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MTBCoach Official Training Partner for Mudslinger Events

We are excited to announce that MTBCoach is the official training partner for Mudslinger Events.  Mudslinger Events promotes premier cycling and running races in Oregon.  MTBCoach will provide coaching, training plans, nutrition guidance and race preparation for Mudslinger Events.

In addition, between now and Jan 31, MTBCoach athletes that sign up for the High Cascades 100 or Oregon MTB 24 will receive 15% off their entry fee. Also anybody that signs up for these events also get 10% off MTBCoach Basic, Personal or Premium coaching package the first 3 months of coaching.

High Cascades 100

Annual Endurance Mountain Bike event on the third Saturday in July with 70 Miles of Singletrack and amazing support for your High Cascades 100 Finish! 

Oregon 24

SOLO, Team of 2,4,5 or Corporate for 24 Hrs or 12 hrs for select SOLO or DUO participants. Ride under the stars in Central Oregon the weekend after labor day in Bend!

About Mudslinger Events LLC

Since 2003 Mudslinger Events LLC has been producing cycling related events with a focus on adventure. Mudslinger Events LLC, founded by Mike Ripley who grew up in Eugene, Oregon riding the Urban trails in the Eugene area in the early 80’s.

Mudslinger Events LLC serves on two nonprofit boards and with 3000 annual participants contributes an estimated 1.5 million to the statewide economy focused on recreation and participatory sports in the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon. 

About MTBCoach LLC

Founded in 2008, MTBCoach is focused on providing the most current and tested tools, techniques, and resources to create training plans and deliver personalized coaching to help you improve your results. We specialize in coaching and consulting for athletes who are racing and training for road, mountain bike, triathlon,  endurance events including Gran Fondos, Centuries, Road Races, Cross-Country (XC), Endurance, and Ultra-Endurance, sprint, olympic and iron distance triathlons .

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Why Train With Power?

stages-meter-carbon
Stages Cycling Power Meter

You’ve been training for years with heart rate and you’ve been successful. You have reached your goals and been confident in your training plans. So why would you want to start training with power? What is all the fuss about power meters? And why should you put it at the top of your holiday gift list?

To get ready for any competitive event you must train. In order to train precisely for a given event you must know exactly what the demands of the event might be. With a power meter you can do just that. You can replicate the demands of an event from BOTH a duration and intensity perspective. Power meters reflect the amount of work you are doing at a given moment. Heart rate in contrast does not.

So what to I mean by that? For example, when you are climbing a hill your heart rate climbs steadily but likely your speed and power remain constant. When you crest the top and start descending; your power plummets while you heart rate lags behind. It can even increase for a bit before you start your descent. That is not an accurate picture of the work you are doing. Make sense? Power reacts rights away; there are no lags in its reaction.

Power is a direct reflection of performance while heart rate is a reflection of what an athlete is experiencing at a given time. Heart tells us more about our effort rather than our performance. And this is the fundamental difference between the two measures. Performance is what is rewarded in racing, not effort.

Heart rate also fluctuates due to many other factors, not just the work you are doing on your bike. Heart rate is affected by temperature, hydration and how recovered you are from a previous effort and sometimes illness (either before or after).

So once you get that power meter for the holidays, should you throw out your heart rate monitor? Absolutely NOT! You can use both measures together to gain more insight into your aerobic fitness. For example, as you continue to train your aerobic engine, you will begin to notice the relationship between heart and power. This is especially important in the base phase of training. As you train with a power meter over the course of time, hopefully you will notice that your output, or power, climbs while your effort (heart rate) stays lower. You mays be riding in heart rate zone 2, but your power reflects level 3. This tells you that your fitness in increasing. And that, my friends, is exactly what we want to know.

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Nutrition for Endurance Training and Racing

Nutrition for Endurance Training and Racing

Nutrition for Endurance Training and RacingProper nutrition for endurance training and racing is critical to achieving your training, racing and recovery goals.   There are many foods you can eat to help you perform at your best and keep you energized and ready to train.   Nutrition for endurance training and racing is not easy and takes practice to get it right for your particular needs. In this post I describe some best practices and food suggestions to help you through your training and racing.

Daily Nutrition

Daily nutrition is what you need  day to day for balanced diet to perform, and rebuild.   You want to eat foods that will repair your body from the workouts as well as prepare for your next workout or event.

  • Supplements are recommended to support your immune system and recovery. I recommend 1000 mg Vitamin C, 4000IU D, and a multi-vitamin
  • Stay away from or limit inflammatory foods, such as refined sugars, grains and dairy.  Instead eat fruit, potatoes, rice and almond, soy or coconut milk.  Inflammatory foods hinder your recovery and increase soreness.  Consider gluten free foods which non-inflammatory.
  • Nitrate oxide rich foods have great nutrients like antioxidants and vitamins to support your stressed system, but what I like most about them is the Nitrate Oxide that helps deliver more oxygen to the muscles that provides more strength and endurance.   Nitrate Oxide rich foods include: kale, spinach, beets or beet juice/powder.
  • MCT oils are in sources of saturated fat that provide great energy for endurance sessions.  MCT oils feed the mitochondria (powers the cells in your muscles) increasing your endurance and power.   Examples of MCT sources include avocado and avocado oil, coconut oil and raw olive oil.   
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids reduce inflammation but also improves the delivery of oxygen.  Examples of Omega 3 rich foods include egg yolks, chia or hemp seeds, raw walnuts and  some fish like wild salmon or fish oil suplement.
  • Hydration helps the food digest and affects performance and recovery.   General rule is 0.5 oz per pound body weight.  For example a 160lb person needs 80oz of water day.
  • Carbohydrate are the main fuel source for endurance athletes.  The amount of carbohydrates need depends on the type of training you are doing.

    Type of Training

    Daily Carb Needs per Pound

    (per pound body weight)
    Moderate duration and low intensity 2.3 to 3.2 grams per pound
    Moderate- to heavy-training load and high intensity 3 to 4.5 grams per pound
    Extreme training and high-intensity races (longer than 4 to 5 hours) > 3.6 to 5.5 grams per pound
  •  Protein is used to build and repair the muscles and provide a small amount of energy.  Consuming protein during exercise may cause GI issues or an upset stomach, so take caution.   Protein consumption depends on the type of training you are doing.

    Type of Training

    Daily Protein Needs per Pound

    (per pound body weight)
    Light to moderate training 0.55 to 0.8 grams per pound

 Sample meal plan for a for a day of moderate training 1-2 hour session

  • Breakfast
    •  1 serving Greek Yogurt with chia seeds and ground almonds and walnuts. Maybe add granola if training early in day
    •  2 whole eggs and toast with nut butter if training later in the day
    • 2-3 cups coffee
  • Pre-training snack if more than two hours since last meal.
  • Lunch (after training)
  • Dinner
    • Big Mixed Salad – kale and spinach and other raw vegetables with olive oil and vinegar dressing, or 1/2 plate vegetables
    • Lean Protein free range beef, buffalo, chicken or wild fish
    • 1 serving starch (rice, potato etc) if big training planned the next day (skip for weight loss)

Nutrition for Recovery

Recovery nutrition is the most important after training.  You need to send fuel back to the muscles 30 minutes after a workout to start the replentishmet and repair of the muscles.  A proper refuel will reduce soreness and start the repair to be ready for the next workout.  After each of my workouts I recommend a Recovery Smoothie, it’s fast to prepare, tastes great and feeds the body the nutrients to be ready for the next workout.   If you are unable to make the smoothie then I recommend using Infinit Nutrition Repair with almond or coconut milk.

Pre-Race Nutrition

Being properly fueled for your event is critical to it’s success.  The event demands a great more energy than your normal training and you’ll want to fuel it properly.   Here are some tips on top of the daily nutrition you can apply when fueling for a big training day or an event.

  • add an additional 25-50g carbohydrates of non-gluten starches, (potato, rice, gluten free pasta) 1 – 2 days before the event.  
  • 1 serving Beet juice each day during the week of an event
  • Pre-Race Smoothie 1.5-2hrs before the event
  • 24-32 oz water

During Race Nutrition

As you may know, staying fueled for endurance events is one of the most challenging aspects of the sport.  You can do all the training, hit all the power or pace targets but during the race you fall short of your goals and it’s probably because you didn’t fuel properly during the event.    Not only do you need to stay on top of calories but you need to stay hydrated.  Dehydration will lead to elevated Heart Rate, reduced power, head ache and stomach ache and possibly DNF.  Here are some tips to guide you to successful fueling.

  • For events less than 3hrs 45-60g carbohydrates per hour
  • Events longer than 3-6hrs 50-70g carbohydrates per hour
  • Events longer than 6+hrs 60-80g carbohydrates per hour
  • 16-24 oz of water per hour
  • Start eating and drinking the first hour.  Don’t risk a fuel deficit, you’ll likely pay for it later with a DNF
  • I recommend keeping fueling simple by including the calories in the fluid.  I recommend Infinit Nutrition because you can customize the drink mix to meet your body and event needs.
  • Include Electrolytes to help keep the muscles firing full strength, and limit risk of dehydration
  • For events longer than 3hrs include Amino Acids
  • Practice, Practice, practice your nutrition plan prior to your event
  • Don’t try try new fuel at events.  I’ve heard too many stories about people deviating from their plan and eating something new that caused an upset stomach or a DNF.

More Information

Proper nutrition for endurance training and racing is critical to your athletic success.  To help you further with your endurance goals our Basic, Personal and Premium coaching plans include at no additional cost detailed nutrition guides developed by our nutrition  partner, Kelli Jennings RD at Apex Nutrition.  These guides will give you the details you need to use fuel to perform your best.

Other Resources

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Base Training Does Not Have to Mean Boring

MTB Base Training

img_1024As fall and winter draw near often so does the prospect on hanging up the racing cleats and heading into transition and base phases of your annual training plan. Maybe you are already starting to dream as I am of racing The Growler, a 64 mile mountain bike epic that takes place on May 28th, 2017. And you may be asking yourself; do I really need to start thinking about training for that NOW????? Well, I hate to break it to you, but the long and short answer is YES!

Maybe not today or tomorrow, but soon…the normal base period for an athlete leading up to an A-priority race is about 24 weeks. Fourteen of which are dedicated to base training. This certainly can be shorter for an athlete who races year round or has been racing and training for a long time. But for many of us mere mortals, this phase is instrumental in improving general fitness. In a nutshell the goals of this phase are increasing aerobic and muscular endurance, honing skills and focusing on cadence and speed. Below are a couple of example workouts you can do during the base phase of your season.

Aerobic Endurance: Ride steady in the heart rate zone 2 for two plus hours. This may be harder than you think and require a long easy hill with a steady incline. Your power can fluctuate on this ride, but your heart should stay consistent.

Skill Drills: Take your bike out into a field with a few tennis balls or empty soda cans. Scatter them around them around the open space and practice picking them up off the grass. Make sure to use both hands. This will help improve your balance and ability to compensate for unplanned shifts in body weight. Even better, bring a group of friends out to the field and race to grab the items, whoever gets the most wins.

Cadence Workout: During a given ride plan several cadence intervals. Using an easy gear, increase your cadence to a level that is just slightly uncomfortable for a fixed period of time. Recover for several minutes between intervals pedaling at your normal pace. Over the course of several weeks continue to stretch out the duration of these intervals. This will improve your pedaling efficiency.

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The aspect I most love about base training is the testing! I would suggest a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) test as least three times in your base training phase. It is likely, if you are training right, you will have the pleasure of watching your FTP rise over the course of these 14 weeks. You will also likely see an improvement of how much power you can produce at a given heart rate (as long as you are able to control variables that might contribute to heart rate change like heat, caffeine or the amount of overall rest before each test). In order for a test to be reliable it must be repeated in the exact same manner each time. For example, I would suggest you perform your test on the same road or trail, at the same time of day, with the same pre-test meal and with the same amount of rest leading up to the test. Any deviation in these variables makes the test less reliable.

So go ahead and enjoy this long base training phase. Enjoy the cold and the snow, enjoy the quiet trails and roads and remember what you do now will pay dividends on race day. It won’t last forever and once you hit your build block, you will be FIT and ready to get FAST.

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Welcome Associate Coach Erin Johnson

Endurance Cycling Coach. MTB and Road training and racing.
Coach Erin
Coach Erin

I’m pleased to announce that we have added another coach to our fast growing coaching group. Coach Erin Johnson brings another perspective to training. As a mom she knows the demands of a busy schedule and how to balance training and racing to be successful.

I first meet Erin 3 years ago when she contacted us to coach her. Unfortunately we never started as she has  endured many health issues that kept her from lining up.  As a lifetime athlete, coaches have inspired her through out her life and since she hasn’t been able to train and race, she wanted to help others with her vast knowledge of endurance racing.

Erin Johnson is a USA cycling Level 2 certified coach and former professional level Ultra Distance Mountain Bike Racer currently living in Louisville, Colorado. She has completed more than a dozen 100-mile races including Leadville, Breckenridge (her favorite) and the Hundo. In addition, she landed on the podium five times. Erin comes from a strong endurance background competing in ultra running and adventure racing before finding her love for epic days on bike.

In 2009 Erin took some time off and was subsequently plagued by injuries and illness. Five years and eight surgeries later, she retired from racing. During this time she had to go from the hospital to six-hour training rides on several occasions. She understands what it feels like to be down and have to build yourself back up again and again…not just your body, but your mind too.

As a working mom Erin also understands the demands of family and life on an athlete. She specializes in maximizing a client’s time getting the most “bang for the buck”. She is passionate about training; racing and helping athletes reach their goals whether you race for the podium or just to finish in “good style”.

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MTB Stage Race Strategy

stage race strategy Endurance Cycling Coach. MTB and Road training and racing.

Stage Racing is fun and challenging.  For some it can be one of the most rewarding events they’ll ever do.  There are a number of stages races with different characteristics including  Breck Epic, Pisgah Stage Race, Moab Rocks, Trans-Sylvania Epic (TSE) Leadville MTB Stage Race, BC Bike Race, Single Track 6, Trans Andes Challenge or the TransRockies Classic and SingleTrack 6.  While some of these races have long grinding high elevation stages, some are shorter with lots of technical demanding single track. No matter which event you are planning you’ll want to follow  the MTB stage race strategy to get the most out of your body and race.

Prepare

MTB Stage Race Strategy
Prep for the 7 day TransRockies Classic

Preparation is critical for getting through a stage race.  Everyone racing is going to suffer, but starting under prepared the level of suffering is going to be much higher and less manageable, maybe not even fun. Depending on the length and terrain your skills and fitness needs will vary.  Your training should start at least six months prior to the event.  See our our MTB Stage Race training plans.  We suggest starting with the Base plan 24 weeks before the start of the race.  Once the Base plan is complete start the Build plan 12 weeks before the start of the event.

There are a number of things to consider in your preparation

  • Skills – For a single track heavy or technical course work on your handling skills.   Get out on the trail, building your fitness mostly on the road or gravel isn’t going to help you bomb down hills, zig-zag through trees and maneuver rock sections.
  • Build your TSS – A 6 day stage race like Breck Epic or the 7 day TransRockies Classic are hard and long.  I’ve seen TSS of 200 and higher each day.  That’s around 1200 to 1500 for the week.  Most people don’t get a enough time to build that much TSS in training.  Over the six month period it’s important to slowly build up your weekly TSS. A good measure is to increase TSS by 10% each week except rest weeks.  Rest weeks reduce to 40-50% from the previous week.
  • Build your CTL – You should try to get your CTL as high as you can, but you need to make sure you are resting at the same time.  A proper balance is critical.  A CTL of 80-100 is good before you start your taper leading into the event.  A good measure it to increase CTL by 3-5 each week except rest weeks.  Rest weeks should reduce the CTL by 5-10.
  • Mock Stage Race – In your training plan include a mock stage race.  During this mock stage race, practice your pre/during/post ride fueling and recovery techniques.  Include training sessions that include the terrain and trail types you’ll be racing on. Because you’ll probably have all your other commitments like family, work etc.  It will be difficult to do the same time and intensity of the race.  Instead reduce the time and effort of each session.  Adding at least one mock stage race of 3-5 days a few weeks before your event will help boost your CTL.
  • Start the race recovered.  The week or two before the race keep the volume low.  Take some extra days off.  Use the time to get your plan in place for travel and equipments etc.  Your TSB should be positive, our recommendation would to start the race with a TSB of 40 or higher.
  • There is no better training for a race then racing.   Racing will build some fitness, but will get your body used to the demands you can’t get in training.   Practice your fueling and gear choices.

Pacing

You’ll want to be mindful of your pace.  I recommending limiting your time in of the zone 5.  Some short spikes are ok, but the more time you put in zone 5 or higher the more matches you are burning.  Save your matches for when you really need them.  Zone 2 and Zone 3 are safe zones to get through a stage race, but you won’t be fast.  If you are looking for speed you’ll want to be in zone 3-4 and be able to burst into and above zone 5.  This means you’ll need to put the training in to allow for the demands of high intensity racing over many days.

Race Fueling

Another MTB stage race strategy includes your daily racing fuel.  A pre-race meal that is quick to digest and provides the right amount of fuel will make for much better race.  Combined with good fueling during the race, you should be able to have enough energy day after day.

For your pre-race meal we recommend the Apex Nutrition Pre-Training Smoothie. You can customize the ingredients to your liking and include add-ons for additional hrs you expect to be racing.  It digests fast, so you don’t need to wake up early to get a big meal in.  Consume 1-1.5hrs before the start of the event.

For race fuel you need extra calories in the form of Carbohydrates.  The extra fuel helps keep the glucose levels up throughout the race.  After working with Apex Nutrition Kelli recommended adding about 20% more carbohydrates to the race fuel.  This can be in liquid form or solids.  Kelli also recommended including 5000mg of l-glutamine to liquid fuel to reduce muscle ache and support recovery.

Recovery

If there is one thing to focus on during the race that would be recovery.   How fast you can recover between the finish of the last stage and start of the next stage is critical.  The faster you get through the race the sooner you can start your recovery.  The longer you are out on the trail the more stress you build and the more recovery you’ll need.

Train-Recover-Repeat
Train-Recover-Repeat

Recovery techniques may include:

  • Rest and sleep are critical to recovery.  You’ll want 8+ hours sleep between stages and a nap post stage.
  • Massage using a foam roller and/or using a masseuse or compression boots such as Elevated Legs will clear the waste out of you legs and make the fresh for the next stage.
  • Stretching the lower back quads, hamstrings etc.  Yoga is a good option as well.
  • Keep up on pre and post race Hydration and electrolytes.  Dehydration can reduce performance and impact recovery.  We suggest keeping up with your normal hydration practice of 90-100oz of water a day  and 1-2 electrolytes tab products from Hammer, Nuun, Gu or others.
  • Recovery Fuel
    • A post recovery drink like an Apex Nutrition Smoothie, or Infinite Nutrition Repair.  Add 5000mg l-glutamine to the smoothie or repair.  Consume within 30min of the stage finish.
    • 1 serving of beet juice Pre or Post race will help carry more oxygen to the muscles promote faster recovery.
    • Lean protein in a Lunch and Dinner
    • Replace glucose with good carbs such as sweet potato, rice, grains and fruit and vegetables
    • Reduce inflammation by avoiding  gluten, dairy, sugar sugar products

Rest after the event

Before lining up for your next event you’ll want to take some time off the bike.  A stage race accumulates a great deal of stress to the body, both mental and physical.  We recommend 1 week total rest before light training can start again and at least three weeks before entering a race.

MTBCoach offers coaching to guide you through your first stage race, or get your personal best.  Check out our coaching programs for the package that fits your budget and needs.

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What is Up with Cycling Orthotics?

cycling orthotics

What is Up with Cycling Orthotics?
By Ben Stein, MS
For MTBCOACH.COM

For those of you that are unaware of the use of cycling orthotics, they are used along with proper bike fits, cleat alignment, and shims, to adjust body alignment with the geometry of the bike with the intent to improve power and decrease risk of injury. Some orthotics companies even claim to be ergonomically designed and “scientifically tested” to increase power output, endurance, and comfort by optimizing hip, knee, and foot alignment (Specialized, n.d). There is literature on the internet that speaks to these claims and discusses the use of cycling orthotics but little empirical evidence exists to support such claims (Jeffrey, n.d; Zin, 2013, Specialized, n.d). In this blog post I will attempt to gather the research and try to clarify these claims.

What the Research Says:
There is limited investigations into the effects of cycling orthotics and in-shoe wedges used during cycling (Yeo, 2014). Currently, most evidence points to the benefits of orthotics and wedges through increase of contact area under the foot and plantar pressures under the first metatarsal (big toe), but this research has shown no benefit in gains in power (Yeo, 2014; Koch, 2013). Based on the most up to date available evidence, there are no definitive benefits of cycling orthotics on lower body kinematics, oxygen consumption and the effects on power during cycling (Yeo, 2014).

Furthermore, in their investigation of cycling orthotics effect on knee kinematics, Meyers et al. (2015) found that orthotics have minimal impact on lateral knee kinematics. When investigating carbon insoles during a Wingate test (max power output), Koch (2013) determined that there was no significant difference between the control, soft insole, and carbon insole. Additionally, as sited by Callaghan (2005), nearly 30 years ago, it was determined that full length or rear-foot orthotics are often inappropriate in cycling because they are incapable of preventing abnormal knee motion at a high power output.

So What is Up with Cycling Orthotics?:
As the research points out cycling orthotics provide little evidence that they can decrease cycling related injuries or increase power output. Although there is not strong evidence for benefits in cycling mechanics and output, I can personally attest that can optimize comfort in the shoe. I have a pair of custom cycling orthotics (Foot Dynamics, Boise, ID) and feel that the added comfort they provide does benefit me. I put my orthotics into a pair of Bont, heat molded, cycling shoes and feel like my foot is one with the shoe and have very little extra movement. This is most likely the common conclusion for cycling orthotics (Yeo, 2014).

What if I Have an Injury:
In my opinion, cycling injuries are typically due to overuse or a muscle imbalances. Cycling injuries can be due to muscle imbalances in the hips which can lead to misalignment while pedaling. In a recent blog post I touched on exercises to help improve power and decrease injury (link). However, if you are having pain in your feet or feel that you have some over rotation of the tibia caused by over pronation or supination of the foot ,it is best to consult a trained podiatrist or professional foot person 😉

Take Home:
Custom and semi-custom foot orthotics (Specialized, Surefoot) may help re-align the foot, in the shoe, on the pedal and may assist with increased comfort. The three spots On the Bike that the body is in constant contact with: the hands, seat, and the feet; orthotics can play a small role in pedaling mechanics and comfort. However, more research is needed into whether the use of cycling orthotics will decrease the risk of injury, increase power output, and/or improve body mechanics while cycling (Callaghan, 2005; Yeo, 2014).

References

Callaghan, M. J. (2005). Lower body problems and injury in cycling. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 9(3), 226-236.

Jeffrey, S. (n.d.). Orthotics for Cycling | CyclingTips. Retrieved March 04, 2016, from http://cyclingtips.com/2009/04/orthotics-for-cycling/

Koch, M., Frohlich, M., Emrich, E., & Urhausen, A. (2013). The impact of carbon insoles in cycling on performance in the wingate anaerobic test. Journal of Science and Cycling, 2(2), 2-5.

O’Neill, B. C., Graham, K., Moresi, M., Perry, P., & Kuah, D. (2011). Custom formed orthoses in cycling. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 14(6), 529-534.

Specialized: Body Geometry SL Footbeds. (n.d.). Retrieved March 04, 2016, from https://www.specialized.com/us/en/shoes/parts/body-geometry-sl-footbeds/105622

Yeo, B. K., & Bonanno, D. R. (2014). The effect of foot orthoses and in-shoe wedges during cycling: A systematic review. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research J Foot Ankle Res, 7(1), 31.

Zinn, L. (2013). Reviewed: Solestar, Footbalance orthotics – VeloNews.com. Retrieved March 04, 2016, from http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/10/bikes-and-tech/custom-orthotics-offer-support-where-its-needed_304804

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Want to increase power on the bike? One option is to build strength in the hips.

 

By Ben Stein, MS

 

In the many bike fits that I have performed over the last few years, I have noted countless instances of knee adduction and abduction while pedaling. Adduction is movement toward the midline of the body and abduction is movement away from the midline of the body. These movements can sometimes come from the feet (usually an easy fix with orthotics), from a belly getting in the way of pedaling (abduction), or can come from weakness in the hips (adduction). Either way, this type of pedaling can lead to overuse injuries or ineffective cycling mechanics. Strengthening the hips can make a big difference in pedaling mechanics, decreasing injuries, and improving power.

When we typically think of the muscles involved in pedaling, the quadriceps and hamstrings get most of our attention. However, the muscles of the hips are a third area that helps to generate a cyclists power. During the off-season, I highly suggest that athletes get into the weight room and work on the specific imbalances that have been identified by a coach or trainer. One of the imbalances that I see regularly during my bike fits is weakness in the hip and thigh muscles, specifically the medial and lateral muscles of the leg. This weakness often leads to ineffective knee movement.

There are two lateral muscles of the hip joint that contribute to abduction: the gluteus medium and the gluteus minimus. The gluteus medium’s major function is hip abduction, and assists with hip flexion, internal rotation, extension and external rotation. The gluteus minimus’s major function is hip abduction and internal rotation, assisting with flexion, and hip extension.
There are four medial muscles of the hip joint that contribute to hip adduction: Adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, and the gracilis. The adductor longus performs adduction of the hip and assists with flexion and external rotation. The adductor brevis major function is adduction of the hip and assists with external rotation and flexion. Adductor magnus has two parts that adducts, flexes, and externally rotates the hip joint, and adducts, extends, and internally rotates the hip joint. The gracilis adducts and flexes the hip joint. What!?! That is a lot of movement around the hip joint.

The hip joint is classified as a triaxial joint, meaning it can move in all three planes of motion. If one of these muscles is stronger then the other, then this can create a muscle imbalance. A muscle imbalance is when one group of muscles becomes stronger then the opposing muscle group. Muscle imbalances can often lead to pain and poor posture. Now you can see they do a lot and why its a good reason to strengthen them and keep them balanced!

Below are a few exercises that can help stabilize your hips and may improve your pedaling:

Remember, soft knees and breath.

1: The Step Down: Step sideways off of a stair or step keeping the hips level. Watch for the standing knee moving inward and do not use opposite leg for assistance. Bend the knee and touch the floor with the heel, then back up. Repeat 2-3 sets 12-15 repetitions alternating legs. When performing this exercise you should feel it just above stepping down hip, in the butt.

IMG_1405_Step 1  IMG_1406_Step 2  IMG_1407_Step3  IMG_1408_Step 4
2: Theraband Hip Adduction: With threaband (or strap from machine) around ankle, and leg starting outward around a 30 degree angle, move leg towards the body. Repeat 2-3 sets 12-15 repetitions. When doing these you should feel them inner thigh. Try to not use assistance and work on balance.

IMG_1394_Add 1 IMG_1395_Add 2

3: Theraband Hip Extension: With theraband (or strap from machine) around ankle, push leg behind you while keeping knee straight, but not locked. Repeat 2-3 sets 12-15 repetitions. When doing these you should feel them in the butt. Be sure to keep pelvis square.

IMG_1400_Hip Ext 1 IMG_1404_Hip Ext 2

3: Theraband Hip Abduction: With theraband (or strap from machine) around ankle, move leg out to your side, about 30 degrees, while keeping the knee straight, but not locked. Repeat 2-3 sets 12-15 repetitions. These are the best! When performing these you will feel them upper butt, keep pelvis square.

IMG_1392_Abd 1  IMG_1393_Abd 2
4: Theraband Hip Flexion: With theraband (or strap from machine) wrapped around ankle, kick the leg forward keeping it straight. This exercise is more likely to assist with hip flexion strength. Repeat 2-3 sets 12-15 repetitions. Keep the pelvis square and you may feel these in the quadriceps.

IMG_1396_Hip Flex IMG_1397_Hip Flex 2

Other exercise suggestions include clams, side bridge hip abduction, and side bridge. These exercises and more can be found at http://www.exrx.net. I would also recommend getting a bike fit from a professional bike fitter (someone skilled in kinetic anatomy). You can also try riding in front a mirror to watch your knee movements. Most importantly, practice resistance training and start strengthening those hips!

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Take a deep breath and be mindful

Take a deep breath and be mindful
By: Ben Stein, MS, ACSM EP/CET
ben@mtbcoach.com

Recently, I was taking part in the “Turkey Cross” cyclocross race in beautiful Eagle, ID. Since I was racing later in the day, I was able to do a fair share of heckling. Most of my race heckling was done on the “run up”, a roughly 40-50 yard 150+ hill climb! Easily rideable by the strong riders… or the 15 year old female cyclist that challenged me to ride over the barrier at the bottom in addition to riding UP the hill! But that’s another blog post regarding pride and racing strategy.

Needless to say, the run up was the most difficult part of the course that day. While heckling, I noticed some racers were holding their breath while running up and over the small but difficult hill. “Not breathing” I thought? During this short burst up the hill the racers were performing what I could compare to the “valsalva maneuver”. Surely not in cycling, this is a weight lifters action, or so I thought. The valsalva maneuver occurs when a person tries to exhale while the mouth, nose, and glottis are closed and causing the blood pressure to increase (Wilmore, 2004). While I can probably write a few pages about the importance of oxygen during prolonged aerobic activity, I came to the conclusion that most endurance athletes already understand the importance of oxygen for muscle activation and metabolic processes. Thus, I believe that when an endurance athlete holds their breath it’s because they are performing an extremely strenuous action, like pushing their bike up and over a steep hill in a mountain bike or cyclocross event. Leading to the purpose of this blog… to remind athletes the importance of their breathing.

Or, what I like to tell my athletes “be mindful of your breathing.” The obvious reasons are to continue with oxygen delivery to our muscles but the practice of mindfulness is something few athletes are aware of. Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present, or what is happening now (Dixit)! Take a breath right now, take three. You are now practicing being mindful. When you are mindful, you are able to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment (Dixit). But this practice can also keep you in the “now” which can be very important during difficult physical activity.

An article, Psychology Today: The Art of Now: Six Steps to Living in the Momentspoke to this idea of mindfulness. I found the most important take away for athletes from this article is that “you are not your thoughts.” I have started trying to take this focus to my personal races. In order to improve on performance, one must stop thinking about it during the event. Stop worrying about getting up the hill, but rather be present during the climb and breath.

An athlete’s performance can be hindered by negative actions. One of these negative actions is not breathing and holding your breath for short periods of time. Thus, taking a moment during your next race to be mindful of your thoughts and actions could positively affect your performance. The art of practicing positive thinking and being more in the moment may indeed be the key to a racers success. This can be said for both the amateur and professional athlete, if you are out there for fun then tell yourself “this is fun” or for the more seasoned rider the simple act of focusing on the racer in front of you and providing yourself positive feedback, like “get that guy” or “I am going to work hard and catch that person” can really change the way your race ends. You may still not do as well as you want in the race… most of us really never meet our own expectations, but mindfulness could make a race just a little more rewarding. Either way, we should all strive to be a little bit more in the moment, and learn to just breath.

References

Wilmore, Jack H., and David L. Costill. Physiology of Sport and Exercise. 3rd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2004.
Dixit, Jay. “The Art of Now: Six Steps to Living in the Moment.” Psychology Today. 1 Nov. 2008. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

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Welcome Associate Coach Ben Stein

Endurance Cycling Coach. MTB and Road training and racing. MTBCoach Ben Stein Training plans, 100 mile training plan, stage race training plan, 50 mile training plan
MTBCoach Ben Stein Training plans, 100 mile training plan, stage race training plan, 50 mile training plan
Coach Ben

MTBCoach is proud to announce the addition of Associate Coach Ben Stein.  Ben comes to us with a wealth of experience and education in exercise science and physiology.  Ben’s experience in training and racing endurance sport will no doubt help our athletes.

Benjamin (Ben) Stein is a Cat 1 mountain bike racer with nearly 10 years of endurance events experience both in Colorado and Idaho. Ben has a strong passion for coaching and physical activity. He has finished numerous mountain bike endurance events, XTERRA triathlons, 4 x Half Ironman finisher, and avid CycloCross fanatic! “Cross hurts so well”.

Along with an experienced race resume, Ben studied exercise science and exercise physiology, earning a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology. Ben’s thesis research investigated cycling kinematics at a simulated incline on an indoor cycle ergometer, transitioning Ben into a local (Idaho), well-known professional bike fitter and cycling coach.

Combining Ben’s skill set with his passion for cycling allows him an in-depth understanding into the human body’s intricate mechanics and physiology. Ben’s ability to integrate his education with his own passion for endurance events provides his clients a unique skill set of physiology testing, biomechanics, coaching, and injury prevention.

Ben is currently accepting athletes for all disciplines from his home state Idaho, and anywhere in the world.