Jan 25 2012

Periodization Breakdown

Training for any kind of sport is goes a little bit further than going to the gym, doing a workout you see in Muscle and Fitness then running for an hour.  This will get you nowhere.  Sure it is better than doing nothing, but there is no structure.  If you have been reading my blog for a while, you have seen me talk about periodization.  This is the cycling of training priorities from non-sport specific activities of high volume and low intensity to sport specific activities of low volume and high intensity.  These cycle so you prevent overtraining, optimize performance and more importantly, peak when it counts.

Starting with the smallest cycle, a microcycle is only one to four weeks long.  Combining multiple microcycles together gives you a mesocycle.  This can last several weeks to several months.  The final culmination of all of the mesocycles results in the macrocycle.  This is typically an entire training year.

Let’s use Johnny Racer for an example.  Johnny just moved up from minis and plans race Loretta Lynn’s this year.  Last year, he did well at his area qualifier but had a bad regional qualifier.  It’s a new year and he just hopped on his 125.  However, he has a hard time controlling the bike at the end of the moto when it gets rough.  For the example’s sake, let’s say that the reason Johnny is getting so tired is because both his cardiovascular system and muscular system are not used to bigger bike.  He will need to increase his strength and work on his cardio.

Now let’s set a goal for little Racer: It’s almost February and Loretta’s is early August.  That gives us 7 months to work with.  Since it is early in Johnny’s training cycle, we will begin with higher volume, lower intensities.  Resistance training is light weight with 20 reps, only 2 sets and should be a total body workout.  With strength training, you want to give yourself at least 48 hours for recovery to avoid early burn out.  Some light cardio, or active recovery, for 30 minutes at 50%-60% of you max heart rate will help with soreness.    For cardiovascular work, you can keep the heart rate in the 60%-70% from 45 to 60 minutes 3 to 4 times per week.  For added recovery, you can throw a rest week in every 3 to 4 weeks where training is kept to a minimum.

By late March to early April, things can begin to get more intense.  However, with added intensity comes less volume.  Our resistance training set and rep rang shift as well as our cardiovascular work.  For strength work, we move to 3 sets, but drop down to only 10 reps.  You want to movements like a dead lift or squat for the first exercise then concentrate on lunges, pull ups, stability ball exercises and core work.  Just like the resistance training, cardio goes up in intensity significantly.  Our percentages would be 70%-80% and time is about 30 minutes after a warm up.

To wrap up the last 5 to 6 months, we move into more on sport specific training.  Our strength training sessions are high intensity with little volume.  You want to be fast as possible with reps as they should be in the range of 10 -12 reps and only 2 sets.  Cardiovascular training is high intensity as well.  You would shift from more of a longer, steady state to interval training.  Lower intensity bouts would be in zone 2 while the more intense bout would be in zone 4.  Recovery is king in this stage of the year.  You only need to be doing this strength training twice per week.  The same goes with the intervals.  Recovery rides in zone 1 are great for active rest.

This is a rough outline of what a training program would look like.  This is a general outline of what needs to be done, but the goals and weaknesses of each rider would determine the schedule.  Knowing where you want to be and what you need to work on will make the difference come race day.  Not having an idea of what you want to accomplish only leads to lack luster results.  Keeping a log of everything you do will help you determine goals and areas of strength and weakness.

Here are a few links for if need clarity on zones for interval training and finding your heart rate zones:

Zone Training Part 1

Zone Training Part 2


Posted under Training | No Comments »
Dec 21 2011

Top 5 Resistance Training Movements

When strength training for moto, you want to choose the most dynamic exercises you can.  This means you want movements that will give you the most bang for your buck.  You don’t want to spend hours in the gym.  The main part of any training program is riding as the cardiovascular and resistance training should just be used to improve physical weaknesses.  With that in mind, keeping strength training movements to big, multiple joint exercises will have the greatest effect in the shortest amount of time.  In no particular order, here are 5 exercises that you should have in your strength training program.

  1. Front Squats – Normal barbell squats are revered as one of the best overall exercises.  Ever.  When you do these, you are utilizing the biggest muscle group in the body (legs) as well as the core and lower back for stabilization.  However, when you place the bar in front of your neck instead of behind it, this changes things quite a bit.  More emphasis is place on the quadriceps, core and lower back.  These will help with the attack position and correct form while riding with the quad work and core stabilization.
  2. Atomic Push Ups – Push Ups are great for everything upper body.  They engage the chest, triceps, shoulders and once again, the core.  Throw your feet into a TRX or similar suspension training device and you have yourself one of the best upper body movements for moto.  Think about anytime you went through braking bumps or a rough section; the bars are violently thrashing side to side and the whole front end is moving up and down.  This requires a lot of upper body strength and muscular endurance to maintain a straight and steady course.  You can even place your hands on an Indo board for even more core activation and added intensity.
  3. Dead Lifts – If you can’t squat, you dead lift.  This simple movement is only second to squats.  Deads are great for hip, hamstring, and posterior work.  If you are moving up in bike size or having trouble controlling the bike at the end of a moto, incorporating dead lifts will make a huge difference.  Forget the power lifting style of the wide sumo stance.  Go with a narrower stance with your feet about 12 inches apart.  For moto applications, it isn’t necessary to go super heavy with this, but still make sure you have the form down to avoid injury.
  4. Rows – These can be done with almost anything that creates resistance: barbell, dumbbell, kettle bells and suspension training devises.  There are even more options with hand positions and going unilateral.  This is a great movement for the latissimus dorsi as this goes hand and hand with the push up movement and braking bumps.  Rows are the ying to the push up’s yang.  Doing these will complete a strong, versatile upper body.
  5. Lunges – Another great lower body movement.  Like the rowing, there are so many variations like step ups, rear lunges, side lunges, etc.  This targets almost the whole leg: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, etc.  Lunges are not meant to be done with heavy weight so it is best done with higher reps.  Like the dead lifts, these can be extremely beneficial if you have a hard time keeping the bike under control at the end of a moto.  Lunges compliment and make a great end to a workout after dead lifts/ squats.

Posted under Training | No Comments »
Nov 10 2011

Understanding the Energy Systems Part 2

So yesterday was an intro to the fuel systems of the body.  It was brief, but to get the point across, I made it quick and painless.  If you noticed, the two sources for fuel were fat and carbohydrates.  These are broken down according to how fast energy is needed, then they are converted to ATP for muscular contraction.  The relationship between fat and carbohydrates can be seen in the picture.

As you move away from aerobic systems, fat is used less and less as carbohydrates become the main fuel.  Looking at the picture again, you see that the red line represents the wastes.  This is not related to bowel movements in any way (or we would be in big trouble every time we rode!).  The line indicates the accumulation of lactic acid.  When the intensity is low and fat is still a prime fuel, the lactate acid can be flushed from the blood and muscles in a timely manner.

The aerobic base is the point where the highest intensity of your effort can still be maintained to be aerobically efficient.  Remember, aerobic means “with oxygen” so this is still in the lower heart rate zones.  You can actually shift this point with enough aerobic training.  This is the main goal when you say “I need to get my cardio up.”

As you move up the graph, you’ll see the lactate acid increase exponentially.  This is where you reach the anaerobic threshold.  At this point, you stop using oxygen and that burning feeling is rampant.  Training in this zone requires a lot of work and athletes physically cannot spend much time here.  Once you go past this point, you reach your VO2 max.  Quite simply, this is the maximum amount of oxygen the body can take in and use.

By now, you should see a pattern forming here.  Your heart rate zones used for training are directly affected by your anaerobic threshold, aerobic base and VO2 max.  The fuel required must be consumed in sufficient quantities to ensure that you have the body’s “gas tank” full (i.e. eat correctly).  I hope this helps you understand aerobic training a little more.

If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to email me!

Posted under Training | No Comments »
Nov 09 2011

Understanding the Energy Systems

I have said this numerous times before, but I will say it again because it is so true: moto is one of the most dynamic sports on the face of the planet.  Simply doing cardio for hours on your road bike will not prepare you enough for a 20 minute moto.  The body relies on different systems to fuel itself during physical activity and the endless cardio only taps into one of these energy systems.  When you know what to train, you can properly set up your workouts for the right time of the year.

Your energy systems are the means of producing energy that is called ATP.  This is molecule is essential for muscular contraction.  If you have no ATP, you aren’t going anywhere.  Depending on the intensity of the activity, you will get most of your energy from one of three systems: oxidative, glycolytic, or ATP-PCr system.  All three systems are always being used, but it is just a matter of which one is in the “driver seat.”

The first system is the oxidative.  This is the slow and steady way of getting energy.  Generally, this is used when activity is over 2 minutes.  Because it uses oxygen, this aerobic process takes place in the mitochondria of your cells.  Remember those things?  They used to call them the power houses of the cells when I was in high school.  As you train in this system more and more, your body will produce more mitochondria in order to keep up with the demand for ATP.  For the most part, the lower the intensity, to more fat is utilized.

The next system is the glycolytic.  In this system, things are getting a more intense and the heart rate is climbing.  At this point, you start to use a little less fat and more carbohydrate.  This is where glycolysis occurs and breaks down glucose or glycogen.  Since this is a higher intensity, if there is oxygen (aerobic), then the glucose can be broken down and sent to another cycle for ATP.  However, when there is no oxygen (anaerobic), the glucose is sent to a different cycle for ATP and eventually is converted in lactic acid, but it can be dissipated quickly.  This system is used when activity is under 2 minutes.

The final system used is the ATP-PCr system (CreatinePhosphate)  .  This is utilized when you are going all out.  Unlike the oxidative system where you are getting plenty of ATP, the PCr system only generates small amounts.  It cannot be sustain for very long before lactic acid and fatigue take place.  The main source of fuel here are carbohydrates.  The time for this system is very short, less than 30 seconds.

This is an extremely brief overview of these systems.  However, if you can understand what is going on, you will be able to train yourself more efficiently.  Like the old saying goes, work smarter, not harder.  Tomorrow I will tie this in with the VO2 max so you get a better understanding.

Posted under Training | 2 Comments »
Oct 14 2011

Strong Legs = More Endurance

Any athlete will tell you that the way to great overall strength are well trained legs.  You don’t need have bodybuilder size thighs, but a strong base will help you last longer in your motos.  Your upper body cannot support the amount of stress for an entire moto for you to be competitive.  It’s pretty simple to prove this.  How much can you bench?  Lance knows the importance of strong legs...Maybe 170, 180 lbs; however, you can squat twice or maybe three times as much weight.  Squeezing your bike throughout the moto is always important and if you squeezed your handle bars as much, your arms would be pumped for the next week.

To get a good, strong base, you’ll need to hit the legs hard.  To me, when the legs get lactic acid built up, it is the worst burn ever.  But you have to remember, this will pay off on race day.  So, to start off, you might want to do this leg work out for a few weeks:

Front Squats:  12 reps, 10 reps, 8 reps

Leg Press:  20 reps, 20 reps

Lunges: 12 reps, 10 reps, 8 reps

Leg Curls: 20 reps, 20 reps

Calf Raises: rep out 3x

Front squats put a lot of emphasis on the quadriceps as well as the abdominal muscles and lower back.  If you have never done them before, it may be a little awkward at first, but your get the hang of it the more you do it.  It is performed just like a regular squat except you place the bar in front of your neck instead of behind it.  The same concept applies when executing: keep your back straight all the way down, head and chest up.  The rest are pretty self explanatory, but for the lunges, make sure you explode off of the foot to be most effective.

However, don’t just concentrate on this one routine; you must work on all of the muscles.  To work your squats a little different, try to put your feet closer together with your toes pointed out, or you put your feet out wider than shoulder width.  This will mix things up and keep your muscles guessing.  Again, don’t just go through the motions, work your legs hard and it will pay off when the track gets rough in the later motos.

Posted under Training | No Comments »
Sep 14 2011

Wednesday Workout

Today’s workout is pretty straight forward.  It will combine your cardio and muscular endurance.  Most of the time, people either perform bouts of cardio or a certain volume of resistance training.  While this is great for setting a foundation, you can really get a great workout from alternating between the two in a certain amount of time or sets.  Like yesterday’s routine, this can be used in the middle of the week during a race series or for an upcoming race.  It is high intensity, so you need to properly warmed up and give yourself some time in the next few days to recover.

  1. Run 200 meters
  2. Overhead Squats
  3. Run 200 meters
  4. Dips
  5. Run 200 meters
  6. Dead Lifts
  7. Run 200 meters
  8. Inverted Rows
For the overhead squat, you want to use light weight because the bar will be held over your head like a shoulder press as you squat.  Keep you core tight and back straight.  This is a great exercise like the dead lift that can work both portions of the body.  The dips will hit the anterior side of the upper body and the rows will be a nice way to end the circuit.  Since these are body weight movements, there won’t be a rep count, just do as many as you can.  For the squat and deads, 8 to 10 reps is good.
The running does not need to be an all out sprint.  Run at a fast pace that will keep your heart rate up and around 85% of your max HR.  However, on the last run, try to give it all you have.  As far as the number of circuits, begin with 2, then you can progressively workout your way up.  Take your time with this and as I mentioned before, warm up and stretch.
Good Luck!

Posted under Training | No Comments »