March Newsletter

March Newsletter

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!

Translating General Strength In To Specific Cycling Strength

By, Julie Young

Now that the majority of the general strength in the gym is complete, it’s time to put those strength gains to work on the bike. But what exactly have we achieved with the off-season investment in a strength program? And now what? How do we translate that general strength in to specific cycling strength? Finally, how do we maintain the strength gains?

With endurance training there is a ceiling to the resistance we can create, and it’s based on body weight, weight of equipment and gradients. But in order to improve neural adaption (the brains ability to find and recruit the muscle to contract it and create movement) we need to add more resistance.

Increased resistance requires greater recruitment of muscle fibers to oppose this resistance and as a result –

  • trains the brain to fire the correct muscle, more efficiently and effectively
  • increases firing frequency of the motor neuron, thereby increasing the number of muscle fibers contracting
  • increases growth of motor neurons and muscle fibers to build muscle mass

Heavy resistance establishes muscle memory, meaning the message sent from brain to muscle develops a pathway that is more automatic. As a result, less concentration is required to make a movement. Resistance training sets a foundation in place – so athletes can quickly access established movement patterns. This also trains the body to access strength when tired and forces the body to recruit muscles when it normally would not, which might come in handy at the end of a race? But the strength work in the gym needs to simulate the demands of the specific sport in order to achieve the desired outcome.

How do you translate general strength developed in the gym, in to cycling specific strength and power, and improved pedaling technique?

We need to take this general strength and hone it on the bike, in order to time the recruitment of the right muscle at the right time around the pedal stroke.

During transition season (aka off-season), I like incorporating cycling specific strength workouts, alongside strength in the gym. These workouts are performed on a shallow grade, approximately 4-5% with heavy gearing to produce high resistance at low cadence at long to medium endurance power. The objective is to smoothly pedal under the high resistance, recruiting the right muscle at the right time. Another key objective of this workout is to develop a stable platform, by engaging and holding a neutral pelvis and spine, so the hips can more effectively drive power in to the pedals. This is contrasted with the idea of wrestling the bike and doing whatever it takes to turn the pedals over, which misses the point of the workout.

Just like in the strength endurance phase in the gym, one of our objectives in this big gear workout is to set down a foundation of effective recruitment patterns, to improve pedaling technique and efficiency. The “push” in the pedal stroke is easy, that’s’ what we do all day walking, it’s the “scraping back” by recruiting the posterior chain (hamstrings and calf muscles) that takes training. The active unloading of the pedal on the back of the stroke, effectively reducing the resistance encountered by the opposite leg driving the power in to the pedals, also takes training.

Studies show that resistance training in the gym directly translates in to improved pedaling technique and efficiency. This is seen in improved force production during the force producing phase of the pedal stroke, as well as improved hip flexor recruitment during the active unloading of the pedal during the recovery phase.

I like doing single leg pedaling drills prior to the on-bike, big gear strength workouts. Drills provide feedback on weak links in my pedal stroke and lack of symmetry of strength and motor control left to right. This feedback provides focus for my workout.

Once we have established a foundation of specific strength on the bike, this big gear, heavy resistance, low cadence workout then transitions to a power workout, by ramping up intensity to sub threshold to threshold.

Additionally, we can translate general power developed in the gym to develop, for example, in-the-saddle horsepower and pedaling efficiency. An on-bike workout could look something like a 30 second effort, from a nearly standing start, in the saddle, with over-gearing on a slight gradient. Pounce on the pedals, bring it up to and hold approximately 40rpm, at an anaerobic capacity-plus power output. If gearing and gradient are right, the last 10 seconds seem like eternity and it takes full concentration to effectively turn over the pedals. This workout is demanding and only takes place after a foundation of specific cycling strength is set in place. And as with the strength workout, this workout demands the ability to engage and hold a neutral pelvis and spine, to protect the back and drive power in to the pedals.

How do we maintain strength gains made in the gym?

Science says…that’s easy. Throughout preparation and competition phases, include one gym session a week, hitting the major muscle groups in a max strength format, to maintain those strength gains. This would be a short concise session in the gym with circuits built around, for example, squats, leg curls and Romanian deadlifts. Studies also indicate that plyometric sessions, performed two to three days a week are an effective way to maintain strength gains and translate it to the bike. Again, plyometrics would only be included once good movement patterns and postural control are set in place during the strength phase. But plyometrics combined, for example with the in-saddle horsepower, 30 second efforts described above can yield big dividends, including –

  • improvements in anaerobic capacity
  • improvements in neural activation of the muscle
  • increased firing frequency of the muscle motor units

= increased peak force and rate of force development

  • Improved efficiency

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at julie@daiendurance.com.

Hope to see you “out there…”


We are happy to announce DC Hays as our Athlete of the Month!

DC is a local to the Nor Cal cycling scene and has been shredding for years! He recently joined us as he is looking to become a better well rounded cyclist and we are excited to coach him there.

We asked DC what gets him thru the long training days on the bike and this is what he said; “Training rides I focus on the task of the day, cadence, speed or position. if I’m just riding I like to let it all go just be in the moment, be part of my surroundings. These rides keep me sane. I like to ride with my son Damien he is probably my favorite person to ride with. He kills me!” We also got a good story out of him as well when we asked him, “what’s the strangest or most embarrassing crash you’ve ever had?” Here’s what he shared, “It’s all about the coffee! 2 or 3 years ago I was riding through the start area at a TBF Mtb race with a large coffee in my hand and I hit a rut and I went sailing off the bike Pete Rose style, tore my leg up and had to go to the medic to get cleaned up and wrapped up. I didn’t spill a drop of that coffee, I drank it while the EMT bandaged me up.”

Last but not least we wanted to know why he choose Dai Endurance for his training needs? DC replied, “Two words… Julie Young! I trust her completely with my training, we race together and she is one of my unsung heroes. (she didn’t know this) I feel extremely lucky to have her in my corner moving forward.”


What’s Your In-Activity Nutrition???

March’s Featured Product

By, Michael Sayers

One of the new players on the nutrition block is Science in Sport, also known as SIS. SIS rocketed to popularity in Europe when Team Sky started using their products several years ago, and a few years later the brand spread globally. The company started small, but quickly gained a cult following. Like a lot of the nutrition companies out there, SIS has a wide range of products from their Overnight Protein Recovery, which has 35 gm of protein per serving and was developed to refuel bodies why they sleep, to their standard hydration drink mix. They produce some great flavors in both their hydration mixes and their hydro gels, and their chocolate protein mix tastes like a glass of real milk chocolate. One of the great features of SIS products is that across the board, they have a great consistency which leads to an easy consumption.

For me, their premier products are their Go Gels. This is the one product that separates SIS from all the rest of the gel companies on the market.

The key to the Go Energy gels is the viscosity of the actual gel. It is one step thicker than water which means no gummy mouth, no water chaser and the gel is hydrating you in addition to fueling your body. The Go Energy Gels come in an assortment of great flavors, and they have 3 different gel configurations: an electrolyte blend, a caffeine version and a non-caffeine version. All three serve a purpose, and all three will fit perfectly into your refueling needs. The electrolyte gel has .3 gm of salt per gel plus potassium and magnesium which is great for those days when sweat replacement is key, and all the gels contain about 22 gms of carbs.

Science in Sport also offers a maltodextrin drink mix, called Beta Fuel, which was developed for those activities lasting over 2.5 hrs. One pack delivers 80 gr of carbs to your body. This product is great for those that need that extra carb intake on top of your regular bars or rice cakes. It is a great product with a good taste and it was designed to alleviate the stomach distress that can incur from such a large amount ingested carbohydrate. Those who do ultra-endurance events, this is your go to product.

In addition to these premier products, SIS offers a nice selection of other products and even a really nice tasting energy bar. The bar is not complicated and it tastes great, with a nice texture and a soft, semi-chewy make up.

In addition to these premier products, SIS offers a nice selection of other products and even a really nice tasting energy bar. The bar is not complicated and it tastes great, with a nice texture and a soft, semi-chewy make up.
All SIS products where developed with the help of some of the largest sports teams and organizations in the world, and primarily Team Sky. Much of their success at the World Tour level can be contributed to proper nutrition both on and off the bike and SIS was a huge part of that success. Essentially, it was developed for endurance athletes by endurance athletes and that is a real key into why the products work so well.


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