Tips to get the most from a massage

how to get the most out of massage

After you’ve put in some serious saddle time, it’s time to enjoy some hardcore recovery, which for many cyclists includes massage therapy. Not only does a massage help accelerate recovery and decrease delayed onset muscle soreness, but it also alleviates the pain and tension that can result in poor performance or injury (among many other things!). Believe it or not, you’re in control of many of the factors that determine if you’ll enjoy— and receive the maximum benefit— from a massage.  Follow these tips to ensure you get the most out of your table time. Continue reading

Belle of the bar: Why cyclists should be strength training

womanbarbellThis fall, I’ve been hiding out in a place where my fellow cyclists won’t find me— at the gym. In all seriousness, when I tell my friends that I’ve joined a gym to lift heavy weights, they look at me like I’ve just admitted to wearing underwear under my bibs. For so many cyclists the phrase “Ride lots” carries them from season to season and cycling is the only exercise they engage in. They think they’re earning extra points by riding outside year round and racking up more miles than their friends. Do you ever notice that these are the people who fade midseason, suffer from chronic aches and pains and who never seem to improve much despite all the time they put in?

What if I told you there was a shortcut to greater fitness gains that didn’t involve freezing your ass off and scrubbing road salt from your bottom bracket? Strength training is a cyclist’s secret weapon. Pedaling long hours of base miles (or subbing in some other type of steady state cardio) runs the risk of elevating your cortisol levels, which has been shown to increase metabolic resistance (ie: making weight loss difficult) and accelerating the aging process, while negatively affecting gut and heart health (reference).  Strength training elevates the metabolism for at least 12 hours post-workout, whereas cardio doesn’t provide this increased after burn and lifting doesn’t wreck havoc on your hormonal balance (reference). Strength training can also increase your aerobic capacity and even increase V02 max. I’m not saying to never ride your bike. There’s a time of year for hard efforts on the trainer or outside. But there’s also something to be gained from off the bike work. Less is more and mixing it up a little is a terrific boost both mentally and physically. Continue reading

When perfection counts

At the beginning of March, I signed up for a 30-day challenge to perform 300 kettlebell swings a day. I started swinging kettlebells in the fall to help build stability and functional strength, things that would directly transfer over to the bike. I needed a good swift kick in the posterior chain and kettlebells always delivered.

So when this challenge came along, I thought it would be the perfect way to take things up a notch. Toward the end of February I slowly increased the swings in my workout until I knew I could bang out 300. Continue reading

No pain, all gain

Pain is weakness leaving the body. Push through the pain. Dig deeper. Shut up, legs!

As a cyclist, I’ve lived in the pain cave for so long that I’ve built a fire and furnished the dank space. For nearly as long as I can recall I’ve felt discomfort and pain in one leg. It moved around, migrating from the IT band to hips and finally settling on the hamstrings and calf. I couldn’t ride for long without it catching up to me, persisting like a squeaky chain. I was new to cycling and everyone told stories of suffering and pain. The pros talked about pushing through it and smashing your own expectations. Obsessed with the sport, I wanted to test my limits, to see what I was really made of. Figuring my pain was just a side effect of the brutal sport, I trudged through. Continue reading

3 life lessons from Jens Voigt

Jens VoigtThis week I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Shut Up Legs himself when Jens Voigt payed a visit to one of our Trek stores in NJ. The German rider who recently retired from the pro peloton was charming, charismatic and eager to share stories well into the evening. Amid the humor (he had the crowd really rolling at times) were some solid life lessons we can all benefit from. A good journalist would have recorded quotes, but I was laughing too hard to whip out my phone. So here, by way of memory, is the wisdom of Jensie. Continue reading