Education for cycling coaches

On thursday I will participate in a group meeting that is going to plan a seminar or conference for cycling coaches involved with elite cycling in Denmark. Our work group is made of the national team coach, a couple of coaches from UCI Continental teams and me. I joined this work group because I believe that education and knowledge-sharing is very important to maintain a high level of cycling coaches. Hopefully we can make a program that will attract many coaches to participate.

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T-Mobile Team has selected SRM and Training Peaks as partners

T-Mobile Team has selected SRM and Traning Peaks software for their training analyzes. In a press release at Cycling Peaks official blog, T-Mobile and Cycling Peaks comments on this partnership:

“Training Peaks functionality will allow the T-Mobile Team Management to monitor, analyze and plan all aspects of a rider’s training program. “We are very pleased to be a part of the T-Mobile team for 2007. By using Training Peaks products the T-Mobile management and the riders have a one stop shop for collecting and analyzing data. T-Mobile Directors will also be able to easily manage travel schedules and race programs all within the Training Peaks platform. We believe we have the perfect solution for T-Mobile to stay on top of team performance,” said Training Peaks business development director Dirk Friel.

“T-Mobile Team improves the work and communication between riders, coaches, sport scientists and team doctors to set a new standard in training. The combination of Training Peaks & SRM is the perfect tool to collect and manage the data and will help to reach a higher quality of training and performance.” said team doctor Lothar Heinrich.

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Squat is the king in weight lifting

If you have decided to enter the weight lifting gym this winter, implementing squats in your training program is difficult to avoid. This exercise is the best way to increase your leg strength in a very functional way. If only have the time to do one exercise, please make some good squats. In a cyclist’s strength training program, squatting should be the bread and butter. Actually squat is often mentioned as ”˜the king of exercises’.

Heavy weights matters
Well, first of all you have to reconsider how you can make your muscles stronger. The short answer is that you have to lift heavy weights frequently. If the weights aren’t heavy enough, they will not force the muscles to make neural adaptations nor hypertrophy. You can read more about neural adaptations in the post: How a muscle develops force. The good thing about squats is that it is possible to work with heavy weights, which put an enormous stress on legs, calves, hamstrings, gluteus, abdominal and back muscles. As you can see most of your body is working in coordination to manage to lift the weight. Can you imagine what this exercise will do to your overall strength? You will get a great boost not only for your leg extensors (m. quadriceps) but also several other important muscles at the same time.

As I previously described in a post about typical mistakes, non-functional exercises are very difficult to convert to something useful in your cycling. This is because strength training is a kind of teaching for your nervous system. I will give an example: If you compare an elite tennis player with a pro golfer: Who will win the match if these elite sport people play badminton? That would probably be the tennis player, because tennis is a racket sport that has similar movements like badminton. Thus, the tennis player gets an advantage because his nervous system is optimized for movements that are similar to the ones in badminton. It is easier for him to convert his skills from tennis to badminton, than it is for the golfer to start playing a racket sport.

Squatting is a lifting style that is close related to pedalling and therefore gives you the best opportunities to convert strength gains made in the weight lifting gym to a better cycling performance. On the other hand, commonly used exercises as leg extensions (or even worse leg adductions or abductions) are single joint movements that are very difficult to convert to cycling power. Leg extensions should be used only by cyclists with injuries and otherwise left available for regular people that don’t know the power of squats.

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Powder might hide EPO abuse

In an article in International Herald Tribune there is an interesting theory about hiding of EPO abuse. Scientists in laboratoriums in Switzerland work to develop a test that can prove a special powder used to destroy traces of the drug EPO (erythropoietin). In the past year there has been a significant increase in the number of tests showing no EPO at all. The scientists have the theory that the riders use a protease that can brake down proteins in the urine.

“We have no proof so far but there are indications that a powder exists. It can happen that people who excrete less EPO than others have a result where there is no EPO but it is unusual. And over this last year we’ve seen some suspicious cases of EPO-free urine samples, where we did not understand why suddenly it was undetectable.” Said Martial Saugy, the head of the Swiss anti-doping laboratory, to International Herald Tribune.

Small amount of protease can remove EPO
It is possible to remove EPO from the urine by putting protease on their hands, then urinating on their fingers. Only a small amount of protease is needed to brake down all EPO in the urine.

This theory might explain why so relative few riders have delivered a positive EPO test compared to how many riders have been caught with an enhanced hematocrit.

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Tour de France - How to win a stage

How To Perform A Watt Max Test

Watt max testing is a fast and accurate way to evaluate your training. I normally recommend serious riders to do a couple of these tests through the season.

Why you should do a watt max test
First of all, it is very motivating to follow progress in performance. When you word hard to achieve a better performance, it is very satisfying to see that you are not vesting your time. Even for small increments, the test is very sensitive.
Secondly, it is possible to use the test results to modify your training program. This could be done either through optimizing your power outputs in the intervals or maybe a test will show that you need a recovery week. The optimal situation is to evaluate the test results with your cycling coach.

Watt max test
1. 15 min warm up
2. 100W workload ”“ increase intensity with 10W every 30sec.
3. Keep cadence at min. 80rpm.
4. Ride until exhaustion
5. Notice the last completed power output. = P
6. Notice seconds spent at exhaustion power output = T

How to calculate the result from a watt max test
Watt max power = P + (T/30x10W)

Example: A rider gets exhausted after 15 seconds at 280W. Thus, his last completed power output is 270W. Calculation of Watt max power = 270W + (15/30 x 10W) = 275W

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Report about time trial aerodynamics

Your body position and the bike’s aerodynamics play a big role in time trials. A couple a years ago I read a comparing of different body positions and what influence it had on the finishing time in a 40k time trial. I am not sure, but I think I saw these results back in 1997, so this is not breaking news, rather nostalgic news.

Aerodynamics is important in time trials

An interesting question is how much time you can save by using expensive aero wheels, an aero frame or saving some pounds? There are probably more precise answers to these questions than this report calculates for you, but it gives you an idea of what difference these changes can give you.

One of the interesting findings is that slower riders will benefit more from a lighter bike than top riders will, while aero wheels and frames will give the biggest advantage to faster riders. This is probably because the aerodynamic drag requires a relative larger percentile of the workload at high speeds.

Optimized aerodynamics is better than weight savings
The conclusion for this report is that the biggest changes in aerodynamic drag and in cycling performance come from changes in body position. A more aerodynamic body position can improve your 40k time trial by over 6 minutes (that is really something!) The report also concludes that improving the bike’s aerodynamics is more important than weight savings. A pair of aero wheels can reduce you 40k time trial time with 1 or 2 minutes.

Read the report about cycling aerodynamics

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Carbon Cycling Shoes have more Stiffness

Carbon cycling shoes are stiffer than regular ones.

Carbon cycling shoes look better than traditional cycling shoes made of plastic. But the question is, do they perform better or are they only more expensive? Well, I found a scientific study that tested the stiffness, which is a very important detail when I decide which cycling shoes to wear. Comfort and weight are also important factors, especially comfort. It is though important to remember that shoes with the best comfort often lack stiffness. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve a high degree of stiffness and comfort at the same time.

Carbon cycling shoes are stiffer
In the study shoe stiffness measurements were collected under controlled conditions in the laboratory with a dynamic hydraulic tensile testing machine. Measurements of plantar pressure were done using a special sensor in the soles while subjects pedalled at a controlled power output. The results from these tests showed that the carbon cycling shoes produced a significant, 18% higher peak plantar pressure than plastic cycling shoes. So carbon cycling shoes are stiffer and that is also what riders tell me when they have switched to this more expensive foot wear.

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12 week strength program for cyclists

Here is a very effective strength training program for cyclists. The program is based on multi joint exercises with free weights, which indicate that this program is not for beginners. If you are not familiar with lifting free weights, consider training the same exercises in a machine. Ask a fitness instructor in your training gym.

When using this strength program:

Ӣ Warm up before lifting
Ӣ Never train to failure
Ӣ Use as heavy weights as possible (still no failure training)
Ӣ Be explosive in the concentric phase
Ӣ Rest periods of at least 2 minutes between sets

Read the full strength training program for cyclists

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How to Achieve Better Results with Spinning

1. Warm up before spinning lesson
Spinning lessons have a normal length of around 50 minutes. For trained cyclists this is a very short amount of time, when this time includes both warm up, intervals and cool down. Remember that most spinning lessons are made for people that are not very familiar with cycling training. Therefore I suggest you do a warm up before you enter the spinning room to get more training time.
2. Drink water with electrolytes and carbohydrates
Spinning rooms have a very high temperature and high humidity. Therefore it is quite normal to sweat much more than you are used to. Some people believe that they sweat more at spinning lessons because they work harder. That is not true. They sweat more because of the climate, not because they work harder than normal. I will recommend you to drink water with electrolytes and carbohydrates to maintain a high level of performance during the whole session.
3. Choose intervals carefully
Spinning instructors plan their lesson to be interesting and challenging for a wide range of riders. Most of them train spinning only 2 to 3 times week, so they can use all their effort in this short period. If you do not like the program made of the instructor, consider to use your own program or one of the indoor cycling programs here on It is possible to ride one of these programs without telling the instructor. Just remember to stand up and sit down when the instructor tells you to (and ignore his commands about pacing strategy).
4. Remember rest days
You can not do intervals every single day. Some days should be easy days. If you go for a ride in the spinning class on one of these days, please remember your goal with the training.

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Power Crank can improve upstroke pedalling

Power CrankIt is very difficult to train the hamstrings and hip flexors on a regular bike. Basically we use most of our efforts to push the pedals down and never to pull the pedals up. Power Crank offers a different way to train for a better upstroke pedalling power. The pedal arms on the crank work independently of each other, which forces you to work much harder in the upstroke pedalling phase. Now you are forced to make an active upstroke to keep pedalling. That should make you stronger and more efficient. I can not recommend the Power Crank yet, because I have never tried it and neither have the riders I work with. But hopefully I will try it in the future.

Better than one leg riding
I have tried to ride my bike with only one pedal clicked in, but I don’t think that works very well. It does not feel like cycling and it is difficult to maintain a reasonable speed. Therefore I am quite interested in experiences made with the Power Crank system. So if you have tried it, please let me know about it. Otherwise, we will have to wait until I have tried it and made a review of the Power Crank.

Official Power Crank Website – incl. videos
Power Crank blog – Review and pictures

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