Tag Archives: workout

Cycling Thoughts — Sometimes You Just Have To Let the Legs Decide!

Questions for all the cyclists out there as the season winds down:

  • How has your cycling year been?
  • Did you have a great year?
  • Did you meet your goals?
  • What would you change?

I, like everyone sets goals for my cycling  in the early season. Usually I get excited in January about the upcoming season and the thought of getting back out on the roads, racing and riding with the local groups as the weather improves. It also comes from the fact that I have rolled my workout intensity back in the fall and in January I’m looking to get back into serious workout mode again. Image

This year has been very good for me and I have ridden some very strong rides, Battenkill, Trooper Brinkerhoff races, the Harlem Valley Rail Ride and finally the latest 50-miler: the “Bike for Cancer Care” group ride in Kingston NY last Sunday. It is a group ride with no timing and not a race, but the course is good with what I would call moderate climbs, only one is categorized (cat-4, but short).

I started out with no warm-up and just sat in with the second group of riders that were working fairly well together and pace-lining on Hurley Mountain Rd., waiting for my cold leg muscles to warm up and my attitude to improve.  Somewhere near the left turn at the south end onto Tongore Rd., I started feeling better and stronger, so decided to work at it a bit, instead of just riding.  Time to check the ol’ legs out and see if they were ready. Who knows, maybe they are actually working?  After the turn on Mill Dam Road the course gets more hilly and the pack broke up. Another rider (Bill)  and I, broke away on the climb and descent to Rosendale. We eventually rode together, trading pulls with each other for the rest of the ride (about 40 miles), averaging in the low 20’s for most of the rest of the ride. Eventually we picked up two more riders that were dropped from the lead group and finished strong, averaging 20 MPH for the entire ride. A nice effort and really a surprise for me, since I was not motivated and had no plan to ride that hard at the start.

The net of this long discussion is that this year’s training has been quite good and the results show it,  even though I have ridden less total miles this year than last year at this time. About 500 miles less and riding 3-4 days a week. I’m also stronger than at this time last year. How did I do it? Through focused, high intensity training for strength and speed, with longer rides for endurance.  This is the training that the Big Ring Riding group has been doing all season with excellent results.  We have done all types of intervals: high-intensity, short, long, sprint, tempo, threshold, VO2Max, hills and more hills. In addition, we also worked on pace-lines, criteriums, and time-trials, just for the fun of it.

bigringJrsyHere’s my offer to cyclists in the area.  There are a couple more weeks of Big Ring Riding  evening training sessions left this season and I am opening up the rest of the season for free to anyone who wants to try it out, no strings attached. Come out and train with us on Monday and Wednesday nights at 5:30 pm starting tomorrow, 9/18.  Sessions last 1 to 1-1/2 hours, typically.  Send me a message on our contact page or via FB to reserve your spot and get the details.


Sore No More!

Those Danish researchers are at it again. (No, not the guys studying raspberry danish!)raspberry_danish

According to the article in the Sept issue of Health magazine, “After a killer workout, hitting the gym again is probably the last thing on your mind. But… doing light exercise two days after a tough session is as effective as a massage for relieving aches.”

We all know that the soreness we feel is due to the tiny muscle tears that occur when we stress muscles to build muscle strength.  Some light exercise a day or two after an intense one will increase your blood flow, promote healing and enable the muscles to move more easily.

The article calls out these mini workouts “to combat achiness”:

  1. Take a Walk – a 20 minute stroll at moderate pace around the neighborhood or on a treadmill.
  2. Hit the Pool – Swimming a few easy laps will warm up the body and boost circulation. And best of all – it’s super low impact so won’t jar your joints.
  3. Work Out Your Core – Balance, or core focused moves, like single leg squats or side planks improve blood flow, up overall fitness and still give whining muscles a break.

And when all else fails, I hear a day at the spa is a scientifically proven cure-all!

Announcing *NEW* Fall class- Fitbata!

2013 Fitbata Flyer

Sometimes You Just Need to Enjoy the View!

I have been leading group  rides for two years now, a task that is sometimes referred to as “herding cats.”  I really enjoy getting out there with the group, working those legs, talking about whatever comes to mind, dodging deer, cicadas and squirrels;  and even sometimes, working really hard at keeping up with a very strong group.

Last Sunday’s Big Ring Riding sponsored group ride was set up for 48+ miles with some good hills in the middle. The weather was to be nice, so it looked like it would be a good day.  I usually ride from my house to Rhinebeck for the start, stopping for a cappuccino and pastry on the way down, and last Sunday was to be no different. However, I got up feeling tired and disinterested, thought about skipping the ride down  and driving (not the capp and pastry, though) but decided to get out the door on time and take it easy on the flattest route to Rhinebeck.  A good group of seven riders showed up and we talked while getting ready to go.

Off we went west towards Rhinecliff, my legs still feeling fatigued and burning while going up the hill out of Rhinebeck. I settled in and let the more motivated riders lead.  Once getting to Rhinecliff I signaled an unplanned right turn and took the group down to the Hudson River at the boat launch. Most of the riders had never been there or didn’t even know that there is a nice spot to take a break during a long ride, have a snack at the picnic tables or just enjoy the view of the lighthouse at the mouth of the Rondout.  A big empty oil barge was rumbling south so we talked for a few minutes, marveled at the Great Blue Heron on the bank to the north, then headed back up the hill  to the planned route.

Heading south is the rolling hills of Morton road which got the group moving and pushing the ups and downs.  The pace picked up as we headed onto South Mill Rd.  but another excursion opportunity came to me and we headed for another unplanned right turn down Wyndclyffe Court to take a look at the now falling down, but still architecturally phenomenal Wyndclyffe  mansion. If you’ve never seen it, it is a huge brick house built in the 1850’s in the Norman style (according to wikipedia). The house has been abandoned since 1950’s and since the 1980’s has been crumbling, losing one tower and lots of brick.  Per Bob Yasinac, the house was “built for Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones, a relative by marriage to the wealthy Astor Family, and it is rumored she is the source of the old adage: keeping up with the Joneses.” Sad to see these glorious mansions crumble into the woods.

So back to the ride we went and headed south, back to Rte. 9 and then right onto Old Post Rd. and guess what, another excursion into Staatsburg for a ride by the Mills Mansion down to the river again. Staatsburgh is another of the Hudson River mansions, but this one is  a NYS historical site and is very well maintained.  I’ve spent a lot of time there with the Red Hook HS cross-country team running and watching the team compete every fall. The grounds are open and free, go through the mansion on one of the paid tours  to see how the people lived in the gilded age.

Next we headed back up to the planned route and up the hill, across route 9 and onto the meat of the ride. By then my legs were into it, and my head was too.  So off we went for a lot of climbing and a very nice 16+ mph average over the route with a great group. We stopped to look at the great vistas of the Millbrook Winery at the top of Ernest Rd., had a couple of very nice dirt roads, climbed the east side of Salisbury Turnpike and flew down the west side. Successful day of riding, I think!

My training rides are hard work, head down, focusing and pushing those pedals for the entire workout plan. The group rides are much different for me,  much less focused on performance. It’s all about the group and the route. Although we do ride hard on these rides, I hope to make them fun for every rider, not just the strongest.

Sometimes it seems  that all I need is to just take it easy and look around a bit to get my motivation back. We ride in an area that has great roads and is full of the hidden gems like Wyndclyffe that we go by all the time without seeing.  Look around guys, there is more to riding than average pace and climb stats!

We climbed and climbed and did some more!

The Big Ring Riding team had a great workout last night….  2000 ft of climbing in less than 20 miles!

Great job everyone!


Want to learn how to climb better, join the Big Ring Riding training group. Monday’s and Wednesdays 6 PM.  We do a lot of training in a short time.  Email Coach Glen using the Fitness Edge page.

There’s more for your core…

SilhouetteCoreJump start your day with the 5:45AM Spring session of Cardio Core & More!  Join the FitnessEDGE starting March 12th  for this 8 week, T-Th morning, indoor fitness class designed to strengthen your core and build cardio endurance – regardless of your current fitness level. This class welcomes all ages and fitness levels!

So don’t delay. Sign up now!

Cardio Core @ the Red Hook United Methodist Church. 4 Church Street, Red Hook NY.

Tuesday and Thursday Mornings, March 12 – May 2.

That’s 16 classes, 8 Weeks for $150 or $10/class. Bring a water bottle and mat!

Free T-shirt for new clients!

To register, call/txt 845-487-FIT7 or visit thefitnessedgeofhv.com


Thaw away those winter blues…

and some extra pounds! Join me, Diane Brent, ACE Certified GFI and RRCA Certified Coach, starting January 8th and heat things up with Cardio Core & More!  This 8 week, T-Th morning session, is a heart pumping, 60 minute, indoor fitness class designed to strengthen your core and build cardio endurance – regardless of your current fitness level. This class welcomes all ages and fitness levels! And with an early morning start (5:30AM or 6AM – we’ll take a vote), the FitnessEDGE will start your day off right and have you off to school or work with time to spare!

So don’t delay. Class start is just 10 days way!

Cardio Core @ the RedPolar Bear Hook United Methodist Church. 4 Church Street, Red Hook NY.

Tuesdays and Thursday Mornings, January 8 – February 28.

That’s 16 classes, 8 Weeks for $150 or $10/class. Bring a water bottle and mat!

Free T-shirt for new clients!

To register, call/txt 845-487-FIT7 or visit thefitnessedgeofhv.com


New fitness line up starts January 2013. Have a look!

2013 Winter Flyer

Sports Drinks — Who Needs Them?

I’ve been seeing a lot of commentary on the effectiveness of the mass-market sports drinks that make claims of improved performance and stamina. But do they really work?  One researcher, Tim Noakes interviewed by the BBC recently says for the average person just trying to lose weight and gain fitness, “you’ll lose more weight and go faster if you just drink water.”  Why?   Many of these drinks have the equivalent of 8 teaspoons of sugar or more  in each 24 oz.  bottle (which is the same amount of  sugar that is in a can of sweetened soda).  I ask, in 30 minutes of  exercise do you burn up the 148 calories from 8 teaspoons of sugar? And isn’t the point of  doing the exercise to burn carbohydrates from your fat stores anyway, so that you can lose weight?

A 32 ounce Gatorade has  4 servings of 50 calories each. So if you drink that bottle  while you are doing your run, you have just had 200 calories, 10% of your 2000 calorie daily intake.  In one drink!  And I bet none of us take 200 calories out of the rest of  our daily intake to offset the calories we drink while exercising.
Notice the source of the carbs:  sucrose syrup (table sugar dissolved in water) and  glucose-fructose syrup. Sugar cane and sugar beet seem to be the typical substitutes for high-fructose corn syrup which has fast disappeared from labels following bad press.  A Princeton University study  linked high-fructose corn syrup to obesity and related chronic diseases.  The Mayo Clinic is not as convinced, but does say that women should not have more than 100 calories (6 tsp)   and men should not have more than 150 calories (9 tsp) from refined sugars in a day.  That is hard to do in today’s environment of processed foods, sugary drinks, and large portions.

The Mayo Clinic report also states:

“Some research studies have linked consumption of large amounts of any type of added sugar — not just high-fructose corn syrup — to such health problems as weight gain, dental cavities, poor nutrition, and increased triglyceride levels, which can boost your heart attack risk.”

Clearly, we should be careful when adding sugary carb replacement drinks to our diets for health reasons, but do they really improve our performance?

The Oxford University study referenced in the BBC article looked at 40 years of studies of the effectiveness of sports drinks for the average athlete or person just trying to stay fit. The result: they could find no benefit for the typical non-elite  athlete.   I tend to agree, since the typical runner or cyclist  is focused on fitness, not competition, and does not train for more than an hour a day nor at maximum intensity for long periods.  For short exercise durations  (<30 minutes to an hour) no supplemental carbs should be needed, your body should have plenty of those stored in fat.  Let’s burn that.  Drink water instead. For longer exercise durations, if you are going to use carb replacement drinks, look for ones with healthier sugars such as maltodextrin, xylitol and stevia.   These sugars are processed more slowly by the body, absorbed at a more constant rate, and don’t overstress your liver and insulin levels.

Next topic: how much you should drink.

Turn up the Volume, or not!

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.