your elbows are still near your sides. With your palms forward, extend your elbows until your upper arms are next to your head. Use your upper-back muscles to keep your arms in line with your ears—don't let them fall toward the ground. Return to the starting position.

Shoulder Multirotation It doesn't take much resistance to fatigue—or injure—shoulder rotators, so begin this exercise without weights, and be conservative when adding resistance. Do the moves slowly and in segments, like you're a robot on a dance floor. Stand with your hands at your sides. Raise your elbows to the sides while keeping your hands pointed down (think scarecrow). Keeping your elbows at 90 degrees, rotate your shoulders to bring your hands up until they point at the ceiling. Press both hands straight up, bringing your upper arms in line with your ears. Return to the starting position by reversing the steps, including rotating your shoulders forward to bring your hands down in a controlled motion.

Use weights that are challenging, but light enough that you can complete the full 10 reps. Control your movements to minimize the impact of momentum. If you have a shoulder injury or restricted mobility from previous injuries, check with a physical therapist for alternatives.

Tender Tendons

Feel a twinge near the bottom of your calf or the back of your ankle when you're sprinting, grunting up a long climb or pushing a big gear? Well, then read on for cycling ankle injury prevention. It could be that your Achilles tendon is inflamed—a common occurrence caused by microtears in the tendon, often caused by overuse.
Continue to push through the pain, and tendinitis could force you out of the saddle for four to six weeks. Or pay attention to your Achilles now to prevent problems later. To do that, you stretch.
"Stretching on a regular basis is enormously helpful because the increased pliability can prevent microtearing," says Fiona Lockhart, C.S.C.S., a USA Cycling Level II coach and a pro coach with Carmichael Training Systems. "Plus, stretching improves blood flow to the area, which speeds healing."
Work these simple stretches into your daily routine, and you'll keep your Achilles supple, pliable and ready to turn the cranks at a moment's notice.
The Baseboard Blast
Remove your shoes and stand facing a wall, slightly less than arm's length away. Press the ball of your right foot against the wall with your foot angled up, so that only your heel touches the floor. Your leg should be extended slightly in front of you. Slowly bring your chest toward the wall until you feel a stretch in your calf. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with your left leg.
The Stair Drop
Stand on the edge of a step and drop your right heel until you feel the stretch. (If it's painful, stop--you're only making the microtearing worse.) Hold for 30 seconds. Release. Repeat with left heel. Do periodically throughout the day.

Nicole Christensen, owner of CrossFit Roots in Boulder, Colorado, which trains pros for brutal, all-day ­races, says that any cyclists without the full-body strength to deadlift their body weight for one rep will see a loss of power transfer to the pedals on long rides. Even a daily, 10-minute course of push-ups, planks, and light stretches will have you feeling better on the bike.

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