Andrew’s Blog

Insights into Bike Myths and Truths (part 3) Posted on June 10, 2017, 0 Comments

As far as strength, the strength required to pedal a bicycle at 300 watts and 90rpms is about the same force that is required to stand up from a chair. It's close to a 45lb single leg press. Something the vast majority of humans can easily accomplish one time without taxing the ability to produce force very much at all. In other words, we are not talking about all that much force, and hardly anyone is anywhere near force or strength limited when riding a bike. What does limit us is the ability to produce that force 90x a minute for multiple minutes or hours. Otherwise known as aerobic capacity.

RESPONSE (a long one BTW) It's like you've read my first book! But just in case, here's a quote:

"Strength, as defined by Bompa in Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training, is “the neuromuscular capability to overcome an external and internal resistance.” The strength of an athlete is determined by how much work that athlete can perform. In triathlon, then, the competitor must be strong enough to complete the distance. So if you cross the finish line, is this strong enough?

No matter where you placed in your last tri, you covered the same distance as all the other competitors. You got the work done. As a matter of fact, since you all completed the same course, it could be said that you are all equally strong. But that would be inaccurate.

Let’s say that you’re a Clydesdale who always wins his category but just misses out on taking the overall title. So you cherrypick a small Olympic distance race in the middle of nowhere and peak for it like it’s the World Championships. You’ve visualized this race a thousand times and already have a spot picked out for the overall trophy on your wall of fame. You’re gonna rock!

And then I show up.

I live nowhere near the race venue. But I happen to be attending my grandmother’s ninetieth birthday party and hear about this race at the last minute while stopping to use the bathroom at the local Waffle Hut which is sponsoring the event (I wouldn’t eat there!). You see me in the transition area and immediately mark me as possible competition. After all, I have a carbon-fiber Cervelo and the absence of a mullet makes me conspicuous among the rest of the field. But at a buck thirty, I’m not an impressive figure, so you’re not terribly worried as we wade out into the water together.

And then I beat you.

Only by a second or two, but I beat you. You put a minute on me out of the water. Then I catch you on the bike, hammering back to transition to start the run with almost a two-minute advantage. Your long legs eat up most of my lead during the final leg, but, in the end, you run out of real estate and cross the finish a few steps behind me. You’re bummed but console yourself with the knowledge that you made me work for the win, saying you simply lost to a stronger athlete.

How wrong you are.

You weigh two hundred pounds. I weigh 130. We both covered the same distance. But you had to carry an additional seventy pounds over the course of the race. Technically, you did more work. Work is force applied over distance. It is the product of the amount of resistance overcome (two hundred pounds vs. 130 pounds) and the distance over which that resistance is moved (an Olympic distance triathlon). You are the stronger athlete. Strap a seventy-pound weight to my body, and I would probably still be at the bottom of the lake somewhere.

I know, I’m not making much of a case for strength training here. I mean, if it’s not the strongest athlete who wins, why lift weights, right? If you’re thinking like that, I can tell you’ve skipped the first several chapters of this book. There’s a multitude of reasons, but let’s look at strength and its critical role in the performance of a triathlon.

If we change some of the parameters of the imaginary race cited above, it may provide you with a clearer understanding of the importance of strength in our sport. Let’s say I let myself go a bit during the off season—to the tune of seventy pounds. I win a year’s supply of Breyer’s Mint Chocolate Chip and decide I’m going to test out the Ullrich Theory of Performance Enhancement. We both show up on the starting line, but this time I’m two hundred pounds, same as you. You win the race walking away, with a personal best of two hours even. I score a different type of PR—four hours. You probably could’ve lapped me if you’d run the course a second time. Obviously you’re the stronger athlete now, right?

Wrong again.

Once more, we both completed the same distance. Yet now we weigh the same. We both did the same work. It doesn’t matter if I took twice as long as you to cover the distance, as time is a variable which does not enter into the strength equation. Time is important in the equation for power. By the strictest definition of strength, we are both equal despite the fact you had enough time to shower, eat, and overhaul your bottom bracket before I crossed the finish line.

Why then, are we wasting our time on strength development? Why not just skip to power training (no pun intended) if that’s what’s really going to determine who finishes a particular race in first place?

Power is how much work is done per unit of time or, expressed as an equation:

POWER = [FORCE (i.e., strength) x DISTANCE]/TIME

The reason triathletes must first focus on strength is because this biomotor ability is a crucial component in the optimal development of power. Tudor Bompa, in his groundbreaking book Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training, agrees. Strength development, he says, “should be the prime concern of anyone who attempts to improve an athlete’s performance.” Its importance is again highlighted on a page from Advanced Program Design, which states, “When strength or any of its derivatives are the primary deficit, efforts should focus primarily on its development first.” Thus, to maximize power development, we must either maximize strength or maximize speed, or, with a good training program, maximize both.

Maximum Strength is the highest force that can be performed by the neuromuscular system during a maximum voluntary contraction.

FORCE = MASS x ACCELERATION (F = M x A)

So to increase the force produced, we can increase the resistance (M) or the speed at which the resistance is moved (A). Yet increasing movement speed is not as effective in the development of maximum strength as increasing the weight of the resistance, due primarily to the role momentum plays in the lift.

Momentum is mass in motion. For those of you who fell asleep in physics class, I’ll keep this simple. The more mass or velocity an object has, the more momentum that object will possess. That’s one reason why you see some people swinging their free weights around and rushing through a set of twelve like their lives depend on it. The only newton they’ve ever heard of is a cookie. But they innately know that once they start their hundred-pound bicep curl with their back and knees, their arms can be along for the ride. Momentum is their ego’s best friend.

Maximal tension on a muscle, which is critical for maximal strength development, is only increased during the initial acceleration of the load. After that, momentum takes over and effectively reduces the tensile loading of the muscle. But if you use a sufficiently heavy weight, the speed at which the weight is lifted will be limited. Thus, the contribution of momentum to the lift will be minimized, as well.

This is not to say that you should not try to accelerate the load as quickly as possible. To quote Chek again, “The closer a given load is moved to maximum velocity the greater the intensity and the greater the training effect on a neuromuscular basis.” The neuromuscular benefits to which Chek refers are:

increased neural drive to the muscle
increased synchronization of motor units
increased activation of the contractile apparatus
decreased inhibition of the protective mechanisms of the muscle (Golgi tendon organ).

Basically, you’re making the muscle smarter when you challenge it with a sufficient resistance, literally putting brains behind that brawn. And a smart, functional muscle is a strong muscle.

Strength is, ironically, often an endurance athlete’s biggest weakness. But the intelligent triathlete quickly learns to apply this one golden rule: Train your weaknesses and race your strengths."


Again, I am not really trying to argue with Andrew, because I can't. He knows more about the body than me by orders of magnitude. In the end, we are all after the same thing, results. And that is my battleground. Exercise physiologists, physical therapists and the larger research community have always lagged behind real coaches. Great coaches find performance, and then everyone else figures out how they did it. While not able to hold my own in any body knowledge debate, what I would certainly do is rest my case for simplicity on the performance of my athletes, the results of my bike fits, and my excellent record of not injuring the vast majority of them along the way.

RESPONSE: While admitting I lag behind many people in various areas, I need to clarify I actually have SOME knowledge of coaching/training. In fact, I can honestly say that of the many people who grace my client roster, some are quite accomplished in their various sporting endeavors. For the sake of brevity, I'll focus on the endurance athletes I've worked with--including professional cyclists, national champions both in the US and abroad, winners of both stages and the overall of some UCI level races. Heck, I even recall working with a Grand Tour Winner. I daresay some of them might even go so far as to call me a decent coach/trainer. Does that make me anybody to listen to--nope! What does, perhaps, is having studied and practiced under some of the greatest minds in the fields of human performance and health and then practicing what I preach so I end up being more than just a talking head, academic with no real, practical experience. Even then, I encourage whoever may be listening to not believe anything I've said until they've learned it properly and applied it to themselves. Take the knowledge off the page and do something with it before claiming to know it. And even then, realize there's always more to learn. One of the reasons I've actually enjoyed this exchange with you, Dave. Now, I do qualify for a free bike fit and it would be fun to continue this discussion in person. But I've been fitted by Matt Cole himself. And my riding time is, sadly, limited these days. Guess I'm spending too much time on FB. I'll give you the last word, though (as you can see) I've used most of them. If you've read this far, I applaud you. Your endurance is likely surpassed by few.

Insights into Bike Myths and Truths (part 2) Posted on June 10, 2017, 0 Comments

This is a continuation of an earlier blog post, the first part of which can be found here:

https://triumphtraining.com/blogs/blog/insights-into-bike-myths-and-truths-part-1

These are some really good examples of how individuals thoroughly (and properly) trained in how the body works, can take that information and thoroughly complicate the simple act of pedaling a bike.

RESPONSE: As a cyclist pedals, the majority of force production is provided by the quadriceps, which extend the knee approximately 74° from 111° flexion to 37°. During extension, the knee also adducts due to the normal valgus angulation of the distal femoral condyles in relation to the foot/pedal interface during the downstroke. This causes medial translation of the knee as it extends. In addition, pronation of the foot coupled with internal tibial rotation increases stress on the medial knee. We have not even considered the roles of the vestibular components or how the various organ systems of the body are impacted as well as impact the act of pedaling a bike. Simple--I think that's not the most accurate descriptor.

"Just starting at #1, that's a great theory and probably true, except it never happens. Pedaling a bike with a crank arm 2.5-10mm shorter is so entirely similar to pedaling at the longer crank length that phrases such as " will likely cause a decrease in performance (e.g. power) in the short term until the body has acquired the ability to perform the new skill(s) autonomously." simply does not apply after the first 30 seconds. Body knowledge says it should, while thousands of real world examples say otherwise. Crank length change is below the threshold of mattering for anything beyond the positive change to thigh-torso clearance."

RESPONSE: An organism, when stressed, often reverts what it knows. It's why habits (even bad ones) can be hard to break. Survival is the driver here. The subconscious believes the reason you've alive despite all the challenges to that survival are because of the actions you've taken in the past--even if those actions haven't served you. Thus, it's very difficult to learn a new skill when the organism is under stress. It's also extremely difficult to practice a newly acquired skill when the system is continually stressed. Exercise is a stress. So even if you have a certain form that is more efficient/powerful, as you become increasingly fatigued the ability to use the new form/position/equipment decreases as the body goes back to what has gotten it this far in the first place. Thus, I don't doubt that after 30s a cyclist you've fitted on shorter crank arms sees some benefit. But at 30s, that's roughly 45 revolutions per leg. What type of impact do you think that has on the neural pathways of a cyclist who's pedaled 10hrs/week in a certain position with certain equipment for a decade? That's 520hrs in a year which equates to 31,200 minutes. In 10 yrs, that's 312,000 minutes. At approximately 90 "reps" per leg, that cyclist has a different motor ingram that has been ingrained in his neuromuscular system some 28,080,000 times. EACH LEG! My bet, is the cyclist might have some "issues" maintaining the same level of performance he achieved during the 30s of your test.

The funny thing is, I was actually agreeing with you on this point, simply saying there will be an initial and temporary drop off in performance even if the change is, ultimately, going to result in an improvement. Of course, there comes a point when an improvement will not occur if the cyclist has found the length which works best for his/her physiology/chosen race. So I encourage a more cautious approach when using absolutes like "never" and the like. It demonstrates a keen inability to engage in anything other than linear thinking when a complexity model would likely serve you better.

For 2,3 & 4, I can't argue with Andrew, but I don't need to. There are multiple studies on changing cadence and modifying your force application beyond simple alternating pushes. The vast majority show a decrease in efficiency. How to pedal a bike in a steady state, time trial effort is pretty settled science. Track riders, sprinters, super high power instances and low traction situations are exceptions, that rarely apply to my target audience. The exception is not the rule.

RESPONSE: I was pretty sure your target audience was mostly multisport athletes. But because the initial observations were so general, I had to point out that--like anything--it depends. And again, I would be careful with info obtained simply from studies. Learning to interpret studies and their inherent limitations if not outright falsifications at times is an excellent skill to have. Just don't try to acquire it if your system is currently being stressed. However, if you'd like, here's some research you may find enlightening:

"As these cyclists have to engage in single-legged cycling, they have to generate force on the pedal with just one limb throughout the whole pedal cycle. This is going to result in a lower peak power (Bundle et al., 2006), as well as an increased time to peak power through a combination of the use of one limb (Bundle et al., 2006) and being seated as opposed to standing (Bertucci et al., 2005; Padulo et al., 2014). The exercising muscle mass is required to generate more force throughout the pedal cycle in one-legged compared to two-legged cycling resulting in a higher mechanical and metabolic load (Abbiss et al., 2011). However, the differential VO2uptake to one- vs. two-legged exercise suggests that there may be a circulatory inhibitory response to two vs. one-legged exercise (Ogita et al., 2000), and one-legged sprint cycling relying less on anaerobic metabolism than two-legged cycling (Bundle et al., 2006), this may contribute to different fatigue profiles in the C2 class. Additionally, single-legged cycle training can result in significant improvements in the oxidative and metabolic potential of skeletal muscle in trained cyclists (Abbiss et al., 2011)."

5. I addressed this, but to restate, I never suggested that riding a trainer or always using a super controlled environment was the way. What I said was ALL of those other skills and adaptations are relatively quickly and easily addressed, when compared to the scope and magnitude of aerobic development that can be better achieved in those super controlled environments.

RESPONSE: God, we agree on too much. The trainer is an excellent and, in general, the most efficient way to develop the aerobic system (with the added bonus of catching up on video coverage of races you may have missed). Indeed, when used correctly, I estimate that 1hr inside = 1.5hrs outside. So it's great for the working, time-crunched athlete. And for triathletes, whose race demands are not the same as road/mtb/track cyclists it may even be ideal. However, I would argue that anyone who claims skills such as riding in a tightly bunched group (which you've never experienced unless you've raced professionally abroad or in any of the World Tour races which take place on US soil) and descending at speed or cornering in adverse conditions can be easily addressed has never, in fact, actually done so. If you'd like to follow me down a rainy mountain pass in Spain sometime, I'd be happy to have you on my wheel.

6. Specific adaptations to imposed demands indeed. The primary demands of climbing a hill are light weight and high power. The secondary ones are gearing, pacing, "mental fortitude", and actually climbing a few hills to know how it feels and engage slightly different muscles slightly differently a small portion of the time. The only argument I make is (again) let's stop turning secondary demands into primary ones. The exception is not the rule.

RESPONSE: I think we're moving in circles here (but...that's better than squares to continue the cycling analogy). I assume most people coming to be fit by you have a bike. A secondary demand would be a good fit. I bet the reason these folks choose you is the secondary demand is appealing enough so they'll pay to have the benefit of your expertise. Put two cyclists with the exact same attributes/experience on bikes--one fit by you and one fit by Walmart--my money is on your guy. My money is also on the guy who has spent some time addressing these "secondary" demands I mention above.

7&8 Yay! We agree!

RESPONSE: Excellent as I'm starting to develop calluses from typing.

9. I think we agree here as well, but just to be sure.... Adaptation to climatic conditions is fast. Aerobic development is slow. The exception is not the rule.

RESPONSE: See my comment in #6 above.

10. "Flexibility/stability need to be developed before strength which needs to be developed before power." Again, I can't argue with this, but I don't have to. Flexibility is rarely a limiter in developing a world class bike position. It just isn't. In other words, it is not that hard to ride a bike in the same position as the best in the world. Most of us have the chassis to do so, but we lack the engine to go as fast. A tri bike is the most athletically demanding of all bikes, and even there, most riders can get national caliber results with the biggest limited not being flexibility / mobility / stability / strength / power, but far more often the 20 extra lbs hanging around their mid section.

RESPONSE: With all due respect, most folks chassis are out of alignment; quite often, severely so. In fact, I've never assessed a client--from stay-at-home moms to professional football players--that didn't have multiple dysfunctions which needed to be addressed. In regards to your target audience, I'll quote my book: "Flexibility is the ability to adapt to changes in position or alignment, allowing us to perform joint actions through a wide range of motion. Often used interchangeably with mobility, which can be defined as the ability to move freely, these two concepts are the heart of this chapter. They’re also the heart of the biomotor abilities above. Think about it—how agile can you be if your muscles are stiff? Have you ever cramped during a triathlon? Your ability to move or change direction quickly was instantly curtailed. In fact, if you weren’t stopped dead in your tracks, you probably looked like the Tin Man trying to jog a couple of days after hanging out in the rain all night. Being too tight also affects your balance. Pulled out of ideal alignment by tonic musculature, you are literally over-committed in one direction. Coordination will suffer, too, as a lack of mobility must be compensated for elsewhere in the kinetic chain, often resulting in inefficiency and injury. With altered length/tension relationships, the triathlete must now work harder to perform a given movement which adversely affects endurance. Muscles positioned outside of their optimal strength curve will not only be weaker but, since strength is a component of power, a final injustice to the inflexible triathlete is that these last two biomotor abilities will never reach their full potential—much like this triathlete and his placement in the overall field."

The phase "going lower isn't always faster" is without a doubt true. Here is a phrase that is 'more' true. "Going lower is usually faster." The exception is not the rule, and we need to consider the target audience.

Age group triathletes hear that 1st statement and sabotage themselves as they come into a bike fit determined to not ride "too low". Of course, simply bending them over to the will of the bike fitter is not the process. Taking them down, forward and adjusting crank length to achieve the lowest position where pedaling mechanics, breathing and digestion can be maintained is the goal. Anything higher than that is less aero the vast majority of the time. That is what the wind tunnel says, and barring a trip to t he wind tunnel, our best approach during a bike fit is to play the odds.

RESPONSE: Agree again--play the odds. But if we're just using odds without thinking, then I can have a monkey fit me with the same chances of any improvement. And, again, the funny thing is, I was actually agreeing with your original point.

The blog post is continued (yes, again) in Part 3.

Insights into Bike Myths and Truths (part 1) Posted on June 10, 2017, 0 Comments

A cycling friend of mine, who happens to be one of the best fitters in the U.S., asked me my opinion on the following observations made on FaceBook:

For the record, I WHOLLY OR MOSTLY DISAGREE with each of the following statements, and more importantly, could point you to peer reviewed scientific studies to back up my positions on most of them.
1. Shortening your crank arm will cause you to lose power.
2. "Scraping mud", "powering the upstroke", "making perfect circles", or any other technique advice beyond "push hard" is the correct method to pedal.
3. There is a performance benefit to changing your cadence from what feels natural (usually raising the cadence).
4. One legged pedaling is a good drill.
5. Riding a trainer doesn't prepare you to ride outside.
6. You need to climb hills to get better at climbing hills.
7. Road bikes climb better.
8. Road bikes are faster for some triathlon courses.
9. Train outside year round to stay heat acclimated.
10. Increasing your flexibility will allow a better aerobar position, usually referring to hamstring flexibility as it relates to aerobar drop.

My response:

1--The Law of Facilitation states that once an impulse travels through a given set of neurons, it will tend to do so at a future date. And each time it traverses the path, the resistance will be less. Basically, practice makes perfect. Or more accurately, practice makes permanent. Thus, any change, even for the better, will likely cause a decrease in performance (e.g. power) in the short term until the body has acquired the ability to perform the new skill(s) autonomously.

2--Depends on what the goal is. If you simply want to produce the most power, "push hard" is probably a decent idea. However, if your goal is efficiency over a given distance, an ability to respond to attacks/changes of pace, maintain traction/control over unstable surfaces, or running off the bike to your potential, the ability to apply force (notice, I'm not saying MAX force) anywhere/anytime during the pedals stroke and have a variety of different muscles contribute synergistically is a good skill. Like learning how to drive, taking martial arts, etc., learning begins at slower speeds (e.g. cadence) until proficiency allows for replication of the acquired skill at higher speeds/subconscious levels. This is one of the reasons why better sustained power numbers are easier to see when climbing at lower cadences--the cyclist doesn't have the neuromuscular efficiency (i.e., skill) to pedal with the same quality at higher cadences. And while I could give anyone examples for each of the above goals, remember it is the ENTIRE body that pedals the bike--not simply the legs. You may find this blog post of interest here: https://triumphtraining.com/.../8139819-cycling-evolution

3--It depends on what the goal is again. And the point made in #1 above is applicable here, too. Hell, terrain needs to be considered; temperature and humidity play a role. Additionally, the biomechanics, muscle fiber type, training history--even the hormonal profile of the cyclist in question are factors to consider when choosing the optimal cadence. That being said, power is (roughly) an equation of cadence x gear size. Increase one or increase the other or increase both. The limiting factor in gear size is typically the muscular system while the limiter in cadence is often the aerobic system. Neither system works independently from the other, of course. And neuromuscular efficiency is a component of both systems. While both the muscular/aerobic systems have genetic caps (which most of us will never come close to finding), the neuromuscular system can always become more efficient.

4--if you need it, yes. See #2 above. Also #3's reference to efficiency of the neuromuscular system. Again, note that it is the whole body (including all of its systems) which propels the bike and these limiters are often revealed as well as trained during the course of one-legged pedaling drills.

5--aerobically, it does. But it doesn't prepare you (optimally) for descending at speed, cornering in wet conditions, bumping shoulders at 40mph with 200 other cyclists, bunny hopping pot holes, curbs, or even fallen riders, or any of the other "skills" a cyclist is forced to address if you ride/compete enough. I can tell you that racing in America is different than racing in Europe. And while, like the trainer, it's better than nothing, ultimate adaptation doesn't happen until you're exposed to the specific stimulus. Train exclusively on the trainer and then go do an average Belgian kermesse. You'll get yourself dropped out of fear if you don't crash yourself (and others) first.

6--you don't NEED to. Is it the most efficient way? Perhaps. Are there changes in many if not most aspects of riding on the flats vs. riding on a climb--yes, including mental ones. Specific adaptation to Imposed Demands. Wanna get good at climbing? Climb. Wanna get even better at climbing? Stop eating crap and ignoring the Foundational Factors of Health while working on power:weight ratio, and you'll see improvements regardless of terrain or chosen sport.

7--depends again. Not when the fit is right or the person is adapted to a particular position.

8--if the course is straight up and the person is accustomed to riding the road bike, yes. Otherwise, a properly fit tri bike will be faster.

9--if your race is in the cold, acclimate for the cold. If it's in the heat, acclimate to the heat. Heat can be MUCH more of an issue when riding inside if you want it to be--and a huge advantage both physically and (more importantly) mentally for those who are adapted to hot/humid conditions. Note, however, quality sessions performed exclusively in "hard" conditions will likely result in an athlete sacrificing quality and, therefore, not realizing their full potential. Consider the adage of sleep high/train low. Same goes for temperatures.

10--Flexibility/stability need to be developed before strength which needs to be developed before power. I wrote a whole book on this subject, but I would agree that lower (often predicated on flexibility and core strength) does not mean better in regards to aero position. If you're sacrificing either power or comfort in order to get lower, it's not going to pay the dividend you're looking for as far as results. And aero is more than just low frontal surface area. That being said, if you're limited in flexibility or stability, you will not realize your full potential on the bike or any other discipline. And it's quite likely you'll eventually get injured trying. But if it brings you into my studio, that injury could be the best thing that ever happened to your performance.

The original poster (who is, himself, quite an accomplished bike fitter) then responded with:

These are some really good examples of how individuals thoroughly (and properly) trained in how the body works, can take that information and thoroughly complicate the simple act of pedaling a bike.

Just starting at #1, that's a great theory and probably true, except it never happens. Pedaling a bike with a crank arm 2.5-10mm shorter is so entirely similar to pedaling at the longer crank length that phrases such as " will likely cause a decrease in performance (e.g. power) in the short term until the body has acquired the ability to perform the new skill(s) autonomously." simply does not apply after the first 30 seconds. Body knowledge says it should, while thousands of real world examples say otherwise. Crank length change is below the threshold of mattering for anything beyond the positive change to thigh-torso clearance.

For 2,3 & 4, I can't argue with Andrew, but I don't need to. There are multiple studies on changing cadence and modifying your force application beyond simple alternating pushes. The vast majority show a decrease in efficiency. How to pedal a bike in a steady state, time trial effort is pretty settled science. Track riders, sprinters, super high power instances and low traction situations are exceptions, that rarely apply to my target audience. The exception is not the rule.

5. I addressed this, but to restate, I never suggested that riding a trainer or always using a super controlled environment was the way. What I said was ALL of those other skills and adaptations are relatively quickly and easily addressed, when compared to the scope and magnitude of aerobic development that can be better achieved in those super controlled environments.

6. Specific adaptations to imposed demands indeed. The primary demands of climbing a hill are light weight and high power. The secondary ones are gearing, pacing, "mental fortitude", and actually climbing a few hills to know how it feels and engage slightly different muscles slightly differently a small portion of the time. The only argument I make is (again) let's stop turning secondary demands into primary ones. The exception is not the rule.

7&8 Yay! We agree!

9. I think we agree here as well, but just to be sure.... Adaptation to climatic conditions is fast. Aerobic development is slow. The exception is not the rule.

10. "Flexibility/stability need to be developed before strength which needs to be developed before power." Again, I can't argue with this, but I don't have to. Flexibility is rarely a limiter in developing a world class bike position. It just isn't. In other words, it is not that hard to ride a bike in the same position as the best in the world. Most of us have the chassis to do so, but we lack the engine to go as fast. A tri bike is the most athletically demanding of all bikes, and even there, most riders can get national caliber results with the biggest limited not being flexibility / mobility / stability / strength / power, but far more often the 20 extra lbs hanging around their mid section.

The phase "going lower isn't always faster" is without a doubt true. Here is a phrase that is 'more' true. "Going lower is usually faster." The exception is not the rule, and we need to consider the target audience.

Age group triathletes hear that 1st statement and sabotage themselves as they come into a bike fit determined to not ride "too low". Of course, simply bending them over to the will of the bike fitter is not the process. Taking them down, forward and adjusting crank length to achieve the lowest position where pedaling mechanics, breathing and digestion can be maintained is the goal. Anything higher than that is less aero the vast majority of the time. That is what the wind tunnel says, and barring a trip to t he wind tunnel, our best approach during a bike fit is to play the odds.

We want to also drop the upper back and head down between the shoulder blades, but that is a secondary concern to getting the rider as low as we can while maintaining the abilities of pedaling, breathing, digesting.

As far as strength, the strength required to pedal a bicycle at 300 watts and 90rpms is about the same force that is required to stand up from a chair. It's close to a 45lb single leg press. Something the vast majority of humans can easily accomplish one time without taxing the ability to produce force very much at all. In other words, we are not talking about all that much force, and hardly anyone is anywhere near force or strength limited when riding a bike. What does limit us is the ability to produce that force 90x a minute for multiple minutes or hours. Otherwise known as aerobic capacity.

Again, I am not really trying to argue with Andrew, because I can't. He knows more about the body than me by orders of magnitude. In the end, we are all after the same thing, results. And that is my battleground. Exercise physiologists, physical therapists and the larger research community have always lagged behind real coaches. Great coaches find performance, and then everyone else figures out how they did it. While not able to hold my own in any body knowledge debate, what I would certainly do is rest my case for simplicity on the performance of my athletes, the results of my bike fits, and my excellent record of not injuring the vast majority of them along the way.

To which I then replied with an extensive thread that you'll find in Part 2 of this Blog Post.

Counting Calories? Posted on September 01, 2015, 0 Comments

Question:

What are your thoughts on calorie counting? I've always been against it and understand a 'calorie doesn't equal a calorie' ideology from Paul Chek. Though all I ever see nutritionists go on about for weight loss is to ensure you are on a calorie deficit. Again which I've always taught has many more hormonal problems long term. Interested in your thoughts on the whole matter even tho the question is rather vague. Thanks.

Answer:

I speak more about this in my latest book (http://triumphtraining.com/collections/books/products/spot-on-nutrition), but I think it's a slippery slope. Most foods worth eating don't have a label. And the USDA allows for a 20% margin of error in both calories and nutrition in a food. So while I think it can prove insightful when people track what and how much they actually consume in the short term, it's not like the human digestive system is the same as a combustion engine. As I say in my book, "the impact a given amount of food has on a person's physiology is predicated less on the total calories in that food and more on the total of what that person has done to themselves via nutrition and lifestyle choices." My experience has shown that many people don't eat enough. But since they're so metabolically damaged for the reasons mentioned in my book and otherwise, their scales and their health both move in the wrong direction.

Working out 4 days/week vs. 6 days/week--Which is Better? Posted on February 22, 2015, 0 Comments

Question:
Currently I work out six days a week. Five of those days I do 30 minutes of intense cardio (alternating among bike, climber, running, elliptical) preceded or followed by ten or fifteen minutes of strength work (stuff from your book). One of those days I do non-stop 45 minutes of strength work, also from your book. One day I rest.
As you know, my goal is optimal fitness. I have read some articles suggesting that working out four days a week rather than six is better for optimal fitness. 
What is your opinion? 
Answer:
Everyone is different.  I would say that a quality training program needs to be designed around rest.  Rest is more important:
--the older you are
--the more intensely you train
--the longer you go between unloading days (or unloading weeks/months/years)
--the less your background in regards to a specific training protocol
--the more stress to which you are exposed
The better one takes care of their body (via the Six Foundational Factors of Health--http://triumphtraining.com/blogs/blog/6363808-the-six-foundational-factors-of-health), the greater threshold that person will have for any stress, including that which comes from exercise. 
Could 6 days be perfect for you--yes.  But so could 4.  And it likely depends on a host of different variables, so I wouldn't get too attached to any specific periodization scheme.  Instead, I would listen to your body. 

My instincts tell me that you are possibly utilizing intensity more than is optimal.  Variety of intensities would likely serve you better and probably result in harder hard days because you're rested enough to truly push the envelope.  I also would encourage you to add a day of active rest where you benefit from movement but at a level of exertion which keeps you anabolic rather than catabolic--breathing through the nose only, no muscular burn, minimal increase in HR. 

Question from a Triathlete about back pain during the run portion of a 70.3 Race Posted on October 05, 2014, 0 Comments

Question:

I had a question about my recent fit on my Cervelo P3.  I just raced in the Superfrog half ironman in Coronado, CA.  After my bike ride I had pain in my middle back about where my kidneys are located.  It caused me to have breathing issues for the first couple of miles of the run.  It hurt to take deep breathes.  I have been following the exercises and stretching recommended in your recommended book, Holistic Strength Training for Triathletes.   I stayed aero for about 80-90 % of the ride.  I have not had any issues on previous bike rides, but those rides have been with a group and I have only stayed aero for about half the time.   Any suggestions?

 

Answer:

(I happen to know exactly who positioned this athlete on his bike, so I do not question his fit which would typically be the most obvious suspect).  The S.A.I.D. principle is a crucial aspect to consider in the training of any athlete, and I think its importance is highlighted in your case. Lack of aero time coupled with the higher intensity of a race environment is the most plausible scenario--especially if you had no history of previous issues in training and the pain resolved after a few miles of change in position during the run. You likely needs more specific stretching of the psoas (not shown in my book) which targets the fascia. I teach myofascial stretches to any of my clients who are not responding as well as I would like with the prescription of stretches in their programs.  However, the positions used are quite technical, and the psoas is probably one of the most complex.  These muscles originate on the lumbar spine in your area of complaint. They get worked and habitually shortened in cycling, and it's even worse in the aero position. Additionally, the psoas reflex to the adrenals which are highly taxed with endurance exercise.  So addressing the fascial restrictions specific to the psoas can have incredible resultss in both performance and in health.  Also, addressing nutrition and lifestyle (in and outside of training/racing) will give you greater tolerance for the demands of triathlon as well as better performance.  The last section of my book should help you dial in the Six Foundational Factors.  And the more consistently you apply them, the more pronounced the benefits will be. Following the proper development of an athlete is critical, too, of course.  Cycling is an expression of power which cannot be fully realized without adequate proficiency in the areas of flexibility/stability (i.e. core strength).  Thus, until these two areas are sufficiently up to speed, you may have to lessen your race effort or aggressiveness of your cycling position (or both).

Question and then follow up comment from a client after a Nutrition/Lifestyle Consult Posted on August 21, 2014, 0 Comments

I have eliminated all sodas. I am only on water, tea, and seltzer water. I am eating more protein/fat/carbs more frequently. I am gluten free. I have been buying organic. I have a couple of questions. I am gaining weight so what I am doing wrong? I want to feel healthy in physical and mental. However, I do not want to gain 10 pounds. Also, why whole milk versus 2% or fat free when the vitamin and nutrient content is the same?

A sample meal:
Morning: chicken natural sausage
banana, strawberries (few), (few) watermelon.

snack: cheese-mozzarella and two slices of ham

lunch: sausage, strawberries and watermelon

snack: egg and almonds (10 to 15), a couple of chips to help with the carb carving

dinner: turkey burger with cheese no bun, mushrooms, butternut squash, black eyed peas, and lima beans - all vegetables small amounts.Q

 

My Response:

Change takes time. You are wearing what you were doing to your body (thinking, breathing, drinking, eating, moving, sleeping) six months ago. And though you may have gained some weight, less than one week is likely not a trend which is what's more important to follow than any day to day fluctuations of the scale. Besides, the scale only tells a very small part of the story. I'd urge you to consider more how you look/feel/function. That's a true indication of health.

However, I know for most of us, weight is a very compelling reason why we eat, exercise, etc. So why would you gain weight and feel better?

Healing is an individual process. One which requires calories and nutrition. The World Health Organization defines starvation as starting at 2000 calories/day and under. Many people I know aren't eating this minimum amount because their thyroid (and their metabolism and, therefore, they themselves) are not healthy after years of metabolic damage. Reversing this process takes time.  Making matters worse is that much of people's fat stores are in the form of PUFAs.  Replacing these stores with saturated fat takes time.  But as it happens, lypolysis will not be as metabolically damaging.  And since PUFA release will be minimized, your thyroid won't be down regulated and inflammation (i.e. swelling/weight) will be minimized.  In addition, you'll actually be able to use the glucose which your body craves instead of having it adversely impact your health or your waistline.   But you have to feed the flame! You wouldn't expect to drive your car long/far/fast without filling the engine. And the complexity of the human body makes the combustible engine look like an elementary school project....


Sorry if that's a long winded explanation. And if it's not clear enough, feel free to give me a call. I know this can be difficult to truly get. After all, most of us have had years of indoctrination of what's "healthy" to eat/do.

As for full fat vs. low fat, etc: It doesn't come out of the cow fat free, and Mother Nature/God/the Universe isn't stupid. The macro nutrients (carbs/fat/protein) work together as co-factors to bring out the nutrition in a food. Besides, Vit A and D (in milk) are fat soluble. For calcium to be properly assimilated into the bone structure, saturated fat is needed. In fact, there is nothing in Nature which is a carb or protein or fat in isolation. It just doesn't happen.

Fats curb your appetite, by triggering the release of the hormone cholecystokinin, which causes fullness. Fats also slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream, reducing the amount that can be stored as fat (and which has more sugar--8 oz of fat free milk or 8 oz of whole milk...). In other words, the more fat in your milk, the less fat around your waist. Not only will low-fat milk fail to trim your gut, it might even make you fatter than if you were to drink whole, according to one large study. In 2005, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and other institutions studied the weight and milk consumption of 12,829 kids ages 9 to 14 from across the country. "Contrary to our hypothesis," they reported, "skim and 1% milk were associated with weight gain, but dairy fat was not." This "finding" is nothing new to me as I understand how the body works. And it's quite a bit more involved than simply calories in vs. calories out.

Hope this helps on some level. It can be a lot, I know. But I think if you'll continue to focus primarily on health, you'll be pleasantly surprised on how the body responds. And I'm here to help as possible.

 

Her Feedback 5 Weeks Later:

I have been doing much better following your advise of going Gluten free, water, no diet drinks, fat-protein-carb combination. I have lost a good bit of weight and feel much better. I have not had hardly any low blood sugar incidences. Thank you for your guidance. I hope to still lose more weight but I am happy to being feeling better and looking better.

 

PATIENCE AND CONSISTENCY (with the right program, of course)...

Question from a PGA Client Posted on August 18, 2014, 0 Comments

Question:

My back feels great as evidenced by how I'm playing, thanks to you and your program.  But it's funny that I'm aware of tightness in my back after walking to the next hole and then being stationary for a while.  I've also noticed the same phenomenon among the students I teach.  Why is that?

 

Answer:

Walking takes specific muscles through a shortened range of motion. Couple that with dehydration on any level, and the importance of stretching pre, post, and DURING a round will be paramount. Any faulty length/tension relationships will be more pronounced over time/increasing levels of fatigue as the body gravitates toward a position of strength. Core deficiencies/dysfunction will contribute, too, of course. Both of these will likely take some time to resolve, especially as:

--the movement pattern of gait (walking) is much more deeply ingrained into the neuromuscular system than that of swinging a golf club/putting (unless you're Tiger Woods, perhaps).
--athletes tend to be "lazy" and present with more postural aberrations when doing something "simple" like walking than when performing a complex maneuver.

Hydrate.
Stretch.
Strengthen.

Do such simple concepts work?

The proof is in the putting...



Questions about muscle spasm and "weak knees" Posted on August 07, 2014, 0 Comments

Question:

Any suggestions for back spasms and weak knees?

--L. Brown

Answer:

Back spasms are quite often a sign of instability and the muscles are attempting to splint the area to keep movement from being excessive (and, thus, causing more wear/tear).  I would recommend a thorough assessment by a qualified practitioner.  Once that has been accomplished, both the TVA progressions (p. 212) and the Horse Stance Vertical (p. 155) in my book (available in print or digital format here: http://triumphtraining.com/pages/holistic-strength-training-for-triathlon) will likely be good starting points for you.  And even if the spasms have a different root cause/causes (nutrition would be an obvious suspect as food sensitivities can create inhibition of the core secondary to inflammation of the intestines), the muscles being targeted during both movements are essential for your orthopedic integrity. 

Weak knees?  Since no part of the body works in isolation, I would say it's not the knees so much as the legs; and not the legs so much as the body.  Training the hip extensors will likely benefit you.  But you would need to progress appropriately.  So, I would again recommend obtaining clearance from a qualified professional.  Then I would work on length/tension relationships and optimal core functioning.  In fact, it's likely the knees feel week as they don't have a solid foundation (i.e. back) off which to exert force.  L1 through L4 could all be compromised, too, so pathology here needs to be ruled out and/or addressed.  Lastly I would begin a strengthening program which progresses from a non-axial loading position (i.e. supine/floor based) to more neurologically complex/axial loading exercises (hands and knees, knees, standing) to mimic the functional demands of the real world.  All 3 planes of motion should be addressed with a focus on maintaining your balance over your center of mass.  Let form and pain free range of motion dictate parameters like sets and reps and make sure to include periods of unloading both in your training week and your training cycle so that the body has a chance to super compensate and get stronger/healthier. 

 

Question about Chronic Pain in an Endurance Athlete Posted on March 18, 2014, 0 Comments

Question:

I just did a 6 hour mtb race this past weekend. It was awesome. My writeup is below.  Another reason I'm reaching out is because I still have some nagging pains on the left side of my body (primarily) that I've been unable to fully address with stretching, chiro, and the massage I occasionally get. I've even gone as far as to stop running for the last month and a half, but it doesn't seem to be the root of the issue (just exacerbates it). 

I'm thinking I need to go to someone that's cycling and/or running specific to really dig into the problem spots. There's a couple that I've seen people talk up, but I thought I'd see if you have someone you'd recommend. Any info is appreciated!

Answer:

Sounds like it was a good race despite the issues.  And as far as those issues are concerned, I think you need to consider:

--nutrition/lifestyle: you've done some work with me, so you should have a good background.  But I question your choice of fuel for the race--GS cookies and granola bar being the main issues.  Of course, nutrition outside of competition is even more important.  Then there's thinking, breathing, hydration, movement, and sleep, too.  How are you doing here?  If you tax the system too much in relation to these principles, it's only a matter of time till the body revolts.  And to get really deep, hip flexors are closely tied to the adrenals.  And the left side of your body is the female side....

--length/tension relationships: we've never done a full physical assessment, and it might be worth your while.  You're stretching, but are you stretching exactly what you need to be stretching?

--core function: is it working, and are you strengthening what needs to be strengthened and in a functional way which supports your performance goals?

--proper program design/periodization: you might want a 2nd opinion on what you're doing (and remember: the higher your level of stress, the lower your tolerance for exercise).

--bike fit (best guy I know is Matt at Podium).

 

--equipment choice (i.e. shoe, pedal, etc).

 

Jeff Trotti is an excellent massage therapist and the guys at First Choice Health Care are skilled Chiro's and ART practitioners.  But until you address the underlying cause as mentioned above, you're likely just chasing symptoms and will have to continue seeing these folks regularly.  Ultimately, you need to be your best therapist. 

Know that endurance athletics, especially EXTREME endurance like what you're doing, is rough on the body.  And anything which is not perfectly aligned/functioning gets magnified by the volume of training/racing.  It can be something small which simply adds up until it reaches your particular breaking point.  And the better your nutrition/lifestyle/program design, the higher your threshold and the more straws your back can handle before it breaks. 

Lastly, if your issues don't seem to be responding to stretching, chiro, massage, etc, those are good clues that it's likely something else which needs to be addressed.  I've mentioned a few of the obvious suspects above.  Let me know if you want to pursue any of them with my assistance.  And good luck!

 

Much Chi

--A

General Advice Regarding "Degenerative Disc Disease" in the lumbar region Posted on February 10, 2014, 0 Comments

A friend of my wife who cannot get in to see me asked for my insight regarding a diagnosis of Degenerative Disc Disease.  Specifically, she asked me about chiropractic or anything else I might suggest.  My response is below in italics.  NOTE: I do not recommend any of the below activities without a thorough assessment by myself or another qualified professional. 
Chiropractic is likely not going to be the (permanent) answer. 
I'd suggest ELDOA (at least the one pictured and maybe my class when I start it up).  Here are the instructions for her:

Lie down on back with butt and heels against wall.
Dorsiflex and invert the feet.
Take arms overhead and in line with the shoulders and externally rotate them.
Push sacrum to floor.
Look down with eyes and flex chin down without lifting head.
Push heels up toward ceiling.
Push hands away from shoulders.
HOLD for 60s, continually checking to see if you're doing all of the steps detailed above. 

There are other ELDOAs she could use, but this is a good one with which to start.

I'd cut out all PUFAs or at least all veggie oils (including what's in processed food--read labels).  I'd also Minimize/eliminate alcohol, soy, and probably gluten.  Removing these things will help with inflammation (pain), core function (helping to prevent further degeneration), and blood sugar handling (healing).
I'd drink water with a pinch of salt to help with hydration, histamine (pain/swelling), and up regulation of thyroid (healing).  Stainless steel or glass and not plastic.  In fact, I'd get rid of all plastics so that the exposure to xenoestrogens is minimized (see list).  This will help prevent excess laxity when stability will be key.
I'd add bone broth and/or gelatin (www.greatlakesgelatin.com) frequently/daily.
Specific core work needs to be performed.  My book would be a good resource, but I would probably suggest:
--TVA work (daily)
--Lower Abdominal #1 (daily)
--Horse Stance Vertical (daily)
--Oblique Raise (i.e. side plank, every other day)
Variables such as reps/sets/rest intervals I haven't specified as I haven't assessed her, but I'd err on the side of conservatism and do less rather than more.

Possibly also Prone Cobra every other day, but without a full assessment I'd recommend caution.  All the above movements are available in my book which she can download off my website or we could get her a physical copy (http://triumphtraining.com/pages/holistic-strength-training-for-triathlon). 
Posture is key, of course.  So likely stretching of:
--Pecs
--Lats
--External Hips
--Internal Hips
--Hamstrings
--Hip flexors
--Quads
Again, all in my book.

Sleep from 10-6 would maximize anabolic/repair hormones. 
Nasal/Diaphragmatic breathing would help balance the ANS and keep her healing 24/7.
A lot of info and sans assessment, but I know much if not all would help her.
Hope she finds something useful.

A Question about Constipation Posted on January 02, 2014, 1 Comment

Thanks for writing.

Constipation can have several etiologies, but here's what I'd consider the most helpful in restoring your health in full:

1) Thyroid function.  Thyroid health has an impact on all of the body's systems including elimination and detoxification.  Nutrition is a key factor in thyroid function, and many politically correct diet recommendations are adversely impacting the health of this critical organ.  Specifically
--PUFAs (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids): vegetable oils are the prime culprits here.  They are pro-inflammatory, down regulate the thyroid, and actually inhibit immunity.
--most processed foods will use PUFAs as they are cheap alternatives to better quality ingredients.
--Cruciferous veggies when eaten raw (i.e. broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc).  They work as goitrogens and actually down regulate the thyroid.  Cook them well and eat them with a saturated fat (animal product or even coconut oil--the latter of which is pro-thryoid and has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties).
2) Nutrition
--anything which you may be intolerant of (gluten, for example) can cause inflammation and all the resulting dysfunctions
--many of the foods touted as being high in fiber (i.e. beans, grains, green leafy veggies) are not optimal for human digestion (we're omnivores and not ruminant herbivores--thus, we have a difficult time breaking down these foods and utilizing them effectively).  Anytime digestion is impaired, fueling suffers while inflammation is increased.
--Gums (locust bean, xanthum, etc) all are particularly bad and will literally gum up the intestines.
3) Hydration.  You need enough but not too much.  Good rule of thumb is 1/2 your body weight in lbs in oz of water each day (i.e. 150lbs = 75oz of water).  But this can easily dilute electrolyte status, which is really what hydration is predicated upon, so I recommend adding a bit of salt (sea or pickling with no anti-caking agents) to everything I drink.  Not only is this pro-thyroid, it also down regulates the production of aldosterone--a stress hormone.  And anytime you see stress, think inflammation/dysfunction on some level and extra demand on the body's resources.
4) Movement.  Should be full body.  Think of movements which move you into and out of the fetal position.  Squats would be a good example.  But swimming could work, too.  And running or even walking is great to get things moving.  At the very least, bouncing up and down (on a mini trampoline, for example) would help with lymphatic drainage and promote peristalsis.  A word of caution here: exercise (especially cardio as typically performed) in excess of your current training status can easily down regulate the thyroid, so I might cap duration at 45mins.

Additional strategies would include exposure to sun light or at least bright (250+w) incandescent lighting to stimulate the mitochondria, adequate protein intake (preferably from animal sources with liberal use of gelatin/bone broth which has minimal tryptophan and can be used to balance the amino acid profile such that it doesn't perpetuate inflammation/sluggish thyroid), enough dietary carbohydrate (fruit and below ground veggies being the best choices), minding natural circadian rhythms, proper breathing mechanics, and awareness of your thinking and how each though/idea/belief impacts your physiology secondary to activation of specific parts of the autonomic nervous system.  Lots of other possible ideas, but the above should be more than enough to get you moving in the right direction (pun intended).  More info can be found in my book (http://triumphtraining.com/pages/holistic-strength-training-for-triathlon).  And I'm working as quickly as my schedule will allow on my next book which will explore these subject in even greater detail. 

Good luck and know that health is your birthright. 
Go claim it.
Much Chi
--Andrew

How Can I Train My Abs Without Doing Crunches? Posted on October 07, 2013, 0 Comments

Squat

Dead Lift

Lunge

Step Up

Clean

Snatch

Turkish Get Up

Shoulder Press

Push Up

Pull Up

Row

Abdominal Hollowing

Lower Abdominal #1-#4

Plank

Side Bridge

Upper/Lower Body Russian Twist

Supine Lateral Ball Roll

Supine Hip Extension

Supine Hip Extension Knee Flexion

Swim, Bike, or Run

Good Ole Belly Laugh

Daily Bowel Movement

Simply Stand Up

Breathe Properly

Etc.

Random Client Questions with Answers Posted on September 25, 2013, 0 Comments

1.  Am I to try and avoid all PUFA's?  (Looks like you had avocados on one of your recipe)
2.  Can you give me examples of good protein/carbo/fat snacks?  You said I need a good mix, so I am trying to figure that out.
3.  You said to include raw items with meals because of their life giving qualities.  Can you provide examples?  It seemed like you were steering me more towards fruits.  Raw veggies not such a great idea?
3.  How should I start my venture back into dairy?
4.  Can you tell me my beneficial produce and the produce to stay away from one more time?  So salads are bad?  What about baby greens?
5.  If I have my hip/glute/back pain, should I not do my corrective exercises?
6.  I need more advice on myofascial work.  I think this could be really beneficial to me!  All the muscles surrounding my iliac crest, and on the sides around the notch of my femur seem to hold SO much tension.  I think from all the skateboarding, snowboarding, and mountain biking I've done, with NO stretching.  
7.  Could I potentially have parasites in me?  Are parasite cleanses a good idea?
8.  My Dad has been recommending Aloe water at his clinic.  He wants to know your thoughts on it.
9.  My girlfriend recently gave herself a coffee enema.  She wants to know if those have the health benefits they promise.
ANSWERS:
1--it's not one of your action items, but it would serve you well.  Avocado is high in PUFA's, but it's one I would be o.k. with using as a garnish and not a staple (like most do with nuts/seeds/veggie oils/etc).
2--I think you can come up with some on your own (you're a smart guy), but I've attached a list.
3--Raw fruit (ripe) though some are better than others, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes.  Otherwise, I cook most of the others.
4--Above ground veggies except for the ones mentioned above are ones which should  be limited and/or cooked and/or eaten with saturated fat.  Add squash/zucchini to the above.
5--stretches always.  DAILY core movements always (and shouldn't hurt).  Other movements at the threshold specific to your situation (reps/sets/weight/frequency of workout).  You should find that the workout makes you feel better.  If not, you're not ready for that particular movement and we need to go slower/fill in holes in your development.
6--we can work on that next time, but golf ball/tennis ball/foam roller/stick--I have some explanation/examples in my book (http://triumphtraining.com/pages/holistic-strength-training-for-triathlon).  You can download a copy off my website or get one from me directly.
7--You probably do.  Don't want to go there yet.  Besides, some parasites have a symbiotic relationship with us.
8--don't do bells/whistles until you get the basics down.  And that bell/whistle is one I wouldn't recommend.
9--as #8.  And if you're eating/living in a way to support health, you don't need to resort to enemas.

A Woman Seeking Advice about the Progression of Osteopenia Posted on August 11, 2013, 0 Comments

Off the top of my head:

--fluoride is critical to minimize/eliminate.  It's in water (unless using a reverse osmosis filter), toothpaste (of course--though you can easily find alternatives), tea (even organic ones), and anything packaged/canned/made with water.
--Here's some info about gluten and osteoporosis--http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/165/4/393
and
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/20501.php
--Estrogen stunts growth, including bones.  It does so by a number of ways including increasing prolactin which accelerates bone loss.  Hope you're not using it.  Avoiding Xenoestrogens will help (see list attached).  And supplementing with Progesterone (via Progest E Complex) would likely serve you well and help keep you from being estrogen dominant.
--Serotonin is problematic for bone mass, too, and can be increased by anything which irritates the intestines (where 90% is produced and triggers peristalsis).  SSRI's of any sort should be suspect.  It stimulates osteoprotegrin (just like prolactin does), reducing bone resorption, along with PTH and cortisol--both of which remove calcium from bone. 
--decreasing the production of nocturnal stress hormones (night is when most bone loss occurs) would be a good strategy.  Blood sugar maintenance is one component you can easily manipulate which falls under this heading. 
--Anything pro-thyroid (coconut oil, sunlight, salt, etc) is beneficial for bone health (and health in general).   As such, anything which inhibits thyroid (PUFA;s being at the top of the list, but there are MANY more) should be minimized. 
--Zinc is an important co-factor in the stimulation of bone building osteoblasts, even helping to stimulate the production of new osteoblasts. On the other hand, zinc suppresses the excessive activity of osteoclasts, cells that are responsible for bone resorption, demineralization and ultimately bone loss. Zinc helps to regulate the key inflammatory gene signal in bone marrow, NF-kappaB, which is required for optimal balancing of osteoblast and osteoclast formation and function.  See the link below:
--zinc and osteoporosis--http://www.springerlink.com/content/y28j2t66n14842t7/
--Copper is essential for both formation of bone and maintenance of bone structure
--Also, diets high in garlic and other related vegetables such as onions and leeks have been shown to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis.  Also, K2 (not K1 which comes from green, leafy greens) has been shown to increase bone density in people already diagnosed with osteoporosis.  It does so by blocking the removal of calcium from bone caused by parathyroid hormone.  Add D3, too, like we talked about.
--The Calcium Lie by Robert Thompson, MD might be an interesting read for you.
--oral bisphosphonates and femur fractures--http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-09/bc-ntf091310.php
--and some info about oral bisphosphonates and cancer--http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20813820
--It’s important to realize that these types of drugs do NOT build any new bone. Rather they are metabolic poisons that kill off your osteoclasts, which halts the normal bone repair process since you now lack the cells that break bone down.  Your bones will indeed get denser. However, denser bones are NOT stronger, which is the part they don’t tell you. Eventually your bones become weaker and more prone to fracture.  In women who have been taking a bisphosphonate-type drug for five or more years, their bones have literally lost the ability to regenerate and this is why many may be faced with more brittle bones and fractures.

LOTS of info, I know, so ask if you have questions or want to dial in a strategy. 
But all this should at least get you (and your doc?) thinking.
Much Chi

--Andrew

Q and A about Cramping and Fueling during Triathlon Posted on June 25, 2013, 0 Comments

Question for you... I did a 70.3 yesterday in prep for IMLP. My swim and bike went according to plan.  I got off the bike running according to plan feeling very energetic!  About 2 miles in, my right quad started twinging, then my left hammstring. I was forced to walk/run the rest of the run leg, mostly walking.  Eventually, someone gave me a couple salt tabs.  After about an hour and with only about a mile left, they seemed to help and I jogged in without cramping.  It was the very first 90 degree day out here.  I drank tons, popped Endurolytes on the bike, drank the Ironman Perfom, ate pretzels, drank coke...Any thoughts???  I really don't want this to happen during Ironman next month! Thanks in advance for any tips or suggestions.

from S.Vega

Answer:

Could be any number of things.  Magnesium status would be high on the list--it's not readily found in the diet of most people, gets depleted via sweat, and is readily lost in cases of hypothyroidism (which a lot of endurance athletes are prone to).  Fueling/hydration (the latter of which depends more on electrolyte status than amount of water--so drinking tons may be an issue), heat acclimation, effort related to training status, and several other things should all be considered.  But I would suggest to you that race performance is predicated more on nutrition/lifestyle/training outside of race day.  So consistency with sound principles of everything mentioned above along with proper breathing (diphragmatic and nasal when possible), movement (stretching--triathletes often have facilitated quads/hip flexors and tonic musculature is more prone to cramping as the origin and insertion are brought closer together--along with other forms of myofascial work), and sleep (10-6) will increase your threshold for the stress of racing.  And since the intensity at which you race IM will be less than that which you raced the 70.3, fueling should be easier and your effort will be less--both of these will decrease the likelihood of cramping.  If you do cramp, slow down, re-focus on hydration/nutrition, breathe as mentioned above, and press on your upper lip right below the nose--it's a pressure point which can be used to relieve cramping--has saved me a couple of times.  Good luck at IMLP--great race and one which means a lot to me.  Let me know how it goes.

Follow Up Question:

Thanks for the info...As for the 70.3, I was practicing my pacing AND nutrition for IMLP.  Since I went to the USAT clinic in January, I've been a convert to what Seebohar preaches.  My daily nutrition refects my training load.

I had a banana/avocado/honey/almond-coconut milk smoothie at 4 am.  About 45 minutes prior to my swim start, I took 1/4 tsp salt and about 12oz water.  I continued sipping water until the start (no carb drinks).  My swim felt perfect!  As soon as i got on the bike, I ate a banana and drank some of my NUUN.  On the bike, I finished my bottle of NUUN, popped 2 Endurolytes, 1/2 bottle of HEED (with an Endurolyte), and 1.5 bonkbuster bars, and grabbed 2 waters and a bottle of Perform at the stops.  Some of that water went down my jersey for cooling.  I was easily at my IMLP pace, finished in just shy of 3 hours.

I felt great for about 2 miles on the the run and those friggin' cramps started.  Ugh!  I think those salt tabs finally kicked in.

Is it possible to take too many electrolytes???  If so, how do you know the fine line between enough and not enough?

Answer:

Yes, it's possible to take too many electrolytes, but I don't think that's necessarily the issue.  Personally, I don't recommend consumption of PUFA's which was the majority of your smoothie (and the almond milk if not the coconut milk likely had carrageenan unless homemade) and in your bonk breaker bar, as well.  And if you look at the macronutrient content of your breakfast, there really wasn't enough fat or protein to balance the carbs, and I don't doubt that your blood sugar handling was already compromised despite feeling great on the swim.  Additionally, any artificial colors/flavors/sucrolose in the Perform can/will cause issues--I'd use it judiciously and only if in trouble. The NUUN tabs also contain Acesulfame K which stimulates insulin secretion in a dose dependent fashion thereby possibly aggravating reactive hypoglycemia.  They also have some sesame oil (PUFA) which inhibits the use of glucose for fuel (another problem with your a.m. smoothie)--not good for endurance athletes or anyone interested in health.  Lastly, it sounds as if you may have been under fueled.  But, as I said before, what you do during the race has much less impact that how you prepare before--so you could have had no issue with your fueling strategy if pre-race/consistent nutrition (and lifestyle) was better.



Strength Train before or after Swim/Bike/Run? Posted on June 03, 2013, 0 Comments

The answer to that question depends on the time of the year and the current training focus of the athlete.  A technique-intensive discipline like swimming or a high-intensity session in any of the three disciplines will suffer due to residual fatigue if done immediately after a weight-training session.  In addition, the inherent risk of injury due to impact forces make running after weights for any considerable duration a questionable training decision.  However, if enough time has passed to allow for adequate rejuvenation of the athlete's hormonal system (generally four hours or more), then a second workouts should be fine and could actually facilitate recovery from the previous session.

Quality sessions in any of the three disciplines, typically done in the Build phase of an athlete's program (and normally corresponding with a less intense phase of weights like the Strength Maintenance phase) should always be done before weights or less intense swim/bike/run workouts.  If strength training is scheduled for the same day, it could follow immediately for time's sake (and may well simulate the fatigue incurred during the latter stages of a race) or, ideally, several hours later.  The only time when intense weight training should really be positioned as the first workout of the day is during the Maximum Strength or Power Complexity phase (as detailed in Section Three of my book: http://triumphtraining.com/pages/holistic-strength-training-for-triathlon).  And these are both best followed by rest or a strictly aerobic session later in the day.

Question from a Runner with Knee Pain Posted on May 10, 2013, 0 Comments

I'm following a training plan for a race I'm running next month.  But the past few runs I've noticed some discomfort around my knee.  It doesn't bother me too much, but I wonder if I should rest it or just continue with my run schedule.  I really want to PR at my race, so I'm hoping you'll suggest the latter.  What do you think?

from K.Myers 

Answer:   

Whether it’s running, cycling, swimming, or tiddly winks—if it hurts, don’t do it.  Pain is a sign that something is wrong.  Your body is sending you signals all the time, so pay attention.  As athletes, we develop the ability to ignore physical and mental demands to stop as that’s what is often required to meet or even exceed our performance goals.  However, the skill of listening to the body can be easily left underdeveloped as we grow increasingly reliant on heart rate monitors, power meters, and GPS systems to tell us how we’re feeling.  The cost often sidelines us for longer than would have happened if we had just heard and addressed the body’s early attempts to alert us that something wasn’t right.  Injuries occur to bring us back into our bodies and into the present moment.  Avoid them by honoring your body with rest if/when it’s necessary.  As your body responds, you can resume training at the volume you were using before symptoms appeared.  Don’t worry about the delay or getting behind in your preparation.  It’s all about getting to the starting line healthy!

Questions about Minimalist Running Posted on April 15, 2013, 0 Comments

related to a post entitled Bare Naked Feet which can be found here: http://triumphtraining.com/blogs/blog/6364400-365-ways-279-bare-naked-feet

Do any of those sponsored athletes wear Saucony's Hattori or Brooks' Pure Drift? Why doesn't Vibram sponsor athletes?

Do you think what's "natural" for runners from populations that have been shoeless throughout their natural history
is different for runners from populations that have had something between their feet and the ground for thousands of years?

Do you think what's appropriate for super-efficient, 125-pound elite runners might in general be different than what's appropriate for biomechanically-sloppy 180-pound average joes?

from J.Christian

Answer:

Regarding the historical differences between populations and their running background, I think you'll find most share common biomechanical characteristics up until a certain point in their evolution--perhaps coinciding with the advent of the "supportive" running shoe and maybe even jogging for fitness--neither of which are necessarily healthy.

I acknowledge that each individual will have particular strengths/weaknesses specific to him/her. Indeed, that's why I perform a variety of extensive assessments which analyze everything from length/tension relationships to neurological function to how one thinks, breathes, drinks, eats, moves, and sleeps. But I also recognize that it's quite common for specific modalities of exercise to be prescribed (in this case running) without any pre-req's being met. Thus, the therapist/coach who breaks the chain of developing flexibility and stability before strength and power will eventually break the client/athlete, as well.

I've always said that one should wear as much shoe as you need and as little as you can get away with. I prefer to BUILD support rather than buy it. So in regards to your hypothetical athletes above, the biomechanically deficient one is going to get injured regardless of footwear if care is not taken to develop a program appropriate for him. Yet, sadly, most people have neither the time nor the expertise to assess the athlete or the demands of the chosen sport. And if you're not assessing, you're guessing.

I'm glad you're out there paying attention and asking questions. Another one you should consider is what happens to the motion/forces which would have occurred at the foot during pronation when you don't allow that motion to occur. As for why certain shoe companies don't sponsor certain athletes, I could guess but try not to make a habit of that. You'd be better off asking Saucony, Vibram, etc. I suspect you're just playing devil's advocate. I dig that. But if you really want to get into a deeper discussion of biomechanics and kinesiology, just let me know--I'm game. In fact, I love to play.

Question about Irritable Bowel Syndrome Posted on April 02, 2013, 0 Comments

I am a certified health coach from IIN and a triathlete who just qualified for the London world championships. I wanted to introduce myself first and wanted also to thank you for the valuable information you are sharing with us. I concur with everything you write about. 


I was wondering about IBS and how you say is due to autonomic imbalance. Can you explain to me a little bit about what you mean by that? 
from C.Zaragoza

Answer:
 
Congratulations on all you've accomplished thus far.  One of the advantages you have over your competitors is a keen understanding of health.  May it serve you long and well.

IBS can have a number of etiologies.  Gluten and dairy (the latter is often secondary to damage done from less suitable nutrition sources similar to the former) are two of the obvious culprits.  But stress (or any sort) is often the underlying source.  Stress can cause over stimulation of the SNS which inhibits the PNS.  Since the latter is responsible for digestion, repair, etc., this system not functioning optimally commonly results in G.I. dysfunction and inflammation.  And while many might think first of what a person is eating (gluten, carrageenan, artificial flavors/colors, etc). the stress to the system could also be:

--what a person drinks (i.e. red wine)
--how often a person eats and/or in what combination of macro nutrients (i.e. hypoglycemia being a major stress to the body)
--what a person is watching/doing while eating (i.e. watching a drama or rushing to work, creating less blood flow to the intestines)

Of course, many of the stressors could be completely unrelated to diet but still cause lack of blood flow/nutrition to and function of the G.I. System.  Stinking thinking, an inverted breathing pattern, parasites, lack of hydration, over hydration, excessive exercise, deficient movement, faulty circadian rhythms, and many other triggers of the SNS should be addressed as it's truly all connected.  The key is to give the body as many resources as possible while minimizing the ways it is being stressed.  This will serve to strengthen the body's reserves and make it more resilient, effectively raising an individual's threshold for cumulative stress.  And if the person stays under their unique threshold, the body will heal itself. 

I could go on forever as one tangent leads to another.  But I hope this gets you thinking at least.  I'm sure you do a pretty good job of that already!

I wish you the best of luck in London.  I'll be sending you vibes!
With Chi
--Andrew