Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cycling Anatomy: It's time for weight training!

Hello, shifting body clock. The aroma of rotting leaves, the sun's hanging low in the sky, and birds flying south all point to the big shift. Not that we don't keep riding. But how do we take stock, prepare and adjust our bodies to our changing environment?

One way is to work different muscles.

I've been seeing a physical therapist for a couple years now, and we talk about muscles. She encourages my body questions. Why does this get sore? What muscles are these, and what do they do? What I relearn is what I already knew:

each of us posesses a remarkable body.

What I like about this book by Shannon Sovndal, MD and forwarded by Christian Vande Velde are the graphics that make my remarkable body a little more comprehensible, and they do so in cyclese.

The muscle groups are identified so I can see exactly what I am feeling when I do the exercises or when I ride.

On the even pages are pictures of an excercise focuse on a specific muscle group like the graphic above. The odd pages depict a cyclist in one of a variety of riding positions with the same muscles highlighted again.

As you can see, you can think about what you'd like to improve, find the exercise and go for it.

There are chapters on;

  • The Cyclist in Motion
  • Arms

  • Shoulders and Neck

  • Chest

  • Back

  • Abdomen

  • Legs: Muscle Isolation

  • Legs: Complete Power

  • Whole-body Training for Cycling

Some of the exercises require free weights as illustrated above, but others utilize stability balls, weight machines, cables and even just you and your body (isn't my on a mat. There are other photo series showing the layered muscles of the abdomen, for example: surface, deeper, and deepest. We are complex beings.

I enjoy weight training, though thruth be told I've been off of it a while. It feels good, it helps on the bike, and importantly, it encourages bone density (one of cyclists' achilles heels, if you will). It's also a good strategy for keeping the best body composition possible.
If you are looking for a book that has a sensible, visual approach and is dedicated to cyclists, give Cycling Anatomy a try. It's 192 pages for $21.95, and lots and lots of clear graphics.

If you're looking for a book with lots of info on strength training theories and making a schedule and such, go elsewhere. While there is a fair bit about each muscle group at the beginning of each chapter and an introductory chapter about how we as bodies work while cycling, this isn't a foundational book. The authors know their focus--cyclists--and stick to it. I like that.

Whatever you do, stay active, keep moving, and do stress your body in a variety of ways. The off-season isn't a time for staleness, but rather a time for variety.

Keep it uplifting,



  1. Thanks for the tip. That looks like a good one!

  2. I do not know if the book covers it
    But 2 very important excercises that I should not but often forget in the off season;

  3. Glad you like it, guys.

    Vincent, a friend told me that you've logged 19,000 kilometers just on brevets to date this year!!

    I'll bet you could use some sleep. And seeing how you posted at 4:08 AM, I'm flabergasted. Why are you reading my blog when after 19,000k's you gotta need some sleep, dude? Yikes!

  4. pleaaase, upload the hole book, hehe, it's serious!!