Leg conditioning...

The foundations for successful riding

Leg conditioning...

Postby toolonglegs » Sat Sep 07, 2013 12:58 am

Don't know what else to call it.
Last season I jumped straight into Cross at the end of October having done most of my training on the road ... bad idea!. This year I am going to still spend a lot of time on the road but a hell of a lot more on the mtb.
The problem is it is already killing my hammies, going from road to mtb is a shock to the system!... it's an age thing!. I want to search out as much nasty steep climbing as I can to simulate what we often do in Cross. But I can only do so much at the moment before I start to feel it at the back of my legs, my actual power drops on the road for a few days afterwards as well. I know the key is to keep at till I get used to it but trying to find ways to quicken things up :D . Plus I don't want to over do it and get an injury.
Not really thinking gym ... would like to start running steeps, because I do lose time in the runs in CX especially on really big steeps, problem is I live somewhere totally flat, closest proper steeps would be 20kms away!. I will start running grassy banks soon but they are really tough on me because I have a semi-fused ankle.
Don't want to start running ... too many old injuries to aggravate.
I do a fair bit of stretching ... need to do more!.
Have been a bit slack on core work of late and have let my yoga classses slip.
Any tips anyone... also any tips from anyone with chronically tight hammies!.
Aiming for a top 10 this year!!! :P .
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by BNA » Sat Sep 07, 2013 5:32 am

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Re: Leg conditioning...

Postby foo on patrol » Sat Sep 07, 2013 5:32 am

Have you tried calf raises TLL? Stand on the edge of a step with only the ball of your foot on it and then drop as far as you can and lift back up as far as you can. You can weigh yourself down more with weights strapped to yourself. :idea:

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Re: Leg conditioning...

Postby trailgumby » Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:47 am

Losing power after training is a normal part of the adaptation process :)

And speaking of age, weight training is a useful way of maintaining muscle mass especially as testosterone levels decline. Lighter weights and higher reps - 20 minimum. I also find it useful to focus the effort on the lengthening (eccentric) phase of the repetition as this is easier on any strained muscles and is a known strategy for strengthening injured muscles to prevent injury recurrences.

So in your case perhaps squats with your heels on a plank and focusing on keeping the dip part slow would help. Start with 1.set.of 15 to 20 and add a set per week to 3 sets.

I do single . leg squats this way (no plank) focussing my weight through my heel to help strengthen glutes as the way my brain works I have poor recruitment of them which ultimately results in sacroiliac lower back pain. Initial impact is a loss of power but I've found it really helps over the course of a few months.
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Re: Leg conditioning...

Postby vander » Sat Sep 07, 2013 8:06 am

trailgumby wrote: Lighter weights and higher reps - 20 minimum. I also find it useful to focus the effort on the lengthening (eccentric) phase of the repetition as this is easier on any strained muscles and is a known strategy for strengthening injured muscles to prevent injury recurrences.


Why that many reps? There is a better dose response to a lower rep range. I would recommend 8-10 reps for the best dose response.

Focusing the eccentric will actually increase DOMS and cause more damage to the muscle, true more damage will make it repair itself more (thus grow faster) but it will be tougher on the muscle also.

@TLL - I got the same thing happening to me after I started doing track this year. My power was well down on the track and then on the road the next few days I would battle. As I have spent more time on the track bike its gotten better but its still not quite equivalent to riding on the road. So what I would say is give yourself a month or so to adapt and then see how it is. The other thing is possibly look at the fit of the bike is it alters muscle recruitment patterns and can do significantly.
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Re: Leg conditioning...

Postby toolonglegs » Sat Sep 07, 2013 4:15 pm

trailgumby wrote:Losing power after training is a normal part of the adaptation process :) .

Not the amount I lose!... I think Vander is right, I just need to stick with it for conditioning.
Calf raises... Mate I have enormous calves :-( ... Do want them any bigger lol.
I don't really need to build up my muscles ( I think ) in the front of my legs, they are already pretty big!. My problem is my hamstrings and to a lesser extent all my hip flexors.
Position plays a part for sure, my mtb position is obviously very different to my road bike, all though my CX bike is very closely set to my road bike specs.
I have a team mate who is a physio for Cofidis, might make an appointment to go and see him. Although last time I talked to him about a certain pain when low down in TT that I am sure was psoas pain he adamantly said it was my hip joint... After 4 or 5 MRI's in the last few years I know pretty well what condition my joints are in ;-) ... Getting old suckerinis!.
Edit... Just re read your post Gumby, concentrating on the downward movement would work that area I suppose. I worry about my knees with squats ... They are fine if I listen to them on the bike, they complain after 3 or 4 hours!... When I say my body is stiff I really mean it. You know that stretch when you sit on the floor with your legs spread out in front of you and you stretch out and grab your ankles.... I am only at the stage now where I can hold my self upright, for over a year I would fall backwards! ... Insanely tight!!!.
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Re: Leg conditioning...

Postby winstonw » Sat Sep 07, 2013 5:41 pm

IMHO TLL, whenever you have a 'chronic' problem, you have to look at joints (hip) and referred symptoms from the lumbar spine.
This is especially so if you think you look after your hams well with strength and stretching.

Nevertheless, I used to look after some of the most valuable legs (esp hamstrings) in professional sport (American NFL), and it was rare that guys who had chronic issues with them didn't have deep fibrotic scarring, going back to tears they might have first experienced in childhood. Therefore, before trying to build strength, I'd encourage you to get the most experienced sports masseur/physio to get stuck into your hams, find old fibrosis, and break it up.

The protocol I developed for hamstrings alone can take up to 2 hours (hyper-hydration, muscle warming and warm up, active and passive stretch routine, effleurage massage and gravity assisted fluid removal, more stretching....progressively deeper tissue massage until you can palpate deep muscle close to the bone. And 3-5 treatments can be necessary to break/stretch intramuscular scars and shortened collagen fibres in peri- and epi-mysium.

And for cyclists, it is just as important to look at the adductors and gluts.

For the amount of cycling you do, you should be getting serious massage at least once a month.

For strengthening hams, I am a big believer in specificity, and therefore recommend leg curls in
- prone with 0 degrees hip flexion
- seated with 45 to 90 degrees hip flexion
A mix of concentric and eccentric, and power (speed of contraction) is preferable. I also advise similar conditioning for adductors, which are underrated in importance for cyclists.

My view is circulation is a significant issue for hams. Think about what happens when you sit....the hams are compressed somewhat, which will impede circulation, ergo healing and adaptive response.

I could go on...but need to burn fat. :)
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Re: Leg conditioning...

Postby toolonglegs » Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:48 pm

Yeah I don't know if chronic is the right word... But I know from the MRI's that my hip, sacro and lower back are all in Ok condition for my age, height, history.
I try and stretch out my hamstring, hip flexors a fair bit but don't have a lot of long term success.
I have always had tight lower / mid calves down into my Achilles. Now I also have issues if I crouch, get a fair bit of pain behind the knees when I stand up.
A painfully good massage seems to be difficult to find!.
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Re: Leg conditioning...

Postby winstonw » Sun Sep 08, 2013 1:02 pm

agree that serious sports massage is hard to find. there's rarely enough demand for it for someone to make a living and ruin their hands within 10 years.

be careful about MRI reports. nerve roots in the lumbar spine may not have compressive load on them when lying supine in a MRI machine, but may very well when on the bike.

try this Straight Leg Raise test:
ly on your back, with your hands tucked in behind in the small of your back, and have someone lift a leg as high as possible with your knee straight....don't let your pelvis tilt or rotate. If you cannot get >70 degrees hip bend without painful stiffness, then you are definitely tight....you want to aim for more than 85degrees in both legs.
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Re: Leg conditioning...

Postby toolonglegs » Mon Sep 09, 2013 12:32 am

Gave it a go.... pretty close to 90 degrees before I really feel it ... thats with pretty tired legs after 100km race today. Last night I was feeling pretty tight but loosened up over night... felt pretty good in the race. Lower back got a bit sore on the 15km descent but loosend up on the flat before the last 5 km climb... but by then the adreniline was pumping as I was attacking everywhere I could.... dropped everyone in my smallgroup for good on the final descent. Only real hammy niggle was in the rear of my left thigh slightly on the inner thigh... but then I am always going to hurt when there is 2000m climbing.
Overall very happy with how the body held up today :)
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