Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TRX Training

Once again, I cannot emphasize how much I enjoy using TRX to strength train in the "off-season".  The thing I most enjoy about it is that you can take it anywhere (inside, outside, on a boat, etc).  In addition to cross-training by hiking and running, I have begun incorporating some strength exercises.  Each time this year I get stoked; time to build some muscles again.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of these guys who likes to bulk up (obviously), I just enjoy working muscles that have been immobile or "stationary" during the cycling season.

While it is very important for me to maintain strength during the "in-season", most of that strength is focused on the lower body; mainly quads and glutes.  So during the fall and winter months I like to gain some muscle mass in the upper body as well, but just enough to maintain functional strength, power, and performance...I guess it doesn't hurt to look good in the mirror also :-).

Let me back track a bit and reiterate what I just said, "functional strength, power, and performance".  This is why I choose to use the TRX in my training and why YOU too should start or continue to use it.  The use of this piece of equipment allows the user to engage all muscle groups during a single movement, targeting muscles that are used during daily activities (such as vacuuming floor, shoveling driveway, painting a wall, or simply getting in and out of a car/truck).  In as little as 20-30 minutes you can get in a solid workout that will leave you exhausted...another bonus.  Most of us don't have a lot of time, nor should you be spending lots of time, in the gym wasting time.  Hear what other top trainers say about TRX.

If you want to improve performance in a sport, look and feel better, or get an efficient workout in, give TRX a try.  Better yet, come to my "TRX Unleashed" class at the Athletic Club of Bend (ACB) Wednesday nights at 6:30pm.  The class is from 6:30pm -7:30pm.  Even if you are not already a member of the ACB, let me know and I may be able to get you a guest pass to join the fun.

This may sound like an advertisement for TRX, and it should.  I have been using TRX for almost 4 years and I have honestly seen improvements in my cycling performance (better core strength - abs and low back, stronger and more powerful leg muscles, and better speed) as well as a more balanced body.  No longer do I have a dominant side.  Performing exercises in all planes of motion (frontal, sagital, and transverse) has helped me eliminate any weaknesses in strength and stability.

"Make Your Body Your Machine" - TRX


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hiking the Central Oregon Cascades

Now that my season has ended, the bike has not seen much action the past few weeks.  In fact, it hasn't seen any except a few miles while leading a youth cycling clinic a couple weeks in September.  I needed a break from the bike and with all the outdoor activities available in Central Oregon it's pretty easy to find alternatives.

September and October are the perfect months for venturing into the Cascades to either camp, run or in my case hike.  No crowds, hardpack dirt, temperatures in the 60's, and beautiful scenery make for the perfect recipe.  The past 4 weekends I have spent my time in the Cascades hiking Jefferson Park, Obsidian Trail, Broken top and Mattheau Lakes.  By far my favorite of these hikes was the Broken Top hike.

Jefferson Park is roughly 10 miles and begins off the North Santiam Hwy (approx 60 min. from Bend).  The hike ascends 1800 feet through old growth Douglas fir and offers views of Mt Jefferson (Oregon's 2nd tallest peak).  However, the day I hiked this trail there was lots of low clouds and I wasn't able to soak in any views.  I only saw one other couple hiking even though the parking lot was packed with cars.  I was able to get in a solid 3 hours of hiking, and not without eating lots of huckleberries, bonus!

Next weekend I joined Jenny and some friends who had a permit to access Obsidian Trail (there is a limit as to how many people can enter this area at a certain time).  Jenny and the others ran while I chose to hike the 8.5 mile loop.  The weather was much better this trip so I was able to catch a view views of the peaks looming nearby.

Mt Washington

The trail was in great condition and the temps were in the 60's.  Again I only saw one other group of hikers during the 3 hour hike.  Lots of steep sections, (both up and down) combined with rocks and roots, and a few shallow creek crossings kept things interesting.  There was even a waterfall to add the the scenery; which is always a pleasant site to see.

Obsidian Falls

I missed one of the turns and ended up logging an extra 2 miles (mostly on lava fields, ugghh).  With so many trails interesting each other, I was having the group mark an arrow on the ground in the direction of the loop we were doing.  I wasn't carrying a map (mistake).  Nothing wrong with getting an extra 2 miles in, however, the party I went with began to get a little worried after waiting nearly 40 min before I returned.   Wildflowers were abundant and there were more huckleberries to be eaten.


Next was the trip to Broken Top.  This is the quintessential hike in Central Oregon due to its up close views of Broken top and varied terrain (thick pine forest and wide open high country). The hike begins at the Todd Lake and heads west for a total of 8 miles. 

Todd Lake with Broken Top in the background

You can even make an all-day hike out of this by including the nearby Green Lakes hike.  I decided to stay on theBroken top trail and soak in the amazing views.  The temperature felt like 70 degrees and there was nothing but blue skies.  Upon reaching the high country, Broken Top mountain never looked so damn good.  It's too bad I didn't bring along the camping ear and make an overnight camp out of it.

Broken Top

Broken Top

Mt Bachelor
Rounding out the month of hiking was the Mattheau Lakes hike.  I have done this hike once before but it was a very cloudy day and there were no views of nearby Three Sisters mountains.  I was hoping I would be able to view them during this trip.  This is an easy 6.8 mile hike with very gradual climbs and a smooth trail. 

There are two (2) lakes to visit along this route (North and South Mattheau Lakes).  The south lake is a very small lake that offers some prestine camping sites, while the upper north lake is a bit larger and offers up some views (not sure which mtn.).  The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is part of this hike and goes past both lakes, so there is the chance to run into some "thru-hikers".

South Mattheau Lake

North Mattheau Lake

I decided to add a few extra miles and hike part of the PCT and Scott Pass trails.  The temperatures were in the upper 50's and lower 60's but there was just enough clouds to prevent me from seeing the Three Sisters again.  I started the hike around 8am with hopes to catch a good view of the Three Sisters with the sun just coming up, no such luck.  As with the other hikes, I only saw 2 other hikers the entire time. 

I'm hoping the weather cooperates the next couple of weeks as I am planning on tackling more great local trails.  In the meantime, my bikes will continue to be stored away and collect a little extra dust.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Are you one of the fittest athletes?

Here is a good article from the American Council on Exercise (ACE).  It talks about who the fittest athletes are.  Although I may be a bit judgemental in this area (no athlete is as fit as someone who can compete and finish the Tour de France...clean...2500+ miles in 3 weeks over mountainous terrain and varied temperatures/weather, and at the speeds they do it in).  However, the article took more than just endurance and power, and mental strength into account.  In fact, several factors were taken into consideration and the results were a little surprising.

Click here to read the full article.

Rubberball Photos

Here is a sample of one of Todd Durkin's (owner of Fitness Quest 10) workout's for some of his fittest athletes that he trains.  Are you up for a challenge?

by Jim Gerard
How the Fittest Train
Now that we’ve reached educated conclusions about the fittest athletes, you may be wondering what kind of training it takes to become one. Durkin, who trains many pro athletes, gave us a detailed look. In the off-season his charges will do a 45- to 60-minute high-intensity interval workouts three to four times a week. As the season approaches, they’ll work out longer (up to two-and-a-half hours a day), working both the upper and lower body, incorporating weights and on-field sport-specific activities. A typical weekly breakdown is:
  • Monday and Thursday: lower body and core
  • Tuesday and Friday: upper body
  • A peak workout for the lower body consists of some combination of squats, lunges, side lunges, plyometrics, single leg Romanian deadlifts, kettlebell swings and lateral band walks (for the hips), using a Superband. Core work includes exercises using the TRX Suspension Trainer, Swiss balls and BOSU balls, push-passes with a medicine ball, total gym knee tucks and rotational training work for the hips and core on the TRX Rip Trainer. “We’ll do four to six lower-body exercises, plus five to 10 sets of core training,” Durkin says.
  • The next day, the upper-body work consists of four to six exercises (two to four sets of each) from among the following: balance-board push-ups, stability ball dumbbell bench press, TRX rows, Total Gym pull-ups, TRX movements for the shoulder and back, and one-arm rows and other traditional strength-training exercises on machines or with free weights. He also uses relatively esoteric equipment such as fat bars (which are thicker, harder-to-grip barbells) or rice buckets (to strengthen fingertip grip).
  • Some days Durkin adds 30 to 40 minutes of agility drills that replicate moves on the field (with a 1:2 or 1:3 work-to-rest ratio; that is, 20 seconds of work, 40 seconds of rest) using cones, ladders, hurdles and Superbands.
  • If those weren’t enough, he adds supplementary exercises for the neck, feet and ankles.
So, if as Chang says, “the fittest athlete is in the eye of the beholder,” anyone who can survive Durkin’s workouts can probably claim the mantle.