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Why I don't do single leg stuff in the gym

A lot of S&C coaches do, but I don't, here's why

Why do we put sprint cyclists in the gym? There's a couple of reasons, some more or less valid than others.

My reason is to make them generally stronger. 

What does that mean?  It means muscle growth - bigger muscles (myofibilar, not so much sarcoplasmic, hypertrophy) are stronger.  Cycling is a skill, pedaling is a skill, building big strength needs to take place outside the realm of riding, you just can't make a ride hard enough to trigger a response similar to a 1RM or 5RM squat, deadlift or power clean on the bike, ie: to make you seriously strong you need to get off the bike.   To get real strength gains outside of novice effects, you need big overloads and that can only be done effectively in the gym under a barbell doing big compound lifts.

If we take that as given (and not everyone will, and that's ok), then we're interested in muscle growth, which means overload, which means maximal loading on the muscles we care about.  You can't do maximal loads on single leg lifts.  You can get some benefits from it, but not as much as you can from a double-leg lift.  Bulgarians, single leg press etc just aren't as hard on the triple extension muscles as their two-legged bigger brothers are. If anyone gets close to half of their squat with a one legged squat, they're wussing out on their squats.

So why would you do single leg work?  Good question.  Some would say because pedaling is one legged, we should train one legged, maybe, but that's the skill part of the equation and we have a very specific, very effective way to display our strength in a relevant fashion, and that is .. to ride a bike.  To build the skill of holding hips stable etc, do very short, big gear efforts - standing 1/4 laps etc on big gears - 4-8 pedal strokes at maximal effort.  I don't buy into the whole one legged thing and my riders who train in my gym never do one legged stuff (or any "core" mumbo jumbo, because all the Big 5 are core exercises anyway, but they're useful core exercises, not circus tricks) are as strong in the core and as stable on a bike as anyone you'll ever see. There's a lot of circus tricks and just plain silly bullshit done in the name of strength training, most of which is just wasting a trainees time.

Personally, I want my guys to be brutally strong, and to be highly skilled at displaying that strength - so we squat, we deadlift, we power clean, we press and we deadlift, and we do very short, high intensity work on our bikes in big gears. The guys at the AIS, the VIS etc, they love their one legged stuff, and that's fine, maybe at elite level you need it?  I don't know, my guys are developing juniors and masters, not elites on the whole, but I think, at least for the guys I work with, one legged stuff is a sub-optimal use of their time for questionable returns.  I also don't like legpress, I think it's a risky exercise and the removal of the trunk muscles to control the hips in a leg press is, I think, sub optimal, if in doubt, use more body rather than less (compound, not isolation, exercises).  Yes, benchpress is similar to legpress in this regard, but it's a compromise exercise and is included for reasons other than developing relevant strength for sprint cycling.  Your mileage may vary. Your opinions may differ.  That's good!


the art of good teaching

Or putting the shoe on the other foot.

I was going to write about SSS round 2, which went pretty well (ok, it was great!) but that can wait a bit.  You can see all the videos and results over at the SSS website if you want.

I want to write briefly about learning, learning new, alien skills and the art of excellent teaching.

I'm lucky enough (wellll ... pretty lucky, wellll ... extrordinarily lucky ...) to be being exposed to a new skillset by a teacher/coach with some of the best teaching skills I've ever experienced.  Learning new skills is hard, especially in an environment where you're way outside your comfort zone. 

In a really fortuitous twist to this tale, at the same time as I am being taught new skills, I am in parallel, teaching new skills to the teacher who's teaching me (a swapsie, you might say).  I am teaching whitewater kayaking and basic track cycling, I am being taught .. wait for it ... Ceroc modern jive (I think that's what it is anyway? All I know is I keep tripping over!).  Yes, dancing.  Me .. Dancing .. You want to push my comfort zone, that is IT!  I can fly a plane, SCUBA dive to 55m on mixed gasses, play violent contact sports, climb rocks and ice, race sprints, paddle down rapids, kill spiders and ward off snakes .. you name it, no worries, but dance?  Ohhh ...  I'm game enough to admit to being petrified of dancing.

This is a very interesting position to be in, when teaching skills a teacher needs to know when to back off, say nothing, let the student experiment and make (harmless) mistakes, and when to intercept and cut off any frustration or danger with the right cues.  Timing of this is critical or the student either doesn't get the chance to learn (over teaching is waayyyyy too common, just SHUT UP, STEP BACK AND LET ME WORK THIS OUT FOR MYSELF!) or gets hurt and/or frustrated to the point that they can't learn (spit the dummy time or get injured!).   

The teacher must have the absolute trust of their student that they are looking after them.  I'm putting my student into dangerous situations in whitewater rapids and on steep banked velodromes. I'm being put into a social context that I am deeply unfamiliar with as well (who wants to look like a dickhead in front of your partner's peers?).  Trust is vital.  Having a teacher or coach that you trust gives you the backing to be able to push you limits.

I also think it's important that the teacher not pretend that a new skill is easy - track stands are not easy, eskimo rolls are not easy, swan drops are not easy (really! I threw that in because I tried to learn that last night and last week and it's tricky!), power cleans and proper squats are not easy.  None of these things are natural, they need to be learned and pretending that they're easy harms the trust relationship between a teacher/coach and their students. They're worthwhile to learn and will take time and effort and will be rewarding when learned.  They are not easy to learn.

To cut a long story short, I think it's a great experience to be taught something new and totally alien and I'm not just (slowly!) learning how not to bowl over dance partners, but more importantly, I'm learning a lot more about how to teach and coach, by being a total novice student all over again in the hands of a brilliant teacher.

Oh, I won B grade on Sunday at round 2, undefeated (although Ian McGinley and I were very very close) and rode a PB flying 200, I'm only a 10th off breaking into 12 seconds at Blackburn.  I think it was world Vegan day on Sunday, I had a couple of steaks to celebrate.





Rescue rescue rescue

totally off-topic - Canoe Vic whitewater rescue training ...


My next purchase will be a dry suit ...


MACC's again

A couple of solid days training

This weekend is the Blackburn club championships on Saturday (sprint and 500m time trial) and on Sunday it's the sprint and keirin Vic Masters championships.  A busy couple of days.  I'm MMAS3 this year (40-44) which is new for me.  The standard is pretty high at the Vic masters, there's a few riders there who are orders of magnitude faster than I am.  So beit.  I'll do my best.  in the lead up, I've had a good fortnight's training.  As mentioned earlier I'm back in the gym able to squat and getting some good quality track sessions done both at Blackburn with Dino, Pat and Nic, and at DISC.  Hilton did a set of four MACCs for me yesterday before the mani training session.  I found a new top speed on my track bike.  66.1km/h.  We have kids that go that fast, but still, for me, that's moving.

Here's the graph of that effort. 20110216-macc  They're great fun, MACCs.  You don't break the wind but they really get you moving.   Good stuff.  The video from a couple of these efforts is below.  Seriously good fun!

So the last couple of days, trained on Saturday, raced SSS round 4 on Sunday, lifted in the gym on Monday, MACC's and rider pass efforts on Tuesday at Blackburn, MACC's at DISC on Wednesday, today (evening) we're in the gym again and Friday will be a rest day.  Then the fun begins.  Good-o. 



back into training

At last I can squat again

Where there's an orthopaedic issue, there's an engineering solution.  I present Dave Draper's  Top Squat


 Not since April 2010 have I been able to do a proper squat.  I've been able to front squat (sucks....), deadlift etc but with a SLAP tear and osteoarthritis in my shoulders the rotation of my arms was restricted (and still is and probably always will be) such that I can't hold the barbell properly.  But with this doodad I can.  Sorta - it's not perfect, but it's a damn sight better than not being able to do it.

So on Monday (still full of mental and physical fatigue after the Aust titles in Sydney) I got under the bar for the first time in about 9 months or so.  I only worked up to a lazy 80kg workset, the technique is a little different and there's a couple of tricks to using it (keep the thing LEVEL! or the barbell slips to one side, not ideal!) but in general it's a great bit of kit.  On Tuesday I had DOMS and that is good!

Yesterday I got to DISC early and Hilts gave me a couple of MACC's for fun.  I slapped on 96" to do 'em. Here's the graph of the last effort.  It was supposed to be 375m, with me riding the last 125m unassisted, but Hilts blew the whistle, which means keep going, and it ended up being 500m.  I think I found a new HRmax ... They are FUN! Hilton is a superb derny rider.  I have much to learn.




She'll hold together

You hear me baby? Hold together!

Totally off-topic, sorta ..

I had another hydrodilation on Tuesday, which was quite different to the first one I had a month or so ago - it felt very different anyway, although the procedure was the same. I now have almost a full range of motion, which is great! I did an ergo session on Thursday and put out a peak power value that was the best I've done since January, so that's good. The things you can do when you can actually pull hard on the bars!

But... Today Lucie and I, tipped off by Stewart Lucy, took one of my kayaks down to the Box Hill rugby ground!

While the joint sounded and felt like a bag of ball bearings being rattled around, it didn't hurt.  Good! So this arvo I'm off to paddle the Homestead Loop on the Yarra, it'll have some big water in it after all this rain.  That'll test out the joint!



What happens to the girls?

They stop going faster, why?

Way back many months ago at (I think) one of the NTID conferences I've been lucky enough to go to, female sprinters were discussed.  One very common thing is that many of the ones that do very well in JW15 and JW17 often simply never go significantly faster once they get to JW19.

Why is this?

I have one thought about this, bear with my hypothesis, this is gut feeling not science :

When they're riding JW15 and JW17 the game is all about leg speed because they're restricted to tiny gears.  There's a certain amount of strength required (and you see this in the ones that do well out of the starting gate) but it's mainly a game of cadence.  This favours the girls who don't necessarily have a lot of strength but can spin like the clappers.

This is pretty obvious; girls aren't boys.  From a hormonal perspective, girls have roughly 10% of the testosterone that boys have.  Testosterone is the main hormone that drives muscle growth (amongst other things).  As such, it's really hard, without cheating, for girls to pack on significant amounts of muscle.  They can certainly grow stronger and put on some muscle, but unless they resort to training with the aid of the needle, they never get big and thus, strong enough to push bigger gears at high cadences.   The only female sprinters that ever looked like Sean Eadie were cheating (eg Tammy Thomas and Annalisa Cucinotta).  Combine this with old-school training methods that has them out riding lots of road miles, which blunts any muscle growth stimulii that they may get from sprint training and you get a kid that can spin, but will really struggle to push bigger gears and thus, go any faster when they're old enough to be able to push bigger gears.  We see this with some of the girls I work with, they're amazing as JW15's and JW17's but come JW19 the game changes, and it changes a lot.  The stronger girls start to take over and the super-spinners become less dominant.

Why do boys do ok in spite of mixing in lots of road riding?  They're awash with anabolic hormones in their late teens and for them it's not too late to undo the damage done to their fast twitch by endurance training.  But for the girls, their opportunity, I think, comes a lot earlier and is lost if it's burnt up by too much endurance training.

So, if that's true, or at least on the right track, what do we do to get the girls strong without cheating?

The time when they're growing the most is early to mid puberty.  This is when they have the most of the other growth hormone, HGH.  This is when they need to be in the gym getting as seriously strong as you can possibly make them, and doing high power and high torque efforts on the bike and NOT DOING ANYTHING CATABOLIC.  This means STAY AWAY FROM LONG ROAD RIDES!

Conventional wisdom says keep the kids out of the gym, I say nuts to that and I'm not alone.  I'm in favour of getting, in particular, the girls, in the gym as early as possible to get strong so when they're old enough to push big gears, they're strong enough to do it.  Keep them doing short, sharp efforts.  Anna Meares started as a kid racing BMX.  Short and sharp, high power, high cadences and high torque. Shanaze Reade and Willy Kanis are more elite track sprinters who started (and still do) race BMX.   You can add the required endurance work later, and that's endurance for dealing with the needs of a track sprinter, which is not the same thing as the endurance needs of an enduro cyclist and should be trained differently.  You may pay for this in the short term with them being a bit heavier as JW15's and JW17's because to put on muscle they need an anabolic diet (calorific surplus high in protein and low in the foods enduros live on, ie: simple carbs), but getting the girls strong AND able to push high cadences is, I think, the key to getting them fast in the long term.







Movement at the stable

For the word had got around ...

Well, there's no men from Snowy River here, no dueling banjos either, but I've been out to Bonnie Doon with Lucie for my last weekend away for a while, where we went kayaking on the Goulburn and then just chilled out for a day.  Nathan ran the DISC session for me on Sunday.

Coming up very soon Hilton Clarke has a knee operation that will have him out of action for a month or more and I have to fill his shoes with the NTID and VIS guys.  This means every Wednesday from roughly 2pm 'til 10-ish and Saturdays from midday 'til around 5:30 I'll be at DISC, either on the motorbike or on foot, shouting at people to ride faster, keep going etc.  It's going to be pretty challenging and exciting and I'm looking forward to it.

Combine that with our Sunday DISC sessions and Spin on Tuesdays, and a bunch of people training in the 'haus and there's not much time for anything else except a bit of IT work to pay the bills and sleep. If this keeps up soon I'll be a full time coach.  Nifty ...

Today I spent some time faffing around at DISC while we sorted out some issues with the DISC motorcycle.  Over the last couple of weeks it's become unreliable; the starter doesn't work all the time (which is how I came to have a burn on my calf, pushstarting it), there's an oil leak, the chain is worn out, the cruise control is broken and it won't go into neutral when hot a lot of the time.  It's in at Gassit Motorcycles now getting repaired, I hope.  We also had a good turnout at the DUCC's session, where the squad learned about laying off and attacking into a gap and did some more group tactical skills stuff.  They're a great bunch and are keen and motivated to learn, which makes them a pleasure to coach.

In a few moments some sprinters will be here to do some lifting in the 'haus with me, I'd better get some motivation, it's time to do some heavy lifting!


NTID conference

I was very fortunate to have been sent to Adelaide for two days ....

Thanks to Hilton Clarke and Tammy Ebert I got to spend the last two days over in Adelaide at the National Talent ID conference, which was a very worthwhile experience.  We had presenters from all sorts of interesting fields, including a police psychologist who specialised in negotiations in siege situations and an elite track and field sprint coach.  For a long time now I've wanted to speak with a track & field sprint coach, we can learn much from them and that was really valuable. 

The police psych may seem odd, but as coaches we have to deal with some ... fiery ... people sometimes (I had to deal with an upset and very angry sprinter very recently, for example) and learning how the police do it was very worthwhile.  They (the police) have an advantage, they always win in the end - the bad guy comes out horizontal or vertical, but always comes out, and they often have the luxury of time, where we may not, but the consequences are somewhat different too!

Jan Sterling, the former Opals coach, was also a speaker and she had a lot to say about continuing to learn and develop as coaches.  It's very easy to slip into an "I know it all" mindset when coaching, but it's something we have to be very much on our guards against.  Jan showed us a very powerful video about sportsmanship and suggested that (and I agree!) sportsmanship is something that coaches have a strong duty to foster in their athletes.  This is a longish video, but well worth watching :


Those kids knew what the right thing do to was, and that's something that their coach must have nourished in them. I hope that any athletes I work with (and I do myself) if ever in a similar situation, would also do, with grace, the right thing.

Apart from that, we had a lot of round-table talks about coaching methods, sprint development, talent identification and so on and I had a productive meeting with Tammy and Josh (NTID program directors, basically) and now I have a new t-shirt to wear.  More to come on that front soon I hope, but it was a great trip and I learned a lot and benefitted a lot from it.  I hope I can pass on that benefit to those of you I work with.

I also touted the sprint series to Gary West and Sean Eadie .. Watch this space!






Slowly starting to feel good again

I've been off for about 5 weeks, but am slowing inching back ...

After round 1, I felt crap for weeks.  Really weak and lethargic.  Every time I tried to lift heavy or sprint hard, nothing .. Flat and empty.  My diet, sleep and work had been out of kilter and nothing felt right.  To top it off, Lucie got crook and now we both have a cold.  Anyway .. Round 2 went ok, I qualified reasonably well with a 13.7 something, I was glad to be under 14 at least, given how I' been feeling that was pretty good.  The bye was a stroke of luck, I dealt with Wayne reasonably easily :


And Chris Hickey and I had a very very close finish


Both Chris and I though I won it, the photo was ambiguous and Sue and Kim in the middle thought Chris, so Chris got the win, and thus, I was to race for 3rd against Peta Stewart.

Peta's no slouch, that's for sure, and while I'd qualified faster and was probably a bit quicker, she drew the lead and I (foolishly) let her keep it.  She did a great job of boxing me up when I wanted to go and held off for a good win, so I got 4th again!



On Monday the cold really started to kick in and for this week I've been in and out of bed whilst setting the world record for litres of snot expelled by a human.  Hrm.  Anyway .. I have been able to do some anaerobic work, my squat strength is coming back, I ground out 3 x 3 @ 185kg this morning and got 1 x 5 170kg deadlifts, the deadlifts was a new personal best for me, so that was gratifying, and I pressed 3 x 5 @ 57.5kg, my press isn't my best lift by any stretch but that was a PR too, so despite being a snot-generator it was a good session, and young Will trained with me and did well as he learns the art of black iron training in the 'Haus

This arvo is keirins at Blackburn.  I still can't breathe too well, so I doubt that I'll be able to do well, but I'll have a crack at them. Once I shell this virus for good, round 3 will be a scorcher.  I'm going to go 13.2 for a flying 200 outdoors soon, I can feel it ...

And Em just rode an excellent time at Shep today (500m ITT) in windy conditions she's 2.2s faster than this time last year.  Go you good thing!



190's, DISC ...

Slowly adding more weight, musings re DISC

This week I got unstuck doing squats, I'd been bogged down at 185kg for about 3 weeks, not able to consistently get three sets of three with any sort of form.  This week I bit the bullet and got up to 190kg, and have now done two sessions of 190x3x3's.  That's ok ... Tuesday's turnout at Spin was healthy despite the dreadful weather that kept a number of people home, wisely choosing not to travel.  Tonight at DISC I suspect I'll be pretty slow - Yesterday's squats have significantly disrupted homeostasis and I'm feeling very flat!  Thanks to Hans Seyle ...

I've seen a draft of the full article for October's Ride Cycling Review and it looks pretty snazzy.

We have to plan ahead to summer now.  Our DISC and spin sessions will be winding up at the end of September and two of the DISC sessions in September won't run, the 6th because it'll be father's day and many regulars won't make it and the 20th because that's the practice day for the 2009-2010 SSS.  So what'll we do over summer?  Last summer we did some unstructured sessions at Blackburn on Sundays and also at DISC on occasion, but this summer there seems to be a bit more demand.  We also ran a Tuesday morning session at BBN last summer which worked well, and we may revive that one.

We've built some really good momentum at Spin over winter with, as mentioned, huge numbers (peaked at 31!) and it would be a shame to lose all that, but I'm not sure how we'd fit anything in.  Over summer there's crits on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays where most of the racing riders will be, and the trackies will be doing afternoons at Blackburn or evenings at DISC if they're not doing more endurance stuff on the road, but the DUCCs and a few of the non-racing people want to keep going. I'm welcome to your suggestions please.  Remember Blackburn's Summer of Track on Saturday afternoons and of course (how could you forget?!) the Summer Sprint Series for the sprinters.

I'm thinking we might do a race skills (road bikes and/or track bikes) on Saturday mornings again.  Maybe once a fortnight?  It's a trip for some, but for others it might be worth doing and maybe we can sell the idea a bit - I have a basic syllabus that I developed for the DUCC sessions that can be expanded on and fine-tuned and with some marketing may be worth doing more of.  No-one actually teaches race-craft that I'm aware of except us and that's a possible way to not only keep the regulars involved over summer if they're not racers, but also to allow more honing of race skills for those who do race but want to work on tactical development.  Again, if you're interested or have any suggestions, contact me please!



Warming up for DISC tonight

Alex tried to kill me!

Last week was a busy one with real-world work, but I did manage to consolidate my 185kg squats on Wednesday with the Sprint Squad which I was happy about, but it does mean I have to increase volume or intensity (work up to 3 x 5's at 185kg or go to 187.5kg for 3x3's) which is going to be bloody hard!  It's now only about 7 weeks until the first round of the Summer Sprint Series for 2009-2010, so it's time to switch from an emphasis on strength and power to endurance - not the sort of endurance that gets trained when riding for 90 minutes through Lysterfield on a mountainbike though.

Which was what I did yesterday with Alex Vaughan!  Alex, 60 minutes MAXIMUM and EASY!  I don't want to get out of E1 unless it's to go below it! Not up and down bloody hills for an hour and a half!  Alex has become quite a good MTB rider in the last few months, and I am a complete gumby on mine (yes, I get off and carry the thing over log jumps!) and he gave me a royal flogging through his favorite bits of Lysterfield!  Argh! 

Today I'll be doing a light set in the 'Haus, a warmup squat set then some snatches or power cleans at a light weight just to remind my legs that they have a job to do tonight at training at DISC.


Super-Efficient training

More than one thing at a time

A good friend of mine is a marshal arts instructor (g'day Dan!).  He writes an interesting blog on his training.  Unless you're into Judo and Jiu Jitsu it's probably a bit dry but you never know. He's a good author and a great communicator.  It's always worth having a look at what other athletes use and one of the interesting things he talks about is super efficient training.  He's not training athletes in strength or speed, he's teaching techniques.  With my Strength & Conditioning hat on I'd say he should incorporate serious strength work for his people, but we'll have that discussion over a beer one night.  Stronger people are harder to kill, after all.  He'd counter that he'd be able to beat me up despite my strength advantage, and he'd be right, but if he was stronger, it'd be easier for him to do it!

What does he mean by super efficient?  Roughly, training for one thing can be used to reinforce other things.  How to apply this to cycling, for example?  We can do tractical drills with gear restrictions - teaching tactical riding while forcing higher cadences to be burned in - we do this when we limit the gears riders can use in tactical sessions.  Doing sprint drills on ergos placed very close together - so we get our strength & power work, but also get used to going flat-out while banging elbows against another rider.  Doing sprint drills with reaction work mixed in, spin people will get a chance to deal with this in the next few weeks, we have some new drills for you.  I'm sure there's other examples.  Food for thought ...


A big week

Lots done!

We keep getting more people at our spin sessions.  Last Tuesday we had 24 spinners, a new record for our sessions.  People are overflowing out the door and more want to come.  If everyone shows up we'll need a bigger venue and I'll need a bigger pot to make the dinner in.  We're already up to a 2.5kg mince beef and 2kg of mushrooms feed and that's about the limit of my big cauldron.

Yesterday we had the Sprint Squad in the 'Haus and it was heavy strength day.  Everyone set new PB's in their lifts and I felt good, so went for 3 x 3 @170kg squats, and I got 'em!  Woo hoo!  We also did benchpress and deadlifts to finish off, I got 5 deadlifts at 150kg too, which was a new PB for that lift as well.  The others all PB'd in everything too.  A very solid session.

Afterwards we had a thankyou BBQ for all those that helped out at last summer's Sprint Series.  aboc put on the bangers and bread and some chilli chickenwings and a good time was had by all who made it.  It was particularly good to see the Dundii again and to get a chance to thank Ann Apolito and Sue Dundas for their work last year and of course Lucie for her photography, my Dad came too (he was a photographer at one round) and had a good time.

Today we had the first round of the Blackburn time trial series for 2009.  I was pretty anxious about this, we'd had some 60 pre-entries and were expecting more to roll up and enter on the day.  Blackburns' reputation for running time trials is .. unfortunate .. over the years a number of high profile events have gone awry and with a huge field I was pretty concerned that things would go wrong, but Richard Stringer put together a great team and everything went faultlessly, or at least appeared to, and that's all that matters!  In the end some 110 riders raced the time trial and the results were done within 10 minutes of the last rider finishing.  Fantastic.  They need to be put up on the club's website ASAP too (very important these days!).  Hopefully that will have been taken care of also.

Em and I rode the big aboc Trek T1000 tandem in the time trial and I'm pretty sure we came dead last, but we did win the tandem division.  My alarm didn't go off and I was lucky that I woke up at 6:55, but I didn't have time for breakfast, having to fly out the door.  I rode the tandem solo to the city, along the way hooking up with Bev and Karen who both delighted in dropping me on every hill!  Hungry like the wolf but no food, I rode the ITT with Em and we did a solid E3 effort, then on the ride home (again solo on the tandem) I bonked ... Groveling up Whitehorse Road at 15km/h wasn't fun.  The refueling process was started as soon as I got home, we're training at DISC tonight and I need some matches to burn!


Consistany on the ergo, new record to be set tonight

Last night's spin confirmed that my previous PB on the ergo was no fluke, and tonight in the 'haus I have to lift more

1466 watts last night at the second spin session of the year.  That backs up on the last week where I got 1473 watts. That's good, it shows that the improvement isn't a fluke.

We had 17 at the spin session I think - a few regulars from last year aren't coming and I'm going to give them a call and see what we're doing wrong and try and fix it.  Other than that it's going well, apart from everyone else having terrible taste in music.  That can't be helped sometimes.

Today I have to duck down to DISC to pick up the keys to the motorbike so we can motorpace at our sunday sessions, which start this Sunday.  I've got 4 people coming so far!  Anyone else?!  The dinner is getting closer too, please let me know if you're keen to come by email.  I might set up a signup sheet for it but for the dinner I'm happy to keep it informal but I need an email so I can keep track of it.

Tonight's the night in the 'haus when I'm going to be attempting 165kg squats.  It's only 2.5kg more than I did on Sunday.  That's not a lot more weight, really.  We'll have a full 'haus too, the Apolitos and Merv are coming to train.  After that it's off to Blackburn for the AGM for the club.  I've got all the food except pita bread there already.  Hot dogs, dips, spring rolls, ricotta triangles etc.   Hopefully more than 5 people turn up!


Squats, weights, easy days and lunacy on TV

I'm ashamed to admit it, I watched an episode of 'reality tv'

This last two days have been mainly easy days, I lifted moderately heavy on Wednesday in the 'Haus (5 x 5 @ 150kg squats, 1 set of 10 130kg deadlifts, total tonnage 5,050kg) after Tuesday's spin session and on Wednesday night had a couple of short E1 rides for a total of about an hour and a half's riding.  Thursday was just an easy tootle to the LBS and back, no lifting and today was again around 45 minutes all-up E1 stuff. 

Tomorrow I'll lift heavy when I get back from the Baw Baw if I'm not too knackered from riding the motorbike out there. It's time to bump it up to 162.5kg squats again. I'll be trying for 5 sets of 3 reps, and depending on how that goes will up the deadlifts to 140kg.  130kg was hard, but I think I can manage 140kg for 10.  We'll see about that anyway. If it's not done on Saturday I'll do it on Sunday after Lucie and I go for a kayak paddle ... My arm's slowly getting better after the bursitis incident on Monday, I guess I'm starting to get old though, injuries take a bit longer to heal and mystery injuries crop up without explanation.

Speaking of lifting ... I'm a bit ashamed to say I was a bit bored on Thursday and watched a bit of 'the biggest loser' (the biggest loser is the person watching that rubbish... never again).  They had the punters all lined up in a semi circle with Olympic bars on their shoulders - except they weren't on their shoulders, they were way back off their necks on padding.  A big no-no when squatting heavy - it increases the moment arm around the lower back and increases the risk of lower back injury because to keep the weight over the lifter's feet they have to lean further forward, and they'll slump sooner or later and put a huge dynamic load on the lower back.  To make matters worse, they were doing it to failure and they were loading up the weights while the punters were holding the bars.  This made for asymetrical loads and twisting on the lower back as the 'trainers' (dangerous idiots) pushed the weights around while the punters were holding them up.  You wouldn't dream of doing that to experienced and strong lifters, let alone this bunch of untrained gumbies.

Could they do it in any more of an unsafe manner?  I'm not sure ... That was a pretty comprehensive catalogue of things not to do when holding a bar on your shoulders.  They got away with it ... But it was terrible.  So very irresponsible.  They should have had them progressively deadlift greater weights or something if they wanted to do something like that, at least a failure wouldn't risk blowing a back to pieces so badly. They'd just not be able to pick the bar up.  Shame on you, whoever came up with that stupid and dangerous stunt.  Lifting isn't a dangerous activity if it's done properly with good instruction from people who know what they're doing and with progressive and managed overload.  These idiots, on the other hand, threw essentially untrained people (who were no athletes) into a situation where they had to hold a (relatively) heavy weight in a biomechanically poor and dangerous position (padded out from their traps) while it was loaded up to a failure and twisted and pulled while they were doing it.   If I did that to anyone I was working with I'd expect to go to gaol for gross negligence when they got hurt.

Anyway ... Tomorrow I'm off to take photos of the lads racing the Baw Baw, I'll be at Winch Corner where it's an ~20% gradient.  Good luck to you all doing it. Pay no attention to the chalk writing on the roads! I've also been in touch with the bloke who built one of the AIS's sprint training ergos (the 'Wombat') and arranges wind tunnel testing - watch this space, we may have some slots to get into the tunnel and test sprinters for aerodynamics.




Excellent Sunday splashalong

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Luc & I went kayaking!

We paddled a repeat of a month ago's Pound Bend loop.  Much more fun now there's more water in the Yarra. Although there's still not a lot of water, it's the low end of 'green', there's just enough to paddle.

Here's a map, courtesy of my 'new' GPS. It fits neatly under my PFD and I don't notice it's there and it works despite being under foam and my torso.  I had to replace my old Garmin ETrex that died recently with a new one, so I got another ETrex, but the new one (the ETrex 'H') has a much more sensitive antenna.  Good-o!



View Pound bend loop kayak/canoe in a larger map



There you go!


Tomorrow weights with Em and Dino, and on Tuesday we start spin for the winter.  Bring It On!


A pretty good Friday

Riding, paddling ... sweet

Alex Vaughan and I took the MTB's for a blat along the Yarra Trails from Fitzimmons Lane (Westerfolds Park) to somewhere along there and back again for a 2 hour ride in the morning.  It was his first 'real' MTB ride and he had a ball, and so did I on the big Fuel EX8.  He had his new Cannondale Furio (lefty) and it's safe to say he loves it!


View Yarra Trails tootle in a larger map


After that, we took a couple of kayaks for paddle down the Yarra, from (again!) Westerfolds/Fitzimmons Lane down to a park at the bottom of Westerfolds.  Not a bad way to spend the day!

Today's a relaxing day, but I'll be in the 'haus later, lifting heavy - it's a strength phase for the next while.  The aim being to get up to squatting 5 x 5 at 170kg by June.  Today's goal is 5 x 5 @ 157.5kg, I did 5 x 5's at 155kg on Wednesday and did them reasonably well, so I expect the 157.5's won't be out of reach.


View Fitzimmons Lane kayak in a larger map




Hotham was ace

We had a great time up at Hotham

The weather was perfect.  Cool overnight, around 4 or 5 degrees, days were sunny and cool, which made for perfect riding conditions.  Flinty, our Darth Vader crossover rider from the 11:53am-ers was the hard-arse of the weekend, he rode from Marouka to the summit of Mt Buffalo and back on Saturday, and PB'd Hotham from Harrietville on Sunday while the rest of us were flexing back at Dinner Plain basking in the glory of the day before.  HAF!  Shane Miller got KoM with a 1:25 climb, Karen Wiggins was QoM with a new pb by some 30 minutes.  No-one rode to Omeo, no-one hit any cows, no crashes, no hangovers and all smiles for the weekend.  We missed you, Neil! No-one cracked 100km/h.

Photos from the trip are here, thanks to Dino for taking most of the climbing shots.

I drove Dino's and Bev's cars for support for the weekend but did do some sprint work in the morning on Saturday and rode to Dinner Plain and back on Sunday, so got some use out of the bike I took up.  We also did some cross-training on Saturday evening with the sprinters who came up, bounding up the Marouka stairs to the amusement of the enduros sitting inside after their climbs.

Special thanks to Bev and Donna and Rich and Alex for your help on the weekend with logistics and cooking and cleaning up!


Goals for next summer

What to aim for?

I got what I wanted out of summer 2008-2009 on the bike.  I got my flying 200 down below my initial goal (13.5 outdoors) way back in November (round 2 of the sprint series), revised the goal to a 13.2 outdoors, and surprised myself with a 12.916 at DISC on the weekend, which tops the 13.2 outdoors.  So, mission accomplished with interest.

What to do for next summer?  I have a few years left as a MMAS2 rider, so I think the Vic masters sprints are something I'd like to at least make the semi finals of.  To have done that this year I'd have needed to have ridden a 12.5 to get into the top 8.  Possible?  Can I find half a second in a year?  That would also have me riding in the A grade group at the sprint series.  I don't think that's too far out, or too easy.  So for 2009-2010 my main goal is a sub 13s flying 200 outdoors and a 12.5s flying 200 indoors.  I'd also like to squat 5 x 5 at 180kg and get my cleans up to 100kg.

I'd like to get my standing starts quicker so I can be a better asset for the Blackburn masters team sprint as well.  I have no interest in kilos or 750m ITTs for now.  As much as I admire the kilo champions, it's an event that sucks to do.  It's too long to be a sprint (1 minute+ is too much for anaerobic systems) and too short and fast to be an enduro race. It takes a special breed of psycopath to ride the kilo well and I'm not one of them.

I'd also like to keep the aboc website at the top of the google search results for cycle coaching in Australia, so will need to keep on writing articles and hopefully entertaining you all with my writing.  Suggestions for articles and content are much appreciated, please send them on through.  Along the way there's plans to write a book on sprint training for cyclists (yes, I'll be picking the brains of the best around here to do it) and also a guide to bike fit that dispels some of the myths (like KOPS, Lemond methods etc) that will be the product of the experience I've gained fitting hundreds of people at the LBS over the last few years. I'm going to improve the facilities in the PowerHaus (better lighting, more space etc) too.

What else?  Continue to work with the Foxy Ox and to build up aboc as a coaching resource, run more camps up at Hotham, break even on our winter DISC sessions, find a few seconds in Em's legs so she can shine at the Aussies next March and keep on having fun coaching and racing.  To keep on riding with friends as much as I can squeeze in and get my kayak roll working again.  Look at maybe doing a level 2 AS&C or Cycle coaching course if time and budget permit.

Of course, this season isn't over.  Round 6 is in two weeks.  Bring it on!


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