#38 – Truth in Strength Training for Masters Cyclists with Menachem Brodie

Sponsor: RePowerU — FREE Fitness Practices Assessment (a 10-minute questionnaire):

Outline of discussion – How to really use strength training to improve endurance athletics

Strength training for cyclists, done the right way, is not sexy.

Upper body and rotatory stability (ability to lock the hips and ribcage together to resist twisting that would result in power leakage) work plus some other function movement pieces form a holistic approach to making a cyclist stronger.

Need to counteract adaptations you get on the bike and counter balance the parts of the body not being trained by riding on the bike.

“Niche strength training”

We went from low weight , high reps to high weight, low reps.    From endurance sets to “lift heavy shit”

Research is hard to do in a way that shows real benefits to cyclists.

The main point is technique matters more than weight lifted.  What are you thinking:  push weight up, push floor down, brace core?  This is what matters.

Its hard for people to do it because they have already been brainwashed into thinking that lifting heavy weights is what will make them better athletes.

First athletes have to learn the skill to create intra-abdominal pressure to stabilize the core, bracing / locking / using the glutes to create power before you start to load them with weights.  These are skills that translate into improved performance on the bike even before starting to lift heavy weights.

People are getting hurt by lifting heavy when they are not ready.

Resistance training is not just about getting stronger, it is about learning to move properly to apply the greater strength in just the right way to make power on the bike.  But you need the bike skills too.  Braking, cornering, climbing out of the saddle.  

When you learn how to move well as a human being, that will translate into feeling better, more powerful on the bike.  Then, when you also get stronger by lifting heavier weights, that will also translate into more power on the bike.  It might just manifest as a much easier feeling when riding or it might show up as a bigger number on the power meter. Maybe it shows up as no pain anymore, which is hard to recognize unless someone asks you about it.

Resistance training has two big benefits:  teaches the rider to lock the hips to the rib cage to reduce power lost (power going into moving the body vs power going down into the pedals) and strengthening muscles makes the body more resilient (less prone to injury and faster at recovery to allow for harder and more consistent training).

The “core” is everything between the neck, elbows and knees.

Will share a video on the shielded breath.

This plus the McGill curl up done properly.

This is where most of the benefit form strength training for cycling will come from.  Call it 3-5 exercises, that doesn’t include:  squat, deadlift, …. It being able to coordinate things between the shoulders and the hips.

Force create motion.  Stiffness controls motion.  We need to pulse the core to create a moment of stiffness at just the right moment to control the force we create with our strong muscles that we want to direct down into the pedal, not back up into the body which shows up as twisting in the hips and back.

Highly experienced cyclists can show up at the gym knowing nothing about resistance training.  That’s okay as long as they bring a “beginner mind”…being totally open to learning and following directions.

Beginner gains….if you are new to strength training, anything will make you stronger at first.  That is good.  It’s like when you were new to the bike… got faster very quickly.  

Muscular strength and resiliency are separate.   Who needs year-round resistance training the most?  Cyclists over the age of 50.  How to fit in strength training and what about the interference affect.  The interference effect comes from the brain.  We’re over thinking it.  We need to keep strength training to change the internal environment.  Hormone environment.  It doesn’t come from the list heavy session.  Heavy is relative.  We need the connective tissue has to adapt, and it takes longer than the muscle take to adapt due to limited blood flow.  So we have to take our time to let the connective tissue get used to the new movements and the beginning weights before we ramp up the weight lifted.

2 week easy. Body weight only.  Then another 2 weeks with slow add-on of weight.

If we want resilience on the bike, we need regular dosing of resistance training.  Slow ramp up.  If you go too fast, you get sore and you can’t ride anymore.  This is the interference.

If you do 3 days a week of 20 minutes.  RPE of 5, 6,7…not to failure. Not sore the next day. 

2-3 days a week.  Spaced at least 24 to 36 hours apart.  And we don’t lift to get sore.  If you got sore you did too much, especially if you were more sore on the 2nd day than the 1st day after lifting.

Lifting after cycling workout when cycling is the main focus.  The idea is to have quality in the most important training.  Lifting while a little tired is okay when you are not going to failure.  But you need to keep doing the weight training to keep the adaptations.  If you stop weeks ahead to taper for a race or worse for a race season, you will lose the strength gains you made.  Why?  There is no need if you are doing the weight training correctly…not to exhaustion…not lifting to failure.

Mechachem lifts heavy only 1 day a week (1.25 hours) due to new baby related lack of sleep.  Some additional work at home daily….just built into the day.

“Interference effect” — can mean more than just the cellular signaling effects involved.  It can also refer to other interference effects such as getting too tired in the gym to train well on the bike (mistake), or getting inconsistent instruction from different coaches (or just bad info on the internet) that cause resistance training and on bike training to not work together optimally.

Resilience only happens when you are able to build the core stiffness to allow you to produce the forces you need, mostly at the shoulder and hip, not so much the spine.  2-3 regular strength training sessions a week year round..  exceptions:  family vacation.  Week long stage race.  But even during stage race we’ll do some mobility and breath work.

Minimum effect dose.  RPE 5/6/7 especially if you haven’t been a strength training athlete in the last ten years and are over 40.  Leave reps in reserve.

There are 5 stages of strength training to go through during the year: 

  • Anatomical Adaptation
  • Hypertrophy
  • Max Strength
  • Conversion to sport specific
  • Maintenance

Max strength stage coincides the the late build phase of the cycling training calendar.  May & June.  Just the time a lot of cyclists are cutting out strength training to focus on being outside since the weather is now good.

Max Strength workout prep: Do a dynamic warmup.  Foam rolling.  breathing.  Then do heavy weights to an RPE of 8/9.  

3 triggers for muscle growth

  1. Mechanical overlead
  2. Metabolic stress
  3. Time under tension

Bodyweight exercises….is enough or can be enough for a set of time.  Developing skill through body is essential.  If you don’t have access to a gym or don’t like it, start with body weight.

The returns taper off after some point.  Over the age of 40, testosterone responds better to external loads…weights, bands, TRX.  Body weight isn’t enough.

How to get you faster without huge hours on the bike?  Some strength, some intensity on the bike

Can use body weight plus bands or body weight plus a single kettlebell.

Back pain can be the consequence of years of abuse…sitting too long, sitting in poor posture on the bike.  Stretches out the ligaments in the back which leads to movement in the spine…and that leads to irritation and pain.

Speed skating is also a contributing factor for Glen, probably.  Some tissues have stretched and other have shut down.  Muscles have 3 jobs.  Protect, stabilize which another joint moves, or move a joint.  Glen’s solution is probably not stretching but strength training fo the muscles that have shut down.

Over 45 yo….chest stretching before and after riding on the bike.

Flexibility is important but strength and control through range of motion is also critical.

Check flexibility.  See how flexible fingers are.  Pull index finger down to forearm.  Or use the thumb to see how much flexibility. 

Stretching is tricky.  For some people, stretching can help relieve pain.  But for others, stretching just reduces the springiness in the muscles and make them more susceptible to injury.

If you want to stretch, stretch the quads.  Then do side planks with the top foot forward.

Long stretching of hamstrings and posterior chain after a ride is just stretching muscles that have already been stretched.  Don’t.  Just stretch the quads.

Other references in discussion

Miguel Aragoncillo is Menachem’s strength training coach. 

Thomas Meyers book, Anatomy Trains.

Joe Dantonis – muscle activation (MAT) expert.  Facial system determines movement.

Joe Friel’s Fast After 50 book is great. 

Time Crunched Cyclist — Chris Carmichael

Coach Paul Wade’s book: Convict Conditioning….body weight only 

Contact Info

Menachem Brodie Bio

With over 20years of coaching experience and a sports-medicine background spanning from Emergency Medicine & Physical Therapy settings, to the NCAA Division I Strength & Conditioning setting, Coach Brodie brings with him an incredibly unique & diverse skill set, which has led to his work as a Health & Fitness Engineer for international companies in the Health, Wellness, & Fitness fields. Coaching since 2000, Menachem Brodie has been working with athletes in a number of settings, and a broad variety of sports. From Basketball and Cycling, to CrossFit and Triathlon, Brodie has helped numerous athletes to attain their goals, and beyond.

With his belief that one should Train Smarter, Not Harder, he has developed and polished his training philosophy over the last 2 decades, in order to allow his clients and athletes to not only excel in their sport of choice, but also in their professional lives. 

Having earned a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Pittsburgh, Brodie has experience across the Health & Fitness spectrum including having worked as an Exercise Physiologist for a Bariatric Surgery Center for 2 years, working as the Strength & Conditioning coach in a Physical Therapy clinic for those who needed more guidance and direction to return to their sport or hobby, and working as an EMT running 911 calls. Suffice it to say, Brodie’s experience and background are far more reaching than the average coaches.

Menachem‘s Certifications include:

  • USA Cycling Expert Coach, with Distinction
  • USA Cycling Power Based Training Certified
  • LEOMO Type-R Certified Coach
  • NSCA-Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist
  • Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified Coach
  • Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialist
The ever curious athlete who demands answers.
About the Author
Curious athlete who demands answers. Husband to Susan ( Father of 3 daughters. Athletic pursuits over time, in reverse order: cycling, skiing, mountaineering, rock climbing, triathlon, golf, tennis, football.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.