Saturday, January 30, 2010

Maggot Report Jan 24-31, January Stats

Tuesday--upper body weights, Cardio 60 min Zone 2*
Wednesday--cardio, 90 min Zone 2, 10 min Zone 4
Thursday--cardio 30 min Zone 2, 60 min Zone 3
Friday--lower body weights, cardio 90 min Zone 1
Saturday--core wo

Stats for January
Resting heart rate 52
Machine calories burned: 10,006 60 miles (used over 14 days, average of 714 cals burned per wo)
(I set the treadmill for 10 pounds below what I weigh so I'm actually burning more calories than it says)
Lost 6 pounds
Lost 1.5" off chest, 2" off waist, 2" off hips

(I use zones based on Lactic Threshold Heart Rate, which are roughly a zone higher than zones based on Max Heart Rate)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sermon from the Church of Dirt

Just RIDE, be happy.

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,... So use every part of your body to give glory back to God..." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Resistance is (NOT!) Futile

A lot of people are not getting the most bang for their buck out of resistance training. They swing the weights to get them moving or perform the rep quickly, using momentum to cheat and gravity to lower the weight back down. A person can throw around more weight by cheating, AND they run a higher risk of injury because they are not actually strong enough to control the weight. This is part of the reason why pushups and other bodyweight moves are so hard, it's difficult to cheat. Understanding a few basics about how your muscle works will help you bang that buck.

When you contract your muscle(as in curl UP in a bicep curl) you are making a CONCENTRIC movement--your muscle fibers are shortening. When you let the weight go back to the starting point you are making an ECCENTRIC movement--when done PROPERLY your muscle fibers are shortening at the same time they are lengthening to release the weight.

On the bike you use a lot of eccentric muscle work to stay upright, absorb shock, remain relaxed and balanced and resist the g-forces of landing. If you focus only on the concentric/contraction phase you are losing out on gaining strength and stamina for your eccentric muscle efforts. IE half-ass. Half-ass BAAAAAAD!

So when you are lifting FIRST learn proper form, this will prevent swinging weight to cheat and also make you actually target the muscle/s you are focusing on. Second, slow down that lift and release. Count 1-2 up, 1-2 down. Focus on resisting the weight being pulled down by gravity. Don't just release the weight down, or relax your muscle to let it go, RESIST(this *is* called resistance training!).

Next, occasionally, --->after you have a good base of strength training<---use the count 1-2/1-2-3-4. This will really work the eccentric phase. Keep in mind that this phase is more stressful and difficult on your muscle because your muscle is doing two things at once (shortening/lengthening). You are engaging more resources, a good thing, but also more opportunity for injury if not respected. For this same reason do this with low weight/high reps. You will avoid injury and boost endurance. The other day I used the 1-2/1-2-3-4 counting throughout my upper body work. It was definitely much harder to complete my reps--at this point I am ready to up my weights, 3x12 is easy to complete, using the longer counting made it difficult to complete the reps and I got nice and sore.

Now for the kicker--after all that, riding gives you the best SPORT SPECIFIC eccentric workout. Seat time rocks again!

Here is some more reading(bonehead type):

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dakar Tomb Trial

Check THIS out, Dakar Rally CHICK rider Annie Seel went Lara Croft and narrowly missed a highly unfortunate event with a sneak gaping unmarked tomb!

5 women went for the Ladies Cup, only one dropped out(better survival rate than overall motorcycle survival rate I might add!!!), and Annie Seel(Sweden) won the women's class--by 12 hours!

(WHA, the USA can't send a woman too??? what's up with that???)

Back again with some math...the women's class in the Dakar Rally had a 80% survival rate, as opposed to a 55% survival rate of all motorcycles. Or, factoring out the women in the overall, the men's survival rate slips to 54%.

So much for delicate little things with the vapors!

Maggot Report, Jan 17-23

Sunday--rest, stretch
Monday--Cardio, 45 min Zone 2, 35 min Zone 3, 10 min Zone 4(90 min total), stretch
Tuesday--weights, cardio 60 min Zone 2, stretch
Wednesday--rest, stretch
Thursday--core wo, cardio 60 min Zone 1, stretch
Friday--cardio 90 min Zone 2, stretch
Saturday--weights, recovery wo(trailbuilding), stretch

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mistress PP's Corset of Pain Core Workout

A strong core is absolutely vital for riding. Core strength will improve your balance, enable you to effortlessly flick the bike, and keep going like the Energizer Bunny all day long. This workout will also engage your shoulders, legs and hips as a UNIT with your core, just like in real life when riding. You will even feel it in your feet and ankles.

I do this core plan one day a week ALONG WITH squats, deadlifts, and pushups performed on my other two weightlifting days. I will warn you to prepare for this workout by getting used to some squats and deadlifts first. That way you will bring some strength to the table so you can hit this harder, as well as protect your back(often a weak link for a lot of folks).

You will need a fitness ball, a 15-25#(or beyond) dumbbell OR kettlebell OR bowling ball OR books in a backpack, a small dumbbell OR anything you can hold onto that weighs about 5#, and a mat(I use a backpacking z-rest mat). You can get by without the fitness ball, but they are cheap and you should have one anyway! Optional stuff to make it harder are ankle weights and heavier dumbbells.

There are tips included for making the exercises harder. It takes me about 50 minutes to do this workout. If you need it easier don't do as many reps, but do make it as hard as you can stand it, that last rep needs to be HARD.

BEFORE you start, do a plank position--up on elbows and toes, body held straight--for as long as you can, say 10 seconds. This is "X". ETA: DO this before every workout to get your "base reading". You will improve this number each time you do this workout, I did!


1. Ball crunch
3 sets of 20

Doing crunches on a fitness ball will work your abs through a longer range of motion than on the floor and you will also use stabilizer muscles to steady yourself on the ball. When 3 sets of 20 feel easy, put two small dumbbells on your shoulders or hold a weight plate to your chest with crossed arms.

2. Plank
hold for X

3. Kettlebell Swing
3sets of 12

How to do it:
To make it harder, just get a heavier weight. You can also use a bowling ball, dumbbell, weight plate, sack of dog food or backpack full of books--NO excuses!

4. Plank
hold for X

5. Single Leg Lift with Plank
3 sets of 12

In plank position, keeping leg straight, raise it by squeezing the glute. Don't rest the leg on the floor in between raises--or DO rest it on the floor to make it easier. To make it harder put an ankle weight on.

6. Child Pose
hold and relax into the stretch for 30 seconds.
OR bend over and touch your toes. You want to stretch your lower back and hamstrings.

How to do it:

7. Dynamic Side Plank
3 sets of 12 each side

How to do it:
To make it harder put a weight on your up-hip.

8. Side Plank Right
hold for X

9. Side Plank Left
hold for X

10. Reverse Crunch
3 sets of 12

How to do it:
If this irritates your tailbone/sacrum, put your hands under your butt cheeks.
To make it harder use ankle weights and/or hold a basketball between your knees or ankles. The SLOWER you move, the harder it will work you, especially on letting your legs back down--VERY important to lower the legs SLOWLY!

Actually there are many different versions of "reverse crunch". All of them are killer and it would be good to rotate through.
Decline Bench Reverse Crunch this one is shown on a decline bench but you can also do it on a flat bench. If you do not have a bench you can lie down in front of your couch or any other heavy object and use that to hold onto. (more good ab stuff at the bottom of that page)
Incline Bench Reverse Crunch

11. Plank
hold for X

12. Ball Twist
3 sets of 24(12 each side, alternating)

How to do it:
To make it harder hold a dumbbell in your hands. To make that harder hold a weight plate between your hands by pressing your hands together. Just don't drop it on your nose.

13. Side Plank Right
hold for X

14. Side Plank Left
hold for X

15. Child Pose
hold for 30 seconds
(or touch your toes)

16. Hindu Pushups/Divebombers
3 sets of 12

How to do it:
Start with Hindu pushups. In the beginning aim for just staying off the floor as you do the movements and don't beat yourself up with perfect form(just yet) try your best. To make it harder do the Divebombers.

17. Plank
hold for X

18. Ball Jackknife
3 sets of 12

How to do it:
To make these easier as you are learning to balance, put the ball in a corner and begin with your knees on top of the ball instead of your shins and bring your knees far enough so your shins are then on the ball. This is a tricky move, so be careful.

19. Ball Oblique Crunch
3 x 12

How to do it:
This is another deceptively tricky one, you will wobble a lot, but that is all the better for kicking your butt.

20. Side Dips
3 sets of 12

How to do it:
I like to pinch grip a 25# weight plate in my dipping hand, and a 5# weight in my opposite hand. Pinch gripping a weight plate with the fingers is a great grip strengthener for the hands. When I do this I hold the opposite arm straight and swing it over my head towards the dipping side(just like when you bring your arm over your head to stretch your obliques)--this gives a little stretch in the motion, as well as a little added resistance as you return to standing up straight. BUT be very careful, MOVE SLOW and stick to form. This will keep the weight in control and not over-stretch you. Start with a very light weight in your opposite hand--it's harder than you think!

21. Plank
hold to fail and note how many seconds.

22. Cobra Pose
hold for 30 seconds

How to do it:

23: Ball Back Extention

How to do it: (with options)
to make it harder hold some weight, to make that harder hold the weight in your arms out straight over your head.

Please note--you will also get great core/back stregnth from doing squats and deadlifts in your lower body routine. Those are a more isometric use of the back muscles, a back extention is active flexion, so you need both.

23. Child Pose
relax, you're done!

Let me know how it goes!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chucking the Death Grip and Finding Your Balance

Balance is a tricky thing to teach people, but it's SO important to learn. The usual advice to get away from the death grip on the bars and get secure on the pegs is to "grip with the knees". I think the fastest way to learn balance and how to stay with the bike is learn to relax first and then add grip in. Grip is tension, tension is stiffness and stiffness is slow reflex. I'm not saying "don't grip" but rather saying telling a person who has death grip issues to grip with the knees just transfers the death grip to the legs. Legs have to be relaxed and boingy to be suspensiony and make all those little micro adjustments/responses for balance. Though, obviously there has to be some muscle tension in the legs or else you couldn't be standing up at all. It's all about...balance.

When I was a kid learning to ride horses I got the tough love crash course to learn the balance thing--hard smooth saddle or no saddle, roughly gaited spooky horse, and drill sergeant ridicule if you grabbed leather, so it was more face saving to just fall off (On the other hand falling off is actually the fast way to learn to not be so afraid of falling off...and you learn limits and what the actual edge is instead of going so far before you choke). The ONLY way to learn to stay with it was to let go and relax. When you relax then you can feel the motion(you're not fighting it to keep YOUR balance, or more accurately what you THINK your balance should be) and anticipate how the horse will move(seat time gives you motor memory and understanding)--that whole "be one with the horse" voodoo.

The process I took with the bike was to get the whole body relaxed sitting, then with standing I did it in the easy stuff first, getting/DOING that sense of weight on the pegs, no weight on the bars and relaxed hands, maintaining relaxed boingy joints in the legs, and keeping a smooth throttle. Then I played with acceleration/deceleration getting in sync with how my cg responds and finding the balance and learning/feeling how to be in sync with accel/decel and not just be trying to keep up. Also being a gear up will smooth out the jerky whap that is hard to deal with in the beginning. Knees/lower legs are up against the bike, toes turned in a tad(your knees won't be so apt to slide along the shrouds). You need to find that neutral/default position where you are completely balanced fore and aft, side to side.

Next you can work on riding on one leg and feeling secure and balanced with that. Lots of benefits come with that skill: just plain better balance all the way around, better use of pushing hard on the outside peg, if a foot gets knocked off no "oh CRAP!" moment, better body suspension in rough corners and more finesse with the back brake.

When you bring knee grip into it it's a light grip(with potential for instant and fleeting vice grip when needed). You gotta learn to grip with the inner thigh and be relaxed with the rest of the leg/core muscles. Think about and feel what your individual muscles are doing, then listen to how it all works together as a whole.

I also have to NAG and say that building strong legs and core(squats! deadlifts!) will make all this WAYWAYWAY easier to achieve. Weakness also makes for tension. Bad wobbly unusable tension. And then you get tired and try to compensate by hanging on cuz you feel insecure.

A little extra thought and analysis and visualization goes a long way to understanding for riding well and just plain improving faster. People advise a lot to "just ride" and there is the value of voluminous seat time to get the hang of something(if you have the time to fart around), but I think without direction oftentimes that just degenerates into reinforcing bad habits. Some folks do have innate talent for this, but most don't naturally muster good skills on their own. I think it's worth it to put the effort into understanding and building good habits then you can get the real benefit of seat time which should be about mastering efficiency and good skillz and nailing it to the freakin wall with your monster fist of grrrr.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sermon from the Church of Dirt

If you ain't got LOVE, you got nothing.

Ocotillo Socal Girlz Ride 2009

Ocotillo Socal Girlz Ride Weekend ~ Jan 2009 from mxdirtdiva on Vimeo.

(thanks Denise xo)

want more? 1 Corinthians 13 baby!

Maggot Report for January 10-16

Sunday--cardio, 90 minutes in Zone 3(I am using LTHR zones), 60 min run, 30 min walk
Tuesday--weights, cardio 60 min Zone 1(recovery)
Thursday--Core wo, cardio 60 min Zone 2
Friday--cardio, 60 min Zone 1(recovery)
Saturday--weights, cardio 60 min Zone 1(recovery)

I've been tweaking my weight plan(2x a week, full body) and core plan(1x a week) and I'll post it at the end of the month and explain what I'm working for this month as well as plans for February. In a nutshell right now I am using weights in 3 sets of 12, the very last rep being failure.

Also stretching every night.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Part 2 Why You Need Your Cardio Monster

The first thing most people say when they decide to get in better shape for the bike is "I gotta hit the weights". Which is beneficial of course, but there is a huge missing link--CARDIO training. Riding a dirt bike, on track or trail, requires a total package of strength, cardio fitness and flexibility.

As you develop cardio fitness your body is also building all sorts of new little tubes, as well as cleaning out all the old ones so they can deliver more energy faster to your working muscles to keep up with the demand longer. Think about when you're terribly thirsty and you're trying to suck water through a coffee stirrer straw--this is your body as a couch potato. Now imagine your water in a big frosty glass and you're guzzling it(and it's running down your shirt)--this is your body as a freakin fire breathing monster. Not only can your muscles get more fuel, they can also get rid of waste/exhaust faster too, you can work harder longer before the lactic acid build up burn comes on.

Another useful analogy to apply to understanding cardio fitness is diesel/NOS. In a nutshell, when you are working steady at a slower endurance level, you are burning fat or diesel--it has lots of grunt and great economy. When you are sprinting you are burning carbohydrates, or nitrous oxide enhanced gasoline--it has a huge burst of power, but burns fast and is quick to fatigue. You know when you are "sprinting", you feel the burn and muscle turns to jello. Cardio fitness enables you to burn diesel where you previously would have flipped the NOS--you can hammer longer, harder and stronger, and have that NOS reserve for when your REALLY need it(not to mention it will just be that more spectacular!).

You can't tap this monster if you just hang out on a cardio machine or run an easy hour, or even depend on circuit training to git r done. You need to make a plan, and understand how to use heart rate zone training. Last year I loosely used the cardio plan information from the RacerXVT site and was really impressed how I improved and what I could accomplish on the trail--as in I could just DO whoops. My cardio and strength came together to just git r done, really it was as easy as twist the throttle, it clicked. Way cool.

Your homework reading

Part 3 will be Lactic Threshold Heart Rate Zones Versus plain ol Maximum Heart Rate Zones and why LTHR Does It Better.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Maggot Report, Jan 3-9, 2010

For me Dec 29-Jan 5 was a total rest week. I do this every 4-5 weeks or so, gives the bod time to completely recover(though I can't get out of going to work, ha).

Jan 3--full rest(as in nice long afternoon nap)
Jan 4--rest
Jan 5--rest
Jan 6--weights(full body), 1 hour recovery cardio(Zone 1), 4 miles. Stretching
Jan 7--work(which I count for Zone 1 recovery cardio, it's "aerobic housecleaning" about 5 hours worth)
Jan 8--work/recovery cardio Zone 1, about 3 hours.
Jan 9--weights(full body)

Weights--full body, low weight/high rep(3 sets of 12) using free weights.
Cardio--on the treadmill, running and walking

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

THE Number You Gotta Know to Find Your Monster, Part 1

If you get into doing regular cardio you've probably heard about zones. That you need to work for so long in such and such a zone. It can be a bit confusing, but once you get a certain number it will help you plan so you can get the biggest bang for your workout buck, as well as give you a way to track cardio progress.

The most commonly advised way to figure zones is to take 220-your age as your Max Heart Rate(MHR, or the fastest possible beats per minute your heart can beat). This number does go down as we age, but like most other things, if we keep on truckin, it won't get decrepit THAT fast--Jack LaLanne can probably still pound you into the ground! If you are a person who is new to working out, using this formula is a good place to start because it gives a low estimation of what your MHR is(without having to actually test it), and give you a little padding to start off more gently and ease your bod into training--a good thing to avoid injury and too much fatigue. If you want to push a Suburban by yourself, you don't get it moving with a body slam! (Yes I can push my Suburban all by myself. With my hubby inside steering.).

Using MHR the five zones are calculated. Here is what I calculated for myself when I began using zones. You'll see the MHR number I use is NOT 220-my age(I'm 44). The reason for this is I ran up a long hill to see how fast I got my heart beating(to almost the barf point, not saying you should do it, go ask your doctor and all that, but...I was curious) and it was at 180. Then after a few months as my cardio improved I rounded it up to 200 to push my zone numbers up a tad to challenge me(I know that sounds like breaking the rules, didn't kill me, and in fact as you'll see later, was a pretty good guess after all).

Choose a way to cardio--running/walking, biking, rowing are all good for riding. It's easiest and less confusing to choose one cardio method to track your cardio progress and learn to listen to your body and get a feel for how hard it works in the different zones. Different sports will give you a different MHR because of different muscle groups involved. I chose running/walking.

Zones Calculated on Max Heart Rate(200)
50-60% MHR
100-119 bpm
light aerobic effort, recovery, warm up, cool down
fuel: fat

61-70% MHR
121-140 bpm
easy aerobic effort, endurance, aerobic conditioning
fuel: fat

71-80% MHR
141-160 bpm
high level aerobic conditioning
fuel: fat/carb

81-90% MHR
161-180 bpm
anaerobic, performance gains(more speed and endurance at lower zones, improved cardio efficiency)
fuel: less fat/more carb

181-200 bpm
anaerobic, improves fast twitch(sprint ability) and lactic threshold(when your muscles start to burn)
fuel: carb

Here is a good article with more info on zones, and how to work up to each one.

I remember going to aerobics class in the late 80's and the leader harping DON'T GO ABOVE 120!!! The only thing I gained from those classes were a little better muscular strength and agility, no wonder it never felt like it did anything, I was just waving my pompoms! Even the low weight/high rep ad nauseum of the machines were futile too in the end, but that's for another post. Looking back, what really kicked my butt was riding my mountain bike at a pace on the cusp of burning muscles, which turns out to be Zone 4.

So this is a good place to begin. You NEED to make a good firm foundation working in Zones 1 and 2, the better your foundation the bigger monster you can build. To make it simple, when you can work consistently at 70%(top of Zone 2) for an hour or more(more is better), then your are ready to wake up the monster and it's time to make a new Zone chart.

Part 2 will be how using zones and improving cardio will benefit your riding, and Part 3 will be THE Number to unlock your monster. Part 1 came first so you can get off your butt and get going!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Reviewing 2009

An important part of focused training is evaluation. If you never evaluate, you never determine what is working, where you can improve, or pat yourself on the back for hard won results. NOTEBOOK MAGGOT!

2009 was a great year!

I can DO whoops. It finally all came together, improved strength and hard work at riding relaxed made it happen.

I focused on forearm and hand strength to knock out fatigue and weakness in my wrists and hands(hard clutch pull, got tendonitis-y finger in 2008), it worked and I got the added benefit of saving my bacon in at least two times that I would have had a bad wreck before.

My kids can't lap me on my home track. I can give them a hard time when they pass me.

I was using 4th gear in the woods, and 3rd in the tight other words, I'm getting faster. (At places I ride often I pay attention to what gear I'm using on the trails, and always try to push it faster the next time.)

Still frustrated with my stock trail computer though, it's great when it works, but it never stays on task through the whole trip(like so I can calculate overall AVS, accumulate mileage). Something to work out.

The best thing though, was hitting those whoops, just going for it and doing it. All that hard work with the weights and the treadmill did its magic, total payback. Having more strength gave me instantly better balance, flow and reflexes, no lie. 2010 is going to be even BETTER!

Next up, goals for 2010, evaluating my work out plan, 2010 bucket list.