Thursday, January 06, 2011

Sport Specific Training

I heard a little interesting news the other day. My gym is moving to the other side of town, and they are dropping their boot camp, as well as the kids programs, and a few other things. All of the associate instructors are going to be let go, and the head instructor will be teaching all of the Muay Thai, BJJ and MMA classes. JKD will also still be taught on a private basis.

Things change, and business is tough all around. The head instructor has joined with another gym to share space. The gym he will be sharing space with has cardio equipment - it is almost like one of those 24 hour fitness joints. In fact, there will be a new membership option where you can access the gym 24/7 with your key card, and use all of the equipment like a health club, along with the gyms kickbags and other training aids.

I actually end up on the winning end of this deal. Frankly I hated the little kids there - they were a distraction at times. I still get to train MT with the best instructor in the region. I do lose my strength training classes at the end of February.

But that isn't all bad. I still have until the end of February to figure out what I am going to do, which is plenty of time. I think I already have a pretty good plan.

At the end of last year I joined a health club that had a pretty good deal going on. I did this because even though last year I ran outside all winter I couldn't do that this year because of one major reason. I am going to France in June to ride my bike in the Pyranees and I am scared sh*tless of breaking my ankle/leg running on snow/ice. For a nominal fee I am able to use an indoor track and treadmills in the winter. Along with this, there are the other things that I can do, such as weights, steam room, you name it. I have found out that I enjoy heading out there quite a bit. I even got into a pickup game of hoops last week, and that was great.

I hadn't shot hoops in a very long time, and I am so much stronger now than I used to be. It sounds funny, but the basketball felt so light compared to how it used to feel. No, I wasn't using a womens basketball. Working out will do that to you.

So I have been reading about strength training for cyclists on the internets. It has been interesting. There are two camps. One says do it, the other says not to. I am not really a competitive cyclist and I enjoy the benefits strength training brings to me with my other sports. Note I am saying strength training and NOT bodybuilding. There is a huge difference.

I need to maintain my long and lean body for my cardio activities - extra muscle weighs me down. Muscle weighs more than fat. To digress a bit, this is why when you say "I am going to lose 20 pounds" that this isn't necessarily a good goal. As you muscle up, you may look great but the scale may not say so. Body fat percentage is a better way to go. But enough of the digression.

Most likely I will create my own strength training program from info gleaned from the 'tubes and run with that. Some sites have strength training set up specifically for cyclists so I will just copy some of these workouts and tailor them to my needs. They have all of the equipment at the health club (and they are open 24/7/365 so it won't be a problem to fit it into my routine.

As I was saying earlier, too much muscle would intrude bigtime on my running and biking. I do reap benefits of strength training at my farm, at work and in the other athletic activities that I am in. I think it is a great part of being an all around athlete. I will never win cardio contests in my age group (although I consistently place in the top 25%) but I am happy to sacrifice that for the piece of fitness that strength gives me.

I was reminded of this last weekend when I got into a discussion with a young woman who is trying out for the US bobsled team. Her shoulders, back and arms were pretty big. I asked her about her training and it is all quick blasts, plyometrics, and things of that nature, along with strength training. They do zero cardio work unless they need to lose weight. There is a maximum weight for bobsledders (I think she said 175 pounds). The woman told me that the US training is light years behind countries that take this sort of thing seriously like the Germans. It was a good conversation and I got the same sort of "you have an arm growing out of your head" look from her that I have gotten from many others when I tell her about my training regimen.

I like conversations like this one. It is fascinating to hear about how others train and really interesting to hear about sport specific training. I am an advocate of being an all around athlete and that is what I will be forever. I could certainly be a competitive amateur cyclist or runner, but that isn't what I am after.


Carl from Chicago said...

Ha ha ha

You are in "the top 25%" of the cardio group

Compared to who? Olympic athletes?

You are in the top fraction of 1% of cardio by virtually any measure

Dan from Madison said...

You read that wrong - or I wrote it wrong. I meant to say that of those who I compete with in my age group I finish in the top 25%.

Carl from Chicago said...

OK that makes sense

Chris said...

I appreciate your help and insight, as I join the thousands of people attempting to make good on the "get in shape" resolution.

Dan from Madison said...

any questions ever, just drop me a line Chris