To Gym or Not to Gym?

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11/30/2004| 0 comments
by Chris Carmichael

To Gym or Not to Gym?

Find out if staying out of the gym is a better choice for you as a rider.

five minutes of recovery. Start with one set of four PowerStarts, and progress to two sets of six.


MuscleTension Intervals: These intervals are best performed on a gentle grade (about 5%) between five and ten minutes long. Shift into a large gear that allows you to maintain a steady effort at a cadence of about 50-55 rpm. For the duration of each interval, you?re going to want to stay seated, with your hands on the tops of your bars. This overgeared climbing puts a lot of tension on your leg muscles and helps enhance muscle fiber recruitment. Most of the time, your nervous system only recruits a portion of the total fibers in muscle; these intervals help train your body to spread the work over a greater proportion of available fibers. The more muscle fibers you recruit, the more power you can produce. Start with two five-minute MuscleTension intervals, separated by 10 minutes of recovery. Gradually increase the length of the efforts to ten minutes, and then start adding additional intervals.


And For a New Twist?

Part of the allure of going to the gym is that it adds variety and a change of scenery for cyclists who spend the rest of the year patrolling the same dozen routes around town. One other way to add a new twist to your training, and gain strength and power in the process, is to ride a single speed mountain bike.


Single speed mountain biking has enjoyed a cult following for a long time, and has become more popular over the past several years. Not to be confused with a fixed gear bicycle, a single speed has a freewheel that allows you to coast, but only one gear and no option to shift into an easier or harder cog. The most common setup is a 2:1 gear ratio, which you can make with a 34-tooth chainring and a 17-tooth cog or a 36-tooth chainring and an 18-tooth cog.


Having only one gear forces you to think ahead, as preserving momentum is often the only way to avoid having to get off and walk to the top of a hill. Whenever the trail tips upward, you will find yourself overgeared, much like during a MuscleTension Interval. The terrain will dictate how much time you spend pushing against a lot of resistance, but over the course of a one- or two-hour single speed ride, you can accumulate a lot of high-power, low cadence resistance work.


Single speed mountain biking provides a less-structured, yet highly effective method for developing leg strength and power that easily transfers over to your road cycling. Carmichael Training Systems coaches who utilize this type of training with their road racing cyclists find their athletes see dramatic improvements in their ability to accelerate from low speeds, like out of tight corners in criteriums and turnarounds in time trial events. Visit your local bike shop or visit trainright.com for information about setting up a single speed for yourself.


While lifting weights can be an effective

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