“Greasing the groove”? – (not a post about bike lubrication!)

Cycling Strength Training

These were days where even cyclefucius started to think that indoor rollers could be an option. cyclefucius has been sick and had an enforced additional rest day (just one but feeling it).

Once on the road to recovery, I did get in reasonable weights session though. I listened recently to Tim Ferriss’s interview of Pavel Tsatsouline. He’s essentially a powerlifter so his agenda may be different from ours (very different!) but things that he said about getting strong being the basis for performing better in almost any sport seemed to make a lot of sense.

Favorite quotes:

I wouldn’t visit a chiropractor who couldn’t deadlift as much as me

[when a questioner mentioned joint trouble interfering with lifting:] First of all see a doctor; then get your head right

Apparently his father took up weightlifting at the age of 70 and has the body of a 40 year old…

Anyhow, one of the techniques is to increase the weight and never do more than five reps. But more sets (at least five). If you do this repeatedly throughout the day this is apparently known as “greasing the groove” and reportedly stimulates the central nervous system to get results…

It’s really counterintuitive for an endurance sport. But cyclefucius has now experimented with this for a few weeks, doing 5×5 sets which felt like a good sessions.

Getting back on the bike, the results seem predictable enough (though between germs and if I’m honest accompanying “comfort-oriented nutrition” this may not be very scientific for now): definite stronger feeling on the climbs, but reduced performance feeling on the flats (so favouring low cadence).

The verdict? For general strength training I think this may actually be a major step forward (possibly very individual but for me I see how this would work). For leg work and specifically speed endurance, it needs to be used with care and either balanced out with high cadence work or perhaps adapted for lighter weight and higher repititions, though perhaps the increased number of sets may be a good addition.

Any one else got any experience of or thoughts on “the groove”?!


Cycling strength training – functional or not?

A while ago, cyclefucius came across Matt Brindle’s Functional Strength Training for Cyclists. I’m always interested in specific off-bike training as a complement to riding. See the explanation here (it’s bit long):

Matt Brindle's Functional Strength Training for Cyclists
Matt Brindle’s Functional Strength Training for Cyclists

It’s not cheap and seems very scientific.

But there is one thing that has bugged me for a while – the thing about cycling requiring training over “all three planes” (transverse, frontal and saggital – in cyclefucius’s less scientific world: rotation, up-down, and front-back). Matt Brindle, the functional strength coach, says for example that when out of the saddle there is movement in the transverse plane (twisting).

Can this be correct? Surely if ever there was a sport where movement takes place in one or possibly two planes (legs going up-down / front-back) then cycling is it? If our torso or hips are really rotating, then are we doing it right? Perhaps we do have to stiffen to body to counteract the tendency to twist – but that’s not what it feels like. In this video he demonstrates what I would call twisting dumbell squats / deadlifts, which look quite well conceived – but I’m still not convinced why they would be better for cycling than regular ones:

Matt Brindle Beginner Program One Sample
Matt Brindle Beginner Program One Sample

If the emphasis were on general training to balance out the one or two planar movements to avoid injuries / freakishness then this could make more sense. But this is supposed to be functional training – training which specifically trains the functions we need on the bike, right? For an impressive (but, for cyclefucius’s taste at least, really quite unappealing) full work-out (give me a bike anytime) see here:

Matt Brindle Faster Program 1
Matt Brindle Faster Program 1

Have I missed something? Perhaps the YouTube snippets are not very representative? Have you tried this and seen the benefits? cyclefucius is intrigued…