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.

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

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 Training4cyclists.com. 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.

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
Pezcyclingnews.com – Review and pictures

How a muscle develop force

This is a very short description of how a muscle can develop force:

What is a motor unit
A motor unit is a functional unit that contains a single nerve and all the muscle fibres innervated by the nerve. All muscle fibres are grouped together as motor units and have an average of 150 fibres pr motor neuron.

Hypertrophy
Larger muscle cells (that will say larger square diameter) can generate more power. That is the most commonly known way to increase power, though it is not desirable for cyclists. The problem is that a large muscle mass is heavy to carry and there is a dilution of mitochondrias. Thus, an increment of maximal strength made through hypertrophy will probably not result in a better overall cycling performance.

Nervous regulation of force
Basically there are two ways to control a muscle’s force. One way is to recruit more motor unit, which will activate more motor units. You can think of this as the brain tells the muscle to use a larger percentile of the muscle’s fibres to generate power. Motor units are recruited to in order of size. Small motor units are recruited before large motor units. This is called the size principle of recruitment. The second way to regulate force production is through rate coding. It is an increment of the frequency of impulse signals to the motor unit. When a motor unit is stimulated more frequently, the twitches begin to overlap each other, which will generate a larger force.

So now we know the basic physiology behind the mechanisms used to increase the force. It is either to build larger muscle mass, make a better recruitment of motor units or fire a higher frequency of stimuli to the motor neurons.

Interview with Serguei Gonchar

Tim Maloney from Cyclingnews.com has made a very interesting interview with T-mobile´s time trialist specialist Serguei Gonchar, Ukraine. Gonchar has been one of the best time trialists in the world for the last decade.

A couple of highlights from the interview:

On being called Honchar: “Yeah! In the last few years, people got used to calling me Honchar, especially in Italy, but that is not my name. So during the Tour De France, when I was team leader for a few stages, it was even more important to get my right name out there. It was the fault of a secretary in the passport office back home in Ukraine and I have had to live with this. But finally I was able to say ‘my name is Gonchar, so call me that’.

On the Floyd Landis affair: “I really can’t say anything at this point”¦ except that I’m sorry to see a sponsor like Phonak leave the sport. They have been around for a long time and have supported cycling so it’s too bad they are leaving. Cycling is taking hits from all sides lately”¦ it’s seems like some kind of fashion trend!”

On his gear choice in time trials: “Not many other riders can [ride such big gears]”¦ I guess I have become famous for it! I don’t really know where it comes from. I’ve always ridden time trials like that since I was a young rider and have always used big gears for time trials. When I’m in the race, it doesn’t feel to me like I’m pushing a big gear, but like I’m pedaling with agility. But afterwards when I see myself on TV, it looks like I’m pedaling slow and going slow,”

Read the full interview

How To Deal With Training Vacuum – Part Two

When training does not result in the desired and expected results, riders start to make up reasons why they have stopped improving. As I explained in the first part of ”˜How to deal with training vacuum – Part one‘ the rider is looking for someone or something to blame. But often it is not someone’s or something’s fault. Instead the rider has reached a plateau for his talent with the current amount of training. And that is a very natural progression. When you are good at something it takes longer to improve to a higher level.

Recognize when you are in a training vacuum
If you do regular tests you will notice when you have done a couple of tests with no progression. That is sign that tells you that it is time to reconsider your training situation.

Back to basics ”“ Proper training, nutrition and recovery
This is old news, but still three very essential topics. These are the basics in good cycling training and should never be forgotten.

Write a training diary
Write down every training session you do. This is a very useful tool when done correctly and seriously. It makes it easier for you (or your coach) to discover problems. Do you train intervals too often, is your amount of training as you thought it should be and when was the last time you felt that you had good legs? These questions are easy to answer if you have a training diary.

Strength Training Might Increase Performance

Strength training is a controversial topic when we discuss optimizing of training programs for cyclists. There is no definitive answer to whether cyclists should include weight lifting in their winter training plans. There have been made several studies which have not yet proved that cyclists can benefit from strength training.

One of the biggest problems for these scientific studies is that they are done at untrained people and the study group is usually small. That makes it rather difficult to prove a significant difference between endurance training only versus endurance training combined with weight lifting.

5 Mistakes In The Weight Lifting Gym

There are many myths about training principles in the bicycling world but there are even more in the weight lifting gym. I have seen a lot of strength training programs for cyclists on the internet, but most of them are of a very poor quality. It is obvious that many coaches are good at endurance training, but lack experience and knowledge about strength training. I have a feeling that many of these coaches do not know how the neuromuscular system works and how it adapts to the weight lifting.

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