Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Starting Week 12

It is apparent that I will be lucky to hold down 7 lbs in 12 weeks.  This last week I have house guests and already we have planned parties, dinners, and movies (with popcorn of course).  There are a few weeks before Thanksgiving but history is not on my side.

Over the last five years I have averaged gaining 4 lbs from November 1st through January 2nd.  So my goal over the next 12 weeks is to maintain my current weight.  If I do that I will start 2014 well ahead of last year and any other year.

Enough about weight.

This is the time of year when I shift my training to building strength--both on and off the bike.  I have been reading a lot lately about the best approach to building strength when you are as old as I am.  The basic principle is the training must be intense but not so intense as to cause injury.

Dah, you say.  Well it isn't as simple as it sounds.  The tendency is to go long at a moderate pace to build a base.  But both Carmichael and Friel say that is wrong.  Both advocate doing a lot of intervals at threshold (level 4 Coggin or Steady State Carmichael).  How hard the interval training is the "dose".  I do 30 minutes at TH and lengthen the interval and decrease the rest over time (e.g. three sets of three minutes with 1 minute rest 3@3x3x1 to 1@6x5x1 to 1@3x10x3).

With strength training there is even more disagreement.  There is some consensus that the benefit of strength training for cycling isn't clear.  Got that.  Basically everyone agrees that they don't know if strength training helps.  Carmichael doesn't belief it helps and wastes time better spent on the bike.  On the pro side it is clear that strength training does help almost every other sport so why not cycling.  And the clincher for me is that everyone advocates some strength training for seniors.

Where there is another level of disagreement is what would a strength training program look like.  There are two schools here.  One school is lots of reps of light weights.  For example 12-15 reps done 3 times.  The other school advocates near max weight lifting.  For example 3-5 reps done 3 times.

I follow the basic advice that the work should be intense but do no harm.  In that case I work for the max weight lifting school of thought.

However, with both high intensity intervals and high weight lifting, the warm up takes a long time.  For interval training I generally start with ten minutes easy, then three minutes at 100 rpm, 2 minutes above 110 rpm, and then 1 minutes at max rpm (generally around 150 rpm).  I then go easy for 3 minutes then do five 1-min intervals increasing power on each interval such that the 4th or 5th is at max wattage.  That is a 30 minute warm up.  Often I will do another 5 minutes at temple followed by 3 easy minutes.  So often I will use 40 minutes getting warmed up.

With weights I have to be very careful so I generally do two sets of twelve reps before I do my max lifts.  And my max lifts are not really max.  I stop when I think I have one or two left in me.  I just don't do enough lifting to be confident I won't strain a muscle.

Basically I am building strength from below instead of trying to pull my strength up from above.

More on this to come.

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