Thursday, June 20, 2019, 14:13 | No Comments »

It’s a WRAP !

Once we sign up to the idea of training or any form of exercise, at the outset we are full of motivation and “gung-ho!”, keen to do our workouts with as much vigour as possible, only to quickly feel the soreness and tightening of muscles, the aches and pains of over-exertion.

As we continue down this path, we begin to lose our mojo, with general feelings of exhaustion setting in. If left unchecked we begin to pick up injuries such as pulled muscles and strained ligaments, feelings of desperation, anxiety and inadequacy.

All the work we have put in quickly dissipates and we begin wonder if this is worthwhile…why do training, so much pain for such little gain.
If you are a self-coached athlete or just starting out, this pattern is predictable given media bombardments of training plans that offer heady cocktails of high expectations, underpinned with false promises of quick wins to fitness and health “get fit in 30 days”.... "transform your abs the easy way".... "just sign here !" Surely one of these plans contains the magic potion ?

Unfortunately not. The root cause of the issue is that these types of plans do not take into account the body’s natural rhythms and needs. Whenever we exercise or exert ourselves beyond the norm, we are putting stress on our bodies, and without rest and recuperation, this cumulative workload places stress becomes non-sustainable (Lehmann et all, 1999).


Until recently, the conventional answer was simply to rest and allow your body to recover, which in its own right is an important thing to do; however if you wish to train to have sustained performance improvements, and not simply get to the point where your fitness reaches an unsatisfactory plateau as happens frequently (even with seasoned athletes), you need allow your body to not only recover but also to adapt to the new levels of stress. This is called the Stress Recovery Adaption cycle. Without allowing for adaption we may only recover up to the original baseline and hence miss the opportunity to improve performance (see below).

As a layman I am not qualified to talk about the precise science of this, however Joe Friel of TrainingPeaks explains this in detail in his blog on the topic.

So how do we incorporate adaption ?

Here at Cycle For Fitness, our approach takes every part of this cycle into consideration. We focus on all aspects of the athlete, from developing workouts that are specific to your goals, use periodisation best practise in terms of training blocks that develop base fitness, build strength and endurance, and ensure our athletes reach their Peak performance for whatever event or goal they are working towards.

We use a combination of low intensity workouts incorporating endurance, strength and conditioning, intermingled with a limited amount of high intensity sessions, but all underpinned by HRV (Heart Rate Variability) measures as explained by Ithlete to ensure that workouts are at the optimised for your level of stress, recovery and adaption.

We call this holistic approach WRAP (Workout Recover Adapt Perform) and this forms the basis for all our training plans and coaching programmes.

WRAP enables you to get the best out of every workout, never become overtrained, prevent burnout, accelerate the rate at which you see measurable results, get the best out of your determination, achieve your goals and be prepared for every event that you target, and above all, achieve sustainable fitness and feelings of wellbeing.
If you would like to understand why we are confident WRAP will work for you, contact us for a no-obligation chat.

1. Lehmann MJ, Foster C, Gastmann U, Keizer HA, Steinacker JM. Definition, types, symptoms, findings, underlying mechanisms, and frequency of overtraining and overtraining syndrome. In: Lehmann MJ, Foster C, Gastmann U, Keizer H, Steinacker JM., eds. Overload, fatigue, performance incompetence, and regeneration in sport. New York, NY: Plenum, 1999: 1–6.

Thursday, June 20, 2019, 14:09 | No Comments »

We’ve all been there, despair at the thought of another torturous workout filling our minds with black thoughts and sucking dry our motivation.

How can it be that only last week we had a spring in our step, our goals were being achieved, we were “on plan”, but that enthusiasm is now replaced by dread.

But why, can it be the lack of sleep, the feelings of heavy legs or our lives’ everyday stresses are getting to me. Why am I beginning to feel so unable to complete my workouts, or the “go get” ride I had planned dissolved into pain and loss of mojo.


Thursday, June 20, 2019, 14:06 | No Comments »

When is a cycling training plan not right for you ? The Internet is full of training plans that promise to get you faster and stronger, and usually from reputable sources ? Unfortunately all is not what it seems.


Thursday, June 20, 2019, 14:01 | No Comments »

Since taking up “cycling with intent” rather than as a mode of transport several years ago to regain fitness I have shied away from the idea of going to a weight training studio as part of my fitness regime; why would I possibly want to bulk myself out, and make myself slower by adding weight to a frame that already struggles to maintain the slimness of my youth....though I can honestly say that I have never been a streamlined “racing snake”, even as a cross-country and middle distance runner I always carried a little bit extra...possibly exacerbated by taking up weightlifting as a hobby while at college. Thankfully, through cycling I can now once again get into the same size jeans that I had when when 25, so not all that bad :-)

Having read up on how to continue to be able cycle at something nearing a “seniors” competition level I began to understand the idea that strength training made you heavier and slower was a misconception, just a myth.

So at the age of 57, and understanding that I was now entering the inevitable ageing process that leads to muscle mass loss due to a natural drop in hormones, testosterone, etc, I was drawn to the potential benefits of using weight training to reverse or at least slow down the process.


Thursday, June 20, 2019, 13:55 | No Comments »

The good news first. For ever hills you climb, as a rule there will be wonderful descents which you will savour and enjoy as your payback for climbing the hill that got you there in the first place.
However, I know a lot of people are anxious about riding down steep or long descents.

Even the most confident of you will benefit by improving your technique, it's not just about how fast you can get down the hill, it is about keeping yourself and others safe at the same time, and there will be people possibly very unsettled and way out of their comfort zone....they do not need some mad fool passing them at 50 miles per hour scaring the living daylights out of them.

So here are a few of my tips, based on British Cycling's recommendations:

  • The golden rule - look up and ahead of where to want to go and not at the road. If you look down you can become disoriented, you will be less able to anticipate necessary changes of direction or speed.
  • Take account of the road conditions, is it wet, or has the road been in shade and so perhaps slippery, slow down in these situations.
  • Can you see far ahead to stop if you needed to….for example there may be a tractor just around the corner.
  • Never push it or try to follow someone downhill who is taking chances.
  • Get yourself down on the drops, this lowers your centre of gravity and helps stability
  • Keep your knees tucked in, or even gently hug the cross-bar with you knees and keep the pedals level except on a bend.
  • On a bend, your inside pedal should be up and your outside pedal should be down, apply pressure on that outside foot. This prevents grounding the pedal on the floor and improves stability by adding a little centrifugal force.
  • Keep a loose grip on the handlebars, don’t grip too tightly as holding on too hard will transfer vibrations to your arms and shoulders, fatiguing them, the bike will also not be able find its way over variations in the road surface.
  • Cover the brake levers with your fingers, but don't grip or snatch at the levers in panic; lightly feather the brake rather than holding them on during sustained descents, this is especially important if you are using rim-brakes, it is better to prevent putting too much heat into the rims and tyres which ultimately, but very rarely could could a tyre blow out.
  • Make sure that your arms and your legs are relaxed so that they can act as shock absorbers.
  • If the roads are damp or very steep then don't be afraid to shift your bottom towards the back of the saddle; this moves your center of gravity backwards over the back wheel such that when you apply the back brake you are less likely to find your back wheel slipping away from you or skidding when you brake.
  • Apply the brakes smoothly and evenly weighted between front and back; the front brake is generally much more powerful at stopping you, the brake brake is better at gently slowing you down. Never just use one over the other.
  • If there's a corner on a hill, brake well ahead of getting to the bend so that you can wipe off the speed,entering the corner at a pace that you are comfortable with (by the way this gets faster the more confident you become); when going through the corner you should have already released the brakes, keeping your head up and looking for the bend’s exit. By following this simple rule, the bike will naturally lean and follow your gaze through the bend. Do not be tempted to braking during the bend, that could cause the bike to become unstable and the front wheel to skid away from you.
  • You may have heard of the term, “follow the racing line”, this simply means trying to straighten the corner out by using the width of the road to use the bend’s apex. So for example, on a right hand bend, keep left as you enter the corner, aim for the mid point of the bend (head up, look through the bend) and then exit the bend on the left side or move to the right if the next bend is going to the left. Try this slowly and build up confidence.
  • The important thing is to scrub off the speed before you hit the corners and let the bike do the work.

These are techniques that I'm sure you are already doing but just just remember to be careful and not to brake abruptly or change your line as there may be people coming down behind you, possibly a lot faster than you.

Conversely if you are a confident descender, have consideration for people who are not so confident. Don’t be “that guy” who tries to out brake other people coming into corners so that you can pass them on the bend. Be safe, and if you are faster, and you have to overtake, do that well ahead of the bend, or on the exit. So just please be careful, be aware. Keep safe and look after each other….it is not a race or competition.

Another tip; if you have a cycle computer with a map, for some of the descents it is worth using the computer’s map screen, and then zooming in so you get an idea of the kind of corners that are coming up.  It's probably not a great idea to look at the map on the way up hills because you might get demoralized seeing bend after bend, so just do it for downhill.

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