I know. I know.
This is not a cycling book. But, it is a book every cyclist should read. A book everyone needs to read.
Liz Rose is the youngest Canadian to conquer the Seven Summits. Do you know what that means? She has climbed the highest mountain on each of the 7 continents. And, as remarkable as that may be, she did it in less than 3 years, and without previous climbing experience.
Her achievement is truly inspirational. She wrote this book not to gloat about her achievement, but to encourage others to “try new things”, “believe in yourself”, “recognize the beauty around you”. “be present”, and to “give back” no matter your age.
What makes this story even more remarkable, for me at least, is that she is from my home town, also loves the Vancouver Canucks, and once worked for Arc’teryx.
So, if you have unfulfilled dreams, like me, what are you waiting for?
Here’s the thing. Now that I am inside mostly, I do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) regularly. Three times a week currently. I like these workouts. They are not easy, but in the end, I feel confident with the progress I’m making. On the road, it is more difficult to get the same workout in such a short period of time.
This is the problem.
I watched a YouTube video last week that put into question the correct ratio between the HIIT effort and subsequent recovery. I have been using a 1:1 ratio based on advice and reading I have done over the years. The presenter in the video – a fitness and nutrition expert – suggested a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio is more appropriate, arguing that unless you are fully recovered, you will not be able to exert full effort on the next interval turning the workout into more of an aerobic workout.
Have I been doing this all wrong?
In an effort to sort this out, I borrowed The HIIT Bible from the library this week to find out. It was an interesting read, outlining a number of HIIT options, including spinning. The author, Steve Barrett, has extensive experience with several methods. What better place to turn.
Well, he recommends a 1:1 ratio.
I have 2 HIIT workouts I do following a 15-20 minute warm-up. In the first, I do 3 x 7 minutes with a 3 minute recovery between each set. For the second, I do 10 x 30 second efforts with a 30 second recovery between each (a 1:1 ratio).
So, am I doing this correctly?
If you have experience with HIIT, what do you advise?
This is what I woke up to.
A lot of snow. And, it is forecast to continue, and accumulate for weeks.
This is not cycling weather ☹️
In 2018, Phil Burt and Martin Evans published a book entitled “Strength and Conditioning for Cyclists”. They are a physiotherapist and strength trainer respectively that have worked with both the British Cycling Team and Team Skye.
Given this is February, and I have transitioned inside to the gym, I borrowed the book from the library. I had heard of the FMS (Functional Movement Screening) system but never applied it to cycling specifically. This book does just that. It presents a self-assessment program to help you identify cycling specific weaknesses, and a series of exercises to correct them.
First, I read the book from cover to cover. Now, I am revisiting the self-assessment and corrective exercises sections to tailor a personal training program. The book convincing argues that you must first master certain movements – squat, split squat, press up, inverted row, thigh hinge – without using weight before beginning to load them using either an exercise ball or kettle bell. The assessment illustrates where you might have limited range of motion (ROM), or lack of control through the movement, and the corrective exercise enable you to regain the flexibility and strength necessary to cycle faster, longer, and more comfortably.
I was surprised to learn that I have weak upper body strength – I cannot complete a single press up or inverted row with correct form – but excellent leg strength. With the help of the book, I have devised a program that works on these weaknesses without ignoring the other musculature areas.
The authors argue this is a year long, no life long, process, that you need to be continually re-assessing yourself, and adjusting your strength and mobility exercises regularly just as we regularly re-test our FTP.
After years of trying a variety of different strengthening routines, this program makes sense. You first build a base to insure the correct positions and complete range of motion necessary for cycling before beginning to load the exercises. If you are looking for a new strength program, I suggest you give this a try.
I am a cyclist.
I was late to the party – didn’t purchase my first road bike until my early 20’s. I started because I needed to lose weight, and never really stopped. I have trained, toured, commuted, raced, and still enjoy organized, century events.
When I began, I would not have called myself a cyclist. In fact, it is only in recent years that I think that way. For me, a cyclist is someone who is fully committed to becoming leaner, faster, stronger, and more efficient on the bike. Everything I do is tailored to that end. That includes, when, where, and how I train, eat, and sleep. Some say I’m foolish. An addict. Perhaps. But to me, it is a preferred lifestyle; a simpler one that leads to better health, a cleaner environment, and greater appreciation.
Here’s the thing. There is always room for improvement, no matter how good you may think you are, or how old you may be.
Here is a list of my daily habits that continue to make me a leaner, faster, stronger and more efficient cyclist. I only wish I knew about them in my 20’s 😂
- I ride every morning for at least 90-120 minutes (except rest days). The duration doesn’t change often, but the intensity does. Sometimes I do hill repeats at threshold, sprints at VO2 Max, or recovery rides. And sometimes, when the weather doesn’t cooperate, I stay indoors on the spinning bike.
- I strength train every day for at least 15-30 minutes – 100 squats / day, and a variety of progressively more difficult planks. Bodyweight exercises are sufficient for the endurance athlete. If you don’t agree, I suggest you read Strength and Conditioning for Cyclists, Phil Burt and Martin Evans.
- I have adopted a 16/8 intermittent fasting regimen to maintain an optimum cycling weight. I know of no better, or faster, method to reduce weight.
- I always break the fast with a bowl of oatmeal – steel cut oats, a sliced banana, blueberries, and a tablespoon of peanut butter. There are a lot of benefits but what I like it has a high GI, and is sustaining. This way, I only need 2 meals a day – “Following training an athlete’s glycogen stores are depleted. In order to replenish them, the athlete needs to consider the speed at which carbohydrate is converted into blood glucose and transported to the muscles. The rapid replenishment of glycogen stores is important for the athlete. The rise in blood glucose levels is indicated by foods Glycaemic Index (GI) and the faster and higher the blood glucose rises the higher the GI. Studies have shown that consuming high GI carbohydrates (approximately 1grm per kg body) within 2 hours after exercise speeds up the replenishment of glycogen stores and therefore speeds up recovery time.“
- I maintain a regular bed time routine that results in at least 7-8 hours of sleep every day.
- I rest at least 1 day / week. I learned this way too late, and still have trouble with overtraining.
- I watch GCN (and numerous other YouTube channels) to hone my training, climbing, descending, and sprinting skills. I have never had a coach, but if I were to do it again, I would have gotten at least some coaching in my earlier years.
This is what I have learned after 4 decades of cycling – consistency is key, and training, nutrition, and sleep are equally important, interdependent, and inextricably linked.
Do you want to become a cyclist?
I have added a new menu labelled “Cycling Books” where I list books that have influenced me over the years. The list is by no means complete. I have read many more books over the years. This list only includes books I currently have. Going forward, I will continue to add books that I enjoy. If you have others that you have enjoyed, please leave the title(s) in the comments below.
I’d better get use to this.
It’s cold. Too cold to enjoy cycling outside. -1C. And, apparently it is here to stay.
I know. I know. I’m a wimp. I know many of you ride in colder, harsher weather. I used to as well. But my focus has changed. I ride to train. And I can’t train effectively when I’m cold, and the roads are slippery. Instead, I prefer to stay inside on the spinning bike.
Today, I walked to the gym, did a 45 minute endurance spin averaging 150-200 watts.
Call me a wimp if you like, but I got a more effective workout in. This month, the forecast is for cold, wet weather.
I’ll get out on the bikes when it is dry, and warmer (5C or higher).