Mark: Hi, it’s Mark Bossert from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here with Jon Bula of Groundwork Athletics in Vancouver. Jon, how’re you doing today?
Jon: Pretty good, Mark, pretty good.
Mark: So, Jon, let’s share what your background is. How did you get into this athletic, fitness training profession?
Jon: Well, I’ve been somewhat of an athlete myself, my whole life and it led me to study human kinetics out at UBC and I had a great time in my undergrad so I decided to pursue a Master’s degree and ended up having a Masters in Exercise Physiology. From there just started my business with my long-time friend and business partner and fifteen years later here I am.
Mark: So, we’re going to be talking about weight training tips for cycling performance and if I was still an avid cyclist, I used to be, why would I want to do any weight training and what are the benefits?
Jon: Well, first of all I just want to say that cycling is really close to my heart at the moment. I’ve been racing competitively for the past three years and it’s been a really neat experience for me to see the changes in my body because I used to play a lot of soccer and before that even football, obviously those are different physiques than are required for a cyclist and I always hear from cyclists, a lot of them think they should just be riding more and that’s how they’re going to get better. While there is some truth to that there’s a huge benefit to having a bit of an off season and include some strength training for your cycling.
I would say one of the main reasons, well there’s probably three main reasons – first of all, cycling is a very linear thing. You’re peddling in the same direction, you’re just moving in the same direction all the time, so your body was never really meant to just move unilaterally, it’s supposed to go sideways, backwards, forwards, all different directions so, if the only thing you ever do is ride a bike you’re going to predispose yourself for injuries just doing other things in life, so strength training is kind of one way to balance things out. Also there’s plenty of research available that indicates that doing proper strength training work improves your power and your strength and a whole bunch of different key factors in cycling and probably I would think one of the biggest things, especially men don’t realize and it seems to be middle age to even older men are getting into cycling like crazy right now, is after around forty years old your body tends to lose some of its muscle mass and it loses some of its strength and fast twitch muscle fibres become weaker so strength training is a definite way to combat that and essentially stay younger.
Mark: So, wouldn’t weight training make me gain too much muscle?
Jon: Well, that’s a huge concern for a lot of cyclists because unlike the rest of the population, cyclists are always kind of doing the opposite, you know, some people will exercise in order to lose weight while cyclists will avoid exercising because they think they’re going to gain weight. If strength training is done properly you don’t gain muscle mass. So for me, for instance, when I’m doing my off season strength work, it’s not about body building, you have to get out of the mindset of the 8 to 12 repetitions only using only moderate weights. You’ve got to prepare your body and then lift heavy, lift 4 reps, lift 2 reps, maybe even up to 6 and lifting as heavy as you can. Actually when you do that the most adaptations you get in your body are what are called neurological adaptations so you are better able to recruit the muscle fibres that you have and certain other things happen in your physiology to improve your strength. What doesn’t happen is you don’t get what’s called hypertrophy which is an increase in the size of the muscle. You get that from doing the lower weight, higher repetition type training so it basically comes from a lack of understanding of the human body why cyclists would think that if you weight train, you’re going to gain weight.
Mark: So when should I include weight training in my yearly training plan?
Jon: Well, if you think about the demand of cycling, if you’re getting serious about it, you could be riding 15 to 20 hours a week in the heavy volume part of your season so really when you want to add it is in your off season. Everybody needs some downtime off the bike. It doesn’t mean not riding at all, it just means the focus has changed; you’re not racing, you’re not doing long rides, typically that’s in the winter when the weather gets crappier, so it’s a perfect time to hit the gym and train, but you have to train properly or it could be counterproductive to you so for me at this time of the year, I’m working out twice a week, lifting weights quite intensely and I’ll continue that for the next 12 weeks and then it’ll taper back as my mileage picks up in the winter and early spring and I’ll do sort of maintenance type of workouts once a week and then when racing season hits and I’m just completely focused on being at my best for the races I’m going to do, I don’t do any weight training. It just takes a back seat to the actual cycling.
Mark: So, what type of weight training would you recommend?
Jon: Well, the biggest thing obviously is you’re trying to strengthen your lower body. You have to take a look at cycling and say, o.k. what are the needs? Well, you need a certain amount of upper body strength to secure yourself on the bike, your shoulders and your triceps, and your chest, they all need to be strong enough to be able to ride for the hours that you’re going to ride but you’re not too concerned with lifting a lot of weights for your upper body, more about stability and keeping your shoulders healthy. If you do some exercise with your shoulders, especially your mid back, it’s just going to keep your shoulders healthier, reduce the risk of injury but the main crux of your training is your legs. You have to think of your legs in all the different ways they move, so you’ve got to be working on the back, the gluts, the hamstrings, as well as the quadriceps and I guess a real balanced approach to that. So I would say 90% of what I’m doing focuses on the legs.
Mark: Awesome. So we’ve been talking with Jon Bula of Groundwork Athletics in Vancouver. If you need some training these are the guys to go see. You can find out about them on their website groundworkathletics.ca or you can give them a call 604-685-7576. Thanks Jon.
Jon: Thank you.