Bicycle Commuter Challenge 2017

We’re excited to be a sponsor and have a team participating in the Thurston County Bicycle Challenge again this year.  It’s the 30th Anniversary of the contest and the 5th Anniversary for our team, Wheels o’ Thunder.  For more informatoin about how to participate in the challenge as a rider for Wheels o’ Thunder, you can find out more HERE.

We’re looking forward to another successful year and we’re hoping to go BIG again with our activities, gatherings, and mini-contests.

Happy riding!!

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Night of the Living Pumpkin Deadlift

Please join us on for Night of The Living Pumpkin Deadlift/Open House on October 19, 2016.  Britt McVicar of (Britt McVicar Fitness) and I will demonstrate safe pumpkin lifting and give you a chance to try it yourself with one-on-one coaching if you need it.  6:30-7:30 p.m.  You can RSVP by calling 360-754-6499 (Costumes are welcome!!)

pumpkin-deadlift-2016This month we thought we’d have a little fun with an exercise whose very name is quite scary: The DEADLIFT! October is just the right time to learn this exercise. Over the years, I’ve had many patients come in to the office after injuring themselves gathering pumpkins for Halloween. (No, really, it’s true!) Having the chance to observe these patients’ lifting, though, it’s really no surprise that they end up getting hurt. For most of them, it wasn’t their first time around the pumpkin patch, either. These patients often live in a cycle of getting injured while trying to lift or doing other activities that require bending or leaning forward. Most of these patients don’t possess the technical skills needed to safely lift heavy items, whether it’s a pumpkin, a container, groceries, a child… whatever it may be!

The deadlift is a very powerful lifting technique that is often only associated with gym-based exercise programs. In reality, though, this lifting pattern can be the cornerstone for your safe lifting skills outside the gym, as well. Proper form of this exercise will give you the power you need to move heavy objects (like a pumpkin) while providing safe alignment for the lower back. Now, here’s how you’re going to lift The Great Pumpkin:

The Setup: Straddle the pumpkin with your feet on either side of it. Push your hips back and lower them to the ground while keeping your back flat and holding your chest and head up slightly.

The Lift: Rock your hips slightly back until you feel your body weight shift onto your heels. Point your elbows back and stand up by driving your heels into the ground as you pull your hips up and forward. Stand tall at the top without leaning backwards. Now lower the pumpkin into a wheelbarrow or the trunk of your car by reversing the same pattern. You did it!

Now, why in the world is this called a “deadlift”? The simple answer is that it’s because you are lifting the object up from it’s resting spot… This does lead to my next question, though… what is an “un-deadlift”?

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Welcome, Britt Fitness!

BrittBioWe’re so proud to announce that Britt McVicar has chosen to operate her personal training and coaching business Britt McVicar Fitness within Rosser Chiropractic.  After 13 years of having my table in the same ole place, this is a very welcomed change for us!  For those of you familiar with the office, I’ve moved my workspace behind the big orange wall, but don’t worry, there’s an even bigger orange wall in there!!

Britt and I have spent several weeks developing her new workspace and creating the new gym space.  Little by little, we’ve added in the new features: a new floor, new kettlebells, a cable stack machine…  shortly, we’ll also have a few TRX stations!  (I know… makes your core shiver just to think of it…  MINE TOO!)

Britt and I will be combining our expertise to bring you awesome programming and integrated care to help you when you need it most.  We’re looking forward to collaborating on treatment plans, evaluating your gym programs, and creating new ways for you to learn how to take care of your body and make it strong.

You can learn more about Britt here.

 

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How to Sleep Like a Professional Cyclist

How to Sleep Like a Professional Cyclist
By Dr. Andy Rosser, Downtown Olympia

Exhausted CyclistThere was a time in my life when I could stay up in the evening long enough to get all the things done that I wanted. It was one of my “tricks” of productivity. I could then wake up the next morning and go about my day, catching up as needed, or not. Alas, that ability is gone, and it’s been replaced with a visit from the sandman every night to remind me. I’m not the only one. I see the effects of poor sleep in my practice every day. The health effects of poor sleep on us all is astounding, and the topic comes up very often when I am talking to patients who are having a hard time healing from injuries.

I’ve recently learned about the work of Nick Littlehales (www.sportsleepcoach.com) who is a professional sleep coach from the U.K. He works with many professional sports team, including Great Britain’s Team Sky. His job is to help the athletes organize an optimal sleep/wake routine to optimize rest & recovery despite the rigors of competition, training, and travel.

Although some of his advice is more suited to the professional athletes, the majority of his advice is useful to us all! The rest of this article offers some of his top recommendations for getting better sleep:

How Much Sleep Do We Need? Okay, trick question… In modern times, we’ve created one nocturnal sleep period, but historically, we’ve had up to three in a 24 hour period! (One was in the afternoon, plus two separate periods at night.) Over time, cultural shifts have pushed all of our sleep into one session. Despite this, Littlehale’s best estimate of our sleep requirement is about 7.5 hours of sleep. It take 90 minutes for your body to go through all the necessary stages of sleep, and he recommends getting at least 5 complete cycles (5 x 90 min.) If you want more, go to bed 90 minutes earlier. If you have to get less sleep, skip a 90 minute cycle so you can keep on schedule for waking up.

When Should I Go To Bed? That depends on when you need to get up. Littlehales recommends that wake up time should be between 6:00-8:00 a.m. Once you pick your time, work back in 90 minute blocks of time. So, for a 6:30 a.m. wake up time, 5 cycles of sleep will give you a 11 p.m. bedtime. If you need more sleep on a particular day, go to bed at 9:30 p.m. Once you find your optimal bedtime, stick to it and orient your daily routine to making sure you get in bed on time.

When Should I Take A Nap? Ideally, somewhere between 1:00 & 4:00 p.m. sit or lie down and let yourself unwind by being quiet and letting your mind drift. When you feel like you are falling to sleep, set an alarm for 20 minutes. Even if you don’t actually get to sleep, the break in the day will be refreshing.

Additional Tips. Eat your final meal of the day about 3-4 hours before your bedtime and any nighttime snacks should be eaten at least 90 minutes before bedtime. Then, during the last 90 minutes before going to sleep focus on unwinding so that by your set bedtime you are ready to fall asleep. Littlehales suggests light stretching, a warm bath, or other pampering and recommends avoiding technology, email, social media, and other similar activities since they can activate us and make it harder to move towards sleep. He goes as far as to say that phones should be turned off and removed from the bedroom and that they are not to be used as alarm clocks.

Read more about Dr. Rosser’s adventures as an amateur cyclist www.rosserchiro.com . He is the team chiropractor for the CBC/Olympia Orthopaedic Associates Racing Team, and assists other athletes in the community. For more information, he can be contacted at andy@rosserchiro.com.

photo credit: Matt Polaine

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Power to the People! A Product Review of PowerCal from CycleOps

This article originally appeared in the Capital Bicycle Club Newsletter May 2014

PowerCal CycleOpsAbout a year ago, I dipped my toes into the water and started shopping for a power meter.  I wanted to use it to measure my progress with training for the coming year.  What I found was a hurdle that I still couldn’t over come, no matter how interested I was in the data: PRICE!  Almost everything I could find was in the same order of magnitude that I would use if I were searching for a new bike.  Frankly, I’d go for the bike almost every time, so I’m just putting that out there as my bias.

Before I gave up, however, there was one product that did catch my eye.  It was the PowerCal, made by CycleOps.  (It’s currently made by PowerTap.)  It was compact and affordable with a price tag of just $99.  Since it had been on the market for a few years, there were already some good reviews I could study.  As it turns out, for what I was trying to measure, it seemed like it would be a good fit.  I was skeptical of buying something so inexpensive because it was so much different from other power meters.

A year later, and I’ve used it on almost every ride I’ve been on, without a complaint.  The rest of this article is some of my personal experience with the device, and some of its pros and cons.

To begin with, the PowerCal operates by reading heart rate data and then calculating an estimation of wattage (power.)  Done, of course, though a proprietary mathematical algorithm.  This calculated wattage is then transmitted to a receiver, just as a hub-based power meter does.  In my case, I have a Garmin that is the receiver, but almost any ANT+ compatible device will work.  Set up is very simple, and no calibration of the device is required.  You simply put on the strap and pair it with your computer.

My intended use of the tool was for analyzing power/wattage over longer distances of an hour or more, and maybe to use for fitness testing, instead of just relying on heart rate and distance.  This is where one of the main limitations come into play.  Short duration/bursts would be hard to capture on this device because changes in heart rate lag behind the actual output of power.  Hub and crank-based devices can give instantaneous readout of this power.  Fortunately for me, this was not a very high priority for me when I was considering my needs.  I’ve read one review that compared several different devices at the same time (DC Rainmaker, Nov 2012.)  His personal experiments showed that the PowerCal was comparable for almost all intervals greater than 30-40 seconds.  Any intervals shorter than this duration were less reliable.

One complaint/observation of the PowerCal is that it has a fairly large sweep in the data that it presents, even though the average comes out comparable to other power meters.  On my Garmin, I have set a field to display a 10 second average of the power output, which turns it into a fairly stable number.  Honestly, though, I currently don’t use the number during training.  I rely more on my real-time heart rate.  I just read the power data later, sitting in front of my computer.

One of the bright shiny benefits of the PowerCal has been its portability.  Since it’s based on a simple heart rate strap, there’s no hub or wheel to switch around.  I’ve been able to easily get consistent and meaningful readings from trips I’ve taken on my road, mountain, and cyclocross bikes.  I’ve even run with it on a few times, but my most favorite files are ones that I created during cyclocross racing last fall.

One last note I’d add is that the data you record is somewhat unique to you.  It’s your heart’s response to exercise.  While not necessarily a limitation, it is a fact that you will want to keep in mind if you choose to use this tool.  Your PowerCal data isn’t intended to be compared to a true power meter, either.  They are too different to make simple comparisons like that.  Further, it would be of little use to compare your data to another person’s.  Of course, it would probably make for a great conversation as you are relaxing with your riding buddies after a day in the saddle.  Maybe you can even try to figure out what might be involved with that proprietary mathematical algorithm!

For the price, the PowerCal has been a very useful tool for me, and well worth the $99.  As a general rider, seeking to find another way to measure my efforts and (hopefully) progress throughout the year, it’s become an invaluable tool.  If you are looking for a way to enter the realm of cycling with power and can’t see clear to investing in hardware-based devices, this may be for you.  Gathering useful training data is almost as simple as just putting on a heart rate strap!  See you on the road.

Read more about Dr. Rosser’s adventures as an amateur cyclist www.rosserchiro.com . He is the team chiropractor for the CBC/Olympia Orthopaedic Associates Racing Team, and assists other athletes in the community.  For more information, he can be contacted at andy@rosserchiro.com.

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The Athlete’s Plate: COOKbook Review!

Athletes Plate***I was recently looking for this review, but couldn’t find it on my blog.  Here’s what I said about this book 4 years ago!  Originally, the article appeared in the Capital Bicycle Newsletter (Sept 2010?)

Sink Your Teeth Into This Book: The Athlete’ s Plate (Adam Kelinson/Velo Press 2009)

By Dr. Andy Rosser, Downtown Olympia

One of my hobbies is reading nutrition books and trying to make sense of the confusion that exists around the topic of diet.  Secretly, I’ve even harbored the fantasy that I would some day write a book that covered the topic of whole food cooking for the athlete.  Well, maybe I’ll choose a different topic now.  I recently bought Adam Kelinson’s new book, The Athlete’s Plate (Velo Press, 2009), and it covers all that I would have wanted to write, and much more.  The book is about 1/3 lifestyle and dietary background, and the rest of the book is loaded with a number of recipes based on Kelinson’s principles.

Without delay, the author builds the foundation for healthful eating which is made up of several principles including, buying local meats and produce, and buying organic foods when possible.  That guidance is coupled with eating what is in season and avoiding certain ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup and many of the chemicals that make up a typical athlete’s foods and snacks.  Within the first chapter, his recommendations lay waste to many of society’s current dietary practices.

The second chapter describes the framework of a whole foods diet.  Within this approach, the avoidance of pesticide residue in our foods, the impacts of genetically modified organisms, the reasons for choosing organic foods, and eating native foods within their season are the highlights.  I was particularly attracted to his discussion of the “superstition” pattern of eating that athletes develop.  This is where a person’s diet is whittled down to a slim number of foods eaten and prepared the same way, almost every day.  Eventually, the repetition fails to address nutritional needs and leads to physical breakdown and fatigue.  I know many who would argue, as well, that this is one of the ways to develop allergies to particular foods due to the body’s constant exposure.

One of my favorite topics that Kelinson addresses is that he encourages people to follow their instincts when it comes to eating.  If your diet isn’t polluted with processed foods, your taste and cravings can be your guide to healthful eating that meets your needs.  The opposite of this is micromanaging your foods.  His discussion reminded my of my reaction to reading a story about Lance Armstrong’s weighing of every ounce of food that he ate.  Honestly, I can’t comprehend it as a sustainable practice.  Creating sustainability is the name of the game in The Athlete’s Plate.

For those of you who have read some of my other articles, you know how interested I am in the topic of post exercise recovery.  The author treats this topic with the kind of reverence it deserves.  In addition to using gels and prepacked “just add water” drinks, he steers people who desire something more substantial in the direction of whole foods that can be easily digested and put to use in re-fueling the body after hard efforts.

So, now to the business of the recipes!  If your cooking is in a rut and you tend to cook with the same spices, I think this book offers some fun and interesting preparations.  I’ve tried several of the dishes out of the cookbook and all have been with delicious results.  Some of my first adventures have been to try the soba noodles with grilled asian meatballs (p. 166) , and the chicken with mint, peas, and mushrooms (p. 208.)  I’ve been impressed with how simple the recipes are and how few ingredients make up each dish.  I think it’s one of the ways that he tries to make an athlete’s life a little easier.  Just think, it’s easy to shop for, and then easy to put together.  I have had to tone down some of the asian marinades in terms of salt to make it palatable to our household.  There is also a definite “tamari-ness” to many of the dishes, and many of the asian recipes use similar marinades, so the taste can be a bit repetitive.  Then again, I think I’ve used more fresh ginger in the past few weeks than I have in my whole life.  Usually, the ginger is one of those fixtures in the refrigerator that gets replaced after it shrivels away in the drawer, but not so with this book!  I’m excited to try some of the more adventurous sounding recipes, including the grilled sea scallops with watermelon and arugula (p, 194).

For its approach to building healthy habits around food, I love The Athlete’s Plate.  For offering interesting and simple recipes, I also love this book.  I hope that it introduces you to a new perspective to your relationship with food and helps you become a healthier cyclist.  See you on the road!

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Chronic Lower Back Pain in Cyclists Related to Posture

This article originally appeared in the Capital Bicycle Club Newsletter April 2014

April Chronic lower back pain is a common complaint among cyclists. I’ve written about it here before, and it remains a hot topic among cyclist who come to my office for treatment. Estimates are that more than 60% of cyclists will report having some lower back pain, and that the frequency of spine pain tends to increase along with the number of years in the sport. Many of us have already had to make changes to our bike set up related to these symptoms, including buying new stems, new handle bars, and even new bikes to help solve or lessen the impact of pain on our enjoyment. I recently found an article that I wanted to share because it deals with the direct role that posture on the bike, particularly flexing/rounding of the lumbar spine, plays in our experiencing pain while riding.

Hip Lift Lower Back Bridge CBC

Researchers (Van Hoof, et al. Journal of Manual Therapy March 2012) placed strain gauges over the lumbar spine of cyclists to see what kind of posture and movement these cyclists had while riding on their own bicycles over a 2 hour ride. This is a somewhat unique approach to studying posture on the bicycle because it is a specific measurement of spinal movement during the activity. The sensors are dynamic and log all of the movements of the spine as it stretches forward and back while riding. The data is collected on a portable computerized device that can be downloaded for analysis after the ride. Riders were sent out on a prescribed ride where each cyclist could have an equivalent amount of riding stress. Pain levels were measured before and after the 2-hour ride.

The group size was small, with only 17 participants. The “pain” group consisted of 8 cyclists with chronic lower back pain, and the “pain-free” group consisted of 9 cyclists who were matched in age and sex who did not have chronic lower back pain. Even with the small size of the study, however, the back pain group was found to assumed a posture on the bicycle that was significantly more flexed (rounded) at the lower back compared to the pain-free group.

The authors of this study described this posture as a poor motor control pattern for cycling and part of the cause of their lower back pain. In other words, the pain-free riders were able to control the stress of cycling better than the group that couldn’t. Their conclusion… rehabilitation and prevention strategies to address improved control of lumbar flexion while on the bicycle.

As simple as it may sound, there’s no getting around a lower back that isn’t sturdy enough to keep you from slouching your lower back while you are riding your bicycle. Below is one of my favorite exercises to give cyclists who are experiencing lower back pain related to their riding. The trick is learning to use those new-found muscles to support your spine on the bicycle, but the more you practice this and learn to control your lower back movements, the easier that should be.

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Oh, Sugar! What am I Drinking!?

Glucose Sugar Water BottleThis article originally appeared in the Capital Bicycle Club Newsletter March 2014

Have you ever taken a look at the ingredients in your sports drink and wondered what in the world you were putting in your body? I have, and I’m sure many of you have, as well! The goal of this article is to create a mini field guide to common sugars you may encounter in your quest for the perfectly-fueled bike ride. During endurance exercise such as cycling, sugars are a vital source of energy, however, not all sugars are the same! The intent of this article is to increase your familiarity with some of these sugars and how they end up in your water bottle, not necessarily to pass judgement on whether or not you should drink them… at least for now! I hope you enjoy this sweet little article!

Cane Sugar: This is the common name for sucrose which comes from the processing of sugar cane. It goes through a multi-step process to remove impurities and produce the crystalline product. “Cane sugar” distinguishes it from sucrose derived from sugar beets.

Complex Carbohydrates: This is a catch-all name that probably refers to maltodextrin or a similar compound.

Dextrose: This is a common name for glucose. Another is “grape sugar.”

Fructose: This simple sugar is found in tree and vine fruits, honey, and root vegetables, but commercially it comes from sugar cane, sugar beets, and corn. Metabolically, it can enter the same pathways as glucose and be used as storage or fuel.

Glucose: A simple sugar that can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream in the small
intestine. Metabolically, it can be directed into storage (as glycogen) or used immediately as a fuel for our cells, including brain and muscles. Glucose is typically produced through the commercial processing of starches (corn, rice, wheat, etc.)

High Fructose Corn Syrup: This sweetener is produced by converting some of the glucose in corn syrup to fructose through enzymatic treatment (chemistry and heat!) The result is a mixture of glucose and fructose that can be produced in various concentrations.

Maltodextrin: This is an almost flavorless polysaccharide (complex carbohydrate) that is produced from starches. In the U.S. the source is mostly corn, while in Europe, wheat starch is more commonly used. It is a chain made up of glucose molecules linked together by chemical bonds. It is easily digested and absorbed.

Sucrose: (common table sugar) Sucrose is broken down into glucose and fructose in the small intestine. There, it is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. In the U.S. sucrose comes from a mixture of sugar cane and sugar beets, unless specified as “cane sugar.”

Sugar: This a generic reference to sucrose.

Here’s where you might encounter these sweeteners in your next bottle:

Hammer Heed: Maltodextrin
Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration Mix: Cane Sugar, Dextrose
Coca-Cola: High Fructose Corn Syrup
Gatorade Thirst Quencher: Sugar, Dextrose
Powerade: Glucose, Fructose
Endurox R4: Maltodextrin, Fructose, Sucrose
Vitamin Water: Fructose, Sugar
EFS: Complex Carbohydrates, Sucrose, Dextrose

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What’s the Fastest Way for You to Become a Healthier Cyclist Right Now?

This article originally appeared in the Capital Bicycle Club Newsletter February 2014

Continuous ImprovementMost of the recreational athletes that I know crave more time and flexibility in their schedule to take care of themselves.  I often hear that they don’t have enough time to stretch, do core exercises, cook healthy food, or get enough rest.  They just want to ride!  Of course, I can’t blame them, I feel the same pressures, myself.  At work, I hear many of the same words coming out of my patients’ mouths.  Add to that an unfortunate accident that keeps them from working, managing their bills, or just getting a child to swim class on time, and the whole world starts to appear as if it’s unraveling at the seams!  The truth is, we are ALL looking for a reprieve and space to allow us to take care of ourselves.  One of the things I try to do for people is help them learn habits that will take them closer to their goals of becoming healthier, whether it’s in athletics or daily life.  What are some of those basic habits?  That’s what the rest of this article is about.  Hopefully, this will remind you of some of the best practices you can undertake to keep you rolling!

Get Awesome Sleep:  By almost all counts, improving your sleep can really change your life.  Unfortunately, work, electronics, and other diversions and factors have eroded the number of hours of sleep that we get per night.  How much sleep you need is highly individualistic, but on average adults require about 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  When’s the last time you got at least that much?  Keep a sleep journal or use a FitBit to find out.  Some of the most profound changes in sleep can be made by going to bed at a regular time and avoiding electronics prior to going to sleep.

Manage Your Stress:  Stress is a normal part of life and we are equipped to handle quite a bit of it for short periods of time, however, chronic stress can have a profound impact on almost every aspect of our lives.  It can affect nearly every system of the body, including the nervous system, endocrine system, and immune system.  Chronic stress can even limit the potential of our body to heal, recover, and adapt to exercise.  Some stress can be managed by changing your habits, but sometimes we need help from a professional to make necessary changes to improve our stress.

Eat Great Food:  Let’s face it, we can all improve our diet in some way or another.  Whether you are dealing with food allergies or poor choices and habits, there is a great deal of power that you can gain from being more conscious of your diet.  At a bare minimum, increasing the number of fruits and vegetables in your diet is one way to support a healthy body.  A step beyond that is eliminating the foods that do you no good:  sweets, pies, pastries, etc.  Before you call me names, though, take a look at what’s left…  generally a reasonable diet with lots of fruits and vegetables!!  Score!

Manage Injuries and Illnesses:  More often than not, a small injury or illness is a warning sign that your body is under distress.  Think of it as a warning flare.  While no one can prevent all illnesses and injuries, we can be careful to notice when our body feels stressed and out of sorts.  Training with a compromised body will ultimately have its consequences.  Many times we are too busy to set up an appointment for healthcare or to even replace a worn out bike part that is causing us biomechanical stress (worn saddles/shoes, etc.)  The first action you can take is to rest and see if the condition improves.  If not, or if your biomechanics are impacted as a result of pain, you should seek an evaluation to investigate the problem further.

More likely than not, you didn’t find any of these entries earth-shattering.  Deep down, we all have the common sense and ability to take care of ourselves in a beautiful way.  Doing so in the midst of a busy lifestyle can be challenging for all of us.  When it comes to making changes that you want to make stick, just pick one or two things to focus on and make a commitment to give it your best effort.  You won’t regret it, and you may just have the best year of your life ahead of you!  See you on the road.

Read more about Dr. Rosser’s adventures as an amateur cyclist www.rosserchiro.com . He is the team chiropractor for the CBC/Olympia Orthopaedic Associates Racing Team, and assists other athletes in the community.  For more information, he can be contacted at andy@rosserchiro.com.

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Estimating Your Own VO2 Max and Your “Fitness Age”- PART 2

This article originally appeared in the Capital Bicycle Club Newsletter December 2013

CERGSince last month’s edition, the VO2 Max/Fitness Age Calculator that I directed you to as the basis for my article has undergone some changes. This is partly due to the fact that over 1.5 million people have used it in the span of a month! The original interface that I described to you has changed somewhat, but the data you’ll input is the same when you go to http://www.ntnu.edu/cerg/vo2max. The key difference now is that you’ll be given the choice to provide additional health data if you choose. Now, then, let’s go onward! The question I left lingering in my last edition was how we might CHANGE that VO2 Max and maybe get a little “younger” in the process!

As a reminder, VO2 Max is the measurement of the greatest amount of oxygen a person can transport to working muscles, no matter how hard the muscles are working. Clinically, this measurement is one of the best predictors of cardiovascular health, however, it’s generally quite expensive to obtain because of equipment/expertise requirements, and cost. Usually they are done in a lab. This VO2 Max Calculator takes a few simple measurements and compares them to the test results of people actually did the lab testing. This provides you with a comparison of your VO2max to 5000 of your Norwegian peers! Gosj!

Of the measurements input into the calculator, frequency and intensity of exercise is where most of us will have the greatest opportunity to impact our fitness levels. Indeed, when I used the calculator to input different levels of intensity of workout, I found that I could change my fitness age from 21 years old to 46 years or more just by lowering the intensity of my exercise! The Cardiac Exercise Research Group (CERG,) who developed the calculator, recommends starting with 3-4 weekly sessions of exercise that contain high-intensity intervals. For their workout plans, they include 4 minute high intensity efforts (85-95% of your maximum heartrate.) This is a very hard, all out, interval, and harder than most of us would maintain during our usual workouts. Between the 4 minute hard effort is a 3 minute OFF interval where the goal is to recover and let the heart rate drop back down. The overall workouts would progress from doing 1-2 of those in the beginning to 4-5 of the efforts as your body adapts to them. Their main suggested modes of exercise are running & walking, but that the format would work just as well for cycling, skiing, or swimming.

In the realm of specificity to cycling, I have used Chris Carmichael’s interval workouts for a long time in my training. They follow a format that is similar to the above program, though his high-end intervals, aims to have a 3 minute “all-out” effort followed by 2 minutes of light riding for recovery. A full workout would have 6-8 of these intervals sandwiched between a warm-up and cool-down for a short (but sweet) workout. In my experience, these fit well into a workout on the trainer because you are able to fit it all into just over an hour or so on the bike. On the road, it’s often hard to find a spot to go “all-out” without worrying about traffic, stop signs, and sneaky hills that often show up during a rest interval!

Whatever style of interval you choose, using a heart rate monitor or power meter to measure the intensity of your efforts is a hallmark of these programs. After about 8 weeks of your program, you should be able to re-test and find some changes to your estimated VO2 Max and Fitness Age. Even a small change represents a big accomplishment!

For more specifics on the recommendations of the Cardiac Exercise Research Group, you can look at the following webpage: http://ntnu.edu/cerg/regimen

**Please consult with your doctor if you have any questions about starting an exercise program like the ones described above.

What better time to start than January? How old do you want to be by the end of 2014?

Photo Credit: Cardiac Exercise Research Group

See you on the road…

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