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Strength Training For Cyclists

The research done to date on the effects of weight training on cyclists has brought mixed results. The study done by Ben Hurley at the University of Maryland had 10 healthy men take up strength training (bench presses, hip flexions, knee extensions, knee flexions, press-ups, leg presses, lat pulldowns, arm curls, parallel squats, and bent-knee sit-ups) for 12 weeks, while eight other healthy men served as controls.

After 12 weeks, the strength-trained men improved their endurance while cycling at an intensity of 75 per cent V02max by 33 per cent and also lifted lactate threshold (the single best predictor of endurance performance) by 12 per cent.

However, these men were untrained prior to the study and did not carry out regular cycling workouts during the research, so the applicability of these findings to serious athletes is questionable

The study carried out by R. C. Hickson and his colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago was considerably more practical. In that investigation, eight experienced cyclists added three days per week of strength training to their regular endurance routines over a 10-week period.

The strength training was incredibly simple, focusing on parallel squats (five sets of five reps per workout), knee extensions (three sets of five reps), knee flexions (3 x 5), and toe raises (3 x 25), all with fairly heavy resistance. The only progression utilized in the program involved the amount of resistance, which increased steadily as strength improved.

Nonetheless, the strength training had a profoundly positive impact on cycling performance. After 10 weeks, the cyclists improved their 'short-term endurance' (their ability to continue working at a very high intensity) by about 11 per cent, and they also expanded the amount of time they could pedal at an intensity of 80% V02max from 71 to 85 minutes, about a 20-per cent upgrade.

On the negative side, we have research, carried out by James Home and his colleagues at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, seven endurance cyclists who averaged about 200 kilometers of cycling per week incorporated three strength training sessions into their normal routine. The strength program was relatively unsophisticated, consisting of three sets of up to eight repetitions of hamstring curls, leg presses, and quadriceps extensions using fairly heavy resistance.

After six weeks, the strength training had produced rather impressive gains in strength (the gains averaged a bit more than 20 per cent). However, actual cycling performances were not improved; in fact, they were worse than before the strength training was undertaken! 40-K race times slowed from 59 to 62 minutes, and the strength-trained cyclists complained of feeling 'heavy' and tired during their workouts.

Why did Hickson's study uncover clear advantages associated with strength training for cyclists, while Home's work revealed the reverse?

No one knows for certain, which means it's time for a personal observation. It seems quite likely that the strength training carried out by Hickson's charges improved fatigue resistance in their muscles, permitting them to persist longer both during high-intensity tests of endurance and prolonged efforts at a submaximal (80% V02max) intensity.

Meanwhile, it's likely that Home's added strength training sent his athletes into the overtrained - or at least 'stale' - state. The feelings of fatigue which originated shortly after the beginning of strength training suggests that the athletes were simply doing too much work.

Home's cyclists were averaging 124 miles of weekly riding when they started their strength training, while Hickson's athletes were logging considerably fewer miles, so one might be tempted to suggest that strength training can produce major benefits for low-mileage cyclists but does much less for experienced, higher mileage competitors who have already built up considerable strength merely by riding.

That certainly wouldn't be an unreasonable thought, but it doesn't explain why strength training per se would actually slow down endurance performances, as it seemed to do for Home's performers (no other study has shown this). It seems very likely that Home's added strength training was simply the straw that broke the camel's back; it wasn't the strength training which slowed the cyclists but the total amount of work they had to complete.

Another issue that was not kept controlled in the studies was nutrition and supplementation which also would have a major impact. It is my personal feeling after three decades in the physical training world that weight training is advantageous in almost all sports when done properly and paired with the correct nutrition.


Effectively Using Sport Supplements Like Creatine

As most people know the majority of a person's body is water. In fact, your body is about 60% water. We need to drink lots of water every day to keep our bodies healthy. When people work out in the gym, we sweat a lot of the water we have been drinking up to that point and that is why we also need to drink as we work out. Also, our muscles need water to properly perform the functions necessary to increase mass and strength when working out and recovering. This is where the sports supplement creatine comes in.

Creatine is a natural occurring, amino acid primarily produced in the kidney and liver. Our blood transfers this amino acid to our muscles. Besides our natural ability to produce creatine, we can get it from the foods that we eat, mainly meat products. Another way we can gain more creatine into our bodies is by ingesting it like any of the other muscle building supplements. Athletes and bodybuilders ingest it in a powdered, micronized form either in that form or mixed in with a post workout drink.

Why would people take a creatine supplement? The answer is it allows blood and necessary nutrients to be transported to your muscles via the bloodstream. This helps in muscle recovery and growth. The main reason for this effect is that creatine helps in retaining fluids in your muscles. This allows for greater recovery speeds and increased strength from your workout. While working out, creatine also decreases muscle fatigue which will allow you to work out longer and lift heavier weights.

When taking any sports supplement you cannot just load up as much as you want and expect to become bigger and stronger overnight. You have to properly assess how much creatine to take and how often to use it. Using too little will not give you the desired effect of increased strength and recovery. Along the same vein, using too much is wasteful and you will only excrete the extra creatine through your urine or sweat without making any use of it. Balancing creatine use and your training regimen is the only way to get the results you want.

Creatine is not meant to be a wonder drug that will suddenly make you big and strong in the same way spinach is supposed to work for Popeye. It works best in short duration, high-intensity workouts. For proper usage, do research and consult with a trained professional on its use.


Useful Ideas For Removing The Obstacles To Better Fitness

Fitness is a worthy objective that many people have, but often obstacles get in the way. You probably know the value of exercise and a healthy diet, but find it difficult to be consistent in these areas. If you're trying to overcome any obstacles in regard to fitness, we'll be looking at some methods and ideas to help you accomplish this.

One problem people who haven't exercised for a while face is that they don't feel sufficiently fit to begin a fitness program! If you've been inactive for a long time, you may be reluctant to begin an exercise program. Or maybe you've tried to run, lift weights, ride a bicycle or joined a class at a gym and found it too strenuous. The key is to start at whatever level you're at right now. You should seek medical advice about a good exercise program if you suffer from any chronic health issues. If you feel out of shape, you might want to start walking regularly, as this is something you can begin as slowly as you want, and increase as you get fitter.

It's common for people to feel that fitness is no longer an option past a certain age. While this was the conventional wisdom at one time, recent research, however, has shown that people of all ages can improve their condition with exercise. There have been studies where people over seventy began a weight lifting program and were able to dramatically improve their strength and muscle mass. Some fitness exercises that are good for older people include exercises in water, walking and lifting light weights. No matter how old you are, or how long it's been since you've exercised it's never too late to begin.

One of the main problems people have when it comes to fitness programs is being consistent. That's why it's a good idea to set definite times to exercise and adhere to this schedule. If you only go to the gym, jog or take an exercise class when you feel like it, or when you have extra time, it's not likely you will be consistent about it. You should make these definite, rather than optional activities that you plan into your week. Many people are more consistent about watching their favorite TV program than exercising, and if this describes you, you need to examine your priorities and place fitness higher on the list.

People can have difficulty maintaining a fitness program for any number of reasons. Rather than let these issues stop you, resolve to find a way around them, as this is almost always possible to do. Whatever obstacles to fitness that you might have, the above guidelines can help you find a way around them. It's your health, and by taking responsibility for it, you can begin to improve it.


The Importance Of Back Exercises In Your Bodybuilding Program

There are two primary reasons for getting into a bodybuilding program, trying to increase muscle mass and trying to increase functional strength. The key to both of these is building core strength, which lies in the abdominal muscles, and, just as importantly the muscles of the upper, middle and lower back.

The primary stabilizing muscles of your body are in your back, these are the easiest muscles to injure while lifting weights. Your back consists of the spine, the ribs, the scapula and the ligaments that string them all together, like parts of a mobile or kinetic motion structure.

Back injuries are almost always compression or rotation injuries, this is damage to the soft tissue, due to an over-extending movement of the back muscles involved. You can prevent back injuries by utilizing correct weight lifting techniques and muscle group isolation and you can also prevent physical problems from developing years later.

Muscle groups that you need to work on in the back are your traps, lats and deltoids, and you need to take them slowly. Yes, you can get a ripped looking back by overdoing it, but it's better to focus on practical strength increases over physical appearance and muscle building when dealing with your back.

The trapezius muscles are the ones that form the bulk of your back. In Traps, the fundemental exercise is the shrug where you lift the dumbbells in both hands, shrug and hold then release.

Another workout that mostly works on your deltoids, but helps the traps a bit, is a straight-arm lift. Hold a dumbbell in your hand with your elbow at your side, and your forearm out level with the map. Extend your arm until it's at shoulder height, in one fluid motion, and look down your arm at the dumbbell, like you're sitting on a pistol range. Then bring it down slowly. This is a common exercise in martial arts groups that emphasize punching.

To build up the lower trapezius muscle, you're going to want a sitting down 'V-bar pull down', where you're pulling down against resistance. This is better than a straight pull up because it isolates the muscle thoroughly.

If you are targeting your back, specifically your lower back, one exercise that is important in helping you gain strength in your back is shoulder arches. By doing shoulder arches you will not only gain strength (this is the most important thing), but you will also work on definition of your back as well. Hold a light dumb-bell over the back of your neck and lay down on your front. Clasp your hands, then arch your back, lift, count to three, then lower slowly. It's very easy to overdo them, so, do these sparingly.

Like all the exercises which help with muscle building, stretching and cardio exercise before and after are a must for maintaining flexibility.


How To Gain Weight And Muscle With Less Risk And Effort

The best way to gain weight and muscle naturally and fast is through the combination of the proper diet and the right exercises.

The single most natural and safest method for you to increase your weight is to eat more. However, in order to achieve proper results, you need to increase your consumption of the right foods.

You might already know in the bodybuilding group that protein is a must. No one can argue that protein have an important role in the body making muscles. It is the foundation for having strong muscles and a strong body. There some other things besides protein that also make putting on muscle and weight easier that do not always get discussed.

One of these is carbohydrates, they play a vital part in the gaining of muscle and weight. Just think of them as gasoline for the human body, they fuel it. During your intense workout sessions, your body relies on the carbohydrates for its main draw for energy. You will find both simple and the complex carbohydrates exist. However, the bodybuilders need to eat the complex carbohydrates due to the fact that their bodies do not absorb these as quickly.

Furthermore, they provide a more sustained source of energy. It is reported that the best sources of complex carbohydrates are rice, legumes, whole grain bread, starchy vegetables, and pasta. It is important to take a small serving of complex carbohydrates before every workout. This will give you the sufficient amount of energy to train at the intensity levels that will stimulate muscle growth.

Many people don't understand that unsaturated fat also is important for building muscle and weight gain, this is the good fat. It is also a great energy source. It not only regulates the metabolism for the body but it also encourages the production of hormones. It is considered necessary for vitamin E, K, A, and D to absorb properly.

The best sources of unsaturated fat are salmon, almonds, avocadoes, olive oil, canola oil, and walnuts. You can gorge down on protein and complex carbohydrates, but when it comes to fat, moderation is the key. Take a small amount of fat every meal and after a workout. Stay away from the bad fats altogether since these are stored as body fat and does not provide any beneficial help whatsoever.

Everyone of course knows they need a good diet just gets them so far. To be able to add both weight and more muscle, you have to also exercise.

Build Muscle is a site on the Internet which you can turn to for tips and information about gaining muscle and weight in a quick, effective, and natural way. It will be surprising to you how easy it is to build muscles and gain weight.


Running Tips - Weight Training For Runners

Weight training is something that can benefit runners of all levels. Whether you are a beginning runner or have been running for years, working out with light weights can help you to become a stronger runner. Many runners overlook the importance of weight training because they think that they are going to "bulk up" and it will hurt their running. But, done correctly weight training is really beneficial for runners. Read on to find out why.

Doing upper body weight training will help increase your endurance. Many runners find that toward the end of a long run or race, they feel tired across their shoulders and in their arms. They may also find themselves tightening up in their shoulders. Keeping these muscles strong will help with this.

Having strong arms will also help you with your speed and hill running. Cranking those arms will help you move up that hill or help you with that finishing sprint.

Weight training will help you reduce your risk of injury. Doing leg extensions on a bench is a great way to help treat and prevent "runner's knee". Leg weight training will also help you keep your leg muscles balanced. Many injuries are caused due to muscle imbalance - you use certain muscles for running and the other muscles become weak. Keeping those legs strong all over will help prevent this - and actually make you run stronger.

Many runners also find that after a program of working out with weights, they start running faster. They are running longer without feeling tired with the help of building their muscles all over. If you are running stronger than you are able to keep up your proper running form.

Remember working out with weights for runners is not about building bulk. You want to use strength training to help you become an overall more efficient runner. Pick weights that you can life 10 - 15 times easily. It is more important to do more repetitions with a lighter weight.

You only need about 15-30 minutes for weight training two or three times a week. This is enough to build up your strength and endurance without the bulk. Also, you don't need to go out and join an expensive gym. Get a simple weight bench with leg extensions and some dumbbells. That's all you need. I find that it's easier to go to my basement for my weight workout. You can work it in during one of your favorite TV shows.


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