Well, that’s not exactly the whole story, but close. About a year ago my doctor informed me I had Osteopenia, or lower than “normal” bone mineral density (BMD), which can put me at higher risk of developing Osteoporosis. So, as all good doctors do, mine gave me a prescription.
The local pharmacy wasn’t going to be of any help however since the prescription was for “weight- bearing exercise.” Determined to hold on to my full 61 inches, and fight the typical loss of 2 inches by age 70, I searched the internet for information on weight bearing exercises. Dancing was on the list, along with gymnastics and jogging. The first two clearly required rhythm, considerable coordination, and the possible wearing of a pale pink leotard, so I chose jogging!
What most people fail to realize is that bone density increases or bones get stronger in response to loading or stress stimuli. Stresses like the impact felt when you run or jump (plyometrics). Where as an activity like swimming, though an excellent aerobic and muscle strength exercise, does not translate the same stress to the bones since you are suspended in the water.
So why run when walking is a weight bearing exercise too? Well, because of a little thing called adaptation, which our body does so well. If over the last year my routine was to walk 4-5 miles every other day at 4mph, my bones would respond – increase density and eventually adapt to that level of stress. To realize further gains however, I would need to increase the stress, by perhaps alternating walking with jogging, jogging with running, running with jumping…
Age-related height loss caused by bone-thinning is real, and can be an indicator of reduced strength, balance and higher risk of bone fractures. You can read more on this in the short feature from the May 29 NBC Nightly News.
I run because I’m five foot one!
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily”
It takes time and effort to keep the motivation up, set goals, enjoy the process, learn from the mistakes, and celebrate the wins both big and small.
I raced in the Hunter Mountain Classic 78 Mile Road Race this past weekend, and although my time and average pace was good, I went from comfortable pacing with the lead pack in my heat to unable to hold even a strong by-myself pace. Granted, the climb on Route 42 was tough and there was a very strong wind on Route 28, but I felt I should have been able to stay with them longer if not until the finish. However, I realized after the race, that I strained the muscles in both of my inner thigh, which after some research, I found to be the “Gracillis” which is one of the adductor muscle group. The Gracillis also assists in flexing the knee joint, which a cyclists does a lot, for me an average of around 90 times a minute (540 times an hour) for the entire 4+ hour ride ( some 21,600 times each leg during the race!). See the image (source: Wikipedia).
I think the strain results from trying to get the most out of my pedaling stroke. Pulling up on the pedals on the up-stroke involves flexing the knee and the ankle, trying to make a smooth circle with the pedal. Try this exercise on the bike: only clip in on one side and the try to pedal the smoothest circle you can do (with constant pressure for the full 360 degree rotation). You will feel it in the inside of your thigh on the up stroke. This is the Gracillis muscle.
So now that I know the problem, I have to strengthen this muscle, otherwise I will continue to strain it on hard rides. But how? A bit of research turned up a very cool exercise library website, which gives you a graphic view of every muscle group and one or more exercises to strengthen that group. Check it out at FitnessVancouver.ca. Thus the title “There’s and Exercise for that.”
But when you’ve learned to shut off outside influences and believe in yourself, there’s no telling how good a player you can be. That’s because you have the mental edge. -Rod Carew
Cyclists and long-distance runners are a skinny lot. They shy away from muscle mass because every pound they carry requires more power to move. Their sports require endurance, not brute strength. But all of us must do strength building exercises if we want to perform at our best. A stronger muscle will be able to perform longer without fatigue. The question is, how do I build strength without bulking up. The key is to use volume (number of reps) to develop strength not mass.
According to “Maximum Performance for Cyclists” by Michael J. Ross, M.D., the number of repetitions (reps) and the weight used depends on the effect you are trying to achieve. Between 2-6 reps you are building strength, 8-12 reps builds muscle (hypertrophy), and 15-20 reps builds muscular endurance. This is assuming that the weight used is the maximum you can lift for the number of reps performed. For cyclists and runners, building strength is the key to improving performance without building large muscle mass.
Strength gains can be achieved by doing sport-specific weight lifting 3 times a week. By “sport-specific” we mean that the resistance training should mimic the movements involved in the sport you compete in. For example, cyclists should perform squats or leg presses with their feet parallel and the same distance apart as on the bike pedals. These movements can also be “velocity-specific,” that is, done at a speed similar to the movement on the bike to help develop fast-twitch muscle fibers. Fast twitch muscles are what you need to sprint and climb those hills.
The progression of your weight training should be muscle building, then strength building, then finally endurance. Start by doing muscle-building (8-12 reps) resistance work for up to 6 weeks to build muscle without building too much muscle mass, then progress to strength building (2-6 reps). If you do 2-6 reps, 3 times a week, using the max resistance that the muscle can handle, in 3-4 weeks you will see significant improvement in strength without bulking up. Once you have done the strength building phase, endurance workouts are best done on the bike or running.
The end result will be better performance! Good Luck.
Core Camp, Total Fit, FUD Fighter, 456Fit and Boot Camp are among The FitnessEDGE classes offered and sessions start this week and next! With affordable classes in Red Hook and Poughkeepsie, mornings and evenings, full-time or drop-in rates, there’s bound to be something to meet your fitness needs. Sign-up now and join me, an ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor, and get your body in motion!
Full class schedule and class descriptions can be found on the Group Fitness Class page.
And don’t forget our Coaching plans for cycling and running! Maybe you’re looking to run your first 5K, improve your current 10k time, or want to train for a marathon. Or perhaps your first Century ride is just a few months away, or you need to develop those climbing legs! Let The FitnessEDGE create a plan just for YOU!
Don’t care to take a class, no problem! Enjoy our blog, with its helpful tips, experiences and practical advice for active people of all ages.