19 July 2010

19 JUL 2010

Today's workout was eliminated due to a need to attend to a friend's child's hospital visit. What I've elected to do instead is to switch tomorrow's workout to very early in the morning, and do an outdoor run as the largest portion of the workout. Nay harm doon, as they say, and it may even work out better that way.

Instead, I'll start my reviews section by reviewing a couple of books I've recently purchased; one today and one tomorrow.

Today: Weight Training for Cyclists: A Total Body Program for Power & Endurance. As clearly stated by the title, it's a book intended to help cyclists incorporate weight training into their training program, structured around the same basic periodization concept that seems to be all the rage (and, IMO, rightly so) in training circles.

Although the book itself is not separated specifically this way, I see it as being in three basic sections: Chapters 1, 2, and 3 are essentially an introduction to basic weight training and gym etiquette, equipment selection, nutrition, and pitfalls to avoid. It covers a pretty good amount of ground, all of which are useful for those who haven't ever trained with weights, or who have never done so in a structured way.

Chapters 4 and 5 introduce the program, explaining the philosophy and physiology behind it, and then covering the general periods for road, mountain bike, and track racing schedules, as well as covering the basic flow of the system.

The rest of the book covers specifics. Chapters 6-9 cover individual exercises, starting with stretching for essentially every muscle group in the body, followed by Legs, Upper body, and Core exercises designed to work the groups in those parts of the body. Chapter 10 covers exercises specifically designed to increase power, which in the case of the cyclist is the ability to quickly produce as much force as possible to the cranks, as frequently as possible, for as long as possible. It's the difference between being able to launch a sprint attack at the end of a race and finish in first, or having to try to catch up after the leaders have dusted off their bubbly and toasted to a win. Chapter 11 offers a sample training program. In the appendices are references for further reading and some example blank logs for those who would like a starting point for documenting their efforts.

Overall, I think the book does a pretty good job of covering the basics of weight training, and does a very good job of offering specific advice for different types of riders, from the casual rider looking to improve their riding for joy all the way to the serious competitor looking to move up to Category 2. I do not believe this book will be useful for those who believe they are ready for Category 1 racing, as those riders likely have teams or coaches already helping them develop to that level; that's okay, though, because I don't believe it is aimed at that group.

Overall, any cyclist who is looking for a good starting point for self-coaching their own weight-training program and integrating it into their regular cycling routine will benefit from this book. I strongly recommend that any cyclist looking to compete and win races at least read this book, even if they ultimately decide on a different program for themselves, as the information in the book is quite well researched and will be a good launching pad for further research.

My ratings (out of five stars):

Overall: ****
Cycling Specificity: *****
Ease of reading: **** (may be too easy for people who have a past history with weights; these people can probably skip to chapter 4 without much hassle).

Final analysis: Recommended for all cyclists.

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